Peter Sellars directed Dawn Upshaw for a performance of George Crumb’s song cycle “Winds of Destiny” in Los Angeles – eight songs performed by soprano, amplified piano, and four percussionists who play 102 instruments in all.
The idea of staging art song is not new, but Upshaw’s compelling presentation at the 2011 Ojai Festival is operatic (classical singing, underlying plot, small ensemble, costuming) and far from the the 19th century salon performances of old…perhaps even a new genre that will attract new audiences.
Here’s an excerpt of the article that gives a little insight into the performance:
“The Winds of Destiny” is a chapter in Crumb’s “American Songbook,” a Melvillian novel of music written for voice, percussion and prepared piano that entwines Native American songs, African slave spirituals and Civil War folk songs, including “Shenandoah” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” In the stark piece, Sellars offers, “You sense that the Civil War is still going on. You sense the violence and virulence of our public atmosphere today, of the country tearing itself apart.”