This preview has been provided by the North Carolina Symphony.
The wide-ranging talents of homegrown American composers will be celebrated in the North Carolina Symphony's November 4 and 5 concerts at Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh. The program spans from film music of Copland and John Williams, to Barber's Symphony No. 1, to a 2014 work by Missy Mazzoli. Teddy Abrams — who studied conducting with Michael Tilson Thomas and is now Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra and the Britt Classical Festival — will be on the podium.
Aaron Copland, born in 1900 in Brooklyn, created an almost stereotypical "American" sound with his music. His compositions made their way into popular culture, easily lending themselves to television, film, and commercials. The program opens with Copland's immediately recognizable Fanfare for the Common Man, a solemn work for brass and percussion. The fanfare, as Copland describes it, "honors the man who did no deeds of heroism on the battlefield, but shared the labors, sorrows, and hopes of those who strove for victory." Copland's Suite from Our Town is also poignant and nostalgic, influenced by New England Congregationalist hymns. The film depicts life in a small town in New Hampshire, as seen through the eyes of a woman who suffered an untimely death and is permitted to revisit her past for one day. In suite form, the ingeniousness progression of simple, gentle melodies in Copland's film score becomes even more apparent.
Journeying to the other side of the country, Billy the Kid is Copland's ballet based on the life of the infamous outlaw synonymous with the Wild West. In his music, we hear everything from snippets of cowboy songs, to Copland's characteristic perfect-fifth interval, which signifies wide-open spaces; to a gun battle represented by the timpani, percussion, and bass trombone; to 10 harmonicas. "Billy the Kid is my favorite Copland work," says Principal Trumpet Paul Randall. "The trumpet writing is wonderful, with several very descriptive solos that capture that feeling of the old West." John Williams, in his score and overture for the John Wayne film The Cowboys clearly alludes to Copland's Western sound.
While many composers after World War I turned to an atonal style, Samuel Barber favored tonality. His Symphony No. 1, written at the height of the Great Depression in 1936, displays his skill in creating elegant melodic lines and moments of powerful solemnity. The symphony is in a single movement, but with four distinct sections. Barber's three opening musical ideas undergo fascinating transformations throughout the work.
Brooklyn-based composer Missy Mazzoli, the recipient of four ASCAP Young Composer Awards, has been deemed "one of the more consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York" (The New York Times) and a "post-millennial Mozart" (Time Out New York). Her Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) was premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2014. She describes the work as "music in the shape of a solar system, a collection of rococo loops that twist around each other within a larger orbit. It's a piece that churns and roils, that inches close to the listener only to leap away a breakneck speed …"
Pre-concert talks, offering insights into the works and a guide on what to listen for, take place at 7pm the evening of each performance.
The North Carolina Symphony expresses its appreciation to Weekend Sponsor Raleigh Marriott City Center for its generous support.
North Carolina Symphony
Raleigh Classical Series
Friday & Saturday, November 4 & 5 at 8pm; pre-concert talks at 7pm
Meymandi Concert Hall
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man
Copland: Suite from Our Town
Barber: Symphony No. 1
Missy Mazzoli: Sinfornia (for Orbiting Spheres)
John Williams: The Cowboys Overture
Copland: Suite from Billy the Kid
North Carolina Symphony
Teddy Abrams, conductor
Tickets start at $18
Online at ncsymphony.org
By phone at 919.733.2750
In-person: 3700 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh
About the North Carolina Symphony
Founded in 1932, the North Carolina Symphony is a vital and honored component of North Carolina's cultural life. Its 175 concerts and events annually are greeted with enthusiasm by adults and schoolchildren in more than 90 North Carolina counties throughout the state — in communities large and small, and in concert halls, auditoriums, gymnasiums, restaurants, clubs, and outdoor settings. The Symphony's 66 full-time musicians perform under the artistic leadership of Music Director Grant Llewellyn and Associate Conductor David Glover.
NCS's state headquarter venue is the spectacular Meymandi Concert Hall at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. The Symphony's service across the state includes series in Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, New Bern, Southern Pines, and Wilmington, as well as Summerfest concerts at the outdoor Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. NCS brings some of the world's greatest artists to North Carolina, including Lang Lang, Stephen Hough, and Augustin Hadelich in the 2016/17 season.
Committed to engaging students across North Carolina, NCS conducts the most extensive education programs of any U.S. orchestra. In alignment with the music curriculum set by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the Symphony provides training and resources for teachers, sends small ensembles into classrooms, and presents full-orchestra Education Concerts experienced by more than 52,000 4th and 5th graders each year. At the middle and high school levels, students have opportunities to work directly with NCS artists and perform for NCS audiences.
NCS is dedicated to giving voice to new art, introducing North Carolina audiences to 20 works by living composers — including two co-commissions — in the past year. In its 83-year history, the Symphony has given 46 U.S. or world premieres. NCS will appear at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. in spring 2017, as one of four orchestras chosen for the inaugural year of SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras — an honor that recognizes the Symphony's innovative community partnerships and creative programming that inspires increased interest in new music. The Symphony will present works by composers with ties to North Carolina, including Sarah Kirkland Snider, Caroline Shaw, Mason Bates, and Robert Ward.
The first state-supported symphony in the country, NCS is an entity of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.