Requiem for Virgil Thomson

237A3184.MOV.Still001The Society for the Prevention of Un-necessary Demolition (s.p.u.d.) presented its first movement of the Public Service Announcement: KC Endangered project on Friday August 9, 2013 at the site of childhood home of Virgil Thomson.  A plein air performance of Stabat Mater was organized and arranged by James Mitchell for string quarter with solo cello.

The work and performance highlights the loss of Kansas City’s historic urban neighborhoods as well as our cultural assets. Until recently, Virgil Thomson’s childhood home at 2629 Wabash Avenue was intact and in good condition. It was demolished by the City of Kansas City Missouri to make way for a police station. However, the historical research conducted on behalf of the City failed to identify the significance of Virgil Thomson’s childhood home – clearly a nationally significant property eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

237A3192.MOV.Still004Virgil Thomson was one of America’s great modern composers of the 20th Century. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, he studied at Harvard and Julliard, lived in Paris, and worked for most of his career in New York as a composer, writer and music critic. He composed original scores for numerous films and operas as well as compositions for theater, ballet, chamber, and choral ensemble. His musical oeuvre has been noted for its originality, wit and playfulness.  In addition, Virgil Thomson wrote about music and served as the chief musical critic for the New York Herald Tribune from 1937 to 1951. One of his first critical works was on the subject of jazz. He published many books and received a variety of awards including the Pulitzer Prize. As part of the event, Andrew Granade Associate Professor of Musicology at UMKC gave a brief introduction to Virgil Thomson for the audience.

Our next PSA: KC Endangered event will be held at the Mutual Musician’s Foundation and the childhood home of Ben Webster in Kansas City Missouri, at 5 PM on Friday September 20, 2013.

All Photos by Urban Film and Design.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sue says:

    A city that partners with historic groups for background research on projects could have “moved” Virgil Thompson’s home to a nearby site and provided for community and tourist heritage enrichment. Too bad, a lost opportunity!

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