"Tired of Silence": Andrew Lippa's Track-By-Track Journey Through His Oratorio I Am Harvey Milk

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29 Jun 2014

7. "Sticks and Stones":

Hate speech is hate speech. To me, there is no hierarchy among words that denigrate people because of their skin color, ethnic background, sexuality, etc. This movement – given an explicit rating by iTunes because of the use of such language – asserts that name-calling can and does hurt us and that the words used against gay men and women are just as foul as the "N" word.

Some of the singers who have performed this work have been worried about the language. Some people have asked if I could change some of the words, especially for less sophisticated audiences around the country. My answer is an emphatic "no." Hate speech is hate speech. I don't want to soft-pedal it.

8. "Lavender Pen":

The idea of this song borrows a tiny bit from Stephen Sondheim's "Someone In A Tree." It's the notion of being witness to something historic and then singing about it. In this piece, Harvey Milk watches Mayor George Moscone sign the first non-discrimination bill with sexual orientation language passed by a major city. The story goes that as Moscone was about to sign, Harvey handed him a lavender pen, lavender traditionally being a color often associated with gay men. I love singing this one mostly because I get to sing a high A-flat at the top of my lungs at the very end!

Continued...

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