If you watched the five-day celebration where Barack Obama became our 44th president, you’ll recall the many parallels that were drawn to Abraham Lincoln, from the train trip that retraced Lincoln’s, to the reading of Lincoln’s words by patriot Tom Hanks at the Saturday celebration at Lincoln’s memorial. Lincoln was looking down on us.
And you also heard Aaron Copland. A lot of Copland, from The Lincoln Portrait which accompanied Hanks’ reading, to strains of Simple Gifts, one of the themes blended by John Williams for his arrangement for Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma, also used by Copland for his Appalachian Suite, to Fanfare for the Common Man. Our list of American composers of ceremonial music is short, and runs the range of styles from John Philip Sousa to Mr. Williams. But the dean is Aaron Copland whose pioneering styles can still be heard in modern film composers like James Newton Howard.
I couldn’t help thinking how proud Aaron Copland would have been; a proud Socialist during the 30s FDR administration. A man who loved his country not in the “love it or leave it” frame, but “love it and improve it.” He wrote the soundtrack for monumental progress that would happen long after his death.
Perhaps Copland and Lincoln were both looking down at us in our time of great progress and great peril. Thinking of that, I started experimenting with Copland and Copland-like themes as an arranging project, which I’ve posted here. The middle portion is real Copland, performed at the Obama Lincoln celebration and narrated live by Tom Hanks. These are real instruments playing real Copland music in a fair-use sized chunk. The surrounding music, accompanying Mr. Obama, are my composition and orchestration realized by the East-West Symphony Orchestra sample set being driven by Sonar 7 Producer.
Most browsers should play the files below by clicking the links. Don’t attempt the lossless WMA without a fast connection.