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HERE I AM: I AM HERE

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March 23, 2024 | 7:30 p.m. Holy Apostles

Cynthia Powell, Artistic Director; Eric Sedgwick, pianist and organist 

Pauline Kim Harris, Ben Russell, violins; Jessica Meyer, viola; Jules Biber, cello, Paige Durr, percussion

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This performance of Here I Am: I Am Here is made possible, in part, due to the generous support of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council through its Creative Engagement Grant program

LMCC provides support for artist projects in Manhattan with funding from New York State and City agencies, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, and the Howard Gilman Foundation.

Welcome to Here I Am: I Am Here

 

On behalf of the Stonewall Chorale, thank you so much for joining us for the second concert of our 47th season. As both the President and a proud member of the Stonewall Chorale, the first LGBTQ chorus in the United States, I extend to all of you a warm welcome and my sincerest gratitude that you’ve chosen to spend your evening with us. Our organization has always been a community that stands for advocacy through musical excellence, and under the baton of our artistic director, Cynthia Powell, we are eager and honored to bring you a program this evening that upholds that tradition. 

 

We deeply appreciate your presence here tonight, as well as your support of who we are and what we do. Our concert ticket sales are only one part of why we can perform the highest quality of music, including New York premieres like the one we bring you tonight. We also rely on grants, such as from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in support of this concert, as well as the generosity of your individual giving, which you can do at stonewallchorale.org/domate. As always, thank you so much for your continued support and generosity, through both funding and applause.

Tonight we perform for you two major works, composed over 200 years apart, yet both centering on the power of listening to young people. Our first piece, the Mass No. 2 in G major, was composed in the span of a single week by Franz Schubert not long after his 18th birthday. Many scholars have speculated Schubert’s possible romantic attractions to men, and how that may have been connected to his lifelong depression and frequent isolation. Beyond that, this beautiful and celebrated piece is a setting of a catholic mass composed by a declared agnostic. The other piece we present today, Andrea Clearfied’s “Here I Am: I Am Here,” centers two young people and their struggles to perform roles for the world against the nature of their authentic selves. The lives and stories of young people seeking acceptance, understanding, and to simply be heard is the inspiration for the musical performances you will hear tonight.

 

Regarding “Here I Am: I Am Here,” the lyrics of this powerful work are drawn from two letters, one written by a mother to her transgender son, and the other by a conversion therapy survivor writing to their younger self. As such, these lyrics include content that describes someone’s shifting perceptions of another person’s gender labels, explicit details of abuse experiences while undergoing conversion therapy, hateful speech and rhetoric, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. We recognize that these are difficult to listen to and think about; in rehearsing this work, many of us in the chorale have felt heightened emotions of our own. While this piece of music includes elements some may find triggering, we are committed to a respectful and heartfelt performance in honor of these experiences, singing in solidarity with all who struggle in the fight to protect and validate LGBTQI+ lives, identities, struggles, and, ultimately, joy. 

 

Emily McSpadden, Board President

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Texts & Translations

Mass in G (D. 167), Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

 

Kyrie

Kyrie eleison,

Christe, eleison,

Kyrie eleison.

 

Lord, have mercy,

Christ, have mercy,

Lord, have mercy.

 

Gloria

Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.      

Laudamus te, benedicimus te, adoramus te, glorificamus te, gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam, Domine Deus, Rex caelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.

Domine Fili unigenite, Iesu Christe, Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris,

qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis; qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram. Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis.

Quoniam tu solus Sanctus, tu solus Dominus,

tu solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe, cum Sancto Spiritu: in gloria Dei Patris. Amen.

 

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good

will. We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory, Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father.

Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son, Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer; you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

 

Credo

Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium. Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum, et ex Patre natum, ante omnia saecula.

Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero, genitum, non factum, consubstantialem Patri: per quem omnia facta sunt.

Qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem  descendit de caelis.  

Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto, ex Maria Virgine,

et homo factus est.

Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato;  passus et sepultus est, et resurrexit tertia die, 

secundum Scripturas, et ascendit in caelum,  sedet ad dexteram Patris.                                    

Et iterum venturus est cum gloria, iudicare vivos et mortuos, cuius  regni non erit finis.     

Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem: qui ex Patre Filioque procedit. Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur: qui locutus est per prophetas.

Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam. Confiteor unum baptisma

in remissionem peccatorum.

Et exspecto  resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venturi saeculi. Amen.

 

I believe in one God, the Father almighty,

maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,

the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father

before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven,         

and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,

and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,

who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look

forward to the resurrection of the dead

and the life of the world to come. Amen.

 

Sanctus

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth.

Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.

Hosanna in excelsis.

 

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of hosts.

Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest. 

 

Benedictus

Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.

Osanna in excelsis.

 

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.

Osanna in the highest.

 

Agnus Dei

Agnus Dei,

qui tollis peccata mundi: miserere nobis. 

Agnus Dei,

qui tollis peccata mundi: miserere nobis.

Agnus Dei,

qui tollis peccata mundi: dona nobis pacem.

 

Lamb of God,

you take away the sin of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God,

you take away the sin of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God,

you take away the sin of the world, grant us peace.

Here I Am : I Am Here, Andrea Clearfield

Based on texts by Mimi LeMay and Sam Brinton.

 

PART I

Prologue
Her
e I am 

 

I: Here I am

It started with a birth (Chorus)
I am here.
And then I heard you.
Here I am.

 

Narration (Mimi): A birth became my world, a world that began to collapse
when I discovered the price my child would have to pay to live an authentic life.
I prepared your sister and our home for your arrival – matching dresses in pink and purple…
When we finally met, you were momentarily silent. You didn’t whimper,
you didn’t cry, you roared “Here I am!”

 

It started with a birth (Chorus)
Here I am! (Tenor solo)
Here I am! (Chorus)
Hello Princess. (Soprano solo)
I’m your Mama.
I am here.

 

II: A Mother’s Love (1) 
So how much do we love you?
Eternally.
The length and width of the universe, and then some.
And then some.
And then some.
And then some… (Mimi: narrator)
And then. and then… (chorus)

 

III: Our Em is a Quirky Girl

Our Em is a quirky girl. (Chorus)
No princess like her sister, that’s for sure.
Only picking boy parts for role play these days.
Role play, play acting, role play, pretend.
Role play, play acting, role play, pretend.


Call her James, or Jackson, or Max or Jake
Even when no one else is play acting.

Our Em is a quirky girl, quirky, quirky girl (Chorus)
And Em. Hates. Pink!

 

Narration (Mimi): This is our Em. A unique spirit. A force to be reckoned with, our Em.

Our Em is a quirky girl.
No princess like her sister, so we think.
Wearing a tutu stinks!
Only wearing blue, black and grey
Role play, role play, blue, black, grey.
Our Em is a quirky girl, quirky girl, quirky, quirky girl.
And Em. Hates. Pink!

Em is a Force!

 

At the Crossroads #1
I am here.
Here I am. I am a boy 
I am a boy, a boy

 

IV: Not My Little Girl 
Pretend, pretending, a boy, an obsession, a whim.
Not my little girl.
The clothing, the colors, the names, the punching and wailing and screaming.
Pretend, pretend, pretending a boy, an obsession, a whim. 
Not my little girl, not my baby girl, not happening. 

 

Narration (Mimi): I am losing you, my precious daughter. You are slipping from my grasp, hurtling into a void.
I feel helpless. My world is starting to unravel.

The clothing, the colors, the names, the punching and wailing and screaming. (Chorus)
Pretend, pretending, pretending a boy, another obsession, a whim.
This is no game.
There is no pretend.
Transgender. Suicide risk.
What is the treatment? What is the cure? 

Not my little girl, not my baby girl.
Not happening, not happening, please wake up!

 

V: Keep Things Fluid/Fracture (Chorus)

Narration (Mimi): I’m listening.

Keep things fluid
Keep the door open.
Keep listening.

Soprano solo:
Keep things fluid
Keep the door open.
Keep listening.

Cut your hair, grey and blue, open-shut, boy and girl,
Cut your hair, grey and blue, home and school, living as two.
FRACTURE
Out of box, cut your hair, grey and blue, open-shut, boy and girl, home and school,
live as two, ride the storm.

FRACTURE
Cut your hair, out of box, grey and blue, open-shut, boy and girl, home and school,
live two lives, show support, ride the storm, listen more.
Keep things fluid.
Keep things fluid.
FRACTURE

 

PART II: SAM

 

VI: Here I am: I am here
It started, it started with a birth.
Here I am.

Narration (Sam): It started when I was 11 and told my father I wasn’t interested in my friend’s
Playboy magazine but found Dale, a cute high school boy, “more interesting”.

It started with a birth. 
I am here. 
Here I am.

My parents were both Southern Baptist missionaries. Out of their deeply held faith and misguided love,
they took me to a conversion therapist to cure me of my homosexuality. He told me:
“You are the only gay person left alive. All the rest have died of AIDS.
You are an abomination in the sight of God.”

It started with a birth. 
Here I am.
God hates me. God hates Sam. 

 

VII: The Treatment/The Cure
Burning ice/touching men, burning cold/kissing men, burning, heating coils/touching men,
heating coils/holding men, needles, small needles, electric shock/sex with men,
electric shock/wanting men, wanting, hell on earth. I want to die. (Chorus)

I want to die. 

Narration (Sam): My hands were bound to a table with leather straps. Blocks of ice were placed in each hand.
My conversion ‘therapy’ consisted of images of men holding hands paired with physical pain.
Then the ‘therapist’ used hot copper coils. Finally, he showed me images of men engaged in
sexual acts while electrodes delivered shocks to my fingertips.

I want to die

 

VIII: Dear God, Make Me Straight 

Dear God, dear God, dear God, make me straight.
Dear God, dear God, make me straight. 

I will love you, if you just change. 

Dear God, dear God, dear God, make me change.
Dear God, I’m dying. This will kill me.
Dear God, I am completely alone. 

Dear God, make him straight, make him change.
I will love you, if you just change.

Save his soul, go to heaven, save your soul, just change 

Dear God, dear God, make me straight.
Dear God, dear God, make me change. 

Just change.

I will love you again, if you just change.

Dear God, dear God. 

 

At the Crossroads #2:
Alone. Sequestered. Hidden. Afraid. Stranded. Tortured. Ruined. God hates me.
Alone. Abandoned by God. Sequestered. Alone. To die.

Mommy, I tried. I really tried.

Narration (Sam): I was going to jump off the roof, and my mom found me. I told her that
God had changed me. I lied. I wanted the pain to stop. I knew it was a sin to lie,
but it was a greater sin to commit suicide. Mommy, I tried.

 

MIMI
At the crossroads #3
Lost, stranded, walls, shutting down, pain, doesn’t belong…with the girls, with the boys.
Lost. Em’s pain. Em’s palpable pain. Em is lost at the crossroads.

 

Narration (Mimi): You cried: “What’s wrong with my body? Why did God make me like this?”

Em’s Lost. Show her the way. 
What is the way?
How can we know, at the crossroads? 
What if?

 

IX: A Mother’s Love (2)
So how much do we love you?
Eternally.
The length and width of the universe, and then some.
And then some.
And then some.

 

Narration (Mimi): You sat at the edge of a gaggle of girls…and looked up at a group of boys
being disciplined by their mothers for running amok…and the look on your face skewered me.
It was a hunger I had never seen before. You weren’t confused. You knew where you belonged.

 

X: The time is now
I want to be a boy, always. I want to be a boy named Jacob.

I believe you.

We believe you.
You know where you belong.

Jacob, my love.

 

EPILOGUE: Love Letters

A letter to My Younger Self: “Oh beautiful, Little Sam”

Oh, little, beautiful Sam. There’s nothing to change. You are a perfect, beautiful little boy.
Live life, little Sam, and know that you are loved.

Narration (Sam): Oh, little beautiful Sam. I, the grown up you, am here to tell you that you tried more
than you ever should have. I wish I could have been with you on the rooftop when you tried to take your life.
But I am here now, to thank you for surviving. [You will liv
e to meet your love on a special day.
And it will feel beautiful. You will ask him to marry you, and he will say yes]. Live life, little Sam, and
know that you are loved.

A Letter to My Son: “Jacob, my love” 

Narration (Mimi): I have seen and wish to share remarkable things. In those early days as Jacob,
I saw the most authentic parts, in the deepest reaches of you, begin to unfold. I saw you take your first huge breaths.
At first there was a silence, as you paused to take in the new world around you, and then you roared: I AM HERE!!
It was then that I realized that we had indeed met before, but I had not truly recognized you that first time.
[It was then that my grief began to depart.]
I knew in my soul that you had always been my son, Jacob.
And so always,
All my love, Mom.

 

Here I am. I am here.

 

Narration (Sam): Live life, little Sam.

 

Narration (Mimi): Jacob, my love, always, my love.

 
You are loved.
I am here.

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Program Notes

 

Mass No. 2 in G major, D 167 by Franz Schubert was composed in less than a week in early March, 1815 (Schubert was 18), and remains the best known of his short mass settings. The Mass in G major is one of the most popular settings of the mass: the charming song-like melodic writing, especially in the Kyrie and the Credo, forms a magical counterpoint to more concertante passages in the Gloria and the Sanctus. For a long time it was thought that Schubert’s final version was scored for purely strings and organ, though Stonewall is including the timpani from a later edition in this evening’s version.

 

In his short life – he died even younger than Mozart at just 31 – this great Romantic composer composed 600 songs, nine symphonies and numerous other large and smaller-scale works. In 1989, music historian Maynard Solomon suggested (controversially at the time), that Schubert’s song lyrics carry the evidence that Schubert was romantically attracted to men – something that has been hotly contested, including by historian Rita Steblin who believes Schubert was “chasing men”. Others have picked up on the former theory more recently, but it seems the jury is still out. (Classic FM)

 

Here I Am: I Am Here

We are very happy and proud to present the New York premiere of Andrea Clearfield's moving and evocative, gender identity-themed choral work Here I Am: I Am Here. As the second full presentation of the work, this performance follows the 2022 premiere in Boston by its commissioning chorus, Coro Allegro, as part of their series “Letters to Our Children: Voices Across Generations of LGBTQ+ Youth.” Stonewall is thrilled that composer/librettist Andrea Clearfield, Mimi Lemay and Sam Brinton, on whose personal experiences this piece is based, and David Hodgkins, conductor of Coro Allegro are here with us tonight!
 

Here I Am: I Am Here is based on actual letters: a loving letter from a mother, Mimi, to her transgender son Jacob; and a letter of validation and support from the non-binary adult, Sam, to their younger self. The narratives explore the misconceptions and fears of parents who are initially unable to accept their children—as well as the pain of the children dealing with gender identity, conversion therapy, and suicidal ideation. While difficult and sometimes graphic, the stories underscore the power of love and connection as a healing force. According to Stonewall tenor Quincy Dean-Slobod, the work is “about overcoming shame and fear and finding joy in living authentically.”

 

The message of Here I Am: I Am Here is more important now than ever, in light of increased violence against queer and transgender children—most recently with the deadly assault on 16-year-old Nex Benedict. As anti-trans bills are introduced across the country to deny queer children and parents basic rights and dignity and families are forced to leave their home states to remain safe, the need for the community to galvanize in support of one another is critical. Works like Here I Am: I Am I Here hold space for us to come together and proudly assert that we are here both as trans individuals and as allies, in support of our trans community. 

 

Clearfield's understanding of this need for connection and community is profound, and her exploration of the texts formed the basis for building the musical architecture of the piece. The meticulously crafted, concise libretto cuts to the essence of each narrative, continually circling back to every human being’s origin story: “It started with a birth; I am here.” Clearfield's musical language—comprising biting atonal motifs, painfully beautiful melodies, light-hearted uptempo pieces, and agitated rhythmic patterns—captures the range of emotion. Stonewall member Susan Galardi commented that the piece “takes on you on an emotional journey…ultimately to the connection that comes from truly seeing another human being for who they really are.” —Notes by Justine Medina and Susan Galardi (Stonewall Chorale members)

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Resources

Below are a few of the many resources in support of the transgender/gender-expansive community:

  1. National Center for Transgender Equality

  2. ACLU

  3. Human Rights Campaign

  4. The LGBT Community Center

  5. Transformative Schools

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Artist Bios

CYNTHIA POWELLConductor and Artistic Director, a graduate of Westminster Choir College, has served on the guest faculty at Sarah Lawrence College, led the St. George's Choral Society in NYC, and was a guest conductor at the International Choral Festival in Havana, Cuba. Cynthia was the organist/choirmaster of Christ Church, Ridgewood, NJ, from 1992-2008 and West End Collegiate Church, NYC from 2008-2021. She is currently the accompanist and choir director of Temple Sinai in Tenafly, and she also serves as organist/choir director for the Welsh Congregation of NYC. This season is her 21st season as the Artistic Director of the Stonewall Chorale and Melodia Women’s Choir and she has produced recitals, oratorios and concerts to benefit Doctors Without Borders, the Pastors for Peace Cuba Caravan, and Water is Life, Kenya.

 

Cynthia has performed at Lincoln Center, the Guggenheim, BAM, the Whitney Museum and Zankel Hall with composer Meredith Monk, and has toured the U.S. and Europe in various works by Monk. She recently led the Stonewall Chorale in “Considering Matthew Shepard” by Craig Hella Johnson, a contemporary oratorio on the life of a young gay man from Wyoming who was brutally murdered in a hate crime in 1998. She is a frequent substitute organist and choral director at the Riverside Church in NYC, at Church of the Ascension, NYC and recently played a recital at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in NYC. She shares her life with Allison Sniffin, and they both reside in Englewood, NJ

ERIC SEDGWICKPianist, has performed with many of music’s top talents, including Leona Mitchell, Sanford Sylvan and Marni Nixon, Broadway leading ladies Sarah Rice, Carole Demas and Debra Monk, and English hornist Thomas Stacy of the New York Philharmonic. A frequent performer and collaborator in the NYC area, he is also a vocal coach at the Manhattan School of Music and the faculty collaborative pianist for the Tanglewood Music Center. He has served as rehearsal pianist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, under the batons of Michael Tilson Thomas, Bramwell Tovey, John Williams and Andris Nelsons. He is a regular pianist for events with the Metropolitan Opera Guild, and has worked for Carnegie Hall’s Music Education Workshops with Joyce DiDonato, as well as for the International Vocal Arts Institutes in New York and Montreal, and for Beth Morrison Projects. For ten years he was the music director for the Junior Opera Theater scenes program at Manhattan School of Music, directed by Catherine Malfitano. On the west coast, he has been a longtime coach and music director for the OperaWorks training program in Los Angeles.

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HIASWC

The Stonewall Chorale

Soprano: Jessica Abdow, Michelle Ammirati+, Stephanie Berger, Hazel Browne, Taylor Cockrum, Jeanne Fahrenbach, Scarlett Ferman, Larissa Flint McDowell*+, Joan Gardner, Casey Gilfoil, Beth Kelly, Sandy MacDonald, Justine Medina, Catherine O'Brien, Rachel Oladimeji, Jeremy Parker, Rachel Porter, Katrin Ree, Erin Sage, Julia Saltzman, Annah Shipman, Susan Strickler, Ann Sweeney, Joyce Weinstein+

Alto: Olivia Beeman, Emily Boytinck, Sarah Chapman+, Erin Clancy, Wednesday Derrico, Adelaide Fuller, Susan Galardi, Siobahn Hotaling+, Elana Leifer, Emily McSpadden+, Julia Millison, Nicole Mion, Marina Mulé, Katherine Silva, Kira Stockdale+, Jeaneilla Teixeira, Jan Thompson, Janet Zaleon*

Tenor: Terry Colliton, Jose Cuevas, Quincy Dean-Slobod, David Fanger*+, Siobhán Fuller, Andrew Grant, Donald Johnston, John Kennedy, Debbie Mincer, Gilbert Robinson, Jr., Aaron Sanko, Scott Smith

Bass-Baritone: John Barrow, Elliot Brown, Michael Conwill*, Marsh Drege, Melissa Hsu, John-Charles Kelly, Pedro Lavin, Eric Manlapig, Marty Schoenhals, Cameron Shore, Ontario Turner, Vaughn Watson

* Section Leader | + Board Member

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Sponsorships & Dedications

Susan Galardi sponsors A Mother’s Love:  “To my wife and son who gave me the gift of being a mother, with all my love, and then some.”

The Sopranos sponsor  Love Letters: “Bless all who are joined in the journey of becoming in love.”

The Tenors sponsor Benedictus: “In honor of The Stonewall Chorale’s amazing soloists.”

Terry Colliton sponsors Gloria: “In gratitude for the Chorale.”

The Altos sponsor the Cello: “From the lovers of deep low notes.”

The Basses sponsor the Bass: "Everybody loves a bass." ​

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Thank you to our Generous Donors*

Kirsten Abrams, Susan Amster, Marianne Ardito, Nancy Berg, Jeffrey Berg, Nancy Berger, Donald Bickford, Michael Bosnick, Emily Boytinck, Caren Brooks, Ann Cantwell-Sweeney, Yelena Chervinsky, Theresa Colliton, Joanna Curtis, Stephen Deutsche, Nola Deutsche, Allan Gibofsky, Martha Golar, Google, John Grant, Thomas Harlin, Molly Haskell, Chaya Himelfarb, Elliot Hurwitz, Michael Kates, John Kennedy, Trent Lethco, m Mally, Barbara Merjan, Frank Miller, Deborah Mincer, Mightycause Foundation, Manuel Ovando, Moody's Corporation, Debra Reiner, Howard Rich, Verdery Roosevelt, Stephen Rutsky, Serra Schlanger, Bonnie Shevins, Howard Slonim, Allison Sniffin, David Tarlo, Valerie Wald, Joyce Weinstein, Brooke Wiese, Ruth Zaleon, Marilyn Zaleon, Janet Zaleon.

*Note: This list reflects those who made a donation to the Chorale between July 1, 2023 and March 10, 2024.

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