2024 Mainstage Series

THE CREATION

Fri May 17, 2024 | 7:30 pm

As the May Festival enters a new era of artistic innovation and collaboration, it seems only fitting to begin the 2024 Festival with a work symbolizing creation. Few works of sacred music are more cheerful and joyous than Haydn's The Creation. It exemplifies Haydn’s own personal faith and optimism in humanity, as well as his profound belief in music’s ability to edify, uplift and inspire. Through the inspired use of soloists, full chorus and orchestra, The Creation depicts and celebrates the creation of the earth, and all of its flora and fauna, as narrated in Biblical passages from Genesis and Psalms, as well as from John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

ANTHEMS

Sat May 18, 2024 | 7:30 pm

Anthems can represent freedom from suffering or victory in war, celebrate nations, sow peace or even pump up a crowd from the rock ‘n’ roll stage. What they all share in common is the power to unite and remind us of our shared humanity. This program of four unique anthem interpretations opens with the world premiere of Julia Wolfe’s choral work All that breathes, which embraces the massive sound of collective breath and exhalation, while David Lang‘s the national anthems reminds us that freedom is fragile, delicate and easy to lose. Julia Wolfe’s Pretty is a raw and raucous feminist anthem of work rhythms — thwarting notions of what pretty can mean. Closing out the program is Vaughan Williams’ beloved anthem for peace, Dona nobis pacem, written and premiered just a few years prior to the start of World War II.    

VOICES OF THE EARTH

Thu May 23, 2024 | 7:30 pm

Celebrating the natural wonders of earth and the perseverance of miners in Pennsylvania coal country, this program reflects both the beauty and tragedy of humanity’s relationship with our planet. Natural History is a collaboration between composer Michael Gordon and the Steiger Butte Singers. Written and commissioned to mark the centennial of the National Park System, the piece poses the question: If Crater Lake National Park were a symphony, what would it sound like? The result is a surround-sound celebration of nature and the park’s spiritual connection to the surrounding community. In contrast, Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Anthracite Fields is a haunting and powerful oratorio that captures not only the sadness of lives lost in the anthracite coal fields at the turn of the 20th century, but a way of daily life now also lost. The Bang on a Can All-Stars lend their ferocity to this profound work alongside the May Festival Chorus.

HER STORY

Sat May 25, 2024 | 7:30 pm

Julia Wolfe’s Her Story invokes the words of historical figures and the spirit of pivotal moments in history to pay tribute to the centuries of ongoing struggle for equal rights and representation for women in America. From the letters of Abigail Adams to words attributed to Sojourner Truth, Her Story, as explained by Julia Wolfe, “captures the passion and perseverance of women refusing subordination, demanding representation and challenging the prejudice and power structures that have limited women’s voices.” The dynamic vocal artists of the Lorelei Ensemble join the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for this immersive and visual presentation, with staging by Anne Kauffman, before the May Festival Chorus closes the program with Gabriel Fauré’s tender and comforting Requiem.