In theory the idea of having two great symphony orchestras playing a single inaugural concert looked good. In practice, it was sensational.
Last night in the Kennedy Center an audience that paid no admission at all heard Aaron Copland lead the National Symphony, followed by Robert Shaw with his Atlanta Symphony and Chorus with guests soloists in the greatest inaugural concert in history. And it came very close to being 100 per cent all-American for a change.
Copland, born, in Brooklyn, led his own Fanfare for the Common Man, and the dances from his "Rodeo." He followed with the First Essay by Samuel Barber of Philadelphia, and the "Candide" Overtune by Leonard Brenstein of Lawrence, Mass. Nor should we forget his great direction of "The Star Spangled Banner," that memento of Baltimore Harbor in 1814.
Then Shaw came on with Variations on "America" by Charles Ives, who lived in Danbury, Conn., and who wrote music recalling the day that New York City heard about the sinking of the Lusitania. With a small orchestra down on the floor in front of the audience awnd his great chorus on stage, Shaw made this a tremendous moment, for which the audience roared in approval.
Finally, a man from Bann, Germany, named Beethoven got his footin the door with the last movement of his final symphony , an ode to joy and universal brotherhood. With soloists Johanna Meier, Lili Chookasian, Scth McCoy and Sherrill Milnes, and Shaw's magnificient Georgian chorus, it could not have been done better. If the rest of the country could sing the way those people from Georgia sing, Jimmy Carter's problems would be over before he gets started.