Gwyneth Walker: Composer-in-Residence with Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra

The Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra and Chorus, Petoskey, MI, named Gwyneth Walker as Composer-in-Residence for the 2017 – 2020 seasons. The ensemble scheduled several upcoming performances of her music in upcoming concerts, including the 2020 premiere of Walker’s new cantata The Great Lakes. The work was originally commissioned by the Toledo Choral Society in honor of their centennial season in 2020.

On September 23, the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra brings to life the music of Spain featuring Walker’s La Ternura (Tenderness) for Soprano, oboe, percussion, and string orchestra. Soprano Amy Joy Cross joins the orchestra to perform the piece.


La TernuraLa Ternura (Tenderness) is a set of songs based on the poetry of Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957). Mistral (a pseudonym for Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga) was an active poet, educator, and diplomat; she was the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (1945).

The poems are found in a set entitled “Ternura” (Tenderness) published in 1923. These are songs of mother to son. However, the message of maternal care is colored by many personal losses in the poet’s life – the death of family, lovers and even an adopted son. And surrounding the creation of the poems was the ever-present fear arising from the political unrest in Chile. Thus the mother, as she rocks her son to sleep, sings, “I who have lost everything am now afraid to sleep.”

The six songs in La Tenura range from tender, to occasionally entertaining, to intense and tragic. At the end of the cycle the mother dreams of the day that her child will leave the earth and be carried up to Heaven. “Lift up your face, my son, and receive the stars.”

Description by Gwyneth Walker.

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