Gwyneth Walker

No Ordinary Woman!

for Soprano and Piano (1997)
for Mezzo-soprano and Piano (1997)
for Soprano and String Orchestra (2004)
(suggested string size: 6.6.4.3.2, maximum; 4.4.3.2.1, minimum)

Return to Gwyneth Walker Music Catalog
Read Woman of Words, Woman of Music by Kathy O'Connell, Hartford Advocate (an article about Lucille Clifton and Gwyneth Walker).
Read The Music of the Spheres and Then Some by Steve Metcalf, Hartford Courant.

Download an MP3 file of the first movement of this work performed by Nancy Cook Munn, soprano and William Garcia Ganz, piano.
Download an MP3 file of the second movement of this work.
Download an MP3 file of the third movement of this work.
Download an MP3 file of the fourth movement of this work.
Download an MP3 file of the fifth movement of this work.

Download an MP3 file of the first movement of this work performed by Quinn Patrick, mezzo-soprano and Jannis Peterson, piano.
Download an MP3 file of the second movement of this work.
Download an MP3 file of the third movement of this work.
Download an MP3 file of the fourth movement of this work.
Download an MP3 file of the fifth movement of this work.

Listen to a RealAudio (G2) stream of the first movement of this work performed by Maria Ferrante, soprano and Malcolm Halliday, piano.
Listen to a RealAudio (G2) stream of the second movement of this work.
Listen to a RealAudio (G2) stream of the third movement of this work.
Listen to a RealAudio (G2) stream of the fourth movement of this work.
Listen to a RealAudio (G2) stream of the fifth movement of this work.
Download an MP3 file of the first movement of this work performed by Maria Ferrante, soprano and Malcolm Halliday, piano.
Download an MP3 file of the second movement of this work.
Download an MP3 file of the third movement of this work.
Download an MP3 file of the fourth movement of this work.
Download an MP3 file of the fifth movement of this work.

Additional performance:
Listen to a RealAudio (G2) stream of the first movement of this work performed by Denise Walker, soprano and Estrid Eklof, piano.
Listen to a RealAudio (G2) stream of the second movement of this work performed by Catherine Card, soprano and Paul Baker, piano.
Listen to a RealAudio (G2) stream of the third movement of this work performed by Catherine Card, soprano and Paul Baker, piano.
Listen to a RealAudio (G2) stream of the fourth movement of this work performed by Denise Walker, soprano and Estrid Eklof, piano.
Listen to a RealAudio (G2) stream of the fifth movement of this work performed by Denise Walker, soprano and Estrid Eklof, piano.

Performance of the string orchestra version:
Download an a MP3 file of the first movement of this work performed by Catharine Card, soprano and the Glendale Community Orchestra, Theodore Sterns, conductor.
Download an a MP3 file of the third movement of this work.
Download an a MP3 file of the fifth movement of this work performed by Jonita Lattimore, soprano and the Concertante di Chicago, Hilel Kagan, conductor..

Download an MPEG video file of a performance at the Sunken Gardens Poetry Festival in 1998, with poet Lucille Clifton. (N.B.: This file is 280 mb. in size. Download only if on a high-speed internet connection.)

View a video of a performance of selections from this cycle with dance by Carolyn Black-Sotir, soprano, Timothy McReynolds, piano, and Shaela Davis, dancer.

View a video presentation of selections from this work as part of an all-Walker concert performed by the Bella Voce Women's Chorus of Vermont, Dawn O. Willis, conductor.

Download an an MP3 file of a question and answer session with poet Lucille Clifton and composer Gwyneth Walker during a residency at SUNY Fredonia, New York in April 2007.

Download a PDF file of the score (soprano version) of this composition. This file of excerpted sample pages is for perusal only and is not printable. To hear MP3 files of the complete songs, see the above links.
Download a PDF file of the score (mezzo-soprano version) of this composition. This file of excerpted sample pages is for perusal only and is not printable. To hear MP3 files of the complete songs, see the above links.

Download a PDF file of the Lucille Clifton poetry used in this work as text for printing in concert programs.


(First photograph of Estrid Eklof, pianist and Denise Walker, soprano on a bridge over the Moldau River, Prague; second photograph of Catherine Card, soprano performing this work with the Glendale Community Orchestra, California.)

A photo of the Estrid Eklof and Denise Walker

No Ordinary Woman! was commissioned by soprano, Denise Walker, and pianist, Estrid Eklof, for premiere at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island in December 1997. The version for string orchestra was commissioned by Concertante di Chicago, Hilel Kagan, music director for soprano Jonita Lattimore.

These songs might have been subtitled "Songs of Self Reflection." For they present the poet musing about her own life, and specifically her physical appearance. One imagines the poet looking in the mirror with amusement, horror and a strong sense of her own history. Thus, the songs range from an energetic first impression ("Bones, Be Good!") to philosophical reflection ("Turning") to humor and pride in the body itself ("Homage to My Hips/Hair") to a more serious summation ("The Thirty-Eighth Year"). A strong and colorful woman emerges.

The songs were composed at the composer's home in Vermont during the summer of 1997.

A photo of Catherine Card

Lucille Clifton (poet) was born in 1936 in Depew, New York and educated at Howard University and the State University of New York at Fredonia. Formerly the Poet Laureate of the State of Maryland, she has taught at Goucher College and the American University in Washington, DC.

Notes by the composer