All-American Morning Glories

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
July 4, 2011

St. Paul, Minn. — The "Morning Glory" each day is a chance to just sit back and bask in a longer work.

It's 10:00; we're where we need be and the running around and frantic feeling many of us feel in the morning has given way to a more relaxed and open space for listening.

So this week as we skip past the Fourth of July and perhaps set off a left-over firecracker or two, we'll listen to some American music. But to be totally honest and upfront with you, some of these pieces are new to me!

What fun to start off with a super well-known piece: Aaron Copland's Rodeo, a story of a young cow-girl trying to catch the head wrangler's eye, only to be laughed at when she falls off a horse. But this tough gal cleans up well and shows up at the Saturday Night Dance in a dress. By the time he notices her, she is totally over him. You go girl!

We'll hear Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony Monday at 10:00 play scenes from Aaron Copland's classic ballet Rodeo.

Tuesday, it's the Dean of African American music - William Grant Still - the first black American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony of his own performed by a leading orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major opera company, and the first to have an opera performed on national television.

The Fort Smith Symphony with John Jeter gives us a rarely heard treat, Still's Symphony No. 5 on Tueday.

You may see a trend here. The orchestras too are some of the less well-known in the US, but all doing amazing things. Including the superb Nashville Symphony Orchestra with their beloved Music Director, the late Kenneth Schermerhorn, for whom their new hall is named after. The orchestra plays a work by a woman who when she became a Boston matron, stopped performing and focused solely on composition. Mrs. H.H.A. Beach was how she signed her pieces. We know her as Amy Beach.

Alan Feinberg plays her piano concerto on Wednesday.

Thursday is the 100th anniversary of Gian Carlo Menotti's birthday. He was best-known for "Amahl and the Night Visitors."

Keith Clark and the Pacific Symphony Orchestra celebrate his birthday with his violin concerto. Ruggiero Ricci is the soloist on Thursday.

One of the best orchestras in the country winds things up on Friday. The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Leonard Slatkin. Slatkin pulled out of this orchestra beautiful sounds, good ensemble and a commitment to playing and recording American music.

That day it's one of our heroes, George Gershwin and his lovely Porgy and Bess Suite.

Stop by at 10:00 each morning for gems of music and orchestras from America. Go U.S.A.!

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