CUA New Voices

Kennedy Center Concert

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony featured at Washington Performing Arts Concert

CUA’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music is actually the only university to participate in this concert which is presented by WPA (Washington Performing Arts) that will celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary. The unique concert, which will also include new work from Esa-Pekka Salonen, the great Finnish composer and orchestral conductor, is actually the first collaboration ever of WPA and the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, says the school’s dean of music, Grayson Wagstaff.

Wagstaff continues to say that WPA, Washington Performing Arts, is and had been over past decades, the most important organizer and presenter of guest artists and concerts in the greater Washington, D.C., region, and Patrick Hayes, WPA’s founder, was a close friend of the University for a long time and he attended numerous performances and shows on campus. CUA’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music is deeply honored to be part of this important and historic event that will take place at the Kennedy Center. Wagstaff says he is very grateful to Jenny Bilfield, WPA president and CEO, for inviting the school’s to participate in this phenomenal concert.

For the unique concert that will take place in 2018, CUA student will be joining a chorus that includes singers from Washington’s Choral Arts Society, the Washington Chorus, and members of WPA’s Men and Women of the Gospel Choir. In Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in D minor, the composer brought a revolution to the symphonic form as he included a choir in the Symphony’s 4th and final movement and as he added sung text to his creation from Friedrich Schiller’s poem Ode to Joy. In the 2018 concert, the combined chorus will be performing the 4th movement.

Zachary Woolfe, the music critic of the New York Times, has been applauding the Los Angeles Philharmonic and recently labeled the orchestra as “America’s most important orchestra.” The San Francisco Classical Voice, an important online platform, has stated that the combination of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Dudamel has resulted in music at a level that deserves nothing else but the title “sublime”.

Timothy McDonnell, director of CUA’ Institute of Sacred Music and choral activities, says that having the school’s students work together with other choirs under the guidance of Gustavo Dudamel together with the Los Angeles Philharmonic is definitely one of the School of Music’s most dramatic highlights of the last five decades. This is absolutely the equivalent of singing for the great Leonard Bernstein. Dudamel is famous for his excitement both as a performer and as a conductor, and he brings an enormous amount of energy to the stages where he appears. The School of Music’s students will be thrilled and thriving.

Gustavo Dudamel was born in Venezuela and he is also the music director of the famous Venezuelan Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra. He managed to move the Los Angeles Philharmonic dramatically towards musical community outreach programs, such as setting up the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra. These developments are heavily influenced by the Venezuelan El Sistema philosophy, a movement that uses music to encourage and enhance social development. Around 25 weeks of his annual schedule, Dudamel is committing to El Sistema, to the orchestras and to the children, an activity that takes him not only to Caracas but around the country.