Lexington Symphony Celebrates 300th Anniversary at September Concert

 The September concert, which will kick of the orchestra’s celebration of Lexington’s 300th anniversary, features music dedicated to the love of place and of city. The program consists of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ second symphony, known as the “London” symphony, and recent compositions by two living female composers, Jennifer Higdon and Sky Macklay.

Sky Macklay



September 23




The orchestra will perform the world premiere of Dissolving Bands by young composer Sky Macklay. Macklay was selected through a process of collaboration with the Walden School in New Hampshire, a summer music school and festival that offers programs that emphasize creative application, specifically through music improvisation and composition. A jury consisting of Lexington Symphony Music Director Jonathan McPhee and Walden school leadership selected Macklay to be the recipient of a commission by the Lexington Symphony. The composer was asked to reflect on the possible meanings of the town’s 300th anniversary in musical language.

Macklay describes the resulting work, Dissolving Bands, as inspired by the first sentence in the Declaration of Independence which begins, ‘When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another.’” She writes, “Musically, I channeled the emotions that the Massachusetts colonists may have felt before the eruption of the Revolutionary war, beginning with rapidly changing instrumental choirs ascending in staccato clusters of unpredictable turbulence and ever-mounting tension. Later sections express uncertainty, fortitude, and the calm, open space of unknown future possibilities.”

Jennifer Higdon

Lexington Symphony will also be performing two movements (“Peachtree Street” and “Skyline”) from Jennifer Higdon’s 2004 composition City Scape. Pulitzer-prize winner Jennifer Higdon is one of the most performed living American composers working today. Her list of commissioners range from the Cleveland Orchestra to the Tokyo String Quartet, from The President’s Own Marine Band to Hilary Hahn. Higdon received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto, with the committee citing Higdon’s work as a “deeply engaging piece that combines flowing lyricism with dazzling virtuosity.” She has also received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts & Letters (two awards), the National Endowment for the Arts, and ASCAP.

Tickets are available online at www.lexingtonsymphony.org, by phone at 781.523.9009, with your check payable to Lexington Symphony, P.O. Box 194, Lexington MA 02420, or in person at The Crafty Yankee at 1838 Mass Ave. in Lexington Center (cash/check only). Ticket prices for the September 23 concert are $50, $40, $30, $20 (student).

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Lexington Symphony Receives Nea Grant

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman announced today that Lexington Symphony is one of 96 not-for-profit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant in the highly-competitive music category. Lexington Symphony has been awarded $10,000 for its celebrated educational program, Orchestrating Kids Through ClassicsTM.

Orchestrating Kids Through ClassicsTM, a creative introduction to the history of music, began in 2009 with funding from the Lexington Education Foundation, reaching all Lexington third grade students that year. Additional corporate and state support allowed the program to grow, and this year nearly 3,000 elementary students attended from towns from all around the Boston area and the state, including Lawrence, Dorchester, Framingham, Wilmington, Burlington, Arlington and Medford. NEA funding will allow Lexington Symphony to expand Orchestrating Kids Through ClassicsTM and bring even more children to hear this singular program.

The NEA Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, encourages public engagement through diversity, stimulates lifelong learning in the arts, and strengthens communities.

“Funding from the NEA puts us on a national stage and shows we’ve met a high bar for artistic excellence, innovation, and public engagement,” says Rebecca Hawkins, Lexington Symphony violinist and grantwriter. “We are very, very proud to receive this endorsement.” Hawkins adds, “As musicians, we love Orchestrating Kids because it reaches students from all different communities and gets them thinking about classical music in an exploring, unconventional way — they are inspired to try out new sounds, new ideas, a new instrument.”

Orchestrating Kids Through Classics starts with a visit by four Lexington Symphony musicians to each elementary school, where the musicians engage the students in smaller groups and prepare them for the field trip to the big orchestra concert. The concerts take place in town halls – Cary Memorial Hall in Lexington and Nevins Hall in Framingham. More intimate than huge concert halls, the venues allow the students to experience the orchestra up close and in buildings that are central to the life of the community.

At the concert, Music Director Jonathan McPhee takes the audience on a tour of the orchestra from its very beginnings 500 years ago through present-day Star Wars, with creative flourishes along the way, including chanting monks, a virtuoso student performer, and an appearance by Darth Vader.

The children often arrive with no preconceived ideas about or experience with classical music and love it. As one student wrote, “The music was awesome, I wish I could go again…You guys convinced me to play an instrument.” Parents love it too. Lexington mom Jennifer Lawrence writes that she “was absolutely amazed by the program’s ability to introduce kids to the history of music in such a compelling way,” adding, “My daughter was completely entranced!”

The next Orchestrating Kids Through Classics series runs from December 2012 through February 2013. School reservations are available now; visit www.lexingtonsymphony.org for information.

Lexington Symphony is a group of dedicated professional musicians who share a passion for music and for exacting standards of performance. The symphony is directed by Maestro Jonathan McPhee, one of the leading musical figures in New England. The symphony season runs from September through June with seven ticketed concerts, community outreach programs, and a dedicated education program for the next generation of musicians, including Orchestrating Kids Through ClassicsTM.




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