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World Premiere of Composer Robert Sirota’s Two Variations on America the Beautiful, Commissioned by Min Kwon for her America/Beautiful Project

July 9, 2021 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm CDT

On Friday, July 9, 2021 at 5 PM CT | 6 PM ET, pianist Min Kwon will give the world premiere of composer Robert Sirota’s Two Variations on America the Beautiful, presented by Death of Classical’s Angel’s Share series at Green-Wood Cemetery (500 25th St., Brooklyn, NY). Sirota composed these variations – “. . . alabaster cities . . .” and “. . . God mend thine every flaw . . .” – as part of Min Kwon’s project America/Beautiful, for which she commissioned a diverse group of more than 70 of today’s leading American composers to each compose a variation on America the Beautiful. In addition to Sirota, the composers on July 9 include Timo Andres, Sebastian Currier, Tyson Davis, Fred Hersch, Vijay Iyer, Tania León, George Lewis, Miya Masaoka, Paul Moravec, Nico Muhly, Paola Prestini, Gity Razaz, and Melinda Wagner.

Tickets and more information here.

Kwon’s goal was to paint a sonic picture of her adopted country in all of its sprawling complexity, and ultimately try to find the beauty at the core of the American experiment and its credo of e pluribus unum (out of many, one). She explains, “Ultimately this project is about embracing our diversity, and remembering that by understanding, appreciating, and celebrating our differences, we become stronger both as individuals and as a country. The fact that 70 composers can hear the same song in a completely different way is, to me, something truly beautiful.” The 70+ world premiere performances that make up America/Beautiful will take place over six days, beginning July 4, 2021, with a series of free streamed video performances by Kwon followed by discussions with the composers.

Of his Two Variations on America the Beautiful, Sirota says, “Every new work presents particular challenges. In this case, the challenge is composing short variations intended as part of a large communal work. Given that the subject is America, the form of this project could not be more appropriate. Our country is supposed to be about creating unity out of diversity; about making sure that all voices are heard, that no single voice shouts the others down. To do this while celebrating the beauty and distinctiveness of every individual voice is what we are working towards. ‘ . . . alabaster cities . . .’ is a view of our country as seen from 30,000 feet. A dream, an ideal, an aspiration, never to be completely achieved, always to be striven for. ‘. . . God mend thine every flaw . . .’ brings that aspiration down to ground level, where the real work goes on every day to form a ‘more perfect union.”

Each performance on July 9 begins with an hour-long reception featuring a complimentary whiskey tasting. The journey to and from the Catacombs for the musical performance takes approximately 20-30 minutes, which includes walking over hilly and uneven terrain; proper footwear is recommended. The program inside the Catacombs will run for approximately one hour with no intermission. Health and safety protocols will be strictly enforced, including wearing a mask and keeping a distance of at least 6 feet from those not in your party. Attendees must provide a negative COVID test result or proof of completed vaccination and fill out a health survey in advance of the event.