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Lembit Beecher Presents Documentary Oratorio And Then I Remember in NYC

Taimi Lepasaar, top, and Ants Lepasaar, flier for "And Then I Remember;" culled from Lembit Beecher's website.

Outside of the medium of opera, composers are not often characterized as storytellers. Increasingly in recent years, however, with the use of multimedia to tell abidingly personal stories in a concert setting, the description of composer-as-storyteller has become more apt.

At 8 p.m. today, January 20 and Saturday, January 21 at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York City, Estonian-American composer Lembit Beecher presents the New York premiere of his “documentary oratorio,” And Then I Remember, which chronicles the experiences of his grandmother Taimi Lepasaar during the World War II era in Estonia, including her family’s escape to the United States during the Nazi invasion.

The 50-minute composition, written in 2009, is distinct for its combined use of chamber music instrumentation, film, audio of English language interviews with Lepasaar, and excerpts from the Estonian national epic, the Kalevipoeg. And Then I Remember will be performed alongside the world premiere of Beecher’s Three Immigrant Songs, a song cycle for mezzo-soprano, cello, horn, and piano that utilizes several poems with texts filtered through multiple English translations.

Lembit Beecher is the current (and first-ever) Composer in Residence at the Opera Company of Philadelphia, a residency in collaboration with Gotham chamber Opera and Music-Theatre group. Tickets are available at the door for $15, as well as in advance. For more information, visit the composer’s website here.