Wilkins: Embrace Ellington’s Americanness

Thomas Wilkins, the Norfolk native who served as associate conductor of the Richmond Symphony in the 1990s and currently is music director of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, points to Duke Ellington’s orchestral music, including “The River” Suite and “Sacred Concerts,” which he has been conducting with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the past week, as among the long-missed opportunities for US orchestras to speak with an American accent.

“[C]omposers like Mahler or Dvořák or Tchaikovsky didn’t hesitate to write about their own life experiences in the sound world they grew up in,” Wilkins says in an interview with Tom Jacobs for SF Classical Voice. “We hear the Jewishness of Mahler, the Czechness of Dvořák. But for some reason, we are slow to accept anything that approaches ‘Americanism.’ The problem is we rob ourselves of the opportunity of expanding our palate.”


(via http://www.artsjournal.com)

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