Julia Wolfe's Anthracite Fields

Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia

2012
$70,000

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Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia performing Julia Wolfe's Anthracite Fields at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral. Photo by Derek Smythe.

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Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia performing Julia Wolfe's Anthracite Fields at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral. Photo by Derek Smythe.

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Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia performing Julia Wolfe's Anthracite Fields at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral. Photo by Derek Smythe.

Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia concluded a two-year project around the commission of a new, hybrid choral work, Anthracite Fields, by composer Julia Wolfe, co-founder of New York City new music collective Bang on a Can and a runner-up for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for music. The 45-minute, multi-movement commission, premiered in April 2014, drew inspiration from Anglo-American folk music and stories around coal mining communities in Pennsylvania, Wolfe's home state. In 2015, Anthracite Fields was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished musical composition.

Wolfe researched folk stories, traditional mining songs, and personal tales from the chorus and community at large, involving audiences directly in the creation of the work. Mendelssohn Club, one of the oldest choruses in the United States and a leader in the field of professional-amateur arts participation, worked with Wolfe to create an audience-focused, "campfire" atmosphere. The work was composed for a 130+ voice chorus and the New York-based Bang on a Can All-Stars in a chamber/folk ensemble configuration, playing banjo, mountain dulcimer, and accordion, among other instruments. Mendelssohn Club also partnered with LiveConnections and Philadelphia musician/theater artist Jebney Lewis to bring the project to local schools and asked students to draw similarities between its major themes and community issues.