This preview provided by Edenton Street United Methodist Church.

The Edenton Street Live! Fine Arts Series brings together some of the Triangle’s finest professional musicians for an “Americana” program featuring the music of Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber and George Chadwick. Anchoring the program is Edenton Street United Methodist Church’s resident, professional chamber orchestra, The Oak City Chamber Orchestra. The concert will be held in the sanctuary of the historic Edenton Street United Methodist Church on Monday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m.

The program will begin with George Chadwick’s String Quartet No. 4 in E-minor performed by the Aurora Musicalis String Quartet. Composed of North Carolina Symphony members, Rebekah Binford and Soyun Kim – violins, Amy Mason –viola and Elizabeth Beilman – cello, Aurora Musicalis has been praised by critics for its seasoning and expressiveness and is among the state’s most respected chamber ensembles.

Among those composers who may be considered founding fathers of American music, none has greater claim than George Whitefield Chadwick (1854–1931). He returned from studies in Germany to teach at (and later, direct) the New England Conservatory. A prolific composer, Chadwick composed a total of five string quartets, the most popular of which is Quartet No. 4 in E-minor. It is tuneful and well-crafted music with a distinctly American flavor utilizing melodies that are reminiscent of early American hymns folk tunes.

Composed primarily of North Carolina Symphony members, The Oak City Chamber Orchestra is the Triangle’s newest professional chamber orchestra and is the resident chamber orchestra of Edenton Street United Methodist Church in downtown Raleigh. Under the direction of Kevin B. Holland, Director of Music and Arts at Edenton St. UMC, the orchestra will bring its considerable forces to bear on two of the most beloved compositions in the “Americana” genre as they perform Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville – Summer of 1915” and Aaron Copland’s original chamber version of “Appalachian Spring” (originally entitled “A Ballet for Martha” and composed specifically for choreographer and dancer, Martha Graham).

One of America’s most esteemed composers, Samuel Barber, had the good fortune of having his music accepted in the repertory soon after its composition. The music continues to be frequently performed today. Not surprisingly, his lyrical writing seems vocally inspired. Firsthand experience as a professional baritone certainly contributed to the composer’s large output of songs which make up nearly two thirds of his compositions. A commission from soprano Eleanor Steber and difficulties in Barber’s family (his father and aunt were terminally ill) contributed to the creation of the tone poem for soprano and orchestra based on William Agee’s lyrical prose poem, Knoxville: Summer of 1915. The literary piece later appeared as the prologue to Agee’s posthumously published autobiographical novel, A Death in the Family which was first published in Partisan Review in 1938. Barber was not only attracted to the lyrical prose style, but he felt an immediate affinity with Agee’s impressionistic portrayal of childhood. He and Agee were both five in 1915, and it seemed that they had the same relatives in rocking chairs, the same hoses watering the lawns, and the same trolley cars had been clanging up the street in West Chester as they had in Knoxville. Barber’s “lyrical rhapsody” was completed on April 4, 1947 and was premiered by Steber with Serge Koussevitzky conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra on April 9, 1948.

“We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child.” This single movement work falls into three main sections. The rocking motive heard throughout provides a unifying element, and the sounds of Agee’s poetry – streetcars, locusts, water hoses – lend themselves readily to musical representation. There is a calm created when the singer speaks of “my father who is good to me,” which leads into the intensity of the prayer to “remember them (his people) kindly in their time of trouble; and the in the hour of their taking away.” The full orchestra then restates the opening theme before the reassuring rocking takes the child off to bed.

Joining the chamber orchestra for “Knoxville” is acclaimed soprano, Kathryn Mueller. According to the Albuquerque Journal, “Every once in a blue moon a young singer comes along who thoroughly captures the imagination. Soprano Kathryn Mueller is such a singer.” A recent performance of “Knoxville” with the Winston-Salem Symphony garnered considerable praise. “Kathryn Mueller brought to the performance a beautiful voice of shining clarity, particularly in her high range. It seemed as if she belonged there, effortless, completely controlled and beautiful; and she had an appealing stage presence of personal warmth and musicianship.” – The Winston-Salem Journal, November 15, 2015.

In 1942, Martha Graham and Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge commissioned Aaron Copland to write a ballet with “an American theme”. Copland did the bulk of the work in 1943/44, and the work was premiered at the Library of Congress on Oct. 30, 1944, with Graham dancing the lead role. In 1945, Copland was commissioned by conductor Artur Rodzinski to rearrange the ballet as an orchestral suite, preserving most of the music. Copland cut about 10 minutes from the original 13-instrument score to make the suite. In 1954, Eugene Ormandy asked Copland to expand the orchestration for the full score of the ballet. In 1972, Boosey & Hawkes published a version of the suite fusing the structure of it with the scoring of the original ballet: double string quartet, bass, flute, clarinet, bassoon, and piano. Thus we see that there are four versions of Appalachian Spring, dating from 1944 (13-player complete), 1945 (orchestral suite), 1954 (orchestral complete) and 1972 (13-player suite). The Oak City Chamber Orchestra will perform the original 13-player complete ballet and will be joined on the program by Carolina Ballet member, Colby Treat.

Monday, April 11, 7:30 pm

Edenton Street United Methodist Church
228 West Edenton Street
Raleigh, NC 27603


Edenton St. United Methodist Church is located in the heart of downtown Raleigh with ample free parking. Admission is free and open to the public. Donations are gratefully accepted