Pamela Dellal, mezzo soprano


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Motet Notes

John Harbison: "We do not live to ourselves"

John Harbison wrote his most recent motet "We do not live to ourselves" in response to the death of his friend, Michael Hammond. Mr. Hammond had begun the music department at SUNY Purchase, and had been the head of the Shepherd School at Rice University in Houston. Only weeks before his sudden death he had been chosen to head up the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington. The composer has written: "Romans 14 begins this way: 'Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions.' It goes on the discuss differences- about food, about attitudes toward life, and urges tolerance. Suddenly in verses 7-9 the circumference widens, anchored on this sturdy base of practical advice, and it is this passage that forms the words of this motet. Ann Hammond read this text at the morial service for her husband, Michael Hammond (1934-2002) inspirational leader, Renaissance man, curious and open-minded citizen and musician, and the best company in the world."

©Craig Smith