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Charlotte Symphony Connects with Sleeping Beauty & More

Feb 22, 2019

The Charlotte Symphony presented "Tchaikovsky Sleeping Beauty" at the Knight Theater, the title of a three-work evening that included Aaron Copland's Billy the KidMichael Daugherty's Trail of Tears, and, of course, Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty Suite, Op. 66a. The orchestra was led by Joseph Young, a guest conductor from the Peabody Institute.

It was an interesting choice of programming because, other than all three pieces being narrative compositions, the music didn't fall under any one theme or even one time period. Billy the Kid and Sleeping Beauty are connected; both are ballet works. Billy the Kid and Trail of Tears are connected; both are based on American history. But each was written 60 years apart (120 from Tchaikovsky to Daugherty) and differ significantly in style and in story.

The orchestra started with Billy the Kid, which loosely follows the life of the famous outlaw. The piece describes the openness and freedom of the western prairies with nostalgic legato expression and the suspense of gun battles with accented horns and booming percussion. Billy the Kid was the first of what would be considered Copland's Americana ballet compositions, succeeded by Rodeo in 1942 and Appalachian Spring in 1944. Commissioned by Lincoln Kirstein for his Ballet Caravan (which preceded New York City Ballet), the ballet premiered in 1938 with choreography by Eugene Loring. The musical suite, performed on this occasion, was first given in 1940.

By Cecilia Whalen, CVNC

Read the full review here.