February 13, 2010: Henry Doktorski performed on accordion with the Butler County (Pennsylvania) Symphony Orchestra in Suite from "To Kill a Mockinbird" by the American film composer Elmer Bernstein. The concert, featuring works by African-American composers or works written in honor of African-American performers, was conducted by music director Maestra Elisabeth Heath-Charles.
Film composer Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004) wrote the theme songs and sound tracks for more than 200 films and TV shows, including The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Ten Commandments, The Man with the Golden Arm, To Kill a Mockingbird, Robot Monster, Ghostbusters, Meatballs, Airplane, and the fanfare used in the National Geographic television specials. During the course of his career, Bernstein won an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, and two Golden Globe Awards. In addition, he was nominated for the Tony Award three times and a Grammy Award five times. The 1962 film To Kill a Mockinbird won 3 Academy Awards and was nominated for Best Music Score.
Doktorski said, "Bernstein's score is sparsely orchestrated; with several piano & flute solos. There are beautiful pianissimo atmospheric sections and there are also energetic fortissimo sections in mixed meter featuring the brass section. The accordion part is simple and repetitive, but adds an important color to the orchestra."
Leanne Heaton, correspondent for the Butler Eagle newspaper, wrote, "The suite from Elmer Bernstein's soundtrack music for 'To Kill A Mockingbird' was exquisitely performed by the orchestra, capably augmented by Henry Doktorski on the accordion. The tender innocence of the initial theme was sounded by the piano and echoed by flute and then accordion. The playful second theme evolved into a minor tone of growing threat. After the brass section quickens the pace to a climactic assault, the initial theme is reprised. The work ends with the piccolo plaintively imitating the call of a mockingbird." -- Butler Eagle, "Symphony Gives Salute to Jazz; Show Brings Audience to Its Feet" (February 15, 2010)
To read the entire review, Click Here.
The Butler County Symphony also performed a new work by John Harbison titled Mary Lou--a tribute to Mary Lou Williams, a black jazz pianist who grew up in East Liberty, Pittsburgh and who is known as “the mother of bebop”--as well as Symphony No. 1 (Afro-American Symphony) by William Grant Still, the ‘dean’ of African-American composers. Special guest stars were The Pittsburgh Gospel Choir directed by artistic director Dr. Herbert V. R. P. Jones.