Excerpts from a review in the Nashville Banner, Monday, Jan. 20, 1997

Symphony pays tribute to flutist in new work

By Henry Amold

The Nashville Symphony sailed through the sixth pair of concerts in its Classical Series this past weekend with flying colors.

The world premiere of David Amram's Kokopelli was the centerpiece of the performance but there was much to be admired before and after this fascinating work.


Composer Amram was here to personally conduct his new, three movement symphony, Kokopelli, which was commissioned by the Nashville Symphony and dedicated to the memory of the late Murray W. Panitz, longtime principal flutist with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Kokopelli was a mythological flute playing spirit of the Pueblo Indian culture, who brought life and fertility to the earth. Quite appropriately, the solo flute figures prominently throughout the score which is filled with haunting melodies and rich orchestral colors.

The piece requires a large orchestra, with greatly augmented woodwind, brass and percussion sections. Included in the percussions were bongos and a beautifully decorated octagonal tom-tom.

It was apparent Amram called on his vast experience with musical cultures throughout the world, but there is nothing imitative about his writing. Yes, there are Indian drum patterns, calypso rhythms, jazz harmonics, etc. - but the themes, the rhythmic patterns, the tonal structures, are highly original and complex.

In his introduction of Amram to the audience, Schermerhorn told of their longtime friendship and professional association, which began in the 1950s when they both were in the Seventh Army Symphony in Europe.

It was an added pleasure that Myrna Panitz, the widow of Murray W. Panitz, was present. Schermerhorn presented her with a gift from the orchestra, and she expressed her deep gratitude for the fine performance and the tribute to her late husband.

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