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A Lincoln Portrait, and Other Musical Evocations of an Era


March 18's concert by the University of Pennsylvania Wind Ensemble is a celebration on many levels for Penn.

The concert marks the 20th anniversary of the Wind Ensemble, the 50-member group that has been performing steadily in the local area and which, under its new director, Ricardo Averbach, has now extended itself into a regional partnership with a counterpart at Yale.

(For other ways the Ensemble will celebrate the year: click here).

The music of the March 18 concert focuses on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.

One selection is Louis Moreau Gottschalk's The Union, a piece identified by Mr. Averbach as Lincoln's first epitaph. He said of it, citing one of Gottschalk's biographers, Samuel Adler: " fine documents in our history, The Union speaks for the boisterous, tender, awkward, visionary and all but forgotten America that Lincoln bereaved." It was written as a "battle piece" for piano in 1862 and later orchestrated.

The piano soloist with the Wind Ensemble: James Primosch, chairman of the music department.

The centerpiece of the program, Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait, is narrated by President Judith Rodin as the culmination of this year's Penn Reading Project. Last summer all entering freshmen were given the Garry Wills book (left) that examined Lincoln's 272-word Gettysburg Address word by word in its historical context, and when they arrived on campus they met in small groups to discuss the book with faculty who volunteered from many schools and disciplines. Copland's Portrait was written in 1942, as one of a series of musical portraits of American heroes that Andre Kostelanetz commissioned of various composers. It has proved to be Copland's most popular work in the United States, where it has enjoyed even more performances than the music from his ballet Appalachian Spring, according to Mr. Averbach.

Also on the program will be American Salute, by Morton Gould, which is based on the march known as When Johnny Comes Marching Home, and Charles Ives's Variations on America.

The concert starts at 8 p.m. at the Annenberg Center's Zellerbach Theater. Admission is free but tickets are required; for details please call the Annenberg Center Box Office at 898-6791.

SAS Dean's Forum

The SAS Dean's Forum presents Garry Wills, author of the 1997-98 Penn Reading Project text Lincoln at Gettysburg, in a lecture on Public Support for the Humanities on March 17 at 4:30 p.m.The lecture is free in the Museum's Harrison Auditorium. For more information: Anita Mastroieni, at 898-5262 or

Return to: Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, March 3/10, 1998, Volume 44, Number 24