American music

a few lines of shape note music
Bill Smith/Creative Commons/Flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/byzantiumbooks/32773311793/in/photolist-34Ydj3-T7rmQE-RW4MMT-58v5mx-eciDGJ

A noted French author once said the accent of one's birthplace persists in the mind and heart as much as in speech.

The same holds true for musical works, and for two musical works, in particular — English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and the American work it inspired, Thomas Canning’s Fantasy on a Hymn Tune.

color photo of Eric Whitacre leading his Live Virtual Choir
ericwhitacre.com

"In 1991, I had maybe the most profound and transformative experience in my life."

That’s how Eric Whitacre began his February 2013 TED Talk about how his choral work Cloudburst and his history-making Virtual Choir project came about.

color photo of people sitting in a dark movie theater watching a bright white blank screen
Kenneth Lu / Flickr

Ah, the summer blockbuster. It’s a great American tradition—all those stars, all that action, all that popcorn.

But why deal with larger-than-life price tags and sticky movie-theater floors when you can stay home and take your ears to the movies on The American Sound?  

An eagle bone whistle. A sacred rattle. A singing turtle. A “love flute.”

These are just a few of the ancient Native American instruments showcased in Anthem for the Ancestors, a new work for string quartet, Native American instruments, narrator and multimedia visual effects composed by Carpe Diem String Quartet violinist Charles Wetherbee and Native American performer and composer Leon Joseph Littlebird.

color photo of a banquet scene form the opera JFK by David T. Little and Royce Vavrek
Marty Sohl / Fort Worth Opera

It would be difficult to name an individual who occupies a more exalted place in the American collective memory than John F. Kennedy. The former U.S. president has been idolized as an American war hero, a pedigreed New Englander, a dashing family man and an architect of progressive social ideals.

But instead of holding to this larger-than-life image of Kennedy, David T. Little and Royce Vavrek, composer and librettist, respectively, for their opera JFK, wanted to portray the human side of Jack and Jackie.

color photo of Vireo performers in Alcatraz cell block
David Soderland / operavireo.org

It’s an opera about a woman imprisoned by psychological demons. It was filmed at Alcatraz. And, if all that isn't cool enough, later this month you’ll be able to watch it in 15-minute episodes on your mobile device, computer or TV.

requiemformymother.com

Veteran Hollywood composer Stephen Edwards has seen a lot of drama, death and destruction on the silver screen but, until his mother passed away, he had experienced very little of it in his own life.

“I was kind of left not knowing what to do with myself,” Edwards said in a recent phone interview. "It was a feeling of helplessness, like I couldn’t do anything to bring her back, and I couldn’t do anything to help her."

black-and-white still photo of Charlie Chaplin as the Little Tramp and sitting on a snowy landscape in The Gold Rush
Flickr

There might not be a lot of chatter in Charlie Chaplin’s films, but there’s certainly a lot of chatter about them—at least in this neck of the woods. Thursday morning, some of that Chaplin chatter will be on Classical 101. 

color photo of severl yellow metal ballot boxes stacked on top of each other
Keith Bacongco/Creative Commons/Flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/kitoy/1597912606/in/photolist-3rcHKm-5ziqP6-rP2gM-5uxGEu-5x1T6X-5zuKiW-7dcgvZ-rMpQF-fLia6J-j6dUHb-cCyNDb-5A4jmj-CwtyM-rRgtw-rMpRX-9oXneQ-5VmNpy-zHqerj-5urX6M-5mhUsr-8QbzPP-4mmorw-5utjB6-5wo7eE-5zKnjG-6DxhSz-rP21c-bpfGP4-dfdR-

You’ve read the headlines, heard the great radio news reports on WOSU 89.7 NPR News, watched the debates (don’t remind me) and, having seen and heard enough about Election 2016, you’ve cast your vote.

So, what will you do with your Tuesday evening, now that all is said and done for another four years? 

color photo taken from behind the musicians of the Dublin Win Symphony during a rehearsal
Erica Wood / Dublin Wind Symphony

Ask composer Dr. Nicole Piunno how she would describe her new work Eternity in an Hour, and one particular word comes up again and again: joy.

“There’s a lot of joy in the piece,” Piunno said in a recent phone interview. “It starts with joy and it ends with joy.”

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