July is National Parks and Recreation Month, marking the time of year when families pack up the car and take a road trip out to enjoy the great outdoors. That’s why it’s no surprise that quite a few composers have used America’s stunning natural wonders as inspiration for their music. This Thursday, Amy Bishop presents American Majesties: A Musical Tribute to National Parks and Recreation Month, a program that takes listeners on a coast-to-coast journey of some of the country’s national parks.
Some of the highlights include:
Ferde Grofe’s Grand Canyon Suite: The result of his travels around the desert and mountain country as a touring pianist, Grofe presents a stunning portrait of various scenes within the canyon. Listen as the gray hues of dawn transform into a fanfare of daybreak over the ancient rock formations, then take a burro ride down the bumpy slope to the rhythm of a cowboy tune.
Jett Hitt’s Yellowstone Violin Concerto: He’s originally from Arkansas, but Jett Hitt is passionate about Yellowstone and even lives there for part of the year as a horseback trail guide through the park. Though he grew up learning to train horses, he holds two degrees in music and German, including a doctorate in music composition. Cinematic in sound, his Yellowstone concerto soars with images of sweeping panoramas of the northwestern Wyoming landscape.
Richard Addinsell’s piano concerto, The Smoky Mountains: An Appalachian–influenced work… by a Brit?? Yes. Addinsell proves that it doesn’t take an American composer to capture the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. Paired with Mark O’Connor’s Appalachia Waltz, it conjures images of the lush forests and wispy fog that hangs low over the mountain tops. It’s also one of the few concertos out there that manages to include a banjo!
In addition to the works listed above, the program will also include works inspired by Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, the Sequoias in California, Mount St. Helens in Washington, Niagara Falls in New York, and the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. Join Amy Bishop for American Majesties: A Tribute to National Parks and Recreation Month this Thursday at noon and 10 pm on Houston Public Media, Classical 91.7.