A Lincoln Bicentennial Commission national event, "a modern opera on the last hours of Abraham Lincoln's life," will have its concert premiere at 8 pm, Saturday, March 31, in the Buckley Recital Hall at Amherst College.
Our American Cousin is the work of award-winning Amherst College composer Eric Sawyer and is named for the Broadway comedy Lincoln was watching the night he was slain. But it's far from just a reconstruction of the tragedy. Sawyer and librettist John Shoptaw have created a rich and powerful piece that explores themes of morality, duty, and the human cost of war that still resonate for Americans today.
The Boston Modern Opera Project, considered one of Boston's most innovative arts groups, will perform the piece, along with professional singers from Boston, New York, and the Pioneer Valley, and the Amherst College Concert Choir. Admission is free.
Sawyer is an assistant professor of music at Amherst who studied with Pulitzer prize-winning composer Leon Kirchner and won honors for his compositions at the Tanglewood Music Center. The Washington Post said Sawyer "weaves powerful statements into" his music, while the American Record Guide called him "a composer of considerable skill and stature." Sawyer's work has been released on the Albany Records label.
Our American Cousin is endorsed by the federal Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and is sponsored by Amherst College. The performance will be recorded for commercial release.