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This Thanksgiving, Put On Some Music To Soothe


This year’s Thanksgiving holiday promises to be melancholy, separated from many loved ones because of the pandemic. Of course, we can’t be in more than one place at a time, but a song can. Sharing music can help bring us together, help soothe, help uplift.

Our friend Marin Alsop will offer some suggestions. Of course, she’s music director of the Baltimore Symphony and chief conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony. Marin, thanks so much for being with us.

MARIN ALSOP: Oh, it’s great to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: This is a piece of music that always tears my heart out. Let’s listen to Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer Of 1915.”


KARINA GAUVIN: (Singing) It has become that time of evening when people sit on their porches, rocking gently and talking gently…

SIMON: Marin, what does this piece and this particular recording of it mean to you?

ALSOP: Well, the piece is so nostalgic. It’s like sharing a summer evening, a memory of a summer evening with your family, you know, out on the porch, having a picnic. And I think what we’re all feeling now is this extraordinary desire to be together, to hug one another, you know, to have this shared communal experience. And for me, this is a piece that – it’s like the archetypal summer evening in America. It’s particularly American to me. And this is a recording that I made with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. I recorded all of Barber’s orchestral music. And the beautiful singing is by Karina Gauvin, who’s a Canadian soprano.


GAUVIN: (Singing) On the rough wet grass of the back yard

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