Veterans Day concert includes music by John Williams and Dvořák’s “New World”
By Peter Alexander
Conductor Elliot Moore and the Longmont Symphony Orchestra are approaching the 2017–18 season as a series of new frontiers.
There are new frontiers for the orchestra, which has its first new conductor in more than 30 years. There are new frontiers for Moore, who moved to Colorado from Detroit to lead the LSO. And there are new frontiers for the audience, with new repertoire and new takes on old repertoire all year.
In the next concert—7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, at Vance Brand Auditorium in Longmont—Moore and the LSO are celebrating “The American Frontier.” Because the concert falls on Veterans Day, the concert is presented “In Honor of our Veterans.”
“It occurred to me that with our second program falling on Veterans Day, that would be a wonderful opportunity (for) an American theme,” Moore says. “So I thought it would be good idea to make a statement about America and our music.”
All the pieces on the program are written by Americans or in America, and a couple are specifically patriotic. The concert will open with For the Uncommon Woman, composer Joan Tower’s 1992 response to Aaron Copland’s World War II Fanfare for the Common Man, which will open the second half of the concert.
Also on the program are “Hymn to the Fallen” from the film Saving Private Ryan by John Williams and Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto, performed by violinist Andrew Sords. The concert will conclude with Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, “From the New World,” written in the U.S. in 1893.
Moore had a message in mind when he chose to open the program with Tower’s music. “It is a narrative in terms of what women can be doing,” he says. “Besides being equal partners to males in the military, women can be composers who have a lot to say, they can lead orchestras and be leaders in all different fields. So it’s a way of showing the possibilities that exist for equality.”
As a soloist and chamber musician, Sords spends a lot of time travelling. It’s not an easy life, but, he says, “Standing in front of an orchestra makes it all worth it, and I think how fortunate that I get to speak in the language of Samuel Barber.”
One of the most popular pieces Barber composed, the Violin Concerto combines soaring, Romantic melodies with jagged rhythms and spiky, contemporary harmonies. It is an unusually constructed work, with two leisurely, lyrical movements followed by a much shorter movement of non-stop virtuosity.
Sords admits that he only recently added the concerto too his repertoire, although people had been urging him to learn it for about 15 years. “I was the only 30-year-old violinist on the planet who had never played it,” he says, laughing. But now he loves the piece. “It’s indulgent but not syrupy,” he says. “It’s lush and you get to pull a large sound out of the strings. It’s such a feel-good piece.”
Sords has worked with Moore before and is happy to be a guest with the LSO. “I’m just thrilled to be up there on stage a for the 22 minutes I get to share with the Longmont Symphony and Elliot,” he says. “He is a wonderful, classy, completely prepared conductor. I feel very safe with him on the podium.”
In his preparation to conduct Dvořák’s “New World,” Moore has looked carefully at the composer’s original score as well as the symphony’s history. From the score he las learned that many performance traditions are not based on what Dvořák wrote, and from the history he has learned about some American influences on the work.
“My approach before with this piece was that it was essentially a Czech symphony, written in the United States,” he says. “And now that I’ve been studying more of the history, I think that it is much more of an American symphony, that truly would not have been the same symphony had he not lived in the United States.”
Among other American elements, he learned about an opera Dvořák planned based on Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha. Although he never wrote the opera, it is possible that the slow movement and the scherzo of the symphony were based on ideas taken from the Hiawatha story. (Moore will discuss the history of the symphony and the possible connection to Hiawatha in a pre-performance discussion at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.)
Dvořák’s visit to America, Moore says, is only one of the “new American frontiers” represented by the concert. Those frontiers also include Aaron Copland’s creation of a unique American style, Joan Tower’s original and creative response to Copland’s fanfare, Samuel Barber’s composition of what Moore calls “the first great American violin concerto,” and the most American frontier of all, music written for film as represented by John Williams’ “Hymn to the Fallen.”
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The American Frontier—In Honor of our Veterans
Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Elliot Moore, conductor
With Andrew Sords, violin
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11
Pre-performance conversation: 6:30 p.m.
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium, Longmont
JOAN TOWER: For the Uncommon Woman (for Orchestra)
JOHN WILLIAMS: “Hymn to the Fallen” from Saving Private Ryan
SAMUEL BARBER: Violin Concerto
COPLAND: Fanfare for the Common Man
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, “From the New World”
Concert Information and tickets
Box office: 303-772-5796