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Concert Program Cover

Fourth Concert of the 48th Season

 

Sunday, May 15th, 1987
Cordier Auditorium
John W. Beery, Conductor

  Iolanthe Sir Arthur Sullivan  
 

Entrance and March of the Peers

   
       
  The Water Music George F. Handel  
 

3. Allegro
6. Air
7. Minuet
10. Allegro Moderato
11. Allegro
12. alla Hornpipe
13. Minuet

   
       
  Hansel and Gretel Engelbert Humperdinck  
 

Prayer and Dream Pantomime

   
       
  Intermission  
       
  Overture to Orpheus in the Underworld Jacques Offenbach  
       
  Quiet City Aaron Copland  
  Jeff West, trumpet
Mike Beery, oboe
 
       
  Selections from My Fair Lady Frederick Loewe  
       

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  "Procession of the Peers" from Iolanthe Sir Arthur Sullivan
(1842-1900)
 
 

Sullivan is best known as the other half of the Gilbert-and-Sullivan team. Although Sullivan wrote many purely musical works and a number of collaborative ones with playwrights and poets, his most lasting successes came through his collaboration with W.S. Gilbert.

Sullivan was a prodigy who entered London's Royal Academy of Music at the age of fourteen, won the Mendelssohn scholarship, and went to Leipzig to study the piano with Moscheles and Plaidy, and composition and theory with Paperitz and Rietz. There were those who thought he compared very well with Brams and Tschaikowsky.

Sulliven met Gilbert in 1871, and their success as a team was immediate. They both had a wicked sense of humor that was quite spontaneous. On one occasion, Gilbert was talking to an acquaintance who had not yet heard of the death of a prominent composer. This acquaintance asked Gilbert what the musician was doing.

"He is doing nothing," was the answer.
"Surely, he is composing?" persisted the questioner.
"On the contrary," said Mr. Gilbert, "he is decomposing."
(Quoted by Norman Lebrecht)

Their whimsical operettas were a satirical comment on British society of the period; there is an obvious parallel with Offenbach.

The piece we are to hear today comes from Act I of Iolanthe. Iolanthe is a fairy who, in defiance of the Queen of the fairies, married a mortal and had a son. This son, who is half fairy (the upper half), falls in love with the young shepherdess Phyllis. She is so beautiful that many peers of the House of Lords pay court to her. Her guardian refuses to let her marry the shepherd Strephon. When the Lord Chancellor decides to marry Phyllis, Iolanthe reveals that Strephon is actually his son, even though she had sworn to keep the secret on pain of death. Her self-sacrifice for the happiness of the two lovers so moves the Queen that she released Iolanthe from the pledge. She turns all the peers into fairies, and all go off happily into never-never-land (the House of Lords?)

As an indication of the satirical nature of the work, I now paraphrase the words to go with this Entry March of the Peers.

Loudly let the trumpet bray! Tantantara!
Proudly bang the sounding brasses! Tzing! Boom!
As upon its lordly way this unique procession passes,
Bow, bow, ye lower middle classes!
Bow ye tradesmen, bow, ye masses!
Blow the trumpets, bang the brasses!
We are peers of highest station,
Paragons of legislation,
Pillars of the British nation!


 
       
  The Water Music (Excerpts) George Frideric Handel
(1685-1759)
 
 

Handel was an exact contemporary of Bach, born in the same year, and dying only nine years later than Bach. Both came from north German middle-class families; both were Protestants, and both took their religion seriously. However, while Bach remained a provincial, family man, Handel became a well-traveled man-of-the-world. His stay in Italy stamped his music with an Italianate quality most notable in his oratorios.

Handel had a short temper and a ready wit. Once, when an English singer objected to the way Handel was accompanying him on the harpsichord, and threatened to stamp it to pieces if Handel didn't do things HIS way, Handel is said to have replied: "Let me know when you will do that, and I will advertise it; for I am sure more people will come to see you jump than to hear you sing."

Handel wrote the Water Music on a commission from King George for a royal party on the Thames. The music was performed in 1717 by an orchestra of fifty, unusually large for the period, and it was a tremendous success, having to be repeated three times. The music consisted of a suite of between 20and 26 pieces (depending on the source), of which we hear three today. There have been a number of different arrangements, most omitting several sections. The organization of the pieces varies from version to version. For instance, the final movement in the well-known arrangement by Sir Hamilton Harty appears today as "the sixth movement. It is described simply as allegro deciso by Harty, but is called Hornpipe on this edition.

The first movement, Allegro begins with a fanfare of trumpets, overlapped by descending violins. This is followed by a repeat of the ascending motif in the horns with descending low strings. There begins a series of echo effects (a device much admired by Handel), and strings and brass alternate playing in echo and in counterpoint to one another.

The second movement, Air, is a stately piece, reminding us of a court dance. It begins with woods and strings. Eventually, the horns join in with high, long drawn-out notes and accompany the winds and strings tothe end of the movement.

The third movement, Minuet, opens with a horn fanfare, with a second horn joining in the third measure. The theme is repeated, tutti, and the horns alternate with the rest of the orchestra throughout, in an echo effect.

The fourth movement, Allegro moderato, opens with oboes and bassoon, which are soon followed by the strings. The winds alternate with the strings in lively fashion throughout the movement until the sudden adagio for the last two measures.

The fifth movement, Allegro, begins with one note struck by the winds and strings followed immediately by a trumpet fanfare in a rising motif. As the trumpets rise, the contrast with the woods and strings descending. There follows a series of statements and answers, in the familiar echo manner.

The sixth movement is the very popular Hornpipe. It begins with a strongly stated upward theme soon repeated by the trumpets followed by the horns, then by the whole orchestra. This repetition contunes: trumpets, horns, tutti throughout the first section. Then, the key turns minor, and features the woodwinds, with lower strings playing a ground bass. The orchestra returns to the opening theme, and continues the idea of fanfares played alternately by the trumpets, horns, strings, and, finally, the whole orchestra to punctuate the ending. This movement is so dramatic that it is frequently used as the closing movement in other arrangements of the suite.

The last movement, here, is also the last movement in what may be the most authentic reconstruction of the suite as performed originally. It is a minuet, the most popular dance of the period (and one of six minuets in the complete suite). It, too, begins with fanfare, but for full orchestra. This time the music has a choral quality, and in fact is titled "Coro" in the 1743 edition, preserved in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.


 
       
  "Prayer Song" from Hansel and Gretel Engelbert Humperdinck
(1854-1921)
 
 

Hansel and Gretel is described by the musical historian Percy Scholes as "...perhaps the only fine work in the operatic repertory to which one can take a child with the definite certainty of gratitude."

Everyone knows the story (by the brothers Grimm) of the children sent berry-picking to the dark woods where the wicked witch waits. What makes this fairy-tale ever popular is its realistic portrayal of characters facing an unreal situation. It is, after all, an opera for children. Children may know precious litle about witches, but they know a lot about children. Hansel and Gretel are real children. They don't always mind, they eat the berries they are sent to pick, they tease one-another, and they aren't exactly respectful of the property of the witch. Parents, too, are parents. Mothers become exasperated when they find the chores not done. Fathers sometimes overcelebrate.

This is, of course, a dated plot. It has implied violence; the children are to be baked into gingerbread cakes and eaten. Just think what fine adults we would have grown into if we had not been traumatized by fairy-tales as children.

Humperdinck used a large orchestra, one of Wagnerian proportions. He was an admirer of Wagner, and helped in the first production of Parsifal at Bayreuth. He uses a number of Wagnerian devices but is generally much more tuneful. Although he wrote several operas based on fairy-tales, this is the only one to remain in the standard repertory. When the opera was first performed in America, it was not very successful, perhaps it wasn't helped by the producer, Augustus Harris' introducing the work as having been written by that "...great composer, Pumpernickel."

The selection here, will be recognized by all. It is the prayer song as the children huddle together in the forest.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
fourteen angels vigil keep;
two who stand above me,
two who dearly love me.
Two stand on my right side,
two stand on my left side.
Two who always bless me,
two who caress me,
two who stand beside me
to heaven's throne to guide me.

The live in a world where prayers are answered.


 
       
  Overture to Orphee aux Enfers
(Orpheus in the Underworld)
Jacques Offenbach
(1819-1880)
 
 

This work is also known as "Orpheus in Hades," and was once translated in London as "Orpheus in the Underground" (Subway!). I prefer Orpheus in the Underworld.

Jacques Offenbach, perhaps the best-known representative of the light-hearted, even frivolous side of the French musical character, was German-born. Jakob Eberst (or Wiener, or Levy, or Eberscht, depending upon the source) was born in the village of Offenbach, near Cologne, Germany. His father was cantor at the synagogue in Cologne. At an early age, Jakob settled in Paris where, under the name of Jacques Offenbach, he took up the post of cellist in the orchestra of the paris Opéra Comique. He later became conductor at the Théatre Français.

Offenbach was very prolofic, writing over ninety light operas, most of which satirized the society of the Second Empire. He wrote with such infectuous wit that he could provoke audiences to laugh, even when they were the butt of the joke. Among other things, he was an incorrigible punster. Referring to his birth near Cologne, he sometimes signed his name "O. de Cologne."

His music is still popular enough that many who say they know nothing of opera can hum his tunes without knowing their source. In the work we hear today, there are at least two themes which most of the audience will recognize, one of which EVERYone will recognize! It is near the end.

The work can be divided into three parts. The opening, allegro con fuoco, is dramatic, but soon slows and softens to a solo for clarinet. The oboe joins in (allegretto), followed by the flute (lento). Soon, the harp and viola become prominent, and the clarinet brings part one to a close.

Part two begins angrily (allegro vivace) with brass, strings, and percussion, followed by bleating woodwinds. Toward the end of this section, the tempo changes from 2/4 to 6/8, and we have the vamous violin solo (allegretto) which did not appear in the original overture, but was added in 1860 for its first Viennese performance. It can be identified by its waltz-like rhythm.

The third and last section begins faster (piu mosso) with the most famous melody of the work. It, too, was added in 1860. I'm sure you can think of the name of it, but you must think of it twice!


 
       
  Quiet City 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.

Although he is most famous for his ability to evoke images of rural America, his urban background provoked a touch of the Blues in more than one work. Quiet City was written in 1939 as incidental music to a play of the same name by Irwin Shaw. A year later, it was orchestrated for strings, English horn, and trumpet. Is is very different from his "rural" pieces like Rodeo, Billy the Kid, and Appalachian Spring, which are exuberant and folksy. Quiet City suggests a pensive, even melancholy mood, derived from the plot of the play. In the vast city of New York, a lonely Jewish boy plays a lament on his trumpet. Critics note the "Negroid" quality of the Blue notes as well as a hint of the Cantor in his music.

After a very soft opening in the strings, the trumpet states the theme. Later, the English horn echoes the trumpet with wide intervals suggesting emptiness and isolation. At the risk of irritating those who object to a subjective interpretation of the music, I must say that, for me, Copland evokes a scene of NewYork at 3 a.m. Street-lamps gleam off the wet pavement left by the street-cleaners. The city seems deserted, except for the wail of a distant siren. A young man, alone in his room, is calling out.


 
       
  Selections from My Fair Lady Frederick Loewe
(b. 1901)
 
 

My Fair Lady hardly needs help from program notes. It is one of the most popular operettas ever produced. I say "operetta" instead of the more common "musical" because of the presence on this program of music by Offenbach and Sullivan. All three works would be called "musicals," "Singspiele," "Operas Comiques" or "operettas," depending on the country of origin. They are light operas with spoken dialogue.

My Fair Lady is one of many collaborations between Loewe, who wrote the music, and Alan Jay Lerner, who wrote the words. Their first work together was The Day Before Spring, but they are better known for Brigadoon and Paint Your Wagon.

The work is derived from the play "Pygmalion," by George Bernard Shaw. The story is ultimately based on a Greet myth about the King of Cyprus, Pygmalion, who sculpted the ideal woman out of marble. He fell in love with this perfect image, and Aphrodite took pity on him, bringing the maiden to life. He named her Galatea, and we know they had a son, but we don't know how well they got on together, this perfect woman and this ordinary man.

In Shaw's play, we know what happens. Professor Higgins has taken a common Cockney girl, and "sculpted" her to perfection. So, what would she see in the likes of him? Not much, so off she goes. But Lerner and Loewe know what pleases an audience, so in this pre-ERA era, they have Eliza Doolittle quietly slip back into Henry Higgins' life.

My Fair Lady was first produced at the Shubert Theatre in New Heaven, February 4, 1956. It starred Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway (as the Cockney father), and Robert Coote (as Professor Higgins' friend). The music was orchestrated by Robert Russell Bennett and Phil Lang. Dance music was arranged by Trude Rittman.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin
Ervin Orban, Concertmaster
Rosemary Manifold *
Mary Berkebile
Ruth Berkebile
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 +^

Bass
Brad Kuhns
George Scheerer
Randy Gratz

Piccolo
Nancy Bloom +^

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

Oboe
Michael D. Beery *+ (co-)
Susan Turnquist * (co-)

English Horn
Susan Turnquist
Clarinet
Wendy Duff *+
Jane Grandstaff

Bass Clarinet
Margaret Beery

Bassoon
Takashi Yamano *
Anne Teeters

Horn
G. Kent Teeters *
Nancy A. Bremer
John Morse
Erin Dietsch

Trumpet
Steven Hammer * (co-)
Jeff West *+ (co-)
Ben Smith +

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

Tuba
Sam Gnagey

Timpani
Tana Tinkey +

Percussion
Tom Littlefield *+
Jennifer Newton +

Harpsichord
Robin Gratz

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes MSS Scholarship recipient
       
 
Jeff West is a senior music education major at Manchester College. A 1983 graduate of Lakeland High School, Mr. West is a member of the A Cappella Choir, the Jazz Ensemble, Concert Band, Symphony Orchestra, and Entertainers. His parents are Jerry and Julie West of Wolcottville, Indiana. He recently played the leading role in Babes in Arms.

Mr. West's studio teachers have been Joseph Ferraro and John W. Beery. He plans to attend graduate school after spending the summer working as a counselor at the National Music Camp, Interlochen, Michigan.
Mike Beery graduated from Marshall High School, in Marshall, Michigan. He attended Michigan State University where he was a student of Daniel Stolper and a member of the Symphony Band. Since transferring to Manchester College, Mr. beery has been a member of Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble and the Symphony Orchestra. His teacher is Robert Jones.

Mr. Beery will spend the summer as counselor at the National Music Camp. He has been active there as a performer with the University Opera Theater, the Festival Chorus, and the Staff Jazz Ensemble.