Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ned Rorem: “Art has not stopped”

On February 10, CONCORA, the all-professional choir in which I sing, will mark the 100th birth anniversary of English composer Benjamin Britten, and the 90th birthday of American composer Ned Rorem, with a concert of “Modern Masters.” Details about the concert, venue, etc., are at the end of this post.

In the past few days, I’ve posted a few snippets from a wonderful interview by Bruce Duffie with Ned Rorem, dating from 1986, which I came across while doing a bit of research for the program notes. In that interview Rorem shared some fascinating insights about music, society, and the art of composing.

You can read those excerpts, find more information about CONCORA’s concert, review the repertoire list, and read some of my program notes for the performance, here:
(At that page, scroll down to see the earlier posts.)

Here’s a final snippet from that interview, in which Rorem answers a question: “Are we asking too much of life?” Rorem’s observation of our heedless ways is relevant to us today, is it not?

Bruce Duffie: Are intelligent people such as you, and perhaps me, asking too much of life?

Ned Rorem: No, because we are humans. To be anything else would be to be another kind of mammal, and I think that all animals are as important as we are. I really do. I also think that they’ve got the answer more than we do. In the first piece I ever wrote for chorus and orchestra … one of the last movements is from an extract of André Gide, in which he talks about the deer and the hare being pursued and taking joy in their feints and leaps and bounds, even as they are jumping across the fields. Only man looks toward the future; animals don’t. They don’t look toward the past, and although they can suffer, they don’t pity themselves once the suffering is over. It is indigenous of us to have invented this kind of suffering, and it’s part of being a man not to be able to answer. We’ve invented the notion of God and an afterlife, and of art to keep us above water — although most people couldn’t care less as they whirl us headlong into obliteration. ... But art has not stopped.  
From an interview with Bruce Duffie (1986?)


Creativity is our salvation.


CONCORA presents “Modern Masters”
Monday, February 11, 2013, 7:30 p.m.
South Church, 90 Main St., New Britain
CONCORA celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Britten and the 90th birthday of Ned Rorem with a concert featuring works of these two musical masters of choral composition. Features Britten’s Hymn to St. Cecilia and selections from Rorem’s Seven Motets for the Church Year. Masterful works from other composers such as Eric Whitacre and John Rutter add to the celebration.
General admission $25, students $10.
(860) 293-0567

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