AARON COPLAND was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. on November 14, 1900 to Russian Jewish immigrant parents. During his long life, he was a composer who wrote music that was distinctly American, a conductor, a teacher, a writer of popular books of music, and America’s cultural ambassador – earning his place among America’s greatest cultural icons. He died in 1990 in Peekskill, N.Y.
The music publishing firm of Boosey and Hawkes spearheaded the celebration and propvided participating organizations with informational materials that enhance public presentations across America and all over the world. Among the most notable musical events:
- Copland Festivals in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Poland, South Africa and the U.K.
- Completely Copland – a three-week exploration of Aaron Copland’s complete works by the New York Philharmonic beginning November 27, 1999. In addition, the Philharmonic will present with the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) a festival of Copland’s film scores.
- Celluloid Copland – a four-day celebration of Copland-scored films by the EOS Orchestra starting on March 21, 2000.
- The Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College College Copland celebration - May 19-June 4, 2000 focusing on the composer’s works for the stage.
- The New York Pops programs at Carnegie Hall beginning 1999 into the year 2000.
Other musical celebrations across America:
The Minnesota Orchestra in collaboration with Ballet Arts Minnesota (beginning January 2000); Connecticut’s Hartford Symphony, Bushnell Theatre, Hartt School of Music and the Wadsworth Atheneum; the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, with an opening night gala of Copland’s Old American Songs featuring Marilyn Horne and a program series called Music of our Time highlighting Copland’s best-loved works, culminating in a Tribute to Aaron Copland, 1900-1990; the Florida Orchestra; the Soldiers’ Chorus and Concert Band of the U.S. Army Field Band’s US tour throughout the year 2000 and two CD recordings on The Legacy of Aaron Copland, distributed free to educational institutions throughout the US.
PBS Great Performances: COPLAND’s AMERICA
PBS’ January 21, 2001 GREAT PERFORMANCES program completed the COPLAND CENTENARY celebration with the nationwide telecast on PBS of the gala one-hour documentary COPLAND’S AMERICA, a WNET production.
JONATHAN SHEFFER conducted the Eos ORCHESTRA, with baritone THOMAS HAMPSON and clarinetist RICHARD STOLTZMAN among guest artists. The program featured such popular Copland works as Appalachian Spring, El Salon Mexico, Fanfare for the Common Man, and The Boatman’s Dance. Highlights of the program were the TV premieres of “The Chinese Herbalist” section from the score that the composer wrote for the 1939 World’s Fair, a puppet show From Sorcery to Science, and excerpts from the Fair documentary The City. The program featured the following selections:
FanFare for the Common Man, 1942
Appalachian Spring (Excerpts), 1944
Music for the Theatre: Dance, 1925
Todd Levy, clarinet
El Salon Mexico (excerpts), 1936
The Boatmen’s Dance, 1952
Thomas Hampson, baritone
From Sorcery to Science: The Chinese Herbalist, 1939
Basil Twist, puppeteer
Richard Muenz, narrator
The City (Excerpts), 1939
Song of the Guerrillas (lyrics: Ira Gershwin), 1943
The Collegiate Chorale, Robert Bass, music Director
Leonard Bernstein’s Sonata for Clarinet (Excerpts), 1941
Richard Stoltzman, soloist
Appalachian Spring: Simple Gift Variations (Excerpts), 1949
about JONATHAN SHEFFER & the Eos ORCHESTRA
[Note: The Eos Orchestra sadly folded up in 2004, 3 years after this piece was written, for lack of funding support. Jonathan Sheffer now leads the Cleveland-based orchestra Red which he was invited to join in 2001. Like Eos, it is an organization devoted to innovations in musical programming. Red is now the main outlet for Sheffer's new musical ideas.]
JONATHAN SHEFFER, conductor-composer-innovator
It is not surprising that Jonathan Sheffer, Founder-Artistic Director-Conductor of the Eos Orchestra, has a special affinity for Aaron Copland. Like Copland before him, Sheffer is a prolific composer of music for theater and film. In fact, his conducting career emerged from his composition of scores for Hollywood films (e.g., Pure Luck, Darkman, Omen IV, Bloodhounds of Broadway, In a Shallow Grave), for TV (e.g., Andre’s Mother) and musical theater (e.g. the musicals Ladies in Waiting and Going Hollywood, and the operas Camera Obscura and The Mistake). His latest opera, Blood on the Dining Room Floor, with text by Gertrude Stein, ran off-Broadway in June 2000. It received the Richard Rogers Production Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was given a reading as part of the New York City Opera’s “Showcasing American Composers Program”.
Sheffer has also conducted the recording of scores for several of Hollywood’s biggest films, including Michael Collins, Batman Forever, Interview With the Vampire, Alien 3, A Time To Kill, Heat, Batman and Robin, and Sphere. He most recently conducted the recording of the score for the Julie Taymor film, Titus.
His other orchestral compositions include a ballet (which he also conducted) for a benefit at Lincoln Center (October 1993); a Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Orchestra, which premiered in Stockholm in November 1996, with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra; and Six Piano Pieces, written in 1996, which was choreographed by Robert LaFosse and presented for the New York City Ballet Guild. His orchestration of Francis Poulenc’s Appolinaire Songs was performed at the Poulenc Centenary Celebration at the 92nd Street Y in October 1999.
After conducting three film score recordings with the Seattle Symphony, he made his conducting debut on the concert stage with the San Diego Symphony in 1991. Then in 1992, he served as assistant to Michael Tilson Thomas at the London Symphony Orchestra and L’Orchestre National de France. He has since conducted other prominent orchestras in the US and Europe.
A native New Yorker, Mr. Sheffer graduated from Harvard University where he studied with Leonard Bernstein and Leon Kirchner. He also attended the Juilliard School and the Aspen School of Music.
Eos: A different kind of orchestra
With its non-traditional concerts that bring to life neglected (but important) works by important (and sometime neglected) composers, it did not take long for the Eos Orchestra to become a force in American music. The orchestra presents an annual subscription season at the Society for Ethical Culture Auditorium in New York City. Now in its fifth season under the artistic direction of Jonathan Sheffer, the orchestra gave its first concerts in 1995 performing The Music of Paul Bowles at a 3-day festival at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. In 1998, the orchestra returned to the Lincoln Center Festival in a program called Literally Bernstein. It has also performed t the 92nd Street Y, the Guggenheim Museum, and the White House at the presentation ceremony for the National Medal of Arts and Humanities.
Eos has released four CDs, the latest “Celluloid Copland” (released in 2001) featuring heretofore unrecorded music of Aaron Copland. Eos has also been heard twice on National Public Radio’s Performance Today as well as on European public radio. This Aaron Copland celebratory program marks the orchestra’s second TV appearance; the first was on the Arts & Entertainment Network (A&E) in a biography of Ludwig van Beethoven.
Eos is also unique in its interest in music education. It has published four books of essays and images on musical topics and in 1999 received the Japan Music Award for its education programs.
- GC/ FanFaire 2000
Photo credit: Joe Sinnott, courtesy Thirteen/WNET, NY
The Copland 2000 symbol is a drawing by Al Hirschfield, commissioned by The Aaron Copland Fund for Music and imade available by Boosey & Hawkes for promotional use by organizations, free of charge.