Water Women


Alla Bozarth

Commissioning conductor Eliza Rubenstein and I agreed on the text of this commissioned work in the Spring of 2016, well in advance of the conclusion to a truly unconscionable political season. As I finished composing "Water Women" the following November, in the weeks immediately following the presidential election, giving breath and life to Alla Bozarth's words became a cathartic experience. The poet upends the notion that women with a "place 

at the table" best step carefully in order to protect their position:"we do not want to rock the boat, she says, mistaking our new poise for something safe". We are not safe. The "powers that be" are steering all often us into stormy seas the likes of which the human race has never seen. As an artist, and as a woman, I am of the belief that any hope for a sustainable future on this planet, is dependent not only on women having a real place "on board" but  on women taking over the helm.

The opening theme suggests a "rocking" feeling— not in a soothing way, as in rocking the cradle, but angular, and unsettled. Throughout,  the piano accompaniment supplies a watery undercurrent supporting women's voices that alternate between powerful unison, harmonized rhythmic unison and coordinated polyphony. The watery journey culminates in a somewhat altered version of the opening theme and a final unison statement of women's "supernatural" powers.


Item Voicing/Instrumentation Duration Price Audio View Score Quantity
licensed PDF
SSAA, piano $2.00
JS-079 digital purchase only N/A https://joanszymko.com/sites/joanszymko.com/files/audio_samples/12%20Water%20Women%20_%20JS-079.mp3

Audio Credits: 

Orange County Women's Chorus, Eliza Rubenstein, director

Water Women

Alla Reneé Bozarth

We do not want to rock the boat,

you say, mistaking our new poise

for something safe.

We smile secretly at each other, 

sharing the reality that for some time 

we have not been in the boat.

We jumped or were pushed

or fell and some leaped overboard.

Our bodies form a freedom fleet, 

our dolphin grace is power.

We learn and teach and as we go 

each woman sings— each woman’s hands 

are water wings.

Some of us have become 

mermaids or Amazon whales

and are swimming for our lives.

Some of us do not know how to swim.

We walk on water.


licensed PDF

Szymko: "Water Women"