Lansdowne Symphony American Romantics Album Wins National Award
The Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra has won a prestigious national award for its ground-breaking CD, American Romantics III. Researched by Music Director Dr. Reuben Blundell, in the Fleisher Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia's holdings of over 23,000 orchestral works, the CD was published by New Focus Records in April 2018, with an international distribution through Naxos, and positive reviews in Gramophone (UK), textura (Canada), Limelight (Australia) and other outlets. It continues to receive frequent airplay on classical radio stations across the United States, including Philadelphia's WRTI, New York's WQXR and KUSC in Los Angeles. The CD was a first-round, approved nominee in the 2019 GRAMMYs, in the "Best Orchestral Performance" category.
"We're so excited to have our work, and the trust of the orchestra, board, supporters and community, in recording previously unrecorded works and bringing them to the world, acknowledged," says Blundell. "Some of these composers are known to aficionados of American music, like Charles Wakefield Cadman, whose inspiration from Native American music is found in his Thunderbird Suite, the product of an intriguing collaboration with the architect Bel-Geddes. Others are less well-known, like Canadian-American Gena Branscombe, or Danish-born Carl Busch's two tone poems inspired by Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha or Wagnerian Ludwig Bonvin, Swiss-born but a faculty member of Buffalo's Canisius College for 52 years. All of them are unique in their styles, and often filled with Romantic passion, pathos or individualism."
In regard to this project, Fleisher Collection Curator, Dr. Gary Galván, says "Maestro Blundell's exemplary work with the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra continues to manifest as a perfect marriage with our missions to 'advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity. Moreover, Blundell's work with the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra fulfills an ongoing effort by the Fleisher Collection to place pages on stages around the world for concerts and recordings." The Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music stands as the world's largest circulating collection of orchestral performance sets, and provides materials to recognized performance groups ranging from academic and amateur ensembles to the major symphony orchestras of the world for performances. It houses virtually the entire standard repertoire, and is also known for its many rare and out-of-print works. It represents a unique source of 19th- and 20th-century American music and has a longstanding commitment to promoting new, noteworthy, and overlooked works.
The American Prize recognizes and rewards the best America produces, without bias against small city versus large, or unknown artist versus well-known. David Katz is the chief judge of The American Prize. Professional conductor, award-winning composer, playwright, actor and arts advocate, he is author of MUSE of FIRE, the acclaimed one-man play about the art of conducting. Joining Katz in selecting winners of The American Prize is a panel of judges as varied in background and experience as we hope the winners of The American Prize will be. Made up of distinguished musicians representing virtually every region of the country, the group includes professional vocalists, conductors, composers and pianists, tenured professors, and orchestra, band and choral musicians.
By shining a light on nationally recognized achievement, winners of The American Prize receive world-class bragging rights to use in promotion right at home. "If The American Prize helps build careers, or contributes to local pride, or assists with increasing the audience for an artist or ensemble, builds the donor base, or stimulates opportunities or recruitment for winning artists and ensembles, then we have fulfilled our mission," Katz said.
"The Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra is an integral part of the Delaware County community, with activities in libraries, community performances, interactions with other arts, and additional activities," says musical director Reuben Blundell. "Many of our musicians are professionals in other fields, yet also share their great love of music with the community, as well as our board and other volunteers. The LSO is a unique community orchestra, and we've celebrated our position through collaborations with local and regional organizations including the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center, Delaware County Arts Week, Lansdowne Public Library, the Lansdowne Theater, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and of course the Fleisher Collection. We're particularly proud of the Borough of Lansdowne's Sycamore Award."
The Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra's 2019-20 season marks Blundell's sixth as Music Director. Prior to a doctorate in conducting from Rochester's Eastman School of Music, he played in most of Australia's orchestras as a substitute violinist while completing bachelor's and master's degrees in violin performance, then was a fellow of both the Boston Symphony Orchestra's Tanglewood Music Center and Michael Tilson Thomas's New World Symphony, America's Orchestral Academy, in Miami, FL. Following faculty positions at Millersville University (PA) and Hunter College (NY), he directs orchestras at New York's Trinity School, as well directing the Riverside Orchestra, and is a conductor with the Chelsea Symphony and an assistant conductor with Lord of the Rings Live in Concert.
Details about the Lansdowne Symphony's five annual subscription concerts (beginning Sunday, November 3 at 3pm at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center) can be found at the orchestra's website, www.lansdowneso.org. Concert tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for senior citizens, and $5 for students Upper Darby Performing Arts Center is located at 601 N. Lansdowne Avenue in Drexel Hill. Parking is free.