Movement and Music: UMD Symphony Orchestra Presents Appalachian Spring, May 4

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

CONTACT: Sarah Snyder

College Park, MD— The UMD Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of James Ross, will continue exploring the relationship between movement and music with a choreographic approach to Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring on Sunday, May 4 at 4pm in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center’s Dekelboum Concert Hall. The UMD Symphony Orchestra is part of the School of Music.

UMD alumna and renowned choreographer Liz Lerman developed the orchestra’s movements through improvisatory rehearsal technique.  The program also includes Dutilleux’s Métaboles and Gershwin/Bennett’s Porgy and Bess: Symphonic Picture.

About the UMD School of Music’s Appalachian Spring

In 2012, Liz Lerman and the players of the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra (UMSO) teamed up for the fully choreographed and critically-acclaimed “Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun.” Classical music critic Anne Midgette of the Washington Post called the performance “one of the standout performances of my many years in Washington.” This May, their collaboration will further investigate improvisatory movement techniques in Appalachian Spring, a work that was originally commissioned in 1943 as one of two new ballets to be choreographed by American modern dance icon, Martha Graham; the music was being composed by Aaron Copland.

Set in Pennsylvania in the late 19th century, the story of Appalachian Spring is about the celebration surrounding the completion of a new a pioneer farmhouse. As Copland writes, “[the ballet has] to do with the pioneer American spirit, with youth and spring, with optimism and hope.” The central characters are a young husband and bride (originally performed by Graham and her then-husband, Erick Hawkins) who are beginning to understand their new domestic partnership and place in the community.

The UMD Symphony Orchestra will perform the orchestral suite, derived by Copland from the original ballet, and arranged in eight sections. The material is true to the original score, though extended sections—meant to facilitate dancing—are omitted.

About Conductor James Ross

James Ross is a musician of international repute. His musical activities cover three fields: conducting, horn playing and teaching. Presently, he is the Director of Orchestral Activity at the University of Maryland and Associate Director of the Conducting Program at the Juilliard School. This past June, the New York Philharmonic closed their season with “Petrushka Project,” a piece inspired by UMSO’s “The Petrushka Project,” which was conducted by Ross and debuted in 2008 at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

About Choreographer Liz Lerman

Liz Lerman is a choreographer, performer, writer, educator and speaker. Her aesthetic approach spans the range from abstract to personal to political. She founded Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in 1976 and cultivated the company's unique multi-generational ensemble into a leading force in contemporary dance until 2011, when she handed the artistic leadership of the company over to the next generation of Dance Exchange artists. Lerman has been the recipient of numerous honors, including a 2002 MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship and a 2011 United States Artists Ford Fellowship. Her work has been commissioned by the Lincoln Center, American Dance Festival, Harvard Law School, and the Kennedy Center among many others.

About the Music in Mind series

Appalachian Spring is part of the Music in Mind series, which aims to celebrate the role of music in our culture and our lives, explores sources of inspiration and points of intersection in musical traditions, and presents music in a context that encourages reflection and discovery. Proceeds from Music in Mind concerts benefit the UMD School of Music’s undergraduate scholarship fund.


More information can be found on our website. Tickets for this performance are $30/$10 (Regular/Students), and can be purchased online or by calling (301) 405-ARTS (2787).


Located on the University of Maryland campus and a part of the College of Arts and Humanities, the School of Music is a dynamic arts community committed to cultivating and transforming musical traditions and preparing students for meaningful engagement with their art, their culture and the world community.  The School is an integral part of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, a premier arts presenting venue and creative laboratory for professional artists, teachers and students, serving the university and community.  The School of Music, the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, and the staff and administration of the Center comprise the Center‘s creative community.

Proceeds from Music in Mind concerts benefit the UMD School of Music’s undergraduate scholarship fund.