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UMD Symphony Orchestra: Appalachian Spring

Thu, May 15, 2014
Appalachian Spring performed by University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra:  Music and Movement

Movement is inherent in the act of making music; yet, its impact is often overlooked in the orchestral setting. In 2012, Liz Lerman and the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra (UMSO) explored the relationship between movement and music in a fully choreographed and critically-acclaimed performance of Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun. The musicians of UMSO were the dancers as well as the players. They discovered that playing from memory while moving onstage, while challenging, actually improved their ability to communicate with and listen to each other. Classical music critic Anne Midgette of the Washington Post called the performance “one of the standout performances of my many years in Washington.”
In May, 2014, Lerman and her team of collaborators (James Ross, Vincent Thomas, Martha Wittman, and UMSO) delved deeper into this connection between movement and music in Appalachian Spring, a work that was originally commissioned by Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge in 1943 as one of three new ballets to be choreographed by American modern dance icon, Martha Graham; the music was composed by Aaron Copland and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1945.  This performance by UMSO alternates between the 13-instrument and the full orchestral version of the suite.  The choreography is influenced by American folk dance, the gestures musicians make while playing their instruments, and the unmitigated sense of hopefulness in the music itself.  
University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra
Conceived by James Ross
Movement Design by Liz Lerman
Vincent E. Thomas, choreographic collaborator
Martha Wittman, performing collaborator
Enrico Lopez-Yanez, Young Man
Jedidiah Roe, Lighting Design
Video recorded and edited by Christian Amonson, Artslaureate:
Audio recorded and mastered by Antonino d'Urzo, Opusrite™
Performed May 2 and 4, 2014, at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
Video Highlights
Anne Midgette, The Washington Post
Andrew Malone, DMV Classical
Greg Sandow, Sandow: Greg Sandow on the future of classical music
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun
Anne Midgette, The Washington Post

Student Experience
Moving to Appalachian Spring: Yong Su Clark, DMA flute
DMA flute student Yong Su Clark shares how UMSO's interdisciplinary approach to Appalachian Spring strengthened his collaborative skills.

Moving to Appalachian Spring: Tess Coffey, MM trumpet
MM trumpet student Tess Coffey shares how UMSO's interdisciplinary approach to Appalachian Spring expanded her understanding of Copland's piece.