UVA Arts to present song cycle by Rita Dove and Richard Danielpour

From UVA Arts, Jan. 29, 2024:

UVA Arts will present A Standing Witness, a powerful and provocative song cycle collaboration between Grammy Award-winning composer Richard Danielpour and Pulitzer Prize-winner, former U.S. Poet Laureate, and UVA faculty member Rita Dove on Thursday, March 21 and Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 PM at Old Cabell Hall. The piece will feature internationally renowned mezzo soprano Susan Graham along with the acclaimed chamber ensemble Music from Copland House.

A Standing Witness is a 75-minute-long cycle of 14 songs and one instrumental elegy that is a sweeping retrospective of momentous events and eras in American history over the past half-century from the perspective of an observer who has seen it all yet is not revealed until the epilogue. By highlighting and remarking upon historic events ranging from the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy to Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, Woodstock, 9/11 and more, Dove challenges audiences to truly consider what it is to be an American with this collection of “songs you need to hear” (Opera News) that Vermont Public Radio has said has “the potential to become one of the most influential compositions of the century.” 

The song cycle was written by Danielpour, one of the most gifted and sought-after composers of his generation, for Susan Graham, hailed as “America’s favorite mezzo” by Gramophone, and “an artist to treasure” by the New York Times. Graham rose to the highest echelons of the classical world within years of her debut, mastering an astonishing range of repertoire and genres along the way. Her operatic roles span four centuries, from Monteverdi’s Poppea to Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, which was written especially for her. A familiar face at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, she also maintains a strong international presence at such key venues as Paris’s Théâtre du Châtelet, Santa Fe Opera and the Hollywood Bowl. 

Music from Copland House, the resident ensemble at Aaron Copland’s National Historic Landmark home in New York, is known for uniting past and present, and the American and non-American, as it journeys through 150 years of musical legacy to perform everything from nineteenth century works to contemporary compositions. Lauded by The New Yorker as “bold,” “adventurous,” and “superb,” the ensemble includes flutist Carol Wincenc, clarinetist Benjamin Fingland, violinist Siwoo Kim, violist Melissa Reardon, cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach, and pianist Michael Boriskin. 

More information, including interviews with Rita Dove about A Standing Witness, can be found at The Daily Progress and UVA Today. Performance times and ticket information can be found here.