• fl, cl(bcl), perc, hp, pf, vn, vc
  • Tenor
  • 15 min
  • Black South African poets
  • English

Programme Note

No More is a setting for tenor and chamber ensemble of four poems written by South African poets, all of whom have been active in the struggle for freedom and human dignity that continues in that tragic nation against the racist, immoral, and dehumanizing policy of apartheid. What attracted me to these particular pomes was the rage of emotion that they contained, the depth of humanity that they expressed, and the cogency, originality, and vivid quality of the metaphors, images and symbols they evoked. The composition is organized in 5 movements which contrast in length, character and means of musical organization. The first movement functions as a prelude and contains no text, but uses wordless verbal interjections, exclamations and intensifiers, the frequent use of which is characteristic of most indigenous African languages. At the end of the movement, the tenor soloist intones the name Biko in reference to Stephen Biko, the young leader of the student non-violent protest who was murdered while in police detention in 1977. My intent in this movement was not to write African music but rather to suggest the character of African aesthetic sensibilities within the context of my own musical language. The second movement is a through-composed setting of Dennis Brutus's dramatic poem "For a Dead African." The third is a setting of the lyrical poem "No More" by Ilva Mackay, and the fourth is a brief setting of Mongane Wally Serote's strikingly evocative and intense poem, "I can sit opposite God and he will never be able to look me in the eye." The final movement is a setting of a section of a second Dennis Brutus poem entitled "For Chief." This poem was written on the occasion of the death of Chief Albert John Luthuli of the Zulu people. My intention was to capture the profound sense of loss that this poignant poem embodies. -- Olly Wilson