When: Sat., Oct. 24, 8 p.m. 2015
N.C. SYMPHONY: AN EVENING WITH JEFFREY AND GABRIEL KAHANE
SATURDAY, OCT. 24
MEYMANDI CONCERT HALL, RALEIGH—A year ago, singer, songwriter and composer Gabriel Kahane premiered The Ambassador at UNC's Memorial Hall. It was an intricate staged interpretation of the Kahane album of the same name, itself a beautiful examination of Los Angeles through lenses of film, literature and history. Kahane returns to the Triangle this week with a different focus—a program that features his father, the conductor Jeffrey Kahane, leading the North Carolina Symphony as his son sings and plays his own work.
The younger Kahane will present his symphony-commissioned "Hard Circus Road." The short piece takes its name from a 1987 account that chronicles the history of the North Carolina Symphony. The symphony spends a good portion of its year on the road, performing across the state rather than residing in Raleigh. (In fact, it'll take this show to Chapel Hill on Monday night, too.) "Hard Circus Road" is a musical ode to that itinerary and the state's geography.
But the program will hinge on Gabriel's Guide to the 48 States, an album-length piece that Kahane premiered in New York in 2013 with the Orpheus Symphony Orchestra. His task was to write a piece about the Works Progress Administration. "One of the most contentious things [with the WPA] was what to do with writers," Kahane explains. "The conservative side of the political spectrum definitely did not want to be giving novelists federal paychecks to go sit in their rooms and write fiction."
Thus, the Federal Writers' Project and the American Guide Series were born. The American Guide Series included travel guides to 48 states, penned—without attribution—by the likes of Saul Bellow, Richard Wright and Zora Neale Hurston. Kahane lifted some of the text for Gabriel's Guide from them and interviews conducted under the Federal Writers' Project.
"It's an omnivorous musical tapestry that is inclusive of folk," he says. "I'm playing electric guitar and banjo, and there's the orchestra and folky elements and also some kind of Americana elements."
For Kahane, though, the Guide's attraction extends far beyond music. "It's a piece about America, which is a pretty good hook for anyone who's interested in the texture of both contemporary life and life in America as it has been over the last century," he says. 8 p.m., $18–$66, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, 919-996-8700, www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com. —Allison Hussey