Contemporary work about coal-mining industry, resonating in PA

Posted on: April 5, 2017

“Coal is never far from the surface in northeastern Pennsylvania,” writes Michael Cooper in Tuesday’s (4/4) New York Times. “So anticipation was already running high last week when the composer Julia Wolfe brought ‘Anthracite Fields,’ her [2014] Pulitzer Prize-winning choral work honoring the sacrifices of Pennsylvania coal miners, back to her native state” for a concert at Bucknell University in Lewisburg. “Then, just before the concerts, coal became front-page when President Trump moved to roll back pollution regulations in the name of trying to bring coal jobs back…. Residents of Pennsylvania’s coal regions turned out to hear the piece.… Wolfe … plans to continue writing pieces inspired by struggling American industries: Her next piece, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, will be about the women who worked in New York’s garment industry, including the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. With ‘Anthracite Fields’ she tapped a vein—not just with critics and prize juries, but also with audiences. Commissioned by the Mendelssohn Club in Philadelphia, it has been performed in Pennsylvania at Wyoming Seminary in Kingston and, earlier last week, at Penn State. It will travel as far afield this year as Trenton, Amsterdam and Athens.”

Posted April 5, 2017

In photo: Julia Wolfe’s “Anthracite Fields” was performed by Bang on a Can All-Stars, featuring Bucknell University Camerata and Lycoming College Chamber Choir. Photo by Mark Makela/New York Times