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Comments from ACO's February 27, 2000 "Lindbergh" Concert

This program celebrated one of the century's pioneering technological and human achievements: flight. ACO presented four works in varied styles all thematically focused on one aspect of flight or another. The concert's centerpiece was Kurt Weill's Lindberghflug (The Lindbergh Flight), also on the program were Samuel Barber's brief Night Flight, as well as the newly commissioned Songs for Amelia Earhart with composer Laurie Anderson also featured as narrator and electric violinist. Act V from Philip Glass's opera The White Raven, in its U.S. concert premiere closed the program.

As with many of ACO's concerts in celebration of the Millennium, the thematic nature of the program seemed to influence listeners strongly. Mostly these influences were positive, but occasionally they were negative:

"I appreciated you varied programs, the breadth and depth.  
This concert brought a freshness-the excitement of invention,
to a cynical age."
"Structuring the program around a common theme created 
a continuity of mood-very nicely done."
"The Weill piece was a good anchor for the whole program, 
with its exploratory theme and the rest of the program
flowed from around it."
"The thematic cues caused me to reflect on the daring, 
fear, and vulnerabilities of the various subject characters,
but really, I approached the music with and open ear."
"I think both the concert theme and titles deepened my perceptions."
"Again concert theme was a detraction."
"The titles indicated that different aspects of the concert theme 
would be presented during the concert, so I expected different
emphasis' from each composer."
"The flight theme made me think mechanical-
I liked that the pieces all keyed off the freeing aspect of flight."
"In advance, while the theme (flight) intrigued me, 
I thought it strange-I had no idea how moving the concert's
total effect might be."

Kurt Weill: Der Lindberghflug (The Lindbergh Flight)

Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's collaboration on the 1927 work Der Lindberghflug was given a rare performance. The perforformance was part of a worldwide centennial celebration for Weill. The audience was largely unfamiliar, and generally very pleasantly surprise by the piece, which was scored for tenor solo (as Lindbergh), baritone and bass, mixed chorus, and orchestra. Featured artists were: John Duykers, tenor; Leon Williams, baritone; Stephen Morscheck, bass; and the Judith Clurman Chorale.

"I loved the Lindbergh choral work. The beautiful score was new to me."
"I came especially for the Glass/Wilson, but the Weill really was 
the outstanding work in an outstanding program.
The Lindbergh stood out on its own, great choral work"
"The Weill work had the most impact."
"Der Linderberghflug was what I came for and the performance 
was satisfying despite weak soloists. Excellent work from the chorus!"

Some listeners were particularly struck with richness and contrast of emotions presented in Der Lindberghflug:

"The sardonic, contrasting views of the Lindbergh flight. 
The dark sinuous strains in the orchestration that forcast
Lindbergh's later perplexing sympathy with the Nazi's."
"The Weill had the most impact on me, in view of the range, 
excellence, and economy of its composition (both the text and the music)
Such a variety!"
"Weill's cantata covered and dramatized a range of emotions."

LAURIE ANDERSON: Songs for Amelia Earhart (World Premiere. Commissioned by Carnegie Hall Corp.)

Composer, Performance-Artist Laurie Anderson brought a newly commissioned work to the concert. With the composer serving as narrator and also performing on solo electric violin, the work was in the form of a number of short movements. Ms. Anderson took on the persona of the famous aviator, reading texts drawn from Amelia Earhart's diaries, newspaper columns, and radio transmissions. Many people were moved by the poetic and tragic nature of the work and its subject:

"I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the music, 
particularly Laurie Anderson's "Songs for AE"
It was as though, we the listeners, had been let in on
a terrible secret: We are aware of the journey's inevitable
tragic conclusion. Using Earhart's own work made the impression
all the more poignant."
"Laurie Anderson's "Song's for AE" was romantic, moving, 
and perceptive. It was a good mixture of varying styles of music and text."
"I felt the most impact from the poetic "Songs for AE" 
and the dramatically effective performance of its composer."
"Laurie Anderson's work had the most sensitivity to her subject."
"Laurie Anderson's piece was wonderful, it was new for me, 
totally moving and freshly fanciful. I loved it!"
"The emotional text of "Songs for AE" based upon the transcripts 
of the flight loop and radio transmission, was very surprising,
full of impact especially against the portentous musical passages."

Still, Ms. Anderson's work was controversial:

"The Earhart texts reached me more than Anderson's music, 
but continued the intensity. My five friends in the audience
were similarly moved by how the theme played out."
"I had a negative reaction to Laurie Anderson. 
Her speech was indistinct, she mumbled and spoke too softly.
She was a zero--except for playing her instrument."

PHILIP GLASS/ROBERT WILSON: Act V from "The White Raven" (U.S. Premiere)

The team that brough us "Einstein on the Beach" and more, brought a concert version of the fifth act from one of their latest collaboration, The White Raven. The work was commissioned by the city of Lisbon to celebrate their history of exploration. For this concert performance Robert Wilson narrated. The parts of the two ravens were performed by Suzan Hanson, soprano; and Maria Jonas, mezzo-soprano.

Mr. Glass's strong following among a sizeable New York audience was certainly evident:

"I always enjoy Philip Glass's music and the White Raven 
was as good as I expected. Beautiful vocal work!"
"The combination of poetry, singers souls, and music. 
Act V of the White Raven. Truly heavenly--all of it."
"The harmonic richness and lyric qualities of both 
the Glass pieces captivated me."

As always this Glass/Wilson collaboration had its critics:

"I think taking Mr. Glass's music out of context did not work. 
To a large extent his operatic endeavors, when they are successful,
are so because listeners are drawn in to the meditative qualities
achieved through repetition over long expanses of time.
Taking one scene, though it did meet the 'criteria' of the theme
of the concert, did not meaningfully add to the
musical story of the concert."
"I was dissapointed in Mr. Wilson's lackluster reading of the texts."

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