American culture and its influence on music will be celebrated Sunday afternoon when the Iola Area Symphony Orchestra performs “Americana Salute.” The concert is at 3 p.m. at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center.
Joining orchestra regulars will be students from Iola High School who study strings under Greta Adams, primarily the vocal instructor for the middle- and high school. The program is dedicated to the memory of Fern Marsh, longtime Iola musician and teacher who died earlier this year.
The first half of the concert will feature four medleys, of popular TV show theme songs, music of big bands, a salute to Cole Porter and the officials songs of the Armed Forces in special recognition of Veterans Day.
The songs of Cole Porter take on special significance when put up against his background.
Porter was the only child of a wealthy Baptist family whose patriarchal grandfather insisted that young Cole grow up to study law.
His mother, meanwhile, en-couraged his interest in music, enrolling him in violin classes at age 6 and the piano at 8.
By 10, he was composing music.
Grandfather Cole continued to insist his namesake pursue more serious studies and enrolled him in the Worcester military academy in 1905. Porter excelled in the school and became its valedictorian. From there he attended Yale University where his most noted accomplishments were to compose a number of student songs still played there today.
Porter did study law at Harvard, only to give up midstream — at the suggestion of the law school dean — to pursue his true love, music. Grandfather Cole went to his grave never the wiser.
The second half of the program will feature four movements of Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor.
Originally from Prague, Czechoslovakia, Dvorak came to the United States in 1892 at the age of 49.
Upon his arrival in New York, he immediately began writing the symphony which he finished the following summer while living in a colony of Czech immigrants in Spillville, Iowa.
The symphony’s subtitle, “From a New World,” boasts a mixture of styles from both countries that are bound to please all.
In addition to the 25 IHS students playing a variety of instruments, adults from throughout southeast Kansas comprise the orchestra. Dr. Gregory Turner, Fort Scott, conducts.
This is Turner’s 17th year with the Iola Area Symphony Orchestra. He is chairman of communications and fine arts at Fort Scott Community College.
The performance is free to the public.
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