February 22, 2002
Purdue provost to narrate 'Lincoln Portrait' with Symphonic Band
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. "Copland's America," a Purdue Symphonic Band program of music written or inspired by Aaron Copland, features Purdue Provost Sally Frost Mason narrating Copland's "Lincoln Portrait."
The concert is set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 3, in the Long Center for the Performing Arts, 111 N. Sixth St., Lafayette. Saluting Purdue University Bands' "Partners in Education" program, the concert also will feature a performance by the Harrison High School Chamber Winds.
A second concert at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 3, in the Long Center, showcases the Purdue Symphony Orchestra. Titled "The Four Hornsmen," it features the orchestra's top horn players in Robert Schumann's "Konzertstuck for Four Horns and Orchestra," along with pieces by Copland and Korsakoff.
Jay Gephart, Symphonic Band director, says Frost Mason was his first choice to tackle "Lincoln Portrait," which consists of excerpts from President Abraham Lincoln's speeches and writings. Frost Mason came to Purdue from the University of Kansas in 2001. At Kansas, she was dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
"The thing I like about Sally Frost Mason is that her voice is so genuine and it reflects her personality," Gephart says. "She's a natural to do this narration."
Gephart says that Copland opens his tribute to Lincoln in a "very descriptive manner."
"You can hear thematic material that's very Midwestern," Gephart says. "Then the mood switches to a very somber one when the narrator begins. At the very end, you hear a solo trumpet as if it's off in the distance at a cemetery or a Civil War battlefield."
Other Copland pieces in the concert include his famous "Fanfare for the Common Man" and "Down a Country Lane."
Joseph Willcox Jenkins' "American Overture for Band" is one of two pieces on the program influenced by Copland. Jenkins uses a favorite Copland technique when he creates his own folk sounding themes without quoting tunes.
"Essentially he's creating his own folk music," Gephart says.
In Roger Cichy's "Divertimento for Winds and Percussion," the composer pays homage to Copland, as well as Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin.
"Rather than pay tribute to them by writing in their style, he bases the entire composition on the three notes that start their last names: C, B and G," Gephart says. "Those three notes comprise small motifs. They're used in melodies, in basic harmonic structures, you name it. They're basic notes in the piece."
Both concerts are free and open to the public.
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