Press Release

Meadows To Perform Martha Graham’s 'Appalachian Spring' Featuring World Premiere of New Edition of Aaron Copland’s Score

Dallas, TX

Meadows Symphony Orchestra and the Meadows Dance Ensemble will be the first to perform the original Graham choreography accompanied by a full orchestra 

On May 11, 2016, dancers from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University will be the first to perform Martha Graham’s iconic choreography for Appalachian Spring with a new version of Aaron Copland’s score for full orchestra, completed in collaboration with the Martha Graham Dance Company and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music. The Meadows Symphony Orchestra and the Meadows Dance Ensemble will debut this new version of the music at the Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas. 

When Appalachian Spring first premiered in 1944, Graham danced the lead role to music written by Copland, originally created for a 13-piece chamber orchestra to accommodate the acoustic limitations and size of the orchestra pit of the Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress, where the ballet was first performed.  In the years following, Copland created multiple versions of his most celebrated piece, which won him the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1945. In the same year, Copland created an orchestral suite that was a condensed version of the original ballet score, with one large section of music and a few smaller ones omitted. Until now, a fully orchestrated score to match Graham’s original choreography has not existed. The Meadows Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Paul Phillips, will be the first orchestra to perform the new material and will also act as “test drivers” for the score, helping to inform any corrections required before the music is published.

“We are tremendously proud to play a role in the evolution of one of the most important works of American art,” said Samuel Holland, dean of the SMU Meadows School of the Arts. “Being part of this creative process and then performing it for the first time is an incredible opportunity for students at the Meadows School.”

The Copland Fund commissioned David Newman to orchestrate the missing sections of music. Newman has worked in collaboration with Philip Rothman, program advisor to the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and Aaron Sherber, music director of the Martha Graham Dance Company, to painstakingly create this new score, ensuring that it is faithful to Copland’s original intent. Boosey & Hawkes, publisher of the previous versions of the score, will create a newly engraved edition of the version for full orchestra.

“We are so pleased to bring this new version of Copland’s classic work to life, with the assistance of the Meadows School,” said Sherber. “Appalachian Spring is one of the most beloved pieces of American music, and I think it will bring new meaning to Graham’s iconic choreography to see it performed with the full orchestral sound that most audiences are familiar with.”

Guided by leading artists in dance, music and theatre, students from the Meadows School will be involved in all aspects of the production of the ballet: from the performance itself to rebuilding the original Isamu Noguchi-designed sets with guidance from the Martha Graham Dance Company, as well as backstage production and lighting design. Joyce Herring, former principal dancer for the Martha Graham Dance Company and the associate artistic director of RIOULT Dance NY, was at the Meadows School for a three-week residency in January and February to stage the ballet with students. Their preparation has continued under Myra Woodruff, professor of dance at the Meadows School and a former Martha Graham Dance Company member who performed in Appalachian Spring. Steve Woods, professor of design and theatre at the Meadows School and lighting designer to the José Limón Dance Company, will be creating the lighting design for the piece. 

Appalachian Spring will be performed as part of the Meadows School’s 23rd annual gala benefit concert at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas on May 11, 2016, honoring Dallas philanthropist and civic leader Donna Wilhelm. Following the premiere, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore School of the Arts’ Dance Ensemble will perform the ballet to the new edition of the score.


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Photo by Paul Phillips

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