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Larry Marshall Performs A Lincoln Portrait with Downtown Music Productions 2/12

Downtown Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Mimi Stern-Wolfe, presents, on the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, a performance of Aaron Copland's A Lincoln Portrait, with Broadway's Larry Marshall as narrator; Creation du Monde by Darius Milhaud, and Flower of the Mountain by Pulitzer-prize winning composer Stephen Albert, inspired by the writings of James Joyce, with Alissa Grimaldi, soprano. Sunday February 12, 3:30 PM at St. Mark's in the Bowery, 131 West 10th Street (Second Avenue).

American composer Stephen Albert (1941-1992) was inspired by the writings of James Joyce for several of his works, and in 1985 he turned to Joyce's novel Ulysses for Flower of the Mountain, which is based on Molly Bloom's famous soliloquy. Soprano is Alissa Grimaldi, who performed the West Coast premiere of the work in 1991, with full orchestra conducted by Dr. Daniel Kingman. Following the New York premiere, performed by soprano Lucy Shelton and orchestra conducted by Gerard Schwarz, Bernard Holland called the work "as gracious and accommodating to the ears as any recent music could be." (The New York Times, May 21, 1986).

Stephen Albert was born in New York City in 1941. His main composition teachers were Elie Siegmeister and, at the Eastman School, Bernard Rogers. He also encountered the French tradition in short periods of study with Darius Milhaud at the U of Pennsylvania. Albert worked as composer-in-residence at schools in Ohio through a Ford Foundation project, and from then onwards had a steady stream of awards, grants and fellowships, including a Pulitzer Prize in Music in 1985, two MacDowell Colony fellowships, a Huntington Hartford Fellowship, two Guggenheim fellowships, two Rome Prizes, and grants from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund, the NEA, the Ford Foundation, and the Alice M. Ditson Foundation.

The composer had powerful champions in cellist Yo-Yo Ma, singers Dawn Upshaw and Lucy Shelton, conductors David Zinman, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Gerard Schwarz. He received commissions from the Chicago, National, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Seattle symphonies, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Library of Congress.

The music world was stunned and saddened when Albert died tragically at the age of 51 in a three-car collision on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Asked to write a musical portrait of an "eminent American" by the conductor Andre Kostelanetz, Aaron Copland selected Abraham Lincoln, and used material from speeches and letters of Lincoln. The towering work was premiered by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in May 1942, with William Adams as the narrator. Together with some descriptive comments on Lincoln ("Abe Lincoln was a quiet and a melancholy man"), the work contains excerpts from several of his great documents, including the Gettysburg Address.

Narrator is noted actor Larry Marshall, who started his career in the chorus of an international touring "Porgy and Bess," eventually performing the role of Sportin' Life in the Broadway production, for which he was nominated for Tony and Drama Desk awards. Among his many other credits are performing in "Mother Courage" at the Delacorte Theater with Meryl Streep, and on Broadway in "Two Gentlemen of Verona," "The Full Monty," and "The Color Purple." On film he appeared in "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "The Cotton Club."
mimiLarryMarshall Headshot.jpg Larry Marshall, narrator for "A Lincoln Portrait"

On a trip to the U.S. in 1922, Darius Milhaud heard "authentic" jazz on the streets of Harlem, which left a great impact on his musical outlook. Using jazz elements, the following year he finished composing "La Creation du monde," which had been commissioned by the Ballets Suedois, a ballet company which was contemporary to Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. The 20-minute work, premiered in October 1923 at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris, outlines the Creation of the World based on African folk mythology.

Sunday, February 12 at 3:30 PM
St. Marks in the Bowery, 131 West 10th Street (at Second Avenue)
Donation: $20; $12 for seniors and students
Reservations not necessary. For information: 212.477.1594

Downtown Chamber Orchestra will be joined by guests Alissa Grimaldi, soprano/Flower of the Mountain
Larry Marshall, narrator/A Lincoln Portrait

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