A Memorial Day Music Special - Alan Seeger: Instrument of Destiny

May 29, 2021

Alan Seeger - Soldier, Diarist & Poet

Tune in Monday, Memorial Day, at 6:00 pm.

From the trenches of The Great War, Alan Seeger's poems, letters and diaries spring to life in the voices of Cathedral Choir of St. John the Divine. Recorded just before lockdown in the Cathedral, Patrick Zimmerli's new oratorio "Alan Seeger: Instrument of Destiny" fuses Seeger's formal writing with monkish chants and 20th Century music. Scott Simon hosts this moving hour of tribute to all those who saw combat, and those who awaited them at home

Scott Simon brings a tale of duty, battle and sacrifice for those on all sides. Patrick Zimmerli's oratorio rings in the Cathedral like a Gregorian Chant, and swings like an early Modern Jazz Quartet. And yes, Alan Seeger is related to Pete Seeger. He was an uncle Pete never met; Alan died in the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Paris-based director Mirabelle Ordinaire conceived this work and wrote the libretto, gathering from Seeger’s words a whirlwind of emotions and poignant battle scenes. She directs productions with New York’s Metropolitan Opera and, the Paris Opera, and other companies in works from Berlioz to Mozart and Stravinsky to Weill.

Cathedral Choir Conductor Kent Tritle has been called “the brightest star in New York’s choral music world” by the NY Times. He directs Cathedral Music at St. John the Divine and Musica Sacra as well as the Oratorio Society of New York. He teaches at Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School.

Scott Simon is a journalist and host of NPR’s “Weekend Edition Saturday”. Author of books ranging from biography to memoir to mystery, he has reported from every state, five continents and ten wars. He brings a deep humanity to his work in every medium.

"Alan Seeger: Instrument of Destiny" airs on KVNF on Memorial Day, Monday May 31st, at 6:00 pm.