New Years' Eve
Concert for Peace
The Cathedral marks the New Year with the annual New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace: a celebration of music, dance, prayer and words, to the light of thousands of candles held by everyone attending. This is one of the most glorious events at the Cathedral, and, indeed, in the city: the new year, still dark and cold, is welcomed with light and song as the Muses drop in to bind us to each other with beauty.
The New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace was conceived by Leonard Bernstein. On December 31, 1983, he conducted a program starting with Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” reminding us that wars may be dreamed up and promulgated by the rich, but they are fought by the common men and women of this country, and all countries.
The 2011 New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace is a celebration of African-American Music and the Spiritual as a place of sanctuary for all people. The centerpiece of the concert will be the oratorio A Child of our Time by the distinguished British composer Sir Michael Tippett.
Featured artists will include
Judy Collins, Artist in Residence
Harry Smith, NBC Correspondent
Indra Thomas, Soprano
Rachel Calloway, Mezzo-Soprano
Noah Stewart, Tenor
Soloman Howard, Bass
The Dessoff Symphonic Choirs, Chris Shepard, Music Director
George Mathew, Conductor and Artistic Director, New Year's Eve Concert for Peace
A Child of our Time is an extended choral meditation on political violence and discrimination against minorities, migrants and other vulnerable communities. It was Tippett’s response to European events of 1938. A seventeen year-old Polish Jewish “boy,” Herschel Grynszpan shot a German diplomat in Paris in an act of vengeance for Nazi persecution of his family. When the diplomat died a few days later the Nazis responded with the Kristallnacht pogrom all over Germany and Austria. Across the Channel in England, Grynszpan became for the composer a symbolic “child” of the time. The work is cast along the lines of Bach’s passions and the oratorios of Handel with arias and great choral meditations and screaming crowd scenes “ Away with them!” and “We cannot have them in our Empire” that today, relate not only to the crucifixion and the Holocaust but also to the discourse around immigration and the movement of peoples and identities that Salman Rushdie called “the central thread of the 20th Century”. In the midst of this musical mayhem and turbulence, Tippett, in the manner of Bach, set up five stations of shelter, of respite and sanctuary not only for the listener but also for the performer – universal, hymnic, chorale-like spaces where the listener can retreat to a familiar, ‘safe’ quiet haven of family hymnody. Five African American Spirituals sit like chapels of sanctuary where the entire community of performers, listeners alike can go for emotional, musical and spiritual shelter during the searing course of the performance and be guided with wisdom and compassion toward self-understanding, love and peace – “I would know my shadow and my light."
In these spirituals, Tippett gives us what African-American culture has always known – that Black music and art have always been sanctuary, and in this case, sanctuary for ALL people.
Tippett’s “Child” may seem to be the utterance of one man’s reflection on the violence that tore the century asunder at a time when, in his words, “ ...the world turns on its Dark side." Coming out of Europe after World War II it became the utterance of a civilization, savaged by itself, which would continue to ask why for decades to come. Today we, as individuals and as a community, need to ask those questions harder and deeper than ever – the questions of identity, of religious freedom, of hospitality and of embracing the other, in a world where people are in constant movement. The resonances with the Cathedral’s own mission as “a house of prayer for all people” that “serves the many diverse people of our City, Nation and World”, are powerful and manifold. The concert is offered as a possibility for all of us, as a communities of musicians, of believers and unbelievers, of a thousand ethnicities, languages and experiences in this Cathedral, this City, Nation and World, to reflect on our individual and collective selves, and to “know our shadow and our light” together in words and music, and to come together to a place where "there is no final grieving, but an abiding hope..." especially in this time when much of the world is suffering and responding to the cumulative impact of decades of unfair practices in many aspects of our socio-political and economic life. -- George Mathew
Chris Sheppard, Music Director, Dessoff Choirs
Indra Thomas, Soprano
Rachel Calloway, Mezzo-Soprano
Morris Robinson, Bass
Judy Collins, Folk Singer
George Mathew, Conductor and Artistic Director
Saturday, December 31, 7 pm
General Admission Seats are free and open to the public
Reserved Seats are $60.00, CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS or call 866.811.4111
*The Box Office is only open 1 hour prior to each performance to pick up tickets purchased online or by phone. The box office is also open 1 hour prior for those who want to purchase tickets on site (we strongly recommend online or phone purchases to better ensure you have a ticket for the event. The Cathedral cannot guarantee tickets will still be availible day of)
Priority Seats (at a sponsorship level) can be purchased by contacting our development office: email@example.com