Where Shadow Chases Light
Cynthia Powell, Artistic Director and Conductor
Saturday, November 17 at 7:30, Holy Apostles, 296 Ninth Avenue @ 28th Street, Chelsea, NYC
Sunday, November 18, at 3:00 pm,West End Collegiate Church, 245 West 77th Street @ West End Ave., Upper West Side, NYC
Featuring the world premiere of commissioned work by award-winning Anglo-Armenian composer Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian, titled Red Bird. This dynamic work explores the life and writings of Zitkala-sa, one of the most influential Native American activists of the twentieth century.
Plus the New York premiere of Deanna Witkowski’s Where Shadow Chases Light, and works by Gustav Holst, Eric Whitacre, Elena Kats Chernin, and Gyorgy Orban
With Taisiya Pushkar, piano
Katie Hyun, and Caroline Drexler, violins; Gizem Yücel, viola; Andrea Lee, cello
Cynthia Powell leads a rehearsal of Red Bird
Cevanne Horrocks-Hopiyian, Red Bird. World premiere commission
Deanna Witkowski, Where Shadow Chases Light
Elena Kats Chernin, Memorial Rag
Gyorgy Orban, Mass No. 6
Eric Whitacre, Five Hebrew Love Songs
Gustav Holst, Ave Maria
Instrumental interlude: Frank Bridge Piano Quintet (1912) Movement 2, Adagio ma non troppo
Listen to Melodia singing Kalá kallá from Eric Whitacre’s Five Hebrew Long Songs.
Read blog post: Composing for Melodia, Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian and her commission for Melodia
Read blog post: Great Music Lies Where Shadow Chases Light, Deanna Witkowski and the origins of her piece
Comment from Cevanne, commissioned composer of Red Bird.
I am so grateful to the Melodia Women’s Choir of NYC for being the first US ensemble to perform my work and commission me. It moves me that my first piece for America will be for its women – the choir, the inspiring conductor Cynthia Powell, and the all-female string quartet that joins them. Most of all, my piece is for one American woman in particular: Zitkála-Šá. 80 years ago, her opera ‘The Sun Dance,’ made its Broadway debut without crediting her. By 1938, she had reached the end of her life, which had been packed with political activism and suffragism, including founding, and leading, the ‘National Council of American Indians’ in the wake of genocide.
Zitkála-Šá tells her own story with the literature she published and left us. So, my piece, ‘Red Bird’, is a miniature portrait of how her words resonate with me. I feel lucky to have been in correspondence with Native American scholars and artists who could spare time for me, despite having their own work to be getting on with, in particular Ruth H. Hopkins, ‘The Pretty Indian Girls’ singers, and Dr P Jane Hafen.
Comments from Deanna Witkowski, composer of Where Shadow Chases Light
“Where Shadow Chases Light” is included in Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel Prize-winning collection of poems, Gitanjali (Song Offerings). The original Bengali version was published in 1910; the book’s English translation (done by Tagore himself) was published in 1913.
The entire text of “Where Shadow…” vividly brings to mind experiences at yearly silent retreats on the Hudson at Linwood Spiritual Center in Rhinebeck, New York. During these week-long retreats, I share Tagore’s sense of delight in waiting, in noticing, in knowing that “the happy moment will arrive when I shall see.” And, too, there is the “meanwhile” where “I smile and I sing all alone” and the air fills “with the perfume of promise.” I evoke the richness of this contemplative experience- filled with its active waiting and occasional moments of ecstasy- in my choral setting.
From left: Taisiya Pushkar, piano, Katie Hyun, violin, Caroline Drexler, violin, Gizem Yücel, viola, Andrea Lee, cello
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
The commission of Red Bird made possible by a grant from Elizabeth and Michel Sorel charitable Organization. Cevanne’s residency in NYC for the project is supported by the British Council and the Arts Council of England.