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Two Baritone Arias
from james (book of ruth)

for baritone, violin, and piano


Duration: 9 minutes

Text: English by Zac Kline


Aria 1. Noise–I love the city

Aria 2. I turn to you–Home

Program Note:

james (book of ruth) is a dramatic oratorio that deals with the LGBTQ+ community’s experiences of HIV/AIDS and stigma. It is partly inspired by the rejection I’ve received from my Fundamentalist Christian family along with my experiences in a serodiscordant relationship; it is also inspired by the healthcare and advocacy work of Ruth Coker Burkes in Arkansas during the height of the AIDS crisis.


These contrasting aria are sung by the oratorio's main character, James. In the first aria, James feels out of sync with the city around him, alone and untethered among chaotic emotions of his new diagnosis—then he meets someone who accepts him, illness and all, and love is kindled. In the second aria, James' mother has just refused to help him and his partner. She disapproves of their "sinful lifestyle" and will only help if James leaves it and his partner behind. After this rejection, James is resolved that all he needs is the home he and his partner are building together.


Aria 1

I love the city

I love the city

No, I hate the city

if I told you that I love the city

if I told you,

if I told you

if I told you that I love the city

that’s a lie,

I can’t stand it at all.




(I mean) I like the city

I’m into it, I am

I will be tomorrow


I like the city

I’m into it,

I can be, I will be

Today was just—

Today was just too—




I cover my ears at night,

I cover my ears


And when I wake up,

Every day’s a psychopathic motorcycle jackhammer nightmare.

Every day is—




Every day’s a traffic jam a fire engine car crash

screaming horns and taxis racing

people pushing neighbors shouting

streetlights flash

bodies crash

subway screeching by


I tap my foot, I try to—

I have the noise of the city

I have the noise,

But I can’t find the beat  

I need to find the beat


I tap my foot,

I tap—

I tap—

But I can’t find the—

I tap—

I tap—

It hurts without the beat.

(inside the noise)


It hurts!  It hurts!  It hurts!  It hurts!

I saw it in your smile,

you knew I was lying

couldn’t turn my eyes away


I saw it in your smile,

when I said I loved the City

when I said I’m happy


you didn’t say a thing

you reached out your hand,

pulled me into you

Aria 2

I turn to you at midnight

We look out of the window

I turn to you at first light

We look over our City

They are not my City

They are not my Home

You are my City

You are my Home


I'm Home

Oratorio Premiere:

Inversion Ensemble with Trevor Shaw, conductor
Sam Kreidenweis as James
Mary Kettlewell as his mother
Katrina Saporsantos as Ruth

Recorded at KMFA Draylen Mason Music Studio, Austin, TX
Broadcast, June 25th, 2021


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