- I. Realization 7:40
noun: birthright; plural noun: birthrights
1. a particular right of possession or privilege one has from birth
Birthright is the concept of things being due to a person upon or by fact of their birth, or due to the order of their birth. In the case of this programmatic work, birthright is meant to be simply the right for a living being to be born, apart from what is compelled by the two humans that conceived the birth. This birthright is a very strong belief that I hold at a deep and personal level. Much of this strong belief is based on the following story:
In the mid-1980s, a friend of mine escorted his wife to a physician’s exam. After the appointment clearly was running long, he began wondering what was keeping them in the examination room for what should’ve been a routine visit. After a few hours, his wife walked out of the room with the doctor, and both were grim faced. The doctor approached the husband and said, “your wife has cancer.” Certainly, that news would’ve been terrible enough for the young couple, but it was even more gut-wrenching as he and his wife were three-months pregnant and were expecting a baby later that year. The doctor recommended that the pregnancy be terminated immediately to begin radiation treatment. The man and his wife had a very serious choice to make; an incredibly heartbreaking choice if the advice of the doctor were to be followed. As the story was relayed to me, the man and wife pondered their decision over the next 3 to 4 days. The mother informed the doctor that she would not be willing to terminate the pregnancy, even against the physician’s strongest advice. The pregnancy continued, and the mother’s health slowly declined as the cancer progressed.
Six months later and after a very difficult birth, the child was born, and the mother’s cancer treatment began. The baby girl needed to stay in the hospital for many days before she was well enough and strong enough to return home to her family, but she lived, and the mother survived the cancer as well.
Now, three decades later, that little girl has run eight full marathons, has a child of her own, and is living a very successful life. The mother and father have said they never really considered following the doctor’s advice to abort their child. I can’t help but wonder how many other couples, in the same situation, would’ve been able to be so strong. This is why I believe that every living being that God has created has a birthright: a right to be born and to experience life to whatever fullest degree they are able to achieve.
String Symphony Nº 1 is my musical expression of what a young mother might experience when she unexpectedly discovers she is pregnant. The work is composed in four movements:
I. Realization: The feeling of being overwhelmed by the awareness of pregnancy.
II. Discomposure: The feelings of being disturbed, agitated, overwhelmed and inadequate to the task of the road ahead.
III. Contemplation: The action of pondering thoughtfully for a long time concerning a decision with such grave consequences of a (literally) life or death outcome.
IV. Determination: The young mother is determination. She has a firmness of purpose and the resolve to achieve her goal of giving birth to an unplanned pregnancy. It is this fixed intention or resolution to overcome obstacles that climaxes the work.
A determined person will always try everything to achieve the goal. This applies in the case of the story above — as well as the music resolution of this work.
My belief is that the goal should always be sustaining a new life. It was my choice as a composer to create a piece to celebrate life — all life — even an unborn life. The sustaining of unborn life is thus the child’s birthright.