Cincinnati Symphony and Pops launch Fanfare Project inspired by COVID-19

 The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops today announced a new initiative, The Fanfare Project, inspired by Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” commissioned in 1942 by CSO Music Director Eugene Goossens in support of Allied efforts and as a testament to the American spirit during World War II.

CSO Music Director Louis Langrée and Pops Conductor John Morris Russell have helped select more than a dozen composers, representing a diverse range of personal and musical backgrounds. Each are to write one-minute fanfares for individual musicians of their choice in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each composer was asked to approach their new fanfare as an homage to the people, things, or ideas that are important and relevant to them at this time, and to choose a CSO/Pops musician or other soloist with whom they are excited to collaborate. 

Louis Langrée

There are thirteen commissions in the first wave of The Fanfare Project, with additional artists to be announced as they are confirmed. The initial set encompasses a wide range of composers, some with pre-existing ties, such as Matthias Pintscher, the CSO’s new creative partner; Caroline Shaw, who has had two previous CSO commissions; Cincinnati native Bryce Dessner, founder of The National and creator of the MusicNOW Festival; Peter Boyer, whose “In the Cause of the Free” is on the Grammy-nominated Pops recording “American Originals: 1918”; and Georgia Stitt, the Broadway composer who is also leader of “The Maestra Project.”

Caroline Shaw
Bryce Dessner

This will be the initial collaboration with other composers, such as Hollywood composer Laura Karpman; the MacArthur Genius, multi-instrumentalist and multi-genre composer Tyshawn Sorey; and Pulitzer Prize-winner Du Yun.

The complete list (composer: writing for)

The world premieres will be video recorded by the soloists from their homes and released one-by-one over the coming weeks, along with the score for each piece ( To launch the project, the CSO and Pops have released this new video. 

In 1942, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and music director Eugene Goossens commissioned 18 fanfares to be performed in response to and in support of the Allied effort in World War II. These included “Fanfare for the Fighting French” by Walter Piston, “Fanfare for American Heroes” by William Grant Still, “Fanfare for Paratroopers” by Paul Creston, among others, including Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.” 

Just as “Fanfare for the Common Man” paid tribute to humanity in its struggle for peace, the new commissions are intended to pay homage to those on the front line of our society who are working to keep us safe, as well as the ideals we stand for in uncertain times. 

“Much of the music we chose for the CSO’s 125th anniversary season had references to the orchestra’s remarkable history of collaborations with important composers of their time, from Alexander Scriabin and Richard Strauss to Bryce Dessner and Daníel Bjarnason” said Louis Langrée. “To pay homage to this legacy, and to make our own ongoing contribution to the art form, we had also commissioned world premieres from Gabriella Smith, Julia Adolphe, William Winstead, Sebastian Currier, and Christopher Rouse. Unfortunately, we couldn’t complete this season because of the pandemic. I can’t imagine a better way to continue our anniversary celebration than using Aaron Copland’s iconic masterpiece to inspire today’s composers to write new work that helps us reflect on this time and to unite around music at a time when we cannot be together in person.” 

John Morris Russell

“I have always wondered what it must have been like to hear “Fanfare for the Common Man” for the first time, in the midst of the global crisis that was the Second World War. What did it feel like, between the anxiety and exultation, the moment after the last note evaporated into the walls of Cincinnati Music Hall?” said John Morris Russell. “We are at such a moment now, when our composers and musicians have an opportunity to bring us all together again, with a diversity of expression and style that speaks to the entire world. Our new age has brought us remarkable connective technology, and a musical palette of extraordinary depth and endless possibility; I am thrilled to discover what wonders will come.” 

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