The Catholic University of America

Feb. 16, 2009

Catholic University 2009 President's Festival of the Arts Presents If It's Not One Thing, It's Another
CUA Celebrates Influences of Art on Music with Performances and Lectures

From March 9 to March 22, CUA's Benjamin T. Rome School of Music will present the seventh annual Catholic University President's Festival of the Arts: If It's Not One Thing, It's Another.

The 2009 festival will feature five musical performances:

  • Stephen Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park with George" by CUA's musical theater program
  • Mendelssohn's "Elijah" by The Catholic University of America Chorus and Symphony Orchestra
  • Works of Claude Debussy, Mendelssohn, Copland and CUA professor Joseph Santo by the CUA Symphony Orchestra
  • Works of Dvorak, Beach and CUA Professor Stephen Gorbos by the Rome Trio
  • Original music for silent film and dance by Washington D.C.'s Snark Ensemble

The two-week celebration will also include guest lectures on Sondheim and Mendelssohn.

"This festival explores how art evolves, how composers translate and transition the original 'something' into something different," says Murry Sidlin, dean of music. "A composer stares at a painting and sees the figures come to life on a Broadway stage; a composer is deeply moved by the presence and visions of a Biblical prophet, and an oratorio is born; and this year, a new composition has been born from a 1938 radio broadcast recording at CUA that was described in CUA Magazine.

"From folk-life to string trio, from Lincoln's words on the back of an envelope to a symphonic portrait, this festival shows that If It's Not One Thing, It's Another," Sidlin continues. "The festival is a series of events that allow us to contemplate the inspired moment when the composer was moved by that original 'something,' and then ran to his/her desk to create something new."

An award-winning conductor, Sidlin has produced Wilder and Wilder, Thornton that is…; Aaron Copland's America; and Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin as CUA festivals in previous years. CUA students traveled to Terezin in 2006 to perform Sidlin's Defiant Requiem and have been invited back again this summer to perform at the international Conference on Holocaust Era Assets.

For more information about If It's Not One Thing, It's Another, call 202-319-5414 or visit The lectures and workshop are free and open to the public. Tickets to "Sunday in the Park with George" and the orchestra performance are $15 for general admission and $10 for students, seniors, and CUA faculty and staff. CUA is located at 620 Michigan, N.E., Washington, D.C.

Monday, March 9
4:10 p.m., Lecture: Stephen Sondheim
Ward Hall, John Paul Hall, Catholic University

Mark Horowitz, author of Sondheim on Music: Minor Details and Major Decisions on Stephen Sondheim, will deliver a lecture on the American composer and lyricist.

Tuesday, March 10
7:30 p.m., Performance by Rome Trio
Ward Hall, Ward Recital Hall, Catholic University

The school of music's Rome Trio presents an evening of music by Dvorak, Beach and Stephen Gorbos, assistant professor of music. The Rome Trio features violinist Jody Gatwood, associate professor of music; cellist Michael Mermagen, assistant professor of music; and pianist Ivo Kaltchev, associate professor of music. Soprano Sharon Christman, associate professor of music, will accompany the trio.

Wednesday, March 11
7:30 p.m., Multimedia Performance: "Silent Explosions, Invisible Jumps: Music, Dance and Film Create a Ruckus"
Ward Hall, Ward Recital Hall, Catholic University

Andrew Simpson, associate professor of music and silent film composer, will coordinate a multimedia performance event. Seven original scores for silent films written by CUA composers will be performed by the D.C.-based Snark Ensemble (with Simpson on piano). The ensemble will alternately provide accompaniment for seven dance performances as well as seven screenings of the silent films that originally inspired the musical scores. For more information, visit

Friday, March 13, through Sunday, March 15
Performance: Stephen Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park with George"
Hartke Theatre, Catholic University

The music school's Musical Theater program will present "Sunday in the Park with George," directed by Jane Pesci-Townsend. The musical was inspired by the Georges Seurat pointillist painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." It revolves around a fictionalized Seurat working on his painting. Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Monday, March 16
4:10 p.m., Lecture: Mendelssohn and the Old Testament
Ward Hall, John Paul Hall, Catholic University
Larry Todd, professor of music at Duke University, will discuss Mendelssohn and the Old Testament.

Tuesday, March 17
11:10 a.m., Lecture: "A Plea for Justice: Catholic University and the American Church's Condemnation of the Nazis in 1938"
Ward Hall, John Paul Hall, Catholic University

Maria Mazzenga, CUA archivist, and Joseph Santo, assistant dean of the music school, will discuss the 1938 broadcast from CUA of a radio program condemning Nazi atrocities. Mazzenga will discuss the historical significance of the broadcast, relating it to both the university's history and to American Catholic-Jewish relations in the 1930s. Santo's new work "Malachey Elyon," which will be performed by the CUA Symphony Orchestra on March 18, was inspired by the radio broadcast.

Wednesday, March 18
7:30 p.m., Performance: CUA Symphony Orchestra with the CUA Women's Chorus
Hartke Theatre, Catholic University
CUA Symphony Orchestra, with David Searle conducting, will present music of Claude Debussy and Mendelssohn as well as Copland's "A Lincoln Portrait," which will be narrated by Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., Catholic University president. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the births of both Lincoln and Mendelssohn.

Joseph Santo, assistant dean of music, will also present "Malachey Elyon," an original work based on radio broadcast recordings discovered in CUA's archives featuring the responses of several U.S. bishops and leading Catholics to Nazi persecution during World War II.

Friday, March 20, and Sunday, March 22
8 p.m. Performance: Mendelssohn's "Elijah, Op. 70"
St. Matthew's Cathedral, 1725 Rhode Island Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C.
The Catholic University of America Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Leo Nestor, Justine Bayard Ward Professor of Music, present Mendelssohn's "Elijah, Op. 70." The oratorio draws on the Old Testament and the books of Kings to recreate events in the life of the prophet Elijah. The performance will be presented in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the composer's birth.

Soloists will include: Voice Professor Eugene Galvin (M.M 1981), bass-baritone; eight-time Grammy winner John Aler (B.M. 1971, M.M. 1972), tenor; Voice Professor Arianna Zukerman, soprano; and Marjorie Bunday, mezzo sporano. Bunday has appeared as a soloist with many U.S. ensembles.

A freewill offering will be collected.

MEDIA: To cover festival events, contact Mary McCarthy or Katie Lee in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.