Charles Ives’ America

November 20 and 22, 2015

William Sharp, baritone
Steven Mayer, piano
Georgetown University Orchestra conducted by Angel Gil-Ordóñez
Produced by PostClassical Ensemble


Friday, November 20 at 1:15 p.m.
McNeir Auditorium, Georgetown University
Charles Ives: Songs
Free admission
A recital of songs by America’s supreme composer of art-songs, with their supreme interpreter. In addition, Mr. Sharp will sing the popular songs that    inspired certain Ives songs. Mr. Mayer will also play “The Alcotts” from Ives’s “Concord Sonata” — an American masterpiece he has performed more than any other pianist.

“A sensitive and subtle singer who evokes the special character of every song that he sings” — New York Times, on William Sharp

Friday, November 20, immediately following the 1:15 p.m. FMS concert
McNeir Hall

2:45-3:45 p.m. 
William Sharp Masterclass
Elizabeth Baker – Mozart, Voi che sapete
Alexander Coopersmith – Vaughan Williams, Whither Will I Wander

4-5 p.m. 
Steven Mayer Masterclass
Antonia Stabile: Prokofiev 3rd Sonata
Shoko Kiyohara: Brahms op.117, No. 2 and 3 or Mozart K. 330 2nd Movement

Sunday, November 22 at 5 p.m.
Gaston Hall, Georgetown University
$5 general | FREE student


Charles Ives: Concord Piano Sonata
with readings from R.W. Emerson and H.D. Thoreau
Stephen Foster: “Camptown Races” and other songs
Ives: Symphony No. 2

If there is a “Great American Symphony,” a likely candidate is Charles Ives’ Symphony No. 2, completed in 1909. In this work, every Ives tune adapts an American song or hymn, creating a vernacular American symphony comparable to Mark Twain’s vernacular American masterpiece of fiction, Huckleberry Finn. Some of the tunes that Ives uses remain popular — “Turkey in the Straw,” “Columbia the Gem of the Ocean, ” “Camptown Races.” Others, like the tongue-in-cheek college song “Where Have All the Verdant Freshmen Gone?”, have long vanished. At our performance, as a preface to the symphony we’ll hear “Camptown Races,’ “There Have All the Verdant Freshmen Gone,” and other Ives source-tunes, and we’ll explore how Ives uses them. We will also hear Ives’ keyboard masterpiece, the “Concord” Sonata (acclaimed the greatest music ever composed by an American at its belated 1938 premiere), with interpolated readings by Emerson, Thoreau, and Ives. Our guest performers are baritone William Sharp and pianist Steven Mayer, both celebrated Ives exponents.

“Steven Mayer gave a mightily atmospheric performance of Ives’ Concord Sonata”   — Alex Ross (The New Yorker)