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ASO's Finale: An Inspiration from Bob Dylan

Musings from the Maestro

"The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,

The answer is blowin' in the wind." —Bob Dylan

These familiar words will soon be sung in Alexandria, not by Bob Dylan, nor by Peter, Paul and Mary. Rather, they will be part of a much anticipated performance of Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven poems of Bob Dylan by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra this Saturday, May 22. Academy Award-winning composer John Corigliano has created powerful new music to poetry of Bob Dylan. Corigliano states that "dramatically, the songs trace a journey of emotional and civic maturation, from the innocence of Clothes Line through the beginnings of awareness of a wider world (Blowin' in the Wind), through the political fury of Masters of War, to a premonition of an apocalyptic future (All Along the Watchtower), culminating in a vision of a victory of ideas (Chimes of Freedom). Mr. Tambourine Man serves as a Prologue to the song cycle, and its Epilogue, Forever Young, makes a kind of folk-song benediction after the cycle's close."

Bob Dylan is an icon who epitomized the common man and the voice of freedom for a generation of Americans. He came from that proud American tradition of "speaking one's mind" without fear...the freedom to speak from one's heart and conscience. We are proud to perform the regional premiere of Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven poems of Bob Dylan.

The Brooklyn Philharmonic, who commissioned it, will be giving the East Coast premiere just one night before the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra's performance. It is most fitting that this important new composition be featured in our season finale concert/art exhibition entitled: WhereDoes the Music Take You? Rebirth...Freedom and the Common Man.

ANOTHER HIGHLIGHT of our finale concert is inspired by the writings of Thomas Jefferson, whose eloquent writings about freedom and the common man have inspired generations of Americans: The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy but cannot disjoin them.

These words receive a stirring musical setting in Randall Thompson's The Testament of Freedom.

The National Men's Chorus will be joining forces with the ASO for this uplifting testament to the American ideals of freedom...freedom for the common man.

Rounding out the rest of our Freedom and the Common Man concert and art exhibition event are Copland's' Fanfare for the Common Man, Barbers' Adagio for Strings and Copland's Appalachian Spring. Appalachian Spring tells the simple story of a newly married couple making their new life in the Appalachian Mountains. This music has the uncanny ability to convey a spirit of openness and directness of character that so many Americans identify with.

I would like to thank videographer Brad Avery and the scores of visual artists from the Torpedo Factory Art Center and The Art League for their invaluable contributions to this season's extraordinary fusion of the senses. These visual artists have served as a catalyst for our own imaginations as we have pondered the season's central question... "Where Does the Music Take You?" With the help of the visual components, it has taken me to surprising places. During this season's concerts I have often been startled by how much the performance of the music has been affected by this unique process which the musicians, artists and audience have embarked upon.

OUR JOURNEY is just beginning. The ASO is building on this theme in exciting ways for the upcoming season. Our new artistic partners for the 2004-2005 season are The National Gallery of Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Phillips Collection, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. In this merging of music and art, Washington's leading art museums have inspired the ASO's musical programming.

In turn, visual artists will create original art inspired by the music and themes of each concert. So, our exploration of the question, "Where Does the Music Take You?" continues in the upcoming season entitled Listen to the Art, Envision the Music...

"May God bless and keep you always,

May your wishes all come true,

May you always do for others

And let others do for you.

May you build a ladder to the stars

And climb on every rung,

May you stay forever young,

Forever young, forever young,

May you stay forever young."

—Bob Dylan