The Ballad of Mulan | Symphony Orchestra | Isabel Goodwin, 2017
The Ballad of Mulan is an interpretation of the Chinese folklore of the same name. Set in the Northern Wei dynasty, Mulan begins her story weaving baskets in her home, destined to get married and live out her female lifestyle, represented by the opening harp and flute themes. However, when she hears that her old and sickly father is being drafted to the war, Mulan decides to go in his place, leaving her busy little home, buying a horse and armor, and making her way towards the camp. Once she arrives, she easily out performs her brothers-in-arms, represented by low brass, French horns, and cellos. In terms of agility, weaponry, and combat, Mulan excels, while constantly masking the mental dissonance of having to hide who she truly is. Over her twelve years of combat, Mulan becomes the General and leads the Chinese army to victory, earning her a prestigious job opportunity alongside the emperor, which she respectfully declines. Returning to her home village and taking back up her female identity, she reunites with her father, repeating the beginning harp theme between the high voice of the oboe and the wise, low voice of the double bass. The story of Mulan has always been one that inspired me, because she was a normal teenager who beat the odds and successfully led her country to victory because it was her duty to do so. Her story, albeit a bit different than the Disney version, reaches millions of girls and tells them that they can do enormous deeds, even when other people tell them it’s not what they’re meant to do.