This Friday, March 18th, we welcome back the Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra. This time the group is presenting two world premieres along with two classics. The theme of the evening; human rights. Conductor Gary Fagin premieres his original and timely operetta, Supreme Justice: The Battle for Gay Rights, which dramatizes the Obergefell vs. Hodges Supreme court case which decided marriage equality as the law of the land. Come see Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (the Notorious RBG) portrayed by legendary soprano Lucy Shelton and the late Justice Antonin Scalia played by tenor John Duykers. Mr. Fagin describes the composition process of his piece below.
The Knickerbocker Orchestra’s Gary Fagin.
Photo Credit Kevin Yatarola
“The lawyers’ arguments, and the Justices’ questions and comments, spoke to the fundamental aspects of relations between human beings, governmental regulation of those relationships, and if, or how, the rights in questions were subject to protection by the United States Constitution, specifically under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Reading the transcripts, and listening to the audio recordings, of the Supreme Court proceedings of April 28, 2015, one is struck by the passion of the participants and how gripping the drama of a courtroom can be.
There’s something fascinating about how legal proceedings address universal and fundamental aspects of the human experience, so it’s not surprising how numerous are the examples of legal proceedings in novels, plays, operas, and films, for example, The Merchant of Venice; Crime and Punishment; The Marriage of Figaro; Inherit The Wind; To Kill A Mockingbird, and, more recently, the ubiquitous Law And Order and its spinoffs, to name just a few.
On June 26, 2015 the United States Supreme Court announced its decision in favor of the plaintiffs, another 5 – 4 split from a bitterly divided court. Associate Justice Arthur Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, his words remarkable in their poetry and humanity, ‘Same-sex couples, too, may aspire to the transcendent purposes of marriage and seek fulfillment in its highest meaning.’ Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia were scathing in their dissents, ‘Who do we think we are?’ (Roberts); “What really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s Putsch” (Scalia).
Supreme Justice: The Battle For Gay Rights uses verbatim excerpts from the Supreme Court arguments and decision in the Obergefell and DeBoers cases, and incorporates some of the choice public comments of Justice Antonin Scalia, representing the conservative wing, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, representing the liberal wing. Until Scalia’s recent death, Scalia and Ginsburg were unlikely, but famously, close friends.
However their legal opinions, for the most part, could not be more opposite, and they were not shy about calling each other out. Ginsburg really did say, ‘I love him [Scalia], but sometimes I’d like to strangle him.’ Scalia eviscerated his colleagues’ opinions as ‘Jiggery-pokery’ and ‘Argle-bargle,’ and described himself, in an interview, as ‘a snoot, a nitpicker.’
Supreme Justice: The Battle For Gay Rights is presented as a traditional oratorio, beginning with a chorale, with recitatives, arias, and choruses, ending with a full-blown chorale prelude in the style of J.S. Bach. “
The new piece is juxtaposed with John William’s “Equality, Under The Law,” from the motion picture Lincoln and Elmer Bernstein’s Suite from To Kill a Mockingbird. These established pieces deal with human rights in their own ways.
The Knickerbocker Orchestra round out their evening with the World Premiere of Michael Bacon’s Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra, which continues this season’s special relationship with Michael Bacon of the Bacon Brothers. The new orchestral piece is performed with special guest Christine Kim. You can enjoy a preview of the piece in the video below.
The Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra; Friday, March 18 at 7:30pm; All tickets $39; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038;(212) 346-1715; Tickets available at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/949252