Chorus pro Musica and the Bang on a Can All-Stars’ performance of Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields has been canceled on account of precautions taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Though we are saddened by this news after months of preparation and an ever-growing enthusiastic audience, we know it is in everyone’s best interest. CpM still looks forward to giving the Boston premiere of this brilliant work in the not-too-distant future.
Chorus pro Musica (CpM) joins forces with the ultra-dynamic amplified sextet Bang on a Can All-Stars for the Boston premiere of Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields. One performance will be given on Saturday, March 14 at 8 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning oratorio about coal miners at the turn of the 20th century, Anthracite Fields combines folk, rock, and classical genres in what the Los Angeles Times called “an unforgettably haunting, harrowing evocation of the plight of Pennsylvania’s coal miners, incorporating many musical styles and effectively shadowy visuals.”
Definitive of a “new American tradition” (New Yorker), Anthracite Fields garnered Wolfe the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Music for its powerful evocation of the Pennsylvania coal-mining region at the turn of the 20th century and the genesis of the American labor movement. A recording of the work earned a Grammy nomination for best contemporary classical composition.
Cast in five movements, Anthracite Fields begins with “Foundation,” a chanted litany of names taken from mining accident reports interwoven with geological reports. “Breaker Boys” recalls the children who, at as young as 8 years old, broke and screened coal in unspeakably dangerous conditions, earning $150 a year. In “Speech,” Wolfe quotes a congressional testimony given by president of the United Mine Workers Union, John L. Lewis, following the Centralia, PA fire, a disaster which took 111 lives. “Flowers,” inspired by an interview with a daughter of the anthracite region, recalls the beauty of her close-knit community though it remained invisible to the rest of the nation. Finally, “Appliances,” reminds us of the coal still powering our lives— “Grind, shave, run, blow, heat, drill, blast, turn…” delivered percussively—concluding with words from a railway advertisement featuring Phoebe Snow, whose white traveling dress was kept unsullied thanks to clean, anthracitic power.
Those seeking tickets via the EBT Card to Culture program should contact Jean Player at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, tickets for this concert must be purchased directly from the Berklee Performance Center.
This program is supported in part by a grant from the Boston Cultural Council and administered by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture.
Many of the photos used in the performance and marketing of Anthracite Fields were taken by Lewis Hine for the National Child Labor Committee, and Frank Delano.