On today’s date in 2008 at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis soprano Dawn Upshaw and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra gave the first performance of a new song-cycle titled “Carlos Drummond de Andrade Stories.” Its composer, Maria Schneider, conducted the premiere.
Drummond was one of Brazil’s greatest poets, and Schneider came to know his work though English translations by Mark Strand. “Drummond’s poetry struck me as deeply Brazilian, and Brazil is a country for which I’ve long felt an affinity.”
The Minneapolis premiere was something of a homecoming for Schneider, who was born in Minnesota and studied composition at its University before heading off to the Eastman School and after graduation being hired by the great jazz orchestrator Gil Evans as his assistant. In 1992 she formed her own jazz orchestra and won a Grammy Award with them in 2004.
Soprano Dawn Upshaw is a big fan of Schneider’s work, and in 2011 they collaborated on a second song-cycle premiere, titled “Winter Morning Walks,” based on poems of Ted Kooser.
"I knew that no matter what she was going to write,” said Upshaw, “it was going to be a joyful experience."