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Vin Scully Will Narrate An Abe Lincoln Musical Work At The Hollywood Bowl

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What do you think Vin Scully is up to these days, now that he's retired? Shopping at Costco? Buying moth balls?

It looks like he's actually getting back to work. This time, however, he won't be joining the announcer's booth at Dodger Stadium. Rather, he'll be at The Hollywood Bowl, narrating lines from Abraham Lincoln's speeches as part of a musical work. The shows will happen on July 13 and July 18, and will be conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. The shows also include composer Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. You can find tickets for the July 13 show here, and for the July 18 show here.

Perhaps some context is required: the Honest Abe piece in question is Copland's “Lincoln Portrait”, which was written in 1942 and stands as a defiantly singular piece of work. For one thing, it's one of the rare works that is entirely devoted to a former U.S. president (sorry Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton). And the composition is an unique mix of orchestral music and narrated excerpts culled from Lincoln's many speeches and debates. The piece includes nods to American folk melodies, as well as references to Native American music. As told at WGBH:

It’s hard...to appreciate just how original Copland’s Lincoln Portrait was in 1942. There had been other works that combined spoken text with orchestra, but the combination of serious public statement and serious artistic statement, with ceremony, history, and politics coexisting with music, was, and remains, rare.
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As noted by the L.A. Philharmonic, the idea for the piece arose when, during World War II, conductor Andre Kostelanetz commissioned Copland to compose a piece about a notable American figure. Copland had actually chosen Walt Whitman first, but switched to Lincoln when Kostelanetz urged him to go with a political figure that's more globally recognized.

Over the decades, a host of notable names have narrated the piece; the roster includes Walter Cronkite, Henry Fonda, and ex-Yankees manager Joe Torre. In 2012, former L.A. County Supervisor and L.A. councilman Zev Yaroslavsky was tasked with reading the lines at the Hollywood Bowl. Scully, then, joins a pretty formidable cast of former readers.

To give you a taste of what's to come, here's a past performance with basketball great Julius Erving (Dr. J!) narrating the excerpts.


The Hollywood Bowl is at 2301 Highland Ave, Los Angeles. (323) 850-2000.

Correction: An earlier version of this article had referred to the work as a "musical."