John Harbison is one of America’s most honored and formidable composers, having received the Pulitzer Prize (for his opera “The Great Gatsby,” premiered at the Metropolitan Opera), MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, Harvard Medal, four honorary doctorates, and much more. In his music, he often looks backward to revered masters while blazing a wide, deeply-expressive, and engaging musical trail forward. For the backdrop of his “Songs America Loves to Sing,” he evokes a bygone image: “it is a distant, quaint vision,” he writes, “the family around the piano singing familiar songs, a Currier and Ives print, an album of sepia photographs. But I remember it well (or did I imagine it?).” And for his widely-varied riffs on beloved songs in this popular instrumental anthology (without words!), he also harkens back to the German Baroque as a model for what he calls “common melodies ... embedded in the composer's invention (strict against free); if we know the tunes, our enjoyment of the pieces is enhanced.” “Songs America Loves to Sing” has become a modern classic, and Music from Copland House features six selections from this entertaining set: “Amazing Grace,” “Aura Lee,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” “Ain’t Going to Study War No More,” “We Shall Overcome.” and “Anniversary Song (Happy Birthday).” In addition to Music from Copland House’s performance of the piece, please join us for this free, hour-long program, which also includes a brief introductory conversation and a post-performance, live Q&A with viewers.
Music from Copland House featured artists: Carol Wincenc, flute; Benjamin Fingland, clarinet; Suliman Tekalli, violin; Alexis Pia Gerlach, cello; and Michael Boriskin, piano.