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CCS American MusicFest Pt I

2013-2014 CCS AmericanMusicFest March SQUARECCS American MusicFest Part I
Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 5pm

Scott Pender, Solemn Overture
Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral
Steven Gerber, Two Lyric Pieces with Robert Spates, violin 
Howard Hanson, Symphony No. 2 "Romantic"
Read more about our Guest Artists.

Read more about the Composers.

Read Program Notes here.

or through the Atlas Box Office at 202-399-7993.
Post-concert Q&A with composers Scott Pender & Steven Gerber
Reception to follow at Smith Commons

Happy hour deals on drinks & food, including selected beer, wine, and cocktails for $5 and reduced-price appetizers. The full regular menu will also be available (no discounts).


Tickets for children 16 and under are FREE for Capital City Symphony main season concerts (October, November, March, May).

Unless otherwise noted, all concerts are held at the Atlas Performing Arts Center,
1333 H Street NE, Washington, DC.  Directions and parking information can be found at Atlasarts.org.


Scott Pender, Solemn Overture (1990, rev. 2012)

Solemn Overture was commissioned by the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and its music director Peter Bay to commemorate the orchestra’s 30th anniversary. It was first performed on November 10, 1990, in Maryland Hall, Annapolis, with conductor Randall Craig Fleischer leading the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra. The piece was well received at its premiere, described by critics as a “modern mosaic which set a tone of understated elegance,” and “a genuine beauty for all its deceptions of simplicity.”

Although the work is intended to be a “concert opener,” I decided on a quieter, more contemplative approach than is usually associated with such pieces. As with most of my work, Solemn Overture is a tonal piece; it uses repetition as a structural device (on many different levels); it features a constant rhythmic unit (in this case, the quarter-note beat, usually maintained by the strings); and finally, the entire piece is built from a small amount of material using various means of motivic development, including repetition, fragmentation, inversion, and chromatic alteration.

This evening we hear the first performance of the revised version of Solemn Overture which I undertook in 2012. This revision involved re-notating some passages, a fair amount of re-scoring, and a little “decomposition”!


Steven Gerber, Two Lyric Pieces

Two Lyrics Pieces for violin and string orchestra were written for violinist Elena Urioste and dedicated to conductor Piotr Gajewski and the National Philharmonic Orchestra. I have had a long association with Piotr and his orchestra, which started out as the National Chamber Orchestra. In that previous incarnation they premiered three of my concertos, for violin, cello, and clarinet, and recorded the Violin Concerto, Cello Concerto, and Serenade for Strings on the Koch International label, with a grant from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music. The Two Lyrics – and I hope this doesn’t sound pretentious, since I revere Beethoven above all other composers and don’t remotely put myself in the same league as him – relate to my Violin Concerto in much the same way that Beethoven’s Two Romances relate to his Violin Concerto; they are rather simple, undramatic pieces, both fairly slow, and far less ambitious than my concerto. In retrospect I might well have titled the work “Two Romances.”

Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral

Blue…like the sky. Where all possibilities soar. Cathedrals…a place of thought, growth, spiritual expression…serving as a symbolic doorway into and out of this world. Cathedrals represent a place of beginnings, endings, solitude, fellowship, contemplation, knowledge and growth. These were my thoughts when The Curtis Institute of Music commissioned me to write a work to commemorate its 75th anniversary. Curtis is a house of knowledge--a place to reach towards that beautiful expression of the soul which comes through music. Coming to the writing of this piece at a unique juncture in my life, I found myself pondering the question of what makes a life. The recent loss of my younger brother, Andrew Blue, made me reflect on the amazing journeys that we all make, especially at a place like Curtis, where the pursuit of "the singing soul" is what music and life are all about. This piece represents the expression of the individual and the whole of the group…our journeys and the places our souls carry us.

Commissioned by The Curtis Institute of Music. Premiered May 1, 2000 by The Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano, conducting. Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.



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