Billy the Kid, as the subject of orchestral music?
Yes, that’s right. The American composer Aaron Copland was inspired by the Western gunslinger to write three songs as ballet scores.
Following “Billy the Kid,” which nearly paints the Western landscape with its melodies, came “Rodeo” and “Appalachian Spring.” Each have tunes which many recognize, even if they don’t know who wrote them.
The piece will lead off the opening concert in the Cascade Symphony Orchestra’s 58th season Monday.
“We have not played a Copland piece for many, many years,” said Norma Dermond, cellist and one of the orchestra’s three charter members. “It’s fun for the audience to listen to.”
The composition musically tells the story of what happens to Billy the Kid, an outlaw of the Old West who killed eight men before he was gunned down at age 21.
The scenes include the open prairie, a frontier town street scene, a gun battle and a celebration dance.
“It gets the audience engaged right from the beginning,” Dermond said.
Longtime concert-goers also may recognize the name of featured soloist, Amos Yang.
It didn’t take fellow cellist Dermond long to remember his previous appearances — Brahms’ “Double Concerto” in 2009, Elgar’s “Cello Concerto” in 2004 and Boccherini’s “Cello Concerto” in 2006.
This time, Yang is playing Haydn’s “Cello Concerto No. 2.”
If someone hasn’t been to one of the orchestra’s concerts before, “they would hear something very special,” Dermond said.
Having Yang perform is a special treat for cellists, she said.
“Most of us known the standard solo pieces,” Dermond said. “So it’s really a lot of fun to accompany him on the cello concerto.”
Yang earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from The Juilliard School in New York City. He was a member of the Seattle Symphony beginning in 2001, leaving to return to his hometown in 2006 to become a member of the San Francisco Symphony.
The concert will conclude with Johannes Brahms “Symphony No. 1 in C minor.”
Dermond said she is especially looking forward to playing it. “I adore any Brahms,” she said.
Tickets are selling fast for Monday’s performance. If you’re interested in going, Dermond recommends you get tickets as soon as possible.
One other tip: Even if it’s sold out, some tickets often are returned by those who can no longer make the concert.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
Cascade Symphony Orchestra opens its 2019-20 season with a performance at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts, 410 Fourth Ave. N., Edmonds. Ticket are $27 for adults, $22 for seniors, $15 for students with ID and $10 for youth. Call 425-275-9595 or go to www.cascadesymphony.org for more information.