for two spoken word artists and symphony orchestra [ 12′] 2017
Lyrics by Zaccheus Jackson
Commissioned by NYO Canada
Premiere: NYO Canada, conductor Jonathan Darlington with Zoey “Pricelys” Roy & Lindsay “Eekwol” Knight, National Arts Centre, Ottawa, July 22, 2017
Zaccheus Jackson’s words are fierce and fiery, veering from humour to tragedy in one sentence. His performances are musical — rhythms and rhymes which flow and hurtle, their political sophistication revealing Zaccheus’ grasp of the big picture. He was a poet who saw injustice in the world around him and called it out with energy and brilliance. Zaccheus’ uncompromising vision was a huge inspiration for me — everyone needs to hear this lesson in Canadian history.
Zaccheus raced through this poem at lightning speed, clocking in at around two minutes. In stretching out the journey to twelve minutes, we get the chance to linger with the genius of his words, allowing them more time to sink in and do their transformational work. I hope hearing this piece will open your ears and your heart to Zaccheus’ words and to the voice of his generation.
Thank you to the NYOC for inviting me to be part of the Unsilent Project and for supporting the creation of this new work. And many thanks to Falen, Zoey and Lindsay for their generosity and fearlessness stepping into a new world.