MSO & Guests Celebrate America
Leroy Anderson (1908-75) is represented by Bugler’s
Holiday (1954), his exuberant gift to trumpet players everywhere that
concludes with music reminiscent of the racetrack; and also through Anderson’s arrangement of
Seventy-Six Trombones, the signature tune from 1957’s The Music Man
by Meredith Willson (1902-84). Concertgoers will get to compare this to Norman
Leyden’s arrangement, also on the program.
One of the greatest Civil War era songs is William
Steffe’s (1830-90) Battle Hymn of the Republic, heard on this concert
via the glorious voices of the Milwaukee
Symphony Chorussinging the famed lyrics penned for the tune by
Julia Ward Howe in 1861.
A more modern flag-waver came from former R&B
musician Lee Greenwood (b. 1942) in 1984—God Bless the USA. Singing this
No. 7 country chart hit will be tenor J.
Mark McVey, who has previously appeared on Broadway, at Carnegie Hall
and with the Boston Pops.
The Milwaukee Symphony Chorus also performs a medley
by the first great American composer of popular song, Stephen Foster (1826-64),
who consistently struck the rich vernacular vein of his country in such songs
as My Old Kentucky Home (1853), Oh, Susanna! (1848) and Beautiful
Dreamer (1864). The last of these was actually composed much earlier but
discovered after Foster’s untimely death and, published erroneously as his
“last song,” gained wide popularity (that popularity certainly well-deserved
regardless of its pedigree). The full Milwaukee Symphony Chorus (and in some
cases a male vocal quartet from its members) likewise performs works by George
M. Cohan, Irving Berlin, Samuel A. Ward and Woody Guthrie.
rich musical traditions are also evinced in performances of
Shay/Fisher/Goodwin’s When You’re Smiling and Turkey in the Straw,
courtesy of bluegrass quartet Above the
Town. The group comprises five-time Wisconsin Fiddle Champion Jerry
Loughney, bassist Brian Baker, guitarist Bill Brenckle and banjo player Jon
And what American summer pops concert would be
complete without hearing from our beloved “March King,” John Philip Sousa
(1854-1932). In the present case, it’s one of his most popular and, indeed,
officially the “National March of the United States,” Stars and
Stripes Forever, which Sousa composed in 1896.
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, tenor J. Mark McVey and bluegrass quartet Above the Town perform the above-mentioned and many other works at Uihlein Hall on June 11, 12 and 13.