The Edge Effect: Composers and their Environmental Influences

Join the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble on Saturday, February 24 at 8 p.m. as they present “The Edge Effect,” a program of two iconic 20th-century works that respond to turbulent times through words, music, and theater. Their composers were at once revolutionaries and traditionalists; and drew from their own cultural history to create new expressive modes of extreme emotion.

Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire depicts the macabre world of Pierrot the clown, exploring the character’s dark fantasies and hallucinatory visions. The first performance in 1912, featuring a noted cabaret singer, caused a scandal, and Schoenberg would feel the effects for the rest of his life. Mezzo-soprano Kendra Broom, a Curtis opera student, headlines the Curtis 20/21 performance

Peter Maxwell Davies’s melodrama Eight Songs for a Mad King was composed in the late 1960s and has since established itself as a major work of experimental theater. Davies—inspired by the same ensemble as Schoenberg used for Pierrot more than 50 years earlier—placed this cycle of songs in the 18th century, the time of Britain’s King George III. The work’s striking sounds and non-traditional vocal and performance techniques portray the king’s descent into madness, creating an unforgettable experience for the listener. Baritone Jonathan Beyer, a Curtis alumnus, is featured with the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble.



Pierrot lunaire
Eight Songs for a Mad King