'Sweet Land of Liberty' a patriotic celebration


The Walla Walla Symphony's "Sweet Land of Liberty" concert will honor many American musical traditions.

As Black Heritage Month and the month of President Lincoln's birth, February is an opportune time for patriotic celebration, Yaacov Bergman, symphony conductor and director, said.

"(This) is a month with strong national overtones ... So we looked for a repertoire that represents what America is all about: its spirit, freedom and values."

Bergman thinks the audience will love the hand-picked, patriotic pieces.

"For two-and-a-half hours, we will thrill (them) with (pieces) all connected in one thematic thread that is uniquely American," he said. "I'm really looking forward to conducting another concert in a season loaded with delicious stuff."

"Sweet Land of Liberty" will be performed 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Cordiner Hall. All seating for the concert is reserved. Tickets are available online at www.wwsymphony.org, by calling the symphony office at 529-8020, or at the symphony office at 131/2 E. Main St., Suite 201. Tickets are also available at the door.


Piece: "Star Spangled Banner" (2007)

Composer: John Williams (b. 1932)

Highlights to listen for: Dr. Richard Simon Jr., the CGO of the Walla Walla Symphony Board, won the opportunity to guest conduct the "Star Spangled Banner" at the Walla Walla Symphony Annual Gala Fundraiser. Also, listen for Maestro Bergman playing cannon in the percussion section.

Did you know? This arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner was composed for Game 1 of the 2007 World Series. John Williams composed several film scores that include "Jaws," "Star Wars," "E.T.," "Schindler's List" and "Memoirs of a Geisha."


Piece: "American Salute" (1943)

Composer: Morton Gould (1913-1996)

Highlights to listen for: The American Civil War tune "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again" is repeated several times, and the variations on this tune vary from joyful to melancholy to triumphant.

Did you know? After receiving the Pulitzer Prize in 1995, Gould received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. "American Salute" has become one of the most performed orchestral pieces of American music from the 20th century.


Piece: "Adagio for Strings" (1936)

Composer: Samuel Barber (1910-1981)

Highlights to listen for: Luscious melodic lines start hushed, rise to an intense climax and conclude mournful.

Did you know? "Adagio for Strings" was played at Albert Einstein's funeral, broadcast over the radio at the announcement of the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt and played to commemorate the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City.


Piece: "Lincoln Portrait" (1942)

Composer: Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

Narrator: Parke Thomas

Highlights: There is a great emphasis on the brass section at climactic moments. "Lincoln Portrait" is a narrated symphonic piece that stems from excerpts of Abraham Lincoln's great documents, including the Gettysburg Address. Projection slides of prolific pictures accompany the music and narration, compiled by Samuel Wenberg.

Did you know? "Lincoln Portrait" was commissioned by conductor Andr?copy; Kostelanetz 10 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor in hopes of raising patriotic morale. Along with Copland, Jerome Kern and Virgil Thomson were chosen to compose symphonic works that would "represent a musical portrait gallery of great Americans."


Piece: "New World Symphony" (1893)

Composer: Antonin Dvor?deg;k (1841-1904)

Highlights to listen for: "New World Symphony" has an energetic first movement, the famously lyrical second, the fiery third and a triumphant last movement.

Did you know? "New World Symphony" was written entirely in New York City. It was Dvor?deg;k's first "American-born" work, which the music world followed with great intensity. Dvor?deg;k believed that American Indian and African American spirituals were the folk songs of America and that American composers should turn to them as inspiration.

For more information or to hear a clip of these pieces, visit wwsymphony.org and click on the "Sweet Land of Liberty" icon in the middle.


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