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American Music Project

The Elgin Symphony Orchestra will perform a piece of American music on every concert program during the 2015-2016 season thanks in part to a grant from the American Music Project. The American Music Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and underwriting performances of American classical music of the past as well as selectively commissioning new works from American composers. Find out more at www.americanmusicproject.net
Andrew Grams, Music Director

Andrew Grams, Music Director

What does the term “American Music” mean to you?
While ‘American Music’ simply refers to music composed by Americans, the feeling that the term inspires in me is related to my imaginings of America from before our time–specifically the period from The Civil War to the 1950’s.  I’m sure most of that comes from formative experiences such as watching Ken Burns documentaries and hearing the picturesque music of Aaron Copland; they paint such vivid scenes of life in America during its arguably most formative years.

 Which American composer(s), in your opinion, have made American music what it is today? 


There are the famous names: Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Philip Glass, John Adams, Charles Ives, John Philip Sousa—but all of those guys learned from Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, like everyone else, but also learned about jazz, ragtime, tango, etc. and incorporated those elements into their creations. American music is just like America–a big melting pot. 

Why program American music?  Why is it so important to continue programming it?


Because there is so much American music that is cool and I want to share any music I think is cool with our public!

At least one piece of American music is programmed for each concert.

Lynn Harrell Plays Tchaikovsky
Charles Ives (1874-1954) Variations on American Music

Out of this World: Sci-fi Movie Classics
Alan Silvestri (1950 – ) Suite from Back to the Future
John Williams (1932 – ) Close Encounters of the Third Kind; Music from Star Wars

French Connections with Isabella Lippi
John Adams (1947 – ) Tromba Lontana

The Magical Music of Disney
Hans Zimmer (1957 – ) The Lion King Suite
Christophe Beck (1972 – ) Frozen Suite

Magical Holiday Concerts
Leroy Anderson (1908 – 1975) Sleigh Ride
Mel Tormé (1925 – 1999) The Christmas Song
Victor Herbert (1859 – 1924) March of the Toys

Andrew Grams Plays Violin
Christopher Theofanidis (1967 – ) Muse

Copland & Shostakovich
Aaron Copland (1900 – 1990) Appalachian Spring

A Rodgers & Hammerstein Celebration
An entire concert of Rodgers & Hammerstein music.
Richard Rodgers (1902 – 1979); Oscar Hammerstein, II (1895 – 1960)

Brahms & Ives: No Limits
Charles Ives (1874 – 1954) Symphony No. 2

Rachel Barton Pine Plays Dvořák
Anton Dvořák (1841 – 1904) Symphony No. 9 in E minor “From the New World”
While Dvorak is not an American composer, he did compose this piece while he was the director of the National Conservatory of Music of America. During the time that this piece was written, Dvorak was influenced by and interested in the Native American music and African American spirituals that he heard while in America.

Season Finale: Bernstein & Mahler
Leonard Bernstein (1918 – 1998)