American Expressions

September 7, 2023

Bryant Park


Continuing a partnership forged between the American Symphony Orchestra and the Bryant Park Corporation in the wake of COVID-19, the ASO will present a free concert as part of the Picnic Performance series at Bryant Park. The program highlights the different forms of expression and musical languages that emerged in the 1920s, including new elements of dance, theater and jazz.

In the years immediately following World War I, the American artistic scene experienced an extraordinary burst of creativity. Responding to the horror and brutality of that war, artists, writers and composers rejected the exalted ideals of the previous century, focusing instead on creating new means of expression, ones that would accurately reflect the realities this new age required. With jazz, many American composers found a new source of inspiration, one distinctly American, as well as thoroughly fresh, modern and exciting. Some of the works offered on this program reflect a fascination in the Roaring Twenties with this language, with its irresistible rhythmic energy and catchy melodies. Other composers sought to push the boundaries of musical expression with radical, ‘ultra-modern’ languages. Whether by polytonality, jagged counterpoint and asymmetric ostinatos, or brash atonality—in which melody, harmony and rhythm are harshly distorted and deconstructed—the experimental impulses of this generation are presented here in its arguably finest exponents.

Bryant Park staff lends out hundreds of free picnic blankets, provides ample bistro chairs, and offers a curated selection of food and drink to purchase from local vendors. No tickets are required and there are no lines to enter: it’s as easy as a walk in the park.

This program will repeat on September 10 at Kupferberg Center for the Arts.

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The ASO’s Vanguard Series is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


September 7, 2023
7 PM
Bryant Park


George Antheil (1900-1959)
A Jazz Symphony, 1925, rev. 1955

Ruth Crawford Seeger (1901-1953)
Music for Small Orchestra, 1926

Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
Music for the Theatre, 1925

Florence Price (1887-1953)
Andante moderato for string orchestra, 1929

John Alden Carpenter (1876-1951)
Krazy Kat, 1921