Friday, March 16, 2012
Rachel Corrie Was Killed Nine Years Ago
Soon after American college senior Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli military bulldozer on the southern border of Gaza, American troops crossed into Iraq from its southern border. The majority of the music in The Skies Are Weeping was written during the first seven months of our Iraqi invasion and occupation. Some people said or wrote then that Rachel Corrie would soon be forgotten.
By the time the work was performed, after three cancellations, our Iraqi experience was quickly eroding. Israel was moving out of Gaza. Some people continued to say or write that Rachel Corrie would soon be forgotten.
People were not forgetting Rachel Corrie.
Now, nine years after Corrie was most likely murdered, her legacy is growing. Though Zionists immediately labeled her a terrorist upon her demise, and most U.S. politicians refused to answer any questions from constituents about her, Corrie's blooming legacy is of efforts in her memory for peace, human rights, comity, meaningful negotiations and rational non-violence.
The Skies Are Weeping was one of many, many early efforts by artists to honor her, and to share a message the artist found in her death. Though designed for an American college percussion ensemble, opera workshop chorus and solo vocalist, it may never be performed at an American college.
That conceptual flaw isn't the only one in the cantata. An uneven work musically, it takes a bit too long to say what it does. It tries to say a lot, though.
The fetish aspects of repetition of Rachel Corrie images in three of the settings were intentional. The piece is meant to both honor her as one of the first American war dead in our global war forever, and to show links to the plight of Palestinians, as their "circumstances," as Rachel put it, are eroded.