A Shovel of Stars Overhead: Where To? What Next?

Sep 19, 2023 8:00PM—9:30PM


Threefold Auditorium, 260 Hungry Hollow Road, Chestnut Ridge, NY

Cost $10 and free for students

Event Contact Marta Stemberger | Email

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Eurythmy Spring Valley Ensemble offers a public dress rehearsal of their new evening program before they go to share it in Dornach, Switzerland (click here). After they return from the Goetheanum World Conference, they will perform in Chestnut Ridge again (click here).

The ESV Ensemble’s evening program was named from a line in Carl Sandberg’s poem, “The People, Yes.” Sandburg speaks there to the burdens of our present moment and to doubt in the face of all that needs to change. Yet there is hope in his question and in the title, A Shovel of Stars Overhead: Where to? What next? The program follows and embodies the questions of what this moment is asking us and what American poets and composers are sensing and reflecting through their works. The Ensemble gathered a diversity of poetic voices, past and present, including the beloved Langston Hughes, Archibald MacLeish, Native American Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, Denise Levertov, and the great American bard of the people, Walt Whitman. Like Sandburg, Hughes, MacLeish, and Whitman levy poignant questions that open doorways into new understanding and possibility. Harjo and Levertov, the two female poets in the program, speak into the program differently, orienting us to the transcendent presence of the invisible, either through the necessity of prayer or through seeing how the struggle and slow ascent is itself the sacrament.

The 20th-century American composer Henry Cowell lends his masterful use of evocative contrasts, cluster chords, and emotional power to the first part of the program, while Grigory Smirnov’s beautiful interludes for cello and piano thread their way through the intensity of these inquiries into a more quiet, inner place. While Jean Sibelius’ “Impromptu” is like a refreshing balm for the soul, like waterfalls in the air. Then, all previous moods and colors are digested and transformed in the more resolute wonder of Chopin’s “Nocturne in c minor,” full of rich harmonies and soaring lyricism. The program includes a second part with various pieces of a lighter, humorous nature. At the conclusion of the program, the Ensemble anticipates the dawning vistas of Antonin Dvorak’s voyage to America. The grandeur and purpose, as well as the elemental swells and dissolutions, all seem to reflect a likeness to the elusive and vast, surging and fighting, young but maturing American spirit.

Colleen Foglia, Virginia Hermann, Cameron MacArthur,
Wei Rung, Barbara Schneider-Serio, Sea-Anna Vasilas

Recitation: Jennifer Kleinbach

Piano: Grigory Smirnov

Violin: Elena Hirsu

Cello: Christoph Grieder