The Coeur d’Alene Symphony Orchestra kicks off its new season Saturday with one of the best-loved works by an American composer – Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” – paired with one of the best-loved works about America – Dvorak’s “From the New World” Symphony No. 9.
No wonder the orchestra is calling this program “Salute to America!”
A third piece, the Symphony No. 2 (“Romantic”) by Howard Hanson, is not quite as famous, but it is significant in the evolution of American orchestral music. Hanson was one of the first of the prominent American composers, and he remained an important force in American music from the 1920s through the 1970s. He also had great influence as the director of the Eastman School of Music for 40 years.
The “Romantic” was commissioned in 1930 by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Serge Koussevitzky and quickly became Hanson’s signature work. You may recognize one passage as the music used over the end credits in the 1979 movie “Alien.”
Coeur d’Alene Symphony artistic director David Demand takes on double duty in this concert. In addition to conducting, he will be the pianist for the jazz-influenced, instantly recognizable “Rhapsody in Blue.”
Dvorak’s “From the New World” is the Czech composer’s famous paean to what he saw as the spirit and vitality of the Americas. It contains influences from Native American music and black spirituals – although you can also hear echoes of folk dances from his native Bohemia.
This is the first in a five-concert season for the CDA Symphony. Next up will be the annual Christmas Concert on Dec. 12.