Derek Bermel – A Child’s War
John Corigliano –One Sweet Morning
Douglas J. Cuomo – Fortune
David Del Tredici – Four Heartfelt Anthems
Paquito D'Rivera –Tembandumba
Michael Gordon –Exalted
Bright Sheng – Boatmen’s Song
Joan Tower – Can I
Derek Bermel is well known for his creativity and theatricality as a composer of chamber, symphonic, dance, theater, jazz, and pop works and for incorporating the music of world cultures into his compositions. Bermel set his composition, A Child’s War, to a text by his father, Albert Bermel, a playwright and translator, and explains that the three lyrics are remembrances of his father’s childhood in London during the bombings of World War II. Bermel dedicated these songs to his paternal grandmother Rae. [Read his full biography]
A Child's War is scheduled for performances on Thursday, February 16, 2012 at Le Poisson Rouge and on Saturday, February 18, 2012 at Zankel Hall.
John Corigliano set One Sweet Morning to E. Y. (Yip) Harburg’s Rhymes for the Irreverent, two small volumes of poems by the lyricist of the film “The Wizard of Oz” and the musical “Finian’s Rainbow.” Said Mr. Corigliano, “He was most often very funny, but occasionally wrote poems of transcendental beauty like ‘One Sweet Morning.’ This anti-war poem looks forward to ‘one sweet morning’ when ‘out of the flags and the bones buried under the clover,’…‘spring will bloom’… ‘peace will come.’ It is an exalted prayer for the future, and when sung by young people who are the future, has special meaning.” His newest composition is an expanded version of One Sweet Morning, recently premiered by the New York Philharmonic and mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe. A Pulitzer Prize- and Oscar-winner, John Corigliano is internationally celebrated as one of the leading composers of his generation, winning international acclaim for his orchestral, chamber, opera and film work. [Read his full biography]
Listen to One Sweet Morning
One Sweet Morning is scheduled for performances on Thursday, February 16, 2012 at Le Poisson Rouge and Saturday, February 18, 2012 at Zankel Hall.
Douglas J. Cuomo is one of today’s most versatile composers, writing not only for the concert hall, but also for stage, screen, and television, including the title theme for the TV series Sex and the City and Arjuna’s Dilemma, his acclaimed 70-minute staged oratorio based on the Bhagavad Gita, which melds classical, jazz, and traditional Indian musical elements. Cuomo, a one-time jazz guitarist, based Fortune on one of his favorite stories, an ancient Taoist fable of a small village farmer, who comes to realize life’s fortunes are a mystery that cannot be understood and are summed up in the moral: “You never know; keep on going; all is not as it first appears.” As they sing Fortune, the chorus members play small homemade percussion instruments, providing sound effects and punctuation to the story. Cuomo thought this fable would have a particular resonance for the singers, who at their age are trying to make sense of the world and how they fit into it. [Read his full biography]
Fortune is scheduled for performance on Saturday, February 18, 2012 at Zankel Hall.
David Del Tredici composed his 17-minute Four Heartfelt Anthems in our post-9/11 world. Pulitzer Prize-winning Del Tredici wanted to connect with—and even comfort—the younger generation of budding musicians and tell them of the joys of childhood (as he best remembered them). The first three movements—“Sabbath’s Child,” “The Little Land” (from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses), and “New England Primer Alphabet” are sung a cappella, and in the fourth—“Highlands, Farewell”—the choir is joined by a soprano solo and piano. This final movement, set to the Robert Burns poem, particularly touches Del Tredici’s heart, as he sees it as a passionate and reluctant farewell to childhood itself. Del Tredici has been called “the father of the Neo-Romantic movement in music,” for his rich musical voice of color, humor and sentiment. [Read his full biography]
Four Heartfelt Anthems is scheduled for performances on Friday, February 17, 2012 at 92nd Street Y and on Saturday, February 18, 2012 at Zankel Hall.
Paquito D’Rivera’s Tembandumba was inspired by Tembandumba de la Quimbamba, the main character in the poem Majestad Negra (Black Majesty) by Puerto Rican poet Luis Pales Matos. Two soloists—soprano and alto— plus a pair of Cuban claves add contrast and color to the choir. Said D’Rivera, “Although I used some extra-lyrics and onomatopoeic sounds for rhythmic effects, the beautiful poetry of the Puerto Rican maestro stays intact in all its grace and glory. This is my humble musical tribute to the master poet from Borinquen.” D’Rivera, a Grammy-winner and National Medal of Arts recipient, is a Cuban-born alto and soprano saxophonist and clarinetist, as well as a noted composer of jazz and traditional Cuban music. His contributions to classical music are also impressive, including performances with symphonic orchestras worldwide and various compositions including his three chamber works recorded live in concert with Yo-Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall. [Read his full biography]
Listen to Tembandumba
Tembandumba is scheduled for performances on Thursday, February 16, 2012 at Le Poisson Rouge and on Saturday, February 18, 2012 at Zankel Hall.
Michael Gordon’s music merges subtle rhythmic invention with incredible power. Co-commissioned by the Young People’s Chorus of New York City and the Kronos Quartet in 2010, Michael Gordon began work on a very different piece. But soon after the death of his father, he set it aside and wrote Exalted. Exalted is the English translation of the first word of the Mourner’s Kaddish, one of the most important and central prayers in the Jewish liturgy written 2500 years ago in Aramaic, the language spoken at that time. The text of Exalted, a lament in memory of Gordon’s father, consists entirely of the Kaddish’s first four words—Yi-ga-dal, v’yis ka-dash, sh’may, and ra-bo. Over the past 25 years, the co-founder of Bang on Can has produced a strikingly diverse body of work, ranging from large-scale pieces for high-energy ensembles to major orchestral commissions to works conceived for the recording studio, and numerous collaborations with artists in other media. [Read his full biography]
Listen to Exalted
Exalted is scheduled for performances on Thursday, February 16, 2012 at Le Poisson Rouge and on Saturday, February 18, 2012 at Zankel Hall.
Bright Sheng blends the musical traditions of Asia and the classical tradition of the Western world, as one of the foremost composers of our time, whose stage, orchestral, chamber and vocal works are performed regularly throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Many of his works have strong Chinese and Asian influences, a result of his diligent study of Asian musical cultures since he began his music studies in China at age four. “Boatman’s Song” is based on a folk song from northern Shaanxi Province. According to Sheng, “The music is a simple rhythmic towing song sung by boat-trackers along the river. I love the song for its vivid reflection of the tempestuous turbulence of the river. By adding guiro(s), hand-clapping and emphasizing the nonsense words (originally to synchronize the movement of the boat hauling), I hope to evoke the now-lost scene of hundreds of boatmen pulling a large boat against the rage of the river—a hazardous task which had claimed thousands of lives in history.” [Read his full biography]
Boatman’s Song is scheduled for performances on Friday, February 17, 2012 at 92nd Street Y and on Saturday, February 18, 2012 at Zankel Hall.
Joan Tower, one of America’s pre-eminent composers, was commissioned by the Young People’s Chorus of New York City to write her first choral work as part of her 70th birthday celebration in 2008. Can I, for treble chorus and two percussionists, is also the first work she has ever composed that includes text. Tower said that this piece was a big challenge for her. Fearing that the words might distract from the music, she wrote the words herself because she said, “I felt that I could maybe express more of what I wanted to, by doing that.” She explains that the words, directed at children and teenagers, are simple and express the thought of “can I be heard,” a frustration many children feel as they grow up. Because the YPC is a multicultural chorus, she included Spanish words and a few Yiddish and blues expressions in the text. [Read his full biography]
Can I is scheduled for performances on Friday, February 17, 2012 at 92nd Street Y and on Saturday, February 18, 2012 at Zankel Hall.