“My Plea” by Mary Matsuzawa
Oh, God, I pray that I may bear a cross
To set my people free,
That I may help to take good-will across
An understanding sea.
Oh, God, I pray that someday every race
May stand on equal plane
And prejudice will find no dwelling place
In a peace that all may gain.
The internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II caused the suffering and fragmentation of many families. One internee, Mary T. Matsuzawa, authored a prayerful poem titled “My Plea” which expresses her thoughts on freedom, equality, and servitude as a “cross-bearer” for the Japanese-American people. Ms. Matsuzawa was interned at Gila River War Relocation Center in Rivers, AZ. and wrote the poem while attending the camp’s Butte High School. Musical imagery, text painting, and an understanding of historical context are used to craft a choral setting of Matsuzawa’s poem, scored for SSAATTBB mixed choir and cello. The purpose of this work is both to draw attention to the Japanese-American internment and to portray Matsuzawa’s suffering and longing while displaying the hope and comfort she had as a result of her faith in God.
The music I have written consists of two contrasting themes (ABA*B*): one in a minor key that depicts Matsuzawa’s suffering, sadness, and distress and another in a major key that illustrates the comfort and hope she finds as a result of her faith in God. As a Japanese-American composer, I have chosen to merge elements of Japanese classical/folk music such as pentatonic scales and parallel harmony with western techniques in order to create a piece that effectively represents the Japanese-American culture.
Note: PDFS are sent ONLY when you order and pay for copies for your entire choir. We do not send pdfs if a single copy is ordered. If you need a single reference copy, it will be sent to you via US Mail for $2 plus shipping.. Copies for your entire choir need to be prepaid with a credit card. Once we receive payment, we will send you the pdf with permission to make the number of purchased copies.