I am an American… My Government Will Reward You Anne LeBaron

I am an American… My Government Will Reward You was written in 1986 for amplified harp (with electronic modification applied in real time) and tape (now known as fixed audio media).

The opening harp solo merges with a siren, giving way to a Sacred Harp hymn played on an organ. The hymn is cut short by the raw beating of chopper blades followed by a crash. The core of the piece combines loosely arpeggiated bell tones and harp (bowed and plucked). The sonic image of a train and its whistles accompany the reappearance of the hymn, now played on the harp. Fragments from the country blues classic, When I Lay My Burden Down, lead to an extended closing segment, combining harsher bell tones with a bowed ostinato passage from my Blue Harp Study No. 2. A few strands of America the Beautiful, which began the piece, also serve to end it.

The inspiration for I Am an American was a blood chit. A piece of silk cloth carried by military flight crew members, with the American flag in one corner, it bears the following inscription in several languages: “I am a citizen of the United States of America. I do not speak your language. Misfortune forces me to seek your assistance in obtaining food, shelter and protection. Please take me to someone who will provide for my safety and see that I am returned to my people. My government will reward you.”

The intensity and emotional resonance of this composition demands a greatly expanded sonic palette for the harp. Live electronics controlled by the harpist provide the means. In this realization I used a Lexicon LXP-5 digital effects processor, controlled with the Lexicon MIDI remote controller. A Sans Amp provides occasional distortion.

I am an American… My Government Will Reward You is dedicated to the many selfless and compassionate souls on foreign soil, who suffered as a result of helping Americans escape from hostile territory.

  • Year of composition: 1988
  • Format: Mixed work
  • Instrumentation: for amplified harp and digital tape, with percussion
  • Duration of the submitted work: 13:59
  • Production: Middlebury College Electroacoustic Studio (NY, USA)

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