“Voice of the Lake” is an oratorio by Margaret Brouwer for Vocal Soloists, Choirs, and Instruments that brings to life the struggle between the recreational and natural joys of Lake Erie and the commercial, agricultural and political issues that threaten its ecological health. Written in four parts with lyrics drawn from the poetry of Cleveland poet David Adams and
composer Margaret Brouwer as well as transcripts from a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public hearing, and video clips from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, the work highlights ongoing environmental concerns that are affecting Lake Erie: a recreational treasure, expansive natural habitat, important economic engine, major shipping channel and the source of drinking water for 11 million people.
Part I: At the Lake opens with a joyful tribute to the lake, as instruments portray the constant motion of the waves, children sing about playing in the water, and a fisherman recalls the pleasure of his work. The quartet sings of the constant motion of the bubbling waves swirling the sand from rock to stone. They notice an article in the newspaper about a toxic blob nearing the water intake valve. A storm approaches moving swiftly across the lake.
Part II: The Public Hearing portrays a public hearing between the opposing forces of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and concerned citizens that includes a statement from Congresswoman Marcia Fudge. The conflict concerns the current toxicity of the lake bottom and whether it is safe to dump the dredged Cuyahoga River bottom into the lake. The choir voices lively opinions.
Part III: The Dream. Learning about the various polluters of the lake has left the soprano sleepless at night. She sings that she is filled with fear for the lake and the people. How can it be made right? A lullaby sung by the mezzo leads into a fitful dream in the form of video projection streaming various lake-pollution visuals that include farm and street run-off into the lake. It is accompanied by rhythmic, instrumental music.