From 19th Century Memphis to modern-day L.A.: Master Chorale time-travels through 'dreams of the new world'

Unfortunately the earnestness of the text, and the project itself, made that difficult. It is possible — as John Adams and Peter Sellars have shown, and Julia Wolfe in her oratorio, “Anthracite Fields” — to create profound musical expression around documentary material. Some of the libretto’s historical lines, especially from Memphis, really do sing, but too often there is conventional wisdom. When we get to L.A., it’s basically TED talk.