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February 14, 2003 - Image 72

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-02-14

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Arts Entertainment


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Celluloid Copland

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Eos Orchestra founder Jonathan Sheffer brings film music
of Jewish American composer to Ann Arbor.



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Find out

before your mother!

here's a subtle Jewish link to
the Ann Arbor concert
planned by the New York-
based Eos Orchestra and its
conductor and founder, Jonathan Sheffer.
With the performance of "The
Celluloid Copland: Copland's Music
for Movies" Sunday afternoon, Feb.
16, comes a piece that touches on the
experience of Jewish immigrants. The
score of The Cummington Story
was written for a documentary
about people settling into an
American community after World
War II.
"There's no Jewish connection
in terms of the music, and the
film itself really did not address
the issue," says Sheffer, 49, mak-
ing his second appearance in Ann
Arbor. "The film talks about
refugees, and there are Eastern
European-looking people.
Although one is left to draw one's
own conclusions, I think there's a
sort of back story."
The concert, planned by the
University Musical Society at the
Michigan Theater, is based on an Eos
Orchestra CD of never-before-record-
ed Copland film music, Celluloid
Copland: World Premiere Film Music.
The 2002 Grammy-nominated Best
Classical Crossover Album has another
piece with a subtle Jewish connection.
The excerpt from The North Star score
comes from a film written in 1943 by
Lillian Hellman and produced by
Samuel Goldwyn. The motion picture
depicts the brutal ravaging of a
Russian village by the Nazis.

film composer. (Copland died at age
90 - in 1990.)
The Ann Arbor program, which also
includes Copland's Appalachian
Spring ballet, features two pieces by
Paul Bowles, who was a student of
Copland — Suite for Small Orchestra
and Romantic Suite.
"The first project of Eos, which start-
ed in 1995, was a massive festival of
music by Bowles, the [expatriate]
American composer and novelist who
wrote The Sheltering Sky," says Sheffer,
who named Eos for the Greek
goddess of dawn as he sought to
Eos Orchestra
bring the dawn of a new way to
founder Jonathan
see music. "Bowles came to
Sheffer: "I chose
New York from Tangier, where
the music for this
concert to provide a he lived for 40 years, and that
was sort of a sensation.
missing part of our
"When I find works like
understanding of
these, I'm very excited to be
probably our most
able to bring them to the pub-
treasured American
lic. I feel a responsibility to
composer, Aaron
help people understand our
'musical legacy."

"I chose the music for this concert to
provide a missing part of our under-
standing of probably our most treasured
American composer, Aaron Copland,
who was Jewish," says Sheffer, preparing
for his orchestra's first tour.
"The pieces are very much in keep-
ing with the ambition of the Eos
Orchestra, which is to bring new and
diverse audiences to classical music.
"This program, with a film excerpt,
gives something extra for people who
don't ordinarily attend concerts. At the

Bicoastal Career

Sheffer's mother encouraged his
early music studies. His piano and vio-
lin lessons were initiated because she
thought knowledge of music was part
of being an educated person.
Sheffer gravitated toward these expe-
riences, and he decided to continue
with music classes in college. The con-
ductor graduated from Harvard
University, where his teachers included
Leonard Bernstein and where he
decided on his eventual profession.
After moving on to the Juilliard
School and the Aspen School of
Music, he began working as an accom-

same time, it's a very serious look at a
period of time in American music that
has not gotten much attention."

American Classics

Working with 35 musicians, Sheffer
will introduce each piece with a narra-
tive about its purpose.
City Suite, the only selection accom-
panied by film, is from a documen-
tary, The City, which extols social
engineering in utopian cities and
became Copland's first assignment as a


"Copland legitimately created the American
`sound' almost singlehandedly. That a gay,
Jewish boy from Brooklyn could ... compose
works that defined a new mainstream ... is



— Jonathan Sheffer; in "Notes on 'Celluloid Copland —


Jonathan Sheffer,


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