• Tuesday, Aug 31, 2010

    Weill Music Institute Presents Too Hot to Handel: The Gospel Messiah Project with NYC Students



    As Hundreds of New York City High School Students Head Back to School,
    They Prepare for Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity to Perform with
    World-Class Orchestra at Carnegie Hall on November 14 and
    World Premieres of Student-Composed Works on November 21

    For More Information on Weill Music Institute Programs
    Visit: carnegiehall.org/weillmusicinstitute

    This fall, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) teams up with conductor Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to bring an exciting choral creative learning project to hundreds of New York City high school students. As choir students from six New York City high schools—located in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx—head back to school this fall, they will begin the final rehearsal process for WMI’s Too Hot to Handel: The Gospel Messiah Project, becoming active participants in the creative process and preparing for the once in a lifetime opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Marin Alsop on Sunday, November 14 at 4:00 p.m. A related songwriting workshop for select students involved in the project culminates with a performance of their own student-written compositions and excerpts from the larger piece in Zankel Hall on Sunday, November 21 at 3:00 p.m.

    “Once a student becomes a performer at this level, he or she will never listen to music the same way again,” said Sarah Johnson, Director of the Weill Music Institute. “Creative learning projects, like this one, create an environment in which students are actively involved in the music-making process, which can have a lasting impact on their lives and the role of music in their lives.”

    The centerpiece of this project, a musical work conceived by Ms. Alsop, is Too Hot to Handel: The Gospel Messiah, based on Handel’s famous work (and a holiday favorite). More than 250 years after Handel’s Messiah was written, it remains one of the most performed and popular choral works, loved by audiences all over the world. During performances of the Messiah, the "Hallelujah Chorus" is known for getting people on their feet, and this sense of excitement prompted Ms. Alsop to suggest giving the Messiah a new twist. Too Hot to Handel: The Gospel Messiah—co-arranged and orchestrated by Ms. Alsop’s colleagues Bob Christianson and Gary Anderson—takes the timeless brilliance of Handel’s Messiah, and infuses it with jazz, gospel, rock, and R&B. Since its premiere in New York City by the Concordia Orchestra in 1993, this piece has become a holiday staple with orchestras and audiences around the world. During the performance on November 14, audiences will be provided sheet music from the “Hallelujah Chorus” and encouraged to sing along with the student choir.

    “In thinking about the Messiah specifically,” explains Ms. Alsop, “I thought about how much Handel would have liked it to be reinvented. It really lends itself, in my opinion, to different kinds of stylistic treatments. The melodies are the same; the text is the same. What is different about it is the feel and the orchestration and the harmonic additions. But the basic DNA of the piece is identical to Handel’s intent, and I think that’s what is very important to me, to maintain the integrity of the piece.”

    The Weill Music Institute’s Too Hot to Handel project began in spring 2010, with students learning excerpts of this high-energy music in their own classrooms and coming together as a chorus with peers from across the city for a performance of excerpts for friends and family at Harlem Stage in Upper Manhattan in May 2010. This fall, students will continue the intensive preparation with rehearsals in their schools each week, final rehearsals at Carnegie Hall, all leading up to the Carnegie Hall performance on November 14. Soloists on the Carnegie Hall program include soprano Kecia Lewis-Evans, mezzo-soprano Vaneese Thomas, and tenor Darius de Haas.

    In addition to the large-scale choral project for hundreds of students, select students involved in the project have also been given the opportunity to participate in a more intimate songwriting workshop inspired by The Gospel Messiah. Working with professional composers, students from three of these New York City high schools have been asked to explore the possibilities inherent in re-inventing or re-mixing a “masterwork.” Since the spring, these students have become composers themselves, re-inventing masterpieces of their own choosing, such as “The Flower Duet” from the Léo Delibes’s opera Lakmé and pop favorite Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” These students will perform the world premieres of these original works and all six choirs will perform excerpts from Too Hot to Handel: The Gospel Messiah in Zankel Hall on Sunday, November 21.

    “I am indescribably excited and honored to be making my Carnegie Hall debut!” said Annmarie Errico, 17, senior at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens. “It will be an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

    “When Tom Cabaniss [one of the composers working on this project] is behind a piano, he turns into a student,” said George Pedraza, 17, senior at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens. “We all become composers through the process, while he becomes a student, learning from our ideas. Working with Tom is learning how it should be. A group effort.”

    Coming to carnegiehall.org this fall: Check out weekly video webisodes detailing the students’ work on Too Hot to Handel: The Gospel Messiah Project, beginning in late September.

    Participating Schools  

    *Frank Sinatra School of the Arts
    *Bayside High School
    *Fordham High School for the Arts
    Urban Assembly School for the
    Performing Arts
    Songs of Solomon
    Edward R. Murrow High School

    35-12 35th Ave, Long Island City, NY 11106
    32-34 Corp Kennedy St. Queens, NY 11361
    500 East Fordham Rd. Bronx, NY 10458
    509 West 129th Street, New York, NY 10027

    133 West 138th St. Suite 3A, New York, NY 10030
    1600 Avenue L, Brooklyn, NY 11230

    * indicates the schools that are participating in the songwriting workshop and will premiere their new pieces on November 21.

    Too Hot To Handel: The Gospel Messiah Project marks the second time that Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute has partnered with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on a creative learning project that engages New York City students. Reflecting and honoring Leonard Bernstein’s role as an extraordinary educator, The Bernstein Mass Project was a key component of Carnegie Hall’s and the New York Philharmonic’s citywide festival Bernstein: The Best of All Possible Worlds during the fall of 2008. It brought together hundreds of students to perform Bernstein’s 1971 Mass and explore its themes of faith, doubt, tolerance, and renewal of tradition. The New York Times wrote about the project’s final concert, “If only Bernstein could have been at the United Palace Theater in Washington Heights on Saturday afternoon. There is nothing like young performers to refresh older pieces. And the performance of Bernstein's ‘Mass’ that Marin Alsop conducted at this palatial former vaudeville house involved hundreds of young, inspired and inspiring performers.”

    About the Artists
    Hailed as one of the world's leading conductors for her artistic vision and commitment to accessibility in classical music, Marin Alsop made history with her appointment as the twelfth music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO). With her inaugural concerts in September 2007, she became the first woman to head a major American orchestra, mirroring her ongoing success in the United Kingdom as principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony since 2002. Since becoming the BSO's Music Director, she has garnered national and international attention for her innovative programming and artistry. In 2005, she was named a MacArthur Fellow, the first and only conductor ever to receive this most prestigious American award. In 2007, she was honored with a European Women of Achievement Award, presented to individuals whose vision, courage and determination have made a major impact on increasing the influence of women on European affairs. A native of New York City, Ms. Alsop attended Yale University and received her master's degree from The Juilliard School. In 1989, her conducting career was launched when she was a prizewinner at the Leopold Stokowski International Conducting Competition in New York, and in the same year was awarded the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize at the Tanglewood Music Center.

    The Grammy Award-winning Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is internationally recognized as having achieved a preeminent place among the world's orchestras. Acclaimed for its enduring pursuit of artistic excellence, the BSO has attracted a devoted national and international following while maintaining deep bonds throughout Maryland with innovative education and community outreach initiatives. The orchestra made musical history in September 2007, when Maestra Marin Alsop led her inaugural concerts as the BSO's twelfth music director, making her the first woman to head a major American orchestra. With her highly praised artistic vision, her dynamic musicianship and her commitment to accessibility in classical music, Ms. Alsop's directorship has ushered in a new era for the BSO and its audiences. Under Music Director Marin Alsop’s leadership, the BSO has rapidly added several critically acclaimed albums to its already impressive discography. The BSO recently released Dvorák’s Symphonies Nos. 6, 7 and 8, the final two discs in its three-disc Dvorák cycle. In August 2009, the BSO and Marin Alsop released Bernstein’s Mass featuring baritone Jubilant Sykes, the Morgan State University Choir and the Peabody Children’s Chorus. The album rose to number six on the Classical Billboard Charts and received a 2009 Grammy nomination for Best Classical Album. In addition to the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, where the orchestra has performed for 27 years, the BSO is a founding partner and the resident orchestra at the new state-of-the-art Music Center at Strathmore, just outside Washington, D.C. With the opening of Strathmore in February 2005, the BSO became the nation’s only major orchestra with year-round venues in two metropolitan areas.

    The Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall
    The Weill Music Institute creates broad-reaching music education and community programs that play a central role in Carnegie Hall’s commitment to making great music accessible to as wide an audience as possible. Woven into the fabric of the Carnegie Hall concert season, these programs occur at Carnegie Hall as well as in schools and throughout neighborhoods, providing musical opportunities for everyone, from preschoolers to adults, new listeners to emerging professionals. With access to the world’s greatest artists and latest technologies, the Weill Music Institute is uniquely positioned to inspire the next generation of music lovers, to nurture tomorrow’s musical talent, and to shape the evolution of musical learning itself. The Weill Music Institute’s school and community programs annually serve over 115,000 children, students, teachers, parents, young music professionals, and adults in the New York metropolitan area and across the US, as well as 65,000 people around the world through its online and distance learning initiatives.

    For more information, please visit: carnegiehall.org/weillmusicinstitute.

    Program Information
    Sunday, November 14, 2010 at 4:00 p.m.
    Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
    Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

    Marin Alsop, Music Director and Conductor
    Kecia Lewis-Evans, Soprano
    Vaneese Thomas, Mezzo-Soprano
    Darius de Haas, Tenor
    Leslie Stifelman, Music Supervisor
    Choirs from:
    Bayside High School
    Edward R. Murrow High School
    Fordham High School for the Arts
    Frank Sinatra School of the Arts
    Songs of Solomon
    Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts

    BOB CHRISTIANSON / GARY ANDERSON Too Hot to Handel (based on HANDEL’s Messiah, original concept by Marin Alsop)

    A mass choir of New York City students joins Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Too Hot to Handel. This full-length work has thrilled audiences across the country with its blend of the timeless brilliance of Handel's Messiah with an invigorating infusion of jazz, gospel, rock, and R&B.

    Tickets: $19, $38, $50

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 3:00 p.m.
    Zankel Hall

    Choirs from:
    Bayside High School
    Fordham High School for the Arts
    Frank Sinatra School of the Arts

    Tickets: Free (Tickets will be distributed on day of performance. Limit two per person.)

    Bank of America is the Proud Season Sponsor of Carnegie Hall. 

    Ticket Information
    Tickets are available at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, 154 West 57th Street, or can be charged to major credit cards by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 or by visiting the Carnegie Hall website, carnegiehall.org.

    For Carnegie Hall Corporation presentations taking place in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, a limited number of seats, priced at $10, will be available day-of-concert beginning at 11:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 12:00 noon on Sunday until one hour before the performance or until supply lasts. The exceptions are Carnegie Hall Family Concerts and gala events. These $10 tickets are available to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis at the Carnegie Hall Box Office only. There is a two-ticket limit per customer.

    In addition, for all Carnegie Hall presentations in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage a limited number of partial view (seats with obstructed or limited sight lines or restricted leg room) will be sold for 50% of the full price. For more information on this and other discount ticket programs, including those for students, Notables members, and Bank of America customers, visit carnegiehall.org/discounts.




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