Monday, June 25, 2018

Church anthem seems based on well-known Copland work, but that in turn uses an Irish folksong

Sunday, June 24, 2018, the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC performed an a capella anthem “Lord of the Dance” by Sydney Carter, arranged by David Willcocks.

But the theme seemed to be the prominent ritornel from Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” ballet (1944).  Paul Hume used this theme in the 1950s to introduce evening symphony every weeknight on WGMS radio in Washington DC when I was a boy.

It occurs at 20:06 in the New York Philharmonic performance by Leonard Bernstein back in the 1960s.

The sound on these early stereo Columbia recordings is still super.

The entire ballet (about 45 minutes) for chamber orchestra is also widely available on YouTube.
Copland is also known for his “Fanfare for the Common Man” which he uses to introduce the massive finale of his Third Symphony.

Copland did experiment with the twelve tone technique later in life. But in his last years (he died in 1990 at age 90) he started so show signs of Alzheimer’s Disease (link).  

Further checking shows that this tune is an Irish folk tune.  I wonder if Stanford (well known Irish composer) could have considered it for his Irish rhapsodies.  On YouTube, Carter's treatment is available, such as here

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