To celebrate the launch of the League of American Orchestras' 75th anniversary and its 2017 national conference in Detroit, Music Director Leonard Slatkin conducts the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in an engaging program to include Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's thrilling, satirical "Seven Deadly Sins" with multifaceted vocalist and Detroit resident Shara Nova. This 20th century theatrical masterpiece is presented alongside several exciting contemporary works: Mohammed Fairouz's "Pax Universalis", dedicated to children who have fallen victim to global conflict; former DSO Lebenbom Award winner Sarah Kirkland Snider's "Something for the Dark"; Michigan native Jonathan Bailey Holland's "Equality" (featuring the poetry of Dr. Maya Angelou); and Mason Bates' homage to Detroit Techno "Warehouse Medicine" from "The B-Sides". The concert kicks off with a special performance by the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra (DSYO) conducted by Oriol Sans.
Tuesday, June 6
Los Angeles: 04:30 PM
Detroit, New York, Toronto: 07:30 PM
Wednesday, June 7
London: 12:30 AM
Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Madrid, Rome: 01:30 AM
Moscow, Kiev, Jerusalem, Athens: 02:30 AM
Beijing: 07:30 AM
Tokyo: 08:30 AM
Live on Livestream
League Conference Concert
Kevin Puts (b. 1972)
♪ Hymn to the Sun (2008)
Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
♪ Cello Concerto in E minor, Op.85 (1919)
i. Adagio – Moderato
ii. Lento – Allegro molto
iv. Allegro – Moderato – Allegro, ma non troppo – Poco più lento – Adagio
Joshua McClendon, cello
Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra
Conductor: Oriol Sans
I n t e r m i s s i o n
Mohammed Fairouz (b. 1985)
♪ Pax Universalis (2015)
Kurt Weill (1900-1950)
♪ The Seven Deadly Sins (1933)
Shara Nova, vocalist
Hudson Shad, vocal quartet
Jonathan Bailey Holland (b. 1974)
♪ Equality (2015)
Text by Dr. Maya Angelou
Dr. Tonya Matthews, narrator
Sarah Kirkland Snider (b. 1973)
♪ Something for the Dark (2016)
Mason Bates (b. 1977)
♪ The B-Sides (2009)
v. Warehouse Medicine
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Leonard Slatkin
Live from Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit
Tuesday, June 6, 2017, 07:30 PM EDT (UTC-4) / Wednesday, June 7, 2017, 02:30 AM EEST (UTC+3)
Live on Livestream
Shara Nova (previously Worden) is the lead singer and songwriter for My Brightest Diamond. As a composer she is most recognized for her choral compositions and the baroque chamber opera "You Us We All". New music composers Sarah Kirkland Snider, David Lang, Steve Mackey and Bryce Dessner have composed pieces for Nova's voice. She has recorded as a guest vocalist with David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens, Jedi Mind Tricks, The Blind Boys of Alabama and Stateless as well as extensive collaborations with visual artists Matthew Ritchie and Matthew Barney. She was formerly the frontwoman of AwRY. On March 3, 2016 Shara legally changed her last name from Worden to Nova.
Nova was born in 1974 in El Dorado, Arkansas. Her father was an accordion player and choir director and her mother was an organist for their Pentecostal church. Nova's uncle Donald Ryan, a classical and jazz pianist and arranger, taught her piano lessons as a child. Nova's family moved to many different states when she was a child, including significant time in Sapulpa, Oklahoma and Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Nova graduated from the University of North Texas with a BA in vocal performance. After university, she lived in Moscow, Russia, for a year where she studied Russian and wrote songs, producing a self-released, limited edition EP, "Session I". She moved to New York City where she continued to study opera with Josephine Mongiardo. In 2009 Nova moved to Detroit, Michigan.
In 2001, Nova self-released two albums in collaboration with guitarist Shane Yarbrough under the moniker Awry, "The Orange Album" and "Quiet B Sides". A short tour followed the release of the albums, after which the band dissolved. In 2002 and 2003 Nova wrote music for Adam Rapp's play "Trueblinka" (directed by Simon Hammerstein) and subsequently for Hammerstein's production of Jean-Paul Sartre's "Men Without Shadows" (Morts sans sépulture). She began studying composition with Padma Newsome during this time. Then in 2004 she began touring in Sufjan Stevens' band for the tours supporting his album "Michigan". In 2006, she released the album "Bring Me The Workhorse" on Asthmatic Kitty Records under the moniker My Brightest Diamond and was nominated for Female Artist of the Year in the PLUG Independent Music Awards. The My Brightest Diamond albums "A Thousand Shark's Teeth" (2008), "All Things Will Unwind" (2011), and "This Is My Hand" (2014) were also released on Asthmatic Kitty Records. Nova became a Kresge performing arts fellow in 2012.
She made a guest appearance on the Jedi Mind Tricks album "Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell" in 2006 and on the Vinnie Paz album Season of the "Assassin" in 2010. In 2008 Nova sang as a background vocalist for Laurie Anderson during five performances at The Rose Theater for the show "Homeland". She performed guest vocals on "The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid" and "The Queen's Rebuke/The Crossing" from the 2009 album by The Decemberists, "The Hazards of Love", singing vocals for the part of "The Queen". She also performed with The Decemberists on their "A Short Fazed Hovel Tour" along with Becky Stark from Lavender Diamond. She performed vocals on Sufjan Stevens' album "The Age of Adz", notably taking the lead during a section of "Impossible Soul". Nova performed in and wrote the song "Nine" for Bryce and Aaron Dessner's multi-media performance "The Long Count" with texts and images by Matthew Ritchie. The "Long Count" was performed at the Krannert Center (2009), BAM (2009), the Holland Festival (2012) and the Barbican Centre (2012). In January 2012 Nova performed the premiere of the song cycle "Death Speaks" by David Lang with pianist Nico Muhly, violinist Owen Pallett and guitarist Bryce Dessner. In 2015, Nova provided vocals for Sarah Kirkland Snider's "Unremembered", and debuted her opera (co-written with Andrew Ondrejcak), "You Us We All", in the United States.
|Joshua McClendon, cellist|
Edward Elgar's Concerto for cello and orchestra in E minor, from the year 1919, is the last major work the composer penned (a Third Symphony remained in draft form at his death in 1934). While the instrumental forces remain basically equivalent to those used in the Violin Concerto, Elgar has amplified the tender, searching intimacy of that earlier work to such a degree that one might call the Cello Concerto not just introspective but searing and almost ascetic. It is an exceedingly complex but immediately touching work that makes a fitting epilogue to Elgar's lifetime in music.
The Concerto is poured into a four-movement mold, yet still takes only about half an hour to perform – far less than any of Elgar's other large instrumental works. This restraint is mirrored by remarkably transparent orchestration. The work begins with four bars of solo cello recitative that firmly outline the home key of E minor. The subsequent Moderato entrance of the orchestra offers little immediate support for that key, really winding down to the tonic only after six bars of restless 9/8 melody built on a single rhythmic cell. During the 12/8 middle section Elgar makes good use of the contrast between E minor and E major. A recapitulation of the opening is made, but soon enough the movement has dissolved into a handful of uncertain pizzicati.
Elgar brings back the opening recitative, much altered (and buoyantly beginning where the first movement's pizzicati left off), to begin the following Scherzo. After twice pleading with the orchestra to join its cause, the cello finally rouses the group into an eighth note driven perpetual motion (Allegro molto). Elgar paints a miniature portrait of his own very characteristic lyric style in the relatively brief E flat major second theme.
A wonderful melody in B flat major is sung by the soloist throughout the Adagio third movement. Here Elgar's indebtedness to Schumann, the slow movement of whose own cello concerto also employs this song without words approach, is clearly evident. The life span of this one melodic strand is a bare 60 bars, yet it conveys deeper passion than do five times that many bars of the composer's earlier music. The movement ends on the dominant, paving the way for an attacca opening of the Finale.
After initially falling in with the B flat major of the Adagio, the Finale makes an eight-bar move back to its rightful E minor tonal center. The main idea of the movement (marked, like so many of the composer's favorite thoughts, "nobilmente") is given out first by the soloist in half-recitative and then, after a rude tutti interruption and a brief pause, by the entire ensemble, Allegro non troppo. A second theme recalls both the G major tonality and the impish sentiment of the Scherzo movement. As the Finale draws near its finish, Elgar undertakes an extended and very moving reminiscence: first on the melody of the Adagio movement and then reaching back to the recitative that began the entire half-hour journey. Two terse chords re-energize the movement's fast-twitch muscle fiber, and 16 bars later the curtain comes down.
Source: Blair Johnston (allmusic.com)
|Shara Nova, vocalist|
Elizabeth West and Peter Darrell co-founded Western Theatre Ballet in 1957. They aimed to find new audiences for ballet, performing in theatres that large companies did not visit. It was their ambition to commission ballets reflecting the spirit of the day and, crucially, to revitalise ballet's theatrical dimension (hence the word "theatre" in the company's name). Lord Harewood's invitation to perform at the Edinburgh Festival in 1961 was an important recognition of what Western Theatre Ballet had achieved. The programme they chose was daunting for a small company: Kenneth MacMillan's version of Brecht/Weill's Seven Deadly Sins, along with Salade choreographed by Peter Darrell and Le Renard choreographed by Alfred Rodrigues. A particular strength of the evening was the designs, which for all three ballets were overseen by Barry Kay. Ian Spurling was MacMillan's designer, his set constructed, rather than consisting of painted cloths and flats, the seven locales of Anna's sins announced on large lettered cubes moved around the stage by the cast.
The Seven Deadly Sins, which Berthold Brecht and Kurt Weill wrote after they fled Nazi Germany (it was their final collaboration), is an excoriating assault on capitalist morality. It was conceived as a satirical ballet chanté and first commissioned by Boris Kochno and George Balanchine in 1933. The work had been largely forgotten until Balanchine revived it in 1958.
Its heroine, Anna is a split personality, presented in MacMillan's ballet as two sisters. The singing Anna is all rational calculation. Her counterpart, the dancing Anna, is instinctive, natural, unguarded and generous. Anna is despatched into the world to "make good". The deadly sins from which her sister has to save her are the instincts that stand in the way of success. The two sisters, really one, journey around the America of Brecht's imagination encountering a different sin in each city. Each humane impulse of the dancing Anna (Anya Linden) is stigmatised as a deadly sin by the singing Anna's voice of reason (Cleo Laine). Virtue subsists only in acquiring money, symbolised by the home in Louisiana to which they eventually return.
Lotte Lenya was to have been MacMillan's Singing Anna, as she had been both in the 1933 and in the 1958 revivals. She had not understood that the choreography would be new and withdrew from the production to be replaced by Cleo Laine. For The Times the ballet made the strongest impression of the evening. "Whether or not we agree with Brecht", the review (unsigned) continued, "that there is anything specifically bourgeois about this immorality, the piece should make us profoundly uncomfortable. That it did not tonight was partly due to Mr Kenneth MacMillan's and Mr Ian Spurling's all too brilliant evocation of the world of Pabst's films, which now seem safely quaint, and partly to the invincible warmth of Miss Cleo Laine's singing. The final horror should lie in the fact that Anna I thinks of herself not as hard-bitten but as a pillar of morality: no room here for a heart of gold, or even a heart at all".
A music critic, Peter Heyworth reviewed the premiere for The Observer. "What was conceived in rage is swaddled in pity and savage satire is reduced to piquant paradox." However, Andrew Porter of The Financial Times came to MacMillan's defence. "It is not The Seven Deadly Sins, one feels, that Brecht and Weill intended. On its own terms, however, if not on theirs, MacMillan's choreography is filled with brilliance and invention and the whole presentation, in Ian Spurling's extremely clever set, is exciting."
|Oriol Sans, conductor|
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