SALISBURY, MD---From Copland to Gershwin to John Philip Sousa, Salisbury University pays tribute to melodies from the United States during its “Made in America” spring music festival Sunday-Saturday, May 7-13, in Holloway Hall Auditorium.
“Our spring music festival comes at a time when American and patriotic music open up a spring and summer season with holidays such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July,” said Dr. Linda Cockey, chair of SU’s Department of Music. “Showcasing American composers such as John Philip Sousa in concert band and the orchestra seems fitting for this time of year.
“Each of the music ensemble directors have showcased American music as a common theme for this spring so that audiences will feel that patriotism from the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra to the concert band, chorale and chamber choir, and jazz ensemble.”
The SU Chorale and Chamber Choir inaugurate the festival with “A Celebration of American Music” 4:30 p.m. Sunday, May 7. Selections span from George and Ira Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” to Aaron Copland’s “The Promise of Living” from The Tender Land to Joseph Flummerfelt’s arrangement of “Danny Boy.” The main focus is a tribute to the country’s contributions during World War II and today.
“In these trying times for America, it is important to recall the good this country stands for and also to remember the horrors it helped eliminate in World War II, particularly the Holocaust,” said Dr. William M. Folger, director of choral activities at SU and conductor of the chorale and choir.
The concert’s focal piece, Holocaust Cantata by Donald McCullough, recalls the strength of the human spirit during those times, expressing not only sorrow, pain and determination, but small bits of humor that helped keep up the morale of Holocaust prisoners. The cantata is comprised of arrangements of original Polish songs and readings found in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum archives, written by prisoners held in Nazi concentration camps.
Dr. Jeffrey Schoyen, conductor of the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra, serves as guest cellist for the cantata. Susan Zimmer, chorale and choir pianist, and student pianist Andrew Ackermann accompany the singers. The chorale also performs Mozart’s Jubilate (O Be Joyful) Psalm 66:1, 2 in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
The SU Concert Band, conducted by Lee Knier, continues the festival 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 9, with the world premiere of local composer and musician Otello Meucci’s “Romanza,” with pianist Paul Scott.
Featuring everything from George Gershwin (“Second Prelude” from Three Preludes for Piano) and opera (Jacques Offenbach’s “Overture” from Orpheus in the Underworld) to movie music (Harold Arlen and E.Y. “Yip” Harburg’s “Overture on Themes from The Wizard of Oz”) and a Dixieland medley, Knier said he hoped the selections offered something to suit most musical tastes.
“Our concert band program is very similar to a Sousa concert in that it consists of American band music along with various soloists, an overture and a Sousa march (‘The Stars and Stripes Forever’),” he said. “Even John Philip Sousa included some European opera overtures and soloists in his concert programs.”
The Salisbury University Jazz Brazz Big Band and Jazz Wire Choir, conducted by Dr. Jerry Tabor, adds a traditional jazz theme to the festival during its Jazz at Night concert 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 11, celebrating the first truly American musical style.
“We're doing a lot of standard and pop tunes that many will recognize,” said Tabor. “Additionally, we're doing the old swing-style tunes that Basie and others have played.”
The band will pull those tunes from their repertoire, which includes everything from standards such as “One O’Clock Jump” to more modern classics such as “Mission Impossible.” The concert also features songs by singer Laurel Noone.
The Salisbury Symphony Orchestra at SU concludes the festival by celebrating its 20th anniversary 8 p.m. Saturday, May 13, with more decidedly American music. Pieces include Leroy Anderson’s "Clarinet Candy" featuring Otello Meucci and Debra Scott on clarinet; "Fandango" featuring Lee Knier on trombone, Ron Davis on trumpet and Veronica Knier on piano; and music composed by Sousa.
“American music is very diverse, and this and other concerts in the series will reflect just that,” said Schoyen.
The concert also spotlights Copland’s “Buckaroo Holiday” and “Hoe-Down” from Rodeo. Premiered in 1942 and choreographed by Agnes de Mille, Rodeo was the second installment of Copland’s “Americanist” ballet scores (the first being Billy the Kid). Copland consulted cowboy and folk songbooks for material and inspiration. “Buckaroo Holiday” and “Hoe-Down” are two of the four main dance scenes he compiled into an orchestra suite following the ballet’s successful premiere.
Sponsored by Apple Discount Drugs, admission to the orchestra concert is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, $5 for children 12 and under and SU ID holders. A family ticket package, admitting two adults and two children, is available for $45. For advance tickets call the Symphony Office at 410-548-5587.
Admission to all other performances, sponsored by the Department of Music, is free and the public is invited. For more information call 410-543-6385 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu. "