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Carol Lewis

“Spirit of America: The Concert,” to be Presented at FAU’s Auditorium by Klezmer Company Orchestra, Aaron Kula, Conductor

The Musical Celebration of American Independence will feature a 42-piece Orchestra, Guest Soloist and Music by Handel, Barber, Ives, Gershwin, Joplin and Cohan

BOCA RATON, FL (May 29, 2007 ) - “Spirit of America: The Concert,” featuring the music of composers George Handel, Samuel Barber, Charles Ives, George Gershwin, Scott Joplin and George Cohan, will be presented by the 42-piece critically-acclaimed Klezmer Company Orchestra (KCO), conducted by Aaron Kula, on Sunday, July 1, at 3 p.m., at Florida Atlantic University’s Carole and Barry Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium, in the University Center, on FAU’s Boca Raton campus, 777 Glades Road.

“The concert, performed by classical and jazz musicians, includes works of composers from 18 th century Handel to 20 th century Gershwin and a who’s who of American composers,” said Kula, director of music collections and performance at FAU Libraries. “I chose repertoire that reflects the diversity of American orchestral music.”

The program opens with Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks,” which reflects the popular music performed in Europe and America in the 18 th century.

The second work, Ives’ “Variations on America,” represents the melodic connection between England and America, and uses an adapted version of “God Save the Queen,” which was later used for the American version titled “My Country Tis of Thee.”

The program changes genres beginning with a group of American folk songs, such as Antonin Dvorak’s “Goin’ Home” and Ervin Rouse’s “Orange Blossom Special,” performed by KCO violinist, Randi Fishenfeld.  

Special guest soloist Elena Correia, a versatile Portuguese-American soprano trained at The Juilliard School, will sing Barber’s “Knoxville Summer 1915” to celebrate the 60 th anniversary of this work’s premiere. The text, taken from a short prose piece by James Agee, depicts a typical summer evening on a Knoxville, Tennessee porch in the early 1900s. Correia, an international operatic performer has earned awards, including first place in the Die Meistersinger competition in Graz, Austria, and the Heinz Rehfuss Award from the Orlando Opera. She is scheduled to perform a solo recital in Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall.

Representing the quintessential 20 th century crossover American composer who drew upon jazz and classical musical traditions, the program includes one of Gershwin’s greatest works for orchestra, “An American in Paris.”  

            Continuing in the spirit of music that is idiomatic of the American vernacular, the program also includes “The Entertainer,” one of Joplin’s most famous pieces, followed by Cohan’s “Star Spangled Spectacular,” which features an audience sing-a-long.  

The contributions of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, a great inventor and a notably accepted musician, will be celebrated during the program. Kenneth Keaton, associate dean and professor of music for the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters at FAU, will join the concert in full colonial attire as the program’s emcee, bringing Franklin’s wit and wisdom to the stage.

KCO, the professional ensemble-in-residence at FAU Libraries, defies classification with its high-energy performances and eclectic programming of ethno-jazz and classical music. Like classical orchestras and jazz ensembles, KCO features eight core soloists and varies its orchestra personnel depending on the concert’s repertoire. The popular ensemble has performed before thousands at sold-out concerts and has received rave reviews for its unique style and innovative arrangements.

Kula joined the FAU faulty in 1997 and founded the KCO the same year. His activities include research, archiving, lecturing, composing and performing. Kula serves on the faculty at New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he has been conducting orchestras since 1986.  

             For tickets or additional information on the concert, call 800-564-9539 or visit Ticket prices are $15, $20, with $25 premiere seating. Group discounts are also available.

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