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Come Through the Door


Artwork by Susan Giles

Sue Young

2022

18 x 24 inches

Colored pencil on paper

“They're singing for their hearts, for their souls, for their minds.”



Come Through the Door is a work for chorus and piano I am excited to premiere on Thursday, June 22, 2023 at 7 pm at Friendship Village of Schaumburg, 350 W Schaumburg Rd., Schaumburg, IL, 60194. The event is free and open to the public, no tickets are necessary. Just show up!


This music is the result of a collaboration with artist Susan Giles. Susan and I first worked together as part of the 10x10 project sponsored by Homeroom Chicago in 2019. Our collaboration spanned much more than the original year we had planned for, as the pandemic and lockdown interrupted and extended our project, with the 2020 premiere being moved to 2021 and part of it still, in fact, in progress!


Susan and I were inspired to work with the Good Memories Choir, for which I am the pianist. This choir is made for people experiencing memory loss and their care partners. We interviewed choir members and asked them to speak about "home". From the words and hand gestures they used, Susan created a gorgeous print based on these gestures, and I wrote an 11-minute work for orchestra, Emome, which was premiered by the Chicago Composers' Orchestra in 2021. We also have a sleek book which contains artwork from the 10 artist/composer pairs involved in this project. The LP, containing a portion of my piece, is still forthcoming!


Susan and I had a great time collaborating with each other, and when she asked if I would be up for another project, I was thrilled. We were fortunate to be awarded a DCASE grant for a second collaboration, and we went straight to work. Through many twists and turns, and thanks to my great colleague Trevor Patricia Watkin, we found a choir ambitious enough to embark on this project with us at Friendship Village of Schaumburg (I love that name!).


Susan and I met with members of the choir at FV who were willing to be a part of this project. Not every singer was interested in new music! But the ones who were brave enough spoke with us for a few minutes about "home". (Literally, that was all the direction we gave them, nothing more!) Susan recorded their speaking and their gestures, and created 11 different prints based on these same movements. I watched and listened over and over to their words, distilled them into a text, and turned it into Come Through the Door, an 11-minute work for choir and piano, in three continuous parts. Some of the phrases are direct quotes from the singers, some are my own interjections, some are composites of different ideas and words that were said. "Muskrat," for example, was someone's actual experience! So was the thought "I never was a child," which, to me, conjures a powerful take on this person's lived experience.


I couldn't be more happy with how this project has turned out. Susan is a dream collaborator, so organized and on top of things. Carla Smith at Friendship Village has been our skillful liaison in putting all the logistics together. John Strege has been so helpful as their rehearsal pianist, and my friend Peter Storms will be the pianist for the premiere. Sue Young is the resident conductor of the choir and did an excellent job preparing the singers, and of course I am incredibly grateful to the singers themselves, most notably Susan Young, Barbara Hershberger, Charles Glomski, Marion “Rea” Moody, Dorothy “Sis” Kealey, Judith Malin, Julia Boltz, Allan Anderson, Susan Anderson, who shared their memories with us for this project.


I realize that Schaumburg is a long drive for most of the folks I know, and I can say that the performance will indeed be recorded, so there will be a chance to hear it if you can't make it on June 22. But if the pandemic taught us one thing, it is the value of live, in-person interactions, and I welcome anyone who is interested to join us for this incredibly special event!


I will end my post with the text in its entirety. Come through the door!


Come Through the Door

Words and Music by Amy A. Wurtz


  1. Looking for our Own Home

  2. I am Alone/Keep the Fire Burning

  3. I Can’t Stop Singing!


I. Looking for our Own Home


We were searching for our own home.

The house was not yet finished but we moved in anyway.

It was a happy home!


Come through the door!


Memories were one by one born.

We were joined by a son, we were joined by a daughter

We were joined by the twins

We were joined by a grandma

We were joined by a cousin

We were joined by an uncle

There was a kitten

There was a goldfish

There was a muskrat

There was a lot of living in our home!


We made the food, we went to work,

We found the things we need.

We shared the load, we took our turn, we ate the food.

We ate together every night.

We went to work, we went to sleep,

We shared the load, day and night.


Come through the door!


Home got simpler as the kids left.

Yes, home got simpler as the kids left.

The things we needed became less and less.

What we need, we pared it down.

We needed less and less.

We made the food, we ate the food

We shared the load, we needed less

We went to work. . . etc.

It was a happy home!


I am a mother, I am a sister

I am a daughter, I am a son,

I am a sister, I am a brother,

I am a mom, I am a dad.

I am a wife, I am a grandpa, I am a grandma,

I am a child

I have a home

I have a mom, I have a dad

I have a spouse, I have a pet

I have a child, I have a friend

I have a home.



II. I am alone/Keep the fire burning


I am alone.


Keep it burning, keep it burning, keep it burning, keep it going.


I am alone

It’s the first time I’ve been alone.


Keep it burning keep it burning, keep it burning, keep it going.


I don’t know what fun is.

I never was a child.


Keep it burning, keep it burning, keep it burning, keep it going.


My husband passed away.


Come through the door!



Looking for my new home.

They have to let you in!

Where is my new home?

They have to let me in!

Where is my new home?


Keep it burning, keep it burning, keep it burning, keep it going.


Moving to this new home

I am alone in this new home

Growing in this new home

They have to let you in!

So here I am.

Please let me in!

In through the door!


They have let me in!


Memory is what we have and memory is what we lose and

memory is born each day and memory is what we choose and


Memory is what you have and memory is what you lose and

memory is born each day and memory is what you choose and ‘


Memory is what they have and memory is what they lose and

memory is born each day and memory is what they choose and

Keep the fire burning

Keep the fire going

Keep it going

Keep going

Keep it burning

Keep going!





III. I can’t stop singing

Chorus:


Come dance with us, come sing with us,

come laugh with us, come play with us.

Come dance with us, come sing with us,

come laugh, come play, come sing with us.

Come cry and eat and work and sleep and live!


(Repeat)


I’ve been singing my whole life.

Singing for the Life of life.

I can make all the noise I want!

Singing for the Life of life!

I am a mother, I am a daughter

I am a father, I am a brother

I am a cousin, I am a neighbor

I am an uncle I have a home.


(Chorus)


Come through the door, I can’t stop singing

Come light the fire for the Life of life.

Come build a home, I can’t stop singing

Come through door! Right here is home.


(Chorus)


I am a father, I am a brother, I am a cousin,

I am a neighbor, I am a friend.

Come sing with us!


I am singing for my heart!

You are singing for your mind!

They are singing for their souls!

She is singing for her home!

He is singing for his home!

They are singing for their home!

I can’t stop singing, can’t stop singing, singing for my memories.

Singing for my home, singing for my family.

Come, come through the door.

Here is my home!






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