The disconnect between the general public and classical music has been well-documented in recent years. Arts budgets are being slashed in education, and there is a definitive lack of young people in classical music audiences. In choral music, in particular, one reason for this disconnect may be a decided lack of relatable text within currently available repertoire.
While poetry by Shakespeare or Yeats can be recognized for its beauty, it lacks the ability to be immediately and readily identifiable among the average music consumer. In contrast, “popular” music speaks to people with language of the vernacular; it is readily singable and easily relatable.
w&ea. hopes to bridge this gap through our pop project., which will commission established pop artists to create new works for a cappella choirs. These works will utilize contemporary American vernacular in its lyrics, creating an aural aesthetic which relates to popular music while maintaining the tenets of quality choral music.
We are pleased to announce that Gabriel Kahane is the first artist we have commissioned to participate in this project.
Donations for this project can be made by following the contact and support tab above. Please read below for a biography of our featured composer, and details of the project outline.
Gabriel Kahane is a musician and storyteller whose work increasingly exists at the intersection of art and social practice. Hailed as “one of the finest songwriters of the day” by The New Yorker, he is known to haunt basement rock clubs and august concert halls alike, where you’ll likely find him in the green room, double-fisting coffee and a book.
He has released four albums as a singer-songwriter, including, most recently, the intimate Book of Travelers (Nonesuch Records), which Rolling Stone called “a stunning portrait of a singular moment in America.” As a composer, he has been commissioned by many of America’s leading arts institutions, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and the Public Theater, which in 2012 presented his musical February House.
In 2019, Kahane was named the inaugural Creative Chair for the Oregon Symphony, following the premiere in Portland of his oratorio emergency shelter intake form, a work that explores inequality in America through the lens of housing issues. The piece was released as an album in March of 2020, and is scheduled for performance by half a dozen other American orchestras in the coming years.
Kahane’s discography also includes 2014’s The Ambassador, which received an acclaimed staging at BAM, directed by Tony and Olivier Award-winner John Tiffany; an album of chamber music, The Fiction Issue, with the string quartet Brooklyn Rider and vocalist/composer Shara Nova; a recording with The Knights of his orchestral song cycle Crane Palimpsest; as well as the original cast album for February House.
A frequent collaborator across a range of musical communities, Gabriel has worked with an array of artists including Paul Simon, Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, Phoebe Bridgers, Caroline Shaw, and Chris Thile. After nearly two decades in Brooklyn, Kahane relocated with his family to Portland, Oregon, in March of 2020. Their freakishly self-possessed cat, Roscoe Greebletron Jones III, when not under investigation for securities fraud, continues his fruitless attempts to monetize his Instagram account.