Residents and patrons of the arts will be able to see a city official in a different light as former San Ramon mayor H. Abram Wilson joins the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra to narrate Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait" Feb. 15 17.
Written as a WWII patriotic effort in 1942, "Lincoln" includes excerpts from inspiring speeches and letters of the president. Wilson, a tenor and long-time opera singer, was chosen for his "musical talent and long list of accomplishments as a community leader."
"This is the first time I have participated in this type of venue," Wilson said of narration. "I found that singing is a little easier to that extent, when you have notes and you have lyrics to go along with it, there's sort of a structure there."
Wilson, who said he has been singing all his life, is a history buff and hopes to bring a sense of who Lincoln was along with a sense of compassion for his words. Wilson said he was compelled to narrate the piece after seeing the movie "Lincoln."
"The trials and tribulations that he went through, he was a human being with many faults but understood that you put country ahead of one's personal philosophy of life. He wasn't perfect at all but he did the right thing for the country," Wilson said.
The former mayor added that the process of learning to narrate instead of sing has been interesting and challenging.
"I would compare it to acting, which is a little challenging becausec when you're singing there's a definite cadence. Any different form is challenging but I think it should be challenging. When you're challenged, you put your own perspective on it," he said.
Wilson and the orchestra will be joined by local clarinetist Diane Maltester in the premiere of "Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra." Also on the program are Ottorino Respighi's "Gli Uccelli" (The Birds) and Igor Stravinsky's "Dumbarton Oaks," described as a little concerto in the style of the Bach "Brandenburg Concertos." Educator and conductor Timothy Smith will introduce each piece with fascinating insights into the composers' lives and work.
All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. The Friday, Feb. 15 show will be held at Alhambra High School in Martinez; Feb. 16's show is at Medanos College Recital Hall in Pittsburg and the Sunday, Feb. 17 performance will be at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.