AVAE concerts--R.I.P. composer Lee Hoiby

Contemporary composer Lee Hoiby passed away recently. I was privileged to meet Mr. Hoiby at a Chorus America convention in the late 1980's. Performed his Shakespearean songs with Princeton Pro Musica, a lovely collection.  PPM also performed his oratorio Galileo Galilei. Composers frequently give away music samples, and I picked up a couple more of his songs at other Chorus America conferences.

From the NYT obit:
In recent years he turned toward choral works, including “The Christmas Tree” and “Last Letter Home,” set to a note written by a soldier before his death in Iraq.
More about "Last Letter Home" from NewMusicBox:
There is an exceptional quality of emotional immediacy in Lee's music that can be disarming to some, but that never fails to move even the most jaded listener. When Lee threw himself into writing Last Letter Home, which sets a poignant text written by the fallen American soldier Jesse Givens in Iraq, the music could have easily veered towards maudlin sentimentality or kitsch in the hands of a lesser composer. Not, however, in the hands of a master like Lee Hoiby. Instead, Lee produced a deeply felt, rigorously composed harmonic masterpiece for a cappella men's chorus. Following the premiere and repeat performances, the letters poured in. Rarely had I seen such a flood of comments from listeners and performers. Listener after listener, performer after performer wrote to Lee to remark on his "beautiful, singable, and deeply moving" setting. The work has since gone on to be performed countless times and in various versions for mixed chorus, solo baritone and piano, and chorus with orchestra.
The Austin Vocal Arts Ensemble will perform "Last Letter Home" as part of the "War and Peace" concerts at 8:00 p.m. Friday, April 15, Hope Presbyterian Church, 11512 Olson Drive in Austin; and 3:00 p.m. Sunday, April 17, Oak Hill United Methodist Church, 7815 Highway 290 West in Oak Hill.

Also on the concert are selections from Figure Humaine by Francis Poulenc, and the stunning "Suite" de Lorca by Finnish composer Rautavaara. This piece was indelibly branded in my ear/brain when I heard the formidable Dale Warland Singers perform it at one of the above-mentioned Chorus America conventions. It shook my bones, especially "El Grito," (mp3) which is one of the most hair-raising pieces I've ever heard OR performed. The only other piece that comes close is the Wolf's Glen scene from Der Freischutz (Carl Maria von Weber), which I performed with PPM/Opera Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall and Richardson Hall (Princeton Univ.).

Austin Vocal Arts Ensemble, along with the San Gabriel Chorale, will present the Brahm's Requiem as part of the Georgetown Festival of the Arts at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 5 at the Alma Thomas Theatre on the campus of Southwestern University. Put it on your calendar NOW. Here's a performance by UC Davis, featuring a friend of mine, David Arnold, as baritone soloist:


joared said...

Sounds like interesting concerts. Appreciated the information about the composer -- a very talented man who will obviously be missed.

kokopelliwoman said...

Hi, joared. Wish you were closer so you could come hear the concerts!