Music of the Americas

Feb 21, 2012


“American poetry.  Latin Passion.  A musical experience not to be missed,” says conductor Joe Lee of the Murfreesboro Symphony Orchestra (MSO)’s fourth concert of the anniversary season titled “Music of the Americas,” a mix of both North and South American sounds and rhythms.  

New York soprano Kathryn Janssen, the featured artist in this concert, will render Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 for Soprano and Eight Violoncelli, among Brazilian composer Villa-Lobos’ most popular music.  Villa-Lobos learned music by secretly watching from the top of the stairs his father’s musical gatherings at the house.  Upon his father’s death in 1899, he earned a living for his family by playing with Brazilian street bands, in theaters and movie theaters.  His music began to be published in 1913.  Described as “the single most significant creative figure in 20th-century  Brazilian art music,” Villa-Lobos blends Brazilian folk music with the European classical tradition in his nine Bachianas Brasileiras (translation “Brazilian Bachian pieces”). 

 From Latin America will also be featured “Ocho por Radio: Eight Musicians Broadcasting”, a chamber pieceby Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas, called “the Mexican Stravinsky”, who studied music at the National Conservatory in Mexico City, St Edwards University in Austin, TX and the Chicago College of Music. This work is a short, musical journey through a Mexican radio.  The music mixes material from Mexican folk and popular tradition accompanied with a complex and driving rhythmic presence.

 World renowned American composers Aaron Copland, Charles Ives and Samuel Barber will represent the North American tradition in this concert.  Copland’sAppalachian Spring for 13 instruments is today immediately recognizable by most, due to the use of the Shaker hymn, Simple Gifts.  Originally composed for Martha Graham’s ballet, it did not have a name and was simply referred to as “Ballet for Martha” by Copland.  Mrs. Graham suggested Appalachian Spring, a phrase from a poem.  Listeners praise Copland for capturing the beauty of springtime in the Appalachians, although the poem refers to a source of water in the Adirondacks!  Mrs. Graham herself danced in the ballet to the music.

In 1922, Charles Ives published his 114 Songs  from which  At the River, The World’s Highway, Berceuse (Lullaby), and the Circus Band  have been selected for the concert.  Considered an American modernist composer, Ives is one of the first American composers of international renown. He found his inspiration in hymns, traditional songs, town bands in holiday parades, fiddlers at village dances, patriotic songs, and the melodies of Stephen Foster. A Yale graduate, Ives was better known in his days as owner of an insurance agency who developed the concept of estate planning.  This estate planner is recognized today as a leading American composer.

The program ends with  Knoxville: Summer of 1915 for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra by Samuel Barber.   This exquisite piece of music is set to the prose of James Agee, and depicts growing up in Knoxville, TN in 1915 through the eyes of a child.  Agee writes, “We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, TN in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child.”  A musical genius,  Samuel Barber wrote his first musical at the age of 7, and was an organist at the age of 12.  Best known for his “Adagio for Strings” used in several movies,  Barber  served on the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music and was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music.


The MSO audience  will be treated to a preconcert program that includes woodwork (by John Sadler of Bradyville), pottery ( by Susan Rodehaver) well as paintings and collages( by artists Pat Johnson, Martha Osborne and Heloise Shilstat).  The Choir from the Webb School, Bell Buckle, under the direction of Mrs. Janet Linton, will provide thepreconcert musical entertainment.






Murfreesboro Symphony Orchestra presents



When:   Thur March 1, 2012

Preconcert activities:  6:30pm

Concert:  7:30pm

Where:  First United Methodist Church

245 West Thompson Lane, Murfreesboro


Tickets start at $10.  These can be purchased at the door.  Reservations are recommended by calling 898-1862 or visiting


Fundraising preconcert dinners at Bonefish Grill.  Call 898-1862 for reservations.