Crumb's 'Voice of the Heartland' comes home
WANT TO GO?
George Crumb's "Voices of the Heartland" Appalachian premiere
Performed by Orchestra 2001 and Ann Crumb
WHERE: Geary Auditorium, University of Charleston
WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday
TICKETS: Adults $20, students $5, ages 17 and under free with paying adult
INFO: 304-342-4298 or www.charlestonchambermusic.orgCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Composer George Crumb felt a little lucky that he and his wife dodged most of the effects of Hurricane Sandy. The celebrated 83-year-old Charleston native spends most of his time these days in Media, Pa. The little town, he said, is about 45 minutes from the shore.
"I was afraid we were going to lose some of our big trees," he said. "I was afraid they'd all fall on our house, but we didn't even lose power."
Crumb feels lucky, but he sounded a little anxious, too. Orchestra 2001 along with his daughter, Ann, is scheduled to perform some of Crumb's music at several shows in West Virginia, including a performance Sunday afternoon at the University of Charleston.
"I hope the power is on for the show," he said.
It is, and the Sunday afternoon concert should go on as planned. The program will feature selections from the Pulitzer prize-winning composer's "Voices of the Heartland."
The work is a cycle of hymns, spirituals, folksongs and American Indian chants. Parts of the material may seem familiar, but it's all been reworked by Crumb's hand to reflect a different auditory aesthetic.
"Voices of the Heartland" is part seven of Crumb's American Songbook series, a body of work that he's been working on for the last decade.
"It got started with Appalachian set, though I renumbered [that] later as book three."
He added that his daughter, Ann, encouraged him to explore those songs. She liked the folk tunes of Appalachia.
"She's a Broadway singer," Crumb said. "And she's interested in jazz and folk songs."
He began to write, and the project took on a life of it's own.
With the American Songbooks, Crumb has drawn from the rich musical heritage of the nation, everything from hymns and cowboy songs to music and poems from the Indian nations.
"I couldn't call it the American Songbook without including music from the aboriginal people of America. Some of those poems are quite beautiful. I included them when I could."
In later volumes, Crumb said he'd moved into the 20th Century, using protest songs by Pete Seeger and even a song by Bob Dylan.
"The project just kept growing," he said.
Currently, Crumb said he's working on some pieces by Spanish poet and dramatist Frederico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936).
Unfortunately, Crumb said he wouldn't be coming to see the performances in West Virginia but thinks the music will speak for itself. He said it's not that he's sick so much as just sick of traveling, which at his age has lost its appeal.
"I don't really like flying anymore," he said. "I thought I'd just stay home this time."
"Voices from The Heartland" will be performed 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at the WVU Creative Arts Center in Morgantown and 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at WVU Parkersburg. Admission is free for both performances.
Reach Bill Lynch at email@example.com or 304-348-5195.