William Grant Still Navajo Country, Phantom Chapel, Summerland
William Grant Still Dismal Swamp
Gershwin arr Farrington Rhapsody in Blue
Copland Quiet City
Copland Appalachian Spring Complete Ballet Suite for 13 Instruments
About this Concert
‘We rise together, or we don’t rise at all’
– William Grant Still
William Grant Still was a remarkable man and pioneer who achieved an astonishing number of firsts in his lifetime and was often referred to as the ‘Dean of Afro-American Composers’. He was the first African-American composer to conduct a major symphony orchestra, the first to have his own symphony performed by a leading orchestra, the first to have an opera performed on national TV and the first to conduct a major symphony in the Deep South. His concerto, Dismal Swamp, is a symphonic poem for orchestra based on a two-stanza poem written by his wife, Verna Arvey, depicting enslaved people’s flight to freedom and tonight, Roman Kosyakov will bring this work to life, alongside Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, featuring one of the most instantly recognisable ascending glissandos in music!
In a similar vein to William Grant Still, Aaron Copland was hailed as the ‘Dean of American Composers’ for his ability to capture the vast American landscape and the spirit of its people in his music. Perhaps one of Copland’s most seminal works, Appalachian Spring is quintessentially ‘American’ in sound and character and tonight the ESO are delighted to perform this Suite as well as Quiet City, an ode to New York city.