America – A New World of Music


St. Nicholas' Chapel, King's Lynn, Sunday 24th March 2019, 3.30pm

Copland Fanfare for the Common Man
Gershwin Piano Concerto in F, soloist Viv McLean
Glass Company
Bernstein West Side Story: Symphonic Dances


As the 19th Century turned into the 20th and music in Europe was falling into turmoil, there appeared a new kid on the block – America. Many of its composers were migrants from the Old World who enthusiastically embraced their chance to make a new start. 

The first major contribution made by America to world music was, of course, Jazz, and many “classical” composers absorbed its rhythms and sounds and used them as the basis for their music. One of the most famous of these was George Gershwin, whose Piano Concerto in F combines perfectly the energy of Tin Pan Alley wih the richness of the Blues. Even more wildly abandoned is Bernstein’s music to West Side Story with its mix of Latin dance and 50's swing. 

Aaron Copland was deeply affected by the work of Nationalist composers in Europe, such as Bartok and Vaughan Williams and, like them, set about creating a musical language out of the building blocks of his folk traditions. His Fanfare for the Common Man has become an icon.

Another great contribution which America made came much later, towards the end of the 20th Century. This was minimalism, with its bewitching, hypnotically repeating patterns. Perhaps the most famous minimalist composer is Philip Glass, whose string piece Company was written as incidental music to Samuel Beckett’s play of the same name. 

This programme includes some of the best of American music which, with its vibrancy, energy and vivid colour, has played such a major part in shaping the music of today.