Alvira, Pennsylvania (founded as Wisetown, ca. 1825) was a farming community with a population of about 100. The town contained a blacksmith shop, school, post office, several shops, and three churches. In 1942, during World War II, approximately 8,500 acres of land, including the village of Alvira, was seized by the United States government to accommodate a munitions storage facility (149 concrete bunkers) and a TNT factory. The residents were forced to evacuate their homes and leave behind 163 farms and 47 other properties.
The evicted families were told they would have the option to repurchase their land after the war. However, this turned out to be propaganda, as the government did not give the families the option to return to their homes. The TNT factory eventually closed in April 1944, just 11 months after it opened. The land was then used by the U.S. Army for testing; and in 1950, the Federal Bureau of Prisons gained rights to 4,000 acres including the factory site.
The piece is an attempt to capture what the families went through all those years ago. For instance, sections of the music depict my imagination of happy families that resided there, how they must have felt hearing they had to leave, packing and preparing to leave, their anger coming into focus, and realizing they might never return. Not only their homes and community were taken from them, but their livelihoods.