Thursday 4 October 2018

A feast of Americana - St John's Smith Square's Fall Festival

St John's Smith Square - Americana '18 - Fall Festival
St John's Smith Square's Americana '18 Festival reaches its climax next week with a Fall Festival, a week of concerts celebrating American Music from Tuesday 9 October to Monday 15 October 2018. Whilst Leonard Bernstein looms large with his Chichester Psalms (from the Addison Chamber Choir, in the version for organ, harp and percussion) and Symphonic Dances from West Side Story (in a version for two pianos from Joseph Havlat and Thomas Ang), there is also his early Piano Sonata (from Nathan Williamson) and late Arias and Barcarolles, plus plenty of other music by composers known and well-known from American mavericks and the African Diaspora to American Whimsies and the Class of 39

There are plenty of other goodies, Lucy Schaufer (mezzo-soprano) and Huw Watkins (piano) celebrate The Class of 38 with music from William Bolcom, John Harbison, Charles Wuorinen, Frederic Rzewski, Bernstein (of course) and many more. Madeleine Mitchell (violin) and Nathan Williamson (piano) cast their net widely too with music by Bloch, Bolcom, John Cage, George Crumb, Ned Rorem and Aaron Copland. Joseph Spooner (cello) and David Owen Norris (piano) explore American Whimsies with music by H.W. Nicholl (a 19th century emigre composer),  Lukas Foss, Wallingford Rieger and George Walker (the first black American composer to win the Pullitzer Prize).

Darragh Morgan (violin) and Mary Dullea (piano) will be performing more Charles Wuorinen, plus Morton Feldman and Elliot Carter, whilst Ensemble Mirage is giving the UK premiere of Lowell Liebermann's Quintet Op.26 (for the rarely heard combination of clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano). Peter Sheppard Skaeperd (violin) will be giving a rare, uncut performance of George Rochberg's Caprice Variations.

The advantage of such festivals is that we can move into territory which is undeservedly neglected. So Nadine Benjamin (soprano) and Nigel Foster (piano) will be exploring art songs by African American and Black British composers in Portrait of a Life (or many): Art Songs from the African Diaspora including music by Florence Price, William Grant Still, Undine Smith Moore, Dominique Le Gendre, Shirley Thompson and Errollyn Wallen. The Kreutzer Quartet and Roderick Chadwick (piano) will be considering American Mavericks with music by Ruth Crawford Seeger, Lukas Foss, Leon Kirchner, and Gloria Coates.

Full details from the St John's Smith Square website.

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