Celebrating its 30th year and commemorating the Hudson/Fulton/Champlain Quadricentennial, the Hudson Valley Folk Guild will present two concerts in the Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center in Poughkeepsie on Friday and Saturday, October 23 and 24 at 7:30 p.m. Hyde Park composer Kevin Becker wrote the Hudson River Folk Symphony to mirror music history from 1609 to the present, integrating the varied genres of Native American, European Baroque, Classical, Romantic and American Modern music. Relevant traditional folksongs are woven into the orchestration with choral arrangements and traditional folk instrumentation.
Contemplating the progression of music from Gregorian chant to the modern age and considering why atonal music, though entrenched in academia, has never really caught on with the public, Becker composed the piece as an experiment in combining atonal and tonal elements within the musical flow of the symphony. “The Hudson River Folk Symphony has been a way for me to test these ideas. One of the academic objectives of the piece was to integrate a tone row within several genres from music history.” With the addition of a slideshow featuring the regional and historical themes of the Symphony, offered by independent videographer Phil Miller, the three movements begin with a simple tone row depicting uninhabited Nature and continue to build chronologically through four centuries of cultural development, ending with a representation of the turmoil of World War II and a choral rendition of “America” retrofitted with a new set of lyrics from FDR’s “D-Day Prayer.”
The Symphony will be performed by an intergenerational chamber orchestra and folk choir made up of Hudson Valley Folk Guild members, students and orchestra professionals, including Melissa Holland, the Hudson Valley Folk Group Chapter Singers, Hudson River “Folk” Symphony, Helen Avakian and the Hudson Valley Ramblers performing on Friday evening; and on Saturday evening, John and Luanne Martucci, the Pok Chapter Singers, the Hudson Valley Folk Group Chapter Singers, Harmony Fire and Denise Jordan Finley and Daniel Pagdon.
Made possible in part through a grant from the Dutchess County Arts Council, the anniversary Symphony presentation is dedicated to the memory of two extraordinary music professors: Helen Baldwin and Gundaris Poné. The Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center is located at 12 Vassar Street in Poughkeepsie. Tickets are $12 at the door and $10 in advance through HVFG at (845) 229-0170. For further information visit www.folksymphony.com.