William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at AfriClassical.com, which features a comprehensive Works List by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma, http://www.CasaMusicaledeLerma.com.
Chicago Classical Review
Photo: Norman Timonera
Wilkins, Grant Park offer a mixed night of lighter fare
You want weighty German repertoire, come to the Harris Theater this weekend when the Grant Park Orchestra plays Bruckner and Weber.
Wednesday night at the Pritzker Pavilion was an evening for lighter fare with Thomas Wilkins leading a pair of rarely heard symphonies, lightish in style with more charm than profundity, to a crowd estimated at 11,000 by festival officials.
Jerry Goldsmith’s Fireworks: A Celebration of Los Angeles set the populist tone for the evening. Written for a concert of the composer’s music at the Hollywood Bowl, it’s an energetic curtain-raiser, albeit with a superficial slickness suggestive of the TV and film music genre for which Goldsmith is best known. Wilkins led the orchestra in a lively performance.
The Grant Park Music Festival continues to showcase American music with William Grant Still’s Symphony No. 3. The work’s title, “Sunday Symphony,” reflects the composer’s religious commitment, amplified further in the four movements: “The Awakening,” “Prayers,” “Relaxation,” and “Day’s End and A New Beginning.”
Even with that there is no palpable religious component in the music. As with his better-known “Afro-American Symphony” (No. 1) Still’s music is tuneful, piquant and attractively scored, as with the bluesy theme of the English horn in the second movement and the ensuing perky lilt to the scherzo.
Ultimately, Still’s symphony is a rather slender and lightweight affair, with an emphatic, clunky finale. Wilkins led an amiable performance that brought out its lyric charm.