SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 2019, 6:00 - 7:00 PM
Cherry Street Pier
121 N. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19106
Get Directions
FREE and open to the public

Orchestra 2001 performing Ríos: Papaloapan at Teatro Esperanza on May 5, 2019, Conducted by Mark Loria. 


George CrumbAn Idyll for the Misbegotten

Benjamin Wenzelberg – Ultrathing  (Based on a poem by Walt Whitman)

Benjamin Wenzelberg, countertenor
Premiere, with text by Walt Whitman

Gabriela Ortiz – Ríos: Papaloapan

Jayce Ogren, conducting

This water-themed chamber program includes the premiere of composer/countertenor Benjamin Wenzelberg's Ultrathing, with the composer singing text by Walt Whitman. Following this captivating program, Orchestra 2001 will introduce it's innovative Composer At Work window at the Cherry Street Pier!

I came across the term “Ultrathing” in an art museum in Spain; it is loosely defined as an alternative view of reality, which little children often exhibit, where perception of the world through the senses and a vivid imagination blur. This term struck a chord in me (literally!), as I found it perfectly described my artistic experience of viewing the world around me and finding something greater that I feel the need to convey and bring into my own work.

With all of this in mind, I turned to a figure who is renowned as a luminary of both artistic expression and the American ideal: Walt Whitman. His poem, “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” is a musical narrative that depicts the moment a young version of himself discovered his artistic calling and became a poet. He describes this moment as an awakening to the surrounding world (to both its beauty and its conflict), and the epiphany-like inspiration that moves an artist to “translate” the world and act as a conduit from nature to humankind (and vice versa). I was struck by how visceral the poem is – this experience is emotional, physical, earthly, and heavenly, all at once – and how Whitman considers artistic calling and a sense of personal identity so closely intertwined. It seemed to me to embody this “Ultrathing” view of the world with which I so strongly identify. 

– Benjamin Wenzelberg 

Benjamin P. Wenzelberg is a Composer, Countertenor, Conductor, Pianist, US Presidential Scholar in the Arts, and sophomore at Harvard University. An eight-year composition major at Juilliard Pre-College, one of his orchestral pieces was performed last winter by the Tonkünstler Orchestra at the Vienna Musikverein's Golden Hall, and he is proud to have also won the 2018 Ink Still Wet Composer/Conductor Competition this past summer at the Grafenegg Festival in Austria for another of his works for full orchestra. He received an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award for the libretto and music of his new opera for family audiences, The Sleeping Beauty, and earned a BMI Student Composer Award in two consecutive years. Benjy was honored to make his conducting debut with the Boston Pops this past summer, conducting the Overture to Candide after winning their Leonard Bernstein Memorial Conducting Competition. He Music Directed Massenet’s Cendrillon with Harvard College Opera in February, 2019, and looks forward to Music Directing Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte this coming season. He conducts Harvard’s Mozart Society Orchestra, and has served for two seasons as Assistant Music Director/Chorus Master/Répétiteur of New England’s oldest opera company, Lowell House Opera. As a singer, Benjy performed the role of Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus at Harvard, and was the soloist in Chichester Psalms at Bernstein Centenary Celebration concerts, both at Sanders Theatre at Harvard and at David Geffen Hall in NYC. He is a proud member of the Harvard University Choir, and has performed as a soloist with the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra, which also premiered a commissioned work of his for period instruments. Vocal awards include from the National YoungArts Foundation and from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He performed as a soloist and chorister with the Metropolitan Opera for eight seasons, and as a soloist with companies/venues including The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The New World Center, NY City Opera, NY Philharmonic, and Atlanta Opera. He has sung, played piano, and had his compositions (including commissions) performed at Carnegie Hall, in Philadelphia, in New York, and in Boston, and one of his orchestral compositions was premiered by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Ward Stare, live on NPR’s From the Top.

Return to home page.