WordSong: The Second Coming - four settings of a text by William Butler Yeats
Sunday, February 12, 2023 at 8:00pm
160 Memorial Drive, Cambridge MA 02139
One Text. Four composers. A public conversation.
Sasha Callahan, violin
Megumi Stohs Lewis, violin
Alexander Vavilov, viola
Leo Eguchi, cello
Christina English, mezzo-soprano
EDMAR COLÓN • HOWARD FRAZIN • ELENA RUEHR • TOM SCHNAUBER
At Sheffield Chamber Players, we are so proud of our unique way of bringing people together and finding connection through music—but we aren’t alone in trying to reach those goals. With that in mind, we are excited to collaborate with the folks at WordSong on a project to bring new music and new connections to life. Composers Howard Frazin and Tom Schnauber created the WordSong project to produce engaging performance events which provide incredible inroads into the craft and creative process of composing. Each of their forums features newly written pieces for voice and instruments from multiple composers, all based on an identical text. Following the performance, the forum continues with a discussion from the point of view of the audience. The WordSong mission speaks of trying to throw out the outdated model of simply “playing music at the audience,” and we couldn’t agree more. It’s a gift to find institutions that we are so aligned with, and are sure that our community will love. Read on to hear from Howie and Tom about WordSong and what to expect when you join us for this unique experience.
~ Leo Eguchi
WordSong, founded in 2008 by composers Howard Frazin and Tom Schnauber, is Boston’s premier interactive concert organization. WordSong has created a new concert format focused on public conversation around intuitive musical understanding, aspiring to reconnect musicians and audiences through shared, active, artistic experiences. In its 14-year history, WordSong has produced 12 forum series and various other programs based on texts as diverse as Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz” and Langston Hughes’s “Harlem.” More than 50 performances, including more than 60 new works by living composers, have been presented throughout New England, as well as in New York, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C., and as far away as Vancouver and Bulgaria.
Here’s how the event will work: First, we all read the poem and listeners give their reactions. Then we play the songs; and then, you the listeners and we the composers and performers will have an open dialogue about what we all just heard: a dialogue about various points of view, preconceptions, and emotional impacts. In the course of the discussion, we’ll play each of the pieces again. A WordSong Forum is all about multiplicity: multiple settings, multiple hearings, multiple meanings. Together, we will discover how a single, familiar text can inspire a variety of thoughts and feelings; we will explore our perspectives and yours and how they are represented in the various meldings of words, ideas, and music. We hope you will join us in this exploration of multiplicity, this interaction between the familiar and the unfamiliar, this new way to experience new music!
~ Howard Frazin and Tom Schnauber
About The Composers
Puerto Rican-born composer Edmar Colón has been commissioned as an arranger and orchestrator by the Detroit Jazz Festival Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the Boston Pops, and has worked as an orchestrator with Esperanza Spalding, Wayne Shorter, and Terri Lyne Carrington on several Grammy Award-winning albums. As a saxophonist, Colón has performed all over the world, including at the Detroit Jazz Festival, Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Festival, Toronto Jazz Festival, Panama Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, and Monterey Jazz Festival, and has performed with Esperanza Spalding, Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Patti Austin, Ledisi, Judith Hill, and Danny Rivera, among others.
The music of Howard Frazin has been called “clear in design...ingeniously scored...with an almost unbearable poignancy” by The Boston Globe. Recent commissioners have included A Far Cry, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, Boston Classical Orchestra, Claremont Trio, Florestan Recital Project, and Lorelei Ensemble. His works are published by Edition Peters and recorded on Ravello Records and MSR Classics. This past spring the Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms Society Orchestra commissioned and premiered his latest work, Overture to the Moon and Stars. He is artistic director and co-founder of WordSong.
Composer Elena Ruehr’s work has been described as “sumptuously scored and full of soaring melodies” (The New York Times), and “unspeakably gorgeous” (Gramophone). Winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, she has also been a fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute and composer-in-residence with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, which performed and recorded her major orchestral works (O’Keeffe Images, BMOP Sound) as well as the opera Toussaint Before the Spirits (Arsis Records). She has numerous recordings, on regular NPR playlists, including: Icarus (Avie), Six String Quartets by Elena Ruehr (Avie), Averno (Avie), Jane Wang considers the Dragonfly (Albany), Lift (Avie), Shimmer (Albany) and Shadow Light (Acis). Known for her collaborations with writers and poets, she has written five operas, five cantatas, as well as a great deal of orchestral music, chamber music and songs. She has also written for film and dance. She lives in Brookline and is an award winning faculty member at MIT.
German-American composer Tom Schnauber is a co-founder of the Boston-based arts organization WordSong, and a former co-president of Composers in Red Sneakers (Boston). He has also studied French horn performance, ethnomusicology, and did a small stint in Hollywood scoring films no one will ever see. A versatile composer, Schnauber enjoys writing for a variety of ensembles, including unaccompanied instruments, chamber ensembles, solo voice and vocal ensembles, string orchestra, and symphony orchestra. He has also written three regularly performed children’s musicals and one irregularly performed comic chamber opera, as well as incidental music for numerous theatrical productions. His music has been performed throughout the United States and Europe and can be found on the Quartz and Navona labels. In addition to teaching upper school music at Rising Tide charter school, he is a writer, a copyeditor, and a proud Trekkie and Whovian.
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