Celebrated composer to bring Syracuse community, performers together
Celebrated composer to bring Syracuse community, performers togetherOctober 29, 2003Amy Schmitzaemehrin@syr.edu
Nov. 2 public concert to celebrate enduring creative spirit
In a celebration of the creative spirit that endures even through tragedy and strife, Syracuse University’s Malmgren Concert Series will host an AIDS Quilt concert on Sunday, Nov. 2 at 4 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel. The performance will include the premiere of acclaimed composer Libby Larsen’s “This Unbearable Stillness-Songs from the Balcony,” written specifically for this event. Larsen’s piece will be performed by soprano Eileen Strempel and the New York City-based Cassatt String Quartet, SU’s quartet-in-residence. The concert is free and open to the public.
“This concert is important on many different levels,” says Christopher Marks, University organist. “It is using the creative arts to celebrate and memorialize the issue of AIDS and those people who have suffered because of the virus. It is also bringing together the community. Not only are SU faculty, students and staff involved, but local organizations will be represented at the concert as well.” The Names Project Syracuse, The Living Room and Women’s Effort will have representatives at the concert to provide information about the AIDS pandemic.
Panels of the AIDS Quilt will also be on display in conjunction with the concert. Two panels will be displayed at the Schine Student Center; two will be at Hendricks Chapel; and one will be in the Rose and Jules R. Setnor Auditorium.
Larsen’s piece was commissioned by SU’s Malmgren Concert Series. Larsen, widely considered to be the most renowned female composer of classical music in the United States, worked all summer, first choosing the text, then writing the music specifically for the Cassatt String Quartet and Strempel. The composition is set to lyrics translated from poems of female Middle Eastern poets, which Larsen chose in order to give voice to the traditionally voiceless.
“The melodies are very much about the irresolvable conflict between the pull of earthly life and the draw of the celestial and transcendental,” says Strempel, who is a faculty member in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences and assistant to the dean in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “At the end the music lifts us up with a sense of hope and purpose. The musical composition and the quilt together are labors of the creative human spirit that will live on beyond any of our lifetimes.”
The concert will also include performances by several SU faculty members, including Marks on organ, Ken Meyer on guitar, Wei-Yi Yang on piano and Gregory Wood on cello. Janet Brown and Meyer will premiere a new composition by faculty member Nicolas Scherzinger, and the Hendricks Chapel Choir will sing under the direction of Burt Harbison.
Other SU faculty who are collaborating on the concert include Karen Bakke, chair of the fashion and design technology department; and Denise Heckman, associate professor in the industrial and interaction design department. They are working with students to build new panels for the AIDS Quilt that will be presented at the concert. The panels will represent the “unknown and unnamed” victims of the pandemic. Jeffrey Mayer, associate professor of fashion design, is creating the dress Strempel will wear at the concert.
“It is deeply moving that so many people came together to make this concert happen,” says Strempel. “And it is important that the University is at the center of this dialogue about such a critical social issue and the creative response to it.”