Virgil Thomson: Creating the American Sound

The Virgil Thomson Documentary is a PBS/American Masters documentary film chronicling the life and works of composer-writer Virgil Thomson, a Kansas City native son. Before its national airing on American Masters, the film is slated to premiere in 2020.

As a lifelong Kansas Citian, it is a specialpleasure for usto create, for a national audience, a televisiondocumentary that sheds renewedlight on the rich musical andcultural heritage of our community. We alsobelieve that there is a great mission fit between your organization and our project. Virgil Thomson’sconnection to Kansas Cityis not simply that of a man who was born here and moved on. On the contrary, his creativity was deeply informed by his exposure to our city’s musical heritage of blues and jazz, his days of playing the organ in local churches, his wide-eyed exposure to a growing metropolis, and finally his connection to the vastness of the prairie landscape and his observations of agrarian and river life.

Among the most captivating footage gathered is a performance of nearly a dozen of Thomson’s works at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts Helzberg Hall produced in collaboration with then-director Jane Chu. Since filming the Kauffman Center footage, which will be our major visual through line of the film, we have captured interviews and performances in New York City, atthe Tanglewood Music Center,San Francisco, and at both YaleUniversity and UMKC.

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