New Amsterdam Singers Will Present THROUGH THE SEASONS
New Amsterdam Singers (NAS), led by Music Director Clara Longstreth, will present Through the Seasons, featuring Robert Paterson's "I Go Among Trees" - a World Premiere commissioned by NAS in honor of its 50th anniversary. The three-movement work by the New York-based award-winning composer is written for chorus and marimba on texts by Wendell Berry, May Sarton, and John Freeman; Makoto Nakura is the marimba soloist. The concert will be performed twice: Friday, March 20, 2020, at 8:00 pm at Broadway Presbyterian Church, Broadway at 114th Street, and Sunday, March 22, 2020, at 4:00 pm at The Theater of St. Jean Baptiste, 184 East 76th St.
Also on the program:
· "Winter Cantata," a major work by the American composer Vincent Persichetti (1915-1987) for women's voices, flute, and marimba, a 12-movement composition of short pieces set to Japanese haikus, translated by Harold Stewart, and commissioned by the Emma Willard School in 1965
· "Songs of Springtime" by the Irish-English composer E.J. Moeran (1884-1950)
· Benjamin Britten's "The Ballad of Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard," a mini-opera written for the composer's friend Richard Wood in 1944 when Wood was a prisoner of war in Oflag VIIb, in Eichstätt, Germany. At the camp, Wood organized a festival of orchestral and vocal pieces to be performed by the prisoners. Britten's piece was secretly delivered in time for the festival, where it was performed four times. The story comes from an English folk ballad dating from around the 17th century about a nobleman and his wife's adulterous affair.
Robert Paterson's "I Go Among Trees" was inspired by the composer's fond memories of hiking in the Adirondack Mountains as a youngster. "I have always been drawn to forests and meadows," he says. "There is something deeply satisfying about spending time among trees, meadows, and in nature, and away from the urban environment." To that end, he set three poems - "I Go Among Trees" by Wendell Berry, "March in New England" by May Sarton, and "The Kestrel" by John Freeman -all of which celebrate that terrain. "The poets I chose all express a profound affection for the natural world in their writings."
As a percussionist whose primary instrument is the marimba, Paterson also wanted to create a work for choir and marimba. "Texts about trees and forests seem to go well with pieces that include marimba, since the marimba bars are made out of wood," he notes. "What I love about the marimba is that it blends well with just about any instrument. And I wanted to make sure there were moments for the marimba player to shine a little."
Clara Longstreth asked Paterson to write a work for NAS because "I was impressed when he told me that he had been commissioned by a German choir to write a piece using the text of 'Row, row, row your boat,'" she says. "He almost turned down the commission right away, but then wrote an incredibly clever, fun piece, 'Life Is But a Dream,' which NAS performed in June 2017. And I thought that if he could handle that assignment, he is a star!"
Artists and Performers
Robert Paterson's music has been performed by more than 100 choirs and ensembles, including Musica Sacra, Chamber Choir of Europe, Atlanta Master Chorale, Albany Pro Music, Nashville Opera, Minnesota Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, and New York New Music Ensemble. Recent commissions include Listen for the Ember Choral Ensemble, Ghost Theater for the Albany Symphony, Shine for the American Brass Quintet, and a consortium commission from the Eastman Wind Ensemble and 11 other wind ensembles for a new work to be premiered in 2021. Paterson's debut choral album, Eternal Reflections, was released by Musica Sacra and Kent Tritle in 2015.
In 2005 Paterson founded the American Modern Ensemble (AME), which spotlights contemporary music via lively thematic programming. He serves as artistic director as well as house composer. In 2018 he co-founded the Mostly Modern Festival (MMF), an annual three-week summer music festival taking place at Skidmore College. He also founded American Modern Recordings (AMR), an affiliated record label distributed through NAXOS.
Robert Paterson was named Composer of the Year in 2011 by the Classical Recording Foundation. He received a Music Alive grant from the League of American Orchestras and New Music USA; American Composers Forum Jerome Composers Commissioning Program; Cincinnati Camerata Composition Competition; and fellowships to Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, Aspen Music Festival, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the Copland House. He holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music (BM) Indiana University (MM), and Cornell University (DMA).
Marimbist Makoto Nakura moved from his native Japan to New York City in 1994, becoming the first marimbist to win first prize in the prestigious Young Concert Artists International Auditions. Internationally, he has performed in London, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Montreal, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, and Buenos Aires. In the U.S. he has appeared in 41 of the 50 states, with orchestras such as New York Chamber Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. A feature on Mr. Nakura was broadcast on CBS Sunday Morning. Born in Kobe, Japan, Mr. Nakura began playing the marimba at age eight. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Musashino College in Tokyo and continued his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London. His latest CD, "Tears and Prayers," won the "New Prominent Master" award from the Japan Association of Professional Record Studios in 2019.
Music Director Clara Longstreth
In 1968 Clara Longstreth became conductor of what was then called the Master Institute Chorus. When the Master Institute dissolved in 1971, the singers regrouped as the New Amsterdam Singers, with Ms. Longstreth at the helm, where she remains today. Her tenure and programming instincts with NAS have been acknowledged by audiences and the press alike. "Clara Longstreth, the longtime music director of the estimable New Amsterdam Singers, has a gift for devising adventurous programs with interesting juxtapositions," wrote Anthony Tommasini in The New York Times. Allan Kozinn, writing in the same publication, noted: "When a director takes up the challenge of building a cohesive program around a broad theme, we are reminded that programming can be an art."
Clara Longstreth has also served on the faculty of Rutgers University, where she conducted the Voorhees Choir of Douglass College. A student of conductor G. Wallace Woodworth at Harvard University, Ms. Longstreth trained for her master's degree at The Juilliard School under Richard Westenburg. Further study included work with Amy Kaiser and Semyon Bychkov at the Mannes College of Music, and with Helmuth Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival. She has guest-conducted the Limón Dance Company in performances with NAS and the Riverside Choir, and with NAS and the Mannes College Orchestra in the folk opera, "Down in the Valley" during a Symphony Space "Wall to Wall Kurt Weill" program.
New Amsterdam Singers
New Amsterdam Singers, which celebrated its 50th anniversary during the 2017-18 season, has been hailed as an "outstanding avocational choir" by The New Yorker, and is known for the breadth and variety of its repertoire. The ensemble specializes in a cappella and double chorus works, presenting music from the 16th century to contemporary pieces, including many it has commissioned. Over the course of its five-decade history, the chorus of 70-plus singers has performed numerous world, American, and New York premieres. This programming reflects Ms. Longstreth's desire to focus efforts on lesser-known works by pre-eminent composers and on new works by living composers.
Amsterdam Singers has performed with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein; American Russian Youth Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; at Tanglewood's Ozawa Hall under Leon Botstein; Concordia Orchestra and Anonymous Four in Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light with Marin Alsop at Avery Fisher Hall; and with the Limón Dance Company in Kodály's Missa Brevis. On March 13, 2016, NAS presented Golgotha, a 90-minute oratorio for chorus, orchestra, organ, and soloists by the Swiss composer Frank Martin in its first performance since 1952, as part of the Trinity Wall Street Concert Series. In 2013 the singers performed in South Africa; in Greece in 2015; in Iceland in 2017; and in Bulgaria in 2019.
For further information, call (914) 712-8708 or go online to www.nasingers.org. Tickets are available at the door for $30. Tickets are also available in advance online, for $25 (general admission) and $20 (students), or by mail (New Amsterdam Singers, P.O. Box 373, Cathedral Station, New York, NY 10025).
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