Flanders Remembers: Music & Words from WWI

Posted on centenarynews.com on 17 November 2016
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To commemorate Veterans Day in New York, Mr. Geert De Proost, General Representative of the Government of Flanders to the United States, hosted Flanders Remembers: Music and Words from WWI.

This concert was presented on November 17 at The Morgan Library & Museum, a fitting venue considering that two members of the Morgan family made invaluable contributions to the war.

Jack Morgan, the founder of the library, organized in 1915 a $500 million Anglo-French loan, then the largest foreign loan in Wall Street history. His sister, Anne, founded the American Committee for Devastated France, a volunteer civilian relief organization, whose records are part of the library’s collection.

This was a semi-staged performance, which explored the contours of the war through poetry and music, and was accompanied by a projection of art, provided by the National World War One Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.

Divided into five acts, the concert traversed landscapes (Allied countries), languages (English, French and Flemish), shifting war themes (enthusiasm giving way to disillusionment) and musical genres (classical, jazz and cabaret).

It began with “A Call to Arms - America,” followed by “Vanishing Idealism – France,” “In the Shadow of Lost Time – Belgium,” “Casualty from the Eastern Front – Russia,” and “The Death of the Hero – Great Britain and Ireland.”

Highlights featured a powerful rendition of Claude Debussy’s last song, “Christmas for Children Who No Longer Have Houses,” by the mezzo-soprano Katarina Van Droogenbroeck; of Alexander Scriabin’s Prelude and Nocturne for the Left Hand by the pianist Katya Mihailova and the Irish ballad, “Danny Boy” by actor/baritone Matthew Patrick Morris.

Director Edwin Cahill explained the importance of the theme and image of the red poppy in his program: “During the horrific days of the war, when explosions left the fields destroyed, poppy flowers would suddenly appear around the casualties. The idea that we are all like the Flanders fields poppies who contain resilient seeds of hope and love that can grow again even in the darkest periods of war inspired us to create this program for you.”