album cover featuring storm clouds shaded in blues and pinks with the title "Weather" overlayed in the center.


Weather: Stand the Storm
music by Rollo Dilworth
poetry by Claudia Rankine

performed by the Temple University Choirs and Wind Symphony
Paul Rardin, conductor
with poem read by
Kimmika L.H. Williams-Witherspoon

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From the Composer:

May 25th of 2020 was a Memorial Day that took on new meaning for not just for those who were citizens of the United States of America, but also for citizens around the world who witnessed the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. The institutional marginalization of Black people in the US has been a part of the nation’s history since the first enslaved Africans arrived on its shores in 1619. While Black, Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) have experienced some levels of educational, economic, and social advancement in this country, George Floyd’s murder was “wake up” call to many—confirming that much work still needs to be done if America is to live up to its creed that proclaims, “all are created equal,” and its promise of “liberty and justice for all.”

The death of George Floyd soon became a defining moment in the discourse on systemic racism and social injustice. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, people from all walks of life have sought both personal and public ways to respond to this traumatic and tragic event. Individuals and institutions around the world have been inspired to take a closer look at themselves, to seek a deeper understanding of the dynamics of racism and bias and their effect on the present, and to take purposeful actions that promote a more just society.

Historically, the arts have always fulfilled the dual roles of responding to change while at the same time creating change. Weather is a poem that gives voice to the voiceless, especially those who have been and continue to be marginalized because of difference. It responds to and reflects realities that are both culturally specific and humanly universal. Professor Claudia Rankine challenges all of us (no matter your background or lived experience) to know better, to do better, to take action, and to become agents of social justice and social change.

Everyone has a role to play in building and sustaining communities that are fair and just for all. Therefore, Weather is a learning opportunity for all of us. All persons are invited to tell this story and learn from it. However, the words and music are not to be taken lightly. Before and during the musical preparation process, it is important that the singers, instrumentalists, and the conductor-teachers immerse themselves in learning experiences (readings, videos, projects, conversations, etc.) that deepen their understanding about bias, racism, classism, sexism, and other forms of marginalization. Just as an actor “does their homework” to gain greater understanding of the role before them, so too must be the case for those performing Weather. As artists, we must commit ourselves to doing this work. Otherwise, the resulting performance will lack credibility and artistic integrity. All tempo and expression markings should be closely followed, and the text must be articulated with the utmost clarity and respect.

When I was presented the opportunity to set Professor Claudia Rankine’s poem Weather to music, I immediately found resonance with the words. “Weather” is a contranym (a word with contradictory meanings). It could mean “to withstand,” and it can also mean “to wear away.” After spending many hours studying the poem, I had to think very carefully about how I could employ tonal, rhythmic, stylistic, and expressive elements that would amplify (and not detract from) such a powerful and multi-dimensional sequencing of words. I sincerely hope the resulting composition, bearing same title as the poem, will serve as a meaningful, musical manifestation of Rankine’s important and timely message to the world. 

--Rollo Dilworth

From the Conductor:

Weather is rooted in the music of Black America. Its primary melodic anchor, first heard in the trumpets in the opening section, pays homage to the spiritual Stand the Storm – presaging the word “storm” that appears twice in the poem’s final sentence – and is echoed in some way in each of the subsequent sections. As Dilworth writes: “Both the poem and the spirituals speak of remembrance, resistance, and resilience in the pursuit of social justice and social change.”

The piece is organized into six sections, each titled using the trademark alliteration so favored by the composer in his own pedagogical writings and rehearsal techniques: 

The Meditation: a somber, introspective introduction that foreshadows the military rhythms found in the later “March” section; 

The Marginalization: a driving, 12-bar blues that gives way to a rhythmically disjunct portrayal of the killing of George Floyd (“Eight minutes and forty-six seconds.”), in which our sense of rhythmic stability is lost, flailing, until another driving blues section has both the singers and instrumentalists gasping for air in between cries of “I can’t breathe”; 

The Memorial: a gentle, lilting setting of Stand the Storm, in which the choir serves as background to a speaker who intones the names of Black Americans killed by police; 

The Meltdown: the most jarring and dissonant section of the piece, mirroring the “civil unrest taking it, burning it down” in the poem, accelerating and growing in volume through a soprano cry/wail; 

The March: set as a musical fugue (in which four distinct parts/voices present a single theme in succession, one after the other) in order to express “the idea of people from different backgrounds and perspectives coming together to unite around a common purpose”; singers and instrumentalists are further united through rhythmic left-right steps of their feet; 

The Mobilization: a return to the opening rhythmic patterns, but this time in C major rather than minor, setting the word “peace” in long, slow, healing harmonies; a choral unison tune “There’s an umbrella by the door” is set to gently pulsing harmonies in a “lilting 6/4 gospel style”; a climactic build on “We are here for the storm/that’s storming because what’s taken matters” ends powerfully but unresolved; the F where an E should be in the final C Major chord gives us hope, but not yet resolution. 

We are indebted to John Leonard, Eric Laprade, Colleen Sears, and The College of New Jersey for commissioning this work, and we are proud to be one of nineteen co-commissioning colleges and universities in bringing this important work to what we suspect will be a vast and appreciative audience.

--Paul Rardin

Weather: Stand the Storm was commissioned by The College of New Jersey and a consortium of schools and arts organizations including:
Ball State University – Andrew Crow, Kerry Glann
California State University, Los Angeles – Emily Moss, Christopher Gravis
Cleveland State University – Birch Browning
The College of New Jersey – Eric Laprade, John Leonard, Colleen Sears
The Crane School of Music-SUNY Potsdam – Brian K. Doyle, Jeffrey Francom
Eastman School of Music – Mark Davis Scatterday
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) – Frederick E. Harris, Jr.
Montclair State University, John J. Cali School of Music – Thomas McCauley, Heather J. Buchanan
Nazareth College – Jared Chase, Brian Stevens
Northern Arizona University – Stephen Meyer
North Park University School of Music, Art, and Theatre – Julia Davids
Northwestern University – Mallory Thompson
The Pennsylvania State University – Christopher Kiver, Tonya Mitchell-Spradlin
San José State University – David Vickerman
The Tallahassee Community Chorus – Michael Hanawalt
Temple University, Boyer College of Music and Dance – Paul Rardin, Mitos Andaya Hart, Patricia Cornett
University of Iowa – Mark Heidel, Timothy Stalter
The University of Michigan – Michael Haithcock
The University of Washington – Geoffrey Boers
University of New Hampshire – Andrew Boysen, Alex T. Favazza, Jr.
University of Southern Maine – Nicolás Alberto Dosman

Weather: Stand the Storm is published by Hal Leonard.

Weather copyright 2020 Claudia Rankine read with the author’s permission. First printed by The New York Times Book Review June 21st 2020.

Stream and Download

Weather is available for streaming on on Pandora, DeezerTidal and Apple Music.


Temple University Choirs
Paul Rardin, conductor

Angela Bui
Lily Carmichael
Lindsey Carney
Jessica Corrigan
Shannon Coulter
Faith Crossan
Yihong Duan
Jessica Gambino
Alyssa Gerold
Emma Krewson
Meirun Li
Emily Loughery
Victoria Lumia
Kara Middleton
Lauren Padden
Marlena St. Jean
Taylor Tressler
Kimberly Waigwa
Janet Yamron

Kendra Balmer
Mary Bond
Jenna Camacho
Lily Congdon
Alison Crosley
Isabella DiPasquale
Kathleen Flaherty
Tatiyanna Hayward
Leah Nance
Alaina O'Neill
Corinne Price
Macey Roberts
Sydney Spector
Wilann Spiccia
Marian Sunnergren
Fran Surkin
Angela Thornton
Julia Zavadsky

Zachary Alvarado
Shawn Anderson
Ann Eleanor Brown
Benjamin Daisey
Daraja DeShields
Adeleke Goring
Roberto Guevara
James Hatter
Brady Ketelsen
Blake Levinson
Grant Nalty
Reid Shriver

Vinroy D. Brown, Jr.
Benjamin Chen
Chase Côté
John De Petris
Timothy Flaherty
Benjamin Herstig
Daniel Jackson
James Killela
Kareem Mack
Alexander Nguyen
Roy Nussbaum
Joshua Powell
Seth Scheas
Noah Slade-Joseph
Andrew Stern
Seth Wohl

Temple University Wind Symphony
Patricia Cornett, director

Nicole Hom
Trish Stull

Eleanor Rasmussen

Anthony Bithell
Sihan Chen
Olivia Herman
Alex Phipps, bass

Rick Barrantes
Adam Kraynak

Will Mullen, alto
Michelle D'Ambrosio, alto
Will Hulcher, tenor
Bill Van Veen, baritone

Noah Gordon
Max Mossaidis
Trey Serrano

Jordan Spivack
Jonathan Bywater
Aidan Lewis
Andrew Stump

Riley Matties
Catherine Holt
Sam Johnson, bass

Jason Costello

Joseph Gould

Mohan Bellamkonda

Daniel Farah

Aiden Moulton
Elijah Nice
Milo Paperman
Alex Snelling

Poem read by Kimmika L.H. Williams-Witherspoon.

Producer: David Pasbrig
Executive Producer: Robert Stroker
Recording/Mixing/Mastering Engineer: David Pasbrig
Assistant Engineers: Nick Kruse, Tim Nagle, Marco Melesio
Recorded February 11, 2023 at the Temple Performing Arts Center, Philadelphia, PA

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