Rachel Grimes's Folk Opera "The Way Forth" Considers US History From The Voices That Weren't Heard
Imagine helping your parents sort through boxes and boxes of old documents and memorabilia. Items that go back generations and have resided in the attic for decades, contents unknown to their caretakers. What if you found a document of sale for a woman and her children? The era of slavery seems so far away to us now, but in reality, it only goes back a few generations.
Kentucky-based composer, Rachel Grimes, had to grapple with the emotions of finding such a document. She wanted to know more about this woman named Susan and her children. And what about all of the other voices (primarily women, slaves, and Native Americans) who weren't heard or recorded during that time? Grimes decided to dig a little deeper and try to learn more about this unknown history...and then set what she found to music. What began as a personal exploration of her own family history turned into a critical look at how the United States was founded. It's not the rosy picture that's painted for us through our history books.
What was created is her folk opera, The Way Forth: a beautiful melding a folk, ragtime, ambient, and classical music, setting letters and various writings by Grimes's family members, as well as original text and documents from other Kentucky women.
While the work was performed at the Big Ears Festival 2019 to a standing ovation, the recording of The Way Forth is officially released today, November 1, 2019. More information about this work, as well as Rachel Grimes's other compositions, can be found at http://rachelgrimespiano.com