An Oratorio for Vocal Soloists, Choirs, and Instruments

In fall 2017, the Blue Streak Ensemble will present the most ambitious performance in its six-year history:  the world premiere of Voice of the Lake by Cleveland composer Margaret Brouwer.  Written for instrumental ensemble, vocal soloists, adult choir and children’s choir, and performed with video projection, this work will focus on the majestic yet struggling Lake Erie, juxtaposing the Lake’s beauty, vastness and power against the algae and toxic bacteria that threaten its ecological health.  Beautiful melodies, solo and choral episodes and dramatic orchestrations portray the recreational and natural joys of Lake Erie as well as the commercial, agricultural and political challenges facing its ecological health. 

The lyrics for Voice of the Lake are based in part on the poetry of Cleveland poet David Adams and composer Margaret Brouwer.  Contrasting materials are drawn from the transcript of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public hearing on open dumping in Lake Erie held on March 1, 2016, during which Congresswoman Marcia Fudge presented an impassioned statement on the importance of the Lake’s ecological health.  The libretto will also include excerpts from a letter written by Lt. Col. Carl Jansen (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) to Lake Erie stakeholders in February 2016 as well as excerpts from newspaper articles (with permission) and relevant speeches.


Voice of the Lake is an oratorio for Vocal Soloists, Choirs, and Instruments that brings to life the struggle between the recreational and natural joys of Lake Erie and the commercial, agricultural and political issues that threaten its ecological health.  Written in four parts with lyrics drawn from the poetry of Cleveland poet David Adams and composer Margaret Brouwer as well as transcripts from a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public hearing, and video clips from the Northeast Ohio Sewer Department, the work highlights ongoing environmental concerns that are affecting Lake Erie:  a recreational treasure, expansive natural habitat, important economic engine, major shipping channel and the source of drinking water for 11 million people.

Voice of the Lake opens with a joyful tribute to the lake, as instruments portray the constant motion of the waves, children sing about playing in the water, and a fisherman recalls the pleasure of his work.    The choir sings of the constant motion of the bubbling waves swirling the sand from rock to stone.  A storm approaches moving swiftly across the lake.

Part II takes on a more somber tone, juxtaposing the needs and impacts of commercial, shipping and agricultural users with the convictions of those who wish to protect its ecological health.  As if in a Public Hearing, one soloist sings of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to dump toxic dredged material into the lake, while another portrays Congresswoman Marcia Fudge as she expresses her concerns about open lake dumping.   The choir voices lively opinions.

Part III begins with the solo soprano whose research about the various polluters of the lake has left her sleepless at night.  She sings that she is filled with fear for the lake and the people.  How can it be made right?   A lullaby sung by the mezzo leads into a fitful dream in the form of video projection streaming various lake-pollution visuals that include farm and street run-off into the lake.  It is accompanied by rhythmic, instrumental music.  Part III ends with the mezzo aria, “It is Long Past Dusk”, followed by the soprano’s “Listen.”

Part IV concludes Voice of the lake with a return to the opening lake music, affirming the beauty, vastness and power of Lake Erie and its strength and endurance whether its water is drinkable and fish are eatable or not.  As if in a sunrise church service by the lake, a choir sings a hymn praising the beauty of the earth and its waters, thankful for its creation.  The soprano sings of the need to care for this life-sustaining body of water, and pleads for attention and stewardship.

Thank you for donating to Voice of the Lake!  Every donor will receive acknowledgement in our programs and website, plus the following benefits:

Contribution Amount:
☐ Swimmer $500 – invitation to the dress rehearsal, 4 tickets to the performance followed by VIP reception.
Beach walker $1,000 – all of the above, plus autographed score of Voice of the Lake.
Nature Lover $1,500 – all of the above, plus dinner with composer Margaret Brouwer, poet David Adams, and two BSE musicians.
☐ Environmentalist $3,000 all of the above plus 4 days for 6 at a cottage 10 minutes from Cedar Point, and right on Lake Erie with stone steps down to the water. Watch beautiful sunsets from the screened porch, or from the glider on the bluff above the lake.

Please make checks payable to: Blue Streak Ensemble, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Your contribution is tax-deductible!
In the memo line, write “Voice of the Lake.” Your donation will go directly to production expenses for this musical drama.