The Crossing Presents Ninth 'Month Of Moderns' Festival In Philadelphia, Featuring Three World Premieres

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The Crossing Presents Ninth 'Month Of Moderns' Festival In Philadelphia, Featuring Three World Premieres

The Crossing, winner of the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance, presents its ninth annual festival of new music, The Month of Moderns, June 9, 17, and 30, 2018, in Philadelphia at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. Donald Nally conducts the 24-voice ensemble in new music that addresses our lives and speaks to our current political environment.

On Saturday, June 9, 2018 at 8:00 p.m., The Crossing opens the Month of Moderns festival with a house, a concert featuring three works by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang: statement to the court, written for The Crossing and based on the prophetic words of socialist Eugene Debs; a house, written for Northwestern University's choirs and premiered by Donald in Chicago, which mirrors the building of a house in its musical construction; and just (after song of songs), a meditative work. Written for Paolo Sorrentino's 2016 film Youth, just invites us to consider our relationships and lives. The concert also includes works by emerging composers: a world premiere by Ellis Ludwig-Leone, a Brooklyn-based composer and bandleader of San Fermin; the Philadelphia premiere of Alex Berko's Lincoln, setting the moving dedicatory inscription at The National Cathedral's Lincoln Bay; and The Crossing's premiere of P?teris Vasks' popular, richly beautiful The Fruit of Silence for piano and choir, an iconic work from the 21st-century Latvian Renaissance.

The Month of Moderns continues with Voyages on Sunday, June 17, 2018 at 4:00 p.m., an exploration of two stylistically diverse settings of one of the great poem cycles of the 20th century, Hart Crane's masterpiece, Voyages. This cycle of poems lives in the motion of a kaleidoscopic theme: the search for love and the self-knowledge attained in that search. Robert Convery's elegiac 1994 work of the same name is contrasted by the world premiere of a new Voyages, written by Benjamin C.S. Boyle. His fourth composition for The Crossing, Boyle's Voyages probes the textures of strings and voices while pondering the haunting words of the poem - a journey through love, founded in pure desire, concluding in isolation. Convery's Voyages was commissioned by Donald Nally and West Chester University.

The Arc in the Sky on Saturday, June 30, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. features the world premiere of Kile Smith's unaccompanied concert-length work of the same name, commissioned by The Crossing and Donald Nally. Smith's The Arc in the Sky uses text from the journal entries and poems of the eremetic writer Robert Lax. Lax explored a kind of literary minimalism, playing with form as if reinventing it, which is echoed in Smith's score. And, like Lax, Smith journeys through jazz and prayer, finding the joy and the quiet in our lives. Of the work's conclusion, Smith writes, "The pilgrimage closes near where it began, in awe, in ecstasy, seeing in an instant yet slowly pondering the immensity of the vision, there, right in front of us."

Following each Month of Moderns concert, a reception is held on the lawn outside the church, allowing audience members the chance to meet and mingle with composers and members of The Crossing.

Donald Nally says, "Like a mirrored reflection of last year's Month of Moderns, which focused on 'The Other,' this year we turn inward to a series of life journeys. We do not have to be Homer to question how complex, beautiful, and confounding a life's journey may be. We have only to look at ourselves and then ask, in art, for some clarity. Odysseus had clarity when he asked his men to avoid The Cattle of the Sun. But clarity for them - not unlike in our lives - was confounding; they lost themselves in hunger for the animal that has given, quietly, to us for millennia. When I was a child, I was fascinated by how sad cows eyes seemed. I wondered if they were lonely. I no longer wonder that; they are animals, like us, and of course they are. I thought we might make a season about that."

Program Information

Month of Moderns 1: a house
Saturday, June 9 at 8:00 p.m. (Pre-concert talk at 7pm in the Chapel)
The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill | 8855 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia

The Crossing
Cuillaume Combet, Alexandra Cutler-Fetkewicz, Rebecca Harris, and Carlos Rubio, violin
Amy Leonard and Petula Perdikis, viola
Mimi Morris-Kim and Nellie Smith, violoncello
Heather Miller Lardin, contrabass
Ted Babcock, percussion

The Fruit of Silence (2013) - P?teris Vasks
a house (2016) - David Lang (East Coast Premiere)
Lincoln (2018) - Alex Berko
statement to the court (2010) - David Lang
Who What Where When Why (and a few other questions) (2018) - Ellis Ludwig-Leone (World Premiere)*
just (after song of songs) (2014) - David Lang

*Commissioned by Tour Resource Consultants and Maury Schulte for The Crossing and Donald Nally with additional support from Anne and Dennis Wentz

Month of Moderns 2: Voyages
Sunday, June 17 at 4:00 p.m. (Pre-concert talk at 3pm in the Chapel)
The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill | 8855 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia

The Crossing
Natasha Colkett, Alexandra Cutler-Fetkewicz, Abigail Fayette, Rebecca Harris, Margaret Humphrey, and Christof Richter, violins
Daniela Pierson and Petula Perdikis, violas
Tom Kraines and Mimi Morris-Kim, violoncellos
Tim Ressler, contrabass

Voyages, Cantata No. 2, Op. 41 (2018) - Benjamin C. S. Boyle (World Premiere)*
I. Avowal: Bind us in time
II. Seascape: Above the fresh ruffles of the surf
III. Pairings: And yet this great wink of eternity
IVa. Aria: This tendered theme of you
IVb. Aria: And so, admitted through black swollen gates
V. Descent: Meticulous, infrangible, and lonely
VI. Chorale: Draw in your head

Voyages (1994) - Robert Convery

*Commissioned by The Crossing and Donald Nally with the generous support of Pamela Prior and Debra Reinhard

Month of Moderns 3: The Arc in the Sky
Saturday, June 30 at 8:00 p.m. (Pre-concert talk at 7pm in the Chapel)
The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill | 8855 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia

The Crossing

The Arc in the Sky (2018) - Kile Smith (World Premiere)*
I. Jazz
1. why did they all shout
2. there are not many songs
3. Cherubim & Palm-Trees
II. Praise
4. I want to write a book of praise
5. The light of the afternoon is on the houses
6. Psalm
III. Arc
7. Jerusalem
8. I would stand and watch them
9. The Arc

*Commissioned by The Crossing and Donald Nally

About The Crossing
The Crossing is a professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally and dedicated to new music. Consistently recognized in critical reviews, the ensemble regularly collaborates with some of the nation's most accomplished ensembles and creative composers. It is committed to working with creative teams to make and record new, substantial works for choir, most often addressing social issues. Highly sought-after for collaborative projects, The Crossing's first collaboration was as the resident choir of the Spoleto Festival, Italy, in 2007. Regular collaborators include the International Contemporary Ensemble, American Composers Orchestra, Network for New Music, Lyric Fest, Piffaro, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, Toshimaru Nakamura, Beth Morrison Projects, Allora & Calzadilla. Upcoming collaborations include the National Gallery in Washington, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Northwestern University, Harvard University, and the Park Avenue Armory. The Crossing holds an annual residency at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana.

The Crossing has presented over sixty commissioned world premieres from some of the world's leading composers, including: Michael Gordon, Lansing McLoskey, John Luther Adams, Kile Smith, David Lang, Ted Hearne, Caroline Shaw, David T. Little, Robert Maggio, Gavin Bryars, Thomas Lloyd, Hans Thomalla. With a commitment to recording their commissions, The Crossing has thirteen commercially-released recordings, with more due later this year.

Winner of the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance, The Crossing, with Donald Nally, is the American Composers Forums' 2017 Champion of New Music. They are the recipient of the 2015 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, three ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, as well as the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award (with composer Joel Puckett) from Chorus America. Donald Nally was awarded the 2017 Michael Korn Award and the 2012 Louis Botto Award for Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal for his work with The Crossing.

About Donald Nally
Donald Nally is responsible for imagining, programming, commissioning, and conducting at The Crossing. He is also the director of choral organizations at Northwestern University where he holds the John W. Beattie Chair of Music. Donald has served as chorus master at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Welsh National Opera, Opera Philadelphia, and for many seasons at the Spoleto Festival in Italy. He has also served as music director of Cincinnati's Vocal Arts Ensemble, chorus master at The Chicago Bach Project, and guest conductor throughout Europe and the United States, most notably with the Grant Park Symphony Chorus, the Philharmonia Chorus (London), the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, and the Latvian State Choir (Riga).

Donald, with The Crossing, is the American Composers Forum 2017 Champion of New Music; he received the 2017 Michael Korn Founders Award from Chorus America. He is the only conductor to have two ensembles receive the Margaret Hillis Award for Excellence in Choral Music: in 2002 with the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia and in 2015 with The Crossing. Collaborations have included the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, Mostly Mozart, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, National Sawdust, the Barnes Foundation, Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the American Composers Orchestra, and The Big Sky Conservatory in Montana where The Crossing holds an annual residency. In the 2017-18 season, he collaborates as guest director with Lisson Gallery (London), The Cathedral Choral Society (Washington, D.C.), Haymarket Opera (Chicago), David Lang's The Mile Long Opera (on the High Line in New York City), and is visiting resident artist at the Park Avenue Armory.

Image at top of release: "Vaches Sur Fond Orange" by Benoit Trimborn

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