• George Lewis
  • Weathering (2023)

  • C.F. Peters Corporation (World)
  • 2(2pic).2.2.2(II:cbn)/
  • 17 min

Programme Note

Composer note
Weathering continues my fascination with the classic trope of depiction in American music, as found in Amy Beach, Charles Ives, Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins, Elliott Carter, Duke Ellington, and many others.  This new work is part of my series of musical meditations on the sound of decolonisation that ask: If we get what we want, what will it sound like?

The music of the new black improvisors of the 1960s prompted a New York Times characterization: "Black, Angry and Hard to Understand." John Coltrane’s response was a cryptic statement of resistance:  he was trying to show “the many wonderful things he knows of and senses in the universe.” This was “stoic” (with a small “S”):  enduring pain or hardship without showing feelings or complaining.

The public health researcher Arline Geronimus calls “weathering” a continuous fight-or-flight vigilance and stress response in reaction to an unrelenting anti-Blackness that can be experienced at any time, transcending class position, with lingering effects long after the experience is over.  Nonetheless, the targets of the abuse are expected to respond “stoically.”

Here, we can turn to JID’s song “Kody Blue 31” (2022) which tells us that the only way to survive this Sisyphean cleftstick is to “keep on swangin’ on,” a form of New Testament hexisWeathering (the music) is about the sound of that struggle, part of a larger call for new histories, new subjectivities, and a new identity for classical music. I am hoping that this music will provoke not stress, but empathy, since diverse forms of weathering affect us all. 

— George E. Lewis




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