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Strings of Autumn: Julia Wolfe

Forum Karlín, Pernerova 53, Praha 8 - Karlín, 186 00
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7. 11. 2017

Julia Wolfe: Anthracite Fields

Bang on a Can All-Stars

Martinů Voices, chormaister Lukáš Vasilek

A moving oratorio for choir and chamber ensemble that tells the story of coal miners in Pennsylvania at the turn of the 20thcentury, Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields is one of the most remarkable pieces of ‘new music’ to emerge in recent years, and a deserving recipient of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

The work – whose libretto makes use of oral history, mining lore, advertisements, and interviews Wolfe herself conducted with miners and their families – is at once deeply human and politically resonant. Music, text, and images combine to tell the story of the miners, evoking the horrors of life underground (anthracite is the purest form of coal, and notoriously difficult to mine) as well as the lighter moments in their lives. Antrhacite Fields is a piece that manages to sound both intensely physical and meditative by turns, as elements of American folk and classical music intertwine to haunting effect. It is hard to disagree with the Los Angeles Times’ assessment of the piece as a ‘major, profound work.’

Julia Wolfe is one of the world’s most respected composers of contemporary music. In addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize for Anthracite Fields, she received a 2016 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellowship in 2016. Bang on a Can All-Stars, the legendary ensemble co-founded by Wolfe, played on the 2015 recording of Anthracite Fields, and is considered among the world leaders in interpretation of contemporary music. Martinu Voices, led by Lukas Vasilek, is perhaps the foremost chamber vocal ensemble in the country, and performed at Strings of Autumn in 2016 in a concert showcasing Zdenek Liska’s music for the film Marketa Lazarova.

Anthracite Fields receives its Czech Republic premiere at Strings of Autumn, and Julia Wolfe herself will be in attendance, giving an on-stage interview to discuss both the piece and her work in general.


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