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Concert Program Cover

Fourth Concert of the 43rd Season

A Mothers' Day "Pops" Concert

Sunday, May 9th, 1982
Cordier Auditorium
Robert Jones, Conductor

  American Salute Morton Gould  
  The Classic Ragtime Suite
(A Tribute to Scott Joplin)
James Adler  
  Suite No. 1 from Carmen Georges Bizet  

Les dragons d'Alcalá
Les Toréadors

  Fantasia on the Alleluia Hymn Gordon Jacob  
  Dance Rhythms, Op. 58 Wallingford Riegger  
  Selections from My Fair Lady Frederick Loewe
(arr. R.R. Bennett)
  The January February March Don Gillis  

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  Classic Rag-Time Suite
(A Tribute to Scott Joplin)
James Adler

When "Rag-Time" is mentioned, most people can think of no one but Scott Joplin, although he did not originate it, and he was only one of many rag-time pianists like James Scott, Arthur Marshall, and Joseph Lamb. He was born in Texas in 1868, and developed into a sophisticated composer. He did for rag-time what Gershwin did for jazz... gave it the respectability of the opera. Gershwin produced Porgy and Bess; Joplin produced Treemonisha.

There was a tremendous revival of Joplin's music in 1968 on the occasion of his centenary, and this revival was further spurred by the use of his music, particularly "The Entertainer," in the film The Sting.

  Carmen Suite Georges Bizet

Georges Bizet was born in Paris, and died there at the age of thirty-seven. He is often cited as an example of the misunderstood genius driven to an early grave by an indifferent or hostile public, his death being attributed to the "failure" of Carmen. Actually, although the opera received some criticism for the "indelicacy" of its subject, it met with fair success at the box office, being performed some thirty-three times in the two-month period between its premiere and the death of Bizet from a ruptured artery. Carmen came to be the most often performed opera in the world.

The Suite we hear today consists of five selections from the opera. Three of them are from orchestral preludes or entr'actes, and two are orchestrations of arias from Acts I and II.

Aragonaise (Entr'acte from Act IV) -- This piece is based on a dance from the Spanish province of Aragon, and is the most characteristically "Spanish" of all the pieces, with its use of castanets and tambourines.

Intermezzo (Entr'acte from Act III) -- This is a slow piece, almost a Barcarole, featuring woodwinds and strings, opening with the flute supported by harp.

Seguidilla -- This is one of the two pieces adapted from an aria, in this case, Carmen's from the first act. Carmen, a flirtatious gypsy, has set her cap for José, a corporal in the guard, who, at first, ignores her. She tosses him a cassia flower, intended to put a spell over him. It apparently succeeds, since shortly after, when she is arrested for stabbing a fellow worker in the cigar factory, he carelessly allows her to escape. This aria is sung immediately prior to the escape, and it is a teasing invitation to anyone to become her lover, and to meet her later at the café of Lillas Pastia, near the city walls. But it is slyly directed toward José.

Les Dragons d'Alcalá (Entr'acte from Act II) -- This piece has the rhythm associated with a military drum-beat. It formed the orchestral introduction to the second act, and mimics the marching steps of the Dragoons, or troops of the King.

Les Toréadors -- This selection is the second orchestral adaptation of an aria, this time, the matador Escamillo's from Act II. No sooner has Carmen ensnared José, than she sees the matador Escamillo. In this aria, he tries to interest her, but appears to fail. It is not too long, however, before Carmen ruins José, then takes up with Escamillo, provoking the despondent José to stab her to death. In this aria, Escamillo sings of the similarity of matadors to soldiers, sings prophetically of danger, and mentions the "two dark eyes upon them."

  Fantasia on the Alleluia Hymn Gordon Jacob
(b. 1895)

Gordon Jacob was born near London, and studied at the Royal College of Music, where he earned his Doctorate. He later became a professor of composition there.

Jacob has written for a wide variety of instruments, from saxophone to harmonica. He has also written a number of concerti for more conventional instruments, such as piano, violin, oboe, and horn (though the violin concerto has been withdrawn). He is such an expert orchestrator that his original compositions are overshadowed.

The great symphonist Ralph Vaughan Williams lists Gordon Jacob as one of the two people who most influenced his composition, saying of Jacob, "He was at one time nominally my pupil, though there was nothing I could teach him which he did not know better than I, at all events in the matter of technique. Since then I have often asked his advice on points of orchestration, as indeed I would gladly do in any branch of the composer's art."

As a deft orchestrator, he enjoyed the genre of "theme and variations," and perhaps his most popular work is one of these: Passacaglia on a Well-Known Theme. The well-known theme is Oranges and Lemons, which short-wave listeners will recognize as the signature tune of the BBC Overseas Service.

The piece we are to hear today is also based on a well-known theme, the Alleluia Hymn.

  Dance Rhythms Wallingford Riegger

Riegger is not well-known to the general public, but is considered by critics to be one of the most influential modern composers on the American scene. Unlike Bizet, who had completed his first Symphony in C by the time he was seventeen, Riegger did not begin serious composition until he was thirty-five. He was an early practitioner of Schönberg's "tone-row" technique, and in the 1940s won several awards, including the New York Critics Circle award for his Third Symphony.

Riegger wrote three different sorts of music; the severe, serial works, including the Third Symphony; conservative academic works like Passacaglia and Fugue, and the Canon and Fugue for Strings; and a group of highly accessible works for modern dance, including the Dance Rhythms we are to hear today.

Wallingford Riegger died in 1961 in a bizarre manner while walking on a New York street. A dog wrapped his leash around his legs, causing him to fall and strike his head on the sidewalk. He sat in the waiting room of a hospital for over an hour, waiting for medical attention. By the time they got around to examining him, he was dead.

  Selections from My Fair Lady Frederick Loewe

Hardly anything needs to be said about this work, since it was so well-known. In fact, someone recently told me he was surprised to see that it had been made into a book by George Bernard Shaw!

The work, with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, was based, of course, on Shaw's play, "Pygmalion." In the myth, Pygmalion sculpts a perfect woman out of marble, falls in love with the statue, and prays to the gods to bring it to life. The "perfect woman," when she comes to life, naturally is too good for Pygmalion, and will have nothing to do with him. The same thing occurs in Shaw's play, though in the musical version, Higgins' defeat is not so clear. Both works satirize English calss snobbery.

The selections are:

I Could Have Danced all Night
On the Street Where You Live
Wouldn't it Be Loverly?
Show Me!
The Embassy Waltz
Get Me to the Church on Time
I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face
Wiv a Little Bit o' Luck


Orchestra Personnel

Marion Etzel, Concertmaster
Carla Slotterback *
Marcie Bogert
Karen S. Christman +
Eloise Guy
Beth Jones +^
Rosemary Manifold
Kathryn Oyer
Ervin Orbán
Ernest Zala

Denise Lutter *
Gordon Collins
Annette Martin
Ronda Mendenhall +

Jerry Lessig *
Christine Beery
Philip Christman +
Waverly Conlan
Kathy Hendershot +^
Nancy Rowe +

Calvin Bisha *
Adrian Mann
Ingrid Rupel +

Kathy Urbani

Patty Jones *+
Amy Statler +
Kathy Urbani

Stephanie Jones *
Dawn Zumbrun

English Horn
Stephanie Jones
Loa Traxler *+ (co-)
Lila Hammer * (co-)
Jerry Wall * (co-)

Takashi Yamano *
Douglas Hodge

Bass Clarinet
Jerry Wall

Eric Joseph *+
Brent Barto +
Eric Jones +
John Morse

Andrew Norman *
Steve Hammer
Mark Joseph +

Hugh Callison *
Brian Hartman
David Weatherholt +

Marvin Crider +

Ken Jordan

Bill Leonhard *+
David Lessig
Lisa McMillen +
Paige Smith +

Nancy Morse

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes MSS scholarship recipient

Today's Concert

This is the first "pops" concert to be presented by the Civic/College Orchestra in many years. Although it does not indicate an annual trend, it seems to be an appropriate theme for a Mother's Day concert.

For those who may be puzzled by the absence of any hits from the "Top Forty" on the program, it should be mentioned that orchestral pops concerts typically include the familiar but not necessarily the current -- thus the choice of My Fair Lady, Carmen, a Fantasia based on a familiar hymn tune, and American Salute using a familiar marching song. The remainder of the program consists of selections that provide enjoyable, perhaps even interesting, listening.

Finally, it should be mentioned that the generous support of more than 175 Symphony Society members makes it possible to invite the public to attend today's concert free of charge.