Aiken Symphony presents All-American program

(Story and photo courtesy Aiken Symphony)

The Aiken Symphony will present its second concert of its 2023-2024 season Friday, Oct. 20.

Made in America highlights the works of George Gershwin, Samuel Barber and Aaron Copland and will feature soprano Diana Thompson-Brewer. It’s part of a season themed A Sensation of Sound.

Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man was crafted in 1942 to be a musical tribute honoring those involved in World War II. The title refers to the common struggle among both American soldiers actively fighting in the conflict and men back in the states dealing with high income taxes from increased government spending during wartime according to a news release from the Aiken Symphony.

Copland said the common man “deserved a fanfare” after everything he had been through. Copland translated these sentiments to music by composing “a traditional fanfare, direct and powerful, yet with a contemporary sound” to serve as a concert opener.

Also composed in 1942, Copland’s Four Dance Episodes from ‘Rodeo’ features selections from his short ballet Rodeo, which offers a glimpse into the American West. The story features a cowgirl’s journey to find her lifelong cowboy companion while competing with the city girls in vying for the attention of the local cowboys.

Samuel Barber’s Knoxville, Summer of 1915 transports the listener to a summer evening from childhood through James Agee’s poetry, showcasing his most cherished childhood memories before the loss of his father. Thanks to the sparkling voice of Thompson-Brewer and Barber’s contemporary take on romanticism, this piece is sure to make a “deep impression on all” as it did in its premiere in 1948.

Completing this concert’s American setting is Ferde Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite, a setting of five musical impressions capturing the inherent beauty of the Grand Canyon. Although Grofé is most often recognized as the orchestrator for Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue” he boasts an extensive repertoire of music that often goes unnoticed. The Suite was featured prominently in Disney’s Oscar-winning short documentary film Grand Canyon in 1958. With this piece, you can embark on a journey to one of America’s most stunning landscapes without leaving your seat.

The concert will be at 7:30 p.m. at the University of South Carolina Aiken Etherredge Center. Tickets are $40 and $55 A pre-concert talk with Maestro Scott Weiss will be at 6:30 p.m. Etherredge Center Room 125.

For more information, visit the symphony website.

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