A Choral Piece for TTBB Chorus and Piano
based on Maya Angelou’s poem, Equality
Freedom was composed in Winston-Salem, North Carolina during August 2000. It’s title page reads:
“Commissioned for the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus by Robert O. Hawkins, Jr.
In loving memory of Edmund and Michele McTernan”
In 1995, it was my distinct privilege to first set to music words by my friend and distinguished Wake Forest University colleague, Maya Angelou. That resulting piece, entitled Since Dawn, is a large-scale composition for narrator, chorus and orchestra based on Dr. Angelou’s 1992 Presidential Inaugural poem for Bill Clinton, On the Pulse of Morning. Freedom sets a shorter poem, one entitled, Equality, from the Angelou poetry cycle, I Shall Not Be Moved. For TTBB chorus and piano, Freedom‘s opening section is characterized by rhythmically driving energy. The recurring refrain-like line in the poem, “Equality, and I will be free”, also serves as a vibrant musical refrain throughout the entire composition. In the piece’s middle section, the rhythmical vibrancy of the opening section gives way to more introspective music. Gradually the energy of the opening section returns and Freedom ends joyously.