Toccata celebrates American music for Independence Day |

Toccata celebrates American music for Independence Day

Provided to the TribuneConductor James Rawie, pictured, will lead off Tocatta's fifth season with a "Rhapsody in Tahoe Blue - A Celebration of American Music."

When it comes to rousing patriotic spirits this holiday weekend, Toccata will match the lake’s fireworks displays with colorful bursts of music.

The Orchestra and Community Choral Artists of the Tahoe Area celebrates the best of America’s birthday in a departure from its usual summertime Beethoven fare. Conductor James Rawie will lead off the group’s fifth season with a “Rhapsody in Tahoe Blue – A Celebration of American Music” that began Friday night at St. Theresa Catholic Church in South Lake Tahoe.

Calling it a crossover in styles, he says the music of 20th century composers, among them George Gershwin and Aaron Copland, Leroy Anderson and Samuel Barbers, can provide a harbinger of cheeriness those in need of it.

“The Star Spangled Banner” will kick off the concert with full audience participation.

Copland’s “Hoedown”, which captures the awe-inspiring openness of Western space on land and in sky, was based on an old folk tune, “Bonaparte’s Retreat.” Many also will recognize it as the theme for television beef commercials.

When Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” debuted in 1924 it was entitled “An Experiment in Modern Music.” The jazz-studded composition is now a beloved standard.

Influenced by the works of Gershwin, Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” and “The Syncopated Clock” are considered American classics of light concert music. The Mark Lord Trio will handle the deft precision of harmonic stylings on the “Bugler’s Holiday.”

Harmonic stylings of sisters, Joy Strotz and Melody Moore, will be another highlight of the first five performances that will continue until a July 10 performance at the Squaw Valley Chapel at Olympic Village.

Strotz, a coloratura soprano, is among the bevy of well-respected singers whose talent and dedication keep TOCCATA the family of fun-loving musicians it is.

Her range of mostly operatic roles in Nevada and San Francisco contrasts those of her New York City based sister’s musical theater roots.

Rawie, reported when first thinking about the change in repertoire, Strotz approached him with the words, “If you like me, you will really like my sister.”

Moore, a soprano, is the very definition of a working actor in America – full of both endless talent and hope.

She trudges to endless auditions, performs in regional theaters across the country and joins hundreds of other Broadway hopefuls by working for weeks on shows trying to get a toehold on the Great White Way or even a few blocks off Broadway.

She finds the fact that during her Toccata performances she will be singing songs from the smash musical “Wicked” a bit bizarre. She has repeatedly auditioned for both parts of Elphaba and Glinda in New York.

She remains optimistic.

“When Broadway is ready to come to me, I’ll be here,” she said.

The “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “America, the Beautiful” will culminate the concerts.

The music continues throughout the summer months, as Toccata’s handling of Mozart, J.S. Bach and Handel will resonate from Reno and throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin.

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