World Premiere of Prelude and Spiritual for Mother Emanuel
Music by Robert Sirota & Text by Victoria Sirota
Part of New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace
Thursday, December 31, 2015 at 7pm
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street, NYC
Tickets: A limited number of general admission seats are free and open to the public, on a first-come, first-served basis. Ticketed seating is also available for $40 general admission and $100-$150 reserved seating. More information and tickets available at www.stjohndivine.org
Robert Sirota: www.robertsirota.com
New York, NY – Robert and Victoria Sirota team up again to create Prelude and Spiritual for Mother Emanuel, with text by Victoria and music by Robert, which will be premiered at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine’s New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace, on December 31, 2015 at 7pm. The work, for chorus, soprano soloist, string orchestra, and piano, is written in memory of the victims of the June 17, 2015 shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and is dedicated to their families. Kent Tritle will lead the Cathedral Choir and orchestra, with soprano soloist Jamet Pittman. The program also includes Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and features Judy Collins. The annual New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace was founded by Leonard Bernstein in 1984 and has gathered old friends and new for more than a quarter of a century.
“Prelude and Spiritual for Mother Emanuel is written in memory of the nine faithful souls who were murdered during a Bible Class in an act of racist terrorism on 17 June 2015 at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and is dedicated to their families who revealed a deep faith in a loving God when they were able to express forgiveness to the killer two days later,” says Victoria Sirota.
This is Robert Sirota’s third out of four world premieres in November, December, and January. On November 8, his Tree of Life commissioned by Palladium Musicum, Inc. and also featuring a libretto by Victoria Sirota, was premiered by The Yale Camerata Chamber Chorus. On November 20, his piece Epimetheus was premiered by new music ensemble yMusic at New York Live Arts. Sirota’s new work for organ, Chorale Variations on Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten, will receive its world premiere on Friday, January 29, 2016 at 8pm at St. Cecilia’s Parish in Boston in a recital by Heinrich Christensen, who will give the New York premiere on February 7, 2016 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. In addition to the new work, both concerts will feature Sirota’s Celestial Wind as well as two pieces by Boston composer and longtime colleague Graham Gordon Ramsay.
Over four decades, composer Robert Sirota has developed a distinctive voice, clearly discernible in all of his work – whether symphonic, choral, stage, or chamber music. The New York Times has described his style as, “fashioned with the clean, angular melodies, tart harmonies, lively syncopations and punchy accents of American Neo-Classicism,” and writes, “Thick, astringent chromatic harmonies come in tightly bound chords to create nervous sonorities. Yet the textures are always lucid; details come through.”
Sirota’s works have been performed by orchestras across the US and Europe, ensembles such as Sequitur; Chameleon Arts; Dinosaur Annex; the Chiara, American, Ethel, and Blair String Quartets; the Peabody and Webster Trios; and at music festivals such as Tanglewood and Aspen. His liturgical works include three major commissions for the American Guild of Organists.
Sirota has received composer grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, United States Information Agency, National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, and the American Music Center. His works are recorded on the Capstone, Albany, New Voice, and Gasparo labels and his music is published by Muzzy Ridge Music, Schott, Music Associates of New York, MorningStar, Theodore Presser, and To the Fore.
A native New Yorker, Sirota received his music education at Juilliard, Oberlin, and Harvard and lives between New York and Searsmont, Maine with his wife, Episcopal priest and organist Victoria Sirota. They frequently collaborate on new works, with Victoria as librettist and performer, at times also working with their children, Jonah and Nadia, both world-class violists. For more information, visit www.robertsirota.com.
About Victoria R. Sirota
Victoria R. Sirota, organist, author, librettist and Episcopal priest, holds degrees from Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Boston University and Harvard Divinity School, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College. She studied organ in Amsterdam with Gustav Leonhardt and in Paris with André Marchal. She has played numerous organ recitals in France, Germany and the United States and has been heard on radio broadcasts both here and abroad. She has premiered over a dozen organ compositions by her husband Robert Sirota, most recently on the 1830 Thomas Appleton Organ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Victoria Sirota has taught at Yale Divinity School, Yale Institute of Sacred Music, The Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary and University, and Boston University. Awards include the Bishop’s Award for Outstanding Ordained Ministry, the Ecumenical Service Award from the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council, and the Newington-Cropsey Foundation Award for Excellence in the Arts. The author of articles, reviews and hymns, she wrote the libretto for the cantata Holy Women commissioned by Palladium Musicum with music by Robert Sirota premiered at Saint Bede’s Chapel in Greenwich, CT. She is recorded on Northeastern, Gasparo and Albany Records. Her book Preaching to the Choir: Claiming the Role of Sacred Musician is available from Church Publishing.
The Rev. Canon Sirota is currently Canon Pastor and Vicar of the Congregation at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City.