Omaha Symphony Presents “Festival of the Americas”
January 23rd, 2014
Omaha, NE — This weekend thereâ€™s not one, but two different concerts featuring music from the New World.
The Omaha Symphony hosts itâ€™s second annual two-day music festival this Friday and Saturday. Titled â€œFestival of the Americasâ€, the event focuses primarily on music composed in the New World. Conductor Thomas Wilkins says that while it is very rewarding to present two different concert programs back-to-back, it is also very demanding.
â€œThis year we were a little smarter,â€ Wilkins said. â€œWe stretched out the rehearsal period over a larger window, because that is the first challenge is that thereâ€™s a lot of notes.â€
The first night sports two main themes: music connected to Latin America, and music combining two or more diverse influences. For example, the performance opens with a selection American composer Aaron Copland wrote after a trip to Mexico.
â€˜El Salon Mexicoâ€™ came on an early visit from Copland, and it is actually named after this restaurant/bar, this nightclub, I guess, that Copland visited, and he loved the sounds that he heard.â€
The man who conducted the premiere of â€œEl Salon Mexicoâ€ was Carlos Chavez, whose â€œSinfonia indiaâ€ in next on the program. Wilkins points out that the music draws from both American Indian sources and Chavezâ€™ own background and education.
â€œEven though thereâ€™s this Indian-tribal influence in the melodic material, the harmonic material is still this very Latin voice of Chavez.
Also on the program is the â€œConcierto de Aranjuezâ€ by JoaquÃn Rodrigo, music from Alberto Ginasteraâ€™s â€œEstanciaâ€, and the â€œBachianas brasileiras No. 5â€ by Villa-Lobos. Wilkins says in this work Villa-Lobos combines two very different musical styles.
â€œItâ€™s a marriage of his love for Bach and his respect for Bach, as a lot of composers had, and his own voice as a Brazilian composer.â€
Saturday nightâ€™s performance focuses on composers from the United States. Concertgoers will hear a montage of the northeast in William Schumanâ€™s â€œNew England Triptych.â€ The next work is â€œHoney and Rueâ€ by pianist, conductor, and composer Andre Previn. Thomas Wilkins points out this music, with lyrics by Toni Morrison, is very moving, but like American culture, stylistically diverse.
â€œThis is deeply personal music. It is music that is written from either a womanâ€™s perspective or from an African-American experience perspective.â€
Speaking of perspective, also on the program is Ferde Grofeâ€™s epic â€œGrand Canyon Suite.â€ Maestro Wilkins says the composer truly captured the essence of the geography and landscape.
â€œWe have the grandness of the Grand Canyon in this music; we have the stillness of the Grand Canyon in this music; and we have the awe of the Grand Canyon in this music.â€
Wilkins chose this suite not just for its pictorial style, but also because while it was once very popular, it has all but disappeared from the concert hall.
â€œI would suspect that there are a lot of people who will hear this music – â€œGrand Canyonâ€ – and be reminded of their childhood days if hearing it somewhere, and loving it when they heard it, so Iâ€™m glad to be able to bring it back.â€
The Omaha Symphony presents its â€œFestival of the Americasâ€ with â€œMusic from Latin Americaâ€ Friday, January 24, and â€œMusic from the United Statesâ€ on Saturday, January 25. Both concerts start at 8 pm in the Holland Center. For tickets and more information, you can visit omahasymphony.org.
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