Voicing: TTBB & 2 tenor soloists

Duration: c.a. 5:30

This piece is published through the Cantus Choral Series and is available for purchase here.

Click here to view the SATB score.

About

“Discoveries” is a recent composition inspired by the all-girls high school I attended, National Cathedral School. From fourth grade through senior year, this school encouraged my classmates and I to have the confidence to pursue careers largely dominated by men. Many important people in my life, including myself, are doing so. For example, my sister is attending Georgia Tech as a computer science major, and my partner is pursuing architecture. While my field is not part of the sciences, I face similar experiences being surrounded by mostly men. I therefore wanted to write a piece that highlighted female scientists from the 18th and 19th centuries, when being a woman in science was obviously even harder than it is today. My aim is to both inform listeners of these scientists’ impressive accomplishments and inspire young girls to feel comfortable and confident pursuing any career they desire.

The TTBB version of "Discoveries" was the winner of the 2019 Cantus Young & Emerging Composer Competition. It is featured on their current touring program, and has been performed all over the United States. In addition, the SATB version was recently selected as one of the winners of the Cathedral Choral Society's call for scores. Artifice, conducted by Casey Cook, will perform the piece at an upcoming masterclass with Augusta Read Thomas in Washington, D.C.

View Score

Text

"The way of progress was never swift nor easy" -Marie Curie

"Very little can be done under the spirit of fear"

"We dream til we no longer have the strength to dream

those dreams against which we so struggle,

those dreams go at last" -Florence Nightingale

"Prejudice is more violent the blinder it is" -Elizabeth Blackwell

"Fearfully, cautiously, and distrustingly

must we take many of our steps,

for we see a little way at best,

and we can foresee nothing at all" -Maria Mitchell

"But our best and wisest refuge from our troubles

is in our science" -Ada Lovelace

"We have a hunger of the mind.

The more we gain, the more is our desire" -Maria Mitchell

"Let each defeat be a source of a new endeavor,

and each victory the strengthening of our spirit" -Euphemia

Haynes

"The breath of a nation's progress" -Maria Mitchell

We still need more progress.

About the Scientists

Marie Curie (1867-1934) was a French/Polish chemist and physicist; she was the

first woman to win a Nobel Prize, which she won twice in two different sciences.

She studied radioactivity extensively and discovered the elements polonium and radium.

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) is known as the pioneer of modern nursing. She trained nurses and treated wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, and later founded a nursing school in London. She was also a writer and social activist, advocating for (among other things) women's rights and healthcare improvement.

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) was the first female medical doctor in the U.S., and the only medical school that accepted her did so because the male students there voted to let her in. She went on to give lectures advocating for female education, founded a let her in. She went on to give lectures advocating for female education, founded a hospital with her sister, and aided in organizing nurses during The Civil War.

Maria Mitchell (1818-1889) was the first professional American female astronomer. She discovered a comet in 1847, which she later received a gold medal for. After learning that she was paid significantly less than her male colleagues while working as a professor at Vassar, she demanded a salary increase and her superiors gave it to her.

Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), daughter of Lord and Lady Byron, was a British writer and computer programmer. She created the first algorithm to be carried out by Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine, a proposed mechanical computer. She is recognized as the first to realize the full potential of computers.

Euphemia Haynes (1890-1980) was the first African-American woman to earn a PhD in math. She spent 47 years teaching in D.C. public schools and became the first female chair of the D.C. Board of Education. She was also granted the Papal decoration of honor by Pope John XXIII.

© 2019 by Elmira Sperling.