Hays Symphony Orchestra to open season with Aaron Copland

HSO Opener 2017

By Ruth Firestone
Hays music supporter
HAYS, Kan. – Nothing could be more appropriate than Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” to kick off the 2017-18 season of the Hays Symphony Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, in Fort Hays State University’s Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center.

The “Fanfare” is a brief, brassy and exciting piece, guaranteed to unite musicians and audience alike in a desire for more. As homage “for the common man,” it reminds us now, as it did at the beginning of WWII, of the ideal of unity upon which our country was founded – “E Pluribus Unum” (out of many, one).

According to HSO Conductor Shah Sadikov, in this, the third of a three-season cycle celebrating the German, Russian and now English and American musical heritage of the people of Hays, “We will be embarking on a journey filled with the incredibly rich and beautiful music of our homeland, the United States of America.”

In a more extended affirmation of American diversity within unity, the orchestra will continue with Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait,” which, like “Fanfare,” was composed in 1942. For this, the composer has woven music from various American sources into a whole far greater than the sum of its parts.

The music alone would honor Abraham Lincoln, whose leadership kept the United States from dissolution in the face of secession, slavery, and war. But Copland thought the Nazi threat to American values and world peace was so great that the “Portrait” should include spoken text drawn from the words of Lincoln himself. So the work combines music and narration.

Narrator for the “Portrait” will be Brenda Meder, head of the Hays Arts Council, and a heroic figure in her own right. In the years since funds for the arts dried up, she has used her enormous talents as an actor-director, administrator, fundraiser and gallery keeper to keep Hays in the spotlight as a center for the arts.

Following performance of “Appalachian Spring” (1945), perhaps Copland’s most beloved composition and famous for its use of the Shaker melody “Simple Gifts,” the orchestra will conclude the concert with Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide Overture,” which is guaranteed to leave everyone in a happy mood for post-concert conversations and goodies.

The “Overture” began in 1956 as the overture to the comic opera “Candide” but took off right away as an independent orchestral piece. As such, its merry melodies have made it Bernstein’s most popular orchestral composition, performed frequently all over the world by both professional and non-professional orchestras.

A number of activities are being organized to mark the beginning of the symphony’s season. A pre-concert talk about the evening’s music and composers will be given by Dr. Paul Laird, professor of music at the University of Kansas, at 6:45 p.m. in the auditorium. The Ellis County Historical Society will have displays of Hays from frontier times through World War II, and a musical scavenger hunt for children is planned. A special “American-as-apple-pie” silent auction will feature the talents of local bakers to benefit the Hays Symphony Orchestra Guild.

Many thanks to Kay and Dick Werth of Auto World for sponsoring this concert with a generous donation, and to Werth Wealth Management for its support of the post-concert reception.

All HSO concerts are free and open to the public, but tickets are required and will be available in advance at the Hays Convention Visitors Bureau, or at the HSO table in the lobby 30 minutes before the performance. Online ticket vouchers may also be requested in advance by contacting hayssymphony@fhsu.edu.

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