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Volume 24, Number 8 — August 2017

Local Composer Scott Gendel featured in Major AIDS benefit

A song by Scott Gendel of Emory, Va., based on a poem by Kentucky writer Wendell Berry, was the last song of the AIDS Quilt Songbook @ Twenty, presented by Sing for Hope.
A song by Scott Gendel of Emory, Va., based on a poem by Kentucky writer Wendell Berry, was the last song of the AIDS Quilt Songbook @ Twenty, presented by Sing for Hope.

By Leslie Grace / A! Magazine for the Arts | December 26, 2012

In December local composer Scott Gendel, resident of Emory, Va., was showcased as part of an evening-length benefit concert for HIV/AIDS outreach, entitled AIDS Quilt Songbook @ Twenty, presented by Sing for Hope.

The concert featured a cast of singers, pianists and composers, many of whom have major international careers. Grendel's song "At Last," based on a poem by Kentucky writer Wendell Berry, was the last song on the concert, closing out the evening. The song was performed by soprano Camille Zamora, one of the founders of Sing for Hope, and pianist Thomas Bagwell, who is the assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera.

The original AIDS Quilt Songbook was conceived in 1991 by HIV-positive baritone William Parker. The Songbook was intended to be an ever-expanding collection of songs that could be performed around the country.

He felt that in the late 1980s and early 1990s there were classical music AIDS benefit concerts, but none where the word AIDS was ever mentioned in the music that was being performed. Parker set out to invite composers whom he knew to write a song about the AIDS epidemic or how AIDS affected their lives.

This concert included songs from the premiere, songs written for various regional Songbook performances over the last two decades, and new songs written especially for this performance. The performance reflected the changing face of the disease over the two decades since the work's premiere, and benefitted Sing for Hope's HIV/AIDS outreach, even as it honored the memory of the many that have passed.