By Jeremy Reynolds

Aaron Copland composed Fanfare for the Common Man at the behest of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 1942. His work became the most famous in a series of eighteen patriotic fanfares by American composers commissioned to kick off CSO concerts with pride and gusto during World War II. With its title inspired by a speech by Vice President Henry A. Wallace, Copland’s now famous tribute premiered in 1943, when the world was embroiled in World War II.

Fast-forward to 77 years later: instead of a World War, the COVID-19 pandemic is raging through America, lockdown restrictions have halted orchestras from playing premieres—or standard repertoire—and the nation is in the midst of protests and a national reckoning about racial inequality. In response, numerous ensembles have launched commissioning projects to respond to this historic time of pandemic and protest.

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