It all began last fall with a stirring performance of The Road of Promise that drew together the UMD Symphony Orchestra, Concert Choir, Maryland Opera Studio, and alumni. The University’s Kurt Weill Festival, part of the Year of Immigration, has continued with concerts, talks and lectures, and a Weill seminar taught by musicologist Olga Haldey. Now the festival is poised to bloom just in time for the onset of spring, with three performances coming within the next four weeks.
As an appetizer of sorts, UMD welcomes Weill interpreter extraordinaire Ute Gfrerer on 29 March. She will perform the program “An Affair to Remember” with pianist and faculty member Tim McReynolds, mixing unforgettable renditions of Weill’s songs from across his career with biographical commentary on Weill and Lotte Lenya. Gfrerer also serves as a Kurt Weill Mentor as part of the festival.
Shortly afterwards, not one but three Weill stage works hit the boards. First a double bill of Weill’s first stage work, the ballet-pantomime Zaubernacht (1922) and his first collaboration with Bertolt Brecht, Mahagonny Songspiel (1927). Both these early stage works are directed by David Lefkowich. Adriane Fang choreographs Zaubernacht, which is conducted by Tiffany Lu. Festival coordinator Craig Kier conducts Mahagonny Songspiel. Performance dates: 5, 7, 9, and 11 April 2019. Stephen Hinton of Stanford University will offer two introductory lectures before the first performance.
The festival climaxes with one of Weill’s most popular works for Broadway, the opera Street Scene, performed on 12, 14, 17 and 20 April. Naomi Graber of the University of Georgia gets things underway with a pre-performance talk on 12 April. The production is directed by Amanda Consol and conducted by Craig Kier. The day after the opening, a group of voice students will give a concert of songs from Weill’s years in the U.S.
The University of Maryland has worked closely with the Foundation in planning and executing the year-long festival as one of the Foundation’s Collaborative Performance Initiatives, which include funding and comprehensive assistance with planning, licensing, and lining up speakers and advisors. Numerous academic and professional organizations have benefited from the program, including Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, University of Minnesota, Brevard Music Center, and Collegiate Chorale (now MasterVoices). Collaborative Performance Initiatives provide resources that can help universities and conservatories create large-scale projects that bring together different schools and departments and expose participants to the music of Weill or Marc Blitzstein. As Craig Kier put it, “Within the School of Music, nearly every student, performer or not, will be part of this year-long festival. The School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies and MFA design students will be highlighted in Zaubernacht and Mahagonny Songspiel as well as Street Scene. My hope is this Festival will introduce Weill–both his music and his life–and ever-evolving musical styles to students and audiences who have not yet experenced the breadth and impact of his works.”
Learn more about The Road of Promise
Learn more about Zaubernacht
Learn more about Mahagonny Songspiel
Learn more about Street Scene
News story about similar sponsorship at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (2012)