Of all the publicity heaped on the Supreme Court of the United States recently this CD definitely stands out as the most unusual but also the most joyous. Notorious RBG in Song is something of a first, a CD celebrating one of our living Supreme Court Justices.
Ginsburg’s son James is the founder of this wonderful Chicago based recording label and clearly shares in the admiration of this physically diminutive intellectual powerhouse of a justice. The surprise for this writer is to hear the compositional skills of the wonderful soloist Patrice Michaels (also James Ginsburg’s wife) who has long been a welcome musical performer in Chicago. She composed The Long View (2017) for this album and the liner notes list even more compositional accomplishments. The remaining four songs are by Lori Laitman, Vivian Fung, Stacy Garrop, and Derrick Wang. Wang, the only male composer in this group (a symbolically satisfying fact) also happens to be the composer of an opera “Scalia/Ginsburg” (2012-15) which actually premiered in Washington D. C. The other man in this recording is the fine accompanist Kuang-Hao Huang.
We learn from the extensive liner notes that this CD is a labor of love involving many people from various orbits around this important American Justice. The liner notes recount many admiring perspectives on this public figure who so improbably has risen to being a major cultural icon in part by her incisively written dissenting opinions. She has touched many lives and has thus far lived an amazing life herself.
The lyrics which are tastefully produced in a separate booklet come from a variety of very personal sources all carefully recounted here. And “personal” is exactly what this album is about. This is not about politics, it’s about family. There are quite a few lovely photographs included and the cover art by Tom Bachtell with graphic design by Studio Rubric bring this intimate tribute together most successfully. This will be a collector’s item some day.
Ultimately this is a recital disc featuring one of the finest sopranos working today featuring her as a composer as well. It is also an unusually beautiful tribute to a truly great American and, evidenced by the love and admiration here, to a truly beautiful circle of family and friends. Listen to the music, read the words, and feel the love. This is a classic.