American Aria Recital, July 28

AMERICAN ARIA RECITAL: featuring works by Blitzstein, Lehrman and Seigmeister
Saturday July 28, 8 pm at The Peggy Corkum Music Room, 6181 Lady Hammond Road. 

HSOW has two very special guests with us this year: soprano Helene Williams and Dr Leonard Lehrman, American composer and Blitzstein scholar, who is coming up to help coach the Marc Blitzstein opera The Harpies and is also accompanying a concert of American Operatic Arias featuring works by Blitzstein, Elie Seigmeister (Lehrman’s teacher) and Lehrman himself.  Included are numbers from Blitzstein’s The Cradle will Rock, Regina, Juno and Sacco and Vanzetti, Seigmeister’s The Wizard of Altoona and The Plough and the Stars and Lehrman’s Karla and E.G.: A Musical Portrait of Emma Goldman. The pieces will be performed by young artists from the Halifax Summer Opera Workshop accompanied by Dr Lehrman, with special guests soprano Helene Williams and mezzo-soprano Nina Scott-Stoddart. Tickets available at the door, or reserve by emailing

Tickets $15, $10 for seniors and students

Leonard Lehrman is a talented composer and performer (a conductor, pianist and much else) in his own right; he has also done a great deal to further the memory and reputation of a man who was obviously one of his heroes – Marc Blitzstein. So much so, that Leonard Bernstein dubbed him “Marc Blitzstein’s dybbuk”– though he presumably didn’t intend to attribute to Lehrman the malice usually associated with dybbuks, but merely to dramatise the closeness of the musical association! Lehrman has completed or adapted some twenty works by Blitzstein (including a number of items on this CD); he edited – at the invitation of the Blitzstein estate – the three volumes of The Marc Blitzstein Songbook (1999-2003); 2005 saw the publication of his authoritative study Marc Blitzstein: A Bio-bibliography (Greenwood Press).

Blitzstein – who was, of course, a considerable influence on Bernstein himself – worked on, and across, the boundaries between ‘classical’ and ‘popular’ music in ways that were frequently very stimulating. His earliest work was often distinctly avant-gardeand experimental; he studied with both Schoenberg and Nadia Boulanger. But he increasingly turned to the composition of music in the service of – but not aesthetically limited by – his commitment to a range of social causes. Much of his best work went into a series of compositions for the musical theatre.

[box] Marcus Samuel Blitzstein, better known as Marc Blitzstein (March 2, 1905 – January 22, 1964), was an American composer. He won national attention in 1937 when his pro-union musical The Cradle Will Rock, directed by Orson Welles, was shut down by the Works Progress Administration. He is known for The Cradle Will Rock and for his Off-Broadway translation/adaptation of The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. His works also include the opera Regina, an adaptation of Lillian Hellman’s play The Little Foxes; the Broadway musical Juno, based on Seán O’Casey’s play Juno and the Paycock; and No for an Answer. He completed translation/adaptations of Brecht’s and Weill’s musical play Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and of Brecht’s play Mother Courage and Her Children with music by Paul Dessau. Blitzstein also composed music for films, such as Surf and Seaweed (1931) and The Spanish Earth (1937), and he contributed two songs to the original 1960 production of Hellman’s play Toys in the Attic. Read more at Wikipedia…[/box] [box] Elie Siegmeister (b. January 15, 1909, New York City – March 10, 1991, Manhasset, New York) was an American composer, educator and author. His varied musical output showed his concern with the development of an authentic American musical vocabulary. Jazz, blues and folk melodies and rhythms are frequent themes in his many song cycles, his nine operas, his eight symphonies, and his many choral, chamber, and solo works. His 37 orchestral works have been performed by leading orchestras throughout the world under such conductors as Arturo Toscanini, Leopold Stokowski, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Lorin Maazel, and Sergiu Comissiona. He also composed for Hollywood (notably, the film score of They Came to Cordura, starring Gary Cooper and Rita Hayworth, 1959) and Broadway (“Sing Out, Sweet Land,” 1944, book by Walter Kerr). Read more at Wikipedia…[/box]
[box] Leonard J[ordan] Lehrman was born in Kansas, on August 20, 1949, but grew up in Roslyn, NY, becoming the youngest (and longest) private composition student of Elie Siegmeister. Lehrman’s works number 204 to date, including 10 operas and 6 musicals, and have been heard throughout Europe, North America, Israel, Australia, and at the United Nations. Elie Siegmeister called Leonard “my continuator,” while Leonard Bernstein dubbed him “Marc Blitzstein’s dybbuk.” As the leading living expert on the works of Marc Blitzstein (1905–1964), 20 of which he has adapted/reconstructed/completed, including Tales of Malamud (Winner, 1978 Off-Broadway Award for “most important event of the season”), Lehrman was chosen by the Blitzstein Estate to edit The Marc Blitzstein Songbook, published by Boosey & Hawkes in 3 volumes (1999, 2001, 2003), and by Greenwood Press to complete the Blitzstein bio-bibliography in their series (published by Praeger Sept. 30, 2005). In February 2001, under contract with the Blitzstein Estate, he completed the vocal score of Blitzstein’s magnum opus, the opera Sacco and Vanzetti, having led a symposium on the subject at the National Opera Association convention in Boston in Dec., 1995. Read more at Wikipedia…[/box]