With musicians Heather Langs on the piano and Abby Collins on cello, HMMS founder and artistic director Arisa Kusumi Sullivan guides the children through songs and explains the European influence, as well as American folk and spiritual traditions, in the forming of American classical music
The first video of Howey Mansion Music Series’ concerts for children, Mansion Music, has been released and is available for purchase at www.uaartsed.com for $80. The video, plus a live Q&A with one of the artists, is $120.
“American classical music is a conglomerate of the old world European roots of classical music with all the wonderful new influences of the American melting pot, including folk, Negro spiritual, jazz and American dance traditions,” Sullivan said. “It’s a new and globally influenced genre in and of itself.”
Starting with Antonin Dvorák’s theme from “From the New World’’ symphony, Sullivan explains the Czech composer’s fascination with America of the late 1800s and his belief that American composers should base their music on the country’s unique musical styles and traditions.
“From the New World” was hugely successful throughout the world, and as an outsider, Dvorak drew sharp observations about American music and its future. The video continues with how American composers found inspiration in their traditions and surroundings.
Examples include “Simple Gifts” from Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” which is based on a Shaker hymn, Stephen Foster’s “Oh! Susanna” and “Old Folks at Home,” and Leonard Bernstein’s “Dream With Me” from the musical “Peter Pan.”
The video also includes photographs and information about the Howey Mansion in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, built by citrus baron William J. Howey in 1925, and his aspirations for hosting concerts at the mansion.
It is the mission of Howey Mansion Music Series to draw attention to classical and jazz treasures through concerts held at the mansion. Sullivan hopes to expand the children’s series to include school field trips to the mansion and additional videos.
This project was made possible by a grant from United Arts of Central Florida and weaves the history of the Howey Mansion, the development of uniquely American music and knowledge of musical terms and instruments in a presentation to children grades 2-6. Funding is available from United Arts for schools that can’t afford the cost of the videos.