Aaron Copland’s Masterful Appalachian Spring Headlines Nashville Symphony Concerts on March 6 and 7

GRAMMY®- and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon returns for live recording of her Low Brass Concerto, featuring four orchestra musicians as soloists

Nashville, Tenn. (February 27, 2020) — The Nashville Symphony takes the Schermerhorn Symphony Center stage on March 6-7 to perform Aaron Copland’s iconic Appalachian Spring, part of a Classical Series program that will also include the return of GRAMMY®- and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon.

Fresh off winning her third GRAMMY® Award earlier this month, Higdon comes to Music City for the live recording of her Low Brass Concerto, a unique addition to her award-winning catalogue that gives Nashville Symphony trombonists Paul Jenkins and Derek Hawkes, bass trombonist Steven Brown and tuba player Gilbert Long roles as featured soloists. 

The concerts open with Alan Hovhaness’ mystical and expansive Symphony No. 2 and Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas brasileiras No. 2, a vivid musical portrait the combines Baroque influences, distinctive Brazilian rhythms and songful melodies.

Great seats are available for both nights and the Symphony’s Soundcheck program offers $10 tickets to students in K-12, college and graduate school.

About the Program  

Aaron Copland – Suite from Appalachian Spring (Composed 1943-44)

  • Considered one of the most important contributions to 20th century music, Appalachian Spring has been described as a work that depicts the essence of an ideal America, one with endless possibilities. Copland originally scored the ballet – commissioned in part by groundbreaking dancer and choreographer Martha Graham – for a chamber ensemble of 13 musicians, later expanding the work to a suite for a full orchestra in 1945.
  • The work was originally titled Ballet for Martha, but it was Graham herself who suggested changing it to Appalachian Spring, a reference to a passage from a Harold Hart Crane poem. Copland later admitted he was not envisioning Appalachia when he wrote the score, and he found it amusing when people praised him for capturing the beauty of the Appalachians, saying, “I gave voice to that region without knowing I was giving voice to it.” 

Jennifer Higdon – Low Brass Concerto (Composed 2017)

  • Raised in Atlanta and East Tennessee, Jennifer Higdon ranks as one of the most acclaimed figures in contemporary classical music, with her works being performed several hundred times annually and appearing on more than 60 recordings. Her 2016 GRAMMY®-winning recording of All Things Majestic with the Nashville Symphony also spotlighted Nashville Symphony musicians. 
  • Higdon has written concertos for a wide variety of instruments and enjoys taking a creative approach to this format – including her Concerto 4-3, which incorporates elements of bluegrass. The Low Brass Concerto is an innovative piece, in that these instruments are rarely invited to shine at the front of the stage. “Normally, when people think of brass they think of power, which is not an inaccurate assessment,” the composer says. “Brass players are quick to tell you that they also can play beautiful melodies, and do so quietly and with exquisite control. So early on in the planning process for this concerto, I decided to think about the music as reflections of the qualities of majesty, grace and power.” 

Alan Hovhaness - Symphony No. 2, “Mysterious Mountain” (Composed: 1955)

  • A child prodigy who began composing at the age of 4, Hovhaness went on to write more than 60 symphonies, as well as choral and chamber pieces and music for the stage. Coincidentally, he also wrote three ballet scores for Martha Graham’s dance company. 
  • Nature and spiritual reflection are consistent themes in Hovhaness’ work, and a number of his symphonies include direct references to mountains. Commissioned by the legendary conductor Leopold Stokowski, “Mysterious Mountain” was the composer’s breakthrough hit and best-known work. 

Heitor Villa-Lobos – Bachianas brasileiras No. 2 “The Little Train of the Caipira” (Composed: 1930)

  • Heitor Villa-Lobos’ early development was shaped by the street music culture of his native Rio de Janeiro, and was later molded by several excursions into the Amazon and other rural states of Brazil, where he collected musical ideas for his works. He played a central role in the evolution of an authentically Brazilian musical language and is considered the country’s foremost 20th century composer. 
  • Bachianas brasileira is a series of nine suites that incorporates Villa-Lobos’ admiration for Johann Sebastian Bach, each one bridging the model of Bach’s Baroque instrumental suites with references to Brazilian music and culture. Suite No. 2 abounds with snapshots of the country’s landscapes and some of the colorful “back country” characters Villa-Lobos encountered during his travels to Brazil’s remote regions.   

Tickets for Appalachian Spring may be purchased:

Full program notes, artist bios, a Spotify playlist and more can be found at: NashvilleSymphony.org/Appalachian