Today will be warm: A Story Cloth in Sound

Poet/Lyricist: 

Kao Kalia Yang
A dramatic choral piece depicting an attack on a Hmong family in Laos

Commissioned by: 

Global Harmony Community Chorus, Jennifer Anderson, director

Premiere: 

Global Harmony Community Chorus, Jennifer Anderson, director
Item Voicing Media Price
HSP-106-01C SATB choir, Tibetan hand chimes, djembe and handchimes

Mahtomedi High School Varsity Choir, Robert Pontious, director
$2.45
HSPD-106-01C
digital download
SATB choir, Tibetan hand chimes, djembe and handchimes $1.47

Text:

The women were preparing a meager breakfast of soft-boiled yams...

... the men were guarding the perimenter of the family groups...
... some with guns and some with knives, others with nothing more than bamboo poles.

Children were sitting around their mothers.

My mother remembers a moment of stillness...
... before the smell of guns...filled the air...

...children ran after people they thought were their parents...
The men tried to protect the women and children with their arms.

They knew there would be no fighting back.

Jagged pieces of broken mountain rained on them.
The earth blew up in their faces.

When the bullets started to fly and people were running in fear, my mother walked...
This to my father showed courage...

Kao Kalia Yang  

Critical Acclaim: 

“I sang the piece many times, always focusing on the notes and timing. I realized it was a powerful piece, but it was not until I gave myself over to the music that I felt its full impact. Tension began to rise in my body as the moments of silence occurred, then intensity built and I began to cry and to literally feel my body tightening...” - J. Bacon, singer, Global Harmony

"An amazing piece of storytelling through song. From its first gentle notes to its wild desperate cries,Today will be warm: A Story Cloth in Sound tells a riveting story of courage, pain, loss and hope."  -E. Alexander, audience member

Program Notes: 

As preparation for composing a piece commissioned by Global Harmony Community Chorus which would reflect the Hmong culture or immigrant experience, I read The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang. I was particularly drawn to the experience of her family group as they were first hiding from and then attacked by soldiers in Laos. Today will be warm: A Story Cloth in Sound evolved into a sonic soundscape sprung directly from envisioning the scenes Yang set forth in her writing. This soundscape took shape as phonemes and sounds, linked to melodic lines and graphic notation, arose during the composition process. The sounds are not meant to be a language, but to represent that which dwells in the space underneath language. In the end, although the song is based on Yang's memoir, it is a soundscape that represents the story of many people, at many different times in history, in many different places. It is about anyone who has suffered fear or pain because of their differences.
Performances

*Global Harmony Community Chorus Benefit Concert, Jennifer Anderson, conductor (Roseville, MN) - World Premiere

*Mahtomedi High School Varsity Choir, Robert Pontious, conductor (Mahtomedi, Minnesota) - In coordination with Mahtomedi’s Community book Club Meeting of The Late Homecomer by Kao Kalia Yang - listen above

*2012 Southeast District Choir Festival, Yuri Yamamoto, conductor (Raleigh, NC) - see YouTube video above

Central Presbyterian Choir, Jennifer Anderson, conductor (St. Paul) - Kao Kalia Yang spoke at the service

White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church Choir, Thaxter Cunio, conductor (Mahtomedi, MN)

Henderson State University Concert Choir, Ryan fox, conductor (Arkadelphia, AR)

Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte Choir, John Herrick, conductor (Charlotte, NC)

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