Tonight a Stolen Moment for SATB choir, string quartet, percussion, and piano is the story of a family displaced, turned out by force with nothing but the memories they carry in their minds. On their way to the foreign shores of America, the narrator sees the stars as a placeholder for those memories. While frightened of the unknown, the narrator sees the possibilities of a new life and a chance to add new memories to the vast and immutable sky, bringing the story to its hopeful conclusion. Complimenting Testament of Freedom nicely, Tonight a Stolen Moment speaks to the American ideals of freedom and liberty which drive us forward and create new opportunities for the future.
Though I wanted to write something that was somehow complimentary to Randall Thompson’s The Testament of Freedom, the themes found in Tonight a Stolen Moment–those of displacement and the search for belonging–loom large in much of what I write. As a grandchild of immigrants (as many of us are), I often think about the lives my grandparents and great-grandparents lived before they arrived on American shores. I wonder what brought them here. Was it by choice or necessity? Did they regret leaving their homes? Were their lives better once they sailed into the New York Harbor? What did they bring with them? Only memories?
In Tonight a Stolen Moment, I imagine what might have been. Here a family must abandon the only life they’ve known for a strange and unfamiliar new world. The unknowable future frightens the narrator, and yet the speaker finds solace in the immutability of the night sky. The piece is hopeful, though, as the narrator sees a life to come full of more memories.
– Bobbi J. Nicotera
Biography of Poet:
Bobbi J. Nicotera received her master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University in 2009. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Grasslands Review, Echo Ink Review and The Journal of War, Literature and the Arts. Tonight a Stolen Moment is her second collaboration with composer/conductor Jenni Brandon. Currently, she lives in Baltimore, Maryland.