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National Sawdust Tracks


by Lilith

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“Our bodies are occupied territories. Perhaps the ultimate goal of performance, especially if you are a woman, gay, or a person ‘of color’ is to decolonize our bodies and make these decolonizing mechanisms apparent to our audience in the hope that they will get inspired to do the same with their own.”- Guillermo Gómez-Peña

About the Commissions:

Joanne Metcalf — "The Darkening of the Light": explores issues of agency and control, grappling with illness and the struggle to overcome

JP Merz — "the be able to be not": explores issues of feminine representation and objectification in classical vocal performance through subversive text and a variety of musical "coding" (breaking out of bel-canto/beauty expectations)

Brad Wells — "There are days like this": premised on empathy towards women burdened by patriarchal oppression, with particular regard towards body-image and self-esteem issues relating to eating disorders

Shara Nova — "All Mine": a powerful declamation of agency and a loving assertion of the female body


released March 2, 2018

Margaret McNeal - Soprano & Artistic Director
Dylan Younger - Woodwinds
Kyle Stalsberg - Viola
Jon Hanrahan - Piano
Dan Reifsteck - Percussion

Album artwork by Margaret McNeal

Edited by Alvina Tan
Mixed by Larry Darling
Mastered by Marc Urselli

Recorded June 2016
Lawrence University, Appleton, WI

Special thanks to the Class of 1965 Fund, the Alyssa Paul Maria Fund, and the Chandler Endowment of the Senior Experience for generously supporting this commissioning and recording project.


all rights reserved



L I L I T H Appleton, Wisconsin

Margaret McNeal, soprano

Dylan Younger, clarinet

Kyle Stalsberg, viola

Jon Hanrahan, piano

Dan Reifsteck, percussion

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Track Name: Darkening Of The Light
I am a Lightning Thorn.

I am that bitter fire,

I am the starlight sword.

I am broken shards of color:

Showy, radiant, bright.

I am the halo that burns.

I am the day of harsh wonders.

I am the poison that kills, the poison that heals, the poison.

I am the darkening of the light.

You are shattered, unheard, broken, white, and pale.

I am the cold breath that wakes you from sleep,

The one at the back of your mind.

You are forgotten, uncounted, fading, fallen.

I am the word you don’t want to hear,

A phantom thought made of wind.

I am the darkening of the light.

An unopened letter waits for you,

The promise of more, the hope for less.

Ever in shadow I wait here for you.

I wait for you. I wait for you.

I am the darkening of the light.
Track Name: The Be Able to Be Not
Abuse to mean it.

Try from yourself. Keep it.

Out comes first

when the good sounds nothing.

Ceiling bar manys

the heights of my mood.

Long discussions of make.

Can’t immediately reach

the be able to be not.

Unusual, where world this is.

Getting to know you

makes me hate

the things that will take you from me.

Address wrong, if I receive it.

You may mean that.

Pray about talk.

Since good.

Since elsewhere.
Track Name: There Are Days Like This...
Some days I'm on the precipice of tears all day for no discernible reason. Just teetering on the knife's edge of crying: bursting into chest-heaving sobs, or maybe those quiet tears that trace their way slowly down your cheek. There's no source, just a swelling tide of feeling that threatens to swamp you. It only needs a tiny push to spring forth. Spilling my salad. Forgetting the Laundry. Or seeing a stray baby-sized mitten on the side of the park path. You get my point. There are days like this.

Here's what's tricky: You don't wear "sad day" on your sleeve. When it's just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill gloominess, you can't exactly articulate it to anyone. There’s no blood. No bandage to elicit sympathy. Just you and the hot prickling of tears behind your eyes.

I hope that you're having a good day. I hope you're eating a big bowl of cheesy pasta, watching old Friends re-runs, and wearing your favorite sweatpants.

But if you aren't, or when you aren't, these brownies are dark and rich and are very good, perhaps best, when frozen. Make them tomorrow; save them for the next day that requires chocolate.

2/3 cup of cocoa

1 cup flour

1 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs

1/2 cup melted butter

2 tablespoons water

1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the eggs, melted butter, and the water. Mix well until smooth and shiny. Stir in the chocolate chips. Bake for 45 minutes.

Let the brownies cool entirely before cutting into them.
Track Name: All Mine
I see eyes, so bright.
I see body
All mine, all mine.

I see face,
This nose, this ear,
These feet, these hands, these lines
All mine, All mine.

Only I define.

This shape reflects my golden field unseen.
A light emanates to make this body
All mine, all mine.

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