André Previn composed “Vocalise" for Sylvia McNair and Yo-Yo Ma in 1995. They recorded in July of the same year with Previn at the piano. Yo-Yo Ma, McNair, and Previn also recorded Four Songs with poetry by Toni Morrison at this time.
We have selected photos of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which are currently on exhibit in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to as the basis for our interpretation of “Vocalise." “Do You Know Him,” from Previn’s Honey and Rue, also calls for passages of singing without words. Photos of Coretta Scott King accompany this solo selection for voice, forming a suite in honor of husband and wife within our set of seven songs.