If It Sounds Good, It Is Good! | November 2016


If It Sounds Good, It Is Good! | October 2016

November is “American Music Month”—a time for musicians and ensembles to celebrate and perform music born out of the American experience. For the past several years we have festooned our November Pops programs in red, white and blue, including this month’s performance of “American Voice.” I’m not just talking patriotic standards here, but the diverse musical styles that are the heart and soul of our nation’s musical ethos.

We kick off our concerts this month with a couple works by Aaron Copland—perhaps the most distinctly “American” composer in the orchestral repertoire. Born of immigrant parents in Brooklyn, Copland distilled folk songs, jazz and the wide-open landscape of the west into a sound world that embodies the American spirit. Our own Tim Berens takes us to southern Louisiana with a rollicking rendition of Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya,” with a heady melange of cajun, country and rock-a-billy. We’ve also included a couple of tracks from our most recent Pops album, American Originals. “Rolling River” has become one of the most beloved arrangements, which takes the classic folk song “Shenandoah” and bathes it in rich orchestral colors, while “Ring, Ring the Banjo” composed by the father of the Great American Songbook, Cincinnati’s own Stephen Foster, highlights virtuosic solo work by Paul Patterson and Sylvia Mitchell.

Joining us for these concerts is multi-platinum artist Sara Evans. Her hits represent the next generation of Nashville music-making, with a sound that’s both gritty and deeply moving. It’s always exciting when folks make their Pops debut, and I’m thrilled for the opportunity to collaborate with this artist whose body of work is deeply rooted in the American musical experience.

Here at the Cincinnati Pops, the unique American experience is at the heart of just about everything we do. The Queen City is situated, both geographically and culturally, at the crossroads where bluegrass meets gospel, where classic German chorales intertwine with Appalachian folk melodies, and where Stephen Foster, James Brown, The National, Over the Rhine and Walk the Moon were all inspired. A walk through Downtown, Over-the-Rhine or Clifton on any given night proves that the music scene here in Cincinnati is as vibrant as ever, and it continues to inspire me and my colleagues in the Orchestra. As we explore together this amazing tapestry of American music, we begin by opening our ears to Cincinnati’s music that continues to resonate around us all.