At War With Ourselves – 400 Years of You
“At War With Ourselves – 400 Years of You” is an evening-length work for string quartet, chorus and spoken word commissioned by new music’s premier ensemble, the Kronos Quartet.
With a text by American poet Nikky Finney, “At War With Ourselves” explores the ongoing conundrum of race relations and movements for social justice, civil rights and resistance.
Composer Michael Abels also composed music for the Jordan Peele films “Us” and “Get Out.”
Written in 2019, Finney’s evocative poetry directly inspired Abels’ music. The intimate, emotionally-charged text — in turns both bold and seductive, and always deeply personal — flits throughout history, with allusions to slave ships, Harriet Tubman, black astronomer Benjamin Banneker and Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos.
In Finney’s words, the work is addressed to “both black and white, both enslaved and free, bystander and non-bystander. We were then and now, ‘At War With Ourselves.’ All of us, one human battlefield.”
The University of Iowa’s Hancher Auditorium presents “At War With Ourselves – 400 Years of You” Feb. 11, 2023.