I Just Lightning

  • Composer: Libby Larsen 
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Canadian Composition: No
  • Duration: 7:00

Program Notes:

Text from “Woman Who Has Sprouted Wings”, translated from the Mazatec to Spanish be Eloina Estrada de Gonzalez and from Spanish to English by Henry Munn.

From composer Libby Larsen: “The text of I Just Lightning, a one movement work for women’s voices and percussion written in 1994, is an adaptation of a chant recited at a Mushroom Ceremony of the Mazatec Indians of Mexico. The chant evokes the Divine Spirit with a supplication for healing; in this composition, the supplication is for healing and bringing strength to the spirit.

According to writer and poet Henry Munn, the Mushroom Ceremony is usually undertaken by several family members, often multiple generations, in a desire for spiritual enlightenment, “to know and to heal, to see and to say the truth…” and to experience “therapeutic catharsis”. The ceremony takes place in the total darkness of night, and a shaman or shamaness speaks aloud received truths on behalf of and in the presence of the whole group.

Conductor Notes:

This is a very vigourous, extroverted, and challenging piece for women’s choir and percussion (4 timpani, 5 tom-toms, chimes, and suspended cymbal). The percussion part is written for one player, but we used two: one covering timpani only. About half of the score is unmeasured, so the conductor has many choices to make about what to show the choir for clarity and word stress. I metered much of it – it’s subjective – but at least could be consistent in my visual cues.

Learning this work reminded me of Patty Hennings, as I remember her performing it with Peninsula Women’s Chorus. Rest in Peace, Patty, and thank you for your vision and incredibly productive 51 years. You are missed!

References:

This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.

Collections:

Concerts:

Text:

I just lightning, dice (he/she says)
I just shout, dice
I just whistle,
I am a lawyer woman, dice
I am a woman of transactions, dice
Holy Father, dice
That is his clock, dice
That is his lord eagle, dice
That is his opossum, dice
That is his lord hawk, dice
Holy Father, says, dice
(Holy Mother says)
I am a mother woman beneath the water, dice
I am a woman wise in medicine, dice
Holy Father, dice
I am a saint woman, dice
I am a spirit woman, dice
She is a woman of light, dice
She is a woman of day, dice
Holy Father, dice
I am a shooting star woman, dice
I am a whirling woman of colors, dice
I am a clean woman, dice
I am a woman who whistles, dice
(I am a woman who looks into the insides of things, dice)
I am a woman who investigates, dice
I am a woman wise in medicine, dice
I am a mother woman, dice
I am a spirit woman, dice
I am a woman of light, dice
I am a woman of the day, dice
I am a Book woman, dice
I am a woman who looks into the insides of things, dice