Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Moya Henderson)

Go Ruth! Go Ginsburg! Rest forever amongst us, dearest Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Moya Henderson, composer

Program note
Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 1933 – 2020
Remembering a great American woman

Deborah Cheetham AO gave me the greatest support when I suggested that I’d like to write a commemorative piece for this special occasion. When I mentioned the name, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she was delighted.

This short work celebrates the life and work of Ruth: wife, mother and judge of the Supreme Court of America. Much of Justice Ginsburg’s work on the bench has been for the ongoing benefit of women. All peoples everywhere, but especially women, have recently suffered the threat of ex-President Trump’s menacing last days in power; we wondered, and still do, if the Ginsburg reforms will continue to survive. Those of us who watched the assault of the Capitol on January 6th will never forget the horrifying impact of that attempted Putsch led by Donald Trump to overthrow a newly, but legally, elected government.

I was in shock for three days after watching those deranged events. I am an Australian, not an American, but such was the fearful alarm caused to my whole mind and body.

So, what a great solace it was and is to switch to thoughts of a beautiful, gentle and wise woman. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, women everywhere are ennobled by your brilliance and your courage. I am also a little bit chuffed to recall that your family wouldn’t allow you in the kitchen: Ruth, you’ve been known to wreck the odd meal.

Go Ruth! Go Ginsburg! Rest forever amongst us, dearest Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Moya Henderson © March 1, 2021

Image: David Franklin


I studied composition and music-theatre in Germany in the 1970s, working with chalk (Stockhausen) and cheese (Kagel): both masters of Twentieth Century composition, and totally different in style and practice. When I returned to Australia in 1976, I resolved to take a third path: my own. I wanted to ‘sound’ like this place, Australia.

I must also acknowledge my alma mater, the University of Queensland, where I studied musicology with Gordon Spearritt. His tutelage was meticulous, the highest standard of scholarship and research.

Between music theatre pieces – my passion – I have written truckloads of music for ensembles, quartets, choirs and soloists. Highlights include my opera, Lindy (2002); Six Urban Songs for soprano and orchestra, poems by Patrick White (1983); quartets like Kudikynah Cave (1987); and my G’day Africa series (1990, 1995, 2019), performed in 2019 at the Canberra International Music Festival (CIMF).

Currently, I’m composing a Carillion work for CIMF 2021. I will then return to another music theatre piece, Red Hot Catechism – all indications are that this work will be scandalous, outrageous and more unhinged than ever. 

Then there are my instrument inventions, the alemba and the Tosca bells… a story for another day.

Moya Henderson © 2021

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