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Concert Program Cover

Third Concert of the 48th Season

 

Sunday, March 8th, 1987
Cordier Auditorium
John W. Beery, Conductor

  Overture to Die Zauberflöte Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  
       
  Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E-flat Major, Op. 74 Carl Maria von Weber  
 

I. Allegro
II. Romanza
III. Alla Polacca

   
  Robert Jones, clarinet  
       
  Intermission  
       
  Concerto in D minor, F. XII No. 31 Antonio Vivaldi  
  Maryanne Beery and Kathy Urbani, flutes
Michael Beery and Amy Detraz, oboes
Ann Teeters, bassoon
Ervin Orban and Eloise Guy, violins
 
       
  New England Triptych William Schuman  
 

I. Be Glad Then, America
II. When Jesus Wept
III. Chester

   
       

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  Overture to Die Zauberflöte
(The Magic Flute)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(1756-1791)
 
 

Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) was one of Mozart's last works; he died scarcely two months after its premiere. The work is remarkable for its unity in spite of the disparity of its parts. Mozart brings together elements of Singspiel, opera buffa, opera seria, and even Lutheran hymn-prelude. The music is solemn, comic, romantic, religious, and slap-stick. It has coloratura passages, strophic, folksong-like arias, choruses, accompanied recitatives, motives which reappear at appropriate moments throughout the work, and even an overture in sonata form with contrapuntal elements.

Unlike many operatic overtures which present short arrangements of the principal themes to be heard throughout the opera, Mozart gives us an overture which foreshadows the music to come without imitating it.

The story is that of a pure youth who must undergo trials of a mysterious nature before he is united with the ideal woman. He is accompanied on his journey by a Sancho-Panza-like character who provides comic relief, and in turn, is rewarded with a charming mate. It is amazing that all this could be woven into a convincing whole ... especially when it had to carry the burden of freemason symbolism. (The number 3 has special significance to the Masons, and it appears often in the opera: the three ladies of the Queen of the Night, the three slaves, the three priests, the three boys, and especially, the three flats of the key of E-flat major.)

The overture opens with somber, perhaps majestic chords, preparing us for the solemn (Masonic?) rites to come. Soon, the strings begin a rapid, fugal treatment, reminding us of the buzzing of bees (or perhaps intended to remind us of the fluttering of birds of the comic bird-catcher).

While few themes of the opera itself appear in the overture, the character of the music, with its alternating serious and light motives, is typical of the rest of the opera. If you are familiar with this piece, you will find it difficult not to whistle along with the orchestra.


 
       
  Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E-flat Major, Op. 74 Carl Maria von Weber
(1786-1826)
 
 

Weber is known primarily for his opera Der Freischutz, a Romantic opera in the grand manner. In fact, he is credited with the invention of Romantic opera in general, and German nationlistic opera in particular. He had a great impact on Richard Wagner. He had the Romantic's preoccupation with the idea of painting tonal pictures, together with a nostalgia for by-gone times, and the mythology of his country. The writer Harry Halbreich suggests that Weber was the first to use the horn and the clarinet to express the voices of nature.

His Romantic tendencies were, however, tempered by a love of classical order. He idolized Mozart, and he was strongly influenced by his teacher, Michael Haydn. He even criticized Beethoven for a lack of classical restraint. One might, therefore, expect Weber's music to be an admirable blend of innovation and tradition. It is indeed surprising that it has not gained a wider audience.

Weber was a child prodigy, his huge hands contributing to his piano virtuosity. He wrote his first opera when he was fourteen, and became music director of the Breslau town theater when he was seventeen. No doubt he acquired a great deal of stage experience as he accompanied his father on theatrical tours throughout Germany. His interest in the clarinet began in 1811, when he met Heinrich Barmann, the greatest clarinetist in Germany. He wrote a Concerto for Barmann, which met with immediate success and spawned a series of commissions for the clarinet and other wind instruments. The two clarinet concerti followed the Concertino very closely, and the second was first performed (to "frenetic applause") in November of 1811.

The second concerto, which we are to hear today, is described as the more symphonic of the two. But there is a strikingly operatic character to it, especially in the second movement, the Romance. In the second half of that movement, the clarinet could be mistaken for a vocal solo, with the orchestra playing short chords in the manner of recitativo secco, as used by Mozart in The Marriage of Figaro. This is another reflection of Weber's love of classical form in general, and that of Mozart in particular.

The final movement, the Polonaise, makes spectacular demands on the soloist. Leaving aside problems of embouchure and breath control, ignoring the need to hit the right keys, just imagine hitting any keys that fast for that long, and you have a small idea of the difficulty of that piece.


 
       
  Concerto in D minor, F.XII No. 31
for 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, Bassoon, 2 Violins,
Strings, and Harpsichord
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 was known as "Il Prete Rossi," or the "Redhaired Priest." He really was a priest, though he devoted himself almost entirely to the composition of music... often to the annoyance of the Church. Once, the city fathers of Ferrara refused him entry because they could not approve of a priest who didn't say Mass. He complained that he was an invalid, with difficulty breathing, and that accounted for his not saying Mass for the past twenty-five years.

There is another reason given elsewhere. Once, while he was saying Mass, he got a sudden idea for a fugue, dashed off to write it down, and returned to finish Mass. For this, he was called before the Inquisition. It was decided that geniuses must be tolerated, but he was forbidden to say Mass in the future.

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. During this time, he wrote some forty operas and more than five hundred concertos.

Today, we think of a concerto as being music featuring a solo instrument playing with an orchestra. We use the expression "in concert' or "making a concerted effort," in the mistaken belief that "concert" means "together." We should say that the solo instrument plays "against" the orchestra, because "concerto" comes from "concertare," to vie, or contend with. In the early concertos (or concerti) a small instrumental group played "against" a larger group. We have the "concertino" vying with the "ripieno," or "grosso," hence: Concerto Grosso, of which this is an example. In this case, the concertino is made up of the two flutes, two oboes, bassoon, and two violins. The ripieno is made up of the rest of the strings, and the harpsichord.


 
       
  New England Triptych William Schuman
(b. 1910)
 
 

For a long time, American music was considered a reflection of European musical thought. William Schuman was born into what may be the first generation of American composers taught largely by older American composers. Although he studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, his musical education was mostly at Columbia University. He became a disciple of Roy Harris, that writer of "prairie music," music of a distinctly American cast. Both write lyrical music, with a character of both hymnody and folksong, some of it borrowed -- most of it original.

Schuman taught at Sarah Lawrence College from 1935 to 1945, and then became president of the Juilliard School of Music. In 1962, he became president of Lincoln Center, in New York.

Schuman was a great enthusiast for the music of the early New England composer William Billings. Billings was a rugged individualist, who learned to understand "the rules," but often ignored them in the interest of singability and "fancy." To quote the critic Wilfrid Mellers, "...he leaves us in no doubt that he knows of the rule about parallel fifths, while continuing to write them with enthusiasm because he likes the noise."

Schuman is a sophisticated craftsman, and is sometimes criticised as being polished, but lacking in sincerity. However, he always admired teh Whitmanesque naivete of Billings, and in this work, pays tribute to him by using his music as "a point of departure." Schuman says, "These pieces do not constitute a 'fantasy' on themes of Billings, nor 'variations' on his themes, but rather a fusion of styles and musical language."

I. Be Glad Then, America
The work begins with a slow timpani solo over low strings. This is picked up by the strings in a high register, and the rhythm becomes faster. The brass enters dramatically, echoed by the strings, a polyphonic texture develops, and the music becomes theatrical, even jazzy... certainly suggesting Broadway dance routines, and finally there is a hint of Vaughan-Williams (did I say Schuman was eclectic?)

II. When Jesus Wept
This section, too, begins with a drum... in this case, a drum-roll. Wood-winds enter, and the music has a melancholic, elegeic quality, with long, drawn-out notes in the strings.

III. Chester
The strings begin this hymnlike section. Soon, however, the music becomes lively, with cross-rhythms. Soon it becomes folk-like, then the bass drum enters, and we have a kind of parade, broken into by faster, more theatrical motifs. The snare drum provides a martial touch. This is not surprising, since the Billings hymn "Chester" was later adopted by the Continental Army as a marching song. Schuman intends us to hear both aspects of the music.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin
Ervin Orban, Concertmaster
Rosemary Manifold *
Carolyn Caldwell
Christine Erickson +
Eloise Guy
Linda Hare
Angela Rogers
Vernon Stinebaugh
John Thomas
Roxanne Thomas

Viola
Annette Martin *
Peter Collins
Delpha Laycock
Naida Walker

Cello
Waverly Berry Conlan *
Elizabeth Bueker
Valerie Goetz Boud
Jennifer Kirk +^
Rebecca B. Waas

Bass
Brad Kuhns
Kevin Piekarski
George Scheerer
Randy Gratz

Piccolo
Nancy Bloom +^

Flute
Kathy Urbani * (co-)
Maryanne Beery *+^ (co-)

Oboe
Michael D. Beery *+ (co-)
Amy Detraz

English Horn
George Donner
Clarinet
Wendy Duff *+
Jane Grandstaff

Bass Clarinet
Margaret Beery

Bassoon
Takashi Yamano *
Anne Teeters

Horn
G. Kent Teeters *
Nancy Bremer
John Morse
John C. Beery

Trumpet
Steven Hammer * (co-)
Jeff West *+ (co-)
Doug McKee

Trombone
David Schultz *+^
D. Larry Dockter
Charles Anders

Tuba
John Willoughby +

Timpani
Tana Tinkey +

Percussion
Tom Littlefield *+
Jennifer Newton +

Harpsichord
Robin Gratz

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes MSS Scholarship recipient
       
 
Robert Jones Robert Jones was appointed to the faculty of Manchester College in 1968, and has been involved with the Manchester Symphony Orchestra as clarinetist and conductor since that time. Prior to his appointment at Manchester, he held positions at the University of Montana, McPherson College, and Wichita State University. He has also been on the faculty of the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.

Mr. Jones has been a member of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic since 1980, and in 1985 was awarded a Philharmonic grant for bass clarinet study with Lawrie Bloom of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Other clarinet teachers include Clark Brody, principal clarinet with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Bernard Portnoy, Indiana University, and Rolf Legbandt, Ball State University.

His education background includes the B.S. degree in music education from Northern Arizona University, and the Master of Music in clarinet performance from Wichita State University. He has done additional graduate study at Indiana University and Ball State University.