St Petersburg, Concert Hall

December's Artist of the Month Willard White (bass-baritone) and Eugene Asti (piano)

Songs and romances by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Charles Ives, Benjamin Britten, Aaron Copeland, George Gershwin and Richard Charles Rogers to words by Oscar Hammerstein

Arias from operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Giuseppe Verdi

Oscar Hammerstein II (1895–1960), the son of a major American impresario, began composing poems for songs when the Broadway musical was still in its infancy. Having worked together with many other composers, in 1943 he was at last to meet Richard Charles Rogers (1902–1979) and was never to work with anyone else again. Rogers and Hammerstein’s first major success was the musical Oklahoma! This was followed by Carousel, Allegro, South Pacific, The King and I, Me and Juliet and, of course, The Sound of Music, not to mention musical films. In the 1950s, Rogers and Hammerstein’s works dominated Broadway and they defined the face of American light music. Interestingly, the writer’s father, in his own time, had emigrated fro Western Poland, while the composer’s father’s real name was Rogazinsky and his mother had emigrated from Russia.

The name of Aaron Copland (1900–1990) – also the son of emigrants from the Russian Empire – is associated not with easy listening genres but rather with such works as the symphonic suite Appalachian Spring, Organ Symphony, the cowboy ballet Rodeo or the opera The Tender Land. Starting in the 1930s, Copland had become America’s leading composer of academic music. He worked in various styles, including dodecaphony, but when he wanted to stress the national quality of his works, as a general rule, he turned to jazz. Copland’s creative legacy includes a total of around forty songs, among them the series Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson (1950).

Age category 6+

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