Music from the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition and Symphony No. 4 by Walter Piston, Mill Valley and Berkeley, June 5, 6 and 7, 2015.
In this concert, LGCSF was the guest of the Mill Valley Philharmonic which was conducted by Laurie Cohen. This was a very good collaboration for us and we were able to perform before new audiences. It was exciting for me to be singing with a Philharmonic Orchestra and the musicians made us feel very welcome. The chorus had been rehearsing music for the Pride Concert and this concert was a chance to sing these pieces as sort of a dress rehearsal for Pride. The 2015 Pride Concert was part of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition Centennial Celebration. More about this next week and now to what we sang.
The concert began with the Philharmonic playing "Cumbia y Conga" by William Grant Still, who was often referred to as "the Dean" of African-American composers. He was the first African-American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have one of his symphonies performed by a leading orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major opera company, and the first to have an opera of his performed on national television.
Next we sang "1915 - San Francisco, March Song" which was composed by S. and P. I. Jacoby. Then we sang "Panama Hymn" by Amy Beach who was the first successful American female composer of large-scale art music. This song was commissioned for the Panama Pacific International Exposition as the official hymn of the exposition.
Next we performed "Gallia" by Charles Gounod and was first performed at the Exposition in November, 1915. We were joined by singers from Chabot College where Billy was teaching vocal music. It was fun to sing with them as they brought their own energy to the chorus.
We ended the first part of the concert with the world premiere of John Karl Hirten's magnificent "Inscriptions." The texts for this were used as inscriptions on the Arch of the Setting Sun, Court of the Universe, at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. This was the newest piece that we performed. The music that we sang was challenging and it was interesting to note that Some of the pieces had not been performed since 1915.
The last half of the concert was the Mill Valley Philharmonic playing "Symphony No. 4" (1950) which was composed by Walter Piston and it was commissioned by the University of Minnesota for its centennial celebration and had its premiere in 1951 by the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra conducted by Antal Dorati. Again this was a great collaboration between us and the Philharmonic and the audiences were enthusiastic.
Next week will be all about Pride 2015.
Cheers and love, Michael Lucero
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