Inspired by the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote this year, The Florida Orchestra and The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay brought together about 50 musicians for a virtual performance of the 19th century anthem ‘Daughters of Freedom,’ delivering a message of perseverance, hope and unity amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Accomplished composer and TFO Associate Conductor Daniel Black was already working on an original arrangement of the anthem for concerts this summer when the pandemic hit.
“Obviously, there are a lot of differences between a 50-year struggle for the cause of women’s suffrage and the current pandemic, but one thing I find in common is the need for resilience and perseverance. This music speaks powerfully to that need,” Black said.
The ‘Daughters of Freedom’ project has been a personal one for Black, whose great-grandmother, Emma Marks Palmer, was a prominent suffragette in Wisconsin in the early 20th century. He hoped to mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment in 2020 but could find virtually no music for orchestras.
So, he used a simple vocal score from the Library of Congress to create a 3-minute arrangement for orchestra and voice for ‘Daughters of Freedom,’ a prominent march song for women fighting for the right to vote. Obscure composer Edwin Christie wrote the original in 1871, with lyrics by George Cooper.
Black sent the music digitally to musicians, who recorded their parts individually at home using smartphones and other devices. He added archival photos and a special image—a collage celebrating his great-grandmother created by his mother, Janet Black, a graphics designer and collage artist.
You can see the finished video as part of the orchestra’s TFO at Home series, which is keeping the music going online through dozens of musician videos and more at FloridaOrchestra.org/tfo-at-home. Black hopes the video is not only a tribute to the suffrage movement, but a good reminder of the cultural riches in Tampa Bay.
“We don’t know how long it will be before The Florida Orchestra and The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay are able to perform live again,” Black said. “In the meantime, I hope this video will show Tampa Bay that our premier performing arts organizations are still here. We are still making music, and we are still a part of the community. With courage and determination, together we will get through this.”
The Florida Orchestra needs your support more than ever during this crisis. If you can help, please donate at https://the.floridaorchestra.org/donate/contribute1.