Chapter 10 – The American Bicentennial Celebration

Chapter ten told the story of the bus ride to the Boston Common for a concert of American music during the summer of 1976. We had all met at Symphony Hall, the home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO). Symphony Hall was widely considered to be acoustically one the three best concert halls in the world, and the only one of the three in America. I thought you might like to read some of its history. HERE is a link.
 
The concert was held on the Boston Common, which also has a fascinating history, which you can read Here. I was never taught in school how Puritans treated any Quaker women found in their midst. Another interesting story was about the swamp on the Charles Street side. For years a debate raged regarding potential expense of filling it in, until the digging of the green line subway created a huge amount of dirt that was exactly what was needed.

 
There had been numerous other concerts of American music during that summer. The Chorus Pro Musica had performed several around the Boston area. One that was particularly memorable was an evening concert outdoors on a bluff overlooking Marblehead harbor. We had prepared especially difficult and challenging works by Charles Ives, a New England composer of the early 20th century. His biography is particularly interesting, and can be read HERE. His music was so difficult and so far ahead of its time, that it was rarely performed in his lifetime. The people who appreciated him most were other composers. Stravinsky, Mahler, and Schoenberg all praised his work. The members of the chorus were up to the challenge of performing Ives’ compositions and produced a beautiful and interesting concert of American music.

 
For me, I was surprised that performing several concerts like these during the bicentennial stimulated a greater sense of my own belonging as a participant in our national history.