Utah Symphony to Celebrate JFK's Legacy on 50th Anniversary of Assassination, 11/22-23
The Utah Symphony commemorates the legacy of an American icon, by performing music that was written about John F. Kennedy and captures the spirit of his presidency on the 50th anniversary of his assassination in 1963.
Special guest narrator, Edward Herrmann ("Law & Order", "Gilmore Girls", "The Practice"), joins Maestro Thierry Fischer and the Utah Symphony at Abravanel Hall November 22 and 23, to pay homage to an American legacy and the 50th anniversary of a tragic event.
Works by Benjamin Britten bookend the concert repertoire, which showcases elegies written for the late president by Igor Stravinsky and Peter Lieberson. Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 4, "The Inextinguishable," also makes an appearance on the program.
Stravinsky wrote brief memorial works throughout his life but by the late 1950s and early 1960s, he had reached an age when they were becoming a far too regular necessity. Stravinsky had been an acquaintance of President John F. Kennedy and was shocked by the news of the assassination. He later told the New York Times: "The idea [for the Elegy] came to me in mid-January 1964. I felt that the events of November were being too quickly forgotten and I wished to protest."
Stravinsky's Elegy for JFK comprises four haikus written by W.H. Auden about JFK, and each syllable of the haiku is a note. The work is also just for mezzo soprano and three clarinets.
The Lieberson piece, Remembering JFK, is the newest work being performed at this concert. It has a modern, "American" sound, but has tonality and narration from some of JFK's speeches. Lieberson was commissioned in 2010 to compose a commemorative work for the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Inauguration the following January. Intent on a work consisting of woven narration and orchestral color, Lieberson began to read through the collected speeches of JFK and, as quoted in Thomas May's note for the National Symphony premiere, stated that he was "astonished that so much of what [Kennedy] said carried presentiments of what we need today."
The Nielsen symphony - the oldest piece of music in this concert at 97 years old - stretches this tension of unbridled energy. Nielsen wanted to present music as something equal to man, not just an emotional expression. He believed that music is its own universal force. From the fourth we get Nielsen's quote "Music is life, and, like it, inextinguishable."
In their 5th year of collaboration, the Utah Symphony and The Road Home are holding a benefit and clothing drive on November 22 and 23, 2013 in the lobby of Abravanel Hall prior to both evening concerts. The Road Home will be collecting cash donations, with a $15,000 matching grant in place from Chevron. Additionally, they welcome donations of warm clothes, blankets, ski jackets, mittens, boots, hats, scarves. All those bringing a donation will receive "Utah Symphony bucks" that can be used to purchase tickets to future performances. The Road Home is a private non-profit social services agency that assists individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Salt Lake County and along the Wasatch Front. For more information, visit www.theroadhome.org.