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Concert Program Cover

Third Concert of the 54th Season

 

Sunday, March 14th, 1993
Cordier Auditorium
Robert Jones, Conductor

  Antiphony for Winds Robert Ward  
       
  Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  
 

I. Allegro
II. Larghetto
III. Allegretto

   
  Debora E. DeWitt, piano  
       
  Intermission  
       
  Hornpipe Robert S. Frost  
  With participants from the
Wabash Valley String Festival
 
       
  Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 ("Unfinished") Franz Schubert  
 

I. Allegro moderato
II. Andante con moto

   
       
  The January February March Don Gillis  
       

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  Antiphony for Winds Robert Ward
(b. 1917)
 
 

Robert Ward was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the 13th of September, 1917. he studied first at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., with Howard Hanson and Bernard Rogers, then at Juilliard with Frederick Jacobi, and finally with Aaron Copland. It is no surprise, then, that his music is tonal, rhythmic, and with a distinctly American flavor.

Ward was a band leader during the Second World War, an experience which prompted him to write many works for band in addition to five symphonies, three operas, a piano concerto, a string quartet, and many short orchestral works and songs. His opera The Crucible won a Pulitzer prize. he was a "main stream" composer during the '50s, and therefore remains popular with audiences at a time when critics have "moved on."

Antiphony for Winds was written for the Youth Symphony of Kansas City. "Antiphony," of course, implies a counter play between two musical forces. In this case, the wood-winds alternate with the brass instruments, producing an effect much beloved by producers of stereo recordings, and harking back to the works of early composers like the Gabrielis of sixteenth century Venice.

Speaking about his own work, Ward says:

There is, I suppose, some risk in declaring a work "well sounding," particularly since contemporary music is more often associated with cacophony. On the other hand, whatever else critics or listeners may have said about my music, few have ever denied me the ability to evoke what are generally pleasant sounds from the orchestra.

Speaking about Ward's work in general, critic Paul Snook says:

...this is music of such sweep and openness and buoyancy that only an American could have written it. The absence of these qualities from much of today's music, though undeniably a reflection of the more despairing times we live in, is nonetheless missed by many of us. It is refreshing to hear this invigorating note reaffirmed in the music of Robert Ward.


 
       
  Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(1756-1791)
 
 

According to Mozart's own records, he completed this piano concerto on the 24th of March, 1786. His last previous entry recorded the completion of the duet and aria of Idomeneo on March 10. We may reasonably assume, therefore, that the concerto was written in two weeks, a feat remarkable enough, even if we didn't know that he was composing The Marriage of Figaro at the same time!

Many critics tell us that this concerto is the greatest of all his piano concerti, and ranks with his greatest symphonies, like the fortieth and the forty-first. It is, indeed, a dramatic and inventive piece. It's interesting that twentieth-century critics lavish special praise on those works by Mozart and Haydn which are written in the minor key. Although it was the twentieth-century that spawned atonal music, our critics seem to be closet Romantics. They believe the minor key to be more soul-stirring. It is especially interesting when one considers that Mozart rarely used the minor key. Of his twenty-seven piano concerti, only two were in the minor mode. In his own time, the ones in the major key appear to have been the most popular.

The twenty-fourth concerto has been described (by Alfred Einstein) as "Beethovenish," not only for its obvious robustness, and (for the period) large orchestral forces, but also because Beethoven, himself, expressed admiration for it, and alluded to it in his own C Minor Concerto, Op. 37.

The first movement is a marvel or architecture, encompassing as it does a Dionysian emotional power, confined within an Apollonian formal design. This accommodation of opposites was not achieved without struggle. Unlike Beethoven, who sketched out his compositions, and worked them over repeatedly until he was satisfied, Mozart is famous for composing in his head, and once satisfied, simply writing it out. But in this case, as is apparent in the autograph of the score, he worried over this movement, writing it and rewriting it.

In this period it was common to begin a concerto with an orchestral introduction, but not so common to wait almost one hundred measures before the entry of the solo instrument. The seriousness of the work is signaled from the start by the somber C minor key. The drama unfolds with some surprising key shifts, and the movement ends with a solution already tried twelve years before in Mozart's Piano Sonata in C minor.

The second movement provides a distinct contrast to the first. Some critics seem to be embarrassed by the theme of the second movement which starts all right, but has a whimpy finish. Mozart rubs our nosees in it by repeating it not fewer than five times. The four Ds and an E-flat that finish the phrase seem to cheapen it and remind me of an Eric Satie parody. But Mozart had an impish sense of humor, and often stuck his neck out and then saved himself by his genius. The first three bars of the phrase sound delicate, but those five notes tacked on the end shock one into an I-can't-believe-he-did-that reaction. And then Mozart seems to say, "Calm yourselves, I'll fix it," and he proceeds to do so.

The final movement is a set of variations on a theme. There are eight variations in all, with many changes of key, and much chromaticism. The eighth variation begins with a long stretch of solo piano, now in six-eight time, suggesting a lively Viennese dance.


 
       
  Symphony No. 8 in B minor ("The Unfinished") Franz Schubert
(1797-1828)
 
 

Schubert, like Beethoven, is considered by many to be a "transitional" figure, bridging the Classical and Romantic periods. The first six symphonies, written before Schubert was twenty-one, are in the Classical style, while the 8th and 9th are much more Romantic. It is the Romantic Schubert that is most admired by the musical public.

Interestingly, it is not simply that at a certain age he developed into a Romantic composer, because his "Classical" symphonies were still being written at a time when he had long since perfected the Romantic song cycle. A likely explanation is that he virtually originated the German art song, better known as a Lied (Lieder in the plural), and had no models to emulate. The symphony, on the other hand, had been developed as a classical form by Mozart and Haydn, and the youthful Schubert must have been hesitant about risking innovation in a form so well established by the masters. By the 1820s, Schubert had gained the confidence to composer more than "charming" symphonies, and produced the marvelous Eighth (Unfinished) and Ninth (The Great).

"Symphonies" are customarily in four movements. Schubert completed only two movements of this symphony, and began a third, which he abandoned. A great deal of speculation has gone into the question of why he didn't finish the Eighth. He had just been honored by a musical society, and as a token of his gratitude, offered to send them a symphony. It took him five months to reply to the honor, and it was at a time of great personal despair. Apparently, he finally sent what he had, two movements and part of a third, to the music director of the society, who was a friend of his, and (rather than risk insulting the society) the friend tactfully put the incomplete work in a drawer and forgot about it. The work wasn't performed until over forty years later. Even in its incomplete form, it is considered a masterpiece of dramatic invention.


 
       
  The January February March Don Gillis
(1912-1978)
 
 

Don Gillis was born in Cameron, Missouri. He was trained mostly in Texas, at Texas Christian University, and at North Texas State University. He worked in Chicago for NBC radio, and then for a number of years at NBC in New York. When Toscanini retired, Gillis headed efforts to save the orchestra, forming the Symphony of the Air, which continued to broadcast for several more years from Toscanini's favorite studio, 8-A.

Gillis was greatly involved in music education. From 1958 to 1961 he was vice-president of the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan. During his tenure as chairman of the music department at Southern Methodist, and later at Dallas Baptist Colleges, he worked hard to promote student composition, partucarly operas.

Gillis' music is eclectic and conservative. It sounds very American, bearing a strong resemblance to that of Aaron Copland, and incorporating elements of popular and American folk music. Unlike Copland, who wrote serious music with a touch of humor, Gillis wrote humorous music with a touch of seriousness. A light touch!

"Whimsical" is the word for Gillis. He wrote such pieces as The Woolyworm, and Thoughts Provoked on Becoming a Prospective Papa. His sense of whimsy is perhaps most clearly expressed in the Symphony No. 5 1/2, subtitled "A Symphony for Fun," which has movements with such designations as "Scherzophrenia," and "Perpetual Emotion." He was a great punster, and might be amused to know that some of his listeners consider his January February March engaging, but rather dated.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin
Linda U. Kanzawa, Concertmaster
Rosemary Manifold *
Martha Barker
Stephanie Beery +^
Joyce Dubach
Matthew Hendryx
Sandra Neel
Ilona Orban
Heidi Prussing
Moo Il Rhee
Angela Rogers
Dinah A. Smith
Vernon Stinebaugh
Patrick Weybright +

Viola
Annete Hopkins *
Joyce Gouwens
Naida MacDermid
Deb Steiner +

Cello
Joe Kalisman *
Betty Bueker
Polly Hoover +^
Elizabeth Sluder
Cort Stevens +^
Joshua Stevenson
Lisa White +

Bass
Randy Gratz *
Darrel Fiene
George Scheerer

Piccolo
Christine Russell

Flute
Kathy Urbani *
Andrea L. Rediger
Oboe
Page Curry *
Monty Bedford

English Horn
Monty Bedford

Clarinet
Lila D. Hammer *
Robyn Jones

Bass Clarinet
Kris Bachman

Bassoon
Donna Russell *
Takashi Yamano

Horn
Nancy A. Bremer * (co-)
Bryan L. Gibson * (co-)
Josh Eikenberry
Chris Sprunger

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Mike Clark
Mark Angelos

Trombone
D. Larry Dockter *
Rick Granlund
Scott Hippensteel

Timpani/Percussion
Keith Roberts +
David Mendenhall
Terry Vaughan

Tuba
William DeWitt

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes MSS Scholarship recipient
       
 
Debora DewittDebora DeWitt, in her second year as Assistant Professor of Music at Manchester College, is a native of Michigan. She earned the Master of Music degree in piano performance while studying with Albertine Votapek. She also studied with Deborah Moriarty, and has been coached by Ralph Votapek and Dai Uk Lee. Her performances include many solo and duo-piano recitals in Michigan and Indiana, and a performance at the Kalamazoo Bach Festival. Her dual undergraduate degree is from Calvin College in piano performance and composition.

Deborah is also an accomplished composer and is finishing her Ph.D. in composition from Michigan State University. As a pianist and composer, she has dedicated herself to the performance of compositions not only from the standard repertoire, but also from the avant-garde literature. She has premiered several compositions for solo piano, and as a chamber musician has performed with the Michigan State University New Music Ensemble and the MSU Percussion Ensemble.

Prior to her appointment at Manchester College, Debora taught music theory and electronic music at Iowa State University and music theory at Michigan State University. Ms. DeWitt is a member of the Music Teachers National Association and serves on the Executive Board for the Indiana Music Teachers Association. She resides in North Manchester with her husband and two children.
A special welcome to the students from the Wabash Valley String Festival. These students participated in the String Festival on Saturday, March 13, and we give them special recognition today as they join us in performing the "Hornpipe."