‘America The Beautiful’: Glimpses of an American Songbook
Acclaimed mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves will sing a concert of music by American composers on September 25th at the Phillips Collection modern art museum located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Miss Graves was born in Washington, DC, graduated from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in 1981, and went on to study at Oberlin Conservatory and New England Conservatory before embarking on her professional career at the Wolf Trap Opera Company. She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1995 as Carmen – a role she has sung there more than 40 times.
Leslie Adams (b. 1932) is an African-American composer whose works include the opera Blake based on the nineteenth-century novel by Martin Delany which recounts the story of a slave who resolves to lead his people out of bondage on the eve of the Civil War. Adams’s other works includes an extensive output of songs. In the early 1960s, Adams met Langston Hughes (1902–1967), the great poet of the Harlem Renaissance, who gave permission to set some of his poems, including Prayer. Adams subsequently set more poems by Hughes and other African-American writers to create Nightsongs, a cycle first performed in New York on 1 December 1961. Prayer has remained the most popular song from this set.
Other works on the program will include music by Samuel Ward, Aaron Copland, Jake Heggie, George Gershwin, Gene Scheer, and more.