What does Public Kinship sound like? Throughout 2019, we've been showing the many forms that civic dialogues and storytelling can take: the making of the Statue of Liberty in France celebrates the death of American slavery; inter-generational art projects illustrate family stories; neighbor-gardeners cultivate the earth and bring forth its bounty. As we approach the end of the year and the very American holiday of Thanksgiving, we pause to celebrate the life and legacy of a great American practitioner of the art of Public Kinship.
November 14 was the 119th birthday of Aaron Copland, one of America's greatest composers, one who orchestrated the full range of American music and song into a living dialogue that still speaks to us. He wrote masterpieces like Appalachian Spring, Fanfare for the Common Man, and Rodeo. He evoked American myth and history in the Lincoln Portrait, Billy the Kid, and his song settings. He composed music for the 1939 World's Fair, anti-fascist World War II films, and movie adaptations of writers like John Steinbeck. He collaborated across racial and linguistic borders to bring folk songs, Latin American styles, and spirituals more fully into our national musical vocabulary.
In short, he arranged a truly American dialogue in music: between the classical and the popular; the song of the people and the sound of the concert hall; the dissonance of struggle and the harmony of human triumph.
Copland was also a great American conductor. As we follow the thread of Public Kinship through America's cultural tapestry, we ask: what is a conductor? A conductor is a leader who must also be a listener -- who can meld many voices and instruments into one ringing voice that still lets the individual sounds sing out in all their color and interplay. A conductor has care for the past, for the future, and for the now.
Aaron Copland's music shows us what Public Kinship can do to create a common culture we can truly hear. We've included some of his music, performed by youth and adults from around the world.
LEFT: Ricardo Muti conducts "Lincoln Portrait," with narration by Julius ("Dr. J.") Irving, on the occasion of Martin Luther King's Birthday, Philadelphia, 1991.
BELOW: The World Youth Symphony Orchestra performs "Appalachian Spring," 2015.