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  • THE AMERICAN WEST
  • Holly Mulcahy
  • Holly Mulcahy
  • Holly Mulcahy

THE AMERICAN WEST

Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 3:00 PM

COPLAND: Appalachian Spring

CLINTON: The Rose of Sonora (Midwest Premiere)

BARBER: Symphony No. 1

Three American composers open our season. The music from Copland’s landmark ballet, “Appalachian Spring” is paired with Samuel Barber’s short but dramatic First Symphony. And the mid-west premiere of a new violin concerto, “The Rose of Sonora” promises to charm with its western setting and adventurous plot.

  • "Rose of Senora" is Spaghetti Western of a concerto.
  • Copland's music is the sound of the "American West." His music was used in the $42 million advertising campaign "Beef. It's What's for Dinner".
  • Samuel Barber wrote the famous "Adagio for Strings" used in lots of movies, but he wrote this symphony when he was only 26 years old.

Program Notes

Appalachian Spring Suite

Aaron Copland (1900 – 1990)

Aaron Copland's ballets show his commitment to musical precision wedded to dramatic action and choreography. He described himself as having a "split personality" when it came to composing, and to this split personality we owe impressive movie scores, as well as some of the most delightful light symphonic music of modern times. In his writing he has used folk songs, cowboy ballads, country dances, Shaker hymns, jazz syncopation, as well as traditional composition, to produce a body of work which still enjoys great popularity. In 1924 a conductor actually apologized to an audience for the dissonance of an early Copland composition. A few years later, some patrons of the Boston Symphony left the hall to escape the "hot jazz" of Copland's Piano Concerto. Subsequent works were described by critics as "ugly, uncouth, mocking, audacious and sulphurous." Copland was not discouraged, and in fact appeared to enjoy his reputation as a shocking modernist. In the late 1930's he began receiving film and ballet commissions and was brilliantly successful in this vein. He found that his continuing wish to compose in a uniquely American style could be satisfied by producing what he described as "more accessible" works. He said, "I had not so much the intention of writing a more popular music as writing music that would communicate with a broader audience."

Out of this trend came Appalachian Spring. Copland had known and admired Martha Graham, the choreographer, for many years. In the early 1930s Martha began exploring America's past in her work, and in 1944 Copland and Graham collaborated on the conception of Appalachian Spring. While composing the piece, Copland used the working title Ballet for Martha, which later became the ballet's subtitle. The entire score is steeped in American myth and folklore. The title Appalachian Spring was given to the work by Martha Graham, and comes from a line in a poem by Hart Crane called "The Dance". According to the explanatory notes in the score the ballet is "a pioneer celebration in spring around a newly-built farmhouse in the Pennsylvania hills in the early part of the last century." The bride-to-be and her young farmer act out the emotions of their new domestic partnership. They receive advice from an older neighbor and a revivalist and his followers, and at the end the couple are left "quiet and strong in their new house."

Copland devised at least five versions of Appalachian Spring for different purposes, and himself recorded the revised complete score for chamber group in 1973. The fully orchestrated version was released in 1991, but today's critics apparently prefer the chamber score, which conveys the feeling of warmth, simplicity, and sense of order that was closest to Copland's original intention.

Beryl McHenry


Rose of Senora

"The Rose of Sonora is first and foremost a violin concerto. One of the most significant aspects of it to both Holly and me is that it be accessible to and engaging for today's audience.

It is composed in five scenes (movements) for solo violin, symphony orchestra, and male chorus, but in the style of an epic Western film score. One of the features of the solo violin part is the merging of traditional fiddle technique with classic violin technique, giving the main character, Rose, her voice.

As a film composer I am used to composing to a story. After researching the lives of outlaw women of the old west, I decided to create my own story and heroine, The Rose of Sonora.

Each of the five scenes tells part of her story.

I believe that for most of us, listening to music creates images in our minds. I decided to use that as a way of presenting the concerto. Rather than a passive listening experience, it will be an interactive one.

Prior to each scene being performed, a description of what is happening in that scene will be projected on a screen above the orchestra or read by a narrator. Inspired by the scene descriptions and the music they are hearing, by the end of the concerto, each member of the audience will have created his or her own 'mental movie' of The Rose Of Sonora."

George S. Clinton, composer


Symphony No. 1 (In One Movement) Opus 9

Samuel Barber (1910 - 1981)

Samuel Barber was 26 at the time he completed his Symphony No.1. He had been born into a musical family who recognized his talents and encouraged him. He had been composing since the age of seven and began his formal training at the age of 14 at the newly opened Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. His principal instrument was piano, but he also studied voice at Curtis, and recordings are still available of Barber singing baritone solos.

Barber was quite well known by the time he composed his first symphony, having been recognized with two prestigious awards in 1935: the Pulitzer traveling scholarship, and the Prix de Rome, which allowed him to spend two years at the American Academy in Rome. Before going to Rome he spent his summer in Maine with his friend and fellow student Gian Carlo Menotti. Menotti started an opera and Barber started work on his first symphony. He took his manuscript along to Rome but spent much of his time exploring Europe and composing songs. He settled for a time in a town on the French Riviera and it was here that he finally completed his first symphony in 1936.

The idea of a one-movement symphony was not unique to Barber. It had been done by Sibelius. HIs Seventh Symphony had been presented to the public in 1924, and it consisted in form of distinct sections compressed into a single movement. Barber was an admirer of Sibelius and was intrigued by the work. He determined to compose his own one-movement symphony, which can be divided into sections corresponding to those of a classic symphony. It begins with an Allegro non troppo, introducing the three themes which are then developed in an Allegro movement, a Vivace movement, and the Andante tranquillo. The finale is introduced by an intense crescendo and it weaves together the three themes, recapitulating the entire symphony.

The entire work is about 21 minutes long, and Barber dedicated it to his friend Gian Carlo Menotti. It had its American premier in January of 1937 in Cleveland, after which it was played three times at Carnegie Hall in New York. Barber revised the work in 1942 and 1943 and that revision was first played in 1944 in Philadelphia. It is that revision that is most often presented in American concert venues now.

Beryl McHenry

Holly Mulcahy, violinist

Holly MulcahyAfter hearing Scheherazade at an early age, Holly Mulcahy fell in love with the violin and knew it would be her future. Since then, she has won multiple positions in symphonic orchestras from Richmond to Phoenix and is currently serving as concertmaster of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and Chattanooga Symphony & Opera.

Holly began developing her leadership skills at the renowned Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University with former Baltimore Symphony concertmaster Herbert Greenberg. In recent seasons she has enjoyed serving as traveling concertmaster for Emmy Award winner George Daugherty's Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, and as guest concertmaster for the Columbus Symphony (OH), Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, and a one-year appointment as interim concertmaster for Orchestra Iowa.

As an in-demand performer, Holly balances her orchestral duties with numerous concerto performances around the country. Passionate about performing living American composers' works, Holly has been featured as soloist for concertos by Jennifer Higdon, Jim Stephenson, Philip Glass, and now a concerto being written for her by Hollywood film composer, George S. Clinton. This new concerto, The Rose of Sonora: a violin concerto in five scenes, is inspired by true stories about the lives of legendary women in the Old West and will take the listener on an epic western adventure of love and revenge. The world premiere performance will be in April 2019.

Believing in music as a healing and coping source, Holly founded Arts Capacity, a charitable 501(c)3 which focuses on bringing live chamber music, art, artists, and composers to prisons. Arts Capacity addresses many emotional and character-building issues people face as they prepare for release into society.

In addition to an active performing career, Holly is the author of Neo Classical, a monthly column on the future of classical music. On days off, Holly maintains a reputation for planning and hosting exquisite gourmet parties in her Chicago home.

Holly performs on a 1917 Giovanni Cavani violin, previously owned by the late renowned soloist Eugene Fodor, and a bespoke bow made by award winning master bow maker, Douglas Raguse.

Visit HollyMulcahy.com for more information.

Extras

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Sunday, October 13, 2019 3:00 PM

Classical Series Sponsors:

Gleaner Life Insurance Society The Taylor Agency of Southern Michigan

Concert Sponsor:

Citizens Gas Fuel Company

With Additional Support From:

MCACA NEA

Guest Artist Sponsor:

The Maurice & Dorothy Stubnitz Foundation

Dawson Auditorium, Adrian College

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