Joel Thompson frames James Baldwin in "To Awaken the Sleeper"
"...an impossible love of this country."
That's one way composer Joel Thompson describes James Baldwin's perspective during the mid-to-late twentieth century in his program notes to "To Awaken the Sleeper," a work for narrator and orchestra, with words of Baldwin, that will be presented by the Louisville Orchestra on March 11th in the final concert of their "Festival of American Music." In this conversation, Thompson talks about his decision to use Baldwin's words as spoken text (rather than setting them to music) and the role of music in speaking against injustice.
In 2022, WUOL presented Thompson's "Seven Last Words of the Unarmed" on New Lens at 21c.