What is American Classical music? This CD contains Mark O'Connor's latest orchestral works: Americana Symphony "Variations on Appalachia Waltz"(2006) and Concerto No. 6 "Old Brass" (2003). Sony Classical//BMG label director Gilbert Hetherwick explains; "Dvorak and Copland painted symphonic landscapes using melodies inspired by the Americana tradition, and Mark O'Connor actually comes from that tradition itself. He's lived it every day of his life. And you hear it in every note of his Americana Symphony." For the majority of his solo career, O'Connor has dedicated himself to composing for orchestra: he has written six full-length concertos, several orchestral suites and string orchestra compositions, and most recently his first Symphony.
David Wallace, Juilliard School faculty member and Senior Teaching Artist with the New York Philharmonic, comments on the overall characteristics of O'Connor's music: "The Americana Symphony combines historical narrative with classical and folk variation principles. The Symphony contains instrumental virtuosity, rhythmic drive, poignant lyricism, and probing counterpoint. With the Americana Symphony, Mark O'Connor provides his answer to a question that has intrigued U. S. composers since the debut of Dvorak's New World Symphony in 1892: "How do you write the great American Symphony?"
William Intrilligator, artistic director of the Dubuque Symphony, conducted one of the first performances of the Americana Symphony: "Very few pieces of new music have the same emotional and visceral effect as this Symphony," he writes. "It has such power and beauty, and these traits are expressed in original ways that are pure O'Connor and truly American."
Marin Alsop, artistic director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and this recording's conductor of the Americana Symphony, calls the Symphony simply "A hit!"
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