February 27, 2001 World Premieres of American Music at the Library of Congress

Contact: Concert Line: (202) 707-5502
Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940

"Concerts at the Library of Congress" continues the celebration of American music in its spring series of concerts with the premieres of works by William Bolcom and Steven Gerber. These premieres are part of the Library's Bicentennial musical celebration, "I Hear America Singing," a three-year musical tribute that reflects the broad sweep of the American musical experience. Last season highlighted American popular music and musical theater; this season focuses on American artists - composers and performers both established and on the verge of major musical careers.

On Friday, March 16, mezzo-soprano Florence Quivar will give the world premiere of William Bolcom's song cycle, "From the Diary of Sally Hemings," with text by playwright Sandra Seaton. And on March 23, Concertante Chamber Players will perform the world premiere of "Spirituals," a work for clarinet and strings by native Washingtonian Steven Gerber. Both concerts will take place at 8 p.m. in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress.

Based on an imaginary journal written by Sandra Seaton, the 18 songs in the William Bolcom song cycle provide a surprising yet persuasive interpretation of the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, officially a slave but also the half-sister of Jefferson's wife, Martha. The song cycle offers a powerful and intimate portrait of Sally Hemings. In addition to the Sally Hemings piece, Ms. Quivar will also sing songs by Stephen Foster, Charles Ives, and Carrie Jacobs-Bond.

Written for clarinet and string quartet, Gerber's "Spirituals" is based on 12 spirituals, among them: "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child," "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," "Deep River," and "Balm in Gilead." Guest clarinetist Jon Manasse joins members of the Concertante Chamber Players in this work. Also on the same program is Samuel Barber's "Dover Beach" for voice and string quartet, sung by baritone Randall Scarlatta; and Rebecca Clark's "Prelude, Allegro, and Pastorale for Viola and Clarinet" with violist Rachel Shapiro. Other members of Concertante Chamber Players include Xiao Dong Wang and Ittai Shapira, violins; Kirsten Johnson, viola; and Zvi Plesser and Edward Arron, cellos.

Free tickets for all concerts are distributed by TicketMaster at (301) 808-6900 or (410) 752-1200, for a nominal service charge of $2 per ticket, with additional charges for phone orders and handling. Tickets are also available at TicketMaster outlets; for a complete list, visit the TicketMaster site at www.ticketmaster.com. Although the supply of tickets may be exhausted, there are often empty seats at concert time. Interested patrons are encouraged to come to the Library by 6:30 p.m. on concert night to try to obtain no-show tickets at the door. For an updated calendar of concert programs, visit the Concerts from the Library of Congress Web site at www.loc.gov/rr/perform/concert.


PR 01-022
ISSN 0731-3527