On Sunday July 28th, the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus gave a concert at the Church of St Anselm and St Roch in the South Bronx. The chorus of about 60, performed four Negro Spirituals (one was an encore) a couple of Spanish hymns (including a popular setting of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” from his Ninth Symphony), two movements from Schubert’s Mass in G, the Sicut Locutus Est from Bach’s Magnificat, and Gradual by Afro-Brazilian composer Jose Mauricio Nunes Garcia. This concert was unique because it came together as a result of a real collaboration between the chorus and the church, which serves a largely Spanish-speaking population from the nearby neighborhood, as well as English-speaking immigrants from various European nations.
A Concert Celebration of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing in Leesburg, Virginia
Close to 100 guests joined the Virginia Schiller Institute Community Chorus for a concert in Leesburg, Virginia on July 21st, to mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The event was not just a commemoration of that momentous achievement so many decades ago, but a celebration of and commitment to the next 50 years of human progress.
The chorus opened the concert with an arrangement of Beethoven’s “Die Himmel rühmen des Ewigen Ehre,” (“The Heavens Praise the Glory of Eternity”), after which conductor Megan Beets welcomed the audience, and emphasized that what we celebrate is an event of universal importance—mankind’s first step onto another planetary body, and its establishment as an extraterrestrial species. Humanity’s upcoming return to the Moon with Project Artemis must be the beginning of a new era of our exploration and development of the solar system; one of optimism about our limitless potential for progress. In that context, she referenced NASA’s recently retired Kepler Telescope, which in its 10 years of service surveyed 530,506 stars, and found 2,662 exoplanets, all within our galaxy. Think of the practically infinite potential for humanity’s development given that there are 2 trillion galaxies in our universe! She concluded by telling those gathered that such progress in science must be accompanied by a return to a culture of beauty, which celebrates and advances the creative spark inherent in every individual.
The first half of the concert began with a poem written and recited by Paul Gallagher, “The Sensitive Plant on the Moon,” followed by a number of solo offerings, including songs about the moon and the heavens: “Song to the Moon” by Dvořák, “Mondnacht” (Moonlit Night) by Robert Schumann, “My Lord, What a Mornin’” arr. by H.T. Burleigh; a movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14, known as the “Moonlight Sonata”; other offerings included “Da, chas nastal” by Tsaikovsky with text by Schiller, and a number of songs which have a relationship to mankind’s exploration of space: “Goin’ Home” the melody of which is from Dvořák’s “New World Symphony,” which Neil Armstrong took to the Moon; the famous “Queen of the Night” aria from Mozart’s Magic Flute,” which has traveled 3.6 billion miles from Earth on the Voyager 1 and 2 Golden Records; and the first and fourth movements of Mozart’s String Quartet No. 19 in C Major (“Dissonance”) which opened Lyndon LaRouche’s famous 1988 presidential campaign broadcast, “The Woman on Mars.”
The second half of the concert featured the chorus and a small string ensemble performing Mozart’s “Solemn Vespers,” K.339.
The audience was composed of a wide variety of people from all over the region—from singers and musicians to community members looking for a way mark the Apollo 11 anniversary, to friends and family of chorus members. As a whole, the audience was clearly moved by both chorus and soloists. Two children, probably 7 and 9 years old, seemed bored and restless when they first arrived, however, much to their mother’s amazement, as soon as the Queen of the Night aria began they sat up straight and were mesmerized by the performance. Many commented on the high level of the chorus, surprised that it is a community chorus, and expressed interest in joining. A local music teacher declared that she wants to recommend the chorus to her students. A regular member of the orchestra said that he was honored to play in the event.
Humanity’s return to human exploration and development of space means that we are embarking on a truly new era of civilization. If we want this to be successful, and to shed the anti-human characteristics of the geopolitical, colonial system, we absolutely must have a renaissance of beautiful and profound works of art. It is the mission of the Schiller Institute, and the Schiller Institute Community Choruses, to give as many people as possible access to such works of art as audiences, and even more so, as participants, by joining the chorus.
On June 27, 2019, the Schiller Institute was invited to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco to honor the life of the great American Statesman Lyndon LaRouche, and to celebrate the common aims of both nations and cultures.
Everyone who attended the Open House in Honor of the Schiller Institute—as each of the three large screens proudly declared as you walked into the hall—now know the power and importance of exonerating Lyndon LaRouche. It was on the faces of everyone: a sense of joy, of optimism, of urgency, and a sense of responsibility towards the future because such a man, such an America, such a view of the world and of humanity, and such an organization exist, and at a moment when without a true America, without such a world view, mankind might not survive.
The idea of an event was first initiated with the passing of LaRouche this past February 12. The consulate was informed soon after, and a meeting between SI reps and the Consul General was held the following week. After an hour plus long discussion with the CG and the Deputy CG ranging from LaRouche’s life and ideas to the strategic situation, the idea of an event between the SI and the Consulate was proposed.
So, on the very eve of the G20 summit (Putin and Trump would be meeting at 10 pm PT this same night), the Schiller Institute brought nearly 70 guests to an event hosted by the China Consulate. To reciprocate the generosity of the Consulate, the Schiller Institute brought Beethoven’s Op. 69 for a universal demonstration on the potential collaborative relationship between the U.S. and China with piano and cello, played at the lower tuning. Including speeches by CG Wang and SI rep Mr. Steger, the event set a new standard for collaboration around the power of LaRouche’s ideas.
The event started with the Deputy Consul General introducing the Consul General Ambassador Wang Donghua, Schiller Institute rep. Michael Steger, and acknowledging special guests the DCG and a Consul from Vietnam, a member of the Indonesian Consulate, a member of the East-West Accord, and the President of the Russian American Congress, as well as two local Republican leaders.
The Consul General then gave a very hard hitting speech expressing China’s frustrations on the current trade talks before touching on the importance of the BRI. Given the CGs overt political tones, Mike was free to address the broader strategic aspects of the global dynamic, beginning with the introduction of the BRI by Xi, in consultation with Putin, during the chaotic coup in Ukraine, which only indicates the role of the BRI to end the risk of nuclear war today.
In summary, the importance of the G20, and the BRI as exemplary of a new global system, was on the minds of everyone on the eve of this critical summit. It is also the 35th anniversary of the SI, and the 40th anniversary of China-US diplomatic relations, and the LaRouche view of the next 40 years has never been more important. There is a long history of the U.S. and China, from Columbus’ voyage of the Italian Renaissance (nb: Columbus is honored with massive stone statue on Telegraph Hill in S.F. looking east across the GG bridge to China), to Ben Franklin printing sections of Confucius Analects in the Gazette, to Lincoln’s appointment of Ambassador Burlingame to China, to Grant’s tour of China, and his identification then of China’s coming dominance of the global economy, to FDRs insistence that no foreign ships would enter Chinese ports after the defeat of Japan, and this true history of the U.S. and China makes the point that this is the real America, the LaRouche America, and it was this that the American people are calling for today, however darkly through the mirror.
China’s development is a modern miracle and the BRI is a precious contribution to the world that must be grasped now. FDR wanted to extend U.S. production to develop the world, but his legacy was nearly destroyed. It was Lyndon LaRouche who picked up this fight for global development after WWII, and today, it is China who is making this offer, this precious gift for a new system of collaboration, of sovereignty, of space exploration. As a Russian scientist once said, space exploration makes most clear the nature of economy, that money is worthless. Energy, water, infrastructure, science and culture are paramount for a new global system, on Earth and on the Moon. This is the BRI, it is a great gift to the world that must be adopted by the U.S., and it is the very essence of the true U.S. legacy of Lincoln and LaRouche.
It’s our job to organize the American people to insist that it is adopted, otherwise the corruption in Washington will crush any potential for a breakthrough. It is not only up to the leaders, but up to us to create a new culture of development.
There was strong applause for both speeches and the DCG wishfully referred to Mike as the representative of the American people, before introducing the music.
Before the music began, we quickly asked for collaborators on the music of China, and in the course of the evening we met a music teacher, one of the very first students of piano after the cultural revolution, who wants to work on Chinese music for four hands with My-Hoa! We also met a violinst/violist who plays for the SF Ballet, a friend of one of the Consuls, so we are conspiring for future collaborations, and intend to make more classical Chinese pieces available in western notation.
My-Hoa and Andres then played Mo Li Hua or Jasmine Flower on keyboard and cello, in honor of our guests, before a lively rendition (without repeats) of Op. 69. Uncertain, the audience gave a standing ovation after the first movement, but once aware, were absolutely silent after the second, allowing the adagio cantabile of the opening of the third movement to strike the harmonious chord of collaboration that Beethoven intended.
It was now a festive celebration, with food, discussion, and humorous delight often brought by the DCG, our leading contact. The SI brought a cross section of people, from our more eccentric contacts to a range of young people, blue collar Americans, many Facebook contacts within the Chinese community in S.F., a leading retired Pakistani journalist, and all, young and old, left beaming.
The Consul General, and his staff of twenty or so, mingled and talked with all of the guests for over an hour. There was a long discussion with the Indonesian representative on the political culture of the U.S. going back to the cultural revolution and the importance of classical culture, where nations adopt a profound mission. Both she and the Vietnamese DCG were interested in holding future events with the SI. The Russian associated contacts who came were struck by the optimism, became much more educated on who we are, and one is planning to sign for exoneration.
At the end, the Consul General said good-bye and said he was very touched. We had brought LaRouche’s America to the representatives of China, and they were profoundly overwhelmed with joy. When asked by his DCG if we should do this once every two years, he said, “Once a year, at least!”
To those of us in the SI, it comes as no surprise that Lyndon’s personality and vision have such an overwhelming effect, but we also know that it is not always so easy to convey. In this case, we feel triumphant in our attempt at such a historic moment, and intend to carry that spirit into our work, outreach, and follow-up in the critical days and weeks ahead.
The Schiller Boston Community Chorus, based in Quincy, MA, joined by guests from New York, Detroit, and San Francisco, just completed a weekend of performances in concerts in Providence, RI and Quincy, MA featuring songs from the New World and classical African American Spirituals.
Friday: Songs of Freedom
On Friday, June 14, 2019, the SI Boston Community Chorus teamed up with Stages of Freedom, who hosted the event, for an evening of history through music. Stages of Freedom is an organization dedicated to providing young African-Americans access to swimming programs, cultural programming, and to educate inner-city youth by providing access to museums and live performance. Historians and Stages of Freedom founders, Robb Dimmick and Ray Rickman planned this concert at Manning Chapel (Brown University) specifically because of the role the Brown family played as the second largest slave-owner family in Rhode Island’s history.
By the time the concert began, on Friday, June 14th at 5:30pm, there was a sold-out audience of over 200 people.
Mr. Rickman opened the event by challenging the audience to not think of this event as “entertainment, but to improve your soul and spirit.” This, preceded by a stirring rendition of “I’ve been buked” by Hall Johnson, performed by the chorus a capella, set the tone for the entire event.
The concert featured the Schiller Boston Community chorus and soloists singing Spirituals and was carefully and dramatically orchestrated to portray the horrors of the Rhode Island slave trade, through readings taken from The Notorious Triangle by Jay Coughtry. The unique and necessary participation of the chorus dramatic performances of five Spirituals and a Mozart choral piece and also of soprano, Michelle Erin performance of Hall Johnson’s “Give me Jesus,” baritone, Frank Mathis, “Goin’ Home” and excerpts from Roland Hayes “Life of Christ,” and soprano, Annicia Smith’s moving rendition of “Deep River” was punctuated by the remarks of invited guest, Northeast coordinator of the Schiller Institute, Dennis Speed. All pieces were skillfully and beautifully accompanied by pianist, My-Hoa Steger. At the conclusion of the 90-minute concert, the chorus led the audience in singing “Lift every voice and sing,” and led the audience outside the beautiful chapel to a receiving line.
Many in the audience had never heard Spirituals sung in such an honest and dramatic way. Some people were visibly shocked when Dennis Speed said in his speech, that African-American Spirituals are Classical music. While this event was intended to shock people and create discomfort in facing the history of slavery, the role of the uplifting and never-enraged Spirituals played the crucial role in carrying out the mission of Friedrich Schiller and the Schiller Institute; it provoked the audience to be better people and to respond in an impassioned way. There is tremendous potential coming out of this concert, including a professional recording which will be sent out to thousands of people and future collaboration.
Saturday: Songs from the New World
On Saturday, June 15th, the Schiller Boston Chorus hosted a concert entitled “Songs of a New World,” to educate people on the collaboration between Czech composer, Antonín Dvořák and African-American baritone and composer, Harry Burleigh. This history is necessary to understand if Americans are going to make the break from geopolitics and divisiveness of the old paradigm and move into a new paradigm of win-win cooperation between the best of all cultures. This concert program was well composed with many solo and choral African-American Spirituals, Lieder by Brahms, and some lesser-known but beautiful and well-received songs by, Antonín Dvořák including two Moravian duets, a song in Czech, and the well-loved Songs my Mother Taught Me, sung by soprano, Michelle Fuchs and accompanied by My-Hoa Steger. Also, a very special rendition of the Chinese folk song, “Jasmine Flower (Moli-hua)” sung by Donna Liao, and accompanied by treble voices and piano, brought the beauty of Chinese culture to a largely American audience. At certain points in the program, quotes by Dvořák, Burleigh, and Frederick Douglass, were read, to help the audience gain further insight into the beginnings of this American Renaissance and also why it was deliberately derailed into Jazz and the Roaring 20s culture, etc. For more on this history, see The African-American Spiritual and the Resurrection of Classical Art: Not Force, But Beauty, Will Change America.
There were a few incredible responses from the audience which characterize a more general hunger for beautiful culture that our choruses are finding around the country, particularly right now. This audience, made up entirely of the local community, including family and friends of chorus members, local business owners, and some children, gained their concentration and settled down during the opening piece, the beautiful prayer-like “Laudate Dominum” from Mozart’s Solemn Vespers.
At the conclusion of the concert, there were many responses by audience members and chorus members alike. Many people could not believe that we are a community chorus and that we do not hold auditions. This led to many good discussions about the important role of the Verdi tuning and bel canto vocal training to train amateur voices. One chorus member noticed that during one particular dramatically soft and beautiful choral phrase in a spiritual, many members of the audience simultaneously sat back in their seats and closed their eyes, as if to be relieved by the music. Many expressed how important it is to have this beauty here in this community and how every single arrangement was beautiful.
Another important note was the affect of the historical excerpts and quotes, as a few members of the audience wanted to discuss the role of slavery in the United States and more of the history of Burleigh and Dvorak. Following the concert, there was a wonderful food reception attended by audience and performers alike.
This full weekend of two beautiful concerts reinforced our firm commitment to bringing high-level culture to all peoples and that if we can avoid the dangers of war, the United States can be ready to join the new paradigm.
– Jen Pearl, Conductor, Schiller Boston Community Chorus Follow the Boston chorus on Facebook.
On Sunday May 5th, the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus performed the Mozart Solemn Vespers, African-American Spirituals, and Verdi at a concert dedicated to the memory of Lyndon LaRouche in Little Italy of the Bronx. The chorus was joined by five professional soloists and orchestra, and everything, except the Bach organ prelude was performed at the Verdi tuning of c=256 Hz.
250-300 people turned out in the pouring rain to hear this wonderful program, which opened with the church organist playing a Bach organ prelude, and ended with Italian Opera arias sung by the soloists. Although there were several young children in the crowd, there was not a sound, except applause, which erupted after the first amen in the Vespers. One person commented that the Vespers was performed in such a transparent way that the genius of Mozart leapt out at him—the orchestra playing counterpoint to the chorus, as another voice, and not a unison.
Having everyone’s best loved Italian Opera arias sung by African-American, Chinese, and Greek soloists definitely demonstrated the universal quality of great music, and thrilled the Italian-Americans in the audience, and several were heard to be singing along by the end.
Also in attendance was the Ambassador from Sri Lanka to the UN, who was recognized by the priest and by Dennis Speed in his welcoming remarks, who expressed a dedication to the memory of those who had perished in the Easter massacres in Sri Lanka, killing over 300 people, including children in Sunday School. In dedicating the concert to Lyndon LaRouche, Dennis quoted from LaRouche’s review of the Mozart opera La Clemenza di Tito, and spoke of Lyndon’s critical insights and support for the choral process in Manhattan.
“All Classical art speaks directly to you, as an individual personality; it addresses the question each of us must ask ourselves at some point in our lives, or perhaps even repeatedly,
‘Who am I, and what are we? Since we are all born, and shall die, what is the meaning of that individual existence we occupy between birth and death? What is the continuation of that life, even after we are dead?’ Thus, great Classical art touches the same issues as Christianity and the themes of Judaism treated by the great Moses Mendelssohn.
“So, Mozart speaks to you personally, through La Clemenza di Tito, from the operatic stage. “Mozart does not preach; he evokes the experience of the discovery of the principle of agapë within the cognitive experience of the individual member of the audience, by means of the unfolding, ironical development within the drama as a whole. In the history of Christianity, for example, it has been the similar re-experiencing of the Passion of Christ from Gethsemane through and beyond the Crucifixion, which has been the artistic quality of reliving that impassioned experience upon which the strength of Christianity has depended. There is perhaps no more conclusive demonstration of that, than is supplied by J.S. Bach’s
St. Matthew Passion.
“…At the time of his death, and earlier, Mozart was essentially a leading Christian of his time, as his Ave Verum Corpus expresses this principle of Classical artistic composition with wonderful succinctness.”
The chorus, now in its 5th year, has 80 members from Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and northern NJ, and the singers range in age from 27 to 89, and include college students, young professionals and retired people, a Chinese concert pianist, and a Bishop from a Church in Harlem, who also speaks German. They have all developed over the years, to the point that new members often flee, intimidated by the quality of the Manhattan rehearsal, and we have to call them back and assure them that many of the people they think sound so good, also couldn’t read music when they joined. (And many still can’t.)
The audience was largely from the neighborhood of the church, which is a very well-known Italian area, and has Italian shops, restaurants and bakeries which have been in the same families for over a century, in several cases. Italian-Americans from all over Westchester County, NJ and Connecticut come here to get their favorite Italian foods. These shop owners have been regular patrons of the chorus, buying ads in our programs for the last 3 years, and always asking us, “When are you going to hold a concert in the Bronx???” They were thrilled that we finally were at their church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
The associate priest, who is from Ghana, loved every minute of the concert and asked us to come back. When we said, “Yes, maybe next year.” He said, “I wish you could be here every day!”
Video coming soon!
To find out more about the NYC Schiller Institute Chorus, visit sinycchorus.com.
At the Dawn of a Musical Revolution:
Mozart’s Solemn Vespers
The following was written by Schiller Institute music director, John Sigerson, who conducted the May 5 performance in New York City.
By the time he composed the Vesperae solennes de confessore in 1780, the 24-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was already a vastly accomplished composer who had produced 14 masses and hundreds of other works. Yet in this work, a setting of one of the most ancient offices of the Catholic Church, we experience vigorous new buds of a musical and scientific revolution—a revolution that today is making it possible to raise all humanity “out of the dust, and lift the needy out of the dunghill” (Psalm 113, “Laudate pueri”).
For today, we can celebrate the fact that the nation of Italy, cradle of the high Florentine Renaissance and of the Church, has reached out to officially join with history’s greatest movement to eliminate poverty worldwide, China’s “New Silk Road” or “Belt and Road” initiative, a policy grounded in Confucian principles which resonate with those of the best of the Western Christian humanist tradition.
“But wait a minute!” you might be saying to yourself. “How could a revolution in music possibly launch an economic plan to eliminate poverty worldwide?” The answer is both simple and complex: We are all human, and unlike other animals and inanimate things, our ability to make breakthroughs in our spiritual grasp of universal principles governing the created universe, enables us physically to devise new technologies, and also new forms of culture, to harness those principles for the betterment of all mankind. Every truly great physical scientist, from Nicholas of Cusa and Kepler to Einstein and Vernadsky, every great physical economist from Gottfried Leibniz and Alexander Hamilton to Lyndon LaRouche, and every great Classical composer from J.S. Bach to Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms, well knew that connection.
The nature of what is best termed the Mozart-Haydn Revolution in Music, in fact occurred about two years after Mozart composed the Vespers, i.e. in 1781-82, when Mozart, who had just moved his family to Vienna, participated in discussions with Josef Haydn and others at the salon of Baron van Swieten, who from Berlin had brought back manuscripts of the virtually suppressed works of Johann Sebastian Bach. For both Mozart and Haydn, the explosive impact of Bach’s works such as The Musical Offering and The Art of the Fugue unleashed “a new way of composing” (in Haydn’s words), based not on melodic forms, but rather on more fundamental elements underlying those forms. This new method has been described by Norbert Brainin, the late first violinist of the legendary Amadeus Quartet, as Motivführung, or motivic thorough-composition; it frees all the voices in a composition to generate new forms in such a way, that it is not the sounds of the music—however pleasant they may be—but rather the underlying, soundless musical/poetic ideas which govern the development.
Returning to Mozart’s 1780 Vespers, in hindsight we see here the buds that bore that rich fruit, in relation both to J.S. Bach, but also to Mozart’s older friend Josef Haydn.
Take, for example, the second piece in the series, “Confitebor,” a setting of Psalm 111. Anyone who has heard J.S. Bach’s famous cantata “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme” will immediately hear this echoed in the opening bars of the “Confitebor,” which also happens to be in the same key of E-flat Major. Had Mozart seen or heard that cantata? Probably not in performance. The original Lutheran hymn with that melody was first published in 1599 by Philipp Nicolai, and stood in many Lutheran hymnals. But more likely, is that it was suggested to Mozart directly, via a member of Bach’s large family which extended throughout Europe.
Consider this: In April 1778, J.S. Bach’s fourth son, Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach, traveled along with his own son Wilhelm to London, where he met up with his brother, Johann Christian Bach. Two years later, in 1780, J.C.F. Bach composed his own cantata “Wachet auf” as a tribute to his father, further developing its theme. We can only speculate that when he met his brother in London two years earlier, his plans to compose it were already ripening, and that it formed part of their discussions.
Now pursue the trail further: Five months later, in August 1778, Johann Christian Bach traveled to France, where he met 22-year-old Mozart at the estate of Louis, Maréchal de Noailles. (France had recognized the new American republic in April 1778; de Noailles was a backer of the American war against the British Empire, and his granddaughter’s husband had joined with Lafayette in George Washington’s army.) J.C. Bach, then 42, was a long-time mentor and friend of Mozart, having first met him in 1764 when Mozart’s father took the eight-year-old prodigy to London. Much later, Mozart’s sister Nannerl recollected that
“Herr Johann Christian Bach, music master of the queen, took Wolfgang between his knees. He would play a few measures; then Wolfgang would continue. In this manner they played entire sonatas. Unless you saw it with your own eyes, you would swear that just one person was playing.”
Could J.C. Bach have suggested the “Wachet auf” theme that his brother was working on, to his younger friend? Perhaps, perhaps not, but the facts alone already give an idea of the rich interpenetration of ideas among Europe’s greatest musical minds. The Vesperae solennes, far from being a “solemn” work which its title might suggest, is bubbling with optimism and kernels of ideas which he developed in his later works, especially his operas. In fact, these little idea-lets fly by so quickly, that one scarcely has time to take one in, before yet another cascades in.
In part, this lack of time to develop ideas was an evil from which Mozart was already plotting to escape, namely from the Bishop of Salzburg’s strict edict that no work of sacred music last longer than 30 minutes! Fortunately, we today do not have to adhere to the Bishop’s arbitrary rule, and so we shall take a bit longer than that, in the hope that you may manage to take in as many snatches as possible of these great ideas.
The Houston Schiller Institute Community Chorus, with Maestro Dorceal Duckens, our great pianist Joshua, and newly added string players, made beautiful music unto Heaven during our May 5th concert at the Riverside United Methodist Church, 3rd Ward, Houston. Ironically, the lights in the church sanctuary were not working the day of the concert; thus, creating a dramatic setting as the sun set through the church’s gorgeous stained glass windows. With wonderful acoustics in the church, and the evening sun filling the sanctuary, the concert made a big impact on the audience. The “Mozart Effect” on the 50+ attendees in audience was palpable.
While the church was not full, those in attendance reflected a broad outreach of our organizing around the city. We had a number of pastors, several members of the Ebony Opera Guild, members of our director’s church, Chinese contacts of the Schiller Institute, and a few members of the Riverside Church. Many attending knew Maestro Duckens only as a great singer and were amazed to discover he is also a great conductor! Also in attendance was the vocal coach from another local opera company, as well as the Choir Master from a local church. A couple drove over an hour after they had seen the concert advertised on an online blog. Before the concert, while speaking to a member of the chorus, the couple was very curious about the connection between Schiller the poet, economics, politics, and music but as they were leaving, they shook the member’s hand and promised they were going to look up Schiller when they got home. One of the directors from a homeless center was amazed. He had never heard Mozart performed before and had no idea about his role in the American Revolution. Another woman, employed by the church, told a member of the chorus she used to be a singer until she developed nodes on her vocal chords and could no longer sing the high soprano notes. Imagine her fascination when she learned we sing at the C=256 pitch to preserve the human voice and instruments! During the performance she was observed singing softly with every Spiritual. Another attendee, who has followed the work of the Schiller Institute and chorus member Kesha Rogers’ campaigns for congress, told a member afterwards that this concert had “healed him” since he had just suffered the loss of a child two weeks ago.
Worth noting is the impact the Mozart Solemn Vespers on this audience, many of whom knew the Spirituals well. One of the “church ladies” remarked to a chorus member, “you guys were full of the Spirit—even the Mozart was like that!” In observing the ladies during the concert, he noted how they looked at each other in amazement during the intense contrapuntal sections. One turned to two others and mouthed, “I want to clap” after the Laudate Dominum, but held herself back, as did the rest of the audience, until we had completed the entire work. Following the event, we had a small reception where several of the attendees joined us for discussion; people were just beaming with joy.
Several people inquired about joining our chorus. This was certainly on a higher level than anything that we have done before. We truly unified and brought the community together from all walks of life around beautiful bel-canto music that moved the mind and soul. We were so happy to be joining our friends there in NY as both choruses sang in harmony together in different space times.
For more information about the Schiller Community Chorus or how to join, visit our Houston Chorus page.
A contribution to the struggle for the Inalienable rights of all human beings. To Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. For the United States to overcome our cultural crisis, we must create a new unified culture, founded on the most beautiful ideas and discoveries, contributed by the American experience to the treasure chest of human culture.
Please, join our Community Chorus in celebrating and investigating through music on June 15, 3 PM in Quincy!
Antonin Dvorak, who was brought to American for the purpose of creating an American classical music culture, by Jeanette Thurber, the founder of the National Conservatory, recognized that that creative surge among American composers and the people in general could be ignited by the beauty and profound ideas found in the American folk music, known today as the spirituals.
Said Harry T. Burleigh:
“It was Dvořák who taught me that the spirituals were meant not only for the colored people, but for people of all races, and every creed. In New York, I was with Dr. Dvořák almost constantly. He loved to hear me sing the old plantation melodies. His humility and religious feeling – his great love for common people of all lands – enabled him to sense the pure gold of plantation song… he understood the message ever manifest: that the eventual deliverance from all that hinders and oppresses the soul will come, and man – every man – will be free.”
Although the experiment was attacked and shut down to a certain degree, the hypothesis is valid and still reverberates. The fragments exist for the artist, and the chorus, to pick them up and out of them weld together, in one harmonious whole, a nation, through the development of a uniquely American, noble school of classical music.
For more information and to RSVP, please contact Jen at SchillerBostonChorus@gmail.com
The Houston Schiller Institute Community Chorus invites you to their performance of
Mozart’s Solemn Vespers, K.339 & Selections from African American Spirituals
Sunday, May 5th, 2019
Both pieces performed at the Verdi tuning of c=256 Hz.
Admission is free, suggested donation $10.00
On Friday, January 25, the Schiller Institute Houston Community Chorus invited members of the community to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at an event in southwest Houston.
Texas Schiller Institute spokesman Brian Lantz opened the event highlighting the shifts occurring globally towards greater cooperation, and that Dr. King knew the only way to create a durable peace was through the reconciliation of differences and non-violent cooperation, even if some attempt to stifle it. He described how King saw cooperation through the idea of agapic, unconditional love for humanity, as expressed in the first Corinthians. Dr. King was an avid lover of classical music and opera, as was his wife, Coretta Scott King, a trained pianist and classical singer.
The chorus opened the concert with a four part polyphony of the anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, followed by a collage of short audio speeches by Dr. King. The program continued with four selections from the Mozart Vespers, Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus”, a traditional Chinese folk song, “Jasmine flower” (Mo Li Hua), and a number of spiritual selections, one of which was led by tenor Brian Lantz. Among the highlights of the evening were the solo spiritual performances of “Go Down Moses” sung by Maestro Dorceal Duckens, and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” sung by Kesha Rogers.
The audience was truly transformed by the power of the music and the selection of clips from Dr. King intertwined. At the end of the event the audience was asked to stand and cross arms and join in in singing “We Shall Overcome.”
Newer members to the chorus expressed how happy they were to sing with the chorus. Everyone was overjoyed by the experience and you had a sense that the concert had a transforming quality on everyone. It was not just entertainment, and no one left the room as the same person they were when they entered.
On January 1st, the Virginia Schiller Institute Community Chorus continued its tradition of ringing in the New Year with a concert of Classical music in Leesburg, VA. Megan Beets, director of the chorus, opened the concert quoting Friedrich Schiller, “Live with your century, but be not its creature; give to your contemporaries, but what they need, not what they praise…. Your own nobility will awaken theirs, and their unworthiness will not defeat your purpose.” She challenged the audience with Schiller’s maxim that a beautiful culture is not an option, but that beauty and the beautiful character is a necessary condition for mankind. She also reminded the audience of the true context in which we welcome the new year,
“…we are in a period of great change and transformation for all mankind. The old order of empire and war is collapsing as we speak, and new possibilities for the future of humanity are coming to the fore–for example, the fact that a little over 12 hours ago, a little space craft from planet Earth called “New Horizons” flew by and gathered data from an an object in the farthest reaches of our solar system, over 4 billion miles away. Or that in the next day or two, a little spacecraft from planet Earth called “Chang’e 4”, launched by China, will attempt the first-ever landing on the far side of the Moon.”
With this introduction, the 90+ minute program began, a lively mix of offerings by the chorus and musician friends, including vocal and instrumental soloists. The chorus performed Spirituals, two pieces from Handel’s Messiah, and two “Glorias”—one a chorale from Bach’s Wachet Auf and the other from Beethoven’s Mass in C. Other offerings included Bach solo strings—one each for violin, viola, and cello; the first movement of Dvorak’s “American” string quartet; a Mozart trio from Cosi fan tutte; a trumpet air from a Bach cantata; and vocal solos including a Schumann lied, Russian folk songs, and Burleigh’s “Honor! Honor!”
The audience, 100 people (with roughly 50 musicians on top of that) was diverse mix of teachers, musicians, students, former local politicians, friends of the church, and others who had seen the concert advertised in shops and in newspapers. Attentive and engaged throughout the entire 90+ minute event, the general response from the audience was one of awe. Many attendees, coming to hear music, were struck by the directors opening remarks and how fitting they are for today’s times. “I can’t believe what I heard and saw, this was wonderful, I could hardly keep from crying!”, reported a local businesswoman and former federal government employee who came off a weekly paper ad. “Awesome! Such diverse talents! Diverse community too!” “Wonderful way to begin the year. Thank you so much!”
Several of the soloists who performed also reiterated their appreciation for the opportunity to work the Schiller Institute. One soloist, inspired by the Schiller Institute’s “top-down” approach to thinking about global events and culture, and moved by Michelle Fuchs’ two Russian pieces, decided she would also start working on Russian songs as a way to share their culture with Americans. Another soloist said, “I wouldn’t miss these concerts for anything, they have become very special to me.” And a third soloist, “I’ve been watching this group; the tone of it is improving every time I hear it, it’s getting pretty good.”
The reception afterwards was festive and celebratory, with audience members expressing their gratitude towards the Schiller chorus for uplifting their state of mind, and creating such a memorable cultural impact in their community.
For more information on the Virginia Schiller Institute Community Chorus, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.