LETTERS TO THE PRESIDENT In Concert Comes to Cooper Union April 8
Letters to the President is a multi-composer song cycle in development with The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. A concert presentation of the new work is set for Monday, April 8, 2019 at 7pm in the historic Great Hall at Cooper Union.
The work reimagines an archival canon of letters through music, each song inspired by an individual letter curated through archival research and private collections from across the country. Spanning topics including western expansion, World Wars I and II, space exploration, and the civil rights movement, Letters to the President offers a powerful look at the American dream. The evening will consist of the composers' songs performed alongside readings of the letters that inspired them.
Letters to the President s conceived by Michael Bello (We Are The Tigers, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical) and Jessica Kahkoska (Discount Ghost Stories, Agent 355), with the letters curated by Kahkoska. The evening will be directed by Bello, with music direction and orchestrations by Patrick Sulken (Pretty Woman: The Musical), co-produced by Sara DeViney and Tim Marback.
Announcement of participating composers, singers, and guest letter readers to follow.
"We are in the midst of an extraordinary moment in American politics, which means it's an important time to reflect on the sanctity of our democracy and the power of individual voices," said Laura Sparks, president of The Cooper Union, a highly selective, private college in New York City's East Village. "These letters are democracy in action. The ability that we all have to share our convictions directly with the President of the United States is both a privilege and a right. Presenting an homage to this kind of civic engagement is very fitting for Cooper given our history, and we are especially proud to do so with this free, public program during our 160th anniversary year," she said.
A History of History-Making Moments
Letters to the President will be presented in The Cooper Union's historic Great Hall, which has hosted a canon of luminaries for 160 years and was the largest public gathering spot in New York City when it first opened. Abraham Lincoln gave his "Right Makes Might" speech on the Great Hall stage, propelling him to the White House; Frederick Douglass defended the Emancipation Proclamation there; Red Cloud of the Lakota Sioux and Little Raven, chief of the Arapaho, spoke on the rights of Native Americans; Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton proclaimed the rights of women; 10 American presidents, from Lincoln to Obama, have spoken in the Great Hall; and important movements and institutions like the NAACP and American Red Cross were shaped there.
ABOUT THE COOPER UNION
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art is a distinguished private college of art, architecture, and engineering founded in 1859 by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper. From its beginnings, Cooper has been dedicated to the idea that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but also to civic virtue and harmony. Today, the school continues that tradition through a curriculum that focuses on helping graduates acquire technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice. The institution provides close contact with a distinguished, creative faculty and fosters rigorous, humanistic learning that is enhanced by the process of design and augmented by its urban setting in New York's East Village.
The Great Hall of The Cooper Union has stood since 1858 as a destination for free speech, civic engagement, and a witness to the flow of American history and ideas. When the Great Hall first opened, it was the largest public gathering space in New York City. Leading thinkers, artists, and historical figures have held the stage including Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Mark Twain, Susan Sontag, Cornel West, Ai Weiwei, Congressman John Lewis, and more. More recently, groups like PEN America, the Public Art Fund, and the Architectural League of New York and more have held events on its stage. Learn more at www.cooper.edu.