Thursday, February 02, 2006

The National Symphony Orchestra And The Library Of Congress Both Spotlight New American Music

Tonight, the National Symphony Orchestra and the Choral Arts Society of Washington, under the baton of Leonard Slaktin, will perform, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the world premiere of Roberto Sierra's Missa Latina "Pro Pax" ("For Peace"). The performance also features soprano Heidi Grant Murphy and baritone Nathaniel Webster. I will be in attendance. (There are two additional performances, on Friday and Saturday evenings; and many tickets remain available for all three performances of this world premiere choral work dedicated to the theme of Peace. Unfortunately, at this time -- and contrary to normal practice -- advance program notes to the work are not available at the Kennedy Center/NSO website. Tonight-only, there will be a post-concert discussion with the composer, the conductor, and the two vocal soloists.)

This evening, over at the Library of Congress, there will be a special chamber music concert of music of California composer Roger Reynolds (with pre-concert talk at 6:15 PM). This performance was organized by the Library of Congress's senior new music curator, Stephen G. Soderberg. Mr Reynolds is known for his eclectic and experimental works that explore spatial, perceptual, and technological boundaries. A Library of Congress Web presentation of Reynolds' music is located at

I will unfortunately miss the Roger Reynolds chamber evening. I fondly recall the last time the Library of Congress devoted an evening to Mr Reynold's works, on November 30 and December 1, 2001. That evening featured the world premiere, in the Library of Congress's Great Hall, of Mr Reynold's dramatic cantata Justice, featuring Carmen Pelton, soprano; Donnah Welby, actress; Steven Schick, percussionist; and an intricate choreography of multichannel computer sound – designed by Peter Otto and engineered by Josef Kucera. (The production was funded by The William and Flora Hewett Foundation of California.)


(What is wrong with these American composers -- Mssrs Reynolds and Sierra -- who think that they can get away with premiering classical works, in Washington, D.C., on the themes of Justice and Peace?)

The Great Hall of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The Hall was the site of the world premiere of Roger Reynold's "Justice" in the late autumn of 2001.


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