One of UCF Professor Stella Sung’s longtime dreams has been to have one of her musical compositions performed on a national stage – and this summer she will achieve that goal when the National Symphony Orchestra plays one of her songs at a Labor Day concert to be broadcast from the U.S. Capitol lawn.
John Morris Russell, guest conductor for the NSO and conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, selected The Peace Corps from Sung’s Rockwell Reflections collection to play at the annual event. He also will conduct the piece at a Fourth of July celebration in Cincinnati.
“It just feels so amazing to finally have that dream come true,” said Sung, who also is director of the Center for Research and Education in Arts, Technology and Entertainment (CREATE) at the university’s downtown Center for Emerging Media.
Sung wrote the Rockwell Reflections collection for the Orlando Philharmonic in 2007. At that time, a collection of paintings by artist Norman Rockwell was touring the country and Sung became so inspired she created orchestral pieces for five of his works.
The Peace Corps was the final composition in the set and inspired by a painting of President John F. Kennedy with a group of the organization’s volunteers.
“It’s a very inspiring illustration, it just personifies that really wonderful American spirit and hope and service because that’s what the Peace Corps was all about,” Sung said. “This piece is reflective of those Peace Corps feelings.”
Russell said Sung’s composition was inspiring.
“It has the grand, open sonorities reminiscent of Copland, an epic scope worthy of John Williams, capped by a beloved melody by Irving Berlin,” Russell said. “It is as American as apple pie: inspirational and stirring.
Sung’s music has been played all around the world by a multitude of different orchestras such as the German Ministry of Culture, the Dayton (Ohio) Philharmonic Orchestra, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and others.
“I really am forever indebted to all the other orchestras, the youth orchestras, the university orchestras, regional orchestras, that have played my music,” Sung said. “I owe a debt of gratitude to all my colleagues and musicians because you can’t start with major orchestras. You build and have those years of support and it has finally come to fruition.
“This is one of my favorite pieces. Even if it doesn’t get played by another orchestra, I’ll be really happy with how everything turned out.”