Highway 1, U.S.A.
Composer: William Grant Still
Composer Bio: William Grant Still (May 11, 1895 – December 3, 1978) was a prolific African-American classical composer. Born in Woodville, Mississippi he was the son of two teachers. Growing up with his widowed mother and stepfather originally went to medical school per his mother's wishes. While there he conducted the university band, learned instruments, and began composing. He later attended Oberlin Conservatory of Music and studied at the New England Conservatory before enlisting in the US Navy and serving in World War I. His career took off in the years afterward. He was the first African-American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have his own orchestra performed by a leading orchestra, the first to stage an opera with a major company, and the first to have an opera performed on live television. He married Verna Arvey, a journalist and pianist, in 1939. He died of heart failure in Los Angeles.
Librettist: Verna Arvey
Other Artistic Personnel: Fabien Sevitzky, Conductor
Original Cast: n/a
Premiere Date: May 11, 1963
Producing Company: University of Miami
Description: Bob and Mary have worked hard and sacrificed a lot in order to put Nate, Bob's brother, through college. Mary dreams of the life they will have once Nate's education is completed. Bob explains that according to his mother's deathbed wish, they must support Nate until he has established himself financially. Mary tells Aunt Lou of her hatred for Nate. After finishing his education, Nate remains idle for a year, living with Bob and Mary and contributing nothing. One morning Bob expresses his doubt that Nate will ever get a job. Nate comes in after Bob has left and commences to woo Mary. Mary laughs at him and confirms her love for Bob. Nate becomes enraged and stabs her. Mary's screams bring Bob running. Thinking that Mary is dead, Bob takes the blame in order to protect his brother. Mary regains consciousness and names Nate as her assailant. As he is led away, Nate pleads with Bob to help him. Ignoring his pleas, Bob kneels by Mary and promises a brighter future.
Reviews: The New York Times, Peter G. Davis, 12-5-77; Charleston Daily, George Armstrong, 5-1-67; Miami Hurricane, Mark O. Polo, 5-17-63; The Miami Herald, Doris Reno, 5-13-63
Length: 01:00
Total Acts: Not Available
Chorus: SATB Chorus
Orchestration: 2 fl (picc), 2 ob (Eng hrn), 2 cl (bcl), 2 bsn - 4 hrn, 2 tpt, 2 tbn - 2 timp, perc, hp - str
Musical Style: Through-composed; tonal, with chromaticism; vocal lines vary from conversational on repeated pitches to lyrical, disjunct vocal lines.
Contact: William Grant Still Music, c/o ASCAP
E-mail Address: wgsmusic@bigplanet.com
Phone: 212-621-6327
Publisher Web Site: http://www.williamgrantstill.com
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