It doesn’t happen often in the life of a musician: getting to play the world premiere of a piece by America’s foremost female composer in my own neck of the woods! A mere two miles away from home, Easton’s First Presbyterian Church was the setting for the very first performance of “At the Forks,” by Libby Larsen. Libby is one of America’s most prolific and most performed living composers. Ready for some accolades?
Larsen has been hailed as “the only English-speaking composer since Benjamin Britten who matches great verse with fine music so intelligently and expressively” (USA Today); as “a composer who has made the art of symphonic writing very much her own” (Gramophone); as “a mistress of orchestration” (Times Union); and for “assembling one of the most impressive bodies of music of our time” (Hartford Courant).
“At the Forks” was commissioned by the Lehigh Valley Concord Chamber Singers. To get inspiration for the score, Larsen visited Easton, Pennsylvania, and met with numerous members of the community, including those belonging to the Lenape tribe. Her new work in four movements became a shared narrative of the many cultures in the Lehigh Valley… indigenous, African-American, and immigrant populations past and present.
It was thrilling to rehearse and perform this work with the composer enthusiastically involved. As a musician this was an experience I will always treasure.
Kudos to artistic director Jennifer Kelly, the Concord Chamber Singers, the Lafayette Chamber Singers, soloists, and fellow-musicians!
Please enjoy a few pictures from the event, courtesy of Paul Strikwerda. Click on any photo for an enlarged view.