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A portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in song

Bienen School of Music lecturer and opera singer honors her mother-in-law’s life and legacy

EVANSTON, Ill. --- On March 15, on what would have been the 88th birthday of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University will launch the video documentary, “A Tribute to RBG in Song,” a glimpse into the personal side of the legendary Supreme Court Justice. Known as a tireless advocate for equal justice under the law, Ginsburg was also an opera and classical music enthusiast. 

The video will launch Monday, March 15, at 9 a.m. CDT on Bienen School’s Davee Media Library website. Media can preview the embargoed video here.

The video includes performance excerpts by Ginsburg’s daughter-in-law Patrice Michaels, a soprano-composer and a lecturer at the Bienen School; and commentary by Laura Beth Nielsen, professor and chair of sociology, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences; and Northwestern Pritzker School of Law professor and interim dean James Speta, as well as Michaels.

Justice Ginsburg addressed the Law School community during a two-day visit to campus in 2009.

Michaels is a lecturer in voice and opera at the Bienen School. She composed “The Long View: A Portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Nine Songs,” written in honor of her mother-in-law’s 80th birthday, with co-composers Vivian Fung and Stacey Garrop. She recently appeared in the Carnegie Hall livestream event “Live with Carnegie Hall: Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”

Patrice Michaels, and her husband, Jim Ginsburg, are both available for interviews. They can be reached by contacting Stephen Lewis 312-405-6397 (mobile) or stephen.j.lewis@northwestern.edu.

Quote from Professor Michaels
“I really did find the arc of her life as a first-generation American with a mother who had come [to America] as a small child, a father who was an immigrant, not high levels of education, but great ambition and great appreciation for the values of this republic.

“I had really no concept of just how limited women's options were in the law until I began to know her personally, to know her friends who either are of her age or slightly younger, who also were path breakers in the law, to find out the circumstances in which they had to volunteer their services in order to be considered, to find out the doors that were closed to them.

“My hope is…to give the joy of the experience of this one human who made such a huge difference. Her story so clearly illustrates what we aspire to as a nation.”

Speta said Justice Ginsburg was “a warrior for issues of gender justice and social justice.”

“In the national conversation that we're having right now, she's an incredibly important figure,” he said. “She's also a figure in the political conversation, given the polarization that we unfortunately have in the country. And hopefully, the lawyerly manner in which she approached many questions can give us a path forward to greater understanding.”

Nielsen, who is also a faculty advisory board member of Northwestern’s Center for Legal Studies, as well as a member of the American Bar Foundation, discusses the justice’s litigation strategies in the video.

“One of her most powerful dissents, and again, many people have noted this, is in the Lucy Ledbetter case in which she talked about the reality and the really deep impacts of differential pay, and the way in which women are harmed in the workplace through disparate pay…There are lots of great examples of her using her voice to not just decide a case, but to decide the case with respect to her deeply held principles.”

Media interested in interviewing professors Nielsen or Speta should contact Hilary Hurd Anyaso at h-anyaso@northwestern.edu or Stephanie Kulke at stephanie.kulke@northwestern.edu.