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Joan Tower

Publisher: AMP

Made in America (2004),
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Sub Category
Chamber Orchestra
Year Composed
13 Minutes
Purchase CD
Programme Note
Joan Tower Made in America (2004),
Composer Note:

I crossed a fairly big bridge at the age of nine when my family moved to South America (La Paz, Bolivia), where we stayed for nine years. I had to learn a new language, a new culture, and how to live at 13,000 feet! It was a lively culture with many saints' days celebrated through music and dance, but the large Inca population in Bolivia was generally poor and there was little chance of moving up in class or work position.

When I returned to the United States, I was proud to have free choices, upward mobility, and the chance to try to become who I wanted to be. I also enjoyed the basic luxuries of an American citizen that we so often take for granted: hot running water, blankets for the cold winters, floors that are not made of dirt, and easy modes of transportation, among many other things. So when I started composing this piece, the song "America the Beautiful" kept coming into my consciousness and eventually became the main theme for the work. The beauty of the song is undeniable and I loved working with it as a musical idea. One can never take for granted, however, the strength of a musical idea — as Beethoven (one of my strongest influences) knew so well. This theme is challenged by other more aggressive and dissonant ideas that keep interrupting, unsettling it, but "America the Beautiful" keeps resurfacing in different guises (some small and tender, others big and magnanimous), as if to say, "I'm still here, ever changing, but holding my own." A musical struggle is heard throughout the work. Perhaps it was my unconscious reacting to the challenge of how do we keep America beautiful.

—Joan Tower

  • Ensemble
    Nashville Symphony
    Leonard Slatkin
  • 26 APR 2019
    Woolsey Hall, New Haven, CT
    Yale Philharmonia
    Peter Oundjian, conductor
  • 07 APR 2019
    Collins Center for the Arts, Orono, ME
    Bangor Symphony Orchestra
    Lucas Richman, conductor
  • 15 MAR 2019
    Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver, CO
    Colorado Symphony
    Christopher Dragon, conductor

    Other Dates:
    17,16 March - Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver, CO
  • 02 MAR 2019
    Atwood Concert Hall, Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, Anchorage, AK
    Anchorage Symphony Orchestra
    Randall Craig Fleischer, conductor
  • 02 FEB 2019
    Eau Claire Confluence Performing Arts Center, Eau Claire, WI
    Chippewa Valley Symphony
    Nobuyoshi Yasuda, conductor
  • 17 JAN 2019
    Kauffman Performing Arts Center, Kansas City, MO
    Kansas City Symphony
    Jason Seber, conductor
  • 15 DEC 2018
    Tishman Auditorium at The New School, New York, NY
    Mannes Prep Philharmonic
    Adria Benjamin, conductor
  • 08 DEC 2018
    Church of the Epiphany, Washington, DC
    Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic
    Ulysses James, conductor

    Other Dates:
    9 December - George Washington Masonic National Memorial, Alexandria, VA
  • 17 NOV 2018
    Sage Hall, Northampton, MA
    Wesleyan University and Smith College Orchestras
    Jonathan Hirsh, Nadya Potemkina, conductor

    Other Dates:
    18 November - Crowell Concert Hall, Middletown, CT
  • 16 NOV 2018
    Singletary Center for the Arts, Lexington, KY
    Lexington Philharmonic
    Scott Terrell, conductor
  • 10 NOV 2018
    Robinson Performance Hall, Little Rock, AR
    Arkansas Symphony Orchestra
    Sarah Ioannides, conductor

    Other Dates:
    11 November - Robinson Performance Hall, Little Rock, AR
  • 13 OCT 2018
    Centennial Hall, Augustana College, Rock Island, IL
    Augustana Symphony Orchestra
    Daniel Chetel, conductor

    Other Dates:
    2 November - Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Madison, WI
    3 November - St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Waukesha, WI
    4 November - Immanuel Lutheran Church, Elmhurst, IL
  • 10 OCT 2018
    Setnor Auditorium, Syracuse, NY
    Jillian Honn; Heather Buchman, conductor

    Other Dates:
    20 October - Phipps Auditorium, Aurora, NY
    24 October - Waterman Theatre, Oswego, NY
  • 03 OCT 2018
    Tsai Performance Center, Boston, MA
    Boston University Chamber Orchestra
    Jonathan Mcphee, conductor
  • 29 SEP 2018
    Oak Ridge High School, Oak Ridge, TN
    Oak Ridge Symphony and Chorus
    Dan Allcott, conductor
  • 28 SEP 2018
    Houston Baptist University, Dunham Theater, Houston, TX
    Houston Civic Symphony
    Brian Runnels, Michael Isadore, conductor
  • 12 SEP 2018
    Made in America Country Premiere
    Helsinki, Finland
    Helsinki Philharmonic
    Susanna Mälkki, conductor

    Other Dates:
    13 September - Helsinki, Finland
  • 15 JUL 2018
    Chautauqua Auditorium, Boulder, CO
    Colorado Music Festival
    Robert McDuffie, Augustin Hadelich; Peter Oundjian, conductor

    Other Dates:
    26,29 July; 4 August - Chautauqua Auditorium, Boulder, CO
  • 23 JUN 2018
    Round Top Music Festival: Portrait Concerts
    Round Top, TX
    Texas Festival Orchestra
    Brett Deubner, viola; Carol Wincenc, flute; Festival ensembles; Michelle Merrill, conductor
  • 20 MAY 2018
    Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, Oakland, CA
    Community Women's Orchestra
    Dana Sadava, conductor
  • 13 MAY 2018
    Atlas Performing Arts Center, Washington, DC
    Capital City Symphony
    Victoria Gau, conductor
  • 04 MAY 2018
    Bader Concert Hall, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
    University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
    Jun Kim, conductor
  • 20 APR 2018
    Sayles Hall, RI
    Brown University Orchestra
    Daniel Harp, conductor

    Other Dates:
    22 April - Sayles Hall, RI
  • 18 APR 2018
    Wharton Center for the Performing Arts, East Lansing, MI
    Michigan State University Concert Orchestra
    Evan Harger, conductor
  • 22 MAR 2018
    Wilson Concert Hall, Lexington, VA
    Washington and Lee University Orchestra
    Dr. Christopher Dobbins, conductor
  • 18 MAR 2018
    Richardson Auditorium, Princeton, NJ
    Princeton Symphony Orchestra
    Teddy Abrams, conductor
  • 10 MAR 2018
    Boston Symphony Hall, Cambridge, MA
    Massachusettes Institute of Technology Orchestra
    Adam Boyles, conductor
  • 09 FEB 2018
    Joan Tower Celebration
    Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory, Boston, MA
    Boston Modern Orchestra Project
    Gil Rose, conductor
  • 12 NOV 2017
    Lisner Auditorium, Washington, DC
    George Washington University Orchestra
    Scott Wood, conductor
  • 14 OCT 2017
    Bardavon Opera House, Poughkeepsie, NY
    Hudson Valley Philharmonic
    Randall Fleischer, conductor

...a sort of theme and variations on 'America the Beautiful,' with the theme peeking out from behind clouds of striking rhythm and stringent dissonance.
Andrew Druckenbrod, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,23/10/2010
Made in America World Premiere recording Tambor World Premiere recording Concerto for Orchestra Nashville Symphony/Slatkin Naxos CD 8559328 Made in America resulted from a commissioning project involving 65 smaller-budget American orchestras; it was designed to challenge without intimidation, and to be accessible as opposed to simplistic. The work typifies Tower’s splendid ear for sonority and her subtle harmonic sense, not to mention her ease and authority operating within the American symphonic syntax as defined by Copland and his circle… More virtuosic demands permeate Tower’s 1991 Concerto for Orchestra, where soloists and smaller instrumental groups assert both their individual profile and facility to engage in chamber-like combat with their neighbors. ...the Nashville Symphony boasts lusty strings, hefty brass, and strong, decisive percussion players. The latter, in fact, brilliantly dominate throughout Tambor, and will prove hard to beat (pun intended) should another maestro dare to challenge this premiere recorded version. Naxos’ first-rate engineering mirrors the music’s excitement and immediacy. Enthusiastically recommended!
Jed Distler,,12/06/2007
A landmark moment in American music came during the Sunday afternoon concert of the Glens Falls Symphony. Joan Tower's new composition, Made in America, saw its world premiere.

It will soon be taken up by more than 60 other small orchestras around the country. The the largest consortium commission in the history of American orchestras.

One of today's most widely performed composers, Tower has a well-established style — propulsive rhythmic landscapes with vibrant orchestration. Made in America hewed closely to that model but with an added element. Fragments of the melody of "America the Beautiful" are subtly woven throughout the piece. The familiar tune gave a thread of beauty, possibly hope, to Tower's tense and edgy sounds...The score's feeling of industry and striving made it very American.

Joseph Dalton, Albany Times Union,01/01/0001
Joan Tower's Made in America is a piece jointly commissioned by and for smaller American orchestras, with substantial support from such blue-chip operations as the American Symphony Orchestra League, Meet the Composer, and the Ford Motor Company Fund.

...The piece came home to the Pro Arte [Chamber Orchestra] and it is terrific. Tower uses the opening of "America the Beautiful" as her basic thematic material, and in a way the piece is allegory — the tune meets many hostilities and challenges but never gives in; instead it assimilates everything it encounters. The style lies somewhere between Copland and Stravinsky, and the music is written by a master orchestrator who knows how to make an ensemble sound good. And while the design may appear schematic as one describes it, Tower is too experienced, gifted, and cagy to fall into that trap: It functions according to a purely musical logic as well.

Richard Dyer, Boston Globe,01/01/0001
Made in America Santa Barbara Symphony/Kabaretti 11 November 2006; Santa Barbara, CA ...Ms. Tower’s piece is a marvel of evolving orchestral textures and shapes, tension and release. Harmonically, the score oscillates between consonance and dissonance, but never dryly or schematically....This is exciting stuff — a celebration of the power of the orchestra as a medium and, somehow, a particularly American vernacular.
Josef Woodward, Santa Barbara News Press,01/01/0001
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