Alexandria, Va. --
CANCELED DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER --
On Sunday, Jan. 13, the United States Marine Band will host a free concert showcasing musical selections inspired by city life and the urban environment. Conducted by Capt. Bryan P. Sherlock, the event will take place at 2 p.m. in the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria. Additionally, a string quartet will offer pre-concert music in the lobby beginning at 1:15 p.m.
The concert takes its name from Jonathan Newman’s Symphony No. 1, My Hands Are a City, which debuted in 2009. Slated to open the second half of the concert, the work is a musical depiction of the nation, specifically New York, through the lens of mid-20th century “beat” artists like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg, Charlie Parker, and Robert Frank.
Newman writes of his Symphony No. 1:
“In my neighborhood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the musicians and poets and characters of our mid-Century ‘Beats’ are still very active ghosts. I walk past the tenement where Allen Ginsberg wrote Howl, stroll across “Charlie Parker Place,” and over the city streets rapturously described in prose and verse, and captured in era photos and film. Surrounded by these spirits, I structured the work in three movements, each taking on a different aspect of the sensory experiences I collected from my months of immersion in the novels, poetry, and photographs of these artists.”
Other repertoire in the program draws inspiration from city life as well:
Franz von Suppé’s Overture to Morning, Noon, and Night in Vienna depicts scenes throughout the day in the historic city. Known for his contributions to Viennese theater and operetta tradition, von Suppé started composing at age 13. Although he showed early talent, music was not something he was able to fully pursue until later in life. At the request of his father, he was sent to Padua, Italy to study law, but his love of music was only fueled by subsequent exposure to the work of Gioachino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi, and Gaetano Donizetti. It wasn’t until his father’s death in 1835 that he returned to Vienna to begin his musical career. This overture was designed to capture the attention of the audience with a charming and effervescent blend of Viennese waltzes and polkas, French opera comique in the style of Offenbach, and Italian opera buffa in the style of Rossini.
Adam Gorb’s Adrenaline City Overture is based on modern day life in London, both stressful and vibrant. Gorb wrote: “The harsh and dissonant opening passage is contrasted by a mellow second subject theme in the saxophones. The percussion comes to the fore in the middle section, and at the close of the work the harmonic tension reaches an exhilarating breaking point before resolving on the tonal centre of A.”
Aaron Copland’s Quiet City displays the moments of solitude and quiet that urban inhabitants are capable of stealing away during a late night in the city. The piece was originally written in 1939 for a play of the same name by Irwin Shaw, and exemplifies the musical characteristic of the time: quintessentially American. Its open and slowly-changing harmonies evoke images of the American landscape and indomitable spirit. The play, which only lasted two performances at the Group Theatre, portrayed a young musician in an unnamed great city who imagines the nightly thoughts of his fellow inhabitants and expresses his own thoughts and emotions through his trumpet solos. Two soloists will perform in this piece: Master Gunnery Sgt. Kurt Dupuis on trumpet and Gunnery Sgt. Joseph DeLuccio on English horn.
The program closes with Edwin Franko Goldman’s march, “On the Mall,” which was composed in 1923 for the dedication of the Naumburg Bandshell in New York’s Central Park. The audience is encouraged to sing and whistle along with the band, just as was done the first time this piece was played. Of the more than 100 marches Goldman wrote, this piece remains one of his most popular.
Audience members are invited to join in a post-concert chat with Marine Band musicians following the performance.
The Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall at Northern Virginia Community College is located at 4915 East Campus Drive in Alexandria. The concert is free, no tickets are required, and free parking is available in the adjacent garage.
Program and notes
Directions and parking