Duration: 20 min.
Mildred Loving: Mezzo-soprano
Vocal Trio: Alto, Tenor, Baritone
Flute (doubling Piccolo)
Oboe (doubling English horn)
Clarinet in Bb (doubling Bass clarinet)
Horn in F
Libretto by Steven Serpa based on the press release “Loving for All” by Mildred Loving, which she prepared for the 40th Anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia. The libretto also includes an adaptation of lines from Judge Leon M. Bazile’s published decision in the case Commonwealth v. Loving, January 22, 1965.
The work is available with texts in two forms, a first person telling for African-American soloist, and a third-person narration for other singers who do not identify as African-American.
February 2nd, 2017
Pale Blue. Winter Winds
Page Stephens, mezzo-soprano soloist
Steven Serpa, alto; Cristian Cantu, tenor; Andrew Young, baritone
Nicholas Goodwin, flute; Aidan Dugan, oboe; Nicholas Brown, clarinet
Michael Mikulka, horn; Adam Drake, bassoon; Andrew Q. Langman, piano
conducted by Tiffany Galus
Bates Hall at the University of Texas at Austin
1. Pastorale & Fugue
2. Recitative & Chorale
3. Aria: Slow but lilting— Frantic
4. Recitative & Arioso
5. Aria with Chorus
6. Chorale & Pastorale
Richard and Mildred Loving became an accidental symbol of the civil rights movement, following their marriage in 1958 and their conviction on charges of miscegenation by courts in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Richard was white and Mildred was of African- and Native-American decent, and their marriage was a direct violation of Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924. The Virginia government argued it was God’s will to keep the races from separate and that intermarrying was a violation of His design. They also argued that interracial unions were contrary to centuries of tradition and would break down the social order and the moral development of all citizens. In 1967, the Lovings’ case was taken to the Supreme Court who overturned interracial marriage bans across the United States and ruled that marriage is a basic civil right not to be infringed by racially discriminatory laws. Throughout the legal process, Mildred was the voice for her family and for the many other couples and families in this country who had been victims of institutionalized racism.
This work addresses the struggles this couple lived through and the changes in law and society that Mildred saw during her lifetime. It is a 21st-century take on an 18th-century wedding cantata. In homage to that time period, I’ve used forms like aria or fugue, and I’ve included a chorale from one of J.S. Bach’s own wedding cantatas, BWV 197. I wrote the libretto based in part on a press release Mildred Loving issued in 2007 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the historic Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision, and on the written opinion of one of the Virginia judges who upheld the Lovings’ conviction.