Fred Hersch: Leaves of Grass
Jazz pianist and composer Fred Hersch has been a key figure in the downtown New York music scene since the late 1970s. He was the first artist in the 75-year history of the legendary Village Vanguard to play week-long solo engagements, and his students are among the hottest and most sought-after young piano players. In 2005, Hersch took a leap into large-scale composition when he embraced poet Walt Whitman’s sprawling opus Leaves of Grass, with a suite for piano, two vocalists, and instrumental ensemble. Hersch’s setting brings the poetry to life in surprising and soaring musical turns of phrase in what the Washington Post called “an eloquently orchestrated celebration of Walt Whitman's poetry, vision and, above all else, humanity.” The Festival is delighted to present Hersch on piano along with a top-flight lineup of East Coast and Chicago musicians, including Jim Gailloreto and Kate McGarry, for a rare Midwest presentation of this remarkable musical work.