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October 29, 2008 > Classic Americana

Classic Americana

By Janet Grant

Americana is that which makes up America; its culture, history - its spirit. Now with the Election of the Century almost upon us, the entire world is riveted on our nation and all that it embodies; all that makes up classic Americana.

Get in the mood for Election Day. Join Music at the Mission as they present the first concert of their new season with "Americana," a celebration of the great American spirit of adventure, courage, and humor.

Music at the Mission in partnership with Music@Market debuts its fifth season on Saturday, November 1 with a tribute to American music featuring four celebrated American composers and three acclaimed artists from the Bay Area and Texas.

Saturday's all-American evening performance consists of Sonata for Violin and Piano by John Corigliano, Piano Trio, op. 150 by Amy Beach, Piano Vignettes - Six American Folksongs by Stephen Paulus, and Cafˇ Music for Piano Trio, by Paul Shoenfield.

One of the most significant composers of his generation, John Corigliano first came to prominence in 1964 with his prize-winning Sonata for Violin and Piano. Although mostly a tonal work, it stands in stark contrast to other New York composers of his era. Stephen Brookes of the Washington Post said of it, "...a complex and infinitely fascinating work whose Andantino contains some of the loveliest and most delicate music written in the past half-century."

New Englander, Amy Beach was a child prodigy who could sing at the age of 1, taught herself how to read by age 3, and was composing waltzes by age 4. She made her professional solo debut in Boston in 1883 at the age of 16. Amy had to overcome the rigors of Victorian society to become the first prominent female American composer. Her Piano Trio, op. 150 is a fine example of her late Romantic style rich in romantic and impressionistic feeling.

As a composer, Stephen Paulus has been described by the New Yorker as "...a bright, fluent inventor with a ready lyric gift." His prolific output of more than 350 works is represented in many genres, and his Piano Vignettes - Six American Folksongs have found inspiration from the cowboy songs of the American Plains.

A native of Detroit, Paul Schoenfield can mix classical with Jazz and popular music forms to create eclectic sounds that are highly entertaining. The inspiration for his Cafˇ Music for Piano Trio came to him in 1985 after sitting in one night for a pianist at Murray's Restaurant in Minneapolis. Schoenfield says of his piece, "The work draws on many of the types of music played by the trio at Murray's. For example, early 20th Century American, Viennese, light classical, gypsy and Broadway styles are all represented."

For Saturday's exciting performance, Music at the Mission artistic director and concert pianist Aileen Chanco will be joined by Robin Sharp, former first violinist of the Ives Quartet, and Ken Freudigman, principal cellist of the San Antonio Symphony.

From the cowboy songs of the old west to the jazz strains of the early 20th century; from the emergence of America's first female composer to the nostalgic tunes of transplanted cultures, the rich and diverse music of this country is reflective of the great and indomitable American spirit. Revel in this spirit at the historic Mission San Jose, itself a place where past and present meet. Join Music at the Mission and celebrate Americana.

A lively informative, half-hour talk featuring musicologist and lecturer Gloria Eive from St. Mary's College will precede the concert at 7:15 p.m. The concert begins at 8 p.m. A complimentary dessert reception will immediately follow the concert where attendees will be able to meet the artists.

Tickets can be purchased at the door, through the Mission Museum Gift Shop, or online (credit card):

Classic Americana
Saturday, November 1
Pre-Concert Talk
7:15 p.m.
8 p.m.
Old Mission San Jose
43300 Mission Blvd., Fremont
(866) 468-3399

General Admission, $25, Students and seniors, $20

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