The 21st Century

(A Girl Born in Afghanistan)

For unaccompanied mixed choir

Duration 6:40

Also available in abbreviated form as A Girl Born in Afghanistan - duration 4:00

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Composed in 2002 for the Waging Peace Through Singing competition. The text is adapted from the Nobel Lecture given on December 10, 2001, by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who was awarded the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. The lecture text is Copyright by The Nobel Foundation, Stockholm, 2001, and is used by permission.

"The 21st Century (A Girl Born in Afghanistan)" was premiered by the William & Mary Choir, under the direction of Dr. Constance DeFotis, at the College of William & Mary's Charter Day celebration on February 8, 2003. "It's a message of desperate significance," Dr. DeFotis said of the piece. College President Timothy Sullivan called the performance "brilliant and beautiful." Mark Boyle of Millersville University calls the piece "a love letter to a possible world in which we care for the least of us and love without fear."

The piece was also selected as a Finalist in the 2003 Briar Cliff University New Choral Music Competition, where it was performed in concert on May 2, 2003, by the Briar Cliff University Chamber Choir under the direction of Dr. Mark Simmons. "It is a very, very powerful piece!" says Brenda C. Kayne, director of the Euphonia! choir in Overland Park, Kansas.

Connecticut Choral Artists (Concora) included "The 21st Century (A Girl Born in Afghanistan)" on their CD entitled "Songs & Stories of Liberation."

The 21st Century (A Girl Born in Afghanistan)

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Excellencies,
Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, in Afghanistan, a girl will be born.
Her mother will hold her and feed her,
comfort her and care for her -
just as any mother would anywhere in the world.
In these basic acts of human nature, humanity knows no divisions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire.
Awareness of the bonds that bind us all - in pain as in prosperity - has gripped young and old.
In the 21st Century we must look beyond States,
we must look beneath the surface of nations.
We must focus on improving the conditions of men and women.
We must begin with the young Afghan girl.
Saving that one life is to save humanity itself.
In this new century, we must start from understanding
Peace must be made real and tangible in the daily lives of every man and woman.

Distinguished guests,

The notion that what is ours must conflict with what is theirs is both false and dangerous.
It has resulted in endless enmity and conflict.
It has led men to commit great crimes in the name of a higher power.
It need not be so.
We can love what we are, without hating what we are not, without hating who we are not.

Your Majesties, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The girl born in Afghanistan today
Is just one test of our humanity -
But it is the only test that matters.

Purchase Sheet Music

Sheet music for The 21st Century is available from J. W. Pepper.

Performance History - The 21st Century

Premiered February 8, 2003, by the Concert Choir of the College of William & Mary in Virginia, Dr. Constance DeFotis conducting, at William & Mary Hall, Williamsburg, Virginia

May 2, 2003, Briar Cliff University Chamber Singers, Dr. Mark Simmons conducting, Sioux City, Iowa

February 27, 2005, Ball State University Concert Choir, Dr. Jeffrey Carter conducting, Muncie, Indiana

March 5, 2005, Seattle Bach Choir, Dr. Gregory Vancil conducting, West Seattle, Washington

March 6 2005, Seattle Bach Choir, Dr. Gregory Vancil conducting, Tacoma, Washington

March 24, 2006, Austin Vocal Arts Ensemble, Kenneth Sheppard conducting, Austin, Texas

April 23, 2006, Southwestern University Chorale, Kenneth Sheppard conducting, Georgetown, Texas

October 5, 2006, Hixson High School Choir, Terry Sanford conducting, Hixson, Tennessee

January 28, 2007, the Ethos Consortium, Dr. Paul E. Oakley conducting, Charlotte, North Carolina

February 11, 2007, Connecticut Choral Artists (Concora), Dr. Richard Coffey conducting, Manchester, Connecticut

February 12, 2007, Connecticut Choral Artists (Concora), Dr. Richard Coffey conducting, Hartford, Connecticut

April 19, 2008, the 4 Mei Projekt, Pieter Kole conducting, in Bremen, Germany

April 20, 2008, the 4 Mei Projekt, Pieter Kole conducting, in Groningen, Netherlands

April 27, 2008, the 4 Mei Projekt, Pieter Kole conducting, in Deventer, Netherlands

April 27, 2008, the Bach to the Future ensemble, Kevin Thomas conducting, Smyrna Opera House, Smyrna, Delaware

May 3, 2008, the 4 Mei Projekt, Pieter Kole conducting, in Amsterdam, Netherlands

May 4, 2008, the 4 Mei Projekt, Pieter Kole conducting, in Groningen, Netherlands

May 4, 2008, the Bach to the Future ensemble, Kevin Thomas conducting, Avalon Historic Theater, Easton, Maryland

Nov. 19, 2008, Georgetown University Concert Choir, C. Paul Heins conducting, Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart, Washington, DC

Feb. 28, 2009, the Brookline Chorus, Lisa Graham conducting, Newton, Massachusetts

April 30, 2010, Adams State College Chamber Choir, Dr. Beth Wagstrom conducting, Alamosa, Colorado

February 22, 2011, Webster University Concert Choir, Dr. Jeffrey Carter conducting, St. Louis, Missouri

April 9, 2011, Southwestern University Chorale, Kenneth Sheppard conducting, Georgetown, Texas

October 6, 2012, the 4 Mei Projekt, Pieter Kole conducting, in Groningen, Netherlands

October 12, 2012, The Marietta College Concert Choir, Daniel G. Monek conducting, Marietta, Ohio

November 2, 2012, The Marietta College Concert Choir, Daniel G. Monek conducting, Marietta, Ohio

April 7, 2013, The Millersville University Choir, Mark Boyle conducting, Steinman Hall, Millersville, Pennsylvania

May 16, 2013, The Marietta College Concert Choir, Daniel G. Monek conducting, St Paul's Cathedral, London, U.K.

May 18, 2013, The Marietta College Concert Choir, Daniel G. Monek conducting, Stratford Methodist, Stratford-on-Avon, U.K.

May 19, 2013, The Marietta College Concert Choir, Daniel G. Monek conducting, St Lawrence, York, U.K.

May 21, 2013, The Marietta College Concert Choir, Daniel G. Monek conducting, St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh, U.K.

June 1, 2013, The Cascadian Chorale, Gary D. Cannon conducting, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Medina, Washington

June 2, 2013, The Cascadian Chorale, Gary D. Cannon conducting, Holy Innocents Catholic Church, Duvall, Washington

November 19, 2013, The Southeastern Chorale, Stacy Weger conducting, Fine Arts Recital Hall, Durant, Oklahoma

January 16, 2014, The Southeastern Chorale, Stacy Weger conducting, Oklahoma Music Educators Association Annual Conference, Tulsa, Oklahoma

April 25, 2015, the Arundel Vocal Arts Society, under JoAnne Kulesza, at Eastport United Methodist Church in Annapolis, Maryland.

November 5 & 6, 2016, by the American University Chamber Singers, under Daniel Abraham, at Abramson Recital Hall, Katzen Arts Center, American University, in Washington, DC, on their Election Edition program.

Performance History - A Girl Born in Afghanistan

Premiered November 4, 2012, by the Hinsdale Chorale, Michael Oriatti conducting, at Senn High School Auditorium, Chicago, Illinois

March 8, 2013, the Lynn College Concert Chorale, under Michael Oriatti, First Presbyterian Church, West Memphis, Arkansas

March 9, 2013, the Lynn College Concert Chorale, under Michael Oriatti, H. C. Handy Park, Memphis, Tennessee

March 10, 2013, the Lynn College Concert Chorale, under Michael Oriatti, Wynne Presbyterian Church, Wynne, Arkansas

April 11, 2013, the Lynn College Concert Chorale, under Michael Oriatti, Lynn College, Batesville, Arkansas

April 13, 2013, the Hinsdale Chorale, First Congregational Church of Western Springs, Illinois

April 27, 2014, The Fine Arts Chorale at the First United Methodist Church, Lawrence, Kansas

May 3, 2014, The Fine Arts Chorale at the Southminster Presbyterian Church, Prairie Village, Kansas