Atlantic Symphony Orchestra celebrates the American spirit

Jody Feinberg

You’ve probably heard more than enough about Joe the Plumber, the election’s much talked about average American.

But the Atlantic Symphony’s concert Saturday in Duxbury presents him in an inspiring and nonpartisan way when it performs "Fanfare for the Common Man'' and "Lincoln Portrait'' by Aaron Copland, as well as "An American in Paris'' by George Gershwin.

"Every composer has their own voice, and theirs rang true with so many Americans,'' said music director and conductor Jin Kim, who chose the program for the symphony’s season opening with the election in mind. "Their style was immediately embraced as American.''

Copland wrote both "Lincoln Portrait'' and "Fanfare for the Common Man'' during World War II when he and other composers were commissioned to honor important figures in American history as well as the can-do spirit of the American people.

"The Fanfare captures the determination and idealism of those everyday American men and women,'' according to Steven Ledbetter, a musicologist who wrote the program notes.

Anthony Everett, co-host of WCVB-TV’s "Chronicle'' and a Cohasset resident, will read Lincoln’s words. Everett, who also read "A Night Before Christmas'' at a Boston Pops performance last December, is thrilled to narrate again.

"It is a presentation that couldn’t be coming at a more appropriate historical moment,'' he said. "His words ring as true today as they did in his time. ‘Lincoln Portrait’ reminds us that our nation has endured many tumultuous periods, testing many generations before us.''

Everett cited these words of Lincoln as an example: "'The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.''

Copland and Gershwin expressed their American identity by incorporating American jazz, blues, and songs into the classical tradition, said the orchestra’s managing director Nina Wellford. In "Lincoln Portrait,'' for example, there are elements of two songs popular during Lincoln’s time: the ballad "Springfield Mountain,'' and Stephen Foster’s "Camptown Races.''

The Atlantic Symphony Orchestra also will perform Dvorak’s Symphony No. 6 Saturday, as well as symphonic concerts, chamber, children’s concerts and special events throughout the 2008-2009 season. Kim said he selected Dvorak Symphony No. 6 because it is a triumphant, jubilant piece by a composer interested in American folk music.

Formerly the Hingham Symphony Orchestra, the 11-year-old orchestra changed its name last year to reflect its evolution from a community orchestra of volunteers into a regional orchestra that attracts professional musicians and launches new careers.

Kim, a longtime American citizen born in South Korea, said he continues to be moved by American elections.

"Regardless of your politics and flaws in the election process, it’s absolutely amazing that this large, large country can have this transition of power through this process,'' Kim said. "There’s a lot to be proud of and the music very much shows that.''

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IF YOU GO . . .

What: Quincy Symphony Orchestra

When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: North Quincy High School 316 Hancock St., Quincy

How much: Adult $17; seniors/students $12; kids younger than 12 with adult, $5

More info: Call 800-579-1618 or visit