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Ann Lee Songs

by Christina Southworth

Texts: anonymous Shaker;

‘Mother’ Ann Lee was the visionary founder of the Shaker Christian sect in 18th-century New England, the first Christian sect to insist on full equality of the sexes

‘Mother Ann’ left many stories and songs via eyewitness accounts that trace her progress on the mystical path. This songs cycle set early nineteenth-century reports describing the founder of the Shaker sect. I researched these texts in Massachusetts archives while on a fellowship with the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, MA..  The idea for this cycle was inspired by the last five years I have spent touring internationally with programs of Shaker music with the renowned early music ensemble The Boston Camerata and the Tero Saarinen Dance Company. Following in the spirit of the Shaker tradition of invention and innovation, Southworth has composed 15-minute cycle of new music intertwining traditional Shaker melodies with the sounds of newly made electronic instruments. A native of Harvard, MA, Southworth grew up on Ann Lee Road. Her pieces have been performed internationally by ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet and Bang-On-A-Can.

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