February 7, 2011
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR


   

SING OUT, MR. PRESIDENT

NPR MUSIC'S DECEPTIVE CADENCE PREMIERES
NEW CHORAL WORKS, INSPIRED BY PRESIDENTIAL WORDS

Thomas Jefferson was a fiddler. Harry Truman played piano. Bill Clinton works the saxophone. But choral conductor and educator Judith Clurman makes them all sing. Clurman commissioned 16 contemporary composers to write short choral pieces based on the words of 16 American presidents, for a series called Mr. President. In celebration of President's Day, NPR Music is premiering the entire collection at its classical blog Deceptive Cadence, beginning today: www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence

For Mr. President, Clurman challenged today's most notable composers – including Jake Heggie, Samuel Adler, Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum and Nico Muhly – to create short songs inspired by famous presidential quotes. Among the repertoire: "The ballot is stronger than the bullet," (Abraham Lincoln); "A leader has to lead, or otherwise he has no business in politics," (Harry Truman); "Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women," (Ronald Reagan); and "With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. …Yes we can," (Barack Obama).

The songs, performed by Clurman's Essential Voices USA choir, will be released on the blog throughout the month, along with interviews with Clurman and the composers. Mr. President begins today, appropriately, with "Washington Round" by Michael Gilbertson, inspired by these words of our first president: "I had rather be on my farm than be an emperor of the world."

NPR Music, a free, multimedia website at www.npr.org/music, offers more than 300 new features monthly and an extensive archive, in collaboration with NPR’s newsmagazines, 12 public radio member stations and the passionate NPR community. Many of the site's features are also available to mobile audiences with the NPR Music App for the iPhone and iPod Touch.