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Concert Program Cover

Fourth Concert of the 44th Season

 

Sunday, May 8th, 1983
Cordier Auditorium
Robert Jones, Conductor

  An Outdoor Overture Aaron Copland  
       
  "On Mighty Pens" from The Creation Franz Joseph Haydn  
  Mary Tilsy, soprano  
       
  Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 116 Edvard Grieg  
 

I. Allegro molto moderato

 
  Ingrid Ruple, piano  
       
  Intermission  
       
  Concerto in A minor, Op. 3, No. 6 (P. 1) Antonio Vivaldi  
 

Allegro

 
  The Suzuki Strings of Manchester  
       
  Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  
 

I. Allegro

 
  Loa Traxler, clarinet  
       
  Overture to Die Schöne Helena Jacques Offenbach  
       

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  An Outdoor Overture Aaron Copland
(b. 1900)
 
 

Aaron Copland, the son of an immigrant family, grew to be considered the most "American" of American composers. He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and spent the first twenty years of his life there in a street which, in his words, "can only be described as drab." At the age of twenty-one, he was able to go to Paris, where he studied under Paul Vidal, and the legendary Nadia Boulanger. He was her first American student, and she was sufficiently impressed to commission him to write an organ concerto for her to perform during her American tour. With this work, he established himself as an important addition to American musical life.

He wrote memorable film music, such as The Red Pony, Quiet City, Our Town, and Of Mice and Men, but he is perhaps best known for his ballet music, Appalachian Spring, Rodeo, and Billy the Kid. His book What to Listen for in Music has sold in the millions. He was also a much admired conductor, and completed a successful conducting tour of Europe in the mid-70s.

The present work, An Outdoor Overture, was commissioned in 1938 for the school orchestra of the New York High School of Music and Art. It is based on a six-note theme, falling and then rising. This is repeated in various guises and immediately there appear the familiar hints of American folk music, with the violin discords associated with square-dance fiddlers. Shortly, there follows a sweet, contemplative section featuring the solo trumpet against an ostinato of three notes played pizzicato. After this, there are references to the theme in a kind of hoe-down treatment. The ending of this section is punctuated by a fanfare version of the theme, after which there is a quiet passage for the flute. There is much in this section to remind us of Stravinsky's theater music.

After a short interlude of a rapid-fire version of the six-note theme, a determined march develops, reminiscent of Copland's film music. Then the theme is repeated as fanfares, complete with drums and cymbals, only to be followed by another quiet interlude, with a return to the three-note ostinato. This is replaced by a faster, driving march, almost swaggering in its ebullience, and the work comes to a close with a grand ending, suggesting great triumph.


 
       
  "On Mighty Pens" from The Creation Franz Joseph Haydn
(1732-1809)
 
 

Haydn is best known for his many symphonies and chamber works. Indeed, he is frequently called "The Father of the Symphony." He had a long life, and was a prolific composer. He was also of a sunny and outgoing disposition. Doubtlessly, his personality no less than his talent made him welcome in palaces and concert-halls all over Europe, and aided in the spreading of his fame.

While on a visit to England, he heard Handel's Messiah, and was moved to tears. He tried several times to write something on a Handelian scale, but was never satisfied.

It wasn't until late in life that he found a libretto that was worthy of his talents, and only then because of the superb German translation and intelligent suggestions for its application by his friend, the Baron Gottfried van Swieten.

The English critic Percy Scholes comments on the work as follows: "In his old age he composed the oratorio The Creation. It is naive but charming, and admirable reflects the simple devotion of its author -- 'Never was I so pious as when I was composing this work; I knelt down daily and prayed God to strengthen me for it.'"

The are we hear today is "Auf starkem Fittige..." (On Mighty Wings... "pens" being an archaic version of "pinions.")


 
       
  Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16
(First Movement)
Edvard Grieg
(1843-1907)
 
 

Grieg was a composer of the romantic era, during which nationalism was much in vogue. There was never a more Nordic composer than Grieg. He was not content to write simply "Scandinavian" music; he wrote "Norwegian" music. He was most emphatic about that. His great-grandfather, however, had come from Scotland, where the family name was spelled "Greig." For you trivia fans, Grieg was the cousin of the great-grandfather of the Canadian pianist, Glenn Gould. Grieg would no doubt be happy to know that such a great pianist had sprung from the same DNA as he.

Grieg wrote only one piano concerto, but it is one of the most popular piano concerti ever written. Certainly, the solo opening is the most dramatic and recognizable opening of any piano concerto. The work was written in 1868 for Edmund Neupart, who gave the work its world premiere in Copenhagen. It scored an immediate success, and has maintained its popularity ever since. Both Franz Liszt and Anton Rubinstein, the two most renowned pianists of the day, were mightily impressed.

The work begins, after a drum-roll and an orchestral chord, with a series of descending chords for piano solo, maddening in that the series is memorable enough to run through one's mind, but spans a range too great for whistling or humming (unless you are Yma Sumac). As we listen to the unfolding of the first movement, it is difficult to believe that it is the first orchestral work by the twenty-five-year-old composer.


 
       
  Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 3, No. 6 (P. 1)
from L'estro armonico
Antonio Vivaldi
(1678-1741)
 
 

Vivaldi was an older contemporary of Bach, and was much admired by this German composer, who re-orchestrated some of his works. Vivaldi is known as "Il Prete Rossi," or the "Redhaired Priest." He really was a priest, though he said few masses because of a respiratory ailment, presumable asthma. Instead, he spent thirty-six years as teacher and official composer at the Ospedale della Pieta, in Venice. This was a school for orphan girls, which stressed musical studies, and his position there was a highly respected one.

The concerto featured today is one of a set of twelve, known as L'estro armonico, which literally means "The Spirit of Harmony," but in Vivaldi's mind, meant "unbridled fantasy in the realm of music." In a sense, the set represents a transitional stage between the Concerto Grosso and the modern virtuoso concerto. In the concerto grosso, a small group of instruments, the Concertino, plays "against" a larger group, the Grosso or ripieno, in a kind of competition ("Concerto" comes from "concertare," to vie, or contend with). Here, Vivaldi has reduced the Concertino to one instrument, the violin, but there is still the alternation between contending forces.

For those of you who enjoy poetic descriptions of music, even when they strain the imagination, I offer the following comment by the brilliant Italian musician and scholar Claudio Scimone: "Highly original, the two themes of the first and last movements evoke some aerial dance steps to which is soon added the opposition of the vehement élan of the bows." (His words, not mine.)


 
       
  Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622
(First Movement)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(1756-1791)
 
 

At the time Mozart wrote this concerto, the clarinet was not very well-known. In fact, several important orchestras did not even have one: for example, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, and the Dresden. Mozart began it for the basset horn, but changed over to the clarinet after his sucessful use of that instrument in the earlier Clarinet Quintet. He wrote both the Quintet and the Concerto for Anton Stadler, a Viennese court musician, and virtuoso player of the basset horn and clarinet. It was Stadler who introduced Mozart to the clarinet in 1778.

This concerto, written in the year of Mozart's death, 1791, is his last. Its witty charm is typical of Mozart at his peak.

We are given almost two minutes of anticipation by an orchestral introduction before the entry of teh clarinet. Immediately we are treated to wide leaps and runs of the instrument, showing us its variety of tone-color. It is almost as if the runs are used to prove that all these various timbres are, indeed, coming from this one instrument -- a means of preparing us for what is to come, because the clarinet now moves into a section of alternation between high and low registers, which makes it seem as though two different instruments are answering one-another. Unlike the Vivaldi concerto, this one provides very few rests for the performer, and even those few are short.


 
       
  Overture to Die Schöne Helena Jacques Offenbach
(1819-1880)
 
 

It is interesting that the best-known representative of the lighthearted, even frivolous side of the French musical character is, in fact, German-born. Jakob Eberst (or Winer, according to Scholes) was born in the village of Offenbach, Germany. His father was cantor at the synagogue in Cologne. At an early age (one source says 24, another says 13), Jakob Eberst/Wiener took up residence in Paris where, under the name of Jacques Offenbach, he took the post of cellist in the orchestra of the Paris Opéra-Comique. He later became conductor at the Théâtre Français.

He was a prolific composer of light music, producing some ninety operettas in the next twenty-five years. Parisian audiences were delighted by the frivolous attitude he took to classical subjects. He wrote with such infectious wit that he could provoke audiences to laugh, even when their own society was the butt of the joke.

His music is still popular even among those who pay little attention to operatic music. Most would be able to whistle along with the "Can-Can" from La Vie Parisienne, or the "Barcarole" from Tales of Hoffmann, even if they couldn't name the source. To my knowledge, his operetta La Péricole has the signal distinction of being the only such work to be repeated by request on the College radio station, WBKE!

Die Schöne Helena (the subject being Helen of Troy), Offenback pokes fun at the Heroic Greek Ideal.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin
Ervin Orbán, Concertmaster
Rosemary Manifold *
Mark Adams
Mary Berkebile
Carolyn Caldwell
Eloise Guy
Janet Guy
Beth Jones +^
Renée Rose +
Kirsten Rupel +
Britta L. Samuelson +
Suzanne Schmucker +^

Viola
Anna Snyder *+
Ethel Anderson
Chris Friddle
Annette Martin

Cello
Jerry Lessig *
Christine Beery
David W. Pinkham +^
Nancy Rowe +^
Rebecca Waas

Bass
Christopher Bowser *
Calvin Bisha
Matt Greven

Piccolo
Denise Van Petten +

Flute
Kathy Urbani *
Paige Smith +

Oboe
Stephanie Jones *
Dawn Zumbrun
Clarinet
Margaret Trentacosti *
Loa Traxler +
Lila Hammer

Bassoon
Takashi Yamano *
Douglas Hodge

Horn
Eric Joseph *+
Eric Jones +
Dan Cripe +
John Morse

Trumpet
Andrew Norman *
Steve Hammer

Trombone
Brian Hartman *
Randy Branaman +
Hugh Callison

Timpani
Christopher Caldwell +

Percussion
Bill Leonhard *+
Terry McKee

Piano/Harpsichord
Lisa McMillen +

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

Suzuki Strings of Manchester

 
  Carmen Beery
Stephanie Beery
Anne Boebel
Kate Brown
Aimee Callison
Angela Rogers
Sonya Yoder
       
 
Mary Tilsy is a sophomore music education major from Mokena, Illinois. Before coming to Manchester college she attended Joliet Junior College for one year and was a member of the Swing Choir. She has played saxophone for three years in the M.C. concert Band and is in her third year as a member of the A Cappella Choir. Ms. Tilsey studies voice with Dr. Floyd Slotterback.
Ingrid Ruple is a graduate of Lincoln High School in Stockton, California. As a high school student she received a superior rating in piano competition at the Hayward Solo and Ensemble Festival. She is a sophomore at Manchester College, minoring in music. She has been a member of the Symphony Orchestra and Manchester Singers. Ingrid studies piano with Dr. Donna Guenther.
The Manchester Suzuki string program was organized by Marion Etzel in 1978. Carla Slotterback began teaching Suzuki violin and cello the following year, and there are currently thirty-five students studying with Mrs. Slotterback. They range in age from three-and-a-half to fifteen years old. The Suzuki method of instruction involves at least one parent in coaching and practice guidance at home, and every student participates in a private lesson and a group lesson each week.

The students performing the Vivaldi Concerto have studied violin from four to five years, and range in age from eight to fifteen years old.
Loa Traxler is a sophomore from Sharpsville, Indiana, majoring in Art and French. As a student at Tri Central High School, she was selected for the Indiana All-State Band and was chosen to receive the John Philip Sousa Award. At Manchester College she has been a member of the Symphony Orchestra and Concert Band for two years, and studies clarinet with Robert Jones.