From the Archives

American Treasures

8 p.m. Saturday, March 3, 2007
VMA Arts and Cultural Center, Providence

The Providence Singers
The American Masterpieces Festival Orchestra

Andrew Clark, conducting

Elizabeth Weigle, soprano
Gigi Mitchell-Velasco, mezzo-soprano

Frank Kelley, tenor
Aaron Engebreth, bass

This concert and a second concert Sunday afternoon, March 4, 2007, are part of the American Masterpieces program of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Providence Singers is one of seven choral organizations nationwide selected to reacquaint American audiences with the rich and varied tradition of American choral music.

This evening’s concert presents three works for chorus and orchestra:

    John Corigliano – Fern Hill  (Text: Dylan Thomas)
    Carlyle Sharpe – Proud Music of the Storm  (Text: Walt Whitman)
    Lukas Foss – The Prairie  (Text: Carl Sandburg)

John Corigliano – Fern Hill

Dylan Thomas’s 1945 poem “Fern Hill” is securely in the 20th-century canon of Western verse. Its language captures the intensely sensual memories of a child’s magical days, sleeping at night – “As I rode to sleep, the owls were bearing the farm away” – and waking to a new day as to a new creation. But time is not a respecter of innocence. Time leads children out of grace, all the while holding them “green and dying.”

John Corigliano found an almost autobiographical meaning in the work of Dylan Thomas: “My life crises continued to unfold in eerie synchronicity with the poet’s own.”

More about  Fern Hill (full text)  |  John Corigliano

Carlyle Sharpe – Proud Music of the Storm

Walt Whitman’s “barbaric yawp” (his term for his poetry), considered risqué in his time, still speaks to Americans with a recognizable freshness and clear, familiar perspective. In “Proud Music of the Storm,” Whitman salutes the European cultural establishment while boldly declaring a new and independent American aesthetic: “To you a new bard, caroling in the West, obeisant sends his love.”

Carlyle Sharpe wrote Proud Music of the Storm for the thirtieth anniversary season of The Providence Singers. It received its première on November 3, 2001, in VMA Arts and Cultural Center.

More about  Proud Music (full text)  |  Carlyle Sharpe

Lukas Foss – The Prairie

Many of the lumberjacks, farmhands, factory workers, prairie girls, city builders and others that populate Carl Sandburg’s “The Prairie” derive from the poet’s own days riding the rails and doing odd jobs. His free verse and enthusiatic celebration of American life in all its energy, brutality and urban grime led some admirers to consider him a 20th-century Walt Whitman.

In the early 1940s, Sandburg’s “The Prairie” (from Cornhuskers, 1918) touched something deep inside a 19-year-old immigrant named Lukas Foss, who was also deeply in love with America. He set to work composing music almost immediately.

More about  The Prairie (full text)