Performerstake traditional music outside
“Traditional American folk music lends itself to a less formal setting and sitting on a beautiful mountainside is a good place to hear it,” said Wendy Larson, Symphony in the Valley’s conductor and artistic director.Symphony in the Valley will present its program of American folk music at Sunlight Mountain Resort on Sunday. “I usually work with a theme for our concerts,” Larson said. “Chick Overington, the symphony founder, once suggested a Stephen Foster concert. Well, Foster’s the American ideal.” Larson combined Foster’s works with other historical, traditional folk music for the concert.”What is the most famous American folk song? ‘Amazing Grace.’ And who is the composer you think of for American folk? Aaron Copland. So those are the main elements for the concert,” Larson said.The concert came together slowly, with Larson culling music from her own repertoire of musical history.”All the pieces have been arranged for an orchestra. The orchestra is a different kind of voice than a banjo: It brings a new timbre. Each piece is recognizable, although we’ve never heard it played by an orchestra. The audience should recognize the majority of the pieces.”The concert begins with traditional folk music: the “Ashoken Farewell,” based on an old fiddle tune, later became part of Ken Burns’ PBS series “The Civil War,” and “Shenandoah.” Then Larson selected spirituals, including “Steal Away,” “Give Me That Old Time Religion,” “Some Times I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” and “Every Time I feel the Spirit.”The concert’s highlight is Copland’s compilation of old American songs, adapted for singer and orchestra: “Boatmen’s Dance,” a minstrel song from 1843; “Long Time Ago,” an American ballad; “Simple Gifts,” a Shaker song; “I Bought Me a Cat,” an American song; “The Little Horses,” a lullaby; “At the River,” a hymn; and, “Ching-A-Ring Chaw,” a minstrel nonsense song. Area baritone Scott MacCracken sings the tunes.”‘John Henry’ is typical of how composers took traditional folk medleys and incorporated them into their music. Brahms did it in Germany, Sibelius in Finland and Dvorak in Czechoslovakia,” Larson said. “God bless Aaron Copland for adapting these pieces. Copland makes them legitimate orchestral works. To do a piece by Copland is a real pleasure, a real art.””‘John Henry’ is typical of how composers took traditional folk medleys and incorporated them into their music. Brahms did it in Germany, Sibelius in Finland and Dvorak in Czechoslovakia,” Larson said. “God bless Aaron Copland for adapting these pieces. Copland makes them legitimate orchestral works. To do a piece by Copland is a real pleasure, a real art.”
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