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Middlebury hosts New England premiere of 'A Standing Witness' where American history and classical music intertwine

A photo of people on a stage, one person singing in the center of musicians playing instruments.
Sami Elahi, Courtesy
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Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and the Music from Copland House ensemble perform the world premiere Richard Danielpour's "A Standing Witness" in Chicago.

On a cold October night, Middlebury's Mahaney Arts Center hosted the New England premiere of a new work by Richard Danielpour.

Delayed by over a year due to the pandemic, the work, "A Standing Witness" is the result of a collaboration between Danielpour and Pulitzer Prize-winning former U.S. Poet Laureate, Rita Dove. It was commissioned by Music from Copland House in Peekskill, New York.

The work, a monumental 60-minute long song cycle for mezzo-soprano and chamber ensemble, connects and interweaves pivotal events from the last 50 years of American history, often highlighting the old adage, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

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