Steven Stucky’s August 4, 1964, an Evening-Long Concert Drama Based on Momentous Events in American History at Carnegie Hall

With Dallas Symphony Orchestra & Chorus on May 11

On May 11, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and soloists will present the New York premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky’s August 4, 1964 at Carnegie Hall. Commissioned by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra to commemorate the birth centennial of President Lyndon B. Johnson in 2008, the evening-long concert drama explores two defining issues of the controversial leader’s presidency: the Vietnam War and civil rights. Stucky and librettist Gene Scheer have based August 4, 1964 on the tragic events of that date 46 years ago: the discovery in Mississippi of the bodies of three recently murdered young civil-rights workers and a disputed “attack” on two American warships in the Gulf of Tonkin.

August 4, 1964 explores that day’s historic and tragic events from two perspectives: that of the mothers of two of the murdered men, and reactions from within the Oval Office. At the time in which the concert drama is set, President Johnson is widely unpopular at this point in his presidency, despite several noteworthy accomplishments; Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara is wrapped up in the United States’ growing involvement in Vietnam; the mothers of two of the civil-rights workers, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, have just lost their sons in the horrifying racial war raging at home – foreshadowing the 58,000 Americans who were to die in Southeast Asia by the end of the as yet undeclared Vietnam War.

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