The must-see event of the spring arts season is a major collaboration between four performing arts groups to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with performances of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang's masterful choral and dance piece, "battle hymns".
Because of its complex and unusual artistic demands, "battle hymns" has not been performed since its 2009 World Premiere in Philadelphia.
This presentation is a co-production of Volti and the San Francisco Choral Society, featuring the Philadelphia-based Leah Stein Dance Company and the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir.
Almost 200 choral singers will be costumed and choreographed, joined by a group of modern dancers who dance with and among the singers, in a powerful piece of music by one of today’s most important composers. This meditation on mankind’s relationship with war will be presented in the site-specific setting of Kezar Pavilion in Golden Gate Park. The audience will surround the singers and dancers in “courtside seating” – no proscenium separating the audience from the performers – and a close physical connection to the music and dance.
This collaborative project includes the 20 professional singers of Volti – San Francisco’s cutting-edge new-music specialists, joined by more than 100 singers from the San Francisco Choral Society, one of the most accomplished choirs in the Bay Area. Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir will be represented by 50 young singers from its Ensemble and Ancora choirs. All three singing groups are conducted by Maestro Robert Geary.
Creating the visual component is the original choreographer, Leah Stein, who brings her dance troupe from Philadelphia to recreate battle hymns with the San Francisco singers.
About this project, David Lang says:
“battle hymns is the largest choral work I have ever written, on a topic that is unfortunately timely and for me very heartfelt, but few people know that it exists... I am very flattered that Volti is interested in picking my piece up, and I am very eager to hear what they do with it. And I am very eager to imagine what will happen to it after that.”
About the composer:
Passionate, prolific, and complicated, composer David Lang embodies the restless spirit of invention. Lang is at the same time deeply versed in the classical tradition and committed to music that resists categorization, constantly creating new forms.
In the words of The New Yorker, “With his winning of the Pulitzer Prize for the little match girl passion one of the most original and moving scores of recent years), Lang, once a post-minimalist enfant terrible, has solidified his standing as an American Master.”
Musical America’s 2013 Composer of the Year and recipient of Carnegie Hall’s Debs Composer’s Chair for 2013 – 2014, and one of the co-founders of New York’s Bang on a Can collective, Lang is one of America’s most-performed composers. Many of his works resemble each other only in the fierce intelligence and clarity of vision that inform their structures. His catalogue is extensive, and his opera, orchestral, choral, chamber, and solo works are by turns ominous, ethereal, urgent, hypnotic, unsettling and very emotionally direct. Much of his work seeks to expand the definition of virtuosity in music – even the deceptively simple pieces can be fiendishly difficult to perform, and require incredible concentration by musicians and audiences alike.