Wild About Weill: Oberlin Honors the Composer with Special Events

October 21, 2014
Matt Benenson
Kurt Weill
Photo credit: the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music

During the era between the world wars, one of the most significant social changes was the rise of popular music and the subsequent intersection of popular and classical music. One man on the forefront of that innovation was German composer Kurt Weill.

In addition to his musical ingenuity, Weill brought attention to issues of social importance, and he has since been recognized as one of the 20th century’s most influential writers of theater music. The Oberlin Conservatory of Music will take part in celebrating that legacy with a series of Weill Week events beginning October 26 and running through early November.

Weill Week at Oberlin will include lectures and talks by top Weill scholars, a movie at the Apollo Theatre, related works on view at the Allen Memorial Art Museum, and even a cabaret performance of Weill songs by Oberlin voice students. Weill Week at Oberlin is made possible through a grant from the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music.

Each year, the Weill Foundation awards grants of various sizes to nonprofit organizations to support the work of Kurt Weill. Oberlin’s bid was successful in part because of Oberlin Opera Theater’s presentation of Weill’s Street Scene slated for November 5, 7, 8, and 9.

That production will serve as the centerpiece of Oberlin’s Weill Week festivities. Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Elmer Rice, Weill’s Street Scene focuses on a roiling cauldron of turmoil in the lives of a family and its neighbors on a scorching day in 1940s New York. Showtime is 8 p.m. in Hall Auditorium Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, November 5, 7, and 8; with a 2 p.m. matinee scheduled for Sunday, November 9.

The following Weill Week events are scheduled as well:

MOVIE NIGHT: Screening of Elmer Rice’s 1931 film Street Scene. (At 9:30 p.m. Thursday, October 30, at the Apollo Theatre’s Goldring Screening Room.)

WEILL TALK: “From the Lower East Side to Catfish Row: ‘Strawberries!’ as Cultural Mediation in Porgy and Bess and Street Scene.” Led by bruce d. mcclung, associate professor of musicology at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. (At 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 4, in Bibbins Hall Room 223)

A WEILL-STYLE CABARET: Emceed by Selch Professor of Musicology James O’Leary and featuring voice performance students from the conservatory, this concert will highlight a number of Weill’s most famous songs. (At 8 p.m. Tuesday, November 4, in Stull Recital Hall)

WHAT MAKES WEILL WEILL? A discussion on the composer’s impact led by Kim Kowalke, professor at the Eastman School of Music and president of the board of trustees at the Kurt Weill Foundation. (At 12:20 p.m. Friday, November 7, in Bibbins Hall Room 223.)

WEILLED RICE:Street Scene and Broadway Opera in the 1940s.” Pre-performance lecture by the Weill Foundation’s Kim Kowalke. (7 p.m. Friday, November 7, in Hall Auditorium, to be followed by a performance of Street Scene.)

ART TOURS: The Allen Memorial Art Museum will feature self-guide brochures that visitors can use to view and learn more about five works currently on view at the museum that give insight into the experience of immigrant artists to New York in the early and mid-20th century.

Tickets to Street Scene at Oberlin are just $10 ($8 for students), available by calling 800-371-0178, by visiting Oberlin’s Central Ticket Service (67 N. Main Street) from noon-5 p.m. weekdays, or online at oberlin.edu/artsguide.

All other Weill Week at Oberlin events are free and open to the public.

More information on all Weill Week events can be found at oberlin.edu.

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