Showcase March-April 2014 - page 32

Artists and Program Notes
apr 10, 11
one-minute notes
Old American Songs
Copland put his own stamp on these five beloved folksongs,
including “Simple Gifts,” the Shaker song he made famous.
Knoxville: Summer of 1915
In this “lyric rhapsody,” set to prose by James Agee, a
child recalls a summer evening in his family’s backyard.
In Kilar’s all-string work, subtle changes in textures and
harmonies build steadily to a surprisingly forceful ending.
Five Hebrew Love Songs;
Equus; Water Night; The River Cam;
Songs of Immortality
These works by Eric Whitacre, several of which he
revised for this program, introduce innocent love, explore
minimalism and evoke moods ranging from pastoral
simplicity to the grave serenity of vast spaces.
lthough Aaron Copland wrote music in many
styles and in virtually all categories—symphonies,
theater works, chamber music, piano music,
choral pieces, radio and film scores—he continues
to be most closely associated with his orchestral frescos
of rural America. These works, written mostly during
the late 1930s and early 1940s, include
Billy the Kid, Our
Town, Lincoln Portrait, Appalachian Spring, Rodeo
The Tender Land
. Spiritually akin to these are the two sets
Old American Songs
, from which we hear tonight three
from the First Set (1950) and two from the Second (1953).
For centuries, composers have been adapting previously
existing material to their own style, and this also applies
to Copland’s settings of American folksongs. He drew
principally on the Harris Collection of American Poetry
and Plays at Brown University in Providence, Rhode
Island. Many of the hymns and minstrel songs contained
therein were published in the early 19th century.
Copland’s approach was generally to leave the melody
intact while adding an accompaniment stamped with his
own personal style.
“Long Time Ago” is a sentimental ballad published in 1837,
with words by George Pope Morris and a tune adapted by
Charles Edward Horn from a “black-face” minstrel.
“Simple Gifts” is a favorite song of the Shaker sect (“Tis
the Gift to be Simple”), dating from around 1840, and
made famous through Copland’s previous use in his 1944
ballet score
Appalachian Spring
“I Bought Me a Cat” is a children’s nonsense song
Copland learned from playwright Lynn Riggs, who
knew it as a boy growing up in Oklahoma. Into the
accompaniment Copland has incorporated musical
imitations of barnyard sounds; in several respects, it is an
Aaron Copland
November 24, 1900, Brooklyn
December 2, 1990, North Tarrytown, New York
Selections from
Old American Songs
Eric Whitacre
Hila Plitmann
Anthony Ross
Minnesota Chorale
Kathy Saltzman Romey
artistic director
Photo: Marc Royce
Photo: Marc Royce
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