I am prepared to tell a story that recalls an ancient tradition of praise song, one that calls us to remember the wisdom of the ancient voices for the present day. The harp is considered by many to be the oldest musical instrument in the world. It was used to accompany the myths and sacred stories in the third millennium B.C. As a contemporary praise singer, I wish to present both a dramatic and historical rendering of voices from various oral traditions that give emphasis to voice of women and address the themes of love and war. With existing fragments of ancient music and original composition at the harp, I draw from the hymns of ancient Sumer in the 3rd millennium, the ancient Greek oral tradition with respect to lyric and epic poetry, sacred verse from the Old Testament, and finally, with drum in hand,
(Please see "VOICE")
Voice: A Call for Greater Religious Tolerance
VOICE is a performance piece that recreates for a contemporary audience the ancient art of praise song. The story I wish to tell is perhaps one of the oldest of all stories as it begins in Sumer in the 3rd millennium B.C., in Ur, later the birthplace of Abraham. It is a story that encompasses myth from the cradle of civilization and sacred verse from the Holy lands. It is a story that gives emphasis to the themes of love and war while highlighting the voices of women, the voices of praise, faith and struggle that have come down to us from the earliest days of recorded history. Perhaps the time has come to resist the tyranny of religious intolerance as we can – even with a harp and a remembrance of shared cultural and spiritual legacy.
Love and War:
Excerpts from Sappho and "Trojan Women"
In Sappho we hear for the first time in the Western world the voice of an individual woman. Sappho is considered by many to be the greatest lyric poet of Greece, yet fragments are all that remain of her poetry and most of what we have was recovered in Egypt – torn, wadded, and stuffed inside the mouths of mummified crocodiles.
The harp was the traditional instrument of accompaniment for the Greek epic poets and Sappho was considered the first woman to accompany all of her lyrics with the plectra, or harp. ”
Sappho was born at Eressus on the island of Lesbos around 612 B.C., and during her lifetime she was respected for her passionate and powerful voice. In the sixth century, however, her life had become obscured by legend and Sappho became a stock character in Attic comedy. In 391 of our era, her poems were a part of that legacy from that past that was destroyed with the burning of the library in Alexandria, Egypt. Out of more than 500 poems, little more than 700 lines remain.
Now, these alone must speak for her.We then proceed to Euripides famous play, "The Women of Troy". Here, the story will be told by those women who survive the war, namely Hecube, the mother of Prince Hector, and Andromache. This play by Euripides was considered a daring plea for peace and a brave portrayal of victory from the standpoint of the defeated. It is also considered by many scholars to be the greatest denunciation of war in ancient literature.
The Elder Edda
A collection of Old Norse poems from the Icelandic medieval manuscript, Codex Regius ("Royal Book")
- Excerpts from a Norse hymn to Odin, The High God ("Havamal")
- "The Lay of Baldur" – ("Baldrs Draumar")
- And finally "The Song of the Sibyl" ("The Voluspa"}
- Memorized adaptations by Dianne
- Music production by Chris Camozzi
A Praise Song for an American Hero
In 1890, Lieutenant John G. Burnett called on the Anglo-Saxon race to create a "towering monument" for a Cherokee woman who gave away her only blanket to a sick child during the forced march of the Cherokee Indians to Oklahoma Territory in 1838. In our own time of upheaval and “tribal” conflict, I have attempted to make a response and create as it were, a small monument to an unsung American hero whose act of compassion recalls similar acts by women and mothers that occur daily in many parts of the world and are just as likely to remain unknown and uncelebrated.
In the belief that a society must praise its heroes in order to know who they are, we have dramatized the story by Lieutenant Burnett in the hope that his account of this fateful journey taken in a time of struggle for our democracy warrants a retelling as an act of remembrance and an inducement to peace. To this end, we have created a performance piece illustrative of Lieutenant Burnett’s birthday story to his children and grandchildren. Included in our story are excerpts from the appeal to Congress by Chief John Ross on the eve of The Removal, and Dianne's own "Song to the November Moon" in praise of Quatie Ross.
The Trail of Tears
An interactive educational presentation
for school age children
click photo to read about The Trail of Tears
Dear Mrs. Ross,
"Thank you for birngging all this stouf….It was nice for you to do this amazing “stouf.” Also you are a good artise for us. You are a hroe of mien."