A Tribute to the Yaddo Music Festivals
Saratoga Springs, NY (September 4, 2012) - Saratoga Springs Public Library will recreate the spirit of the Yaddo Festivals of American Music with a free September 9th special concert program featuring pianist Robert Frankenberry.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the first of the Yaddo Festivals of American Music and the 60th anniversary of the final program in the history-making series that was designed to champion the work of contemporary American composers. The nine festivals presented at Yaddo between 1932 and 1952 featured works by 137 composers, 18 of whom went on to win Pulitzer Prizes, including nine of the first 11 composers ever awarded the music prize. Aaron Copland founded the series and directed the first two festivals. The festivals included professional conferences for critics and composers and attracted widespread press coverage. The works ultimately performed in the highly popular public concerts were chosen from a large number of compositions submitted by composers from across the country and tried out in open rehearsals during the one to three week music periods leading up to the public concerts. In 1938, New York’s WNYC radio instituted live concert broadcasts of the music festivals, and in 1940 NBC radio aired the concerts nationwide. The final festival in 1952 was a retrospective of a quarter-century of American composition. In addition to the young composers making their Yaddo debuts, Aaron Copland returned along with many of the composers who were part of the inaugural festival.
Yaddo composer Daron Hagen will narrate the September 9th program, which will include works by several composers whose music was presented at the festivals - Virgil Thomson, Vivian Fine, Marc Blitzstein, Miriam Gideon, Leonard Bernstein, and Copland, plus contemporary pieces by David Del Tredici and Hagen. To view the complete list of the songs that will be featured on the program, click here.
Frankenberry enjoys a varied career as a conductor, pianist, tenor, actor, and orchestrator. He has performed a wide range of roles including the operatic title roles in Don Carlo, The Tales of Hoffmann, and Faust, and the non-operatic roles of Mozart in Amadeus, John Adams in 1776, and the title character in Willy Wonka. As Music Director for Opera Theater Summerfest’s Young Artist Program, he has just completed orchestration and musical direction for Carmen-The Gypsy and led the premiere of Night Caps, a series of 15 minute operas by Hagen, Eric Moe, Gilda Lyons, Alberto Demestres, Roger Zahab, and Robert Frankenberry. He is a core member of New York's Prism Players and Phoenix players; Pittsburgh's IonSound Project, Music on the Edge ensemble, AnimeBOP, and entelechron; and Chrysalis. He teaches Voice at Point Park University, Musical Theater at the University of Pittsburgh, and is Artist-in-Residence at the Seasons Fall Festival in Yakima, Washington, where he performs as vocalist and pianist as well as serving on the faculties of the
Seasons Festival Conductors and Composers Workshops.
One of America's most versatile, prolific, and respected opera composers, Hagen has collaborated with distinguished musicians such as Leonard Bernstein, JoAnn Falletta, Gary Graffman, Nathan Gunn, Jaime Laredo, David Alan Miller, Sharon Robinson, Gerard Schwarz, Leonard Slatkin, and Robert Spano, among others. His work has been widely commissioned and performed by most of North America's major musical institutions, and numerous institutions abroad, including the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony, Seattle Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, Curtis Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Swan (UK), Seattle Opera, Opera Theater of Ireland, as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing), and the Royal Albert Hall. Hagen’s music (he has served frequently as conductor and collaborative pianist for recordings of his works) can be heard on the Albany, Arsis, Bridge, Clarion, Klavier, Naxos, and New World/CRI labels, among others. Among other honors, he has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Kennedy Center Friedheim Prize, two Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowships, and the Seattle Opera Chairman's Award. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Curtis Institute of Music, and of the Juilliard School, he has taught at Bard College, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Princeton Atelier, and fulfilled numerous composer-in-residencies around the U.S. He is a Lifetime Member of the Corporation of Yaddo, former president of the Lotte Lehmann Foundation, and a Trustee of the Douglas Moore Fund for American Opera.
"A Celebration of the Yaddo Festivals of American Music" will be held in the library's Harry Dutcher Community Room 2-4 p.m. Sunday, September 9th. It is free and open to the public.
To learn more about the Yaddo Festivals of American Music, follow this link to read a Tim Page essay about the series in the book Yaddo: Making American History.