Turn To The World • A Whitman Cantata

Turn To The World: A Whitman Cantata (2018/19)

Duration ca. 18 minutes

Instrumentation: 3(picc.)2.eh.2.bcl.2.cbsn-

This work is in the proof reading stage; Commissioned by the Grant Park Music Festival this work is scored for large orchestra and chorus. The text includes excerpts from Whitman’s Thoughts on social justice, inequality, and corruption.

World-premiere will take place in Chicago on June 14 and 15, 2019. Details coming soon.

I. As If

(Thought)                                                                                                                                                Of Equality—As if it harm’d me, giving others the
same chances and rights as myself—As if it
were not indispensable to my own rights that
others possess the same;

Of Justice—As if Justice could be anything but the
same ample law, expounded by natural judges
and saviors,                                                                                                                                            As if it might be this thing or that thing, according
to decisions.


Of obedience, faith, adhesiveness;                                                                                          As I stand aloof and look, there is to me something
profoundly affecting in large masses of men,
following the lead of those who do not believe
in men.



LET that which stood in front go behind,

Let that which was behind advance to the front,

Let bigots, fools, unclean persons, offer new propositions,

Let the old propositions be postponed.



LET the reformers descend from the stands where they are forever
bawling—let an idiot or insane person appear on each of
the stands;

Let judges and criminals be transposed—let the prison-keepers be
put in prison—let those that were prisoners take the keys;

Let them that distrust birth and death lead the rest.


(After reading HEGEL)

ROAMING in thought over the Universe, I saw the little that is Good
steadily hastening towards immortality,
And the vast all that is call’d Evil I saw hastening to merge itself
and become lost and dead.


Turn, O Libertad – Poem by Walt Whitman

TURN, O Libertad, for the war is over,
(From it and all henceforth expanding, doubting no more, resolute,
sweeping the world,)
Turn from lands retrospective, recording proofs of the past;
From the singers that sing the trailing glories of the past;
From the chants of the feudal world–the triumphs of kings, slavery,
Turn to the world, the triumphs reserv’d and to come–give up that
backward world;
Leave to the singers of hitherto–give them the trailing past;
But what remains, remains for singers for you–wars to come are for
(Lo! how the wars of the past have duly inured to you–and the wars
of the present also inure:)
–Then turn, and be not alarm’d, O Libertad–turn your undying
To where the future, greater than all the past,
Is swiftly, surely preparing for you.

poet Walt Whitman Walt Whitman