Arts & Entertainment

'Spirits of America' Theme for April 28 Concert

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Hunterdon Symphony Director Lawrence Kursar Credits: Curtis Leeds / TAPinto Flemington file photo
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RARITAN TOWNSHIP, NJ - Music by American composers, including the first symphony by an African-American to be performed by a leading orchestra, will be presented at a concert by the Hunterdon Symphony and the Hunterdon Choral Union on Saturday evening, April 28.

The performance will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Hunterdon Central Regional High School on Route 31 here. The program will include "Symphony No. 1, Afro-American" by William Grant Still; "John Adams: The Voice Heard 'Round the World" by Anthony DiLorenzo with Kyle Tinnes as narrator; Howard Hanson’s "Song of Democracy"; and an arrangement of "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

The “Afro-American Symphony,” the first of Still’s five symphonies, is the best-known of his works. His compositions combine the elements of traditional African-American music with the tonal harmonies and structures of traditional classical music, and the first theme in this symphony’s opening movement uses classic blues harmonies and melodic progressions.

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DiLorenzo’s composition was commissioned by the Boston Landmarks Orchestra for its “History Through Music” series. This inspiring composition pays tribute to Adams’ vital role in securing American freedom, with narration from a book by Marian Carlson.

Hanson, for 40 years thed irector of the Eastman School of Music and the founder of the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra, composed many works during his lifetime, including orchestral works, chamber and keyboard pieces, choral and band selections and an opera. His "Song of Democracy" for chorus and orchestra is set to a poem by Walt Whitman.

Ticket prices are $20 general, $15 seniors, and $10 students. Advance sales are available through the group’s web site, www.hunterdonmusicalarts.org, or the following local merchants (cash or check only): Califon Book Shop, Clinton Book Shop, Teaberry’s Tea Room in Flemington, or Minette’s Candies or The Book Garden in Frenchtown.

Tickets will also be available at the door on the evening of the concert. For more information or to request an accommodation for a disability, visit hunterdonmusicalarts.org or call 908-995-7977. Hunterdon Musical Arts may also be found on Facebook.

Tinnes, who will be the narrator for the composition paying tribute to John Adams, is a history teacher and supervisor of the Fine and Practical Arts Departments at Delaware Valley Regional High School. He has directed a number of stage plays at the school and is also the organist and choir director at Cherryville Baptist Church.

Lawrence Kursar, who conducts the Hunterdon Symphony, holds degrees in conducting, in French horn performance and in music education from New England Conservatory and the College of New Jersey. In addition to his role as conductor of the Symphony, he teaches instrumental music at Woodglen School and performs with the Presentation Brass Quintet, Crosswinds Trio and regional orchestras.

Richard McIntyre, conductor of the Choral Union, is retired from the Music Department at Voorhees High School in Lebanon Township. During his 30-year career in public schools, he conducted both choral and instrumental ensembles and taught courses in music theory, guitar, and music history. He serves as organist and choir director at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Pittstown and performs as accompanist for The Opera Project concerts in Lambertville.

This event is presented by Hunterdon Musical Arts, which sponsors the Hunterdon Symphony, Hunterdon Choral Union and Music for Youth.

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