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Spring 2023 Concerts:​“Americana, Wide Open Spaces”


Concert 1, Friday, May 5, 2023, 1st Congregational  Sanctuary

Concert 2, Friday, May 12, 2023, LHS Auditorium

 I had a moment last year that most conductors have never experienced. A token of thanks from the orchestra and board for 10 years as their artistic director and conductor. This took place at end our last dress rehearsal in front of the orchestra when I was just stepping off the podium. They presented me with a carefully wrapped gift, a signed copy of a score, autographed by the composer, Aaron Copland, entitled Billy the Kid, Waltz.


I was embarrassingly speechless and frankly overwhelmed. Along with the signed score, was a set of parts, so of course I knew this had to be on the menu for next season. Yet, how to include it took some thought. Listening to it, its simplicity spelled wide skillful imagination, a certain trait many American composers have in their music, yet not easily analyzed.


It is my opinion they can share an experience of wide open landscape within their scores, which is what could be heard from this piece as well. My scope soon became set, an Americana concert, based on wide open spaces.


I added more splashes of Copland’s endeavors, based from his same title, Billy the Kid, then added three pieces by current American composers: Bruce Broughton, Mark O’Connor and John Keltonic, while only listening for the wide open space feel of our county. And what a better time in history to get this theme out on the stage.


After WCYO had received their copy of Americana Symphony, by Mark O’Connor, I was so pleasantly surprised to read it had been commissioned by so many symphonic organizations, and the first listed is the Cabrillo Music Festival with Marin Alsop. She has been a huge inspiration in all facets of the music world, as an artistic leader, conductor and programmer within so many organizations. Literally decades of inspired guidance on podiums all over the world. Seeing her name here on the score reminded me vividly of three days back in June of 2012, when I attended a magnificent conductor workshop with the Baltimore Symphony. It was led by three grand conductors, pictured here from left to right in front center: Markand Thakar, Marin Alsop, and the late great Gustav Meier. That’s a younger me way in the back row, center. I was keenly aware I was in astonishing territory with three very great leaders of the conductor world. I took many notes of course. The Baltimore Symphony was fantastic. The scores in study: Beethoven Coriolan Overture, Brahms Symphony No. 2, Dvorak Symphony No. 7, Mendelssohn Symphony No. 4 and Mozart Symphony No. 35. Thanks for letting me share this memory with you. 


Hope to see you at the concert, Collin Heade




Americana Symphony, mov. 1, 3 & 6, Mark O’Connor

I. Wide Open Spaces

 III. Different Paths Toward Home

VI. Splendid Horizons

 Billy the Kid: Waltz, Aaron Copland

Billy the Kid: Prairie Night & Celebration, Aaron Copland

O Pioneers!, Bruce Broughton

Our Wings Have Caught the Wind, John Keltonic


For any questions about the concert or the orchestra, please email us at

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