The Jacobs Masterworks Series comes to its conclusion this weekend at Symphony Hall. Music by the all-star American lineup is on the program. Samuel Barber, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and Leonard Bernstein will all be present. Gershwin, Copland, and Bernstein are the “big three” when it comes to creating and developing the American Sound.
Next season the San Diego Symphony is incorporating a festival of American composers, so this concert feels like a preview of sorts. There is a healthy mix of music on this program.
Concerto in F
We get Samuel Barber’s Overture to the School of Scandal, Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, Copland’s Appalachian Spring, and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalm. Appalachian Spring is Copland’s signature piece, but the rest of the music is from the “not so famous” section of the composer’s catalogue.
School of Scandal was Barber’s first orchestral composition and was completed while still a student at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. The overture is not a prelude to a larger work but a stand-alone concert piece based on the Sheridan comedy The School of Scandal from 1777.
Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F is a significant development in his compositional ability because he orchestrated it himself. Rhapsody in Blue was orchestrated by Ferde Grofé but with the concerto Gershwin went ahead and took on the orchestral task. Whether or not the orchestration is better for the concerto is open for debate. All I can say is that the orchestration of Rhapsody in Blue is iconic.
Appalachian Spring is so famous we shouldn’t need to get into it too much here. It should be noted that Copland composed it as a ballet with an “American theme” and wrote most of the music before it was given the title Appalachian Spring. As evocative as that title is, Appalachia wasn’t what Copland was trying to capture.
Bernstein was commissioned to write a choral piece of music for the Chichester Cathedral. He chose selections from the Psalms of David. The San Diego Master Chorale will perform with the orchestra.
All concerts are at Symphony Hall.
Friday, May 27, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 28, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 29, 2:00 p.m.