Pulitzer Prize winning composer in the mid-state for landmark performance

May 9, 2017

Credit nashvillesymphony.org

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  The Nashville Symphony and Chorus will make history this week when they create the first-ever recording of the 9-11 inspired Requiem.

Symphony Chorus Director Tucker Biddlecombe says the piece was written by Pulitzer Prize winning American composer John Harbison following one of the worst days in the nation’s history.

“It was written shortly after the attacks on 9-11 and in response to that pretty horrible day. It’s not a programmatic piece. Instead it’s just sort of an emotional response to that time.”

In a press statement, the symphony says John Harbison is in Music City this week to work with the orchestra, chorus and soloists as they prepare to perform his Requiem this weekend. The work is said to draw on ancient Latin sacred music traditions as it explores “themes of loss and transcendence.”

Tucker Biddlecombe notes that Requiem has only been performed a handful of times. He says preparing the chorus to present such a recent work presents some interesting challenges.

“I opened it up and it was a handwritten score in Mr. Harbison’s handwriting. So there was no printed score. So the first thing that I did was I got to work engraving a score and program.”

Biddlecombe says composer Harbison is an accomplished singer and has used that knowledge in Requiem to push the chorus and soloists to the very limits of the human voice.

The symphony and chorus will be joined by soprano Jessica Revera, mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens, tenor Nicholas Phan and baritone Kelly Markgraf.

Giancarlo Guerrero will conduct. The Requiem recording will be distributed by the Naxos label.

Robert Schumann's Symphony Number One is also on the bill for the Friday and Saturday performances.

You can review show times and ticket prices on the symphony website.