May 21, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica Symphony Concert to Celebrate the legacy of MLK Jr.

By Tabitha Hogue

Many people think diminishing audiences for classical orchestral concerts is a modern day problem, but in fact, it was an issue for orchestras as far back as the 1930s. No stranger to this problem, American composer Aaron Copland decided to try out a musical style that would be more appealing and accessible to the general public. The resulting pieces include some of his most beloved compositions, such as Appalachian Spring and Fanfare for the Common Man. The Fanfare was inspired by a line from a speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Vice-President, Henry Wallace, which described the 20th century as “the century of the common man.”

Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man will open a special free concert by the Santa Monica Symphony this Saturday, January 13th , at 2 pm in SGI Auditorium, 525 Wilshire Blvd. This Martin Luther King Holiday Weekend performance will celebrate the legacy of MLK Jr. and largely comprises music by American composers, including Duke Ellington and Joseph Schwantner.

About the Fanfare, Santa Monica Symphony Music Director and Conductor Guido Lamell says, “I love this piece – it’s got this great American sound to it – full of open harmonies and major chords above powerful percussion elements. What the character of this music – and the title of the work – says to me is that we are more similar and more together than we are apart.”

The next piece on the program, Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown, and Beige, Lamell describes as “a wonderful orchestration of some standard jazz styles.” As such, the piece presents some unique challenges. “Even though a saxophone or a trumpet can go tearing through improvisational solos at the speed of light, which is kind of normal in the jazz world, when you try to get a whole brass section or all the strings to emulate that and do it together, it turns out that it’s one of the most difficult things that we’ve ever done,” Lamell said, adding, “But it’s great fun.”

Black, Brown, and Beige illustrates various seasons of African American history, with the “Black” section depicting people at work and at prayer. “Brown” commemorates black soldiers who fought in American wars. “Beige”, Ellington said, was meant to “depict the contemporary Negro and his plight in the US between two world wars and during the second. The twenties meant gin-mills, the pseudo-African movement, the Charleston, the party life, the lonely plight of the single drinkers, the sad tinkle of a
people beneath the tremblors of their night-life.

The first half of the program ends with Giacomo Puccini’s great operatic aria Te Deum from Tosca, and will be performed by Internationally celebrated Bass/Baritone Cedric Berry. Regarding his selection of this aria, Berry notes, “This concert has epic pieces from other genres. I wanted to choose something from the operatic repertoire that was just as epic. This is one of the greatest scenes for a Bass/Baritone, riddled with theatrical and vocal drama.”

The closing piece on Saturday’s program is Joseph Schwantner’s New Morning for the World, which Lamell describes as “a complex and grand work that is designed to provide a dramatic setting for a number of Martin Luther King’s great narratives.” Cedric Berry returns to the stage to provide the narration and he commented, “Although I have never performed the piece, I respect and value anything that honors and highlights the life and words of Martin Luther King.”

Lamell cautions audience members not to expect a “comfortable, fun, melodic piece. In fact, the whole opening of it has a character of conflict, turmoil and strife with lots of percussion and complex rhythms and even conflicting harmonies to set the stage for the conflicts and difficulties of black history. Only later in the work do things begin to calm down and take on a more conciliatory tone.”

Saturday’s performance at SGI Auditorium is free to the public, with open seating. For more information about the concert, please visit www.smSymphony.org or call (310)395-6330.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Photo by Julian Wasser//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Related Posts

Film Review: Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

July 19, 2023

July 19, 2023

FILM REVIEWMISSION IMPOSSIBLE – DEAD RECKONING PART ONERated PG-13163 MinutesReleased July 11th The story in this “Mission: Impossible” chapter, “Dead...

Film Review: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

July 5, 2023

July 5, 2023

FILM REVIEWINDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINYRated PG-13154 MinutesReleased June 30th The director of Indiana Jones and the Dial...

Film Review: Past Lives

June 27, 2023

June 27, 2023

FILM REVIEWPAST LIVESRated PG-13105 MinutesLimited Releases June 2nd and June 9th, Full Release June 23rd The Korean concept of “In...

Film Review: Sanctuary

June 8, 2023

June 8, 2023

FILM REVIEWSANCTUARYRated R96 MinutesReleased May 19th In my humble estimation, this is one of the best movies of the year....

Film Review: The Little Mermaid

June 2, 2023

June 2, 2023

FILM REVIEWTHE LITTLE MERMAIDRated PG135 MinutesReleased May 26th With today’s technological developments, a live-action The Little Mermaid is not only...

A Riveting Revival of the Pulitzer Prize-Winning “A Soldier’s Play” Now Playing At The Ahmanson Theatre

May 31, 2023

May 31, 2023

On Stage With… Murder mysteries, whether cinematic or theatrical, are one of the most popular subjects. The list is quite...

Film Review: Chevalier

May 12, 2023

May 12, 2023

By Kathryn Boole  RATED PG-13107 MinutesReleased April 21, 2023 Chevalier is based on the true story of a historical figure...

Ballet at the Broad Stage Memorial Weekend – Meet the Talent!

May 10, 2023

May 10, 2023

Westside Ballet of Santa Monica returns to the Broad Stage with special guest artists kicking off Friday May 26th with...

Elizabeth McGovern Lights Up The Stage in “Ava – The Secret Conversations”

April 26, 2023

April 26, 2023

Play About Legendary Screen Star Runs Until May 14 At The Geffen Playhouse By Beverly Cohn Ava Gardner, born Ava...

Unconventional Art Festival “The Other Art Fair” Returns to Santa Monica This Weekend

March 31, 2023

March 31, 2023

140 independent artists, immersive installations, performances, DJs, and a fully stocked bar await visitors at Barker Hangar The Other Art...

Samohi Theatre’s “The Drowsy Chaperone” Takes the Stage in Santa Monica

March 1, 2023

March 1, 2023

Shows will take place at Barnum Hall on March 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. and March 5 at 3...

Film Review: “Marlow”

February 23, 2023

February 23, 2023

FILM REVIEW“MARLOWE”Rated R109 MinutesReleased February 15th “Marlowe” is a beautifully shot period piece that takes place in the late 1930’s....

Film Review: All Quite on the Western Front

February 22, 2023

February 22, 2023

I have never been a soldier at war, although I have close friends and relatives who have been. Universally they...

SMC Emeritus Concert Band to Hold Free Concert This Weekend at the Broad Stage

February 22, 2023

February 22, 2023

Concert February 26 will feature musical selections with an outdoor theme Santa Monica College’s Emeritus Concert Band, under the baton...