Showcase March-April 2014 - page 33

updated version of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”
In “Ching-a-Ring-Chaw,” another minstrel song, Copland
avoided obvious racial slurs by modifying the text slightly.
“At the River” is a hymn tune with words and melody by
Reverend Robert Lowry.
Instrumentation:
mixed chorus with orchestra comprising flute (doubling piccolo),
oboe, 2 clarinets, bassoon, 2 horns, trumpet, trombone,
harp and strings
merican-born, London-based Eric Whitacre is
an admired and prolific composer especially of
choral music. He has been much in the news
lately for, among other things, his Virtual
Choirs, which began in 2009 as an experiment in social
media and immediately became hugely successful. The
phenomenon has grown from fewer than 200 singers
in the first year, his web site informs us, to “an amazing
5,903 singers and 8,400 videos for VC4,” his 2013
Virtual Choir project,
Fly to Paradise
. He continues:
“The singers use webcams, smartphones, tablets and
video cameras to record themselves in bedrooms,
bathrooms and basements across the World, creating a
truly global choir”—involving 101 countries in 2013.
Whitacre’s career had its tentative beginnings in a
high school marching band—from which he was
expelled. His real musical training took place first at
the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and then at the
Juilliard School in New York, where he studied with
John Corigliano and David Diamond. His catalogue
focuses on choral music and compositions for wind
ensemble, and his many awards have come from
organizations ranging from the American Choral
apr 10, 11
Program Notes
a
33
MARCH / APRIL 2014 MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA
Eric Whitacre
Born:
January 2, 1970, Reno, Nevada;
now living in London
Five Hebrew Love Songs
Directors Association and the American Composers
Forum to the American Society of Composers, Authors
and Publishers (ASCAP).
Also noteworthy was the reception of Whitacre’s first
album as both composer and conductor on Decca/
Universal,
Light & Gold
: within a week of its release it
was the No. 1 Classical Album in the U.S. and U.K.,
and it went on to win a 2012 Grammy for Best Choral
Performance. His second Decca album,
Water Night
,
also topped classical charts. His recent works include
the choral composition
Glow
, which was unveiled last
November at the Disney California Adventure Park,
with the composer conducting the World of Color
Honor Choir.
the music
The
Five Hebrew Love Songs
were composed in 1996
to poems by soprano Hila Plitmann, now Whitacre’s
wife; they had met while studying at the Juilliard School
in New York. They gave the first performance with
another close Juilliard friend, Friedemann Eichhorn, in
the original setting of the piece: voice, piano and violin,
with Whitacre at the piano and Eichhorn on violin.
This took place in the latter’s home town of Speyer,
Germany, during a skiing vacation in the nearby
Swiss Alps.
“Because we were appearing as a band of traveling
musicians,” writes Whitacre, “ ‘Friedy’ asked me to
write a set of troubadour songs for piano, violin and
soprano. I asked Hila (who was born and raised in
Jerusalem) to write me a few ‘postcards’ in her native
tongue, and a few days later she presented me with
these exquisite and delicate Hebrew poems. These songs
are profoundly personal for me, born entirely out of my
new love for this soprano, poet, and now my beautiful
wife, Hila Plitmann.” Plitmann adds: “These five songs
were written about innocent, beautiful and simple
love. They are mini poems, a bit like haikus, with inner
rhyming, and are reminiscent of our relationship
and romance.”
Instrumentation:
solo soprano, mixed chorus and strings
Photo: Marc Royce
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