GU Concert Choir, Guest Scholars Celebrate Birth Centenaries of American composers Barber, Loesser, and Schuman
Part of “America Sings in the Nation’s Capital” festival, free workshop and ticketed concert include highlights from opera Vanessa, musical Guys and Dolls
March 15, 2010 — Washington, D.C. — The Georgetown University Concert Choir, a 25-voice mixed ensemble under the direction of C. Paul Heins, presents its spring program celebrating the music of Samuel Barber, Frank Loesser, and William Schuman on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at 8 p.m. in Gaston Hall, located in the Healy Building on Georgetown’s main campus. The program pays tribute to the centenaries of these three outstanding American composers’ births. Tickets are $5 general admission; free for students. The concert and a related free March 26 workshop at 5:30 p.m. in McNeir Auditorium, featuring scholars on Barber, Loesser, and Schuman (details below), are both part of the “America Sings in the Nation’s Capital” festival, a five-month series of events that celebrates the genius and rich diversity of America’s sung music.
Samuel Barber (1910-1981), was twice the winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Music: the first time in 1958 for his opera Vanessa, and the second time in 1963 for his Piano Concerto. His most famous work is perhaps the somber Adagio for Strings, which has been featured in a number of motion pictures and performed regularly at state funerals. The Concert Choir program includes four of his works: “Must the Winter Come So Soon?,” an aria from Vanessa; Reincarnations, a set of three James Stephens poems for a cappella chorus; “The Monk and His Cat,” a choral setting of one movement from Hermit Songs; and “Under the Willow Tree,” a choral setting of an aria from Vanessa.
Frank Loesser (1910-1969) is well known for his musicals How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (which won him a 1962 Tony Award for Best Musical and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama the same year) and Guys and Dolls (which won him a 1951 Tony Award for Best Musical; the subsequent film version garnered a 1955 Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture and multiple Academy Award nominations). The April 21 program includes a medley from Guys and Dolls (including the songs “Luck Be a Lady Tonight,” “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” “Adelaide’s Lament,” and “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” among others); the delightful “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” featured in the film Neptune’s Daughter; the close-harmony “New Ashmolean Marching Society and Students Conservatory Band” (from the musical Where’s Charley?); and the aria “Somebody, Somewhere,” from Loesser’s operatic musical The Most Happy Fella.
William Schuman (1910-1992) is perhaps best known for his orchestral works (which include 10 symphonies, the oft-programmed New England Triptych, and his Variations on “America,” an arrangement of Charles Ives’ original composition). In the mid-20th century, Schuman was also known for his presidency of the Juilliard School (a position he held from 1945 to 1961) and later of New York’s Lincoln Center (1961-1969). Like Barber and Loesser, Schuman was also the winner of a Pulitzer Prize, receiving the inaugural prize in music in 1943 for his cantata A Free Song. The Concert Choir program will feature three Schuman works: “Kiss Me Not Goodbye,” an aria from Schuman’s cantata Casey at the Bat; “Orpheus and His Lute;” and Three Carols of Death, a set of three haunting texts by poet Walt Whitman.
Heins, who has conducted the Concert Choir since Fall 2006, notes “The music in this program is not only tremendous for our choristers to learn and for our audiences to experience, but a meaningful tie-in to Georgetown’s Music in American Culture curriculum. We are excited about the opportunity to honor the centenaries of the births of these three important figures in American music.”
As part of its preparations for the spring concert, the Concert Choir will host a free public workshop on Friday, March 26 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in McNeir Auditorium (located in the New North Building), featuring performances of works-in-progress from the April 21 repertoire and presentations by three eminent scholars who are experts on the lives and work of the three featured composers. Barbara Heyman, a music historian at Brooklyn College, is author of the 1992 biography Samuel Barber: The Composer and His Music and the forthcoming A Comprehensive Thematic Catalog of the Complete Works of the American Composer Samuel Barber (1910–1981). Thomas Riis, director of the American Music Research Center at the University of Colorado-Boulder’s College of Music, is the author of the 2008 biography Frank Loesser. Steve Swayne, an associate professor in the Department of Music at Dartmouth College, is the author of a forthcoming biography of William Schuman (expected in late 2010).
For April 21 concert tickets or for more information, visit http://performingarts.georgetown.edu or call (202) 687-ARTS (2787) Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. A complete schedule of events for the “America Sings in the Nation’s Capital” festival, presented by the Washington area’s leading performing arts and presenting organizations, can be found at http://dcsings.org.
The Georgetown University Music Program is distinctive for its emphasis on the study of music as both a manifestation of multiculturalism in the American World and a creative activity within contemporary society. The program specializes in all forms of music associated with American Culture, including jazz, rock, film, popular music from around the world, and music stemming from the Western European Tradition (i.e. classical music). The new liberal arts degree in American Musical Culture integrates the University’s strengths in politics and American Studies and is designed for students interested in pursuing careers and/or graduate study in arts management, composition, cultural criticism, entertainment law, media studies, music business, music journalism or musicology. For well over a century, Georgetown students have actively participated in ensembles such as orchestra, concert choir, jazz band and chamber music. There are also several co-curricular groups such as the Pep Band that perform at athletic events and a cappella singing groups. More recently, the Music Program has expanded its performance offerings. The 2009-10 season includes performances by groups like the World Percussion Ensemble; Guild of Bands, an organization dedicated to contemporary popular music; and collaborations with professional ensembles including American Opera Theater and the Post-Classical Ensemble.