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ASU School of Music pays tribute to 'Father of the Symphony'

David Schildkret
March 18, 2015

Composer Joseph Haydn was a friend of Mozart, a teacher to Beethoven and is considered by many historians to be the “Father of the Symphony.” His masterpiece, "The Creation," is the subject of a series of events that explores the implications and inspiration of Haydn’s music.

Hosted by the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts School of Music, “The Creation Project” includes an exhibit, a lecture, a symposium and stories, and culminates in a performance of the 18th century oratorio.

“Haydn established an important form of music making as well as a style that people still enjoy and find uplifting,” said David Schildkret, director of choral activities who is heading up the project. “He more or less created the symphony as we know it. It’s a defining moment in Western music that really creates the language that we know today for everything from symphonies to popular music.”

“The Creation Project” commenced March 16 with an exhibit at Hayden Library on the Tempe campus and will be a part of the spring 2015 Humanities Lecture Series at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus. Schildkret’s “Creating and Recreating Haydn’s 'The Creation'” starts at 6:30 p.m., March 19, at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, 555 N. Central Ave., Phoenix.

The lecture series, hosted by ASU’s College of Letters and Sciences, is free and open to the public.

In 1796, the 64-year-old Viennese composer sought to compose a large work for chorus, orchestra and solo singers – an oratorio – that would tell the story of the creation of the world described in the Book of Genesis in poetry and music. He spent close to two years on the oratorio, which was instantly hailed as a masterpiece. It has been performed continuously throughout the world in a variety of languages.

“In our performance, we want to convey to the audience what Haydn was trying to do,” Schildkret said. “Written music is sort of like a recipe that requires a certain amount of knowledge and understanding to execute the instructions. Like in cooking, it never comes out the same way twice. There's always this element of trying to figure out what the instructions mean and how best to carry them out so that you end up with something like what Haydn had in mind.” The lecture will explore these challenges in Haydn’s work and the solutions the ASU performances will use.

“The Creation Project” will conclude on April 29 with a performance of the oratorio by the ASU Barrett Choir, Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Choral Union, Symphony Orchestra and student soloists conducted by Schildkret.