Our 35th anniversary concert celebrates the music of composers who have a connection to Brooklyn. Aaron Copland and George Gershwin were born here. Benjamin Britten found refuge here during World War II. The living composers featured on the program are organists, music directors, orchestrators, teachers and professors who continue to be shaped by Brooklyn’s dynamic cultural forces.
Song of the Universal-David Snyder (Text by Walt Whitman)
David Snyder’s multi-faceted career as a composer, musical director, orchestrator and performer has taken him from the scoring stages of Hollywood to Carnegie Hall, where he currently serves as principal arranger and pianist for the New York Pops. He has had the honor of conducting for Tony Award winners Christine Ebersole and Nell Carter, and has worked closely with artists ranging from Andy Williams and Debbie Reynolds to Clay Aiken, The Manhattan Transfer, and Francis Ford Coppola. After studying with Henry Mancini, Allyn Ferguson, Joe Harnell and Buddy Baker at the Grove School of Music in Los Angeles, David went on to compose music for several independent films. A Brooklyn-themed program would not be complete without paying tribute to Walt Whitman who lived and worked in the Borough at different times in his life.
Hymn to St. Cecilia, Op. 27 -Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
Benjamin Britten was born in Suffolk, England on November 22, 1913, St. Cecilia’s Day, and went on to be one of the central figures of 20th century British classical music. His compositions represent a wide variety of genres, including operas, film scores, orchestral works and choral works. He met W. H. Auden in 1935 while composing music for documentary films produced by the General Post Office. This friendship led to numerous collaborative efforts. In 1939, Britten followed Auden to the United States and moved into 7 Middagh Street in Brooklyn Heights as a conscientious objector to World War II.
Britten asked Auden to write a text for his ode to St. Cecilia and began setting it to music in late 1940. Unfortunately, customs inspectors confiscated Britten’s scores, fearing they were some type of code, when he decided to return to England in 1942. Britten reconstructed the score and published it shortly thereafter.
A Garden (text by William Blake)- Jonathan Elliott
A Garden is a choral song cycle, settings of poems by William Blake, commissioned by Saint Ann’s School in 1990 and composed at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. I was provoked by Blake’s poetry, concise and direct, vivid in its imagery, and nearly perfect. Each of these five songs is a setting of a complete poem from Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and Experience.” These poems, published in 1789, are concise and direct, are ideal vehicles for musical imagination. The cycle of five songs takes the shape of a short symphony, beginning with a slow introduction—the chant-like setting of “Garden of Love—and going on to the swift and jubilant “Pretty Rose Tree,” a waltz in “Ah! Sunflower,” a scherzo (“The Lilly”), and finally the dramatic eerie finale, “The Sick Rose.” ---Jonathan Elliott
Jonathan Elliott's music is notable for its communicative power, imagination, and thoroughly modern expression, Elliott's music is performed in the US, Europe and Asia by leading concert artists and broadcast internationally. A native of Philadelphia, Elliott studied with Annea Lockwood at Vassar and subsequently on a University Fellowship with Ralph Shapey and Shulamit Ran at the University of Chicago, receiving a PhD in Composition. Elliott has lived in Brooklyn, NY, since 1988. A visual artist as well as musician, he is composer in residence and co-chair of the music department at Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn Heights.
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot John Brian McAnuff
John Brian McAnuff was born in Brooklyn on July 5, 1936. After studying organ with Robert Arnold at Trinity Church, Wall Street, he attended The Mannes College of Music, continuing his study of the instrument with Edgar Hilliar. Shortly after his graduation in 1970, Mr. McAnuff was offered the post of Music Director at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a position he held until his retirement in 2005.
O Solutaris Hostia Gregory Eaton
O saving Victim, opening wide
The gate of Heaven to us below;
Our foes press hard on every side;
Your aid supply; Your strength bestow.
To your great name be endless praise,
Immortal Godhead, One in Three.
O grant us endless length of days,
In our true native land with thee.
Gregory Eaton has been the Director of Music and Organist of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church since 1993. At St. Ann’s he plays the landmark E.M. Skinner organ of 1925. A graduate of the University of Redlands, California, his major teachers have been Eva Clover in piano, Jeffrey Rickard in conducting, and Dr. Leslie Spelman in organ. An invitation to join the music staff of Trinity Church, Wall Street, brought Mr. Eaton to New York in 1984. After two years at Trinity, he served as Director of Music of the Church of the Epiphany in Manhattan, prior to accepting the position at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity. Concurrent with most of these appointments, Mr. Eaton was Lecturer in Church Music of the General Theological Seminary, from 1984-2006. In addition to his church music activities, Mr. Eaton is also, with David Hurd, one of the co-founders of Chelsea Winds recorder ensemble, and an occasional composer of both sacred and secular music.
This setting of O Salutaris Hostia was composed in 2002. The text is a section of one of the Eucharistic hymns written by St. Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi.
Love Bade Me Welcome (Text by George Herbert) David Hurd
David Hurd was born in Brooklyn on January 27, 1950. Prior to his under-graduate studies at Oberlin College, he attended both the High School of Music and Art and the Juilliard School. He was appointed to the faculty of Duke University in 1972 concurrent with graduate studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In 1973 he returned to New York as Organist and Music Director at the Chapel of the Intercession, a position he retained until 1978. In 1976 he was appointed to the faculty of The General Theological Seminary in New York City where he is presently Professor of Church Music and Organist. In addition, has served as Director of Music at All Saints Church, New York City, from 1985 to 1997 and is currently Director of Music at The Church of the Holy Apostles. He has been a visiting lecturer at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and a visiting professor at the Yale School of Music.
The Quinceañera Matthew Henning
Matthew Henning debuted onstage as a keyboardist in Passing Strange, after first overseeing transcription of the rock musical on Broadway and at The Public Theater. He was Associate Composer of The Bridge Project's Richard III, a joint production of BAM and London's Old Vic, and Driving Miss Daisy on Broadway and the West End. His scoring for television has earned multiple Emmy nominations and a commercial Telly award.
The Quinceañera sets a Mexican-American girl’s fifteenth birthday fiesta, an important, often elaborate celebration marking the transition from childhood to womanhood. In the US, the fiesta incorporates European, Native, Middle Eastern, and even Hollywood narratives. Above all it is a great party that brings a girl’s family, extended family, and community together.
From The Tender Land- Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
The Promise of Living and Stomp Your Foot
Aaron Copland was born on November 14, 1900, in Brooklyn and was the youngest of five children. The family lived above a department store, which they owned in Prospect Heights on the corner of Dean Street and Washington Avenue. Copland commanded a central role in this country's musical life for almost seventy years as a composer, conductor, writer and lecturer, teacher, advocate of modern music, and a founder of the American Composers Alliance and the Tanglewood Festival. The Tender Land was composed between 1952 and 1954, and was intended for a television audience. After it was rejected, the opera received its first performance by the New York City Opera in 1954. These two choruses are highlights from the opera, which tells the story of a farm family in the Midwest.
Selections from Porgy and Bess George Gershwin (1898-1937)
It Ain’t Necessarily So
Oh Lawd, I’m On My Way
George Gershwin was born in Brooklyn to the parents of Jewish immigrants from Odessa. He began his musical career as a song-plugger on Tin Pan Alley, but was soon writing his own pieces. Gershwin’s first published song, When You Want ‘Em, You Can’t Get ‘Em, demonstrated innovative new techniques, but only earned him five dollars. In 1924, George collaborated with his brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin, on a musical comedy “Lady Be Good”. It included such standards as “Fascinating Rhythm” and “The Man I Love.” It was the beginning of a partnership that would continue for the rest of the composer’s life. In the same year, Gershwin composed his first major classical work, Rhapsody In Blue for orchestra and piano. Porgy and Bess was first performed in 1935 and featured an entire cast of classically trained African-American singers-a daring artistic choice at the time.