Orchestra New England to play all-Copland concert at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts


Image: J SinclairOrchestra New England will present an all-Copland concert, including his beloved "Appalachian Spring" and excerpts from "The Tender Land," on Friday, May 9, at 8 p.m. at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.

Orchestra New England, conducted by James Sinclair, has been praised by the New Haven Register as "one of the region's cultural treasures." Formed in 1974, it is considered one of the country's finest small orchestras and its recordings and live performances have been heard on Connecticut and National public radio broadcasts.

Hailed by some as the dean of American composers, Copland is certainly one of the most beloved. Born in 1900, he cemented his place in history in 1944, with the music he composed for Martha Graham's ballet, "Appalachian Spring." The following year, Copland fashioned the piece into a suite and, in this form, it won a 1945 Pulitzer Prize for music and became one of the world's most widely recognized classical works.

"Aaron Copland created a musical language that represents the ideas, hopes and aspirations of the entire nation," said Copland biographer Vivian Perlis of Weston, who will provide narration during the Quick Center performance. "Copland's superb musicianship is nowhere more evident than in the lyrical suite from the ballet "Appalachian Spring," which has become a symbol of the courage and spirit of the American people."

The tale of young love set around an Appalachian farmhouse, "Appalachian Spring" is cast in eight brief parts that are played without interruption. The final section is based on the traditional Shaker tune "Simple Gifts," which is treated to a series of variations.

Copland's second opera, "The Tender Land," was commissioned by Rodgers and Hammerstein for The League of Composers. It was first produced at the New York City Center of Music and Drama in 1954. The opera revolves around the isolated world of the rural Moss family and the impending graduation of the eldest child, Laurie. As Laurie deals with her new adult choices and an unexpected romance, her mother must accept her daughter's burgeoning independence.

Orchestra New England will play excerpts from the opera, including the overture, Laurie' stunning Act I aria, the moving chorus "The Promise of Living," the love duet, and "Daybreak Will Come," the mother's final aria.

The cast for the opera, all members of the Yale University Opera program, includes: Sarah Jane McMahon, Amanda Ingram, Michael Scarcelle, Peter Tantsits and Michael Cavalieri.

Perlis will narrate the opera excerpts, tying together the selections and the plot. Copland and Perlis co-authored "Copland," an award-winning, two volume autobiography. She is a senior research associate at the Yale School of Music and Music Library, and the founding director of the Oral History Project of America Music.

Sinclair, a native of Washington, D.C., has been the music director and principal conductor of Orchestra New England since its founding in 1974. A native of Washington, D.C., he was educated at Indiana University and the University of Hawaii, where he also taught before coming to New Haven in 1972. He has been a visiting lecturer in music at Yale and oversees the John Kirkpatrick Papers and the Charles Ives Papers, which are on deposit at Yale.

One of the world's outstanding scholars of the music of Charles Ives, Sinclair was music director for four PBS television documentaries, including the Peabody Award-winning film about Ives, "A Good Dissonance Like A Man." In addition to his leadership in New Haven, he has conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the American Symphony Orchestra and the New World Symphony.

Tickets for the Quick Center performance are $25, with discounts for students and senior citizens. For tickets, call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396. For more information, visit the website, www.quickcenter.com.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 9, 2003

Vol. 35, No. 254