‘Symphonic Treasures’ features works by Copland, Borodin
“Symphonic Treasures” including Aaron Copland’s “Quiet City,” Alexander Borodin’s “Symphony No. 2 in b minor ” and “Symphonies of Gaia” by Jayce John Ogren, headline a Sunday, March 6 concert by the Purdue Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Band.
The three pieces takes listeners on a journey from the heart of a big city to the wilds of the rainforest, says Jay Gephart who conducts both of the groups on the 2:30 p.m. concert at the Long Center, 111 N. Sixth St., Lafayette.
Admission to the concert is free.
Copland’s “Quiet City” began its musical life in the late 1930s as incidental music for a play. Although the play flopped, the music endured and Copland expanded into a full-blown orchestra work with soloists.
“Copland describes it as a realistic fantasy focusing on the night thoughts of many different people in a great city,” Gephart says. “It ends as it begins with the stillness of the night and the loneliness of a trumpeter.”
“I love the transparent nature of the string writing and how the solo parts are interwoven. Sometimes Copland uses them as soloistic voices and sometimes he blends their voices with the strings so they take on a subordinate role,” he says.
Jefferson High School’s jazz band leader Bruce Knepper performs the trumpet solos, and Carolyn Gephart from the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra, and wife of the Purdue Orchestra director, plays the English horn solos.
The “Symphonies of Gaia” for symphonic band explores a completely different realm. Its composer, Jayce John Ogren, preferred rainforests to big cities and dedicated this piece to “the mystical beauty of the earth as well as the disrespect and abuse it has endured throughout time,” says director Jay Gephart.
Gaia is the goddess of the earth in Greek mythology and has become a symbol of ecological stewardship. “The piece has incredibly beautiful and poignant moments but also enormous amounts of conflict and angst,” he says.
Other works on the Purdue Symphonic Band’s portion of the program include George Gershwin’s “Cuban Overtures” with its rumba rhythms and percussion; Howard Hanson’s “Chorale and Alleluia” which is a standard of the band repertoire; and “A Step Ahead” by the vaudevillian composer Harry Alford.
Another major work on the Purdue Orchestra’s section of the Sunday event is Borodin’s “Symphony No. 2 in b minor.” “At its premiere, many thought it would become one of the greatest symphonies ever, in the same class with Beethoven’s ‘Eroica,’” Gephart says. It starts out daunting and heavy but the second movement turns bright and lively. The third introduces romantic harmonies and the final movement has the feel of a march. “It takes the listener through virtually every emotion. It will really engage them,” says Gephart.
These two ensembles will next be featured in concert on the Purdue Bands Showcase in Elliott Hall of Music on April 24. The Purdue Orchestra will also perform at the Hilbert Circle Theatre in Indianapolis on April 10.