Ever since David Hattner made his New York conducting debut with “Voices of Light” in 2006, he has wanted to conduct it again.Next winter, made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), he will get his opportuntity as music director with the Portland Youth Philharmonic (PYP) as a part of the Creative Heights Initiative Project.
When PYP first applied for the Art Works award last summer, producing “Voices of Light” was just a dream. Soon after administrators sent out the application, they received word that PYP had been awarded a generous grant from the Oregon Community Foundation. The $38,500 grant made the dream a reality. It would be a tight budget, but they would be able to bring the Portland music community together to produce this show that has never been done in Portland before.
When PYP directors received word from NEA about a $10,000 grant, they sighed with relief. A total of more than $48,000 would allow them to do a first-class show.
PYP Executive Director Noreen Murdock says that without the NEA grant, producing “Voices of Light” would have been very difficult.
“It just gives us that much more stability,” Murdock says.
The Art Works grant that PYP received is part of $82 million being distributed to arts projects across the country.
The Jan. 26, 2018 performance of “Voices of Light” will feature musicians from Camerata PYP, a group of talented high school string, flute and oboe players, as well as a chamber orchestra, Northwest Film Center, four professional soloists, In Mulieribus women’s choir and chamber choirs from Portland State University. The musicians will perform to a live projection of Carl Dreyer’s silent film “The Passion of Joan of Arc.”
According to Hattner, rehearsals for the 84-minute show will begin more than three months in advance.
Although musicians as young as seven are able to audition to play with the PYP, Hattner says that most of the musicians are between the ages of 11-18. The musicians who will play in “Voices of Light” will be exclusively members of Camerata PYP who are primarily high school age.
Hattner suspects that some of his musicians have already checked out the DVD from the library, and found the musical scores online. But not all of them.
“None of them can know, even if they’ve looked at it, what it’s like to perform this piece in front of an audience,” Hattner says.
The opportunity for the young musicians to be able to work alongside professionals on such an iconic project is an incredible opportunity, according to Murdock.
“We’re really excited to be able to produce this piece,” Murdock says. “It’s so outside of the normal scope and scale of what we generally do.”
For more: www.portlandyouthphil.org.
This story was first published here.