DeKALB – Cor Cantiamo, the choral ensemble-in-residence at Northern Illinois University, opens its 10th anniversary concert season with the world premiere of “Verdad/True,” composed by Libby Larsen.
The concert will be at 3 p.m. Sunday in Boutell Memorial Concert Hall in the NIU Music Building, 550 Lucinda Ave., in DeKalb.
Larsen was commissioned by Cor Cantiamo to create this work to commemorate its 10th anniversary season. It was partially funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
“Verdad/True” is a 20-minute composition based on first-person accounts of migrant families and the poetry of Gabriela Mistral. It captures the emotional turmoil of families struggling with decisions of leaving their homeland and embarking upon the dangerous journey to a promised land of safety and a better future for their children. In addition to this work, the Cor Cantiamo will celebrate the cultural heritage of Latin America with music from Argentina, The Dominican Republic, Peru and Ecuador.
In preparation for the composition of “Verdad,” Larsen was granted access to the Latinx Oral History Project that was created by the NIU Center for Latino and Latin American Studies. Christina Abreu, director of the center, also provided insights into the stories found in the oral history archives.
Larsen took inspiration from her research to begin crafting a vision for her commissioned work.
“These interviews are deeply inspiring and deeply eloquent in words and emotions,” Larsen said in a news release. “Though each person’s story is unique, I recognized common themes and I drew inspiration from them. I felt really strongly that, regardless of the age of the person being interviewed, at the center of each of their stories is ‘the child,’ caught up in the story’s past and its future while living vividly in the present.
“Thank goodness for the compassionate genius of poet Gabriela Mistral, whose work expresses deep, layered emotion which can’t be expressed in the stories themselves,” she said in the release. “I worked with her poetry to create the piece ‘Verdad/True,’ inspired by true stories of Virginia Olivares, Elisa Flores Mejia, Ruben Molina, Juan Molina Hernandez, Gabriela Salas, José Luis Escalante, Erik Flores, Elisa Flores Mejía, Luis Navaes, Maribel Toboda and Maria Isabel Valdovinos-Bhatia.”
Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for students. Children age 5 and younger get in free. Tickets can be bought online at https://corcantiamo.org/ or at the door.
In partnership with this concert, NIU graduate student and instructor Heriberto Ponce will present an art installation in the Reynolds Whitney Art Gallery adjacent to the concert hall in the NIU Music building. The exhibition, “Journey to Fallen Dreams: A migration of the persecuted, poor and undocumented to the unknown,” includes original prints (lithography, serigraphy and woodcut) and woven mixed media wall pieces.
Larsen will attend the concert Sunday and remain on campus for a three-day residency with the NIU School of Music. She will present a composition master class and an all-school convocation, and work with NIU student ensembles in large and small ensemble rehearsals.
At 8 p.m. Tuesday, the School of Music will present an evening concert of Larsen’s music featuring the NIU Chamber Choir, Wind Symphony, Percussion ensemble and other student chamber groups as part of the NIU New Music Festival.