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Essays:
Kurt Weill in America

Lindbergh Flight Inspired Hundreds of Musical Works

by Kim H. Kowalke

 

 

Lindbergh...

Sunday, February 27, 2000 at 3pm

Philip GlassDennis Russell Davies, Conductor
Laurie Anderson, electric violin
Robert Wilson, narrator
Suzan Hanson, soprano; Maria Jonas, mezzo-soprano
John Duykers, tenor; Leon Williams, baritone; Stephen Morscheck, bass
Judith Clurman Chorale, Judith Clurman, director

Laurie AndersonSAMUEL BARBER: Night Flight, Op. 19a
KURT WEILL: The Lindbergh Flight
LAURIE ANDERSON: Songs for A.E. (based on the story of Amelia Earhart (World Premiere)
Commissioned by The Carnegie Hall Corporation
PHILIP GLASS/ROBERT WILSON: Act V from "The White Raven" (U.S. Premiere)

20th Century Snapshots - A Millennium CelebrationTickets are $46, $33 & $16. Call CarnegieCharge: 212-247-7800

A pre-concert discussion with the composers takes place on the Carnegie Hall stage at 1:45 and is free to ticket-holders.


Kurt Weill flies with Lindbergh; Laurie Anderson & Philip Glass Premieres Land at Carnegie Hall February 27

The American Composers Orchestra's continues its multi-year Millennium series at Carnegie Hall on Sunday, February 27 at 3pm with "Lindbergh...", a thematic program devoted to flight--one of the 20th century's pioneering technological and human achievements--and to the heroes of early aviation. The concert's centerpiece is Kurt Weill's The Lindbergh Flight (Der Lindberghflug). Composer/electric violinist/performance- artist Laurie Anderson will perform the world premiere of Songs for A.E., dedicated to Amelia Earhart. Also on the program is Samuel Barber's Night Flight, and the U.S. Premiere of Act V of the Philip Glass/Robert Wilson opera The White Raven with Robert Wilson narrating.

Kurt Weill in his backyard in upstate New YorkWith The Lindbergh Flight, ACO joins the worldwide commemoration of Kurt Weill's centennial (his 100th birthday would have been March 2nd) with an early and seldom-performed work written for the 1929 Baden-Baden festival that presaged Weill's fascination with technology and with America--the country that was later to became his home. Der Lindberghflug began as a collaboration with Bertolt Brecht and Paul Hindemith for the then new idea using the radio to transmit music. In the original version, Weill and Hindemith alternated writing musical sections of what was envisioned as an experimental radio cantata. After the premiere, though it was Weill's jazz-age settings that proved the more compelling match for the material, and he later reworked the piece with music entirely of his own composition. Unlike the hundreds of popular songs that were inspired by "Lucky Lindy's" flight, Weill's music is not so much a musical "hooray" as an allegory about the triumph of the human spirit and technology represented by Lindbergh's historic transatlantic flight. Weill's revised version of Der Lindberghflug had its American premiere April 1931 by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski, in a concert broadcast nationwide. Soloists for the ACO performance include tenor John Duykers, in the role of Lindbergh; baritone Leon Williams; and bass Stephen Morscheck with the Judith Clurman Chorale. [Related essays Kurt Weill in America and Lindbergh Flight Inspired Hundreds of Musical Works by Dr. Kim H. Kowalke]

Act V from The White Raven (1998), by another pair of music-theater pioneers, Philip Glass and Robert Wilson, receives its U.S. premiere in concert version. The opera was commissioned by Portugal's government to celebrate that country's long history of discovery. Each act is divided into two parts, with Act V portraying the present and the future--depicting the first historic flight between Lisbon and Spain. The White Raven combines myth, philosophy and historical incidents to create a powerful visionary artistic environment. While playing homage to the importance of the first Portuguese discoveries, The White Raven explores a wider theme: the commencement of things--how that which does not exist comes into being. In this The White Raven is in part inspired by a line from Aristotle's Poetics, "a beginning is that which does not come necessarily after something else, but after which it is natural for another thing to exist or come to be." Mr. Wilson narrates, soprano Susan Hanson and mezzo-soprano Maria Jonas, the singers who created their roles in the original production, are the soloists.

Laurie AndersonAmelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, and who disappeared over the Pacific in 1937 while attempting an around-the-world flight, is the subject of Songs for A.E. by artistic innovator Laurie Anderson. Commissioned by The Carnegie Hall Corporation Songs for A.E. receives its world premiere with the composer in the solo spotlight on electric violin. As with Ms. Anderson's recent production of Songs and Stories from Moby Dick at the Next Wave Festival last October, Songs for A.E. challenges the conventions of music and theater and embraces new technologies.

Samuel Barber's Night Flight was written in 1943 when the composer was drafted into the Army Air Force. The work was originally part of the Second Symphony, which was dedicated to and commissioned by the Air Force and premiered by the Boston Symphony. Barber revised the symphony in 1947, but was never satisfied with it and later destroyed the manuscript score. Night Flight, the second movement, is the only portion of the Second Symphony to survive.

Tickets for "Lindbergh..." are $46, $33, and $16 and are available through CarnegieCharge at 212-247 -7800. The concert begins at 3 pm and is preceded by a 1:45 pm. discussion with composers and noted Kurt Weill scholar Dr. Kim H. Kowalke that is free to ticket holders.

Performance of Kurt Weill's music is funded in part by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, a not-for-profit, private foundation chartered to preserve and perpetuate the legacies of Kurt Weill (1900-1950) and Lotte Lenya (1898-1981). In pursuit of these goals, the Foundation maintains the Weill-Lenya Research Center to serve scholars and performers, awards grants to support excellence in research and performance, administers Weill's copyrights, and information on the worldwide centenary celebration of the birth of Kurt Weill (2000).

Major support of the American Composers Orchestra is from Alliance Capital Management L.P., Mr. Thomas Buckner, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Booth Ferris Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Geraldine C. and Emory M. Ford Foundation, Mr. Francis Goelet, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, J.P. Morgan & Co., the Virgil Thomson Foundation, and the Helen F. Whitaker Fund. ACO programs are also made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.


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