Project Summary

A recording of The Bridge by the Czech Chamber Orchestra Pardubice, conducted by Maestro Marek Štilec. Scheduled for October 2022.

The donation goal for this project is $15,000.00.

Project Description

A small, blue edition of Hart Crane’s masterpiece, The Bridge, has been living in my library for decades. The thought of doing something musically with it popped into mind now and then, but I never quite mustered the courage to do anything with it. However, during these days of coronavirus driven isolation, when the importance of human connectness, so aptly symbolized by the image of the bridge, has been hammered into our consciousness, the time had come.

For those so inclined, read the poem. The Bridge, over the course of its 15 chapters, is an attempt to capture the essence of America in the 1920s, as Crane experienced it. I think he succeeded in capturing the complexities of America – from its violent beginnings as the culture of native Americans was crushed by expanding European cultures to the crass commercialism that erupted at the turn of the century (and still exists, in spades, today), tempered by the buoyant optimism and hope for mankind in spirits like Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and the American transcendentalists.

But above all, the poem relies upon the Brooklyn Bridge as a symbol of connectness, spanning the myriad of events across time and geography that culminate in what we are, wherever we are, today.

Crane’s poem attempted perhaps too much. The span of the Brooklyn Bridge became a symbol of everything connected to everything else – the past to the present, urban America to rural America, a vast dream of America from its pre-European existence to the bustling America of big, industrial cities and great railroads spanning the continent.

In this music, the solo viola, in its middle range, spans between the musical soundscapes that represent the images evoked by the poem. It reaches between the low and high instruments, between the dark, swirling eddies of water beneath the bridge to the searing sunlight, piercing the harp-like cables of the bridge, while seagulls soar overhead. It also is the voice of the poem’s protagonist, seeking redemption in a violent and crassly commercial world.

Scattered, like leaves, in the music, are apparitions from the past – a fragment of a melody from a court composer to Ferdinand and Isabella, a made-up Irish gig, bits of jazz and flashes of tunes from the 1920s that Hart Crane would have heard during his days in New York.

The Bridge, composed during the first months of the pandemic, is my most ambitious musical work to date.  It is my attempt to write a great American symphony, one that speaks to the history and spirit of our country.

The Artists

Stanley Grill is a classical composer whose passion for medieval and Renaissance music has greatly influenced his writing. Two main themes permeate many of his works – music composed in an attempt to translate something about the nature of the physical world, and music composed to inspire and promote world peace.

Brett Deubner, one of this generation’s most accomplished violists, has inspired worldwide critical acclaim for his powerful intensity and sumptuous tone.  Since his debut with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra where he gave the world premiere of a concerto written for him by Grammy award-winning composer Lalo Schifrin, the American violist has gone on to perform world wide as soloist with over 70 orchestras in 12 countries on 5 continents to unanimous approval for “the warmth and sparkling” quality of his playing. Since then, he has received 43 viola concerti dedicated to him and over 100 works for viola. Recent performances as soloist with orchestra across the United States, South America and Europe have garnered universal praise for his rare ability to communicate with audiences. As a chamber music collaborator, Deubner has performed with Pinchas Zukerman, Joseph Kalichstein, Andre Michel-Schub, the Tokyo Quartet, Vermeer Quartet, Colorado Quartet as well as clarinetists Guy Deplus, Alexander Fiterstein and flutists Ransom Wilson and Carol Wincenc. He was the founder of the Elements Quartet based in New York City which premiered new works by Lucas Foss, David Del Tredici, and David Sampson. In 2015, the United States House of Representatives awarded Deubner the “Certificate of Congressional Recognition for his commitment to cultural and musical exchange. Brett Douglas Deubner currently serves on the string faculty of the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College in New York City.

Marek Štilec. A protege of San Francisco Symphony and New World Symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, Marek Štilec is a rising star among the younger generation of Czech conductors.  At the age of 17, he founded his own ensemble, the Quattro Chamber Orchestra. A breakthrough came in 2010 in the form of an invitation from Tilson Thomas to study with him under the San Francisco Symphony’s auspices; that led to a stint conducting the New World Symphony in 2014. Marek Štilec is known as an interpreter of Classical orchestral repertoire and is a specialist in Czech Romantic and contemporary music. He has collaborated with orchestras the world over, including the New World Symphony, Ulster Orchestra, London Classical Soloists, The Orchestra of the Swan, Berlin Camerata, Kammerphilharmonie Graz and Sinfonietta Bratislava.

The Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice is one of the leading Czech orchestras; it is a small symphonic “Mozart-Haydnesque” body. As the only professional orchestra in the Pardubice region it plays a highly important role in the musical life of this region. It organises a series of cycles in Pardubice, performs in other cities in the region and around the country, regularly appears at the most important festivals in the Czech Republic and is also recognised by audiences in many prestigious concert halls in Europe and beyond.


A recording of The Bridge by the Czech Chamber Orchestra Pardubice, conducted by Maestro Marek Štilec. Scheduled for October 2022.

The donation goal for this project is $15,000.00.