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February 22, 2000
Composer Elinor Remick Warren To Be Honored at Library of Congress
Symposium and Concert Explore Life and Work of Remarkable Composer; Collections Presented to Library
Internationally renowned baritone Thomas Hampson will be among the guest artists celebrating the centenary of Elinor Remick Warren (1900-1991), a long-neglected American composer now enjoying a renaissance. The centenary celebration, running from March 17 to March 19, will feature a lecture, symposium and recital, as well as the presentation of the Warren Collection to the Library of Congress.
Co-hosted by the Elinor Remick Warren Society, the celebration begins Friday, March 17, at 3:30 p.m. with the opening of a small display of items from the Warren Collection, followed at 4 p.m. by the formal presentation of the collection to the Library. Both events will take place in the Whittall Pavilion on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E.
The Warren Collection, which includes memorabilia, manuscripts, recordings, and correspondence with leading musical figures, will take its place in the Music Division alongside the papers and music manuscripts of other leading American composers such as Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, George and Ira Gershwin, and Irving Berlin.
On Saturday, March 18, at 3 p.m., the Library of Congress will hold a symposium on Elinor Remick Warren in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Jefferson Building. Friends, family members, colleagues, and admirers will recall the composer's life and career, focusing in particular on her vocal and choral music and the cultural milieus in which she worked. Speakers will include Virginia Bortin, a close friend and biographer of the composer, noted soprano Rose Bampton and baritone Thomas Hampson.
Later that evening, at 8 p.m. in the Coolidge Auditorium, the Library and the Warren Society will co-sponsor a recital of Warren's art songs and solo piano works, featuring Thomas Hampson, tenor Stanford Olsen, soprano Christine Goerke, mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore, and pianist Craig Rutenberg.
The weekend-long centenary celebration is long-overdue recognition for Warren, who, as recently as the 1970s, was one of America's five most performed women composers. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she trained as a pianist and became a highly coveted recital partner but saw herself first and foremost as a composer. She created musical settings for texts by Carl Sandburg and Edna St. Vincent Millay, and her art songs were regularly performed by such artists as Kirsten Flagstad and Bidu Sayao.
During the 1930s, she expanded her range into larger choral and orchestral works. Her first international success came in 1940, when the Los Angeles Philharmonic premiered The Legend of King Arthur, a choral symphony based on Alfred Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King.
Over the course of her career, Warren published some 200 art songs, orchestral and chamber works, and compositions for chorus and orchestra. Her music attracted such conductors as Pierre Monteux, John Barbirolli, Andre Kostelanetz, Wilfrid Pelletier, and Alfred Wallenstein. During the last two decades, however, her work has slipped out of the repertory, and it is only in recent years that her distinctive neo-Romantic harmonies have begun to find new audiences.
"Her texts are so well set that you can really communicate with them," mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne has said. "It's time she was given a place in the international musical scene."
Mr. Hampson has called Warren's work "one of the highly pleasurable discoveries of my American musical journey." Mr. Hampson will headline a special performance of The Legend of King Arthur on Sunday, March 19, at 4 p.m. at the Washington National Cathedral. He will be joined by the Cathedral Choral Society and full orchestra, conducted by music director J. Reilly Lewis.
In honor of Elinor Remick Warren, the Library of Congress and the Elinor Remick Warren Society are also co-sponsoring a master class on the art of accompanying with Craig Rutenberg. Recognized as one of today's most distinguished accompanists, Rutenberg has appeared in recital with Denyce Graves, Susanne Mentzer, Frederica von Stade, and Dawn Upshaw. The class will take place Friday, March 17, at the School of Music, University of Maryland, College Park. Interested persons should call Rita Sloan, at (301) 405-5527, for details.
Free tickets for the March 18 recital are being distributed by TicketMaster at (301) 808-6900 or (410) 752-1200, for a nominal service charge of $2 per ticket, with additional charges for phone orders and handling. Tickets are also available at TicketMaster outlets. Although the supply of tickets may be exhausted, there are often empty seats at concert time. Interested patrons are encouraged to come to the Library by 6:30 p.m. on concert night to try to obtain no-show tickets at the door.
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