COME TO THE WOODS – AN ECLECTIC ASSORTMENT OF BEAUTIFUL MUSIC
Or perhaps that should read, ‘A beautiful assortment of eclectic music?’ Either way, the saying would still be true, and accurate. For it is exactly what Oriana’s upcoming concert offering promises to be. “Come to the Woods” is indeed an eclectic mix of music by American composers, covering nearly one hundred years, and sampling many styles and genres. Each piece is unique, in that it is representative of a particular branch of what is a very big tree – the music of the Americas.
There are so many musical traditions that have come to be seen as uniquely American in either origin, style, or perhaps sentiment. But nothing comes out of nothing. Music is very much an organic beast, which has, throughout history, constantly developed, mutated and reinvented itself in countless ways, across countless cultures and nationalities. So what we think of as American music will always have roots which can be traced back to pre-American times.
Having said that, it is still undeniably true that there are musical genres, and styles, that can, for all intents and purposes, be clearly identified as uniquely ‘American’. The most obvious one of the post WWII years is Rock’n’roll, which has in itself generated countless sub-genres. But the previous century has seen the emergence of Jazz, Blues, Country Music, Folk Music, Singer-Songwriters, Show Tunes, Latin American music and more. Added to all this, America has developed its own traditions of Art Song, Classical and Choral music, and music written specifically for the cinema.
“Come to the Woods” touches so many of the bases represented here, sometimes overlapping within the one piece. George Gershwin’s music is influenced by jazz, show tunes and classical (just think of ‘Rhapsody in Blue’). Similarly, Cole Porter was a master of composition and lyric-writing for the musical theatre, as well as having a great jazz sensibility. Stephen Sondheim can marvellously blend composition for the Broadway stage with a fabulous ability to tell a great story, in the best traditions of folk music. The partnership of Rodgers and Hammerstein virtually re-invented the whole concept of what a musical could be with their first collaboration, ‘Oklahoma’ back in 1943.
There are several examples of American art-song, with poems set to music by composers including Morten Lauridsen, James Mulholland and Z. Randall Stroope; heart-rending meditations on past war by contemporary composers Paul Gross and David Keele; and there are stirring examples of uniquely African American spiritual/gospel songs.
The centrepiece of the programme is the title work, ‘Come to the Woods.’ With text by John Muir, America’s ‘Father of the National Parks’, and set to music by brilliant young American composer Jake Runestad, it’s a complex, atmospheric, multi-layered piece, invoking many moods and tempo changes. But it has such vitality, such ‘wild exuberance’, that you will find it to be totally exhilarating.
“Eclectic - deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.” “Beautiful – pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically.”
You will find that both of these words, and their definitions, more than amply apply to the selection of songs that make up Oriana’s “Come to the Woods.”
Secure your seats now by visiting https://oriana.org.au/upcoming-events
Ian Rix 2021