The three-part American Landscape series presents
American classical music that is truly American.
American Landscape - Part One (1 hour)
We open with African-American composer William Grant Still’s The American Scene: The Far West performed by the Portland Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and directed by David Hattner; Next, we listen to Howard Hanson’s beautiful Symphony No. 2, Op. 30, the ‘Romantic’, with Baltimore’s Peabody Symphony Orchestra directed by Joseph Young. Hanson, born in 1896 in Nebraska, was the director of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, for forty years. Next, we watch the first movement from African American composer Florence Price’s Symphony No. 1 in E minor performed by the Chineke! Orchestra conducted by Roderick Cox. The final presentation in this show is an excerpt from Canadian American composer Nathaniel Dett’s opus called The Chariot Jubilee.
American Landscape - Part Two (1 hour)
Part Two of American Landscape features the music of American composers who generally have not been featured in the larger concert halls of the United States, but whose works we find being performed in other counties in the world. We open with two compositions by New England light-classical-music composer Leroy Anderson. First is the brilliant Fiddle Faddle performed by the Novosibirsk Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra in Siberia, conducted by Alim Shakhandand. Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops gave the composition its premiere on March 30, 1947 during a concert radio broadcast from the Boston Opera House. It was subsequently recorded by RCA Victor for its “Red Seal” classical label. It is said that Anderson spent six months fine-tuning this little composition before it was first performed. Following is Anderson’s Plink, Plank, Plunk performed by the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio, with Anna Duczmal-Mróz conducting in Poznan, Poland.
Next, we watch the Scherzo from Arthur Foote’s Piano Quintet in A minor, Op. 38. Foote was a member of the “Boston Six” (the other five composers were George Whitefield Chadwick, Amy Beach, Edward MacDowell, John Knowles Paine, and Horatio Parker). The performance is by Kevin Chen and Oliva Taylor – violins, Angela Kratchmer – viola, Josie Greenwald – cello and Shana Liu – piano. The performance took place in Radovljica, Slovenia. African American composer William Grant Still’s Ennanga is a three-movement chamber work dedicated to an African harp-like instrument by the same name. The performance is by the Luther College Symphony Orchestra in Decorah, Iowa, directed by Daniel Baldwin.
Next, trumpet player Rani Elias is featured in Alan Hovaness’ Prayer of St. Gregory, Op. 62b performed by the WDR Funkhausorchester in Köln, Germany with Wayne Marshall conducting. Henry Kimball Hadley, born in Somerville, Massachusetts, composed In Bohemia: Concert Overture Op.28 in 1902. It is here performed by the Novaya Russiya Orchestra in Moscow, John McLaughlin Williams Conducting. Hadley, himself a conductor, was the first American conductor to hold a full-time position with a major American orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, in 1921. These positions had always been held by European men. Following this is an entry in the 2017 NZCT Chamber Music Contest in New Zealand, where we hear a performance by “M+M”, who play William Grant Still’s Danzas de Panama.
We end the show with African American composer William Levi Dawson’s composition “Soon Ah Will Be Done”, based on the African American spiritual, performed by The Master’s College Chorale in Santa Clarita, California.
American Landscape - Part Three (1 hour)
Part Three of the three-part American Landscape series opens with the Symphony in E-minor, Op.32, the “Gaelic” Symphony, composed in 1896 by Amy Beach (1867-1944). She was the first successful American female composer of symphonic music. Four of the symphony’s themes are traditional Irish-Gaelic melodies. The performance is by the Eureka Ensemble of Boston conducted by Kristo Kondakçi.
Next, the Andante moderato from African American composer Florence Price’s String Quartet in G Major, composed in 1929, is performed by Matthew Vera and Mina Lavcheva on violins, Eve Boltax playing viola and Patrick McGuire, cello. Florence Price, born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1887, was the first female composer of African descent to have a symphonic work performed by a major national symphony orchestra.
Following this performance is Wood Notes, a four-movement work composed by African American composer William Grant Still in 1947, performed by a Houston-based music ensemble called ROCO. William Grant Still is known primarily for his first symphony, the Afro-American Symphony that was, until 1950, the most widely performed symphony composed by an American. Born in Mississippi, he grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, attended Wilberforce University and Oberlin Conservatory of Music and was a student of George Whitefield Chadwick.