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Concert Program Cover

Third Concert of the 57th Season

Family Concert

Sunday, March 10th, 1996
Cordier Auditorium
Robert Jones, Conductor

  The January February March Don Gillis  
  Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46 Edvard Grieg  

Morning Mood
The Death of Ǻse
Anitra's Dance
In the Hall of the Mountain King

  Highlights from Show Boat Jerome Kern  

Ol' Man River
Why Do I Love You?
You Are Love
Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man
Make Believe

  The Little Dragon Scott Wheeler  
  A Tales & Scales Musictelling Work
Story by Jay O'Callahan, music by Scott Wheeler

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  The January February March Don Gillis

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.

  Peer Gynt, Suite No. 1, Op. 46 Edvard Grieg

Grieg was an avowed nationalist. He was very specific about it. He did not write Scandinavian music; he wrote Norwegian music! Those pieces which do not attest to their Norwegianness by their names, Norwegian Peasant March, Norwegian Bridal Procession, do so by their tunes.

He was a friend of writers such as Björnson and Ibsen, and wrote incidental music to the latter's Peer Gynt. He wrote some twenty-three separate numbers for Peer Gynt, and the music was so popular, he was persuaded to select some for a suite. Then, he selected more for a second suite. Charming rogues, or anti-heroes such as Ruy Blas, Till Eulenspiegel, and Háry János have served as inspiration for many composers, from Verdi and Strauss, to Kódaly. Peer Gynt was such a rogue.

Grieg has been praised as a composer capable of evoking through music precisely the image desired... a composer who vindicated the principles of Smetana, champion of "program music." Program notes concerning the first movement, Morning Mood, from an old RCA Victor recording read as follows:

"Morning" brings into the concert hall the pine-scented freshness of Northern woods and lakes and fields. While not precisely programmatic or imitative of nature, there are power suggestions of bird-song and of dawning, the pale and then intensifying colors of early morn, the clear airs and skies of the day's hours waking across a Scandinavian landscape.

This illustrates the risk of an annotator's wading through a poetic swamp without a map. Grieg had intended the piece to evoke the sunrise over the Moroccan desert!

The second movement, The Death of Ase, refers to the death of Peer's mother, who waited many years for her sone to return from his wanderings.

The third movement, Anitra's Dance, like the first, reflects the Romantic obsession with far-off places, and exotic sounds. It is a sensuous dance of the Orient.

The final movement returns us to Norway where Peer is beset by mountain trolls, and makes such a clamor that the mountain comes tumbling down on the trolls and saves him.

The suite well illustrates the paradox of 19th Century thinking: nationalism on the one hand, and exoticism on the other; picqresque adventures to stir us and punishment to chasten us.

  Selections from Show Boat Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Few American musicals have had the staying power of Show Boat. It opened in New York in 1927, was revived in 1932, 1946, and again in 1954. Film versions were made in 1929, 1936, and 1951. Songs such as Ol' Man River remain staples of the concert stage. The work is considered a milestone in American theatre as perhaps the first American musical play, although its producers described it as a musical comedy.

Show Boat was based on a novel by Edna Ferber, who didn't think it suitable for musical treatment, but Kern persuaded her that he had in mind a totally new treatment, and she agreed to the adaptation. Hammerstein jumped at the chance to work with Kern on the project, because they both wanted to take the musical comedy genre in a new direction. The subject was daring for any period in American history, but very daring for 1927 ... an interracial love affair. Such serious content, coupled with well-meshed music and lyrics, and a verismo style of set design brought the American musical closer to opera than it had ever been before. Indeed, in 1954 it was produced by the New York City Opera. Kern rescored the music for symphony orchestra, and as Scenario it was performed by the Cleveland Orchestra under Artur Rodzinski.

Ol' Man River was described by Oscar Hammerstein as follows: "Here is a song sung by a character who is a rugged and untutored philosopher. It is a song of resignation with a protest implied." Edna Ferber wrote about it as follows: "...the music mounted, mounted, and I give you my word my hair stood on end, the tears came to my eyes, and I breathed like a heroine in a melodrama. This was great music. This was music that would outlast Jerome Kern's day and mine." How right she was!

Bill was written for a previous show, but was not used because its dark mood wasn't suitable for a comedy. The words were rewritten, and the song fitted perfectly into Show Boat.

Selections heard today include:

Ol' Man River
Why Do I Love You?
You Are Love
Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man
Make Believe

  The Little Dragon Music by Scott Wheeler
Story by Jay O'Callahan

Scott Wheeler received his Ph.D. and M.F.A. from Brandeis University, and his B.A. from Amherst College. He has written for theater, film, opera, dance, and concert halls. He specializes in music for children. His newest work is Louise -- The Rhinoceros Who Was Born to Dance, commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra. His music has been recorded on GM Recordings, Northeastern Records, and CRI.

He is the recipient of such distinguished honors as: American Academy Goddard-Freeman Fellowship; Certificate of Merit, National Opera Association; NEW Fellowship; Guggenheim Fellowship; Massachusetts Artist Foundation; Koussevitzky Foundation orchestral commission; Jerome Foundation commission, and the Fromm Foundation. He has received awards from Tanglewood, MacDowell Colony, Wellesley Composers Conference, Delius Competition and ASCAP. He is currently the Artistic Director of Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble, and assistant professor at Emerson College. He resides in Boston with his wife and daughters.

The Little Dragon is a chamber piece with narrator and a good deal of stage action. It is a genre that is hard to categorize. In addition to the usual orchestra, there are featured instruments (horn, flute, alto saxophone, and bass trombone), and a large percussion section (timpani, vibraphone, tamtam, tomtoms, bongos, maracas, claves, suspended cymbals, tambourine, triangle, bicycle horn, bass drum, wood blocks, cowbell, snare-drum, ratchet, and wind chimes.)

The "characters" are the Narrator/King, Elizabeth, Monsiuer LaFlute/Count, The Little Dragon, and the Jailer


Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

Linda Kanzawa, Concertmaster
Rosemary Manifold *
Dessie Arnold
Matt Baker +^
Martha Barker
Joyce Dubach
Sherry Gajewski
Amy Grush
Matthew N. Hendryx +
Rod Morrison
David Neal
Margaret A. Piety
Moo Il Rhee

Naida MacDermid *
Bethany Bruss
Gordon Collins

Caroline Eddy *
Anne Gratz
Polly Hoover +^
Kelly Marquis
Tony Spahr
Cort Stevens +^
Preston Thomas +^

Randy Gratz *
Darrel Fiene
George Scheerer

Madalyn Metzger +^

Kathy Urbani *
Barbi Pyrah
Sue Hibma

Rita Kimberley *
George Donner
Lila D. Hammer *
Jane Grandstaff

Donna Russell * (co-)
Erich Zummack * (co-)

Nancy A. Bremer *
Bryan Gibson
Jennifer J. Double +^
Christine McGavic

Steven Hammer *
Scott D. Steenburg +^
Richard Pepple

Larry Dockter *
Jonathan Hartman
Stephen Berkebile +

William DeWitt

Mark Sternberg +

Terry Vaughan
David Mendenhall

Robin Gratz

Allison Perkins

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes MSS Scholarship recipient
Tales & ScalesTales & Scales, based in Evansville, Indiana, was founded in 1986 to fulfill a need for quality performing arts programming for children and family audiences. In a mission to ignite imaginations through the performing arts, the musicians of Tales & Scales create, without the aid of costumes or sets, a combination of music and movement built around stories, in a style of performance the group terms "musictelling."

Each year since its inception, working in collaboration with emerging composers, writers, and theater directors, Tales & Scales creates a new work to add to its body of musictelling productions. The troupe of four classically-trained musicians travels the country, giving over 250 performances each year in schools, performing arts centers, and with symphony orchestras. Tales & Scales has brought its "musictelling" to the stages of the Detroit Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, at the Smithsonian Institution's Discovery Theater and Clowes Memorial Hall as well as to over 200,000 children and families each year in performances across the nation. Tales & Scales had been featured in National Public Radio's Morning Edition and Talk of the Nation as well as several national publications.

In addition to its performances, Tales & Scales works with the nation's educators and students, from the primary grades to the university level, through Tales & Scales workshops designed to partner the arts with education and thus help build future audiences for the performing arts.