Mancini orchestra to showcase Copland, Tchaikovsky

If it feels like the 800th time you’ve heard the same song on every radio station, then it’s time to broaden your horizons and tune into something not on your iPod.

The Henry Mancini Institute will host “Terence Blanchard Presents: A Concert of American Music” on Friday at the Gusman Concert Hall, giving you the perfect chance to be exposed to new music.

The orchestra will play Duke Ellington’s “Nutcracker Suite,” a jazzy, upbeat interpretation of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s classical piece “The Nutcracker.”

Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” which won a Pulitzer Prize in Music in 1945, will also be featured.

“Copland focuses on a myriad of emotions,” said Peter Bianca, a Mancini Fellow who is a third-year doctoral student in musical arts. “The piece is very reflective, almost mellow, but then you have parts that are very energetic, jaunty and bouncy. The rhythm is more intense, and the tone colors are more colorful. It’s written in a broad spectrum that has a little something for everyone.”

The Henry Mancini Institute is composed of graduate students who learn to create and perform in mixed-genre, collaborative settings and are exposed to real-world opportunities and standards of professionalism.

For some musicians in the program, this will be their first concert at the Institute.

“I’m not really nervous,” said Nikki Langhorne, a Mancini Fellow in the Doctor of Musical Arts program. “But I know the Henry Mancini Institute has an audience that comes to these concerts and expects a high level of performance. And, while I’m used to audiences, this is one that is used to top-notch stuff. So yeah, my heart is racing a bit.”

In addition to the other performances, the program is set to be the world premiere of Henry Mancini Composition Fellows David Pegel and Rafael de Lima de Piccolotto. Both “The Pilgrim,” written by Pegel, and “Asa, Zóio e Matulão,” composed by Piccolotto, will be featured. The composers incorporated musical ideas and instrumentation from Copland into their pieces by giving them their own spin.

The feel of the various songs gives the sense of fusing traditional American music with new American music, which also includes influences from all the Americas, Bianca said.

Before the concert, the Institute’s artistic director, Terence Blanchard, will talk to the students involved in the Institute’s community outreach program, HMI Outbound, as well as students from schools throughout the community.

Because the concert is such a student-fueled performance, they hope to reach out to more students of all types, especially UM students, said Shannon Thornton, a graduate student in the arts presenting program.

“At first glance, people say orchestral music is not their thing, and before, I said the same thing,” Thornton said. “Once I had the opportunity to work with and listen to the orchestras, it opened my eyes to a whole new world. It’s something people need to experience just once.”

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Ashley Martinez is a senior majoring in journalism and psychology, which have sharpened her people-watching skills. She has worked as a staff writer, copy editor, assistant editor and is now the Edge arts and entertainment editor at The Miami Hurricane. She serves as the president of UM's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Her work has been featured in The Hurricane, Distraction Magazine, The Communique, Gables Home Page and The Miami Herald. When she's not working on a story, she loves going to the theatre and singing show tunes.