New Amsterdam Singers, Songs of Birds and Angels, Clara Longstreth, Matthew Harris
The New Amsterdam Singers, led by music director Clara Longstreth, will present the final concert of the season, titled Songs of Birds and Angels on Thursday, May 31 at 8 p.m at Saint Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church at 552 West End Avenue at 87th Street. The work that inspired the program's focus on birds is Steven Stucky's cycle, Skylarks, (2001), which is receiving its New York City premiere on this concert. Also receiving its New York City premiere is Matthew Harris' Shakespeare Songs, Book VI (2006).
Other works on this all-a cappella program include Einojuhani Rautavaara's Die erste Elegie; three songs from Brahms' Lieder und Romanzen, Op. 93a; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings from Kirke Mechem's Winging Wildly; an Irish folk song, The Lark in the Clear Air, arranged by Paul Crabtree; and Aaron Copland's Lark (1938).
Steven Stucky, recipient of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for his Second Concerto, is widely recognized as one of the leading American composers of his generation. His music is recorded on seven labels. In recent years, he has received commissions from the BBC Proms, Chanticleer, the Pennsylvania Wind Quintet, Boston Musica Viva, and the Minnesota, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore and St. Louis symphony orchestras. In addition to composing, he is active as a conductor, writer, lecturer, and teacher. For Skylarks, Mr. Stucky chose poems by Shelley, Dickinson, Edward Lear, John McCrae, Shakespeare, and a haiku by Kobayashi Issa.
Matthew Harris' highly popular choral works have been commissioned or premiered by leading choruses such as the Dale Warland Singers, Phoenix Bach Choir, Western Wind, and Cantori New York. His A Child's Christmas in Wales, a cantata for chorus and orchestra commissioned by Harmonium, is performed throughout the US and the UK. New Amsterdam Singers has previously sung and recorded many of Harris' earlier Shakespeare sets. Mr. Harris' Shakespeare choices come from Love's Labor's Lost, Cymbeline, and The Tempest.