Press Coverage of YPC and Julia Wolfe’s Fire In My Mouth

A ‘Fire’ of Operatic Proportions Ignites Geffen Hall 

Musical America: January 28, 2019

By Clive Paget

“The 36 subtly amplified women’s voices of The Crossing, Donald Nally’s excellent Philadelphia-based professional chamber choir, were deftly contrasted in frequently complex contrapuntal patterns with the fresh, impressively disciplined female voices of the 114-strong Young People’s Chorus of New York City.”

“The Crossing’s move to the front of the orchestra for Protest heralded an invasion as the Young People’s Chorus marched down the aisles to demand their slice of the American Dream. In an overwhelming surround-sound sequence, underpinned by driving percussion, the veiled threat of ‘I wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-want’ felt far more threatening than it did aspirational.”

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Concert Review: No Exits, No Escapes
The New York Philharmonic unveils Fire in my mouth.

Super Conductor: January 27, 2019

By Paul Pelkonen

“The children’s chorus (The Young People’s Chorus of New York City) made the most dramatic entrance of the night. Clad in white, they marched in troops down the aisles of David Geffen Hall. At first they sang simple syllables, creating a spatial effect. Then at Jaap van Zweden’s cue, the singers erupted in a fount of ‘protest’, showing the problems of working conditions and the plight of the workers. A sense of tension and dread built throughout the night, with the fires ready to erupt.”

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Julia Wolfe Conjures an Army of Scissor Sisters at the New York Philharmonic

San Francisco Classical Voice: July 29, 2019

By Jennifer Gersten

“In Wolfe’s four-part oratorio, each of those 146 victims receives a face, with the equivalent number of singers assembled to enact Wolfe’s libretto in both music and movement. Over 30 women from the New York-based choir The Crossing and over one hundred girls from the Young People’s Chorus of New York City swayed, pointed their fingers in the air, and wielded the photogenic scissors as they sang. The girls’ choir, descending thunderously into the aisles during the third movement to sing inches from those in orchestra seating, provided an aching parallel to their older counterparts. In maturity and raw heft, and long skirts and high-buttoned shirts as the Triangle workers would have worn, the age difference was all but elided.”

“En route to taking their places onstage between sections, swaths of the girls’ choir began whispering excitedly to each other; those closest by seemed most concerned with the number of times they had been asked to sing the word ‘fire.’ Whether they were protesting performance decorum en masse or had been instructed to babble as though they had not been singing about starving was unclear but did not matter.”

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New York Philharmonic – Jaap van Zweden conducts Steven Stucky’s Elegy and Julia Wolfe’s Fire in my mouth – Anthony McGill plays Copland’s Clarinet Concerto

Classical Source : July 26, 2019

By Susan Stempleski

“The lavish, immersively effective production was performed by a percussion-heavy orchestra and 146 singers — exactly the number of people who died in the fire: three-dozen members of The Crossing – an excellent women’s choir (amplified on this occasion) dedicated to new music – and an equally impressive collective of 110 girls from the Young People’s Chorus of New York City. Throughout the singers moved around and about the stage and along the aisles as they sang and acted their carefully choreographed parts as the victims of the tragedy. The production also featured historic photographs and film footage, projected over the orchestra: powerful images of women dressed in shirtwaists clocking into factories, workers hunched over sewing machines in overcrowded rooms, the horrified faces of observers watching the factory in flames.”

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Fire in my mouth: Julia Wolfe Examines Immigration and the Labor Movement

I Care If You Listen: February 1, 2019

By Rebecca Lentjes

“ I didn’t think it was possible for Julia Wolfe to outdo her 2014 Anthracite Fields, but I was wrong. Fire in my mouth, which was premiered by the New York Philharmonic at David Geffen Hall on January 24-26, 2019, was one of the most incredible performances I’ve ever witnessed, and I’m tempted to just copy and paste the fire emoji 800 times in place of a review. The Philharmonic, led by their energetic music director Jaap van Zweden, combined forces with vocalists from The Crossing and the Young People’s Chorus of New York City for Wolfe’s new oratorio, all of which culminated in a moving performance that stunned the completely sold-out audience.

‘Protest’ was the strongest of the four movements. The vocalists filed off the stage and stood in front of it singing ‘I want to talk like an American / I want to sing like an American / I want to burn like an American’ as the Young People’s Chorus processed down the aisles and sang words from a speech by activist Clara Lemlich: the effect was utterly chilling. This third movement was an indictment of intolerable working conditions, of racism, of sexism–of the systemic oppression that reifies certain sounds as ‘protest music’ while others get forgotten and reduced to silence over the course of a mere century.”

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Wolfe Fire Is Epic Political Oratorio On Tragic History

Classical Voice America: January 28, 2019

By Xenia Hanusiak

“Women are the narrative heart of this musical adaptation. For this world premiere, Wolfe was gifted with the extraordinary contributions from the female members of the professional chamber choir The Crossing and the exemplary young women in the multicultural Young People’s Chorus of New York City. This aggregation of young women dominated with voice and presence. Director Anne Kauffman choreographed their physical movements across the breadth of the hall — behind, in front of, and at the sides of the orchestra, sometimes in protesting procession in the auditorium, and at other times standing in stillness, performing mimetic movements. The collective innocence and passions of their performance imparted a palpable presence. At times, I forgot that the orchestra existed.”

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