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Making it Real: Honoring the Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

“Women’s rights are an essential part of the overall human rights agenda, trained on the equal dignity and ability to live in freedom all people should enjoy.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

For the last few weeks, Ars Nova Singers has been rehearsing a remarkable, powerful new work by Christopher Theofanidis, Door Out of the Fire, composed for solo classical guitar and 8-part choir. Not only is the music both compelling and beautiful, but the texts and the overall impact of the piece are truly extraordinary. It’s a rare opportunity for us to present something that is so contemporaneously relevant; the composer has described the work as “four choral ‘messages in a bottle’ based on poems by Melissa Studdard—a kind of time capsule reflecting some of the major worries and issues of our time.” The piece references climate change, COVID, the Black Lives Matter movement and protests for racial equality, migration and immigration, and, in one movement, the powerful and enduring legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The Notorious RBG

The Editorial Board of the New York Times noted her legacy as a “legal trailblazer: the second woman ever to be appointed to the Supreme Court, [who] paved the way for women’s equality before the law, and for women’s rights to be taken seriously by the courts and by society.” Similarly, the American Bar Association noted: “it is undeniable that the late Justice Ginsburg transformed the legal profession, the Supreme Court, and the fabric of American society through her tireless advocacy for gender equity.”

But Justice Ginsburg was not nearly as single-faceted as this. As Anjali Shiyamsaran noted in the Rochester Institute of Technology Reporter,  “Ginsburg’s adamant resolve to advocate for underrepresented communities continues to embolden both present and future generations.” It’s up to us to continue watering the blooms in her wake.

– Tom Morgan, Artistic Director

Justice Ginsburg’s legal career began in Denver. Read more about her first sex-discrimination case in Denver in 1972.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s first case

Mezzo-Soprano Abigail Nims performs "Ruth's Aria"

In our performance of Door Out of the Fire, Ruth’s Aria will be sung by Abigail Nims, mezzo-soprano. Ms. Nims is renowned as a musician of integrity and versatility for her performances of repertoire spanning from Bach, Handel, and Mozart to Crumb, Ligeti, and premieres of contemporary works. She is on the vocal faculty of the CU College of Music.
Abigail Nims

Ruth’s Aria
(for the notorious RBG)

Because I was a hundred-year flower
the world was waiting to see bloom,

I unlatched the scabbard
for cutting shadows away from

decisions ill-made. I cut hackneyed,
hand-me-down, halftime rights

from the hands that held them, and I
returned them stitched back whole. Society

had raised me on baloney
and broken wishbones,

babel and busted platitudes,
on repeated, ruthless

galaxies of restraint. And I said, No
matter. I said, While everyone else was learning

Pig Latin, I was writing
a new alphabet, a new country, empathy’s

affidavit. While the world was burning
in history’s buildings, I was building

a door out of the fire. I saw that the law
was busy watering

weeds, so I drank rainwater and opera,
set my heart cycle to bloom. And I bloomed

and bloomed and bloomed. And left
a seed-spangled wake behind me.

– Melissa Studdard

Concert Sponsor: The Millstone Evans Group