We are connected to one another, whether we like it or not. We are, as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” While it may not always feel like it in American society right now, this messy conglomeration of people with different cultures of origin and values is still one (unruly, intersectional) body.
I’ve thought a lot about this interconnectedness while reflecting on "Love Knows not ‘Mine’ or ‘Thine’,” Wayland Rogers’ setting of Christina Rossetti from the ensemble’s 2018 commission, I-Thou. Traveling through this song cycle that investigates so many different human relationships, we arrive at this final movement that celebrates sharing and oneness. I’ve needed to let this song wash over me, and to marinate in its message this week. We are connected.
The movement begins with each voice on its own, a capella, calling out “in truth” - perhaps competing individual truths? - but then joining in one unison “truth” to state that “love knows not ‘mine’ or ‘thine’.” The voices move together in homophonic, simultaneous rhythm, while keeping consonant harmonies that make the music rich. All are together as one, while keeping their individual range and color. As the poem continues to refer to “both of us,” and “the love which makes us one,” the voices take their own versions of the same phrase while the music swells and grows in volume and range, until the four singers come back to unison - truly one. The final note rings in the air over an open, repeating pattern in the piano that feels like a sonic breath of fresh air. Openness, freedom, and unity in sound, as well as in text, to culminate the whole song cycle in “the love that makes us one.” After a cycle investigating conflict, dissonance, sarcasm, humor, beauty, and pain, we end up here: in harmony, through love.
Thanks for the reminder, Wayland. Here’s to the work of (messy, difficult, worthwhile) love.
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