Ich habe geschweigen


un-accompanied soprano or mezzo-soprano

5′ 30″

Martin Niemöller and various folk chants

Written for Estelí Gomez, arranged for Kelly Birch.

Premiered February 10, 2017, by Estelí Gomez.

Martin Niemöller was a Lutheran pastor whose pacifism and anti-war efforts affected several generations of activists after World War II. Imprisoned by the Nazi regime, his body of writings and speeches reflected on the inevitability and disenfranchisement of those who did not speak out against atrocities. These speeches were eventually distilled into the famous poem:

First they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.

The threat of oppression was not unique to World War II Europe. Nor is the humanist reaction to defend friends, families, and even strangers, against such encroachment. This dramatic work for solo soprano touches on just a few of the many reactions to oppression, from World War II Europe to 1970s Latin America and the Middle East at the turn of the 21st century.