American Portraits

Saturday, December 2, 2023 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 3, 2023 at 2:30 p.m.

California Theatre
San Jose, CA

Concert Length
Approx. 1 hr 50 min. with intermission
Purchase Tickets


  • Christopher Rountree, Conductor
    Jeff Midkiff, Mandolin

    Symphony San Jose


  • Charles Ives

    Variations on “America”

  • William Grant Still

    Darker America

  • Jeff Midkiff

    Mandolin Concerto (From the Blue Ridge)

  • Caroline Shaw


  • Aaron Copland


About This Performance

Greetings from America! Symphony San Jose presents five musical postcards depicting the vast beauty and diverse character of our nation: Ives’ patriotic celebration from New England, Still’s soulful southern soliloquy, Midkiff’s Blue Ridge Mountain tribute, Shaw’s homage to the fragrant orange groves of our home state, and Copland’s famous western masterpiece.

This is the first appearance of a mandolin as a solo instrument on our series, and Midkiff’s concerto (performed by the composer himself), is full of foot-stomping, toe-tapping, virtuosic electricity that’s just great fun to hear.

Where Have I Heard It Before?

America used the same melody as the United Kingdom’s national anthem, God Save the King.

The last movement of Rodeo was used in the advertising campaign: “Beef – It’s What’s For Dinner!”

Fun Facts

America, also known as My Country Tis of Thee, was one of the U.S.’s de facto national anthems before the Star-Spangled Banner was adopted in 1931.

Rodeo almost didn’t happen. Choreographer Agnes de Mille approached Copland after seeing his ballet Billy the Kid. Not wanting to be typecast as a “cowboy composer,” he initially turned down the offer.