Sorey also invokes much older, and continuing, pain and Black experience in the U.S. Near the end of composer Morton Feldman’s 1971 piece Rothko Chapel, a melody bubbles up for the viola — one that Feldman called “quasi-Hebraic.” It evoked Feldman and Rothko’s shared Jewish heritage. In his piece, Sorey uses an abstracted version of the spiritual “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child.”
Sorey says utilizing “Motherless Child” is a way of talking musically about generational trauma — just, as he says, Feldman did in his own work with that “quasi-Hebraic melody.” He also points out that spirituals have been part of the underpinning of some of his other recent works as well, including Cycles of My Being, Save the Boys and Death.
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