Kyle Gann: New World Coming

New World Coming takes its title from "There's a New World Coming," a 1975 spiritual by folk singer and civil rights activist Bernice Johnson Reagon. The song, rendered all the more urgent and relevant by the stolen election of November 2000, is quoted in the middle of the piece, and one of its motives runs throughout. The relevant chorus and final verse of that song are as follows:

There's a new world coming!
Everything's gon' be turning over.
Everything's gon' be turning over.
Where you gon' be standing when it comes?

The nations of Asia and Africa
They're taking over their lives.
The sisters and brothers south of us
Are finally gettin' wise.
Then take a look, United States
Of the North American clime,
With your strange mixture of wealth and hate
You won't be exempt this time!

I wrote the piece in August of 2001 for bassoonist Tamara Plummer, a student then doing a senior project on the history of spirituals. Like several of my works, this one owes much to the meticulous beauty of William Duckworth's music. In retrospect, I also notice that its ritornello structure and bitonality hark back to a piece that was dear to me as a teenager, Darius Milhaud's irrepressible Le Boeuf sur le Toit.

World premiere: April 17, 2002, At Olin Auditorium, Bard College; by bassoon soloist Tamara Plummer and the Da Capo ensemble

- Kyle Gann

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