Judith Clurman’s Essential Voices USA (EVUSA), one of New York’s preeminent choral ensembles, will present as part of Essential Voices USA’s “The Composer Speaks” programs, Austrian Émigrés: Schoenberg, Von Trapp and the Power of Music, on March 30, at 7:30 PM at the DiMenna Space for Classical Music, 450 West 37th Street (between 9th & 10th Avenues), New York City. Judith Clurman will conduct Essential Voices USA with Tedd Firth, piano; Maureen McKay, soprano; and Joseph Beutel, bass-baritone. Panel members will include Larry Schoenberg, son of the composer; Elisabeth Von Trapp, granddaughter of the legendary Maria and Baron von Trapp; musical theater luminaries Ted Chapin, David Chase, and Larry Hochman; composer David Ludwig;with moderator Naomi Lewin.
This program will explore the stories of two Austrian émigrés whose experiences have been captured in important musical compositions. In 1947, with the sights and sounds of war ringing in his ears, Arnold Schoenberg composed Survivor from Warsaw as a tribute to the victims of the Holocaust. Twelve years later, the team of Rodgers and Hammerstein recreated the experience of the Von Trapp family in the iconic musical The Sound of Music.
Schoenberg works to be performed include: A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46 (piano version by Kurt Frederick), for narrator and chorus; two A Cappella choral works: Am Scheideweg, Op. 28 n.1 and Dreimal tausend Jahre, Op. 50A; two of the Brettl-Lieder (Cabaret Songs: “Galathea” and “Gigerlette”), for soprano and piano; and the rarely heard Wiegenlied duet for soprano, baritone and piano. The Sound of Music Suite (including “The Sound of Music,” “My Favorite Things,” “Edelweiss,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” and “Do-Re-Mi”), in a new version arranged by David Chase, for solo piano, soprano, baritone, and chorus, will receive its United States premiere (its world premiere occurred in Salzburg this past summer, with Judith Clurman conducting the Österreich Festival Orchestra and Chorus at the Mozarteum Grosser Saal).
The evening is part of Essential Voices USA’s “The Composer Speaks” programs. “The Composer Speaks” is a series of concerts in workshop format presented yearly by Essential Voices USA. At each concert musical selections are first presented and performed in different formats. Each composer then discusses musical choices and compositional techniques with conductor Judith Clurman or a guest host. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions and become part of the dialogue. Past participants have included Lindsey Abrams, John Bucchino, Michael Cohen, John Glover, Sheldon Harnick, Larry Hochman, Andrew Lippa, Sally Lamb McCune, Kelley Rourke, Shulamit Ran, Bruce Ruben, Joshua Schmidt, Paul Schoenfield, Stephen Schwartz, David Shire, Roberto Sierra, Georgia Stitt, Jonathan Tunick, Maury Yeston, and Midge Woolsey.
Judith Clurman says: “Last summer I was invited to conduct the 50th anniversary concert of the Sound of Music at the Mozarteum, in Salzburg, Austria. On the way, my husband and I visited the Arnold Schoenberg Center in Vienna. I began to think about how the Von Trapp and Schoenberg families share a common fate, expulsion from Austria to flee the Nazis. This program juxtaposes the life stories and the music of these disparate émigrés. We are honored to be presenting this wonderful music, and are very touched that our guests will be participating in our Composer Speaks program.”