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Instrument of Destiny at Cathedral of Saint John the Divine

© Michael Yu - Patrick Zimmerli at Le Poisson Rouge

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine will present the first U.S. performance of Patrick Zimmerli’s World War I oratorio Alan Seeger: Instrument of Destiny as part of its 2019-2020 season of Great Music in a Great Space on Wednesday, November 20 at 7:30 pm at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue (at 112th Street), Manhattan. Kent Tritle, Director of Cathedral Music and Organist, conducts the Cathedral Choir, Orchestra, and soloists for this premiere performance. The libretto, by Mirabelle Ordinaire, is based upon diary entries, letters, and poems by Alan Seeger. Instrument of Destiny was created on June 7, 2017 at Cathedral St. Louis des Invalides.

Born on June 22, 1888, in New York City, Alan Seeger graduated from Harvard in 1910. After two years in the artistic milieu of New York’s Greenwich Village, and two more years spent among the American expatriate bohemian circles in Paris, he volunteered in the French Army's Foreign Legion in August 1914. For the 26-year old idealist, fighting for the cause of freedom and dying in war was the highest destiny a human being could achieve. During his two years of service in Champagne, on the Aisne, and in Alsace, he wrote some of his most beautiful poems, as well as letters and a journal, both detailed and lucid on the atrocities of the war, and passionately exalted regarding the ideals it defended. Seeger was killed in action during the first days of the Battle of the Somme, on July 4, 1916, America’s Independence Day.

Conceived by French director Mirabelle Ordinaire, with music by American jazz/classical composer Patrick Zimmerli, the piece features a selection of Seeger’s war poems set to music, as well as excerpts from his letters and diary entries. For this American premiere, American tenor Alex Richardson stars as Alan Seeger, along with the choir of the Cathedral Saint John the Divine, conducted by legendary Kent Tritle. The singers are accompanied by French rising-star jazz pianist Thomas Enhco and maverick percussionist David Rozenblatt.

About Patrick Zimmerli:

New York and Paris based composer/saxophonist Patrick Zimmerli writes a sophisticated yet approachable hybrid of contemporary, classical and jazz music. Recent collaborators include Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Kevin Hays, Larry Grenadier, Brian Blade, Luciana Souza, the Knights Orchestra and the Escher String Quartet. His music has been performed at Carnegie Hall and Town Hall in New York, Wigmore Hall in London, Salle Pleyel in Paris, the Konzerthaus in Vienna and the new SF Jazz Center.

About Thomas Enhco:

French musician Thomas Enhco has performed with many renowned musicians from a variety of genres. Mike Stern, Jane Birkin, Jack DeJohnette, Maxim Vengerov, Vadim Repin, Daniel Humair, Ibrahim Maalouf, and Bulgarian percussionist Vassilena Serafimova, are only a few of his recent collaborators. In trio or as a solo performer, Thomas Enhco is above all an inspired improviser, who, like his idol Keith Jarrett, likes to blur the boundaries between jazz and classical, and who is especially interested in placing the narrative at the heart of his music, be it lyrical or more introspective.


Students are admitted free of charge to select performances with a valid school ID.

This performance is presented in partnership with the Mission Centenaire, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, and the United States World War I Centennial Commission.

SOLOISTS
Alex Richardson, tenor
Thomas Enhco, piano
David Rozenblatt, percussion

PROGRAM
PATRICK ZIMMERLI
Instrument of Destiny (U.S. Premiere)
An oratorio on poetry of Alan Seeger

Watch the trailer here.

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