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Bonhoeffer – A Choral-Theater work by Thomas Lloyd

Donald Nally and The Crossing record a "breakthrough" new work by Thomas Lloyd probing the life and death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

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NBC10 Philadelphia news story on Grammy nomination for The Crossing

Posted on December 17, 2016 by Thomas Lloyd

Monique Braxton of WCAU NBC10 Philadelphia reports on the 2017 Grammy nomination in the Best Choral Performance Category for Donald Nally and The Crossing’s premiere recording of Thomas Lloyd’s Bonhoeffer

The Beatitudes – from Thomas Lloyd’s Bonhoeffer

Posted on December 17, 2016 by Thomas Lloyd
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Albany Records posted this passage from the 8th movement of Thomas Lloyd’s Bonhoeffer – a setting of the Beatitudes, the central biblical text in Bonhoeffer’s seminal work, The Cost of Discipleship.  In the full scene (posted earlier on this project page) the seminarians have just listened to one Bonhoeffer’s recordings of Paul Robeson, another important teaching tool brought back from his year in New York City as a post-doctoral student at Union Seminary with the goal of teaching the power of genuine humility and faithful, intentional resistance in the face of injustice.

Thomas Lloyd’s Bonhoeffer receives 2017 Grammy nomination

Posted on December 8, 2016 by Thomas Lloyd
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Donald Nally and The Crossing were one of five 2017 Grammy nominees in the Best Choral Performance category for their New Music USA grant-funded recording on Albany Records of Thomas Lloyd’s choral-theater work Bonhoeffer.  It was the first Grammy nomination for both the choir and the composer.  

The Crossing was the recipient of the 2015 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, two ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, as well as the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award (with composer Joel Puckett) from Chorus America. Donald Nally was awarded the 2012 Louis Botto Award for Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal for his work with The Crossing.

David Patrick Stearns of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote of the 2013 premier at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral:

 Sometimes you just don’t see a significant piece coming….Thomas Lloyd’s choral theater piece Bonhoeffer…was a fully realized 70-minute work and a breakthrough for all concerned…..

 The piece’s artistic significance springs from (but doesn’t trade on) its subject, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the influential Lutheran theologian who was part of the “Stauffenberg Plot” to assassinate Adolf Hitler…..Texts were drawn not just from Bonhoeffer’s protests against religious institutions capitulating to the Nazis but letters to his ambivalent fiancée, Maria von Wedemeyer…..

 Harmonically, the piece didn’t play by the usual major key/minor key rules but explored a more emotionally neutral world (like Machaut’s 14th century Mass of Notre Dame) that kept the dramatic content safe from cinematic sentimentality. Yet even when Bonhoeffer was chatty and cerebral, Lloyd pumped up his words with vigor and exterior conviction…..

 Herein lies the piece’s hallmark: While it effectively airs many philosophical questions that keep your mind busy long after the performance, it is never weighed down by them, and is rich in musical substance. 

For additional information and background about Thomas Lloyd’s Bonhoeffer go to https://www.thomaslloydmusic.com/bonhoeffer/

The Crossing sings Bonhoeffer

Posted on September 15, 2015 by The Crossing
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Recording and three performances completed!  What an incredible journey.  So grateful for Thomas Lloyd for this moving work.

The Crossing Records Bonhoeffer

Posted on September 7, 2015 by The Crossing

This weekend, The Crossing recorded Thomas Lloyd’s Bonhoeffer for release on Albany Records. We had a fantastic time recording this extraordinary piece, and can’t wait for the performances this upcoming weekend!

Recording begins

Posted on September 4, 2015 by The Crossing

We are at St. Peter’s in the Great Valley!

Albany Records to produce Bonhoeffer!

Posted on August 20, 2015 by The Crossing

We are pleased to announce that Bonhoeffer will be produced by Albany Records!

Rehearsals beginning soon!

Posted on August 19, 2015 by The Crossing

Rehearsals for our Bonhoeffer recording begin in two weeks!

Overview

David Patrick Stearns in the Philadelphia Inquirer (March 13, 2013) described the premiere performance of Thomas Lloyd’s Bonhoeffer by The Crossing under the direction of Donald Nally in this way:

Sometimes you just don’t see a significant piece coming….. 

Harmonically, the piece didn’t play by the usual major key/minor key rules but explored a more emotionally neutral world (like Machaut’s 14th century Mass of Notre Dame) that kept the dramatic content safe from cinematic sentimentality. Yet even when Bonhoeffer was chatty and cerebral, Lloyd pumped up his words with vigor and exterior conviction.

Herein lies the piece’s hallmark: While it effectively airs many philosophical questions that keep your mind busy long after the performance, it is never weighed down by them, and is rich in musical substance.”

The acclaimed, professional new-music choir The Crossing and its founding conductor Donald Nally now propose to make a studio recording of this important work.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was one of the most influential Christian theologians of the 20th Century. He abandoned what would have been a secure academic position at Union Theological Seminary in New York to return to Germany as an active leader of the Confessing Church, actively resisting the establishment churches’ capitulation to the Nazi regime. He also became involved in the Stauffenberg Plot to assassinate Hitler, the failure of which resulted in his being imprisoned for 18 months and executed just weeks before the end of the war.  In the midst of all this underground activity, he fell in love with the granddaughter of an important supporter and became engaged shortly before his arrest.

Bonhoeffer is conceived as a concert work in a theatrical context. The movements alternate between reflective meditations based on Bonhoeffer’s poetry, and dramatic scenes highlighting emblematic incidents in his life. The performers are assigned symbolic roles: the male singers represent Bonhoeffer, his community of renegade seminarians, and the male-dominated nature of the worlds he moved in, while a trio of female soloists and female dancer representing the centrality of several important women in his life.  A piano trio represents Bonhoeffer’s primary mode of music-making within his family, and the organ and side drums suggest the constant presence of establishment authorities.

Bonhoeffer frequently played recordings of the spirituals he brought back from his year in Harlem as part of the daily rituals of the underground seminary he led.  One pivotal movement recreates such a scene by interweaving short excerpts from actual recordings of the spirituals with an electrifying setting of the Beatitudes (Bonhoeffer’s central teaching text) and the pairing off of singers to make private confessions to one another.

In an age where martyrdom has become most closely associated with the vengeful killing of innocents, what principles are worth dying for? What relationships, what future is worth living for?  Bonhoeffer himself turned to his music for answers.  The recording of this important new work will give a wider audience the chance to probe these questions more deeply for themselves.

 

 

Project Media

Finkenwalde Underground Seminary scene from BONHOEFFER
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Features: The Crossing

Meditation (Sometimes we are reminded) and Scene (Finkenwalde)

The meditation sets a prison letter by Bonhoeffer with music based on one of his favorite hymns.

The Finkenwalde scene recreates a seminary class of the kind described in Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. The men listen to a short passage from one of the many recordings of spirituals Bonhoeffer brought back from his year in Harlem, followed by an original setting of the Beatitudes, which were the basis of Bonhoeffer’s seminal work, The Cost of Discipleship.

Closing scene from BONHOEFFER
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Features: The Crossing

This excerpt begins in the middle of an imagined conversation between Bonhoeffer and his fiancé Maria. He has been moved to an unknown prison to be executed. She seeks to find him, carrying a jacket of his for identification.

The final mediation is a setting of a favorite hymn of Bonhoeffer’s and lines from his poem “Who Am I?” Musical references are to Schubert’s “Gute Ruh” and the spiritual “Swing low, sweet chariot”.

Start and End Dates

04/01/201404/01/2015

Location

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

9 updates
Last update on December 20, 2016

Project Created By

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Crossing is a professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally and dedicated to new music. Consistently recognized in critical reviews, the ensemble regularly collaborates with some of the nation’s most accomplished ensembles and creative composers. It is committed to working with creative teams to make and record new, substantial works for choir, most often…

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composer
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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