ROREM: Ned Rorem Centennial
At door: $25/$20
In advance: $20/$15
Discount: students, seniors, un(der)employed, differently-abled
Ned Rorem — Five Armenian Love Songs
Ned Rorem — Four Madrigals
Ned Rorem — From an unknown past
Ned Rorem — I feel death...
Ned Rorem — In time of pestilence
Ned Rorem — Ode to man
Ned Rorem — Pilgrim strangers
Ned Rorem — Three Poems of Baudelaire
Ned Rorem — Two Shakespeare Poems
Ned Rorem — Virelai
Ned Rorem — What is pink?
In the modern era, if there were a single American composer who represented the triumph of intuitive lyricism over systemic dogma, it would be Ned Rorem. Rorem, who died last November at age 99, never aligned himself with any particular composition school, and preferred to write music that he "wanted to hear." His published work includes over 500 art songs, candid diaries detailing his life and relationships in Paris and New York, and of course: choral music.
Born in Richmond, Indiana, Rorem developed a strong interest in French music - espeically that of Debussy and Ravel. He attended the American Conservatory, Northwestern, the Curtis Institute, Juilliard, and Tanglewood, where he studied with Sowerby, Menotti, and Wagenaar, and developed lifelong friendships with Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and Virgil Thomson.
With money from the Gershwin Prize, Rorem left the US in early 1949, and was hugely productive in Morocco, where he produced a variety of compositions in rapid succession. He later explained: "The best influence for a composer is four walls. The light must come from inside. When it comes from outside, the result is postcard music." After two years in Morocco, Rorem moved to France on a Fulbright Fellowship to study with Arthur Honegger, where he frequented meetings of the neoclassicist group, Les Six, and befriended Francis Poulenc and Darius Milhaud.
Upon his return to the US, Rorem received commissions from the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Cincinnati Orchestra, New York City Opera, the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, Ford, and Koussevitzky Foundations. His Air music: Ten etudes for orchestra won a Pulitzer Prize in 1976. Rorem taught briefly at both the University of Buffalo and the University of Utah before accepting a teaching post at his alma mater, Curtis, in 1980. His String Symphony won a Grammy in 1989, and he served as President of the American Academy of Arts and Letters from 2000 to 2003. Rorem split his time between New York and Nantucket with his lifelong partner James Holmes, and his last years were spent in the care of his niece, playing piano, doing crossword puzzles, and walking through Central Park. Rorem died at home in Manhattan on 18 November 2022, at age 99.
The Esoterics will mark the weekend of Rorem's 100th birthday by performing all of his secular pieces for a cappella mixed chorus … and maybe a few others! Please join us for this fantastic concert in celebration of an extraordinary artist.