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140 N Christopher Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106
A work of theater as much as one of music, Songs of Wars I Have Seen juxtaposes modern and period instruments, electronic atmospherics, Baroque compositions, modernist harmonies, and the haunting text of Gertrude Stein’s World War II memoir to create a bittersweet lament on war’s insidious effects.
An American Jew living in the Nazi puppet state of Vichy France, Stein detailed everyday life in a neutral, descriptive style, pausing as much on the food she ate as the atrocities engulfing Europe. Her Wars I Have Seen tells us what is happening, without telling us how to feel about it. In Songs of Wars I Have Seen, iconoclastic German composer Heiner Goebbels emphasizes this meditative neutrality and sharpens our focus on the gendered experience of war.
Tales of war generally feature the voices of male soldiers or military leaders, but Songs of Wars I Have Seen puts the often-overlooked female experience of war at the forefront. Performers from Philadelphia’s leading classical music groups — The Philadelphia Orchestra
and Tempesta di Mare — Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra
— speak Stein’s words. Bridging centuries of music, the melodies the musicians play range from jazzy bursts to plaintive moans, incorporating melancholic and violent segments by the 17th-century English composer Matthew Locke. Musical styles change, war remains.
$29 general / $20.30 member
$15 student + 25-and-under