Our editor Barry Lenson was fortunate enough to be in Carnegie Hall last November 15, 2022, for the world premiere of A Nation of Others, a new oratorio composed by Paul Moravec to a text by Mark Campbell.
“This new oratorio struck me at once as probably the deepest exploration I have ever heard of the American experience. Its music is affecting and beautiful, just as this composer’s work always is. But the greatest emotional engagement for me was that this work tells the stories not of the George Washingtons or Abraham Lincolns of our shared past, but of the ordinary people who came through Ellis Island and made their lives here in America. These are the heroes of our country’s history, and A Nation of Others sings of their lives in ways that are deeply moving.”
In this video of Paul Moravec’s conversation with Barry Lenson of Classical Archives, you will learn not only about the composition of this great national work, but also about where Paul Moravec has come from and what he will be working on now.
From Paul Moravec’s Program Notes about A Nation of Others . . .
“A Nation of Others is the third in a series of what I call `American historical oratorios,’ dramatic choral-orchestral works based on the lives and written records of ordinary individuals caught up in extraordinary events and circumstances.
“This oratorio dramatizes the personal stories of immigrants at Ellis Island in the course of a single day, and while the new arrivals look forward to fresh beginnings in `the strange new land,’ they inevitably carry with them the heavy history of `the old country.’ In the words of William Faulkner: `The past is never dead. It isn’t even past.’
“Set in 1921, the stories naturally involve the cataclysmic disruptions and traumatic aftermath of World War I. As such, much of the music has a martial character, a stylistic theme running throughout the drama. More specifically, each of the characters is associated with his or her own distinctive Leitmotiv or sound-world, the musical development of which conveys the progress of the particular personal narrative. . .
A Nation of Others is not the story of famous historical figures, but rather of ordinary individuals who would be known only to their friends, families, and In the words of the immigrants at a crucial point in our music drama: `Look on me kindly, as you would another person.’”