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Cincinnati Symphony Debuts First Fanfare Commission On COVID-19

Music Hall will be empty Saturday as the CSO debuts the first commission in The Fanfare Project.
Courtesy of Alberto Jones
Music Hall will be empty Saturday as the CSO debuts the first commission in The Fanfare Project.

The first of more than a dozen fanfares commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops as commentary of the COVID-19 pandemic debuts Saturday. The Fanfare Projectdraws from Aaron Copland's iconic Fanfare for the Common Man, commissioned by the CSO in 1942.Though many may not know Copland's work by name, you'd probably recognize it when you hear it.(You can hear it at the bottom of this page.) The song has been featured on TV shows, movies, sporting events, played for presidents, covered by the likes of Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones, played in space, and has been used to honor victims during the National September 11 Memorial & Museum opening.

CSO Music Director Eugene Goossens requested Copland compose a fanfare in support of Allied efforts during World War II, and as testament to the American spirit during the war. The world premiere occurred in Cincinnati by the CSO on March 12, 1943.

The first of the new fanfares, vitres (fragment...), is for solo oboe and comes from Matthias Pintscher, the CSO's new creative partner. The title translates to fragments of light and glass or stained glass, according to Music Director Louis Langrée.

"He's treating the sound like light," Langrée says. "When you see light through stained glass you have these fragments of light everywhere with different colors. Now it's not light, it's sound."

Langrée explains that while Copland's work now evokes a glorious moment, at the time it was a promise.

"Be patient and light will come back and a beautiful world will emerge again from this crisis. Of course this isn't World War II; it's different challenges. The war against the virus is much more weird and mysterious but we are experiencing such difficult times having to change our habits."

vitres (fragment...), performed by Principal Oboe Dwight Parry, opens the first concert from Music Hall since the pandemic shutdown. The event will be live-streamed Saturday at 8 p.m., and will include a quartet - appropriately distanced in the empty hall - performing Mahler's Piano Quartet in A Minor. The CSO says the selection "represents Mahler's Third Symphony, which was given its U.S. premiere by the CSO in 1914." The performance will conclude with video of the orchestra performing Fanfare for the Common Man.

Langrée describes hearing Pintscher's fanfare echoing from the balcony as a blessing to Music Hall. He says the orchestra is dedicating Saturday's performance to "all the people who take care of us at their own risk.

"This is a thank you to ... doctors, nurses, people working and feeding us ... all these people, I think, their dedication and their courage is extraordinary."

Listen to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra perform Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man.


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Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Most recently, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She served on the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors from 2007 - 2009.