David Wordsworth, Americana '18 Festival Curator, writes... The idea for a year of American music during 2018 originated in a day-long celebration of the centenary of one of the iconic musical figures of the last century, Leonard Bernstein.

The bewildering diversity of his activities as a pianist, conductor, composer, writer, teacher, educator and humanitarian, served as a reminder of the equally diverse influences that have inspired American composers over the last two hundred years.

Americana ‘18 tries to highlight some of the wonderful breadth of this music whilst of course recognising that even in a year and in around 80 concerts we can only scratch the surface. Bernstein is rightly celebrated, as is his friend and mentor Aaron Copland, as well as other influences, teachers and contemporaries, such as Walter Piston, Lukas Foss, Samuel Barber, David Diamond and Randall Thompson.

We also hear music by mavericks ranging from John Cage, Lou Harrison, Henry Cowell, Morton Feldman and of course the great Charles Ives, whilst taking in Ragtime, Broadway, Hollywood, the Minimalists, Neo-Romantics and the popular choral composers of today, Morton Lauridsen and Eric Whitacre.

Finally we bring ourselves up to date with London/world premieres by William Bolcom (who will visit for a few days and will be performing with his wife Joan Morris), Augusta Read Thomas, Arlene Sierra, Hilary Tann, Jesse Jones, Zack Browning and Wynton Marsalis and celebrate the 75th birthday of the American-born now London resident composer, Stephen Montague.

There are chances for amateur musicians to perform too – ‘Come & Sing’ Bernstein musicals and American choral classics, or celebrate July 4th by playing ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ or ‘In C’

It promises to be a fascinating journey – do please come and join us.

 

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