Symphony to honor Underground Railroad

Springfield’s Gammon House will be part of SSO’s multimedia show.

When you think of historic Springfield houses worthy of a symphonic tribute, you automatically tend to think big — the Bushnell mansion, the Foos manor, the Westcott House.

But as part of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s 70th anniversary season this fall, a tiny brick cottage will get the full orchestral treatment with multimedia accompaniment.

It is, after all, in keeping with the home’s enormous place in American history.

Known as the Gammon House, the 163-year-old house located on an even smaller street — Piqua Place — served as a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The house is even more unique because the refuge was operated by homeowners George and Sarah Gammon, two free people of color.

The orchestra will pull out all the stops on Nov. 9 and commemorate, not only the house, but the 150th anniversary of the Civil War that rendered the Underground Railroad obsolete.

“It really ties Springfield to the bigger event,” said David Deitrick, SSO executive director.

The eldest Gammon son was even killed in the war, Deitrick said, in a battle later depicted in the movie “Glory.”

The SSO previously has paid tribute to the area’s agricultural and manufacturing legacies with concerts that combine classic works of music set to choreographed photos.

The orchestra will once again collaborate with Springfield native Rod Hatfield’s production company, The Now Device, for the Nov. 9 concert. Their last pairing, a multimedia presentation of “The Planets” by Gustav Holst in February 2012, was a sellout.

“Hopefully, we can get some really good Civil War photos,” Deitrick said.

The program hasn’t been finalized but likely will include Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait,” in addition to spirituals of the time performed with the symphony chorale, Deitrick said.

“That one’s really going to be a good show,” he said.

Also as part of the SSO’s 70th season — itself historic — the orchestra will skip its annual concert in December in favor of a New Year’s program on Jan. 4 that’s heavy on the Strauss.

Season tickets for the 2013-14 season will go on sale on April 27 by calling 937-328-3874. Single tickets go on sale June 12. For more information, visit

All concerts will begin at 8 p.m. in Kuss Auditorium. The complete season:

Oct. 12 — The program includes Higdon’s “Blue Cathedral” and Mendelssohn’s “Symphony No. 5.”

Guest pianist Spencer Myer will perform Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 3.”

Nov. 9 — A commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and Springfield’s Gammon House.

Jan. 4 — The program features Strauss’ “Overture to Die Fledermaus,” “Thunder and Lightning Polka,” “Champagne Polka,” “Trisch-Trasch Polka” and “Emperor Waltz.” Other selections include Chabrier’s “Joyeuse marche,” Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise” and Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dances.”

Violinist Kanako Shimasaki, a former member of the Springfield Youth Symphony, will perform Ravel’s “Tzigane.”

Feb. 22 — The program includes Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 6,” plus the composer’s “Violin Concerto” performed by guest Janet Sung.

March 22 — The program includes Bach’s “Orchestral Suite No. 1” and Haydn’s “Symphony No. 104.”

Guest trumpeter Mary Elizabeth Bowden will perform trumpet concertos by Haydn and Tartini.

April 26 — The program includes Faure’s “Requiem” and Saint-Saens’ “Symphony No. 3.”

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