Julia Wolfe’s Her Story, a 40-minute, theatrical work for orchestra and women’s chamber choir, received its world premiere September 15-17 with the Nashville Symphony and conductor Giancarlo Guerrero. The world premiere is followed by performances in 2023 from co-commissioners Chicago Symphony Orchestra (January 6–7), Boston Symphony Orchestra (March 16–18), and San Francisco Symphony (May 25–27); National Symphony Orchestra concerts will be announced at a later date. All performances feature the vocal ensemble Lorelei, with stage direction by Anne Kauffman, lighting and scenic design by Jeff Sugg, costumes by Márion Talán de la Rosa, and sound design by Andrew Cotton.
Her Story invokes the words of historical figures and the spirit of pivotal moments to pay tribute to the centuries of ongoing struggle for equal rights and representation for women in America. The piece incorporates text that reflects the history of women’s fight for equality, ranging from a letter written by Abigail Adams to words attributed to Sojourner Truth, from public attacks directed at women protesting for the right to vote, to political satire. Her Story is the latest in a series of compositions by Wolfe that highlight monumental and turbulent moments in American history and culture, and the people—both real and imagined, celebrated and forgotten—that defined them.
Though we have yet to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, women have been battling for equality from the beginning of the nation. Her Story captures the passion and perseverance of women refusing subordination, demanding representation, and challenging the prejudice and power structures that have limited women’s voices. The dynamic vocal artists of Lorelei Ensemble team up with five major American orchestras to tell this important yet much neglected thread of American political history.