Haverford-Bryn Mawr College Chorale ConcertHaverford-Bryn Mawr College Chorale Concerthttp://www.haverford.edu/calendar/details/175351Roberts Marshall Auditorium2012-04-22T15:00:002012-04-22T17:00:00
April 22,2012 3:00PM–5:00PM
Roberts Marshall Auditorium
The Haverford-Bryn Mawr College Chorale and Chorale Orchestra, directed by Thomas Lloyd, will perform Kurt Weill's "The Eternal Road" in Roberts Hall, Marshall Auditorium.
As a clarification of my posting of April 16, 2012, the reader should be aware that the April 22 performance consists of a compilation of excerpts from THE ETERNAL ROAD that I made with the permission of European American Music Corporation, the publisher and copyright owner of the work. The permission granted by EAMC was for this performance only. There is no intention to make this compilation available for future performances.
The Haverford-Bryn Mawr College Chorale and Chorale Orchestra, directed by Thomas Lloyd, will observe Holocaust Remembrance Month with a performance of a new concert-length version of Kurt Weill's rarely performed landmark work, The Eternal Road.
The single performance will take place on Sunday, April 22 at 3:00 in Roberts Hall, Marshall Auditorium, and will feature two acclaimed guest artists in the central roles, tenor Benjamin Warschawski and baritone Jason Switzer. The concert is free and open to the public.
In 1933, Meyer Weisgal, an activist in the American Zionist movement, commissioned Kurt Weill and the playwright Franz Werfel to create a biblical pageant in New York that would draw the world’s attention to the plight of German Jews under Nazism. The result was a combination of theater, oratorio, opera, and pageant lasting well over five hours. Though The Eternal Road received positive reviews following its 1937 opening, the budget for the extravagant Norman Bel Geddes production—which featured a cast of 245 performers—caused it to close prematurely, after 153 performances. It would be 63 years before The Eternal Road received its first and only full revival, at Chemnitz, Germany, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2000. Other performances, in 1998, featured only portions of the work, including an adaptation of Act IV performed in Vienna and London; and of Acts III and IV, performed in New York by Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra.
Haverford Associate Professor of Music Thomas Lloyd was given permission by the Kurt Weill Foundation, which also contributed funding to this production, to compile a new two-hour long concert version of the work. "The Eternal Road is an important work both musically and historically,” Lloyd says. “It should have a place in the repertoire of a wide range of professional orchestras and choral societies.” The new version incorporates music from all four acts, connected by spoken narration which condenses the action of Franz Werfel’s “play within a play.”
Werfel’s text deals primarily with a diverse congregation of Jewish refugees in an unknown place and time who have come together to escape an imminent threat of persecution. Representing a broad spectrum of Jews, from the most assimilated to the most observant, they seek the wisdom of the Rabbi (sung and spoken by Benjamin Warschawski in this performance) as to what they should do next to preserve their physical and cultural existence. The Rabbi responds by suggesting that they listen to the story of The Eternal Road (those who have gone before them), and reads from the Torah as the congregation (the choir) and the soloists act out the selected biblical scenes. The central figures of Abraham, Moses, Solomon, and Jeremiah are sung by baritone Jason Switzer. The concert version also preserves the central role of “The Youth,” a young man of Bar Mitzvah age who asks the Rabbi the most probing questions and, in the end, is the one who leads those gathered into the future.
The ending of the drama can be interpreted in a number of different ways, and the work as a whole provides a rare and intimate view of the mindset of European Jews at the beginning of the Nazi reign of terror but well before the full impact of the Holocaust and the founding of Israel.
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