A most memorial event: The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s new DVD

Think of this as a memorial event. Each year on Memorial Day weekend, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center takes up residency in one of the country’s most beautiful historic sites: Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Kentucky, where a vibrant Shaker community once flourished.

Live From Lincoln Center went on the road with the ensemble for the first time in its 40-year history, taking its cameras, trucks and a 15-member crew into the heart of rural America. Performed for a riveted audience in a converted tobacco barn, the concert celebrated American music with unparalleled intimacy and intensity, climaxing with Aaron Copland’s iconic Appalachian Spring, which incorporates a traditional Shaker theme at the heart of the work. Pulsing with the spirit of the Shakers, the film draws poignant parallels between art and craftsmanship; the beauty and hardships of the frontier; and the quest for transcendence in American life.

The result? Simple Gifts: The Chamber Music Society at Shaker Village (PBS Distribution). Featured on the DVD are performances of Copland’s Appalachian Spring; Gottschalk’s The Union; Dvořák’s Sonatina; Barber’s Souvenirs; O’Connor’s F.C.’s Jig; and selections from Foster’s The Social Orchestra, plus an additional 52-minute bonus documentary, A Gift to be Simple with a behind the scenes look at the Chamber Music Society and the story of the Shaker community.

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