March 18, 2023 7:30 pm, Capitol Theatre – Wheeling, WV
This kaleidoscopic concert is centered around the ideas of incredible women, a sense of home, and the forces of nature.
This performance will feature three vibrant American artists: Clarice Assad, Angélica Negrón and Bridgette Gan. One of the through lines of our season is an examination of what it means to be American and how we tell our “American Stories.” Through the creativity of these three women, we will share three different types of beautiful American tales.
First, we will celebrate the impactful cultural tradition of Wheeling by honoring Eleanor Steber, one of the greatest American sopranos, who was born in Wheeling in 1914. It was she who commissioned and gave the premiere of Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 in 1947. This work is a setting of a poem by James Agee and is a nostalgic look at a lazy summer evening in Tennessee. It is quintessentially American.
Other types of American stories will be told by our guest composers for this week. Clarice Assad is Brazilian-American (she now resides in Chicago) and will be joining us in Wheeling. She infuses her writing with stories from her home in Brazil—and this work, É Gol, celebrates the famous Brazilian soccer player Marta Vieira da Silva. Wheeling will celebrate its vibrant youth sports community through this concert in many ways—and we look forward to performing this piece, as Ms. Assad will guide the audience through its many different interactive elements.
Music Director John Devlin is especially enthusiastic to present Sonidos del Avistamiento by Puerto-Rican American composer Angélica Negrón. This piece is inspired by a book by Puerto Rican artist Javier Román. In it, Román presents beautiful photographs of over 70 species of birds that live in Old San Juan. The musical aspects of the piece reflect those birds as a metaphor for the migration of over 150,000 Puerto Ricans to the mainland United States after Hurricane Maria in 2017. Recordings of bird songs from the El Yunque rainforest are incorporated into the piece, and Maestro Devlin and his wife Camille Cintrón Devlin were engaged in El Yunque in 2014 (Ms. Cintrón Devlin is from Ponce, Puerto Rico). Negrón’s work is about the searching for a sense of home after displacement, and how many find that sense of home in the United States but carry with them the traditions of their heritage.
Connecting with these themes of birds and nature are the other two pieces on the program by Igor Stravinsky and Lili Boulanger. Stravinsky’s Firebird is one of the most vibrant and effecting pieces of the standard repertoire. It features many members of the orchestra in colorful solos, extremely powerful sections, and also some that create a sense of mystery and wonder. Lili is the younger sister of the famous Nadia Boulanger, the great composer and teacher who intersected with many of the significant musicians in the first half of the 20th century. Lili, herself, died tragically at the age of 24, but this spectacularly colorful work is indicative of her masterful artistry and abundant talent. We hope that you will enjoy this program of several uniquely American stories, the many incredible women that are featured, and the forces of nature.