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Pacific Symphony Celebrates Copland

The Composer's 100th Birthday Gives Rise to a Festival of Music and Film

October 03, 2000|CHRIS PASLES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

By universal assent, Aaron Copland can be called the composer who put American music on the map. So, to celebrate his 100th birthday (Nov. 14) and his influence on other composers, the Pacific Symphony has announced a wide-ranging Copland Festival, Nov. 12-19.

The festival will take place in various venues and include orchestra and chamber music concerts, panel discussions and screenings of three films scored by Copland plus a contemporary film that uses his music posthumously.

The historical films are "The City" (1939), "Of Mice and Men" (1939) and "The Heiress" (1949). The contemporary film is Spike Lee and Malik Hassan Sayeed's "He Got Game" (1998).

"We are trying to make a very public statement that American music is what the Pacific Symphony stands for," Pacific executive director John Forsyte said Monday.

"Because we're a Southern California orchestra and so many of our musicians play in Hollywood film studios, we thought, what could be more appropriate than looking at Aaron Copland's unique contribution to American film?"

Getting the necessary rights for the programs has been a challenge, Forsyte said.

"The problem was not so much to show the films, but to get the rights to perform the complete music. The parts (individual pieces of the score used by the instrumentalists) have been a mess. They do exist, but in large part we've had to get them from the Library of Congress."

In that regard, Pacific music director Carl St.Clair will face an imposing challenge when he conducts the first live orchestra performance of Copland's first film score, "The City," composed for the 1939 World's Fair in New York.

"There is no click track or cuing track," Forsyte said. "Carl will have to memorize the film. Narrator David Dukes has to memorize the film too."

In addition to St.Clair and the Pacific, participants will include author and festival artistic consultant Joseph Horowitz, film composer David Raksin, actor David Dukes, music scholar David Schiff and UCLA music professor Robert Winter. Guest artists will include pianist Benjamin Pasternack and venerable baritone William Warfield.

Those who attend the programs will receive a 28-page publication with essays and reminiscences about the composer by Horowitz, Schiff, St.Clair and Warfield.

Forsyte hopes the Copland Festival, underwritten by Merrill Lynch and the William Gillespie Foundation, will initiate an annual American Composers Project that will focus on different musicians on a similarly large scale.

"We hope it will be fully evolved by the spring of 2003."

A variety of ticket packages will be available. A "Festival Passport" for $99 will include the gala dinner and screening on Nov. 12, as well as screenings on Nov. 13 and 14, and the Copland chamber music concert on Nov. 19. A $75 ticket can be purchased for the gala dinner and the screening on Nov. 19. Tickets to the screenings are $8 each, subject to availability.

Tickets for the Nov. 15 and 16 concert at the Performing Arts Center range from $19 to $52. Tickets for the Nov. 18 concert range from $28 to $32. Tickets for the chamber music concert on Nov. 19 are $20. Information: (714) 755-5799.

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The Festival Schedule

* Nov. 5, Santa Ana High School, 520 W. Walnut St., 4:15 p.m.: Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, Mark Mandarano, conductor: "All-American Concert: A Tribute to Aaron Copland": Copland's "An Outdoor Overture," "Variations on a Shaker Melody" from "Appalachian Spring," and Four Dance Episodes from "Rodeo"; John Adams' "The Chairman Dances" and "Foxtrot for Orchestra"; Varese's Octandre; Piston's Quintet for Flute and String Quartet; Ives' "Decoration Day."

* Nov. 12, Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, 100 Academy, Irvine [(949) 721-2200], 5:30 p.m.: Gala Opening: Dinner; Panel discussion with composer David Raksin, music scholar David Schiff, festival advisor and author Joseph Horowitz, and Pacific Music director Carl St.Clair; Screening of William Wyler's 1949 film, "The Heiress."

* Nov. 13, Beckman Center, Irvine, 6:30 p.m.: Screening of Lewis Milestone's 1935 film, "Of Mice and Men." Commentary by Horowitz.

* Nov. 14, Beckman Center, Irvine, 6:30 p.m.: Screening of Spike Lee and Malik Hassan Sayeed's "He Got Game." Commentary by Horowitz.

* Nov. 15 and 16, Orange County Performing Arts Center, 8 p.m.: Pacific Symphony; St.Clair, conductor: "Copland in Hollywood": Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" "El Salon Mexico"; screening of "The City" with live orchestral accompaniment; "Quiet City"; Suite from "The Heiress"; "A Lincoln Portrait" with narrator William Warfield.

* Nov. 18, Performing Arts Center, 3:30 p.m.: Pacific Symphony; St.Clair, conductor: Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," "El Salon Mexico," screening of "The City" with live orchestral accompaniment; "A Lincoln Portrait," with narrator Warfield.

* Nov. 19, Founders Hall, Orange County Performing Arts Center, 7:30 p.m.: "Copland: Up Close": Joseph Horowitz and Robert Winter, hosts; "El Salon Mexico," Piano Variations and Piano Sonata (soloist Benjamin Pasternak); "Vibebsk" for Violin, Cello and Piano (Paul Manaster, violin; Timothy Landauer, cello; Pasternak, piano); "Old American Songs" (Warfield, baritone).

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