[CUA Office of Public Affairs]   


                                                                                                            March 4, 2005


CUA Presents ‘Waging Peace: Music in Time of War’
Third Annual President’s Concert Will Premier New Work by 19 Local Composers



WASHINGTON, D.C.The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at The Catholic University of America presents “Waging Peace: Music in Time of War,” as its Third Annual President’s Concert  — the highlight of the university’s performance calendar — to be performed over four evenings beginning Thursday, April 14, and continuing through Sunday, April 17. Each nightly installment of the concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. 


The concerts will be staged at the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center, located on the CUA campus, 620 Michigan Ave., N.E. Directions/maps are located at: http://welcome.cua.edu/. 


Conceived by Murry Sidlin, the dean of CUA’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, the concert in four parts will feature a broad range of musical selections recalling America’s battles from the Civil War through the Vietnam era. Highlights will include the April 15 performance of Henryk Gorecki’s “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs” and the April 16 world premiere of “Songs of the Forgotten War,” a new work by 19 regional composers. Each composer in the group contributed to the piece — commissioned to honor Korean War veterans — by studying one of the 19 life-sized bronze soldiers in the Korean War Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and composing one minute of music that pays homage to the soldier.


The concerts will conclude with the April 17 concert/drama performance of Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem,” a 1962 piece commissioned for the reconsecration of a British cathedral destroyed during World War II. It was conceived as a public statement of Britten’s anti-war sentiments, and combines the Latin Mass for the Dead with excerpts from the poetry of World War I casualty Wilfred Owen. In addition to the original score, Sidlin has created dramatic readings and video interpretations to accompany the concert/drama performance. 


Selections from previous nights will include Civil War-era folk songs like “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye,” popular WWII-era jitterbug hits like “Over There” and “The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from Company C” and protest music from the Vietnam War era.


“These concerts are all related to the theme of music in service of mankind during great conflict and strife,” Sidlin said. “The music becomes an inspired vision toward a higher human ideal. It has been created by or honors people who have been confronted with the worst of mankind, and reminds us how the arts can represent the best of mankind.”


In addition to the four-part concert, CUA musicologist Grayson Wagstaff has organized a President’s Symposia to accompany the “Waging Peace” performances. Films, lectures and roundtable discussions will be held at CUA from April 11 through April 16. For a complete listing of concert and symposia information, visit the “Waging Peace” Online Press Kit.


This spring’s production at CUA will feature the CUA Orchestra, conducted by Sidlin and Kate

Tamarkin; the CUA Chorus, conducted by Leo Nestor; and the CUA Musical Theatre Company, directed by Jane Pesci-Townsand and N. Thomas Pedersen. Principal singers will include soprano Maureen Francis, baritone Stephen Gaertner, soprano Sharon Christman and tenor Mark Schowalter.


Sidlin is an award-winning conductor whose concert/drama productions of Bernstein’s “MASS” and “Defiant Requiem” both explored similar themes of the transcendental and healing power of music in times of war and civil strife. For 10 years the Baltimore native has directed the New Year’s Eve gala concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to great acclaim. 


“Defiant Requiem,” a concert/drama he conceived, researched and wrote to tell the story of a group of prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp, was taped by PBS and aired across the country. The concert/drama recounts how imprisoned conductor Rafael Schächter marshaled and prepared more than 150 of his fellow captives to perform Giuseppi Verdi’s “Requiem” as a secret form of rebellion against the Nazis. The critically acclaimed production was first performed in April 2002, when Sidlin was resident conductor of the Oregon Symphony. The PBS production won the Bronze Plaque at the 51st Columbus International Film & Video Festival and the New York Film Festival’s Gold World Medal, its top award for television programming and promotions.



TICKETS:         Symposia events are free; tickets are required for each President’s Concert

performance. Performance tickets for “Waging Peace” are: $25, $15 and $10 per night. For tickets or more information, contact 202-319-5416.


MEDIA:             The media is welcome to cover the symposia and concert performances. Contact Chris Harrison or Katie Lee in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600 to arrange for advance interviews or to secure media passes to symposia events or the “Waging Peace” performances.


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Music studies at The Catholic University of America began in 1927.  The Department of Music was established in 1950, and the School of Music in 1965. It was named in 1984 in honor of Benjamin T. Rome, alumnus, trustee emeritus, and longtime friend and benefactor. The music school offers both undergraduate and graduate programs of study in performance of instrumental music (including chamber music and orchestral studies), piano, voice (including choral music and opera), composition and theory, musicology, conducting, musical theater, music education, voice and piano pedagogy. New programs include the Institute of Sacred Music, and an emphasis within the composition program of composing for the theater. The music school designs programs and curricula that inspire young musicians to be imaginative in developing audiences, in providing musical service throughout communities, and in connecting with the evolution of American arts institutions and new ways that professional artists can and do serve humanity. The music school, through its Studio X sessions, regularly presents major performers, renowned composers, music technologists, critics and arts administrators to lecture and work with students. The studies within curricula are solidly traditional and the paths for students are diverse and often new. 


The Catholic University of America, an institution of higher learning in Washington, D.C., is unique as the national university of the Catholic Church in America. Founded in 1887 and chartered by Congress, the university opened as a graduate and research institution. Undergraduate programs were introduced in 1904. Today the private and coeducational campus has approximately 5,900 undergraduate and graduate students from all states and 90 countries enrolled in 11 schools of architecture and planning, arts and sciences, canon law, engineering, law, library and information science, music, nursing, philosophy, social service, and theology and religious studies.




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Revised: 4/4/2005

All contents copyright © 2005.
The Catholic University of America,
Office of Public Affairs.