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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
  • 15 MAR 2019
    Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver, CO
    Colorado Symphony
    Christopher Dragon, conductor

    Other Dates:
    17,16 March - Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver, CO
  • 02 FEB 2019
    Eau Claire Confluence Performing Arts Center, Eau Claire, WI
    Chippewa Valley Symphony
    Nobuyoshi Yasuda, conductor
  • 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
  • 12 MAY 2017
    Cleveland, OH, United States
    Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra
    Brett Mitchell, conductor
  • 09 NOV 2016
    San Jose, CA
    San Jose State University
    Fred Cohen, conductor
  • 24 APR 2016
    Eau Claire, WI
    University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Symphony Orchestra
    Nobuyoshi Yasuda, conductor
  • 09 AUG 2015
    Lake Luzerne, NY
    Charles Peltz, conductor
  • 08 DEC 2014
    Idyllwild, CA
    Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra
    Timothy Verville, conductor
  • 09 OCT 2013
    Made in America Country Premiere
    Philharmonisches Orchester Altenburg-Gera

    Other Dates:
    10,11 October - Germany
  • 04 APR 2013
    West Hartford, CT
    Hartt School of Music
    Daniel D'addio, conductor
  • 01 DEC 2012
    Albany, NY
    Albany Symphony
    Daniel Hege, conductor
  • 18 NOV 2012
    Rochester, MI
    Oakland University
    Gregory Cunningham, conductor
  • 15 NOV 2012
    Made in America Country Premiere
    Linköping Concert and Congress
    Linköping, Sweden
  • 15 NOV 2012
    Made in America Country Premiere
    Studerende fra Linkopings Universitet
  • 15 SEP 2012
    Decatur, IL
    Millikin University
    Michael Luxner, conductor
  • 11 MAR 2012
    Granville, OH
    Newark Granville Symphony Orchestra
    Timothy Weiss, conductor
  • 29 JAN 2012
    Glenview, IL
    Lake Shore Symphony
    Russell Vinick, conductor
  • 14 OCT 2011
    Rantoul, IL
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Donald Schleicher, 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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