Collective Listening Project

Princeton University Concerts Selects

Playlist No. 18

About the Playlist

July 2, 2020
Podcast Cover Image

As we head into the 4th of July weekend, we wanted to share a playlist of music that is distinctly American and takes us through some highlights of PUC’s illustrious history.

AARON COPLAND: Appalachian Spring for 13 Instruments
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

It’s hard to believe that it was just a few months ago when we were all gathered together in Richardson Auditorium for the opening of our chamber music series. On that night last October, members of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center brought us the gorgeous chamber version of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring.

CHARLES IVES: The Alcotts from Piano Sonata No. 2
Jeremy Denk, Piano

In November we were joined by violinist Stefan Jackiw and pianist Jeremy Denk for an unusual exploration of some of the most substantial, yet rarely heard, music in the violin repertory by the American composer Charles Ives. We thought this selection amplified that event nicely.


In recent seasons, we’ve had memorable concerts by mandolinist Chris Thile and pianist Brad Mehldau (separately, not together). We were taken by their joint recording of a song called “Independence Day.”

Marian Anderson, Contralto

Heading even deeper into the archives, PUC proudly presented the American singer Marian Anderson who made her PUC debut on April 9, 1937 and then returned to the series many times. Conductor Arturo Toscanini credited her with a voice that is “heard once in a hundred years.” On this list, we share two American spirituals that were part of her 1937 program at Princeton—”Lord, I Can’t Stay Away” and “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord”—and her version of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” And when you have a moment, check out this amazing video of her singing My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”

Ray Charles, Singer

The playlist ends with one of the most iconic American songs. Though, not a PUC presentation, singer Ray Charles appeared on the Princeton campus in February 1961 and, according to the 2,500 people packed into Dillon Gym, it was a multi-faceted and amazing evening. Though we don’t know exactly what he sang, we couldn’t help but share his version of “America the Beautiful.”

We wish you all a safe, healthy, and happy fourth of July weekend.