The most beautiful new music to come out of Fringes so far is Karen Escovitz’s “The Leaves Believe,” a setting of Lucille Clifton’s poem “The Lesson of the Falling Leaves.”
the lesson of the falling leaves
the leaves believe
such letting go is love
such love is faith
such faith is grace
such grace is god
i agree with the leaves
This became a song when, kayaking down the Schuylkill River, Otter (aka Karen Escovitz) said to Elliott, “We need some new songs. Can you give me some poems that I could work with?” And Elliott quoted the Clifton poem, a long time favorite, and then on request repeated it a few times, after which Otter requested quiet time. Sometime later, further down the river, the song had burst forth in parts from Otter’s very musical head.
After singing it for several years, Otter started experimenting with layering Shefa Gold’s chant “Ozi v’zimrat Yah” on top of the song.
The recording here was done informally by SheWho, a feminist acapella group that Otter directs.