In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Aaron Copland.
Prolific and beloved American composer Aaron Copland was born into a family of Jewish immigrants in Brooklyn, New York. He studied piano, music theory, and composition from his sister Laurine, Leopold Wolfsohn, and Rubin Goldmark, but his most influential teacher was the master pedagogue Nadia Boulanger. After three years in Paris under Boulanger’s tutelage, Copland moved back to the United States and made frequent trips to Latin America. Copland’s highly individual compositional style reflects a wide variety of influences, including jazz, Anglo-American and Latin American folk music, impressionism, serialism, and eastern European Jewish music. Copland composed for many different genres and types of ensembles, including music for orchestra, film, chamber ensembles, solo voice, piano, and choir. While his style evolved significantly throughout his career, Copland is known for declamatory melodies with large leaps and fiery, syncopated rhythmic energy. His awards include a MacDowell Medal, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Kennedy Center Honor, an Academy Award, a Medal of the Arts, a Congressional Gold Medal, and several honorary doctorates.