20th-Century American Music: Nothing to be Afraid of

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

On this week's show, Kent Tritle features some of his favorite gems of the 20th century American repertoire. Among the ensembles featured are The Dessoff Chorus, The Singing Sergeants and the L.A. Master Chorale. 

With the spotlight on 20th-century lyricism, Morten Lauridsen's Sure On This Shining Night opens the program. Set to a text by James Agee, Lauridsen's use of warm vocal lines supported with an angelic accompaniment creates a contemplative setting of the text. The celebrated New York composer Ned Rorem is also known for his lyrical writing, and favors the lush harmonies of romanticism.

Rorem’s Present Laughter draws on text by some of the most revered poets including Shakespeare, Blake, Donne and Ben King. Scored for chorus, brass band and piano, Rorem's ideas, occasionally witty and jazzy, colors and animates the text. We hear Rorem's work performed by The Singing Sergeants and the USAF band, who premiered the work in 1996.
And showcase of American choral works wouldn't be complete without sampling the exquisite lyricism of Samuel Barber. We hear his Reincarnations Op. 16 performed by the Kansas City Choral.

Also up this week, music by Corigliano and more from Lauridson.

Comments [4]

Elizabeth from New York City

I hadn't heard the Rorem before. The music fit beautifully around the voices, and vice-versa.

Aug. 14 2011 08:50 PM
Michael Meltzer

What an extraordinary program! When Americans can offer composing so beautiful and choral singing so equally beautiful, it puts the lie to all the flap about whether we "measure up" to the British.
It would be appropriate for Stephen Layton and the critics at Gramophone to take their yardsticks and deposit them where the sun never shines.

Aug. 14 2011 05:30 PM
Gary from Manhattan NYC

Calm, contemplative music, perfect for a cool, rainy Sunday morning in Manhattan.

Aug. 14 2011 08:00 AM
Antonio Celaya from Oakland

If American choral music is the topic, don;t forget William Schuman's wonderful "Songs and Carols of death." They are three stunning pieces on Walt Whitman texts - my favorite American choral piece.

Aug. 14 2011 12:17 AM

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