Commissioned by Jane and James Ginsburg in celebration of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 80th birthday
A Portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Nine Songs, compiled by Patrice Michaels, released by Cedille Records. “Notorious RBG in Song” features Fung’s Pot Roast à La RBG.
Justice Ginsburg has been a wonderful role model on many fronts, and her values, strength, and reputed love for and knowledge of music all fit well with my views and beliefs. When I received the call from her son Jim about this project (songs by three different women composers), I could not say “no” to the opportunity to contribute to such a wonderful birthday present! The challenge was the nature of the text, a most unusual request in the form of a tongue-in-cheek “recipe” created by RBG’s daughter Jane (who also happened to be one of my husband’s most beloved law school professors). The recipe included not only dubious instructions for making a pot roast, but also whimsical and often humorous side anecdotes and life lessons that a busy mother would undoubtedly have. I decided to highlight the pitter-patter of the text, as well as the busy life that the recipe implied with lines such as “drink some black coffee, read some advance sheets, and tell one of your children to do his or her homework — for the third time.” The tempo marking indicated is “Lively like a busy chef,” and the piano accompaniment strives to keep the rhythm strong and active — at times march-like, other times more waltz-like. There are moments of reflection, e.g., encrustation as “the best part”; and moments of declamation, e.g., “no fat must contaminate the Pot Roast.” Ultimately, the song ends on a high note as the pot roast reaches its completion. Pure fun!
JUNO Award-winning Canadian composer Vivian Fung’s humorous “Pot Roast à la RBG” provides directions for preparing the beef dish, using Justice Ginsburg’s own words as related in the text by daughter Jane Ginsburg.
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