Let us plant our gardens now
Eugene Rogers, director
Preceded by a reading of Megan Levad's original poem "Habitat"
Commissioned by and dedicated to the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club and their director, Dr. Eugene Rogers.
by Megan Levad
“[Justice] does not allow that the sacrifices imposed on a few are outweighed by the larger sum of advantages enjoyed by many.” -John Rawls
Neighbor, let us find nature.
Near us, in us. Nurture
the wild freedom of the human creature.
No longer sacrifice some among our numbers
to a twisted idol, exiled from clear, cool water,
wholesome earth, sun-warmed air,
and bees, and time enough to grow. No longer offer
gilded alibis as we make whole communities canaries,
whose silence has until now been their
song. Neighbor, we are kind, kin, ken. We will all enter
a commons, this only earth and air and water,
in the end. Let us plant our gardens now, together, where we live.
© Megan Levad, 2016
I remember the first time I heard Eugene Rogers conduct the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club. The musical connection and immediate sense of communication from the singers was powerful and palpable. Here is a conductor who knows how to make music for the enrichment of his students and for the betterment of our communities. I knew I wanted to write a work for Eugene and his students.
Let us plant our gardens now is that work. When we were trying to decide on a text for the commission, I knew I wanted to write music that spoke to an important need in our time. I had been reading about the terrible water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and I came to Eugene with this idea. He connected me with the poet Megan Levad. Megan has created an incredibly moving text that speaks to our need for neighborhood: not simply a place, but a people. What does it mean to be a neighbor to someone? We are all searching for a way to be connected with the people around us. We all impact others. We all have a responsibility to do what we can to better our fellow human beings. As Megan says: “Nurture the wild freedom of the human creature.”
While the Flint crisis has certainly been politicized, it was not my goal to create a political work. My music instead is grounded in the ideas, symbols, and threads of songs that have been born out of adversity. You might hear the influence of South African freedom songs, or perhaps the deep slow 6/8 of a Gospel anthem. While the music is mine, it is without question influenced by the needs, desires, and strength of these powerful movements and communities.
Dr. Eugene Rogers and the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club commissioned this musical work from me and the original poem from Megan, and I am proud to offer this moving and vital work to all of them. I humbly dedicate it so.