Leur Songe de la Paix (Their Dream of Peace)

Music by Stephen Travis Pope
Realized: Santa Barbara, 2003, 10:34 min.

Music in three movements for voices, bells, analog synthesizer, orchestral samples, and Morse-code program.
Text by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-68).

One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of the status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent, but today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change. (Martin Luther King)

The motivation for "Leur Songe de la Paix" was to provide the simplest possible setting for several excerpts from Martin Luther King's famous "A Time to Break Silence" speech, delivered in New York exactly one year before his assassination. The title reflects the discouraged hopes of many in the peace movement over recent (2003) events that make Reverend King's words from 1967 even more poignant. In addition to his voice, the material comes from the melody of the Gregorian chant "Ubi caritas" and the "Farewell" movement of Gustav Mahler's "Song of the Earth." The texts of these two sources are only heard as Morse Code (thanks to a program by Nitin Solanki). The fragments used here are,
Where there is charity, and selfless love,
God is certainly there.
        [...]
The sun is disappearing behind the mountains.
In all the valleys, the night is taking over,
with its shadows and its chill.
Formally, the piece is a traditional Concerto Grosso in three movements (fast-slow-fast).

Down-load a 1-minute excerpt of the piece as an MP3 file



Text

(Excerpts from a sermon by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered at the Riverside Church in New York on April 4, 1967.)

Oh, our government, and the press generally, won't tell us these things, but God told me to tell you this morning: the truth must be told. Oh my friends, if there is any one thing that we must see today, it is that these are revolutionary times. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

I am convinced, that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, then we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies It will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries and say, "this is not just." A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order, and say of war, "this way of settling differences is not just." Our only hope today lives in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit.

I have not lost faith; I'm not in despair, because I know that there is a moral order. And don't let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine messianic force to be, a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgement, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, "You are too arrogant; and if you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power."

No lie can live forever. You shall reap what you sow.

We must rapidly begin to shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism, and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered.

Let me say finally that I oppose the war because I love America. I speak out against this war not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example for the world. Men will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, and nations will not rise up against nations, neither shall they study war any more, and I don't know about you, but I'm not going to study war any more.

I call on Washington today; I call on every man and woman of good will all over America today, I call on the young men of America who must make a choice today.

Take a stand on this issue; tomorrow may be too late.

The book may close.


About the Composer

Stephen Travis Pope (b. 1955, New Jersey, USA), studied at Cornell University, the Vienna Music Academy, and the "Mozarteum" in Salzburg, Austria. He is currently active as a composer, as a senior research specialist at the Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology (CREATE) at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), and as a lecturer in the UCSB Graduate Program in Media Arts and Technology (MAT).

He has realized his musical works in numerous computer music studios in Europe (Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Salzburg, Stockholm, Munich, and Amsterdam) and the USA (Stanford, Berkeley, and Santa Barbara); his music is published by GEMA and Touch, and is available from Centaur Records, Perspectives of New Music, Touch Records, SBC Records, the Electronic Music Foundation, and on MIT Press CD/CD-ROMs.

Stephen also has over 80 publications in the fields of computer music, artificial intelligence, human-computer interfaces, and object-oriented software. He was elected a lifetime member of the International Computer Music Association in 1990. Stephen lived in Europe (Austria, France, and Germany) from 1977-86, and has spent several years there since then (Holland and Sweden). Since 1986, he has lived primarily in California. He is a practising Quaker/Friend and an active conscientious objection counselor.

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