Saturday, July 1, 2017

July 4th Weekend 2017: American Variations

Wow! We have a four-day weekend to celebrate our 241st year of independence from Great Britain and George III. Look forward to some music, words, and fine arts over the next four days as we explore the American experience. In defining that experience the word "diversity," in its fullest expression, would rank high on any list. Tonight we're sending out our best wishes for a safe and happy holiday in the form of Variations on America.

Charles Ives, a fiercely original American composer, wrote this piece for organ in 1891 when he was seventeen. Sadly, he was generally unknown and ignored in his lifetime, but is now recognized as a pioneer in 20th century music. The organist in this performance is another American original, Virgil Fox. Describing Fox as flamboyant in terms of his persona and technique would be an understatement. He introduced classical music to tens of thousands of young people in a series of cross-country tours in the '70's. I was fortunate to see him perform once in an unforgettable concert in Washington. He was an amazing entertainer with a repertoire of over 250 pieces, all memorized. He never performed with a score, even when accompanied by an orchestraAs for Variations on America, there are five of them, each speaking with a unique voice, but united by a beloved melody. Nerd that I am, it's been a favorite of mine since childhood. I hope you enjoy the next seven minutes and fifty-six seconds of diverse American originals as much as I do.

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