Linus Lerner will return to lead the third program of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra’s concert season. Opening the program will be Morton Gould’s WW II patriotic American Salute of 1943, based upon When Johnny Comes Marching Home, an Americana folk song dating to the Civil War in the 1860s. Composed in one day and performed on the next, Gould conducted the work on a national radio broadcast. The four minute piece in mostly 12/8 time is fast-faster-very fast. In variation form, the Salute includes military, solitude, jazz, a rushing abrupt ending with five key changes, all in the four minute slot.
An American, Gould was born in 1913 and in his early years worked in theater as a pianist in both silents and talkies. He was staff pianist at Radio City Music Hall, was composer and conductor on national radio concerts, composed for Broadway Shows, motion pictures, and TV specials. His catalogue includes symphonies, concertos and just about any other forms. SASO performed his Concerto for Tap Dancer a few years back.
There are two big numbers that follow. First will be Piano Concerto No. 2 by Rachmaninoff featuring soloist Sheryll McManus. A previous article included a biography of Ms. McManus, the composer Rachmaninoff and a synopsis of the three movement concerto.
The other major work will be Antonine Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, his New World Symphony, New World because this Slavic work was composed during his stay in the United States. This symphony has been performed several times by SASO and not all readers will have heard it performed. Following the 4 movement(mvt.) structure formalized by Beethoven, Dvorak composed nine symphonies and all are Slavic-Bohemian jewels. Mvt. 1 opens very slow and formal, followed by a brisk folk theme setting the mood for the rest of the mvt. There will be the expected exposition-recapitulation-development and a joyful ending. The main theme of the slow mvt. has been made into the Spiritual Going Home. Mvt. III is a scherzo providing relief with contrasts of speed and some big accents. The work ends as a joyous Rondo finale.
The Concert will be on Friday, February 5, in Green Valley at Valley Presbyterian Church at 7:00 p.m. and in SaddleBrooke on Saturday, February 6, at DesertView Performing Arts Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. For additional information about SASO: tickets, soloists, members and membership go to: www./sasomusic.org.