World premiere of "Drag Down the Sky" by Spoleto Chamber Music Composer-in-Residence Osvaldo Golijov

Jun 1, 2016

Geoff Nutall
Credit Julia Lynn Photography

  Geoff Nuttall, The Charles E. and Andrea L. Volpe Director for Chamber Music for the Bank of America Chamber Music series, today announced more details about Osvaldo Golijov’s "Drag Down the Sky," which will have its world premiere during the 2016 Spoleto Festival USA season. Golijov, the series composer-in-residence, recently completed the work, and performing musicians—baritone Tyler Duncan with the St. Lawrence String Quartet (violinists Nuttall and Owen Dalby, violist Lesley Robertson, and cellist Christopher Costanzo)—are thrilled with the vibrancy and substance of this dramatic piece.Drag Down the Sky" is part of Program VI on the series, performed at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm on June 4 and 11:00 am on June 5.

"Drag Down the Sky" comes from the final scene of the first act in Golijov’s forthcoming opera, Iphigenia. In the plot, the Greek armies have assembled at Aulis, ready to sail to Troy, but for a month, there has been no wind to push their sails. The oracle tells Agamemnon that Artemis, the Goddess of the place, has decreed that the wind will only come if he sacrifices his daughter, Iphigenia. Agamemnon agrees to the sacrifice and then realizes the consequences of his decision.

"In this moment," Golijov said, "Agamemnon acquires full humanity. It covers a lot of emotional ground—it has great rage, but in the end, he sings a simple lullaby to himself, like King Lear in the end."

Irish playwright Conor McPherson is the librettist for Iphigenia, and so has written original text for this piece. Golijov suggested he incorporate several verses from the third chapter of the book of Job—one of Western culture’s most well-known stories of suffering and misery.

"Osvaldo expresses the full range of human emotion through music better than any living composer I know of," said Nuttall.

In addition to the "Drag Down the Sky" premiere, this season includes the world premiere of Golijov’s "Anniversary Bagatelles" (performed on Program V, June 2 at 1:00 pm and June 3 at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm)—two Beethoven bagatelles arranged for the occasion of Nuttall and violinist Livia Sohn’s 15th wedding anniversary. The couple was married in Charleston in 2000 and will perform this work together.

Other Golijov works that are part of the 2016 season include Tenebrae (Program III on May 30 and 31), Lullaby and Doina (Program IV on June 1 and 2), and Last Round (Program V on June 2 and 3). Golijov and Spoleto Festival USA have enjoyed a long association; his work was featured in series concerts programmed by Artistic Director Emeritus Charles Wadsworth, including the world premiere of Festival-commissioned works Din in 1998 and Tenebrae in 2002. The St. Lawrence String Quartet’s celebrated musical partnership with Golijov extends beyond the Festival; the quartet has performed and recorded many of Golijov's compositions, including Lullaby and Doina with Palmer and flutist Tara O’Connor for its celebrated recording Yiddishbbuk in 2002.