Montgomery Media: Murphy Shares Stage with Southeastern PA Symphony, Nov. 17

November 7, 2012

Montgomery Media recently featured Dr. Elizabeth Murphy, Visiting Assistant Professor and Director of Music, and her upcoming performance of Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Symphony Orchestra (SPSO) at Arcadia University on Saturday, Nov. 17. The SPSO has made Arcadia University one of its homes in its effort to establish itself as a truly regional orchestra, as reported by contributor Joe Barron.

The Adagio for Strings, which the SPSO will also perform, is certainly Barber’s most famous piece, but “Knoxville,” a setting of a prose poem by the novelist and critic James Agee, may be his most successful musically.

“This is actually kind of a dream of mine,” Murphy said in an interview Oct. 30. “I have sung this probably three times with piano, but never with orchestra …

“It’s very personal for me,” she went on. “It talks about lying in the grass, and warm summer evenings. I know Barber was reflecting upon his time as a child, and so was James Agee. For me, too … I had a really wonderful childhood. We’d often sit out on the porch and drink iced tea.”

No composer ever reflected on his time as a child more intensively than Charles Ives, whose Third Symphony will end the SPSO’s imaginative all-American program. The piece, subtitled “The Camp Meeting,” weaves pre-existing hymn tunes into an evocation of the kind of outdoor religious services he witnessed as a boy in Danbury, Conn. Its march-like middle movement bears the title “Children’s Day.”

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