Patriots and Heroes


Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes and Drums at Old North Bridge in Concord (photo by Matthew Lug, courtesy of MCVFD)

Patriots Day is a holiday unique to Massachusetts, commemorating the first shots fired in the American Revolution. Classical New England brings you a day of programming throughout the day on April 16 to both celebrate and remember that earth-shattering event at Lexington Green.

These days, Patriots Day means the Boston Marathon, a Red Sox game at Fenway, and a day off from school for the kids. And along the way, there's great music to hear, celebrating the spirit of the Revolution and American artistic expression ever since.

Boston Camerata celebrates the day with "Patriots and Heroes," a program at 8pm on Monday at Harvard Epworth United Methodist Church in Cambridge, with guest artists and musicians from Revels and the Middlesex Volunteers Fifes and Drums. Anne Azéma, Artistic Director of Boston Camerata, talked with Brian McCreath about music from colonial America and what it can tell us about those tumultuous times.

To hear the feature, click on "Listen" above.

During the Patriots Day weekend, you'll hear music from both America and Europe during that stormy time, including the sounds of 1775 in America: fifes and fiddles and drums and the proud singing of simple, sturdy hymns, tunes that hold the memory of older European styles but capable of stirring the blood to build a nation. They also became the seed for a new style all its own, infused with a bold cragginess and an unapologetic directness that can only be called American.

And you'll hear the sounds of 1775 in Europe: from opera houses to churches, from royal chambers to public squares. Symphonies and chamber works establish what we think of as Classical Music, with refinement, grace, and proportion as guiding lights. Fun fact: the term Sturm und Drang (storm and stress), which today we usually associate with middle-period Haydn symphonies, first appeared in print in 1776 as the title of a German play about the American revolution!

Saturday afternoon, Ray Brown has works by Mozart, Haydn, Carl Philip Emanuel Bach and Luigi Boccherini that were all composed while the war was raging on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and the tide was turning for the upstart rebels. Also featured on Saturday afternoon will be William Schuman's New England Tryptich, an orchestral work from 1956 based on tunes by William Billings, the musical bard of colonial America.

More Billings will be heard on Sunday morning, when Laura Carlo brings you selections from Boston Camerata's acclaimed recordings of music from the revolutionary era on Baroque in Boston, which will also feature some of the older European folk tunes that the colonists took with them to America and transformed into the music of a people yearning to breathe free.

Monday, Patriots Day, Cheryl Willoughby sets the tone with American music from New England and beyond, including works by Arthur Foote, Edward MacDowell, and John Williams.

Alan McLellan continues the day with more from Boston Camerata, as well as Charles Ives's masterpiece, Three Places in New England

Cathy Fuller takes you into the evening with more from great American composers, including one of Boston's own masters of today, John Harbison. His "Songs America Loves to Sing" applies a highly personal and beautiful voice to some of this country's most beloved and popular songs.


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