A Thread of Hope (2020) – Elyse Kahler (United States)
Humanity is obsessed with “stuff.” We are fixated with getting new stuff – the newest phone, the latest book/movie/game, the most fashionable clothes. And yet at the exact same time we are preoccupied with getting rid of stuff – living minimally, cleaning out closets, Marie Kondo-ing our belongings, and most dangerously to the planet, throwing away single-use plastics. Single-use plastics like straws, plastic bags, water bottles, and wipes not only pollute our oceans and land, but also contribute to rising levels of heat-trapping gasses from their production to when they are thrown out.
A Thread of Hope begs us to continue being obsessed with stuff: obsessed with how we treat the stuff we accumulate and mindfully reuse the things we already have, recycle the things we won’t use anymore, and reduce and refuse the things we bring into our lives to begin with.
Musically, nature is represented by a single E – the Thread –, resounding over and over again. E can mostly be found throughout the piece, but sometimes it’s hard to find, sometimes it’s distorted into an Eb, and sometimes it’s gone from our ears completely as more and more notes – more stuff – are added. The additional weight of notes and humanity’s plastic waste is lot for a fragile thread of nature to sustain. Ultimately, A Thread of Hope asks us to consider how we can return to the simplicity of nature and in doing so, save Planet Earth from the harm humanity’s baggage has caused her.
Ann sent all the composers a request for follow up information about what prompted them to participate in this particular project.
Elyse writes: I was feeling creative stagnation during the beginning of the pandemic and was looking for something to spark my interest. I came across the Prayers for a Feverish Planet call for scores and immediately thought of all the single-use masks that were being used. This expanded to the idea of single-use plastics in general which fit perfectly into the theme of climate change requested for this musical project. Once the idea hit, the piece came together very quickly and I’ve been honored to have it included in the project.
Elyse Kahler (b. 1988) is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at The University of Texas at Arlington. She holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from Texas Tech University, a Master of Arts from the University of North Texas, and a Bachelor of Music in Composition and with All-Level Certification from West Texas A&M University.
She writes for a variety of ensembles and levels, and has particular interests in fun and engaging music for middle school students and inspiring music for the modern church. Recent projects include a commission from The Lubbock Chorale (Parallax), Height Difference Duo (The Hobbit and the Elf), and Freedom to Be for The Phoenix Project, From the Ashes. Elyse is very interested in the pedagogy of music composition and researches ways to discuss the creative process.