Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring seems to miraculously capture something of hope and longing, and evokes a yearning for a rebirth and a new beginning in a landscape of pastoral beauty. In truth, though, Copland was merely composing for an as-yet untitled ballet by Martha Graham, one that he understood was to have a theme and narrative storyline of pioneering America. Nevertheless, the public took to the work for its seemingly evocative descriptions of the eastern mountains and its symbolic portrayal of American simplicity.
This week, of course, Knoxvillians are less than amused by teases of “spring,” but are definitely into hope and longing. Whether one sees it as a cruel circumstantial irony or a balm for some seriously winter-afflicted concertgoers, the Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra under the baton of James Fellenbaum offers a program of works notably pastoral, if not spring-like, in nature. The featured work on Sunday’s afternoon concert at the Bijou is the concert suite version of Aaron Copland’s music for the Martha Graham ballet, Appalachian Spring. The ensemble will be joined by members of Go! Contemporary Dance Works with original choreography inspired by Graham’s story line and emotional intent.
After the original performances of the ballet by the Martha Graham company in 1945, Copland arranged the score from a 13 piece ensemble into a suite for symphony orchestra, the version that was widely heard and the one that cemented his popularity with the public. In the early 70s, Copland again arranged the suite for the publisher Boosey and Hawkes returning to the original instrumentation for 13 players. It is that one that will be performed by the KSCO.
“The title Appalachian Spring was chosen by Miss Graham,” Copland once stated. “She borrowed it from the heading of one of Hart Crane’s poems, although the ballet bears no relation to the text of the poem itself.”
The suite from the ballet contains eight sections, played without pauses.
The first half of the concert should be equally evocative of greener things in our future. Maestro Fellenbaum will open with Edvard Grieg’s Holberg Suite, a work for lush strings written to celebrate the 200th birthday of Norwegian writer, Ludvig Holberg.
Wishes for warmer weather continue with Arthur Honegger’s Pastorale d’été (Summer Pastoral), followed by Anton Webern’s Langsamer Satz.
Tickets can be had starting at $15.
Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra
Conductor: James Fellenbaum
Go! Contemporary Dance Works
Grieg: Holberg Suite
Honegger: Pastorale d’été
Webern: Langsamer Satz
Copland: Appalachian Spring
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Bijou Theatre, 2:30 p.m.