This is one of those stories that has the aura of a myth, but sometimes these little miracles happen to each of us.
One afternoon in the summer of 2018, I was in the Corona Institute for Women, a women’s jail just outside of Los Angeles, where the women of Street Symphony Chamber Singers were giving a concert of my music to an audience of women inmates. Some of the women were almost at the end of their term, others were lifers. There was such a deep connection in the room that day, and every time we spent with them.
While walking out of the institute that day, I met a Catholic nun who happened to be visiting from Minnesota and had been at our performance. We connected immediately and deeply. At the end of our conversation she said, “I heard this phrase somewhere, and I feel you must set it to music. I don’t know where it’s from, but I think it will speak to you.” And she made me write down these words into my phone: “You are the result of the love of thousands.”
Months later, Valerie Saint-Agathe and I were discussing a new piece for San Francisco Girls Chorus. I knew I couldn’t possibly fit another new work into the season. But the minute Valerie and I started talking, this phrase crashed back into my mind. The piece formed in my mind as she spoke about what she wanted for the girls in the chorus, filled with such unbounded joy and optimism for their future. It all came together: the women in the jail, and the women singing for them, the prophetic Catholic nun, Linda Hogan (the poet who wrote this text), Valerie and her choir of intrepid young women and the whole network of people that brought us each to these beautiful moments of interaction.
Truly — the love of thousands.
Addendum: The week of the premiere of this piece, after much searching, I finally found the Catholic nun who had first shared the text with me. It was Sister Joanne Dehmer, who lived in Minnesota. But by chance, she was visiting Los Angeles again, and we reunited. The miracles continue.
Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly, all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.
— Linda Hogan
This piece was premiered on June 8, 2019 at Mission Dolores Basilica, San Francisco.