The memorial at the Green-Wood Cemetery to Louis Moreau Gottschalk, considered to be America's first great composer and a Civil War veteran, is in need of restoration. Since 1999, the Green-Wood Historic Fund has been holding a Memorial Day concert to raise funds to preserve the monument, and on May 26, the 10th annual outdoor event will be held at the cemetery with a lineup featuring local string acts.
"We wanted more of a newish classical [lineup] because the monument is trying to raise money for Louis Moreau Gottschalk," said Eric Richmond, founder of the Brooklyn Lyceum, which organized this year's Memorial Day concert, of the American composer.
Modern classical talent pulled from around the city that Richmond thought would make a good fit together and also had perform on Brooklyn Lyceum's stage, include Christina Courtin, duo Brooklyn Rider and string quartet Brazztree.
A graduate of Juilliard who's been honing her act at places like Joe's Pub as well as around the world, working with such acclaimed musicians as Yo-Yo Ma and Brooklyn Rider, also on the Memorial Day concert's bill, violinist Christina Courtin has the vocal talent to match her string skills. Her voice has been compared to Janis Joplin's, her songs like Norah Jones, for music that is equally passionate and immediate. She has some big shows coming up this summer, at the Prospect Park Bandshell opening for the Knights and at Brooklyn Masonic Temple opening for Suzanne Vega, but Brooklynites can catch her this Memorial Day at the outdoor event as she plays her original tunes, which are anticipating release on her debut record on Nonesuch Records due for release early next year.
Local string quartet Brooklyn Rider, veterans of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project and Brooklyn Lyceum's and Bargemusic's stages, bring their flawless sound to the Green-Wood Cemetery. Comprised of violist Nicholas Cords, violinists Johnny Gandelsman and Colin Jacobsen, and Jacobsen's brother, cellist Eric, the four men are known for their diverse classical repertory as well as their own modern classical works. The foursome create beautiful, resonating music that is sometimes haunting in its rich melodies.
Another seamless string act, the New York-based Brazztree is comprised of violinist Mazz Swift and guitarist Brad Hammonds to round out the bill of small, intimate string acts which still pack a big sound. The two have been together going on four years now as an act, writing, composing and performing their unique fusion of folk, jazz and classical sounds known as New World Acoustic Rock.
As composers themselves, all three acts have been directly or indirectly influenced by the work of Gottschalk, a pianist who is considered the father of ragtime for his complex compositions during the 19th century. In addition to being the first American composer, Gottschalk is also a war veteran, having served in the Civil War, and one of the many remembered on Memorial Day. The sculpture dedicated to him in Green-Wood Cemetery, an angel, is missing parts and needs general upkeep. The concert will help in the restoration and maintaining of the monument to bring it back to its original state through Green-Wood's Saved in Time Fund, which also works to preserve other monuments in the cemetery.
"It's intended to be a nice outdoor concert in the evening," said Richmond, who has been involved in many of the past Memorial Day concerts at rare music venue, Green-Wood Cemetery. "That hasn't happened much there."
The Green-Wood Historic Fund's 10th annual Memorial day Concert is May 26 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15, or $10 for students, seniors and Historic Fund members, and are available at www.brookl