Music to our Ears…

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Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks. Photo: Santa Savisko-Jekabsone

Pleasing notes and lively melodies will soon be reverberating through the decorated halls of our museum. As part of the Leading European Composers series, the great Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks will lead the RIX Piano Quartet and flutist Dita Krenberga on February 12th at 6:30 pm. Trained as a violinist, the composer grew up during Soviet regime and was able to quickly catapult himself into the greats of European composers after receiving countless Latvian music awards and the Cannes Classical Awards in 2004.

Just as many of Georgia O’Keeffe’s works were, Vasks’s compositions are inspired by the complex relationship between man and nature. His music speaks to the world’s beauty, but also to imminent ecological and moral destruction. In conveying his message, Vasks incorporates animated folk elements from Latvian music with a contemporary angle. This stellar musical performance, in collaboration with the Embassy of Latvia and The George Washington University, will surely be one for the books.

Aysia Woods, Marketing Intern 

Salute to Phillips Musicians in the Armed Forces

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(left) Dec 6, 1942 program from the Music Department permanent archives (right) Feb 21, 1943 program from the Music Department permanent archives

In honor of Veteran’s Day this week, the Phillips celebrates military musicians serving in the Army Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps Bands. Nearly 100 performances were held in the Phillips’s Music Room between 1939 and 1945, making Sunday Concerts the longest continually-running series in Washington, DC.

Of the many fine military musicians performing at the Phillips, GRAMMY-winning American pianist Earl Wild (1915–2010) was one. Wild is renowned as one of the greatest pianists and all-around musicians in history, and one Harold Schonberg called Wild a “super-virtuoso in the Horowitz class.”

We are proud to boast several Phillips Camerata musicians who presently serve in the US Marine Corps Band, including violinist Karen Johnson and cellist Charlie Powers. On our 75th season anniversary, we honor the legacy of Armed Services musicians in two concerts during our 2015/2016 season, featuring Navy Sea Chanters and the USMCB string ensemble.

Caroline Mousset, Director of Music

American Art in Music

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Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series (1940-41) Panel no. 1 “During World War I there was a great migration north by southern African Americans.” Casein tempera on hardboard, 12 x 18 in. Acquired 1942. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

What song would you pair with Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series? As part of last year’s Vocal Colors, Wolf Trap Opera Company soprano Andrea Carroll chose Troubled Woman, part of a cycle called ‘Genius Child’ written by American composer Ricky Ian Gordon. Below is our newest audio tour stop: an excerpt from the performance, preceeded by an introduction by Lee Anne Myslewski, the Director of Artistic Administration for Wolf Trap Opera & Classical Programming.

“This is the fifth year that Wolf Trap and The Phillips Collection have collaborated on Vocal Colors, a recital series that uses the thought-provoking works of The Phillips Collection as a springboard for a varied musical evening. Curated by musicians from the Wolf Trap Opera Company, the musical offerings cross genres and time periods, offering new aural perspectives on the respected visual works.”

This year, singers will be responding to works from Made in the USA. Hear from soprano Tracy Cox and tenor Robert Watson on June 19, and soprano Melinda Whittington and mezzo-soprano Carolyn Sproule on July 31.

On June 16 at 12 pm EST, Tracy Cox will lead our first-ever guest #breakforart Twitter chat! We’ll be discussing John Marin’s Pertaining to Fifth AvenueHave questions about her process or song selection? Leave them as comments here, or join us on Twitter @PhillipsMuseum to participate.