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Of Arms and the Man

Posted September 16th, 2018
DescriptionProgramAbout the ArtistsInterview

“Audiences float out of [Nally’s] concerts on a choral cloud.” Philadelphia Inquirer

“I wanted to ask questions for which there are no easy answers.  Maybe no answers at all.” Donald Nally

A quote from Virgil’s Aeneid serves as an apt title for an epic aural voyage that explores the timeless themes of nationalism and war while navigating personal stories of joy and despair. Grammy-winning choir The Crossing brings to life music by twelve contemporary composers whose work examines victory and loss across national and personal borders.

Of Arms and the Man presents an enticing program of choral pieces performed by the 24-voice ensemble under the direction of conductor Donald Nally. In keeping with The Crossing’s mission of presenting new works for choir, the program features a world premiere from 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist Ted Hearne — the nation’s preeminent composer of works of social advocacy — and a rare live performance of David Lang’s “depart.”

Of arms and the man I sing, who, forced by fate
And haughty Juno’s unrelenting hate,
Expelled and exiled, left the Trojan shore…
For what offense the Queen of Heav’n began
To persecute so brave, so just a man;…
Can heav’nly minds such high resentment show,
Or exercise their spite in human woe?
Virgil

$39 general / $27.30 members
$15 student + 25-and-under
$2 FringeAccess members

The Choir Katy Avery, Julie Bishop, Karen Blanchard, Rebecca Myers, Alissa Ruth, Rebecca Siler, Joanna Gates, Heidi Kurtz, Chelsea Lyons, Becky Oehlers, Elisa Sutherland, Shari Wilson, Steven Bradshaw, Ryan Fleming, Michael Jones, Daniel O’Dea, James Reese, Robert Eisentrout, Daniel Schwartz, Colin Dill, Will Doreza, Steven Hyder, Daniel Spratlan, Mark Livshits Cellos Alexander Hersh, Thomas Mesa, Arlen Hlusko Conductor Donald Nally Accompanist Laura Ward

Photos by Becky Oehlers Photography

Festival Co-Producers: Tom & Linda McCarthy


Program

Of Arms and the Man
with Thomas Mesa, Arlen Hlusko & Alexander Hersh, cellos

Ted Hearne, courtesy of the artist.

Ted Hearne A world premiere
David Lang depart
Gabriel Jackson Our flags are wafting in hope and grief
Kile Smith “Conversation in the Mountains” from Where flames a word
Louis Andriessen Ahania Weeping
Suzanne Giraud Johannisbaum
David Shapiro Sumptuous Planet
Sebastian Currier “Sanctus” from Night Mass
Gabriel Jackson Rigwreck
Benjamin CS Boyle Empire of Crystal
David Lang last spring
Toivo Tulev A child said, what is the grass?

 


About The Crossing

The Crossing is a professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally and dedicated to new music. It is committed to working with creative teams to make and record new, substantial works for choir – most often addressing social issues – with the possibility of changing the way we think about writing for choir, singing in choir, and listening to music for choir.

Highly sought-after for collaborative projects, The Crossing’s first such partnership was as the resident choir of the Spoleto Festival in Italy, in 2007. Since then, collaborators include the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), American Composers Orchestra, Network for New Music, Lyric Fest, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, Beth Morrison Projects, Pig Iron Theatre Company, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Mostly Mozart Festival, National Gallery of Art, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum, Institute for Advanced Study, Carnegie Hall, National Sawdust, and Northwestern University. The Crossing holds an annual residency at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana. The Crossing has presented more than 60 commissioned world premieres, including works by Michael Gordon, John Luther Adams, David Lang, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Gavin Bryars, Ted Hearne, Caroline Shaw, David T. Little, Robert Maggio, Gabriel Jackson, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, and Hans Thomalla.

With a commitment to recording its commissions, The Crossing has issued 14 releases, receiving a Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance in 2018, its second nomination in as many years. The Crossing, with Donald Nally, is the American Composers Forum’s 2017 Champion of New Music. They are the recipients of the 2015 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, three ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, and the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award from Chorus America. crossingchoir.org

About Donald Nally

Donald Nally is artistic director at The Crossing. He has served as chorus master at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Welsh National Opera, Opera Philadelphia, and for many seasons at the Spoleto Festival in Italy. He has also served as music director of Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble, chorus master at The Chicago Bach Project, and guest conductor throughout Europe and the United States, most notably with the Grant Park Symphony Chorus, thePhilharmonia Chorus (London), the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, and the Latvian State Choir (Riga). Donald, with The Crossing, won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance with Gavin Bryars’ The Fifth Century.

Donald, with The Crossing, was named the American Composers Forum 2017 Champion of New Music; he received the 2017 Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art from Chorus America.  He is the only conductor to have two ensembles receive the Margaret Hillis Award for Excellence in Choral Music: in 2002 with the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia and in 2015 with The Crossing. Collaborations have included the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Park Avenue Armory, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, Mostly Mozart, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, National Sawdust, the Barnes Foundation, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, The National Gallery of Art of Osaka (Japan), Lisson Gallery (London), the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), theAmerican Composers Orchestra, and The Big Sky Conservatory in Montana where The Crossing holds an annual residency.

Donald holds the John W. Beattie Chair in Music at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music where he is professor of conducting and director of choral organizations.


Interview with Donald Nally

FringeArts: What inspired the use of the Virgil quote as the title? Do you remember where you were when that idea came about?

Donald Nally: The Park Avenue Armory asked me to develop a program for their ornate historic reception rooms.  Being the Armory, I got thinking about how the military has changed since those rooms were built; how it was a point of honor for the aristocracy that today mostly avoids it at all cost. So here are these beautiful rooms and they are a kind of monument to what we actually do in war: rich older people throw young people at a problem….So, we sing, and we do so about arms and about people: “Of arms and the man I sing.”  And, it’s a journey, so the first line of the Aeneid captures the whole thing well. I liked the program so much I wanted to bring it to The Fringe because you don’t need elegant 19th-century rooms to ask these kinds of questions: life, war, wealth, death, purpose. In fact, the clarity of FringeArts Theater is going to be a great environment for this musical discussion.

FringeArts: What themes or qualities unite the pieces in this program?

Donald Nally: The concert takes a look at life and war and life during war from a number of angles.  Some of it is national pride, some of it is grief, some of it is anger. Of course, I do not know quite what Ted’s new piece will be, but it’s going to fit into this overall theme of how we agree or disagree across nations and continents and what we’re actually doing when we act on those alliances or arguments.

FringeArts: Where does the program fit within The Crossing’s larger story and mission?

Donald Nally: We keep on keeping on with the topic of how we live our lives through the stories being told by composers; and, in doing so, we keep asking questions about what our art has to do with any of that?  How do we present a work, what we do with our Voice, how do we combine all this in observing The Other? So, the stories on this choral recital directly reflec these questions.

 

Of Arms and the Man They Sing: Interview with Donald Nally

Posted September 15th, 2018

The artistic director of contemporary choral group The Crossing, Donald Nally has served as chorus master at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Welsh National Opera, Opera Philadelphia, and for many seasons at the Spoleto Festival in Italy. He’s been music director of Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble, chorus master at The Chicago Bach Project, and guest conductor throughout Europe and the United States, most notably with the Grant Park Symphony Chorus, the Philharmonia Chorus (London), the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, and the Latvian State Choir (Riga). Along with The Crossing, he won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance with Gavin Bryars’ The Fifth Century.

This Fringe, Nally and The Crossing bring their singular choral aesthetic to the Fringe for one-night only, in a new program featuring a world premiere by composer Ted Hearne. Nally spoke to FringeArts about Of Arms and the Man.

FringeArts: What inspired the use of the Virgil quote as the title? Do you remember where you were when that idea came about?

Donald Nally: The Park Avenue Armory asked me to develop a program for their ornate historic reception rooms.  Being the Armory, I got thinking about how the military has changed since those rooms were built; how it was a point of honor for the aristocracy that today mostly avoids it at all cost. So here are these beautiful rooms and they are a kind of monument to what we actually do in war: rich older people throw young people at a problem….So, we sing, and we do so about arms and about people: “Of arms and the man I sing.”  And, it’s a journey, so the first line of the Aeneid captures the whole thing well. I liked the program so much I wanted to bring it to the Fringe because you don’t need elegant 19th-century rooms to ask these kinds of questions: life, war, wealth, death, purpose. In fact, the clarity of FringeArts Theater is going to be a great environment for this musical discussion.

FringeArts: What themes or qualities unite the pieces in this program?

Donald Nally: The concert takes a look at life and war and life during war from a number of angles.  Some of it is national pride, some of it is grief, some of it is anger. Of course, I do not know quite what Ted’s new piece will be, but it’s going to fit into this overall theme of how we agree or disagree across nations and continents and what we’re actually doing when we act on those alliances or arguments.

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Happy Hour on the Fringe with Donald Nally of The Crossing

Posted September 13th, 2018

FringeArts continues its signature podcast series Happy Hour Hour on the Fringe.

The Crossing. Photo by Becky Oehlers Photography.

In this episode, Donald Nally, co-founder and conductor of The Crossing, joins hosts Zach and Raina to discuss the choral group’s unexpected origins, his brand spanking new Grammy hat, and The Crossing’s Fringe Festival show Of Arms and the Man.

Of Arms and the Man presents an enticing program of choral pieces performed by the 24-voice ensemble under the direction of Nally. In keeping with The Crossing’s mission of presenting new works for choir, the program features a world premiere from 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist Ted Hearne—the nation’s preeminent composer of works of social advocacy—and a rare live performance of David Lang’s “depart.” Catch the Festival performance September 16 at 8pm at FringeArts, 140 N. Columbus Boulevard.

Listen now to the the wide-ranging conversation about the show and Meg’s signature performance technique.

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International Fringe 2018: A Welcome to Artists from Around the World

Posted September 2nd, 2018

The United States government may be pursuing an isolationist policy but the Philadelphia Fringe is doing the opposite: opening its doors not only to the most creative American performers and performances but also to the best and most creative theater artists and their productions from around the world—overcoming the ancient fear of the symbolic Tower of Babel with people not understanding each other.

To show the worldwide scope of the 22nd Philadelphia Fringe Festival, we offer this spotlight on performers from abroad and productions by American artists that present a global perspective.

Theater writer Henrik Eger, editor of Drama Around the Globe and contributor to Phindie and Broad Street Review, among other publications, has lived in six countries on three continents and has visited Africa and Australia as well. He bids everyone a hearty WELCOME to the City of Brotherly Love—this year in 18 different languages: Arabic, Celtic, Chinese, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Latin, Polish, Romanian, and Spanish.

We start this year’s overview with a special welcome to two programs featuring a wide range of global creators:

INTERNATIONAL CREATIVES

  1. le super grandBienvenue & welcome to Montreal-based choreographer Sylvain Émard and Le Super Grand ContinentalLe Grand Continental wowed audiences during its run at the 2012 Fringe Festival and has garnered enthusiastic response across the world. Fully realizing a blissful marriage between the pure delight of line dancing and the fluidity and expressiveness of contemporary dance, the celebratory event enlists hundreds of local people to perform its synchronized choreography in large-scale public performances. The world’s most infectious performance event returns to the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in an even larger spectacle of dance.

More info and tickets here

  1. Bonvenon, willkommen, bienvenido, witamy, bienvenue & welcome to Do You Want A Cookie? from The Bearded Ladies Cabaret—a world premiere with an international cast. Do You Want A Cookie? serves up a delicious romp through cabaret history, with an international cast of artists performing a live revue of cabaret from the Chat Noir to Weimar nightlife to 21st-century drag. The all-star cast comes draws from around the world, including Bridge Markland (Berlin), Malgorzata Kasprzycka (Paris/Warsaw), Dieter Rita Scholl (Berlin), and Tareke Ortiz (Mexico City).

More info and tickets here

REFUGEES and EXILES

  1. ear whispered

    As Far As My Fingertips Take Me. Photo by

    وسهلا اهلا (ahlaan wasahlan) & bienvenu. Welcome to Tania El Khoury who lives in Lebanon and the UK with her multifaceted program ear-whispered. Little is known about Palestinian refugee camps and their communities. El Khoury presents her Fringe work in five parts through interactive performances and installations at Bryn Mawr College:

    1. Gardens Speak, an interactive sound installation containing the oral histories of ten ordinary people who were buried in Syrian gardens. (Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.
    2. Camp Pause, a video installation that tells the stories of four residents of the Rashidieh Refugee Camp on the coast of Lebanon. (Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.
    3. As Far As My Fingertips Take Me, an encounter through a gallery wall between a single audience member and a refugee. (Old City & Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.  
    4. Stories of Refuge, an immersive video installation that invites audiences to lay down on metal bunk beds and watch videos shot by Syrian asylum seekers in Munich, Germany. (Old City.) Read more.
    5. Tell Me What I Can Do, a newly commissioned work featuring letters that audiences have written in response to Gardens Speak. (Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.

More info and tickets here

  1. Bienvenido & welcome to the bilingual (Spanish & English) cast of La Fábrica performing Gustave Ott’s Passport. Lost in a foreign country, Eugenia is detained and thrown into a vicious maelstrom of miscommunication. This poetic and immersive Kafkaesque thriller delves into the question of immigration—exposing the mechanics of language and power. Some performances will be presented in English, some in Spanish, and some will be decided at the toss of a coin.

More info and tickets here

Read More

Join The Crossing on a Musical Journey

Posted June 6th, 2018

Coming up in the 2018 Fringe Festival is Of Arms and the Man, a performance by Grammy-winning choir The Crossing. The show will explore ideas of life during war and the alliances and enemies that can be formed across national borders. It is a discussion through music about life, death, and purpose.

Before presenting this new work at Fringe, The Crossing will kick off the summer for the ninth year in a row with The Month of Moderns, a festival of new music led by conductor Donald Nally. The festival’s theme this year, life journeys, arises from the need to look inward, to reflect, examine one’s own life, and speak out on the current political environment.

Donald Nally. Photo by Becky Oehlers Photography.

“When I was a child, I was fascinated by how sad cows’ eyes seemed. I wondered if they were lonely,” says Nally on his inspiration for this year’s festival. “I no longer wonder that; they are animals, like us, and of course they are. I thought we might make a season about that.”

The Crossing, a world-renowned vocal ensemble, sings new music that reflects the values of our time and the issues facing the modern world. Every year, the choir unveils world premieres and performs music unlike anything the audience has heard before. Working with new pieces allows the members of The Crossing to explore the music and to freely interpret the notes and lyrics, creating a truly unique experience for both performers and audience members.

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Sifting through sounds from the bench: An interview with Jena Osman

Posted September 2nd, 2016

Jena Osman is a renowned poet and editor. She has published numerous books and chapbooks and was the co-founder/co-editor of the award-winning literary magazine Chain with Juliana Spahr. Osman currently teaches in the MFA Creative Writing program at Temple University. 

Her 2014 book Corporate Relations draws directly from landmark Supreme Court cases to examine and unpack “corporate personhood”—the notion that privately owned corporations should be extended the same rights as individual citizens—revealing its century long development in a manner that is at turns illuminating, humorous, disturbing, and beautifully lyrical. You can check out the book’s opening poem here and purchase a copy from the venerable small press Burning Deck here.

Corporate Relations served as inspiration and source material for Ted Hearne’s stunning composition Sound from the Bench, which will be performed by Philadelphia’s acclaimed new music chamber choir, The Crossing, here at FringeArts on September 11 as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. FringeArts recently spoke with Osman about the origins of Corporate Relations and her collaboration with Hearne.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jena Osman (photo by Amze Emmons)

FringeArts: What spurred you to write Corporate Relations?

Jena Osman: When Citizens United won its case in 2010 it dawned on people (including myself) that corporations had just won a constitutional right—freedom of speech. There was general political/media outrage about corporations being given rights reserved for people, that the ruling suggested that corporations actually were people. Because this seemed like such a crazy idea, I started to look into it and I discovered that corporations had been racking up a series of constitutional rights since the mid-19th century. I’ve always had an interest in objects that seem human (puppets, automatons, computers that play chess, etc.), and corporate personhood fell in line with that fascination.

FA: How did you arrive at the book’s hybridized form?

Corporate Relations is organized around twelve Supreme Court cases that grant corporations constitutional rights. After reading each case, I pulled out phrases that felt particularly “human” to me; the phrases are in the order in which they appear in the case, and the spacing of those found poems was determined by where the phrase fell on my printed out page of the case. The court case sections are broken up by a series of poems that try to further investigate the increasingly blurry boundary line between the human and the machine; they consider automata, the John Henry story, Fritz Kahn’s amazing illustrations of the human body as a factory, the mechanics of ventriloquism, Frederick Winslow Homer’s “scientific management” strategies, etc.

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