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Variations on America

November 6 @ 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

$10 – $25

The Northshore Concert Band begins its 2022/23 season on November 6, 2022, at the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on the Northwestern University campus in Evanston, IL with Variations on America, an exploration of the stark contrasts in realizations of the American dream, featuring lesser-known works of African Americans.

The title is borrowed from Charles Ives’ witty and irreverent Variations on “America,” which opens the program with musical twists and turns on “My Country, Tis of Thee”. Centerpieces of the concert are lesser-known works by African American composers, including Carlos Simon’s colorful and evocative Sweet Chariot; Kevin Day’s musical tribute to George Floyd, Requiem for the Unarmed; and Ulysses Kay’s foreboding Solemn Prelude. Carlos Simon’s piece explores the dark undertones of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” drawing attention to the dichotomy between the spiritual’s beautiful melody and its deeper meaning about death and the afterlife. Kevin Day pairs “Dido’s Lament” and Mozart’s Requiem with chilling harmonics and intense, percussive moments to characterize his response to the numerous Black lives lost due to racial injustice. As the title suggests, the predominant atmosphere of Kay’s Solemn Prelude is one of dignified solemnity. Kay explains that this work attempts to achieve symphonic expression while observing the qualities of the full concert band. Each composer shares a similar variation on America — one where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are underscored by inequities and prejudices due to the color of one’s skin.

First performed on January 21, 2013, by the “The Presidents Own” U.S. Marine Band at the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, Ryan Nowlin’s Let Freedom Ring’s exuberant fanfare serves as a strong reminder that America would not be what it is were it not for the sacrifices of those who have gone before us. The music of Ulysses Kay’s teacher, Paul Hindemith’s monumental Symphony in B-flat, closes the program with its bombastic Fugue, the chittering woodwinds abruptly silenced by the brass and percussion with a powerful final cadence.

Northshore Concert Band’s 67th season is filled with staples of traditional wind band repertoire, audience favorites from the Band’s distinguished history, and new-to-them music. Ten works will receive their first Northshore Concert Band’s performance this season – three on the November 6th program — Carlos Simon’s Sweet Chariot (2019), Kevin Day’s Requiem for the Unarmed (2020/2022), and Ulysses Kay’s Solemn Prelude (1950).

This season is the Band’s most diverse to date, with each concert highlighting the works of underrepresented communities, cultures, and perspectives in classical music.

Advance tickets are available online at Day-of tickets will be available one-hour before the performance at the venue box office. All tickets are general admission. Ticket prices are Adult: $25, Seniors (65+): $20, Students & Children: $10.


November 6
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
$10 – $25
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