Melodies of the Americas reimagined at Long Beach Symphony, Saturday

It is a longstanding tradition in the broad genre we label as “classical music” that composers take relatively simple regional folk songs and use them to create considerably more complex and stirring compositions that are many times very popular, in part, because they work upon a familiar, recognizable theme.

This was true for Chopin’s mazurkas and Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies, based on rural verbunkos and, it’s a tradition that was brought to the Americas, most famously in Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring”—particularly the Shaker-inspired “Simple Gifts.” “Appalachian Spring” is featured in Long Beach Symphony’s “The Americas” program which spotlights melodies from the United States and Mexico reimagined by 20th Century composers.

The program opens with Copland’s “El Salon Mexico,” a rhythmic work named written in three styles: music typically favored by the upper class, a more vigorously patterned working class music and foot stomping music of the peasantry.

Arturo Márquez captures the essence of his native Mexico in Concerto for Harp, “Máscaras,” featuring renowned harpist Ina Zdorovetch whose talents are so exceptional and wide-ranging that she’s known as both a “harp whisperer” and “monster player.”

Carlos Chávez’s Symphony No. 2, “Sinfonía india” consists of three melodies originating from native-American tribes of northern Mexico.

The evening concludes with “Appalachian Spring” which you may not think you know but, believe us, you know:

The Americas is at 8 p.m. at the Long Beach Terrace Theater, located at 300 E Ocean Blvd. For more information or tickets, click here.

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Steve Lowery began his journalism career at the Los Angeles Times, where he planned to spend his entire career. God, as usual, laughed at his plans and he has since written for the short-lived sports publication The National, the L.A. Daily News, the Press-Telegram, New Times LA, the District and the OC Weekly. He is the Arts & Culture Editor for the Post, overseeing the Hi-lo.