Happy Birthday to Ned Rorem

Evidence of Things Not Seen

Lyric Fest honors the legacy of one of America’s finest song composers, Ned Rorem, on what would have been his 100th birthday. Ned Rorem is considered to be among America’s finest song composers of the last half-century, and Evidence of Things Not Seen represents his crowning achievement in this genre. A cycle of 36 songs for four solo voices and piano, Evidence features all-English texts drawn from a rich and diverse collection of 24 authors; ranging from William Penn, Whitman, Baudelaire, Colette, and Langston Hughes to contemporary poets Mark Doty and Paul Monette.

Rorem had significant ties to Philadelphia through the Curtis Institute of Music. He graduated from The Curtis Institute in composition in 1944 and went on to join the faculty teaching composition and influencing new generations of song writers. Rorem passed away at 99 years of age.

Originally composed for his 75th birthday as a a concert-length cycle of songs that would sum up his life’s work as a composer of art songs. It was premiered in 1997. In Rorem’s words, “The order of the songs relies on subject matter. The opening group, ‘Beginnings,’ is just that-songs about moving forward, and the wistful optimism of love, with a concluding hymn-text from the eighteenth century to be sung by a congregation in the morning. The second group, ‘Middles,’ about coming of age, horror of war, romantic disappointment, concludes with another hymn, this one for evening. The last group, ‘Ends,’ about death, concludes with an admonishment from William Penn, echoing a definition of Faith in Corinthians II: ‘Look not to things that are seen, but to that which is unseen; but that which is unseen is forever.’”

“I rashly proclaim it one of the musically richest, most exquisitely fashioned, most voice-friendly collections of songs I have ever heard by any American composer.” Peter G. Davis, New York Magazine

One performance only.

The First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia
October 23, 2023 @ 7:00 pm
Tickets are no longer available for this concert.