Speaking of the very busy, very approachable John Corigliano, Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic are finishing up a month of 9/11 tributes and memorials on September 30 with a performance of John Corigliano’s One Sweet Morning, a four movement song cycle each set to a poem from a different age and country, sung by mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe. The first is Czeslaw Milosz’s “A Song on the End of the World,” written in Warsaw in 1944; though tranquil in feel, there is a hint of “chaos to come,” says the composer. A section of Homer’s Iliad provides the words for the brutal second movement: a description of a massacre led by the Greek prince, Patroclus. The 8th century Chinese poet, Li Po’s “War South of the Great Wall” seems coolly removed from the battle, until we realize that the narrator’s husband and sons are fighting on the field. “Her anguish, and the battle that is its cause, surge in an orchestral interlude,” explains Corigliano. “‘One Sweet Morning’ ends the composition with the dream of a world without war—an impossible dream, perhaps, but certainly one worth dreaming.” Best known as the lyricist ofT he Wizard of Oz and Finian’s Rainbow, E. Y. (“Yip”) Harburg’s poem evokes a beautiful time when “the rose will rise…spring will bloom…peace will come….one sweet morning.” Also, on the September 30-October 4 program is Barber’s Essay No. 1 and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7. (I am much indebted to Jeremy Beck for sorting out my confusion about another, earlier piece of Corigliano’s with the same name and inspiration.)
I have a couple of pairs of tickets to the September 30 performance which could be yours. All you need do is leave a comment below about your favorite Corigliano piece and why. Next Tuesday, I’ll put the names in a hat, shake it a couple of times, and pick a couple of winners. I have a favorite but I’m not saying until the rest of you do.