Friday, November 14, 2008

Choruses Matter ... A Public-Sector Prelude To The January Inauguration And A Changed Classical Musical Culture In The Nation's Capital?

The Congressional Chorus Rediscovers Choral Treasures
from the Archives of the Library of Congress

Saturday, November 15, 2008, 8 p.m.
The Alden Theater
1234 Ingleside Avenue
McLean, Va.

Sunday, November 16, 2008, 4 p.m.
The Church of the Epiphany
1317 G Street NW
Washington, D.C.

The Congressional Chorus ranges all over the musical map, from spirituals to operettas, with simple and complex, funny and emotional and folksy and sophisticated selections from a collection of America’s best classic choral music. This special collection was newly assembled by the Library of Congress and the American Choral Directors Association. We are among the first groups to take advantage of this exciting resource.

In an era before recorded music and radios became ubiquitous, these songs were eagerly embraced and performed by the burgeoning community choral movement all over America. Encouraged and supported by popular singing societies and clubs, several talented and prolific American composers, working between 1870 and 1923, helped create a new and distinctive kind of American music.

We draw from the most illustrious of those composers, including John Knowles Paine, Edward MacDowell, George Chadwick, Horatio Parker, John Philip Sousa and Victor Herbert. The program will highlight the works of the leading female composers of the day, Amy Beach, Margaret Ruthven Lang and Mabel Daniels, as well as the leading African American composers R. Nathaniel Dett, Harry Burleigh and Will Marion Cook.

Discount price tickets available through the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington.

Works Progress Administration: United States of America Children's Choral Group, 1935.

After the American Renaissance of 1870 to 1923?

Photo credit: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum via Wikimedia Commons. With thanks.


Detroit's City Beautiful and the Problem of Commerce, by Daniel M. Bluestone © 1988 Society of Architectural Historians.


Edward H. Bennett and Frank Miles Day's plan for Detroit's Center of Arts and Letters in 1913 culminated the local City Beautiful movement. Cass Gilbert's Detroit Public Library and Paul Cret's Detroit Institute of Arts were built on axis, on either side of Woodward Avenue, in the middle of the center. In scrutinizing the center's origin and form, this essay outlines a broader interpretation of the City Beautiful movement, one that goes beyond explanations that focus primarily upon the formal model presented by the design of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. In late 19th-century American cities, commercial forms increasingly disrupted a traditional hierarchy in which civic, cultural, and religious buildings had dominated the cityscape and the skyline. Looking at the earlier architecture and the urban context of the institutions housed in the Center of Arts and Letters, this essay argues that the City Beautiful represented a powerful and conservative attempt to restore the dominance of civic buildings and landscapes in the face of commercial monumentality. The City Beautiful in Detroit set out to redress the "most unworthy contrast" presented to the civic landscape by commercial forms and interests.


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