Happy birthday to two classical elders
Two distinguished elders of classical composition celebrate birthdays on Tuesday, each of them giving sound to the folklores, aspirations and even soils of their native lands and peoples. Indeed, the music of the 82-year old Estonian Veljo Tormis (left), sometimes sounds not so much composed as dug from the earth or carved from a tree. A specialist in choral music in a nation of singers, Tormis has the gift of composing new music that sounds ancient, and of setting ancient poems and melodies in ways that make them sound positively avant-garde. Two of his haunting choral works, "Bridge of Song" and "Singing Aboard Ships," come up in Tuesday's WFCR classical music. For a one-CD Tormis sampler, check out the stunning ECM New Series album "Litany to Thunder" — unique, amazing stuff.
The music of the other, the 91-year old Czech-American Karel Husa (right), is equally elemental, seemingly forged from raw elements into works of tremendous power and impact. A native of Prague and long-time faculty member at Cornell University and Ithaca College, Husa received the Pulitzer Prize in 1969 for his String Quartet No. 3, and the Grawemeyer Award in 1993 for his Cello Concerto. His best-known work, "Music for Prague 1968," has become a classic of the modern wind ensemble repertoire. Those who like your music gentle and easy to ignore be warned: the massed sonorities and shattering climaxes of "Music for Prague" are coming up in a performance by "The President's Own" United States Marine Band during the 3:00 hour Tuesday afternoon.