In January 1962, after a decade of incubation, and four years of methodical research and lyrical writing, Rachel Carson turned in the manuscript for what would become Silent Spring – the epoch-making catalyst of the modern environmental movement. Carson, severely ill with cancer at that point, knew that speaking such inconvenient truth to power would come at grave personal cost – and indeed she was soon assaulted by government and industry, with most of the attacks having gruesomely gendered overtones.
But, as she had written to her soul mate, Dorothy, at the outset of the project,
“knowing what I do, there would be no future peace for me if I kept silent.”
“Suddenly,” she recounted the evening to Dorothy the next day,
“the tension of four years was broken and I let the tears come.”
She told Dorothy:
“Last summer . . . I said I could never again listen happily to a thrush song if I had not done all I could. And last night the thoughts of all the birds and other creatures and all the loveliness that is in nature came to me with such a surge of deep happiness, that now I had done what I could—I had been able to complete it—now it had its own life.”
Prestini’s Thrush Song incorporated the words of author and environmentalist Rachel Carson delivered both by Carson on tape and soprano Lucy Dhegrae, who proved a strong dramatic interpreter on top of her talents as a singer. Prestini played voice against strings, with percussion, to craft an exceptionally literate work. Thematic lines built in a coherent progression, phrases making paragraphs, resounding in a remarkable disruption. Prestini didn’t just give voice to another American heroine, but also to the birds that woman strived to save.