Monday, July 4, 2016

For the Fourth of July: A Mystery and History solved

Maybe this is a little self-indulgent but a few weeks ago I heard a Shaker hymn in a Catholic Church which I found intriguing because it appeared to be the theme I remembered from long ago for a news program. Yesterday we sang it again and today I decided to solve the mystery. 

The theme as I heard it decades ago was played full symphonic. The first version I found today was sung by four young girls dancing and singing in front of a Melrose Church in 18th or 19th century costume. Having identified the source of theme I checked further and found that "Simple Gifts" was a theme adopted by Aaron Copeland for a movement for his  ballet " Appalachian Spring.  "Simple Gifts."  begins simply but he then reiterates it  five or six times, each time increasing in complexity until the last iteration goes full symphonic as I remembered from all those years long ago. It only takes a minute and a half  in toto..

This is the Fourth of July. Somehow I think to listen to this melody and how it developed into a majestic symphonic movement maybe   analogous to the remarkable development and growth of our nation.

Happy Fourth of July. We have come a long way but we have much farther to go.

Simple Gifts

Appalachian Spring

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