Charles Ives and Thanksgiving
When I was growing up in New England, Thanksgiving was a special holiday for my family. Without the hustle and bustle of Christmas, this holiday always seemed centered on loved ones. It was also a stark reminder of people who were hungry and lonely that same day and finding ways to help them. This year is the 400th anniversary of Thanksgiving and I’m glad that since my childhood there has been a re-evaluation it’s history with a more realistic focus on the plight of those original Native American tribes. It’s such a complex and thickly nuanced story.
Composer Charles Ives was born in Danbury Connecticut and his music reflects his upbringing. He incorporates much of the music he heard as a child into his own works, including hymn tunes and marching band music. You could say he stayed true to his roots while developing a sophisticated musical technique and language in which to incorporate these New England tunes and rhythms.
Lawrence Davis was the third executive director of BSM and we shared an intense passion for the music of Ives. He encouraged me to learn the “Concord Sonata” and his insight into that work opened up a fascinating world for me. I am deeply thankful for that. His favorite Ives work was Thanksgiving and Forefather’s Day from his Holidays Symphony. The final section of this fascinating orchestral work uses the American hymn “The Shining Shore” which rises up in a euphoric climax for orchestra and large chorus. These are the words to the chorus of the hymn and a YouTube link to hear the finale of Thanksgiving. Have a lovely holiday and happy listening and practicing!
For now we stand on Jordan’s strand;
Our friends are passing over;
And just before the shining shore
We may almost discover.