Union Jack was created to honor the British heritage of the United States on the occasion of its Bicentennial. Part I is based on Scottish military tattoos and folk-dance forms performed in an open castle square. Part II is a music-hall pas de deux for the costermonger Pearly King and Queen of London, with two little girls and a donkey, danced before a drop suggesting Pollock’s toy theaters. Part III is a series of variations employing hornpipes, sea songs, work chants, jigs, and drill orders of the Royal Navy, in a dockside setting. For the finale, hand flags signal ‘God Save the Queen’ in semaphore code as the Union Jack unfurls.
Hershy Kay (1919-1981) established himself as a preeminent orchestrator of musicals with Leonard Bernstein’s On The Town in 1944. His works for ballet include Cakewalk, Clowns, Western Symphony, The Concert, Stars and Stripes, Who Cares? and Union Jack; his works for musical theater include Peter Pan, Once Upon a Mattress, Candide, A Chorus Line, Evita, and Barnum. A composer in his own right, Hershy Kay also reconstructed Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s Grande Tarantelle for Piano and Orchestra, which later became the Balanchine ballet Tarantella. Mr. Kay’s work also includes a children’s record, Mother Goose.