Editors Choice

norman lebrecht

May 13, 2023

The Oakland Symphony presents the world premiere of a new work by Martin Rokeach this Friday (May 19) at The Paramount.

Rokeach’s new work, Bodies on the Line, was inspired by the great Flint Sit-Down strike of 1936, when, for 44 days, workers occupied the General Motors Flint plant, but refused to work, effectively forcing GM to recognize the UAW.

This strike was a flashpoint in U.S. labor relations. The work was commissioned by the Oakland Symphony. The libretto is by Rebecca Engle.

Bodies on the Line commemorates the collective action of the laborers, draws us into the standoff, and celebrates a heroic, pivotal victory. Composer Rokeach was, for 33 years, Artistic Co-Director of San Francisco’s contemporary music concert series, Composers, Inc. Currently, he is Professor Emeritus at Saint Mary’s College of California. 

Also on the program, Beethoven’s defiant Third Leonore Overture, and Samuel Barber’s bracing Second Essay for Orchestra. The program is titled SONGS OF PROTEST.

Tickets start at just $25. Slipped Disc readers can enjoy a 25% discount on all
other priced tickets with this discount code: DISC0519.

Tito Muñoz, conductor 
Melody Wilson, mezzo-soprano
Marc Molomot, tenor
Morgan Smith, baritone
Oakland Symphony Chorus
Pacific Edge Voices
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN: Leonore Overture No. 3
SAMUEL BARBER: Second Essay for Orchestra
MARTIN ROKEACH / REBECCA ENGLE (librettist & dramaturge): Bodies on the Line: The Great Flint Sit-
Down Strike

Songs of Protest


  • Robert says:

    It’s a mighty hard row that my poor hands have hoed
    My poor feet have traveled a hot dusty road
    Out of your Dust Bowl and Westward we rolled
    And your deserts were hot and your mountains were cold

    I worked in your orchards of peaches and prunes
    I slept on the ground in the light of the moon
    On the edge of the city you’ll see us and then
    We come with the dust and we go with the wind

    California, Arizona, I harvest your crops
    Well its North up to Oregon to gather your hops
    Dig the beets from your ground, cut the grapes from your vine
    To set on your table your light sparkling wine

    Green pastures of plenty from dry desert ground
    From the Grand Coulee Dam where the waters run down
    Every state in the Union us migrants have been
    We’ll work in this fight and we’ll fight till we win

    It’s always we rambled, that river and I
    All along your green valley, I will work till I die
    My land I’ll defend with my life if it be
    Cause my pastures of plenty must always be free

    – Woody Guthrie

  • Mr. Ron says:

    What better place for this than Oakland?