published Thursday, October 10th, 2013

CSO Masterworks concert: American composers, Civil War sesquicentennial tonight - Oct. 10

IF YOU GO

* What: Chattanooga Symphony & Opera's Masterworks concert, "Lincoln Portrait."

* When: 7:30 p.m. today, Oct. 10.

* Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.

* Admission: $19-$81, plus convenience fees (reduced for students).

* Phone: 423-267-8583.

* Website: www.chattanoogasymphony.org.

THE WORKS

* Overture to "The School for Scandal" by Samuel Barber

* Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber

* "The Chairman Dances" by John Adams

* Essay No. 1 for Orchestra by Samuel Barber

* "Lincoln Portrait" by Aaron Copland

THE COMPOSERS

* Samuel Barber (1910-1981) -- An orchestral, opera, choral and piano composer whose noted works include the opera "Vanessa," Concerto for Piano and Orchestra and "Knoxville: Summer of 1915."

* John Adams (1947-) -- A Pulitzer Prize-winning minimalist composer whose noted works include "Shaker Loops," "Nixon in China," "Short Ride in a Fast Machine," "On the Transmigration of Souls" and "Doctor Atomic."

* Aaron Copland (1900-1990) -- A distinctly American composing icon whose body of work includes beloved compositions such as "Appalachian Spring," "Rodeo," "Fanfare for the Common Man" and Third Symphony.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the year the Civil War swept through the Chattanooga area in a tidal wave of tragedy, the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera is shining a spotlight on Abraham Lincoln and a trio of American composers.

Works by 20th-century symphonists Samuel Barber, John Adams and Aaron Copland will be featured tonight, Oct. 10, in the Masterworks concert "Lincoln Portrait." The event is named for the evening's highlighted composition, a 1942 work by Copland that features a seven-minute narration of excerpts from Lincoln's most recognized speeches, including one with which he opened the 1862 congressional session after the outbreak of the Civil War and his Gettysburg Address. The narration will be provided by Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.

"We just wanted to have a narrator who is prominent in the community, and we thought the best person to ask was our mayor," says CSO conductor Kayoko Dan. "He's going to be narrating a given text, but I always liked the way he spoke because he was always to the point and able to capture your attention.

"People like me who have almost zero attention span -- unless it's for music -- are able to maintain that focus and get his message."

In addition to the Copland capstone, the concert will include "The Chairman Dances," a work derived from Adams' three-act political opera "Nixon in China," based on President Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to forge diplomatic ties with the Communist nation.

The program's three other works are all by Barber, a decision based, at least in part, on sentimentality, Dan explains.

"I absolutely love his music. He's one of my Top 10 composers ever," she says. "I can resonate with his music, especially Adagio for Strings, which was one of the first pieces of orchestral music I was exposed to in high school and that planted the idea in me that I wanted to do this in the future."

The selected works are eclectic, but the one quality they share is their complexity, requiring "200 percent concentration from everybody, including myself," Dan says.

Americans have a complicated relationship with the Civil War, but Dan says she hopes they leave the Tivoli Theatre appreciating that, for all its brutality and divisiveness, the country that emerged at the war's close was even stronger in its convictions.

"What's really fantastic about the American music of the 20th century is that it's really free," she says. "I feel like every composer ... has such freedom in how they express themselves.

"I hope that people leave with a hopeful and excited feeling because it's all about freedom."

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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