Lunch with Copland

From ECO program note author Professor Annmarie George
In 1976, the bicentennial year of our nation’s birthday, Dr. Scottino wanted Gannon University to celebrate this milestone with a scottinorecital featuring a work commissioned by Gannon University and gave me the job of finding the composer and performers to do this work. I hired my former composition teacher from undergrad school, Mr. Soriteous Vlahopoulos to do the composition and Mr. Ray Herbert, one of my former piano instructors from undergrad school to perform the work.

I was to meet them at the restaurant of the hotel where they were staying to take them to their rehearsal. When I arrived, there wereAaron_Copland_1970 three men seated at the table with my former college professors. As I approached I thought I recognized the American composer, Aaron Copland, but dismissed that thought because in my pre-occupation with this recital I had forgot that Aaron Copland was performing with the Erie Philharmonic in an all-Copland concert on the same weekend. When I arrived at their table I realized that it was indeed Aaron Copland and was literally speechless!

My composition teacher quickly seized the moment to say that “this is the first time he’d ever seen me completely speechless!” to which they all had a good laugh! I had a golden opportunity to do an impromptu interview with Aaron Copland and found out that he loved cowboy boots (he was even wearing a pair that afternoon) and re-visited the open prairies of our country through some of his wonderful music! What a glorious spontaneous meeting that afternoon was for me!