Don’t Look Away
On January 27th, 2023, I had the honor of being in the audience as the students of Ithaca College premiered Don’t Look Away (Requiem For a World That Never Was), a new work for choir, orchestra and soloists with music by composer John Conahan and text by yours truly. It has been the work of nearly three years and endless hours of editing and education, production and activism, conceived of and ushered into existence by the incredible mezzo-soprano and educator dawn pierce.
Racism in America is a difficult and complex subject, and one thing that I’ve heard over and over for many years in conversations with people of color is that white people need to talk to other white people about racism. When dawn pierce came to John Conahan and me with the question, “is there room in classical music for white people to do this work?” we began a journey that answers a resounding “yes,” though not without many missteps, twists and turns, helpful criticism and learning, learning, learning.
I would be honored if you took a look at www.justdontlookaway.com where you can watch the archived video of the premiere performance, as well as learn more about the piece, racism in classical music, and browse next steps for white-identifying audiences.
This has been the most important project of my lifetime, and I hope it has a long life in communities wrestling with the complex legacy of America.