Our 2013 Spring Commission
In memory of long time Cantilena member and writer, Mordena Babich, our spring concert, "Poetic License" will focus on the union of words and music! The program will be a selection of brilliant poetry set by fantastic composers.
We are delighted that Scott Wheeler has accepted our commission to set Lewis Carroll's poem "The Jabberwocky" to be premiered at our May 12th spring concert. Completing work on his composition in January, Mr. Wheeler has given Cantilena singers ample time to learn and appreciate his challenging and appropriate setting of one of Mordena's favorite poems. We think this premier performance will be as special for our audience to hear as it will be for us to sing.
About Scott Wheeler
Scott Wheeler began work with choruses in high school, where he spent
two years as musical director for a 75-member pop-rock choir based on
Stamford Connecticut. He returned to choral conducting as a Brandeis
graduate student in 1976, when he was invited to conduct Cantilena,
then known as the Cambridge Chorale. Their repertoire included
Pergolesi, Stravinsky, Charles Ives, Irving Fine, Darius Milhaud, and
Scott Wheeler. When Scott started teaching at Emerson College in 1978,
he took over the Emerson College Chorus for several years, performing
masses by Mozart and Schubert, as well as a concert devoted to music
of Virgil Thomson. Scott’s most recent premieres were in 2012 with
Boston Cecilia, in a concert he curated as their composer in
Scott’s most recent commission is for an opera for the Metropolitan
Opera and Lincoln Center Theatre. He is also working on a work for
baritone and orchestra, to be premiered in Panama in July 2013 and by
the Chamber Orchestra of Manitoba in January 2014. Scott’s music has
been commissioned and performed by Renée Fleming, Susanna Phillips,
Sanford Sylvan, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the
Marilyn Horne Foundation, the Mirror Visions Ensemble, Boston Cecilia,
Rockport Music, and many orchestras in the US and Europe. His work has
been performed at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, at the
Kammermusiksaal of the Berlin Philharmonie. Scott’s opera Democracy:
An American Comedy, on a libretto of Romulus Linney, was commissioned
by by Plácido Domingo for the Washington National Opera, which
premiered the work under the baton of Anne Manson. His chamber
symphony City of Shadows was commissioned by Kent Nagano and Deutsches
Symphonie-Orchestra Berlin. In recent seasons, his works have appeared
in concerts in Boston, Chicago, New York, Paris, Graz, Panama, Hong
Kong and Beijing.
Read more at Scott's own website and see Cantilena Director Allegra Martin's interview with Scott Wheeler.
Allegra comments on working with " The Jabberwocky."
The process of working on Scott Wheeler's setting of "Jabberwocky" has been a fun and challenging one for everyone involved! One of the challenges of the poem from my point of view is the several emotional levels on which it operates. It is clearly very funny, with a lot of the humor originating in the made-up words which are whimsical and goofy (like "slithy" and "Jubjub bird" and "whiffling" and "frabjous".) But I remember reading the poem as a child, and feeling that it was very creepy and threatening as well. Scott's musical setting deftly combines both the humor and the slightly sinister aura that hangs over the poem, and provides a great dramatic arc as well - the words of the last verse are the same as the first, but by the time we get there, we are happy and triumphant about the slaying of the Jabberwock, the threat is gone, and the sinister mood is entirely banished, replaced by a very exciting ending!