On November 13th and 14th, the Cape Symphony will perform Mayflower and Beyond, a celebration of humanity that reflects the changing times in which we’re all living.
The Significance of “Mayflower and Beyond”
Why is this event called “Mayflower and Beyond”? Artistic Director & Conductor Jung-Ho Pak explains, “Yes, we want to recognize the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing, which had such an impact on not only this region but also on our country and, truly, the entire world. We also want to acknowledge the people who were impacted by that arrival, so we’re going beyond the standard narrative. I’m thrilled to be working with Native, Black, and white musicians to shine a light on these powerful stories.”
“Mayflower” – the Ship that Changed the World
The new work “Mayflower,” co-commissioned by the Cape Symphony and the Plymouth Philharmonic, commemorates the iconic arrival of the Mayflower and the creation of our country's first document of democracy (although limited to certain people, the Mayflower Compact. This composition tells the story of the arduous journey across the Atlantic and the landing on Cape Cod.
The piece features narration, performed by Neil McGarry, describing the perils and triumphs of the Mayflower passengers, and a soprano, Kristen Watson, representing their spiritual presence as they agree to unite and prepare to start a new life. Alex Berko, one of the most exciting young composers on the scene today, wrote the music and lyrics, and historian and novelist Josh Delaney wrote the narration, which unfolds the story of the people who “looked to the horizon with hearts of hope.”
“Wampanoag: Stories for All Time” – Tales of a Resilient People
“Wampanoag: Stories for All Time,” also co-commissioned by the Cape Symphony and the Plymouth Philharmonic, presents tales of the indigenous people who were living here when the Mayflower arrived. Native composer Tonya Wind Singer, who previously wrote “First Light” for the Cape Symphony, created this composition that immerses the listener in both the sounds and sights of traditional Wampanoag drumming, dancing, and singing
The Wampanoag Tribes are the oldest indigenous community throughout the New England area. The complex story of their culture and history is often not fully understood or told, and it is the goal of this commissioned project and performance to present a richer context for their perspectives on life and spirituality.
“Wampanoag: Stories for All Time” features Native singer and storyteller Jonathan James Perry and Wampanoag performers the Community Spirit Singers.
In Memory of Elijah McClain: #elijah
“The events of 2020 led me to think deeply about the message of this show,” says Jung-Ho. “I wanted to widen the scope, focus authentically on the diverse experiences of all Americans, and most of all, lift up our common humanity.”
To that end, the Cape Symphony commissioned “#elijah,” in memory of Elijah McClain, who loved playing the violin and sharing his joy with all people and creatures. Emmy®-award winning composer John Wineglass created this extraordinary piece in celebration of Elijah McClain’s valuable life. The performance of #elijah by Randall Goosby will be presented in such an extraordinary way that the audience will never forget it.
But who was Elijah? Elijah McClain was a 23-year-old Black massage therapist living in Aurora, Colorado. Self-taught on the violin and guitar, Elijah often took his instruments to a nearby animal shelter where he played music for the animals to relax them. According to the Colorado Sentinel, one of his long-time clients at Massage Envy said, “He was the sweetest, purest person I have ever met. He was definitely a light in a whole lot of darkness.” Elijah’s mother told the Sentinel, “He wanted to change the world. And it’s crazy, because he ended up doing it." Read the rest of Elijah’s story on the Cape Symphony blog.
New World Symphony: Classical Tradition Meets Multicultural America
In the second half of this extraordinary event, the Cape Symphony will perform Antonin Dvorak’s famous New World Symphony. The most classical aspect of this Masterpiece concert fits perfectly with our inclusive theme; it’s a celebration of American potential, highly influenced by the multicultural music that the Czech composer discovered when he came here.
Dvorak’s Ninth Symphony, originally titled “From the New World” but now commonly known as the New World Symphony, is a monumental work within the orchestral repertoire. Though the New World Symphony is packaged in popular European symphonic structure and instrumentation, Dvorak’s insistence that an American musical identity be rooted in Native American and African American spirituals rather than European traditions is profoundly important. These powerful musical influences are woven into Dvorak’s composition in a way that synthesizes new and old.
If you have your tickets, we look forward to welcoming you to Mayflower and Beyond – and if you don’t have tickets yet, we encourage you to join us on November 13th and 14th for this extraordinary event.
The Cape Symphony presents Mayflower and Beyond on Saturday, November 13th at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 14th. For more information and to purchase tickets for Mayflower and Beyond, visit capesymphony.org, call the Box Office at 508-362-1111, or visit 1060 Falmouth Road in Hyannis, MA. The Cape Symphony Box Office is open Monday – Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Original Mayflower image courtesy of Plimoth Patuxet Museums.