Provost Sally Frost Mason narrates 'Lincoln Portrait'
"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 free concert is set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 3, in the Long Center, 111 N. Sixth St., Lafayette. Saluting Purdue University Bands’ “Partners in Education” program, the concert will also feature a performance by the Harrison High School Chamber Winds.
A second concert at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 3, in the Long Center, features 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.
Symphonic Band Director Jay Gephart says Frost Mason was his first choice to tackle “Lincoln Portrait,” which consists of excerpts from President Abraham Lincoln’s speeches and writings, in the afternoon concert. Frost Mason came to Purdue from the University of Kansas in 2001 to serve as Provost as well as a Professor of Biology. At Kansas, she was Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
“The thing I like about Sally Frost Mason is that her voice is so genuine – and it reflects her personality. She’s a natural to do this narration.”
Copland opens his tribute to Lincoln “in a very descriptive manner. You can hear thematic material that’s very Midwestern. Then the mood switches to a very somber one when the narrator begins,” Gephart says. “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 on the symphonic band 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,” he 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.”