Free preview of 'Origin' in progress March 14

Richard EinhornA free preview of the music and development of “The Origin,” Richard Einhorn’s oratorio-in-progress about the life of Charles Darwin, will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 14, in Waterman Theatre.

The preview will feature passages, details and discussion from composer Einhorn and musical director Julie Pretzat, professor of music at SUNY Oswego. Kitka, a vocal ensemble with European roots, soloist Jacqueline Horner (of Anonymous 4) and the College Choir and Oswego Festival Chorus will perform selections from the production.

The seeds for the production took root when Mary Avrakotos, coordinator of the college’s Artswego Performing Arts Series, and Pretzat talked to Einhorn when he presented the multimedia production “Voices of Light” at SUNY Oswego in 2004. Einhorn told them about his idea to compose a production on Darwin’s life, and Artswego pursued the necessary grant support to bring it to fruition.

“Richard has spent years thinking about this piece and researching everything,” Avrakotos said. “He’s become a kind of Darwin scholar, and he’s translating his knowledge and passion into his work.” 

The preview will feature some very powerful pieces and give audiences a flavor for the finished production, Pretzat said. Selections will include “200 Beetles,” showing Darwin’s thought process as he works on his theory of evolution; “Annie’s Memorial,” which Pretzat called a “devastating” piece about the passing of Darwin’s daughter; and the doo-wop-influenced, triumphant and “very funny” “Winged Seeds,” she said.

Among other things, audiences will realize it is not an overly serious or heavy production, and is “very accessible music, very tonal, very pleasing to the ears,” Pretzat noted.

“This is a piece about a really interesting man and the different thought process he had,” she explained. “He really roiled things around in his head for years. His theory took so long to get published because he was so conflicted about it.”

Einhorn also will discuss the artistic process and his research on Darwin at a free College Hour informance at 12:40 p.m. Wednesday, March 12, in the Campus Center Auditorium.

The original hope was for a world premiere at SUNY Oswego this spring, but the additional time will make the finished product even better and allow for more educational opportunities like the preview, Avrakotos said. The new date for the premiere, February 2009, will fall during the month of the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth.

The creation and production of Richard Einhorn’s “The Origin” is supported by grants from Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Music Fund and Entergy.

For more information, contact the Artswego office at 312-4581 or

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CONTACT: Mary Avrakotos, 312-4581 or

(Posted: Feb 20, 2008)