Letters to the President

Monday, April 8, 2019, 7 - 9pm

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Letters to the President logo

The act of writing a letter has been a way for Americans to share their most personal hopes, concerns, and dreams with the occupants of our nation’s highest office since its founding. Coming this spring, a new musical theatre concert will bring these writings to life in Letters to the President, which will be presented as a free public program to celebrate The Cooper Union’s 160th anniversary.

"Letters to the President" reimagines an archival canon of letters through new music by multiple musical theatre composers. Each new song is inspired by an actual letter to a U.S. president curated from the National Archives and private collections from across the country. Spanning topics including western expansion, World Wars I and II, space exploration, and the civil rights movement, Letters to the President offers a powerful look at the American dream. The evening will consist of the composers’ songs performed alongside readings of the letters that inspired them.

MSNBC’s Lawrence O'Donnell; ACLU president Susan Herman; actress Piper Perabo; investigative journalist Suki Kim; The Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian’s Mandy Van Heuvelen; producer Rob Long; and presidential historian David Eisenbach, Ph.D., will read the archival letters.

Letters to the President is conceived by Michael Bello (We Are The Tigers, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical) and Jessica Kahkoska (Discount Ghost Stories, Agent 355), with the letters curated by Kahkoska. The evening will be directed by Bello, with musical direction and orchestrations by Patrick Sulken, co-produced by Sara DeViney and Tim Marback.

Featured composers include 2019 Jonathan Larson Grant recipients Emily Gardner Xu Hall (Untitled Cherry Orchard Musical, I am This for You) and Ben Wexler (Washington Square, The Orchestra) and more.

Please note seating is on a first come basis; an RSVP does not guarantee admission as we generally overbook to ensure a full house.

Cooper Union 160 Years logo

Located in The Great Hall, in the Foundation Building, 7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.