I was recently introduced to an article on the Michigan ACDA website (editor, Jed Scott). It was an interview with composer Andrea Ramsey about her recently commissioned work, “But a Flint Holds Fire.” The piece was composed for a Chorus America consortium project and is part of an effort to raise awareness and monetary support for the Flint Water Crisis.
Ramsey states that she lived in Michigan for three years while working on her PhD at Michigan State and that “[t]he Flint Water Crisis has weighed on my heart since it began. I remain stunned that over 100,000 people have been living since April 2014 without usable running water and that the government has yet to replace a single pipe for the mess they created.”
Through Internet research, she discovered a poem written by Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894). Ramsey says, “I was slack-jawed when I read the poem. It is a beautiful poem from the 1800s with wildly haunting relevance to Flint being overlooked and underestimated, yet powerful. As beautiful as the poem is, it is a picture of brevity. I knew it was too short, and that is when I brainstormed an idea to elongate the work by reaching out to Flint residents and gathering their words to include in the piece.”
When asked if she has any specific hopes for how this piece might affect the listener, she replies: “I hope listeners respond with action. My greatest hope is that people will listen, be moved, and act. My greatest fear is that people will listen, be moved, and do nothing.”
Twenty-one choirs across the United States and Canada will be performing “But a Flint Holds Fire,” and there are also opportunities to hear it in Michigan in January 2017 at the Michigan Music Conference and on October 28, 2016, at the ACDA Michigan Fall Conference.
For those interested in learning more about the Flint Water Crisis and how you can help, go here.
To read the full interview article, go here.