America/Beautiful: 70 Variations on NPR and NBC


Steinway pianist Min Kwon commissioned 70 composers, including Tania León, Nico Muhly, George Lewis and Vijay Iyer to create variations on America The Beautiful. See Leila Adu-Gilmore’s “United Underdog” at the world première.

Read the full NPR story here
Watch the full NBC feature here

While some of us baked bread, sewed masks, or doom-scrolled through the latest “Breaking News,” internationally-celebrated pianist, arts advocate and educator Min Kwon was busy Zooming with American composers, from aspiring young students to Pulitzer Prize winners, from as young as 20 years old to as old as 93, inviting them to come together and contribute their unique, individual talents—to create something altogether new—much like the American experiment itself.  Though it would end up both enabled and shaped by it, the idea of bringing American composers together to write variations of “America the Beautiful” wasn’t born of the pandemic. Inspired by the famous Diabelli’s variations written over 200 years ago in Vienna, Kwon already had the vision to create something fresh for the 21st century before the pandemic hit in March. Almost a year later, she has a compendium of over 70 variations on what’s often been called “the national hymn.”

Leila joins Victoria Bond, Charles Coleman, David Serkin Ludwig, Jessica Meyer, Patricio Molina, Qasim Naqvi, Greg Sandow, Juri Seo, Trevor Weston on a concert of pieces commissioned by Min Kwon for the project on July 8th at the Greenwood Cemetary.

Tickets can be purchased here