Mother Teresa: Poorest of the Poor

This piece is written in honor of Mother Teresa, who was canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church on September 4, 2016. This date falls on the eve of the 19th anniversary of her death. She moved to India in 1929 as a nun within the Sisters of Loreto. She served as a school teacher there and worked within her Order to help the people of India. While on a spiritual retreat, she received a "Call within a Call" from God to make an even more extreme commitment to serve the very poorest of the poor in India. With the help of the Church and many spiritual advisors she formed her own Order within the Church called the Missionaries of Charity in 1950. The "MC", as they are called, now number nearly 4,500 Sisters, plus many more Brothers, Priests and lay volunteers. The Missionaries of Charity now minister to the poor and homeless around the world. In 1985 The Secretary General of the United Nations called Mother Teresa the "most influential woman in the world." Then, as now, her example of "Dependence, Detachment, and Dedication" (the focus of her community) have inspired many, many people around the world. I have been greatly humbled and inspired in my own faith by reading about her life, her works, her service, her daily commitment to both study the Bible and to pray.

Writing this piece has been an amazing journey, and one which has involved many other people. First, my sincere thanks goes out to the University of San Diego and their band director, Dr. Jeff Malecki. Their willingness to commission this piece and to perform it for the first time on Sept. 25, 2016 shows great courage, vision, and commitment to the arts. I am thrilled to partner with them to tell the story of Mother Teresa (now Saint Teresa) in the music and song. Second, I am deeply grateful to my colleagues at Northern Illinois University. Professors Robert Chappell (retired), Michael Mixtacki, Fareed Haque, and Jui-Ching Wang contributed books, educational DVD's and their own time and expertise to help me learn even a little bit about North Indian music to allow this project to move forward. Prof. Eric Johnson and Pastor Tim Loar consulted on the vocal writing. Finally, I am grateful to my wife Erica and my children Stephen and Rhea who supported me as I labored to create this piece of music in the spring and summer of 2016.

Musically, this piece owes a great deal to Dr. Malecki. He specifically asked for a piece with a fast tempo and lots of energy, to reflect the character and personality of Mother Teresa. As a result, the music begins with an Albanian folk dance that depicts the musical character of the land of her birth. Since her ministry in Calcutta, Indian lasted nearly fifty years, the next portion of the music draws from the North Indian (Hindustani) tradition. The melody of this section is based on the raga called Bhairavi, which includes a number of tones recognized in Western music as chromaticism. The words of the song that follow tell the story of her life and ministry, largely by quoting her favorite Bible verses.

Notes by Thomas Bough

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