The Library of Congress Chorale, which draws staff members from all over the library, recently celebrated the birthdays of sundry composers with a lunchtime concert in the Coolidge Auditorium. This was the last concert for their conductor John Saint Amour, who has admirably served his two-year term and awaits a capable successor to arise from the fold. Hope O’Keeffe, from the Office of the General Counsel, told me it was “quite awesome and a little humbling to sing on the same Coolidge stage as so many incredible artists over the years … but that hall can make anyone sound good.” The program featured the music of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (born January 4, 1710), Samuel Barber (born March 8, 1910), Robert Schumann (pictured; born June 8, 1810), Hugo Wolf (born March 13, 1860), Luigi Cherubini (born September 1760), and Samuel Sebastian Wesley (born August 14, 1810).
Today is the birthday of another storied composer: Sir Paul McCartney. McCartney was honored in the Coolidge just a few weeks ago as the recipient of the third Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, and the Music Division is finally starting to come down from the excitement. BBC News reports that McCartney has been commissioned to write a ballet. Happy birthday, Sir Paul!
Also celebrating a birthday this week is Burl Icle Ivanhoe Ives, born June 14, 1909. Ives is best known to my generation as the voice of Sam the Snowman in the Rankin/Bass holiday classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. But Ives put on many hats during a long career in radio, film and television, from folk singer to avuncular snowman to the fierce Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The Library is home to the Burl Ives Collection, which consists of personal papers, recordings and materials related to his radio and television career, and his guitar.
Finally, as spring comes to a close we celebrate the composer of The Rite of Spring. Igor Stravinsky was born June 17th, 1882. Celebrate his birthday with the manuscript of Stravinsky’s Concertino composé pour Le Quattuor de Flonzaley in the Perfoming Arts Encyclopedia. Please, no rioting.
Thanks to alto Hope O’Keeffe (Office of the General Counsel) and tenors Ethan Reedy (Office of the Librarian) and Claire Gardiner (Copyright Office) for their assistance with this post.
Addendum: Listen to the Library of Congress Chorale perform Giovanni Pergolesi’s “Glory to God in the highest” here (mp3). It’s from a setting from St. Luke’s Gospel originally intended to be sung at Christmas, and is typical of the composer’s lively church music. Thanks to Claire Gardiner for the mp3!