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NRO honors Americans

BRECKENRIDGE – When you think of great composers, Americans may not be the first to come to mind, but this week, the National Repertory Orchestra pays homage to them.

“Carl (Topilow) is passionate about American music and American conductors,” said Terese Kaptur, executive director of the National Repertory Orchestra (NRO). “Europeans brought their music over, and for some reason, we’ve had this inferiority complex … and America is loaded with its own talent. It just hasn’t been showcased.”

The NRO begins its American Music Week Saturday with a concert featuring Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide,” Russell Peck’s “Harmonic Rhythms” and Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3.



Bernstein, an icon of 20th century music, based his operetta “Candide” on the satirical novel of the same name by Voltaire. The overture abounds with infectious music including “Oh Happy We” and “Glitter and Be Gay.”

Peck’s piece features timpanist Michael Israelievitch, a St. Louis native who studies music at the Juilliard School in New York. Israelievitch began playing percussion in junior high and hopes to join a large orchestra after graduation.



“One of the main things I like about the timpani is that there’s no limit to what you can do with the instrument – the different sounds and techniques,” Israelievitch said. “I enjoy always testing out new things, and I like the way it plays with the orchestra.”

A consortium of 35 orchestras commissioned Peck’s timpani concerto, and the Savannah (Ga.) Symphony Orchestra first performed it in 2000.

“It’s a very exciting, very energetic and audience-friendly piece,” Israelievitch said. “It’s very tuneful. Most people have never heard of a timpani concerto. Peck does something with the timpani that timpanists don’t get to do – he treats the instrument as if it’s a melodic instrument. Four sections that fall into one another – it’s one continuous piece – call for different effects such as a wide array of mallets and even the use of the hands.”

The concert concludes with Copland’s Symphony No. 3, written in memory of Natalie Koussevitzky, the wife of conductor Serge Koussevitzky.

Saturday’s concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge. Tickets are $17, $22 and $27 and may be purchased by calling (970) 547-3100.

Event: NRO concert

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 28

Where: Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge


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