Backed by an orchestra of more than 80 featuring members of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, acclaimed Maestro Steven Mercurio will conduct the first-ever symphony composed entirely in celebration of man’s best friend known as A Grateful Tail at Woof Fest. Mercurio is also the mastermind behind the Woof Fest. The performance of A Grateful Tale will include special guest Academy-Award winner F. Murray Abraham.
Composer and conductor Steven Mercurio created Woof Fest to celebrate the affection that men and women have had with dogs for centuries. Woof Fest isn’t just fun for the whole family, it captures the universal love of dogs – visually, musically and theatrically. And yes, dog owners are encouraged to bring their canine friends to the event.
“I was inspired to create this symphonic tribute to dogs shortly after my beloved 15-year-old poodle succumbed to old age,” said Maestro Steven Mercurio. “A sympathetic friend sent me a copy of Eugene O’Neill’s letter in which he encourages dog owners not to grieve death but to rejoice in the happy life they shared. I knew immediately that I was going to set it to music and A Grateful Tail was born.”
A Grateful Tail, the first-ever symphony to be written entirely in celebration of dogs, is a four-movement classical symphony for orchestra, vocalist and gospel choir. The new composition will have its world premiere at the Prague Proms on July 3, conducted by Maestro Steven Mercurio. The symphony is based on American playwright Eugene O’Neill’s Last Will and Testament of Silverdene Emblem O’Neill—a comforting letter of love to his wife after the loss of their family’s Dalmation.
As an evening in two parts, Woof Fest will first take the audience on a family-friendly, multimedia journey of dog-themed experiences throughout the ages. From John Alden Carpenter’s “Dogs” (from “Adventures in a Perambulator”) and George Gershwin’s “Walking the Dog” (from the movie, “Shall We Dance”) to a tribute to working/military dogs/service dogs known as “Fido,” featuring Beethoven, Haydn and Stephen Foster, and Elvis Presley’s “You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog,” listeners will move through time and musical genres all while visually paying homage to man’s best friend through pictorial representations of famous and heroic pooches of past and present. Pop, rock, and folk tributes will include appearances by Sara Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion singing the Paul McCarthy-penned Beatles’ tune “Martha My Dear” along with international guest, Icelandic singer Yohanna, among others.
After intermission, the first movement of A Grateful Tail, “Siriusly – Dog Star,” will set the tone for Maestro Steven Mercurio’s work and depicts the early stage of puppy-hood. The second movement, “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, peacefully…” is a lyrical intermezzo bringing to life the contented, peaceful nature of a dog’s character. The third movement, or “Last Will and Testament,” is the cornerstone of the work and Academy Award-winner F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus, Homeland) will perform the featured role of the “Old Dying Dog,” singing the text of the highly acclaimed American playwright Eugene O’Neill. The last movement of the work is “Wagging the Tail,” the finale to the symphony. Utilizing samba rhythms and the energy of a large gospel choir, a propulsive and life-affirming ending will leave the audience dancing in the aisles as they celebrate their love of dogs.
Woof Fest arrives in Philadelphia on August 24 for a fun-filled, family night outside. An additional performance is scheduled on August 25, 2013 at 8 PM at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD. An album of the same name—A Grateful Tail—will be released in conjunction with the open-air Woof Fest concert tour on July 9, 2013.
Additional information will be available soon at WoofFest.com, still in development at the time of this writing.