(POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.) – The Hudson Valley Philharmonic’s 56th season kicks off with “This Land,” a program featuring new compositions by David Amram on the 75th anniversary of Woody Guthrie’s American anthem, “This Land is Your Land”; a video program of historic Dust Bowl images set to Samuel Barber’s haunting Adagio; and Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, lending a decidedly Russian view to the event, at the Bardavon on Saturday, October 17 at 8pm. Amram, who lives in the Hudson Valley, knew Guthrie, and often played his music along with Guthrie’s friends Pete Seeger and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, his son, Arlo Guthrie, and other musicians.
David Amram was born in New York in 1930. He began his professional career in music as a jazz French horn player, working with such great jazz musicians as Charles Mingus and Dizzy Gillespie. Since then he has pursued a bewildering variety of musical activities, all with great success. Leonard Bernstein appointed him the New York Philharmonic’s first composer-in-residence. His catalog of classical compositions includes more than 100 titles. He has written scores for many movies and plays, along with many popular and jazz compositions. He has been active as a performer on many instruments and as a conductor. In the summer of 2014 he performed at Maverick Concerts in Woodstock with the folk musician Happy Traum, playing piano and traditional Chinese instruments.
Amram met Woody Guthrie in 1956. Guthrie was no longer able to perform by then, but Amram often played his music along with Guthrie’s friend Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and other musicians. In 2005 he received a commission to write a set of variations for orchestra on Guthrie’s anthem “This Land Is Your Land.” It was first performed in 2007 by the Silicon Valley Symphony Orchestra, followed by numerous performances around the country and a live performance recording in 2012. Amram wrote, “The opening Theme and Fanfare for the Road has the percussion introduce the actual notes of Woody’s song, played by the marimba, followed by a fanfare, expressing Woody’s desire to go out on that open road.”
On his “Theme and Variations on ‘Red River Valley,’” Amram wrote: “In 1990, Rod Kennedy, the founder of the Kerrville Texas Music Festival, commissioned me to compose a piece for Texas flute virtuoso Megan Meisenbach and conduct a group of string players from the neighboring San Antonio and Austin Symphony Orchestras, to be premiered out of doors June 6, 1991 at the Quiet Valley Ranch, to celebrate their 20th anniversary. The Festival wanted the theme to reflect the beauty of indigenous folk lore of the American West in the same way that Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Borodin, Dvorak, Bartok, Ellington, Ives and Gershwin celebrated their respective cultures.
“In 1976, fourteen years prior to composing Theme and Variations on Red River Valley for flute and strings, I performed at the Kerrville festival. On the final day of the festival, singer-songwriters Bobby Bridger and Gary P. Nunn took me to spend a memorable afternoon in Lukenbach, Texas (population 7) with Hondo Crouch, Lukenbach’s indefatigable founder, owner, mayor, retired rancher, teacher, actor and a full time host, story teller and “Imagineer” (the title of his job description on the calling card he gave me). As the day, afternoon and night of merry making took place, Hondo held court, entertaining the throng of old friends, farmers, ranchers, musicians, artists, tourists and anyone who showed up, as he sang and improvised for hours, including a stunning half hour version of ‘Red River Valley’.
Fourteen years later, in 1990, when I was asked by the Festival to compose a piece for flute and strings based on a Western theme, I knew which song to use. From the composition’s stately beginning through the various statements of the theme and the ensuing variations, I tried to paint an orchestral picture of the remaining beauties of the western United States.”
Randall Craig Fleischer is the dynamic, engaging music director of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and celebrates his 21st season with the HVP this year. He is a leading force in the classical music scene all over the United States. His charismatic personality and contagious love of music ignite orchestral brilliance in every concert he conducts.
Also a composer, Fleischer is a national leader in symphonic rock and world music fusion. Pioneering these new and growing genres for more than 20 years now, he has worked with artists such as John Densmore (The Doors), Natalie Merchant, Blondie, Ani DiFranco, John Cale (Velvet Underground) Garth Hudson (The Band), and Kenny Rogers. Fleischer’s arrangements and orchestral works have been and are performed around the world.
Tickets for THIS LAND range in price from $34 to $56. Student Rush tickets will be available one hour prior to the concert for $20. 845.473.2072 ; 845.339.6088