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Sierra Leone

Poetry by Sierra Leone

Music by Steven Winteregg

  1. Tenacious
  2. Graceful (A Song for Miriam)
  3. Radiant
  4. Humorous
  5. Inspiring
  6. Worn
  7. Jubilant
  8. Dynamic

Most artistic endeavors start with a single thought. In the case of “Expressions,” it began with an idea that Neal Gittleman had to create an artistic work by putting music to the poetry of Sierra Leone. The poet and the composer were introduced to one another by Neal, and as the poet and composer planned, they realized that the piece needed a controlling idea to provide unity and to hold the composition together. Since the piece was commissioned by the Miriam Rosenthal Foundation for the Arts, it was a natural first step to look to Miriam Rosenthal as the unifying idea. Besides being an early administrator of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Miriam was a force of nature when it came to planning and raising money for many of the non-profits in the Miami Valley, and consequently, she seemed to be a worthy subject. In researching Miriam Rosenthal, eight words emerged that were often used to describe her: Tenacious, Graceful, Radiant, Humorous, Inspiring, Worn, Jubilant, and Dynamic. The challenge for the poet and the composer was how to turn these eight expressions, with their various meanings and moods, into a multi-movement musical piece.

“Tenacious” is conveyed by an orchestral passacaglia with its repeated and unrelenting bass line. “Graceful,” with its subtitle “A Song for Miriam,” is the only direct reference to Miriam Rosenthal in the entire piece. It features a solo for soprano with orchestral accompaniment as well as a part for poet. “Humorous” is composed for chorus and orchestra while “Inspiring” features the poet with orchestra. “Worn” reflects the end of Miriam’s life and her battle with cancer, and it is written for Soprano, Poet, Choir, and Orchestra. This movement moves without break into the next section, “Jubilant.” The final movement, “Dynamic,” is written for orchestra alone and provides a positive and triumphal ending to Miriam’s life and to the piece.

The entire composition was created with the poet and the composer closely interacting with one another. The piece, with its many moods and styles, ends up being a work that could have only resulted from this unique collaboration.  Their joint effort ended up being the perfect reflection of how Miriam Rosenthal worked and collaborated in the Dayton area.



Poetry by Sierra Leone


Graceful (“Miriam: The Prophetess”)


has found a home

the essence of your lived generosity

is befitting for infinite moments of inspiration


A visible force

everlasting memories,

holding the fragility of embraced mortality

and stunning wonder of humanity to the light


A prism of grace and mercy

hands of service crossing imaginary limitations

dimensions of resilience, legacy shifted

doubt dwindled in the presence of your gentle brilliance


Exhaustion has no end

you were fresh water to parched spirits

dreams do come true when remembered

shining like the newness of a day lived in appreciation


A divine message delivered our Gem City’s Saint and beloved citizen.


Radiant (Excerpt from “In Radiance”)

Pirouetting like a summer’s day turned

sun lite shimmering snowflake,

light angel, ancient with enchanting ways,

an electrifying blessing counted

the gift of kinship

regal gentle, heavenly radiance


Humorous (“Music”)  

just like music

I bend to the beat of my creativity

innovate when all else fails

stand strong in the midst of madness

I know my play and my place

Hear that, it’s my music, it’s…my music


Inspiring (Excerpts from “Educational Advocate”)

You are the woman

who took a swimmer’s breath

dove deeply into what you believed

manifested dream catcher’s energy

and used it to embrace humanity


I am not sure,

if it was your elegance or sophistication

authentic style or smile

maybe it was your invitation to choose greatness

that pushed those you led to excellence


It is not every day that you meet a human being

whose natural beauty is just as amazing

as her milestones of transformation and leadership


For those who appreciate you,

the footprints in the sand

are memories of you walking hand and hand

With those of us that you have led and prepared


Worn (“Weather Worn”)  

The sun does not shine always

But it does shine.

There may be shady days

But the clouds will pass


Laughter will prevail

Even when the cries are overbearing.

Valleys share the same space

as mountain tops

I wonder about the things some do in the dark.


Mask the scars,

Arm yourself with righteous deeds,

No matter how it reads

Death is more than a cousin to sleep


My friend honesty hasn’t forgiven me.

            I’ve told the same story 2wice.

                        Watering a dead plant

                        Stops new heartache


No, the sun does not shine always

But it does shine

There may be shaded days

But the clouds will pass


Jubilant (Excerpts from “Dare to Imagine”)

I am an empowered opulent yes!

hear waves of awareness integrating my focused intention,

see my inner authority reigning supreme.

turn my inherited burdens into legacy shifted blessing,

I wonder if happiness is the side effect of knowing what I believe.


I am an empowered opulent yes!

I pretend that harmony making love to joy

is my authentic being, dressed as royalty.

stimulating thoughts that birth seeds of prosperity

I live life as art

feel the positive energetic invitation surrounding me

touch a blooming flower and remember tomorrow.

Poetry © 2022 Sierra Leone