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Concert Program Cover

Fourth Concert of the 53rd Season

 

Sunday, May 10th, 1992
Cordier Auditorium
Robert Jones, Conductor

  An Outdoor Overture Aaron Copland  
       
  Arias from Don Giovanni, K. 527 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  
 

"Batti, batti, o bel Masetto"
"Vedrai carino"

   
  Deanna Beth Myers, soprano  
       
  Suite Modale Ernest Bloch  
 

I. Moderato
III. Allegro giocoso
IV. Adagio, allegro deciso

   
  Amy Hodson, flute  
       
  Selections from La Cage aux Folles Jerry Herman  
       
  Intermission  
       
  Saxophone Concerto in E-flat, Op. 109 Alexander Glazounov  
 

II. Andante
III. Allegro

   
  Robert Dickason, saxophone  
       
  Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen Gustav Mahler  
 

Ging heut Morgen über's Feld
Die zwei blauen Augen

   
  Kimberly Murray, mezzo-soprano  
       
  L'arlesienne Suite No. 2 Georges Bizet  
 

I. Pastorale
III. Menuetto
IV. Farandole

   
       

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  An Outdoor Overture Aaron Copland
(1900-1990)
 
 

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.


 
       
  Arias from Don Giovanni Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(1756-1791)
 
 

The operas of Mozart are, for the most part, light. Mozart considered them all light, even Don Giovanni, which he referred to as a dramma giocoso. Don Giovanni differs from the rest in treating deeply serious matters in a jocular way.

Conflict, in many of Mozart's operas, is usually between the social classes, with the aristocrats usually being outwitted by their social inferiors (a device which frequently got Mozart in trouble with his patrons!). In Don Giovanni, however, the conflict is between society as a whole and a moral threat to all its levels. Don Giovanni is the Italian version of the Spanish Don Juan; the story takes place in Seville.

Don Giovanni and his comic sidekick Leporello have just arrived in Seville, and while Leporello stands guard outside the mansion of the Commandant, Giovanni enters in an attempt to seduce Anna, the daughter of the Commandant. Anna chases him out, and in the ensuing commotion, Don Giovanni kills the Commandant. She and her fiancée, Ottavio, vow vengeance.

Donna Elvira recognizes Don Giovanni as the man who wooed her and abandoned her seven years before. She has mixed feelings about him, but she is determined to protect other women from his intrigues. The third woman in the story is Zerlina, who is a village girl about to marry Masetto. As soon as Giovanni sees her, he decides to add her to his list of conquests. He fails at this as he fails at every turn; he is nearly at the end of his rope. The climax comes when he defies Fate, who comes to his door in the form of the statue of the dead Commandant. The Commandant orders Don Giovanni to repent, which he arrogantly refuses to do, whereupon he is swallowed up by the flames of Hell.

Both of today's arias are sung by Zerlina. Out of context, the lyrics sound masochistic: Batti, batti, o bel Masetto, "Beat me, dear Masetto, beat your poor Zerlina"). Masetto has just accused her of being unfaithful, and she is defending herself. She admits she was briefly attracted to Don Giovanni, but nothing happened; he never touched her. The whole aria can be summarized as "Strike me dead if I'm lying!" It is sung in a coquettish fashion.

The second aria occurs after a confrontation between Masetto and Don Juan, when Masetto seeks sympathy from Zerlina by exaggerating the seriousness of his wounds. She says she has a cure for his pain and it is Love.


 
       
  Suite Modale for Flute Solo and String Orchestra Ernest Bloch
(1880-1959)
 
 

Bloch was born in Switzerland, the son of a Jewish dealer in clocks. His Jewishness was to have a profound effect on his development as an artist. Bloch showed his musical talent early, although there is no evidence that musicality was a family trait. His father considered music an unpromising career. In spite of this lack of encouragement, he was playing a simple flute by the age of six, and by the age of eleven had vowed to become a composer. The vow was a genuine one, written out and burned solemnly over a pyre of stones.

Bloch studied in Brussels (with Ysaye), and during that time fell under the influence of the music of Franck. Later influences were Richard Strauss and Claude Debussy, though his music shows few traces of these influences except in principle.

Bloch came to the United States in 1916, and except for eight years spent in the Alps, he settled in this country, where he taught (Roger Sessions) as well as composed.

He went through several periods, ranging from Post Romantic to Neo-Classic and Serialist, but his best-known period began around 1911 when he turned out a series of gripping works expressing the Jewish spirit. He developed an intense interest in what he called "...the complex, glowing, agitated Jewish soul, ... the freshness and naivety of the patriarchs; the violence of the prophetic Books; the Jew's savage love of justice; the despair of Ecclesiastes; the sorrow and immensity of Job; the sensuality of the Song of Songs.... It is all this that I endeavour to hear in myself, and transcribe into music: the sacred emotion of the race that slumbers far down in our soul." The anguish he poured out during this period can best be heard in the Rhapsody Schelomo, which has a distinctly oriental flavor.

The work we hear today is one of his last, written two years before his death. It has a very French quality, and there are only occasional flashes of Hebraic anguish, which would go un-noticed by a listener not familiar with his earlier music.

The work is in four movements, of which we hear the first, the third, and the fourth. They flow effortlessly into one another and, although the tempi vary considerably (often there is one measure of 2/4 dropped into a section of 3/4), the impression is of continuity.


 
       
  Selections from La Cage aux Folles Jerry Herman
(b. 1931)
(arr. Philip Lang)
 
 

The musical La Cage aux Folles was based on a French farce which also prompted a movie that became an international box-office hit, and several sequels which didn't. The risky subject (homosexuality and transvestitism) was handled sympathetically and with humor.

The success of the play, the movie, and then the musical is something of a mystery, in view of the fact that the plot invites complaint from all directions. Gays could complain about stereotyping, and straights could complain about any sympathetic treatment of homosexuality.

The principals are two aging theatrical people, one who owns a nightclub and the other, a female-impersonator. They run a club called La Cage aux Folles, and the have a "relationship." The club owner has a son who wishes to marry the daughter of a cabinet minister who is a real prig, and the problem is ton convince the prospective in-laws that the young man comes from a respectable home. The father tries to persuade his estranged wife to show up as the "happy" wife and mother, just long enough to make the right impression at a dinner party. She refuses. The female impersonator, who has brought up the son as if he were his own decides to pretend to be his mother. Unfortunately, the real mother has a change of heart and they both show up at the same time.

From this farcical situation comes a charming story, that manages to make audiences really care for the two gays, who for all the comic exaggeration are portrayed as deeply caring individuals. The son learns to accept those who love him without judging them, and the story has a happy resolution. Perhaps its success lies in the combination of light French froth, with the profoundly sad realization that people in such circumstances are rarely allowed an untroubled happiness.


 
       
  Saxophone Concerto in E-Flat, Op. 109
(Second and Third Movements)
Alexander Glazounov
(1856-1936)
 
 

Considering how successful Glazunov was in his own time, it is surprising how little his music is played today. He was a prolific orchestral composer, but only two of his eight symphonies are currently available on record.

He was, for many years, director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, and in that capacity influenced many young composers, notably Shostakovich, who writes very warmly of Glazunov, both for his erudition and his compassion. To quote Shostakovich, "Glazunov felt that no real harm would come to great and holy Art if some singer without a voice, the mother of children without a husband, was given a job in the chorus of an operetta company."

Glazunov was an authentic musical genius; his first symphony was performed in St. Petersburg, when he was only sixteen, and shortly after, in Germany, where it was praised by Liszt. Some critics believe that after his fourth symphony, he began to repeat himself. His output in later years dropped considerably, though the present work was written shortly before his death at eighty-one.

The saxophone is an unusual instrument to be found in "serious" music. Books on the instruments of the orchestra list works for saxophone by Berlioz, Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Delibes, d'Indy, Strauss, Mahler, Hindemith, and others less famous. Such lists testify to the rarity of the instrument; writers found it unnecessary to make lists of works written for, say, the horn, or the violin.

The saxophone was invented in the 1840s by the Belgian instrument-maker Adolphe Sax. It was intended to strengthen the brass band by providing a robust tone with wood-wind characteristics. It later became popular among jazz musicians. There is some evidence that Glazunov was influenced by jazz, or at least impressed by it, there is more Russian folk music in this concerto than there is jazz.

In this performance, we hear the second and third movements, marked Andante and Allegro.


 
       
  Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen Gustav Mahler
(1860-1911)
 
 

Mahler was a late Romantic composer of the Viennese School. He was a great admirer of Smetana, and a close friend of Bruckner. He showed his talent at an early age, graduating from the Vienna Conservatoire at the age of eighteen, with a number of prizes, both for piano performance and composition. He is well-known for his symphonies, of which he wrote nine numbered, plus extensive sketches for a tenth which was completed by others after his death. What was to have been his ninth symphony, he named Das Lied von der Erde, because of a superstition that a "ninth" would be his last, as it was for Beethoven and Bruckner. Ironically, he got over this notion, and numbered his next symphony the Ninth. It was to be his last complete symphony.

Some writers are highly critical of Mahler's symphonies, saying that they are little more than extended orchestral songs, lacking in Classical unity of structure. It is true that they are lyrical, and almost half of them involve choral parts and soloists. He combined the Viennese vocal line with Bohemian folk rhythms in much of his music.

Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen is usually translated as Songs of a Wayfarer. The song cycle was written in 1883, when Mahler was only twenty-three. He was acting as assistant conductor of the Kassel Opera, when he fell in love with Johanna Richter, a singer in the chorus. Her rejection of him was a serious blow, and his emotional response was this song cycle, based on poems Mahler had written to Johanna (with the exception of the first, taken from an earlier collection of German poems called Des Knaben Wunderhorn). The "Wanderer" is Mahler, himself, as he goes forth as an "exile of love." The songs were written before any of the symphonies and there are frequent references to them in the First Symphony, written some six years later. In this concert, we hear the second and fourth songs.


 
       
  L'Arlesienne Suite No. 2 Georges Bizet
(1838-1875)
 
 

This is the second of two suites derived from the incidental music to the play L'Arlesienne (The Girl from Arles), by Alphonse Daudet. The play itself was unsuccessful, having a run of fewer than three weeks. Bizet rescored the music into a suite of five pieces, and after his death, his friend Ernest Guirand arranged four more pieces to form a second suite, three movements of which we are to hear today. As in so many cases, the "incidental" music has outlived the play to which it had been considered secondary.

The first movement of the second suite is titled Pastorale. It is slow and rhythmic in the manner of a barcarolle. This "rowing" pace is broken by a faster section, decidedly Spanish in flavor, after which the music returns to its previous mood.

The second movement, Intermezzo, is omitted from today's performance, and we move to the third movement, a stately and dignified Menuetto. The first and last sections of the movement are given to harp and solo flute, with a saxophone counterpoint near the end. The middle section consists of short, punctuated chords for full orchestra.

The last movement, Farandole, returns to the opening theme of the Prelude to the first suite, a stately theme, now treated in canonic fashion. Then the flute leads us into a lively dance, after which, the two themes are played simultaneously to the end.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin
Linda Kanzawa Hare, Concertmaster
Rosemary Manifold *
Martha Barker
Stephanie Beery +^
Amanda Catron
Joyce Dubach
Matthew N. Hendryx
Tracy A. Knechel +
Sandra Neel
Moo Il Rhee
Angela Rogers
Vernon Stinebaugh
Pat Weybright +

Viola
Annete Hopkins *
Joyce Gouwens
Naida MacDermid

Cello
Wallace Dubach *
Jennifer Barnhart +
Betty Bueker
Joshua Stevenson
Lisa White +

Bass
Randy Gratz *
Darrel Fiene
George Scheerer

Piccolo
Suzy Oaks +

Flute
Amy Hodson *+
Jennifer Wallace +

Oboe
Lisa Kinsey *+^
Kathleen Andersen
English Horn
Michael Beery

Clarinet
Robyn Jones *
Jane Grandstaff

Bassoon
Takashi Yamano *
Donna Russell

Bass Clarinet
LeAnn Compton +

Horn
Nancy A. Bremer * (co-)
Bryan L. Gibson * (co-)
Josh Eikenberry
John Higgins

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Mike Clark
Keith Whitford

Trombone
D. Larry Dockter *
Jon Hartman +
Scott Hippensteel

Timpani
Tana Tinkey

Percussion
Keith A. Roberts +
Lori Caskey +

Harp
Martha Warren

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes MSS Scholarship recipient
       
 
Robert Dickason is a senior applied music major at Manchester College. He has for two years been the recipient of a music department scholarship. During his four years at Manchester, Robert has been a member of the Concert Band, A Cappella Choir, Jazz Ensemble, and has previously played with the Manchester Symphony Orchestra. He has also studied saxophone with Robert Jones. He has been very active on campus with such activities as Jazz Director at WBKE and President of Habitat for Humanity. Robert is from Kalamazoo, Michigan, and his parents are David and Lois Dickason.
Amy Hodson is a senior biology-chemistry major at Manchester College. She is a four-year recipient of the Manchester Symphony Society Scholarship and has held the position of principal flutist in the orchestra for two years. She studies flute with Robert Jones and presented a senior flute recital this spring. She is from Kettering, Ohio, and graduated from Kettering Fairmont High School. During her high school career, Amy participated in the Southern Ohio Regional Youth Orchestra. Her parents are Michael and Barbara Hodson of Troy, Ohio.
Kimberly Murray is a junior applied music major at Manchester College. She is a member of the A Cappella Choir and the Entertainers, and has performed solos with the Jazz Band and Concert Band this year. Kim was awarded a music department scholarship for the current academic year. She also presented a full junior recital. Kim has attended many festivals including the MENC All-Eastern Chorus in Boston. She has studied voice with Beverly Rinaldi and is currently studying with Dr. John Planer. Kim's parents are Andy and Terry Murray of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.
Deanna Beth Myers is a Manchester College junior, majoring in music education. She has been a soloist with the Manchester Choral Society and in 1990 was a winner in the student soloist competition and performed as piano soloist with the MSO. Deanna Beth has been a member of the A Cappella, Entertainers, Concert Band and serves accompanist for choral ensembles. She has been the recipient of music department scholarships and studies voice with Dr. Jerry Yonkman. Deanna Beth is from New Paris, Indiana, and her parents are Kary and Joan Myers.