Milton Babbitt Centenary Concert

Milton Babbitt Centenary Concert featuring a major new work by Charles Wuorinen. preconcert talk with Bethany Beardslee Winham and Mimmi Fulmer....Milton Babbitt with friends, colleagues & students who were consequently influenced by his music and thinking.....

Milton Babbitt Centenary Concert
with a major new work by Charles Wuorinen
--preconcert talk with Bethany Beardslee Winham and Mimmi Fulmer--
....Milton Babbitt with friends, colleagues & students who were consequently influenced by his music and thinking.....

Milton Babbitt is an iconic figure in 20th and early 21st C. music. Cygnus gave Babbitt an 80th Birthday concert, a 90th birthday concert at Merkin, where Bethany Beardley again attended and participated in a pre-concert talk. In 2011, Cygnus envisioned a 95th birthday concert, which became our memorial concert for Milton. Babbitt taught at Princeton University, brought there by his teacher Roger Sessions.

This program includes of Babbitt's great works, along with music by his students and also by two composers who attended Princeton after Babbitt retired from there. The choice of company was selected to demonstrate that being influenced by Babbitt does not have to involve adopting a 20th C. high modernist *sound*. In fact, one can argue that Swan Song No. 1 (2002) is very much a 21st C. piece, particularly in the way it balances diatonic ("tonal" harmonies) with other things that he explored so thoroughly and more exclusively in his earlier career.

From Bethany Beardslee Winham's upcoming memoir:

"I was fully caught up in the excitement . Newsweek came to interview me before the premiere.... The article ran with the title “A Composer’s Singer” and described my particular niche and the difficult work I’d become known for. I was so brazen. In one section they quote me saying: “I don’t think in terms of the public. Music is for musicians. If the public wants to come along and study it, fine. I don’t go and tell a scientist his business because I don’t know anything about it. Music is just the same way. Music is art and not entertainment.” I still stand by what I said but I have to admit that I was just a bit over the top!"

This event will be streamed live worldwide by Livamp


  • James Baker, conductor
  • Tara Helen O'Connor, flute
  • James Austin Smith, oboe
  • Calvin Wiersma, violin
  • Susannah Chapman, 'cello
  • William Anderson & Oren Fader, various plucked string instruments

7:30: Pre Concert Discussion

  • Bethany Beardsley Winham introduces her memoir
  • Mimi Fulmer discusses her performers' guide to *Vision and Prayer*

Milton Babbitt's

  • Swan Song # 1
  • Vision and Prayer
  • featuring soprano Elizabeth Farnum

Charles Wuorinen's Cygnus (first performance)
Paul Lansky's Just Once (first performance) for soprano & guitar
the composer's original text about the ravings of an insomniac at 4 in the morning

Here's Lansky's *Talking Guitars*, from a recent Cygnus show: Talking Guitars
Konrad Kaczmarek's Toggles and Triggers* (first performance)

Jonathan Dawe's
Glass Harmonica (first performance)
for guitar orchestra, with guitar soloist

Frank Brickle
Ab nou cor ...text by Raimbau d'Aurenga (premiere of the new version for guitar & soprano)
Piazza Piece.. text by John Crowe Ransom (premiere)
City of Orgies...text by W. Whitman (premiere)

Here is Elizabeth singing Farai un vers at the Library of Congress:

Elizabeth Farnum , with Cygnus @ Library of Congress, 2012