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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Citations:

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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