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January 2014
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American Opera Gets Some Air

George Gershwin

George Gershwin

Aaron_Copland_1970

Aaron Copland

American opera houses, singers and conductors all enjoy the international recognition they deserve. No one would deny the stature of the Met or Maria Callas, or Thomas Hampson. What does not play around the world is the American opera; the music of American composers. No question, it is a tough field for composers of any nationality, but the job of celebrating America’s composers has been largely left to native companies.

In the three o’clock hour on WFMT, hear a sampling of 20th century American opera by Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, and Howard Hanson. In every case, these works are immovably American, musically and thematically. They simply couldn’t have happened anywhere else. Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess takes place among the Gullahs living in the outer banks of the Carolinas, by way of American author DuBose Heyward. Copland’s The Tender Land is a

Howard Hanson

Howard Hanson

story by Horace Everett about a Depression-era, Midwestern farm family, and a girl’s decision to leave home. The third opera by Howard Hanson takes place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a scenario pitting sexuality against Puritan authoritarianism.

During Wednesday’s broadcast, Kerry Frumkin presents arrangements and excerpts from all three works; sampling the American flavor of the musical language with violin arrangements from Porgy, and an orchestral suite from Hanson’s Merry Mount. Dawn Upshaw sings arias from Copland’s The Tender Land.

  • Happy Jack

    Post just disappeared.

    Just KNEW you were a musician, Dee. Wide, rich variety, very musical, even melodic. Many new artists. Lots of vocals. Listen to you on KCSM.