Composing for young performers was always close to Copland's heart, so he accepted the commission for a large orchestra piece from the High School of Music and Art in New York City. Copland wanted to play a role in introducing good contemporary American music to young players. In a review, Elliott Carter wrote: "Its opening is as lofty and beautiful as any passage that has been written by a contemporary composer. It is Copland in his prophetic vein. . . never before has he expressed it so simply and directly."
-Vivian Perlis, 1998