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National Children's Chorus performs US Premiere of "Far Away" by Sage Lewis

Location: California, USA
Choir type: Children's and Youth Choirs
Composer Sage Lewis and the Far Away Project
funded by Center Theatre Group's Richard E. Sherwood Award

The National Children's Chorus chapter in Los Angeles has embarked on a unique journey with composer Sage Lewis, the Center Theatre Group of Los Angeles, and Cuba's top youth chorus, Coro Diminuto. Together, they have created an extraordinary musical dialogue between children from different lands, through the inspired vision of Lewis and the dedication of both chorus' conductors and vocalists.  With great pride, they soon present:  Far Away--a multi-media musical work featuring music composed by Sage Lewis and words written by the children, in an effort to build digital bridges and engender understanding between the United States and Cuba.

As the Center Theatre Group's 2009 Richard E. Sherwood Award Recipient, Lewis conceptualized a piece of music that would utilize the US and Cuba's premier children's choruses.  As part of his creation, both choruses are now planning to sing together, but not in the same space, as each choir will perform with a video and audio playback of its choral counterpart.  The libretto, a longing expression for friendship, is made up of interviews Lewis did with the children, asking them about their countries, the meaning of friendship, their fears, and their dreams.  Using video projection to cross geographic distance and extreme political restrictions that separate the two societies, sound and video of the "far away" choir will be projected onto the live choir to create a holographic fantasy of physically uniting the children in song.

The World Premiere will take place on Sunday, December 12th, in Cuba, as part of a Havana Film Festival symposium, "El Mundo Audiovisual del Niño Latinoamericano."  The US Premiere will take place at The Broad Stage on Saturday, December 18th, at 7 PM, as part of the National Children's Chorus' holiday concert entitled Nuestra Música.  

Far Away is Sage's second major US-Cuba collaboration using new media to create virtual connections between the two enemy nations.  His first work, The Closest Farthest Away, was the first performance written, produced, and performed collaboratively by theatre artists, filmmakers and musicians in Havana, New York City and Los Angeles. Its historical debut at the Havana Film Festival in December 2009, and on Miami Beach in March 2010, was unanimously lauded by journalists, audiences, and institutions on both sides of the Florida Straits, including American Theatre Magazine, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Center Theatre Group, the Havana Film Festival, Knight Foundation, the University of Miami, El Mundo, Telemundo, and LA Weekly. The Miami Herald reported "The Closest Farthest Away breaks ground artistically, politically, and technologically." Cuba's official newspaper, Granma, declared the work "an open bridge and a revolution on the impending need to leave behind our prejudices."

In working on Far Away, students at the National Children's Chorus have taken the complex piece very seriously, performing the music skillfully and passionately for professional recording and visual taping media. "I have never seen them so emotionally connected with music written in this very modern style. It is a true testament to the project's truth and artistic purity," says Artistic Director, Luke McEndarfer.