Omaha Symphony performs American Masterworks

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October 17th, 2012

Omaha, NE – This weekend the Omaha Symphony will perform familiar and not-so-familiar works by American composers like Aaron Copland, Christopher Rouse, and Samuel Barber.

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Barber is best known for his haunting Adagio for Strings, used in several films, including Platoon. The concert opens with Barber’s School for Scandal Overture, which contrasts Barber’s powerful lyricism with wittiness and biting sarcasm.

Composer Aaron Copland (Photo courtesy Wikimedia)

The second work is Barber’s Cello Concerto featuring soloist Julie Albers. The conductor, Daniel Hege, said this work, meant to show off the cellist’s virtuosity, includes Barber’s trademark lyricism.

“I would say the emotional centerpiece of the whole concerto is what we would call a “Siciliano” rhythm,” Hege said. “What we would get from Italy, and he was in Italy thinking about this… it has a very lilting quality.”

While Barber looked back to Europe for inspiration, Hege said Aaron Copland used American cowboy songs in his ballet, Billy the Kid, which is also featured in the concert lineup. “But he disguises them inside of his own signature sound so well that you hardly know that he’s borrowing,” Hege said. “It’s astonishing how he’s able to take an original tune from somewhere else and make it his own.”

The hero of Copland’s ballet was an outlaw, but Michael Daugherty looked to Superman for his Metropolis Symphony, which will also be included in the concert. The Omaha Symphony will perform the final movement, known as the Red Cape Tango. The inspiration for the final piece in the lineup The Infernal Machine by Christopher Rouse is both obvious and intentionally unspecific. Hege explained that like many composers, Rouse refrains from giving a detailed program for a good reason. “Once they put their work in a box, then it is categorized as that then it cannot be other things,” Hege said. “I think they want their music to be anything to anybody.”

Daniel Hege conducts Copland, Barber and more with the Omaha Symphony this Saturday and Sunday. Both concerts are at 8 p.m. in the Holland Performing Arts Center.

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