Over the length of its 81st festival season, the Brevard Music Center (BMC) will host myriad concerts and special events celebrating the legendary 20th century composer Kurt Weill. This extraordinary “Festival Within A Festival” salutes Weill’s diverse legacy through symphony, opera, Broadway cabaret, film, and lecture events. Its centerpiece will be a fully-staged production of his “Broadway opera” Street Scene on July 27 and 29, which Weill predicted would be remembered 75 years after his death as his greatest work.
“BMC is very excited to host this multi-faceted exploration of one of the 20th century’s most influential and extraordinary musical talents,” said BMC President & CEO Mark Weinstein. “We are also proud that our Kurt Weill Festival is funded in part by The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts.”
The son of a cantor, Kurt Weill (1900-1950) was born and raised in Dessau, Germany. By the end of 1923, he had already had five concert works performed by major institutions, including the Berlin Philharmonic. A difficult but popular violin concerto and his first opera cemented his standing as a leading voice of his generation. He began working with Bertolt Brecht in the spring of 1927. Their collaborations, including “The Threepenny Opera” and famous song “Mack The Knife,” earned him recognition as the outstanding theatrical composer of his time. Hitler’s accession to power in 1933 forced Weill to leave Germany, never to return. Weill enjoyed major Broadway successes including his Broadway opera, “Street Scene” (1947) and “Love Life” (1948). These shows influenced the likes of Menotti, Blitzstein, Bernstein, Fosse, Sondheim, Prince and Kander & Ebb. In the obituary following Weill’s death at the age of 50, Virgil Thomson declared him the “single most original workman in the musical theater, internationally considered, of the quarter century from 1925 to 1950.”
The BMC Weill events kicked off during the Brevard Music Festival’s Opening Weekend with BMC Artistic Director Keith Lockhart leading the Brevard Sinfonia in a performance of Much Ado About Love: A Suite of Dances from “The Firebrand of Florence” on Sunday, June 25 at 3 P.M.
The Weill events continue on Wednesday, July 5 at 7:30 P.M. at the Porter Center for the Performing Arts at Brevard College with Weill & Schoenberg: From Berlin to Hollywood, at which BMC faculty will explore the personal and professional journeys of two of the 20th century’s greatest composers.
On July 6 at 7:30 P.M. at the Porter Center, soprano Lisa Vroman of Broadway’s “The Phantom of the Opera” and baritone William Sharp will join pianist Shane Schag for a performance of “Change the World, It Needs It!”—a Broadway to classics cabaret and multi-media event exploring the revolutionary works of Weill, Brecht, and Blitzstein.
An all-Weill chamber music concert featuring BMC artist faculty in a program of instrumental and vocal music from Weill’s earlier European period will be performed on Monday, July 10 at 7:30 P.M. at Ingram Auditorium at Brevard College. July 10 also marks the beginning of the Kurt Weill Symposium curated by Kim Kowalke, President & CEO of the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music. This three-day event, July 10-12, will consist of free lectures, panel discussions, and book-readings featuring renowned Kurt Weill scholars from across the country.
On Tuesday, July 11 at 7:30 P.M. in BMC’s Searcy Hall, movie enthusiasts can enjoy a free screening of the German drama “Phoenix.” Set in the aftermath of WWII, this critically acclaimed film centrally features Kurt Weill’s hit song, “Speak Low” from “One Touch of Venus.”
On Wednesday, July 12 at 7:30 P.M., Lisa Vroman and the Janiec Opera Company will take center stage at Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium for Kurt Weill on Broadway, with Keith Lockhart conducting the Brevard Festival Orchestra.
Kurt Weill’s Tony-Award winning “Street Scene” will have its fully staged Brevard premiere on Thursday, July 27 at the Porter Center at 7:30 P.M. The second matinee performance will be held on Saturday, July 29 at 2 P.M.
The Weill Festival will end with Brevard Symphonic Winds performing “Kleine Dreigroschenmusik,” a suite from Weill’s beloved “Threepenny Opera,” arranged for wind orchestra by Weill himself, on Friday, August 4 at 7:30 P.M. at Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium.
The Brevard Music Center’s Kurt Weill Festival is presented in partnership with The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music and “Music Unwound,” a national consortium of orchestras, universities, and music festivals engaged in cross-disciplinary programing and pedagogy, and is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Kurt Weill Festival | At A Glance
For more information about Kurt Weill and a complete listing of Festival events, times, and details, please visit www.brevardmusic.org/kurtweill.
• July 5: “Weill & Schoenberg: From Berlin to Hollywood”
• July 6: “Change The World, It Needs It! A Weill/Brecht/Blitzstein Cabaret”
• July 10: Chamber Music of Kurt Weill
• July 10-12: Kurt Weill Symposium
• July 11: Movie Screening—“Phoenix”
• July 12: “Kurt Weill on Broadway”
• July 27 & July 29: “Street Scene”
• August 4: “Kleine Dreigroschenmusik” (1929)