BMOP/sound, the country's foremost label launched by an orchestra and devoted exclusively to new music recordings, announces the November 1st release of its seventh album Lukas Foss: The Prairie.
Based on the epic poem of the same name by Carl Sandburg, The Prairie (1944) established Lukas Foss, who was at the time only twenty years old, as a significant new voice of American music. Funded through a 2006 American Masterpieces Choral Music grant awarded to the Providence Singers by the National Endowment for the Arts, the work is resurrected in this stunning recording, 64 years after its world premiere. With the prowess of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), the 100-voice Providence Singers chorus conducted by Artistic Director Andrew Clark, and guest soloists Elizabeth Weigle (soprano), Gigi Mitchell-Velasco (mezzo-soprano), Frank Kelley (tenor), and Aaron Engebreth (baritone), the symbolic ideas of liberty and hope are powerfully communicated.
A German-American composer, conductor, pianist, and professor, Foss was inspired to write The Prairie in part by Aaron Copeland's own efforts to compose classical music that was distinctively American. At a time when American culture—literature, painting and sculpture, film and photography, and music—was on the cusp of explosive post-war development, Foss was introduced to Carl Sandburg's 1918 collection of American-themed poetry, "The Cornhuskers," which included The Prairie. Uprooted in 1937 from a homeland devastated by the Third Reich and having since found refuge in the United States, Foss shared many of the romantic sentiments expressed in The Prairie. According to Foss, the poem "in its earthy and almost religious approach, is a new expression of an old faith drawn from the native soil." Moved by Sandburg's extraordinary journey through the landscapes and lives of the American Midwest, Foss embarked on a journey of his own, creating an iconic work of American classical music that embodies the élan vital of a generation of men and women braving industrialization in America.
The collaboration between the Providence Singers and BMOP is just the beginning of what will undoubtedly be a long and fruitful relationship between the two organizations. Conductor Andrew Clark says, "through this and future projects with BMOP, the Providence Singers hopes to reintroduce significant choral masterworks by legendary American composers in hopes of preserving and advancing our country's rich choral traditions." The next collaboration will be the world premiere recording of Pulitzer Prize and Grammy award-winning composer Dominick Argento's Jonah and the Whale. The release is scheduled for 2010.
BMOP/sound, the label of the acclaimed Boston Modern Orchestra Project, explores the evolution of the music formerly known as classical. Its eclectic catalog offers both rediscovered classics of the 20th century and the music of today's most influential and innovative composers. Lukas Foss: The Prairie is one of eight BMOP/sound recordings released in 2008: John Harbison: Ulysses (released March 1st); Michael Gandolfi: Y2K Compliant (released April 1st); Lee Hyla: Lives of the Saints featuring Mary Nessinger, mezzo-soprano (released May 1st); Gunther Schuller: Journey Into Jazz (released June 1st); Eric Sawyer: Our American Cousin (released July 1st); Charles Fussell: Wilde featuring Sanford Sylvan, baritone (released September 1st); and Derek Bermel: Voices in December. BMOP/sound recordings are distributed by Albany Music Distributors, coupled with global online distribution. An interactive BMOP website with digital download capabilities is planned for 2009. For more information, visit http://www.bmopsound.org.