Spotlight Columns

Town Center celebrates American freedom with free Folsom Symphony concert

By From page B2 | September 03, 2014

Freedom isn’t free.

Purchased at a high price, freedom is the birthright of every American. As a people, we are unique.

We love our freedom.

We also love peace.

It is a sad truth; freedom must be repurchased in every generation — sometimes by standing up for the rights of men and women to be free, as Americans did in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement.

Sometimes Americans must take up arms because of tragic attacks on this nation. Remember Pearl Harbor. Think of the attacks of 9/11 on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on UA Flight 93.

We Americans are exceptional in that we strive to stand up for what we believe is right. Even if we disagree among ourselves, it is our right to have the discussion. No tyrant is lopping off heads within our borders. Each of us is free to follow our conscience.

One of the beauties of America is this: Anyone can become an American. The process is challenging and worth it. We are a nation of immigrants.

El Dorado Hills Town Center and the Folsom Symphony will commemorate America this month with a special performance of patriotic music on Thursday, Sept. 11. Maestro Peter Jaffe will conduct the American Salute concert.

Armed Forces Salute

Composer Robert Lowden (1920-1998) served with the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war, he went on to become a rather prolific composer for 101 Strings, cinema, and a wide variety of festivals and clinics. His “Armed Forces Salute” pays tribute to all five branches of the military: Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Air Force and Navy. Look for leitmotifs from “America the Beautiful,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and others patriotic works in the transitions.

The Magnificent Seven

Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004) grew up in a family that fostered a love of the arts. The Second World War gave him the opportunity to arrange American folk music and to write dramatic scores for the Army Air Corps Radio shows. This work brought him to the attention of filmmakers.

Influenced by Béla Bartók and Aaron Copland, Bernstein wrote a groundbreaking score for “The Magnificent Seven” in 1960. The work received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score.

Music scholars agree: Bernstein recreated America’s perception of music for film westerns. His work for westerns is spirited, strong and optimistic. Bernstein composed for eight John Wayne films during the late ’60s and ’70s.

American Salute

Morton Gould (1913-1996) wrote “American Salute” in less than 24 hours for a performance on NBC Radio’s “Cresta Blanca Carnival,” which aired on Nov. 11, 1942. This work is now a staple of patriotic music programs.

Hymn to the Fallen

Fans of “Saving Private Ryan” will recognize “Hymn to the Fallen” by John Williams (b. 1932). The Vista del Lago High School Choir joins the Folsom Symphony for a stirring performance of this work. Trumpets in the distance, the solemn drums, and strings all combine to pay tribute to the Greatest Generation’s noble pursuit of freedom. This work received a nomination for an Academy Award.

Stars and Stripes Forever

America’s National March is “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa (1854-1932). In a 1923 interview focused on his patriotism, he said that God inspired him to write the work.

“I was in Europe and I got a cablegram that my manager was dead,” Sousa said. “I was in Italy and I wished to get home as soon as possible. I rushed to Genoa, then to Paris and to England and sailed for America. On board the steamer as I walked miles up and down the deck, back and forth, a mental band was playing ‘Stars and Stripes Forever.’ Day after day as I walked, it persisted in crashing into my very soul. I wrote it on Christmas Day, 1896.”

The march received a cool reception from the public at first, but its popularity grew as Sousa used it during the Spanish-American War as a concert closer.

1812 Overture

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) wrote the “1812 Overture, Opus 49” to consecrate the Moscow Cathedral of the Savior in 1882. This work commemorated the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Brodino on Sept. 7, 1812. He incorporated a number of leitmotifs from the “Tsarist Anthem” and “La Marseillaise.” It is famous for its use of cannons to punctuate the score.

It is, therefore, ironic that this music is now widely regarded as “American.” Remember what I said earlier, that anyone can become an American? The same appears to be true for music as well.

In 1974, American conductor Arthur Fiedler of the Boston Symphony Orchestra decided to play the overture on July 4, 1974, in an effort to boost flagging ticket sales.

It worked.

The people of the United States embrace all that is good. The “1812 Overture” is now a permanent part of the American patriotic repertoire.

It’s an American tradition.

The Steven Young Amphitheater in the El Dorado Hills Town Center will host American Salute at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 11. Admission is free. Town Center is located south of Highway 50, just off the Latrobe Road exit.

Send your event for consideration in Susan’s column to [email protected]….

Susan Laird


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