The oratorio, with music by Sarah Meneely-Kyder and libretto by Nancy Fitzhugh Meneely, describes the life of their father, a doctor in the 10th MT Division, before, during and following WWII. It was premiered in April 2013 as a work for orchestra and soloists. The documentary film adaptation, Letter From Italy, A New American Oratorio, created by Karyl Evans and narrated by Meryl Streep, premiered on June 14, 2015 on PBS and received two Emmy nominations. In addition to the orchestral score, there are versions of the oratorio's music for Baritone and String Quartet, as well as an aria for Tenor and Piano, offered through American Composers Edition (BMI).
Composer/pianist Sarah Meneely-Kyder (b. 1945) is a graduate of Goucher College, Peabody Conservatory and Yale University. Her composition teachers have included Robert Hall Lewis, Earle Brown and Robert Morris. In the years following her formal education in the Western musical tradition, she studied the North Indian sitar and was eventually initiated by Roop Verma, a student of world renowned sitarist, Ravi Shankar. She has also studied the South Indian veena. As a composer, most notable are those works that fuse disparate musical traditions into single pieces.