This all-American program conducted by James Conlon celebrates the twenty-year death anniversaries of two American giants who were both composer-conductors, Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland. Despite both icons passing away in 1990, Copland was nearly a generation older than Bernstein and had turned 90 just a few weeks before his death, while Lenny was 72 when he died and had joked in his later years that had he known he would live so long, he would have taken better care of himself.
Curiously, despite having written some wonderful music over the years, Bernstein remains primarily a conductor in the public consciousness, while the reverse is true for Aaron Copland, who made some wonderful recordings as a conductor—particularly of his own music—but is best remembered as a composer.
Bernstein and Copland also performed at Ravinia on a number of occasions, as did George Gershwin, who appeared at the festival once as a pianist playing his own music in 1936, a year before his death, and whose Concerto in F will be heard on this program with soloist Orion Weiss.
Copland will be represented with a complete performance of his “Appalachian Spring” ballet and Bernstein with a rare performance of his Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety” with Joyce Yang taking the piano role of the composer himself wittingly contemplating the poetry of W. H. Auden with a orchestra including a large battery of percussion as worthy protagonists.
A two-hour pre-concert seminar (2:30pm-4:30pm) with musicologist Robert Greenberg on all three composers will be free for ticket holders. (Dennis Polkow)
July 11, 5pm, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake-Cook Roads, Highland Park (847)266-5100. $10-$25.
Dennis Polkow is an award-winning veteran journalist, critic, author, broadcaster and educator. He made his stage debut at age five, was a child art prodigy and began playing keyboards in clubs at the age of fourteen. He holds degrees in music theory, composition, religious studies and philosophy from DePaul University in Chicago. Polkow spent his early years performing and recording in rock and jazz bands while concertizing as a classical pianist, organist and harpsichordist and composing, arranging and producing for other artists. As a scholar, Polkow has published and lectured extensively and taught at several colleges and universities in various departments. As an actor, narrator and consultant, Polkow has been involved with numerous films, plays, broadcasts and documentaries. As a journalist, Polkow helped co-create the experiential Chicago Musicale and Spotlight, the award-winning tabloid arts and entertainment section of the Press Publications chain of newspapers, which he later edited. He also created and ran the nationally recognized journalism program at Oakton College and was faculty advisor to its award-winning student newspaper; many former students went on to major media careers, including Channel Awesome’s the Nostalgia Critic. Polkow’s research, interviews, features, reviews and commentaries have appeared across national and international media and he has corresponded from the Middle East, Asia and Africa for the Chicago Tribune. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org