Monday, November 14, 2011


The Czech composer, Antonin Dvorak was perhaps the most successful nationalist of the 19th century and composed a series of works, Bohemian in style with explicit influence of folk music. Dvorak also spent some time in America, where his ideas on national music had a profound impact on his oeuvre. In a fitting tribute the St. George’s Choral Society pays homage to Dvorak’s great works this Sunday, November 20th at 3 p.m. at the landmark Church of the Incarnation. Under the baton of Dr. Matthew Lewis, Artistic Director, the choral society will sing Stabat Mater, Te Deum and Songs of Nature with full orchestra. Tami Petty, soprano and Stephen Bryant, Bass-Baritone are the featured soloists. It’s the best of New York, my friends, the very best concert to start this musical holiday season. Here’s the scoop!!!

Church of the Incarnation, 209 Madison Ave. @ 35th Street. Tickets $25 at the door. Tickets purchased in advance are $20 at

STABAT MATER is based on a Medieval Latin poem depicting Mary’s grief at Christ’s crucifixion. The mammoth work was begun in 1876 after the death of Dvorak’s daughter Josefa. With such grief at hand he then laid the work aside, but was moved to complete it several years later after the death of two more daughters. However, despite these loses Dvorak, a deeply religious man and ruralist at heart, was never happier than in the countryside of his native Bohemia. Dvorak’s rustic reserve no doubt influenced his “Songs of Nature,” that extol the beauty of nature replete with flies, moths and beetles and will be performed by the St. George’s chamber choir.
DVORAK AMERICAN SOJOURN Jeannette Meyer Thurber, one of America’s most influential music patrons shares a unique place in the history of American music. In 1885, she was founder of one of the most influential music schools in the United States, the National Conservatory of Music of America. Under her leadership she brought the great Bohemian composer Antonin Dvorak to New York and in 1891 he was invited to become the director of bespoke music organization, a role that he undertook with great gusto. During Dvorak’s sojourn in New York he composed a series of works that clearly have undercurrent that reflect his passion for American folk music.
DVORAK AND HARRY THACKER BURLEIGH The great Czech composer Dvorak lived in a modest house near Gramercy Park and had close ties with the parish of St. George’s Episcopal Church, where he was music director. The connection between AntoninDvorak and Harry ThackerBurleigh was an epic collaboration. Burleigh auditioned and won a scholarship from the National Conservatory of Music and took a job at St. George’s where Dvorak became Burleigh’s biggest influence as a composer. In 1894, Burleigh, auditioned for the post of soloist at St. George’s and through his talent and dedication he held the position for over fifty years. In his lifetime Burleigh became nationally and internationally known as an eminent American baritone, composer and arranger and for his Negro spirituals, many of them still popular today. His grandfather, Hamilton Waters, a former slave, had passed along old songs by singing them to his grandson Harry, including “Deep River” and “Sometimes I feel like a Motherless Child.” During Dvorak’s stay in New York the two artists collaborated on musical compositions. Burleigh’s unforgettable arrangement of “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” clearly resonates inspiration in Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 9, Op. 95, From the New World.”

St. George’s Choral Society is one of—of not the—oldest choral societies in Manhattan. It was founded in 1817 and continues to present concerts twice a year. Rehearsals take place on Wednesday evening in St. George’s Neo-Romanesque Chapel on Rutherford Place facing Stuyvesant Square Park.

Ta darlings!!! I’m not only singing in the chorus this Sunday, but I am sharing this Polly Talk column with you so that you will have greater reason to attend the performance. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly at and click on one of her Blogs.

No comments:

Post a Comment