River Music at Concord Orchestra Pops

Rivers are powerful forces that shape landscapes and cultures around the world. There’s a lot of great music inspired by rivers. Come to Concord Orchestra Pops this May to hear some famous and inspired river music.

Bernie Hoffer has written Korn Sings Kern, a medley of tunes by Jerome Kern, especially for our guest vocalist Jeffrey Korn. The set ends with the mournfully rich tune of “Ol’ Man River”. The song is from the 1927 musical Showboat, about life on a Mississippi River show boat. The lives and loves of the performers and stagehands on the boat and racial tensions in the segregated South figured in the plot. The seriousness and realism of that show marked a change in the musical theater world from more typical trivial operettas, musical comedies and revues of the early 20th century.

Ferde Grofé wrote his most famous work, Grand Canyon Suite, in 1931. (I remember when I was in high school, I borrowed a recording of Grand Canyon Suite and was enchanted by its Americana style.) In 1925 while Grofé was chief arranger for the Paul Whiteman orchestra, he wrote Mississippi Suite. We’ll play the four movements of that suite at Pops: 1. Father of Waters, 2. Huckleberry Finn, 3. Old Creole Days, 4. Mardi Gras.

Duke Ellington’s The River was composed for a ballet by Alvin Ailey and was premiered in 1970 at Lincoln Center. We’ll play three movements: 1. Spring, 2. Meander, 3. Giggling Rapids.

From an earlier era, Smetana’s The Moldau (in Czech, Vltava) is another famous river-inspired piece, opening with gently bubbling waves, played by the flutes. In Wikipedia, I learned that the big melody in the piece, Smetana’s most famous tune, is “an adaptation of the melody La Mantovana, attributed to the Italian renaissance tenor, Giuseppe Cenci, which, in a borrowed Romanian form, was also the basis for the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah.”

Join us at Pops May 19, 20, or 21 to celebrate river music!

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The Suites, New York 1968 & 1970. (2016, July 12). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:39, May 2, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Suites,_New_York_1968_%26_1970&oldid=729536197

Má vlast. (2017, March 5). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:32, May 2, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=M%C3%A1_vlast&oldid=768762305

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Eric Sawyer on his music “Civil Disobedience”

The Concord Orchestra premieres Eric Sawyer’s Civil Disobedience with narrator David Gullette on March 31 and April 1, 2017. Eric describes how he used the text of Thoreau’s essay:

“Civil Disobedience for narrator and orchestra draws from the text of Henry David Thoreau’s essay “On Civil Disobedience,” in which he discusses his choice to withhold payment from the tax collector, resulting in his spending a night in jail. While immediately motivated by Thoreau’s unwillingness to support slavery and the Mexican war through his tax dollars, this episode gives occasion for a larger meditation on government, the consent of the governed, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens within Thoreau’s actual and ideal societies. The musical setting follows the wide ranging moods of the text, from righteously outraged to drolly mocking to serenely envisioning. The narration is woven into a dynamic orchestral accompaniment requiring close coordination on the part of the narrator, surrounded by several extended orchestral interludes.”

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Celebrating Thoreau’s Bicentennial

For our March 31/April 1 concerts, we are participating in a global celebration of Henry David Thoreau’s Bicentennial, his 200th birthday. Many organizations around our literary town of Concord, Massachusetts are participating in this recognition of Thoreau’s impact on our interactions with nature and with our philosophy of life in our democracy.

Check out the list of local organizations that are sponsoring the Bicentennial website.

There is also a list of events. If you are anywhere in the world and you’re presenting a public event in recognition of Thoreau, you are invited to add your event too.

Photo of Henry David Thoreau

Photograph of Thoreau taken in 1860 (Wikimedia Commons)

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Prelude Recital by Alan Hlozek – January 27

For the Ehlers Young Artist Concerto Competition, the main focus has always been the winner who plays a concerto with the orchestra. More recently, the orchestra has named two additional worthy candidates and has invited them to play a short recital program before the main orchestra concert. Cellist Alan Hlozek, a senior in high school, will play his program on Friday January 27 at 7:15pm. The concert is free for people attending the 8pm full orchestra concert on either Friday or Saturday. Read more ›

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Cellist Nathaniel Abreu, soloist for January 2017 concerts

Nathaniel Abreu, cellist – Winner of the 2017 Ehlers Young Artist Competition

We in the Orchestra are thrilled to have Nathaniel as our soloist. As Music Director Dick Pittman describes in his notes for the concert, Nathaniel’s mature musical expression makes his rendition of the Kabalevsky Concerto very exciting to play. Don’t miss the chance to hear this wonderfully musical Young Artist. Read more ›

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