Aaron, Virgil, Walter, and more: one critic’s festival of American music

Posted on: August 14, 2014

In Thursday’s (8/13) New York Times, classical music critic Anthony Tommasini proposes an imaginary American music festival. “Asked to organize a fantasy festival, I would present overlooked symphonic and chamber works by [a] posse of Americans. When was the last time you heard a performance of Thomson’s fresh, beguiling and wildly unconventional ‘Symphony on a Hymn Tune’ or Piston’s elegant Viola Concerto, with its sublime slow movement? … For one program, I would draft Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic to perform symphonies and film scores by Copland and Thomson. The concert could open with Copland’s suite from ‘Our Town,’ the wistfully beautiful score he composed for the classic 1940 film version of the Thornton Wilder play. This would be followed by Thomson’s Suite from “Louisiana Story,” little heard these days. … After intermission would come Copland’s vibrant Short Symphony, completed in 1933 … The final work would be Thomson’s sui generis ‘Symphony on a Hymn Tune.’ … For the other symphonic program, I would again draft the Philharmonic but present the concert at Carnegie Hall and ask Marin Alsop to conduct.” The article lists a swath of mid-century works by American composers, performed by today’s musicians.

Posted August 14, 2014