On Veterans Day weekend, Placerville’s Edwin Markham School will host Camerata California Chamber Choir and VITA Chamber Orchestra presenting their critically acclaimed program “Let Freedom Ring.”
The program includes “Lincoln Lyrics,” which includes poetry by Edwin Markham, the famous Placerville poet and educator from the 1800s for whom the school is named. Markham’s poetry was set in the 1940s to some of the most beautiful American music ever composed by George Frederick McKay.
“Let Freedom Ring” commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address and honors Abraham Lincoln’s life and work, veterans, freedom and the composer and poet whose work celebrates those things — McKay and Placerville’s own Markham.
“We chose Placerville as one of the venues for ‘Let Freedom Ring’ because Edwin Markham School is the namesake school of Edwin Markham, the ‘Lincoln Lyrics’ poet. Markham was a Superintendent of Schools for El Dorado County in the 1870s and also went on to great fame as the poet of ‘Lincoln Lyrics’ and ‘Lincoln, Man of the People,’ which was recited at the opening of the Lincoln Memorial,” explained Music Director and Conductor Pete Nowlen.
Nowlen programmed the multi-faceted concert with the idea of reviving some American masterpieces about Lincoln as well as presenting classic pieces.
“‘Lincoln Lyrics’ is a choral cantata that depicts scenes from the life of Lincoln — his birth, youth, love, work, death and legacy — and includes some of the most charming Americana ever composed,” he said.
The program also includes “Toward the Unknown Region,” a Ralph Vaughn Williams setting of a Civil War era poem by Walt Whitman, and “Words of Lincoln,” a musical setting of Lincoln’s own words, including portions of the Gettysburg address.
The program will also include recitations by Edwin Markham School students, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “American the Beautiful,” the sounding of Taps and the presentation and retiring of colors.
“This is an especially important program because there had never been a recording of ‘Lincoln Lyrics,’ and the cantata had not performed in some 60 years,” Nowlen added. “We will be joined by children of the composer George Frederick McKay, traveling from Washington state and the East Coast to attend the program. Camerata and VITA are honored to be performing this program for the Placerville community and for the composer’s family.”
Camerata and VITA will be presenting “Let Freedom Ring” at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9 at Edwin Markham Middle School, 2800 Moulton Drive in Placerville.
The same program will also be presented in two other historic Northern California venues on Veterans Day weekend — Yountville’s California Veterans Home on Nov. 10 and Grass Valley’s Veterans Memorial Hall on Nov. 11. The program was presented to resounding critical acclaim in Sacramento last Memorial Day.
Nowlen said he and his groups are honored to be performing the program again in these historic locations at this special time. “The concert is a beautiful coming together of the Sacramento musical community to celebrate one of America’s truly great historic figures on an historic occasion.”
For further information on tickets, concert times and locations visit cameratacalifornia.net.