Join the Minnesota Orchestra as they celebrate the season of harvest, which encompasses vibrant traditions and festivals around the world. Many Harvest traditions center around two common themes: the bounty of harvest and gratitude. Through pieces including Jerod Tate’s Spirit Chief Names the Animal People and Robert Schumann's third symphony, we will explore different harvest traditions held near and far.
Copland - Variations on a Shaker Melody
Schumann - Symphony no. 3
Tate - Spirit Chief Names the Animal People
Tate - Calusa Corn Dance
Hagen – Shoua and the Northern Lights Dragon
About the Composers
Aaron Copland (1900-1990) was an American composer best known for his Americana-style music that paints a picture of American landscapes and open space in the American west. During his long career, Copland wrote music for ballets, chamber music, pieces for voice, and, of course, orchestral pieces. He wrote Variations on a Shaker Melody in 1956 and today it is one of his most famous works. This piece was directly inspired by a Shaker song from 1848 called Simple Gifts. The piece is in theme and variations form, featuring five beautiful and distinct variations of the theme.
Jocelyn Hagen (b. 1980) is known for her powerful and evocative music, having composed pieces for choir, solo voice, chamber ensembles, opera, and orchestra. A Minneapolis native, Hagen’s music is widely performed around the state of Minnesota and the United States. Hagen was commissioned by the Minnesota Opera to compose an opera based on The Song Poet by Kao Kalia Yang, which tells the story of Yang’s father who fled Laos as a refugee following the Vietnam War, first to a Thai refugee camp, and eventually to St. Paul, Minnesota. The opera premiered in March of 2023. In addition to the Minnesota Opera, Hagen’s commissions also include Conspirare, the International Federation of Choral Music, the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota, the Boston Brass, and the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra.
Robert Schumann (1810-1856) wrote his third symphony in 1850, with its premiere in Düsseldorf, Germany in 1851 where Schumann himself served as conductor. Symphony no. 3 is also known as “Rhenish” and was inspired by a trip to the Rhineland region of Germany that he took with his wife, Clara. The area is known for the beautiful Rhine River, lush forests, and a wide variety of agriculture. The symphony’s first movement, Lebhaft (meaning lively), features a heroic theme that returns throughout the movement, pushing the music forward, much like a finale movement and reflects the beauty and power of the Rhine River.
Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate (b. 1968) is a composer and pianist dedicated to the development of American Indian classical composition. A member of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, Washington Post states that “Tate is rare as an American Indian composer of classical music. Rarer still is his ability to effectively infuse classical music with American Indian nationalism”. Tate is the founder and artistic director of the Chickasaw Chamber Music Festival and was co-founder and composition instructor for the Chickasaw Summer Arts Academy. Spirit Chief Names the Animal People was originally a movement within Winter Moons and tells the Okanogan Indian story of how Coyote retained his name, given by the Great Spirit Chief and also features the three powerful animals – Bear, Salmon, and Eagle. Calusa Corn Dance is a movement featured in Tate’s larger work for string quartet, MoonStrike. The Green Corn Dance takes place during the annual fall Harvest Moon festival.
The Grammy Award-winning Minnesota Orchestra, now in its second century, ranks among America’s top symphonic ensembles, with a distinguished history of acclaimed performances in its home state and around the world; award-winning recordings, broadcasts and educational engagement programs; and a commitment to intentionally build concert programs to feature more works by composers of color, exploring music both contemporary and historic. This fall, Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård begins his tenure as music director.
Kalena Bovell is an American conductor, speaker and poet. She is a 2022-2024 awardee of the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship. After making her professional debut as the Chicago Sinfonietta’s Assistant Conductor in 2015, Bovell has served as a guest conductor at several orchestras around the United States, including the Oakland Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, and the New England Conservatory and is currently the Assistant Conductor at the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and conducts the Memphis Youth Symphony. Coming to classical music later than many of her contemporaries, much of Bovell’s artistic philosophy stems from her unorthodox journey to conducting.
Though Kalena showed promise as a violinist, a lack of musical resources meant her first private lesson would come at 18. Her experience far behind the typical conservatory-trained musician, Kalena found a new home as a conductor, and worked six jobs to fund the many plane tickets, workshops, and conducting lessons required to excel. Hoping to inspire younger musicians, Bovell shares this unique journey to professional conducting as often as possible.
Cheng Xiong grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota and received his Bachelors of Art in Dance at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Though he began his journey as a street dancer, he currently collaborates with professional dance companies such as Black Label Movement, STRONGmovement and BRKFST Dance Company. In 2015 Xiong and Black Label presented the “Bodystorming Hits Bangalore” initiative in partnership with the National Centre for Biological Science in Bangalore, India. In 2019, Xiong received a residency at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. After premiering “60/40” with BRKFST Dance in 2021, they did their first tour residency in Dublin, Ireland.
Alongside his repertoire of performances, Xiong is a Breakdance instructor and educator. He has taught at after-school programs such as Washington Technology Magnet Middle, Hazel Park Preparatory Academy, and Ramsey Middle through the East Side Arts Council. At present, Xiong is currently teaching at Cypher Side Dance School.
Mary Ann Feldman Music Education Fund