Min Kwon's America/Beautiful Project Brings Together 70 Composers for a Concert Series Beginning on July 4th
The upcoming event invites listeners to hear a familiar tune in a new way.
A musical celebration is arriving on the Fourth of July this year, and it's bringing together some of the most celebrated composers working today. The event is the creation of Korean-born American pianist and professor Min Kwon, who commissioned more than 70 composers to reimagine the song "America the Beautiful."
While engaging with the well-known tune, the composers's interpretations and variations offer their own individual visions of America. Each piece has been written for solo piano, allowing Kwon, a celebrated pianist whose career has included international performance as well as arts advocacy and teaching, to perform the works in a concert series.
According to a press release, the song has been "filtered through the lens of America's leading compositional voices across a broad spectrum of age, race, gender, and personal experience" to create a collection of variations inspired by and engaging with the familiar tune. Composers participating in the project include Nico Muhly, Terry Riley, Vijay Iyer, Jake Heggie, Tania León, and Kris Bowers, among many others. You can watch a trailer for the upcoming event below.
In the same press release, Kwon shares her inspiration for the project. She says, "As an immigrant, America has so many different meanings to me. These past few years have left us so deeply divided, and I have often asked myself what kind of a country I will be leaving to my two daughters - whose birthdays happen to fall on Presidents' Day and the Fourth of July. Ultimately this project is about embracing our diversity, and remembering that by understanding, appreciating, and celebrating our differences, we become stronger both as individuals and as a country. The fact that 70 composers can hear the same song in a completely different way is, to me, something truly beautiful."
The concert series begins on July 4, 2021, when Kwon will start sharing the new works that have been born of the project. Videos of the premieres can be streamed free online. They will be accessible July 4-7 and will air from 3-4 p.m. ET each day on the America/Beautiful website (america-beautiful.com), as well as on Kwon's Facebook and YouTube channels. The event culminates in a live concert taking place on July 8 and 9 that will feature Kwon performing in the catacombs of Brooklyn, NY's Green-Wood Cemetery. More information on the program can be found at america-beautiful.com.
The program promises to be a memorable and innovative one. According to the project website, "Kwon's hope is to paint a sonic picture of her adopted country in all of its sprawling complexity, and ultimately try to find the beauty at the core of the American experiment and its credo of e pluribus unum (out of many, one)."