Lincoln’s Words Are Reborn, Inspired by UCLA’s Lefkowitz

December 1st, 2009 from the UCLA Music Blog

The words of three notable U.S. Presidents – Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Barack Obama – resonated at UCLA on November 19, at the world premiere of “Lincoln Echoes,” associate professor David Lefkowitz’s musical tribute to the nation’s 16th commander-in-chief. In the days before theSchoenberg Hall debut, students in a music-journalism course (Ethnomusicology 188, Lecture 3) at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music got a behind-the-scenes look at professor Lefkowitz’s “secular cantata.” Some also attended the premiere. One student, Christopher Robinson, published his account in The Daily Bruin. The other students’ accounts follow below.


Three U.S. presidents take a musical stage at UCLA

By Jeehai Song

On November 19, the voices of Presidents Lincoln, Roosevelt and Obama were revived in the “Lincoln Echoes” concert at Schoenberg Hall. The world premiere of the 36-minute piece by David Lefkowitz drew on quotations from the three presidents, as well as the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.Neal Stulberg, Director of Orchestral Studies at UCLA, conducted the UCLA Philharmonia.

“Lincoln’s words, echoing down through the years, have found resonance in the speeches of later prominent Americans — few more so than Presidents Roosevelt and Obama,” said Lefkowitz, UCLA associate professor of music composition and theory. “It seemed especially appropriate to celebrate the election of the nation’s first black president together with the Lincoln Anniversary.”

When LeRoy Villanueva of the Los Angeles Opera, in the role of Lincoln, spoke and sang the president’s words in rehearsal, I imagined that I was standing and listening to the address in front of Lincoln’s monument in Washington, D.C. The UCLA Philharmonia – equipped with full instruments, including two harps – were loud and magnificent.

Joining Villanueva were two other prominent vocals – John Duykers, tenor of the San Francisco Opera, who sang the words of Roosevelt; and Michael Dean, baritone and associate professor of music at UCLA, sang Obama’s words. The UCLA Chorale sang selections from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Professor David Lefkowitz

Professor David Lefkowitz