It has been a while since I’ve been able to do something non-classical, owing in part to various events and observances. But the fact is that I do in fact play much more than just classical, although I do consider classical to be part of the cornerstone of what I do here on the Galaxy. One of the things that I like to do is to rock out, and we’ve been blessed with some really great new releases over the last year. I began the evening with a few from the recent (2011) EP from As I Lay Dying, Decas. We heard two new originals, Paralyzed and Moving Foward, and an excellent cover of a Slayer classic, War Ensemble. We then heard a couple of songs from the recent Lamb of God album from January of this year, Resolution – Guilty and Undertow.
We then heard a few songs from Mastodon. From their recent album (2011) The Hunter, we heard Dry Bone Valley and Black Tongue. Then we heard a set of songs from their recent live dvd/cd release Live at the Aragon (which was recorded in Chicago in October of 2009, just a few days after I attended their tour stop in St. Louis) – Circle of Cysquatch, Aqua Dementia, Where Strides the Behemoth, and Mother Puncher.
At that point, we turned in a decidedly different direction. Kraftwerk revolutionized the field of electronic music, blazing a path for what would be called “techno”, and setting the stage for numerous advances in electronic music technology. Outside of the technology, their songs would also be quite influential, inspiring bands ranging from Orchestral Manouvres in the Dark and Duran Duran to Afrika Bambaataa. We heard three songs from Kraftwerk – Musique Non-Stop (from 1986’s Techno Pop, later relabeled Electric Cafe), Its More Fun to Compute (from the 1981 album Computer World), and finally a 12 inch remix of Trans-Europe Express.
Aaron Copland holds an interesting place in American music history, a composer whose works had a most singular influence among the American public during the mid to late 20th century. He did a number of things that ranged from the avant garde to serialism, but he remains best remembered for a number of seminal works that captured the essence of the American spirit. We heard two of these works. Fanfare for the Common Man was written in response to a 1942 request by Eugene Goossens, conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, who wanted a series of fanfares that would be used to begin each orchestral concert in a inspirational/patriotic vein. Copland used as inspiration a recent speech by US Vice President Henry Wallace, who had declared the century the “dawn of Century of the Common Man”. After premiering the piece in 1943 (in response to Goossen’s suggestion that the piece be premiered on Tax Day, Copland is said to have remarked, “”I [am] all for honoring the common man at income tax time”), Copland used the piece as the main theme for the fourth movement of his Third Symphony, composed from ’44 through ’46, and has been used extensively in other forms of popular culture over the succeeding years.
Appalachian Spring was written in 1944 as part of a commission by the great ballet choreographer Martha Graham. It premiered in that same year, with Graham dancing the lead role. Copland later assembled a suite consisting of highlights from the music for concert use, premiering that work in 1945. Both the ballet and the matching suite were well received, with Copland receiving the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for his work. Tonight’s recordings of the two Copland works come from 1981 and 1984 recordings by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, as conducted by Antal Dorati.
We finished the show with some 40’s era Frank Sinatra – Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear to Tread), a 1940 recording with Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra, and The Brooklyn Bridge, a 1946 recording featuring an Axel Stordahl arrangement (he also arranged the Tommy Dorsey tune, and was a frequent Sinatra collaborator during his Columbia years) that was featured in the movie It Happened in Brooklyn.