Songwriting is like childbirth.
For composer Linda Rice Beck, the gestation lasted two years.
“We were supposed to perform these two years ago, but because of COVID, we had to push back,” she said, referring to a quartet of songs she penned for the Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble.
The group will sing “The Raney Songs,” as well as a program by composers ranging from Gwyneth Walker, Mark Sirett, Daniel J. Hall, Randall Thompson and more. The composers used poetry by Robert Frost, Julian of Norwich, Sara Teasdale, Langston Hughes and Hafiz.
Rice Beck based her music on the poetry of Raymond Raney, husband to ensemble director Linda Raney.
“They’re tender and very poignant to me,” she said. “They’re quite inspirational.
A member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Rice Beck has been a songwriter since her Las Vegas, New Mexico childhood.
“I started with piano,” she said. “I’ve always made up songs. I’ve written about 100 different songs. It’s mostly choral work.”
She didn’t realize she could become a composer until a University of Akron professor made the suggestion. Rice Beck majored in music and education. She taught school before returning to New Mexico in 2004.
“I said, ‘I don’t have the background for this; I’m not professional. He said, ‘It comes from the heart.’ ”
Today she starts at the piano, using a program called Finale to compose her work. Her songs have been performed in Taos, Durango, Colorado, Ohio and in Nashville.
“I don’t write real avant-garde music,” she said. “It’s fairly traditional. To me, making music is like giving birth. It takes nine months to get it so it can go out into the world.”