Program Notes

Patricia Van Ness
Psalms of Luminous Rescue

I composed Psalms of Luminous Rescue as a protest against our country’s current climate of intolerance against the LGBTQ+ community. I am not a political person (except voting), don’t march or campaign, but the recent violence of words and deeds against the community made me decide to protest in the only way I seemed to be able to do, which is with my music.

I chose the word “luminous” because it is one of my concepts of the divine: unconditional love that permeates, like light and air, everything within and without, animate and inanimate.  “Rescue” in this title refers to the ultimate, fundamental bedrock of tenderness, love and safety that is the divine to me.

My work-in-progress, Music for the Psalms, is a project involving composing an anthem for each of the 150 passionate prayers in the Book of Psalms. Until now in setting these texts I have interpreted the often difficult language (curses, hatred of enemies) as internal rather than external dangers; for instance the enemy could be those thoughts within me that cause me to lose patience with myself. In the case of Psalms of Luminous Rescue, however, external enemies and dangers are the focus. This is the first time in Music for the Psalms that I have interpreted them this way.

I am very grateful to Elizabeth Bradley, commissioner, for her generosity and thoughtfulness. She was gracious in agreeing to have the framework be the Psalms, and especially in bringing to my attention Psalm 12, the inspiration for Psalms of Luminous Rescue. To David and Coro Allegro I give my great thanks and affection for inspiring and supporting my music in extraordinary ways over the past 20 years. Finally, this piece is dedicated to our foremothers, who fought for our deliverance.