Song and Dance
Venue Details: Lighthouse
- Copland : Appalachian Spring
- Bernstein : Chichester Psalms
- Copland : Old American Songs Set 2
- West Side Story: Symphonic Dances
During the 1930s, Copland and celebrated choreographer Martha Graham developed a mutual sense of admiration, based on their shared interest in simple, natural expression. Thus Appalachian Spring was born. The Shaker tune Simple Gifts fits well with Graham's image of unity, simplicity and American rural life. Copland presents a series of variations on this tune - the music is illuminated by an inner glow of greater warmth and poignancy than perhaps any of his earlier works and has become the quintessential representative of American musical nationalism. Copland was harking back to a simpler past in his Old American Songs too. Each song taps into the American heartland - the minstrel stage, politics, children, and religion.
“I think many of us would be very delighted if there was a hint of West Side Story about the music,” wrote the Dean of Chichester Cathedral, to Leonard Bernstein in his letter requesting a commission. Bernstein did not disappoint; his Chichester Psalms contain music originally written for West Side Story and are full of the jazzy Broadway rhythms combined with lyrical, intimate settings of three complete psalms in their original Hebrew. The overall mood alternates joyful exuberance with moments of violent frenzy and tender entreaties for peace.
West Side Story stands an essential, influential chapter in the history of American theatre. In 1961 Bernstein revisited the score and extracted nine sections to assemble into what he called the Symphonic Dances. The suite opens with the famous opening confrontation of the Jets and the Sharks. The haunting strains of Somewhere contrast with the lively Latin dances of the Mambo and Cha-cha. The Cool fugue features a 12-tone scale, and segues into the final, deadly fight between the gangs in Rumble, whilst a solo flute plays I Had a Love to close the suite, which ends, like the musical, on a haunting, unresolved chord.
Pre-Concert Talk: 6.20 - 6.50pm
Free to all ticket-holders. Find out more here.
The BSO will also be performing West Side Story in Portsmouth on Saturday 17 November.