A year after her death, the life of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was transformed into something she loved deeply: music. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra will present the world premiere of Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a new work by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, on October 7 at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas.
Co-commissioned by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra with support from the Norma and Don Stone New Music Fund, the Billy Rose Foundation and donors through the American Composers Forum, the piece focuses on Ginsburg’s professional life. “She has a way of seeing the world as a whole, not just this little legal problem or this little legal problem, but the way it fits into life. She always wanted to improve things, ”said Zwilich.
Zwilich is looking for projects that give him goosebumps. Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg immediately intrigued her. “When I heard about the project, I said, ‘I would love to do it. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I would really, really like to do it,” said Zwilich.
Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves will perform the piece. As one of Ginsburg’s favorite opera singers, Graves performed at her memorial. “It’s another thing that gave me goosebumps,” Zwilich said. “Because Denyce Graves is a fabulous singer, not just an opera diva singer, but someone who can really express her emotions with her voice. He lit my fires.
Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya with Jeffrey Biegel at the piano. The play features texts by Lauren K. Watel. “They were a spur to me, an inspiration,” said Zwilich.
Zwilich did extensive research into Ginsburg’s life and career, gaining a perspective on the essence of a woman who in high school was the top of her class and a cheerleader. “Every time you turn a page, there is a wonderful experience there,” Zwilich said. “The person she was all her life, even with the position and the remarkable changes, that person stayed there. It’s fascinating. It’s something that you really aspire to as a human being.
Zwilich has developed a structure in three movements with the titles Act I, Act II and Act III. Act I reflects the start of Ginsburg’s legal career, illustrating Ginsburg’s experience as a woman in a male-dominated field.
Ginsburg used metaphors to explain legal issues and to express a woman’s position in the world. Act I ends with a Ginsburg metaphor often referenced in interviews and appearances. “Our job was to show – which Judge William Brennan put so well into one of the decisions – that the pedestal women were supposed to stand on most often turned out to be a cage,” Ginsburg said. in a 2019 interview with Razia Iqbal for Noēma Magazine.
Act II reflects Ginsburg’s determination to end the status quo. “Act II is about everything she tried to do to change things,” Zwilich said. “She stopped knocking on locked doors and started shooting them. It’s very active, getting rid of the false ceilings, the locked doors and then helping the women get off the pedestals.
Act III is a tribute to his work, although it still remains to be done. “The third act is a reflection of her legacy and all that she left behind, not only for women but also for men,” Zwilich said.
With Biegel’s Reflection of Justice: An Ode to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Mozart’s overture to Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), the opening of Wagner to Der fliegender Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) and selections of Bizet Carmen, the entire concert is a testament to Ginsburg’s passion for music. “She loved music, especially opera and it’s interesting sometimes music can say things that words can’t say,” Zwilich said.
Discovering the humanity of Ginsburg has been the greatest reward for Zwilich. “She was the whole spectrum of life: love, friendship, companionship, family and enjoying music, enjoying life, making jokes. A rich and better life, ”said Zwilich. “I saw her professional life as a journey and for me, going through that process and writing this play was a journey, a passionate journey.”