Sunday, August 31, 2014

Longfellow Chorus: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Died 102 Years Ago Sept. 1, 2014; 8 PM Sept. 10, 2014 Maine Public Radio Airs Remainder of Hiawatha Tetralogy

is profiled at AfriClassical.comwhich 
features a comprehensive Works List and a 
Bibliography by Dr. Dominique- René de Lerma, 
We are collaborating with the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation of the U.K.,]

[Angela Brown rehearses the soprano aria "Then he sat down," from "The Death of Minnehaha," with dancers Kristen Irby, as Hiawatha, and Fana Tesfagiorgis, as Minnehaha, during the Longfellow Choral Festival in Merrill Auditorium, Portland, Maine.]

The Longfellow Chorus
Portland, Maine
September 1, 2014

In what might be the first example in American popular culture of a hero riding -- or here, paddling -- off into the sunset, Longfellow's Hiawatha commands his magic canoe to take him “westward” into the purple vapors. Coleridge-Taylor's rousing final chorus, "Farewell, Forever, Hiawatha!", might be called a Native American requiem, in which not only the People sing, but the “forest, dark and lonely” sighs, the “waves rippling upon the margins” sob and "the heron, the shu-shu-gah," screams farewell.

-- Charles Kaufmann, artistic director of The Longfellow Chorus, from the Maine Stage broadcast of Coleridge-Taylor's Hiawatha's Departure, Wednesday, September 10, at 8 PM, on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

September 1, 2014, is the 102nd anniversary of the death of still-youthful Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) at his home in Croydon, England -- an event that shocked and saddened tens of thousands of people around the world not only because they enjoyed his music, but also because they looked up to him as a symbol of achievement. The career of a bright young composer was capped at just fifteen years. Compare that with Coleridge-Taylor's Royal College of Music classmate Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958), and wonder.

At 8PM, Wednesday, September 10, 2014, Maine Public Radio will broadcast the remaining portions of SC-T's Hiawatha tetralogy from the Longfellow Choral Festival -- The Death of Minnehaha, the Overture to Hiawatha and Hiawatha's Departure on the Maine Stage program.

Here are some of the reasons why you shouldn't miss this broadcast: 
  • No soprano, anywhere, can float down the octave from a high 'A' on a soft-as-silk portamento like Angela Brown, as heard in the aria Then he sat down (The Death of Minnehaha).
  • Or, for that matter, no tenor sail up to a high 'B' like Rodrick Dixon -- Caruso-like -- "ascending into heaven" during the Black-Robe chief's message to the People in Hiawatha's Departure.
  • Robert Honeysucker shares his vision of the future as Hiawatha in the baritone aria True is all Iagoo tells us (Hiawatha's Departure) with distinguished artistry -- this composition surpasses Onaway! Awake, beloved! (the tenor solo in Hiawatha's Wedding Feast) as the greatest vocal solo in Coleridge-Taylor's oeuvre.
  • I believe that The Death of Minnehaha, hands-down, is simply Coleridge-Taylor's best musical work: dramatically powerful: well-balanced between music and narrative: insightful in presentation of text: expert in orchestration: difficult, yet satisfying to perform. I see no reason why this greatest of all Coleridge-Taylor works shouldn't be performed more often.
  • With its primary theme based on the opening phrase of the African-American spiritual Nobody knows the trouble I see, the Overture to Hiawatha is Coleridge-Taylor's miniature New World Symphony. Can you count how many times he repeats and develops this theme throughout, until, at the end, he turns it into the familiar eight-note "Hiawatha theme," which unifies the complete tetralogy, from the first notes of Hiawatha's Wedding Feast to the closing notes of Hiawatha's Departure?
  • The final seven minutes of Hiawatha's Departure present one of the greatest climactic achievements of late-Victorian music. Even without the thundering pipe organ -- the great and mighty Kotzschmar of Merrill Auditorium was down -- we raised the roof.
My 30-second promo for the September 10 MPBN Maine Stage program uses the most frequently quoted line from Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha. Tune-in to the full program on September 10 and hear Hiawatha the way you've never heard it before!

Charles Kaufmann, Artistic Director
The Longfellow Chorus
PO Box 5133
Portland, Maine 04101

No comments: