National Memorial Day Festival at Kennedy Center to Feature Durow’s ‘Gettysburg’


Music_Portrait_Peter-Durow_2012CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 25, 2012 – A composition by a Southeast Missouri State University faculty member will be featured during the National Memorial Day Choral Festival May 26, 2013, at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. 

“Gettysburg” was written by Peter Durow, assistant professor of music.

Craig Jessop, artistic director of the festival, dean of the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University and former music director of the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir, asked Durow to orchestrate “Gettysburg” for the premiere. The Choral Union and University Choir have also been invited to participate in the festival.

The Choral Union and University Choir will present the National Memorial Day Choral Festival program on April 23, 2013, in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall at Southeast’s River Campus along with Robert Ray’s “Gospel Mass.” Those who are able to take advantage of this opportunity will then travel in May for a four-day and three-night trip to participate in the festival in Washington, D.C.

Durow wrote “Gettysburg” this summer at the 2012 Summer Choral Composers Forum at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. He received a grant from the University to attend the event, in which he was one of 22 composers who studied with the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, Steven Stucky, and the widely respected composer and conductor, Steven Sametz. The text for “Gettysburg” is the final stanza of a poem of the same name by Herman Melville.

“I chose to set this text with the intent of it being performed in 2013 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg,” said Durow.

“Gettysburg” received its premiere performances by the Princeton Singers, under the direction of Sametz, June 29 at Lehigh University and June 30 at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., President Abraham Lincoln’s home church while he was in office.

In addition to the performance at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, plans are under way to include “Gettysburg” on the 2013 Governor’s Verses and Voices Festival Concert in the capitol rotunda in Jefferson City, Mo.

Not merely an event for Washington, D.C., the sixth-annual National Memorial Day Choral Festival is an event for the entire country – a major opportunity to draw the attention of Americans to the real meaning of Memorial Day and honor the men and women who have served and died to preserve the liberties enjoyed in the United States and around the world.