Fanfare for the Common Man
4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, 2 percussion
notes by Katherine Baber
After so long apart, it is only right to begin this concert with a celebration of communal identity. Ubiquitous at all sorts of public occasions, solemn and celebratory, Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man was originally commissioned in 1942 by conductor Eugene Goosens as a piece honoring the sacrifices of Americans during World War II. Goosens had in mind soldiers, sailors, and other service members, but the invocation of the “common man” was more in line with Copland’s socialist and humanist sympathies. After all, every American and people around the world were shouldering the burden of the struggle against fascism. The “common man” today is not so different from the one Copland imagined, and their importance has become even clearer over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. This fanfare is for the people who have kept us together despite the isolation and fear: grocery store clerks, restaurant staff, postal workers, and delivery drivers, all of whom shoulder the burden and risk of keeping us safe at home. The nurses, hospital staff, and doctors, who put their lives on the line to help those who fall ill. The school staff who make sure students still have lunches and the teachers who provide a place for children to learn and just be together, even if it was only through a screen. These people also inspire us to think of the “common good” and our obligations to one another, just as the broad gestures of Copland’s fanfare cast our gaze outward and upward, and the boldness of the brass and drums call us to attention. This is us, and we are in this together.