Simple Gifts: The Chamber Music Society at Shaker Village recorded on May 23, 2015
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center took to the road, performing in one of the country’s most beautiful historic sites: Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Kentucky. Delivering a monumental performance of Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” the ensemble draws poignant connections between life on the frontier, the art of making music, and the quest for transcendence in American life.
The song “Simple Gifts” was written by Elder Joseph Brackett in 1848 while he was at the Shaker community in Alfred, Maine. These are the lyrics to his one-verse song:
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right
The song was largely unknown outside Shaker communities until Aaron Copeland used its melody for the score of Martha Graham’s ballet Appalachian Spring first performed in 1944. Copland used “Simple Gifts” a second time in 1950 in his first set of Old American Songs for voice and piano, which was later orchestrated.
1. Selections from The Social Orchestra for Ensemble
COMPOSER:STEPHEN FOSTER, ARRANGER:TARA HELEN O’CONNOR
2. The Union, Concert Paraphrase on National Airs for Piano, Op. 28
COMPOSER:LOUIS MOREAU GOTTSCHALK
3. Sonatina in G major for Violin and Piano, Op. 100
4. Souvenirs for Piano, Four Hands, Op. 28
5. F.C’s Jigs for Violin and Viola
6. Appalachian Springs Suite for Ensemble