Aaron Copland was born in 1900 in Brooklyn, NY into a Conservative Jewish household. He had four older brothers and sisters. His mother, Sarah, was where you could say he got his musical interest from. She was a singer and piano player herself, and actually arranged music lessons for her children. At the young age of 15, Copland decided he wanted to become a composer after he had attended a concert put on by a composer-pianist. He began seriously taking formal music classes under the direction of Rubin Goldmark. After finishing classes with Goldmark, he decided to head to France, where he stayed for four (unexpected) years. He studied at the Fontainbleau School of Music under the direction of Isidor Philipp and Paul Vidal, but because Vidal was too similar to Goldmark, he switched teachers to work with Nadia Boulanger. Copland was quoted as saying that, "No one to my knowledge had ever before thought of studying with a woman." He liked her teaching style so much that instead of his anticipated one year abroad, he stayed with her for three years. He ended up renting a studio apartment in the Upper West Side of NYC near Carnegie Hall when he returned to the United States.
Over the following years, Aaron Copland created many noteworthy pieces and film scores for movies such as Of Mice and Men, The Heiress, Something Wild, and many others. He was also a conductor for a time.
One of the pieces or choral work we are singing this semester as a choir is In the Beginning written in 1947. It uses the first chapter and the first seven verses of the second chapter of Genesis from the King James version of the Bible and is a masterpiece of the choral repertory.
Singing and learning how to sing this piece has been a challenge, but a rewarding one. Learning how to deal with the many dissonant sections of the piece have been the largest challenges for many of our members, myself included!
Here's to a wonderful holiday season and a successful next few weeks before our January concert!!