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Concert Program Cover

First Concert of the 60th Season

 

Sunday, October 25th, 1998
Cordier Auditorium
Robert Jones, Conductor

  Fanfare for Manchester Debora DeWitt  
       
  Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18 Sergei Rachmaninov  
 

I. Moderato
II. Adagio sostenuto
III. Allegro scherzando

 
  Jodie DeSalvo, piano  
       
  Intermission  
       
  Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88 Antonin Dvořák  
 

I. Allegro con brio
II. Adagio
III. Allegro grazioso
IV. Allegro ma non troppo

 
       
 

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

 
  Fanfare for Manchester
(notes by the composer)
Debora DeWitt
(b. 1961)
 
 

For this work which honors the Manchester Symphony Orchestra, I really wanted to pull together several ideas into one celebratory work. First of all, I wanted to celebrate the opening of MSO's 60th Season - an accomplishment that deserves jubilation! A Fanfare announcing the season with a flourish of celebration seemed appropriate. Second, I wanted to honor Manchester College, which has supported the Orchestra throughout the years. I chose to honor the College by incorporating a hymn of peace throughout the work. And so, all of the themes used in this work are loosely based on the hymn "We are people of God's peace" which uses the tune Gaudeamus Pariter.

The work begins with whispers of the Fanfare in the winds, accompanied by a pedal in the low strings and timpani. The fanfare in full form begins in the trumpets, of course, then moves to the strings, and returns in the trumpets. The middle section of the work consists of a short fughetta beginning in the cellos and bassoon. The subject moves through different combinations of instruments of the orchestra and finally returns to the opening fanfare. This time, however, the fanfare is set more like a hymn. You'll hear fragments of the hymn "We are people of God's peace" in the strings and winds as it moves antiphonally in and out of the fanfare in the brass. The piece ends with a return to the celebratory nature of the Fanfare as it appears at the beginning of the piece.


 
       
  Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18 Sergei Rachmaninov
(1873-1943)
 
 

Modern critics have not been kind to Rachmaninov. For one thing, he was a Romantic. One is not supposed to write Romantic music in the twentieth century. And, as if that weren't bad enough, he wasn't even a conservative Romantic, so his music, besides being morbid and pessimistic, lacks the formal structure that makes a good bit of Tschaikovsky acceptable to the modern sophisticate. Poor Rachmaninov fell between two stools; the Soviets banned his music for being "decadent," while avant-garde European and American critics condemned it for not being "modern" enough.

The charge that his music was morbid and pessimistic is not without foundation. There is something very Russian about Rachmaninov's tendency to melancholy, and from early childhood, he was concerned with issues of the sad and the happy. He lost two sisters before he was twelve, which did little to alleviate his sense of tragedy. Although he was capable of the most sublime of melodies, there is almost always a disturbing undercurrent - a sense of foreboding in his music. He died in California, shortly after attaining American citizenship.

The second piano concerto was the first major work to be successful after he recovered from a nervous breakdown caused, in part, by the failure of his first symphony (owing largely to a poor performance). He was so demoralized by this failure that he wrote nothing of consequence until after submitting himself to the treatment of a Dr. Dahl, who introduced Rachmaninov to the notion of auto-suggestion. This led to the popular fallacy that the concerto was written under hypnosis.

Though his confidence was restored by his treatment, he was shaken by the adverse criticism of an acquaintance, almost on the eve of the premiere of the work. At issue was the first theme of the first movement, which Rachmaninov feared would be thought of as merely an introduction. After much agonizing, he let the work stand as it was, and it went on to be his most popular concerto.

While it is true that Rachmaninov was of a mournful nature, he did have a ready wit. He was a superb pianist who had little patience with performers who seemed ill prepared. Once, he was performing a piano-violin concert in New York, with the renowned Fritz Kreisler, who suddenly lost his place and whispered to Rachmaninov, "Where are we?" Without missing a beat, Rachmaninov replied, "Carnegie Hall."

I. Moderato. The movement begins dramatically, with eight chords of the piano going from pianissimo to fortissimo, leading to the first subject (which we are NOT to mistake for a mere introduction!). Many will be familiar with the second subject, which was long ago used as a popular song in a film, beginning, "I will give you music..."

II. Adagio sostenuto. The slow movement has another melody which will be recognized by some of the younger members of the audience as the theme used a few years ago by a pop-rock star who declined to credit Rachmaninov. This star shall remain nameless.

III. Allegro scherzando. The principal theme of the finale is the best known of all. As a popular song, it became known as "Full Moon and Empty Arms." Of particular note is the fugato section with successive entries by horn and trumpet, and the beautiful integration of those entries with the piano part. The second part of the principal theme acts as a unifying device by being closely related to the second theme of the first movement.

A critic has said (remarking on what he took to be lack of structure) that this concerto is little more than a series of romantic songs. But what singing!


 
       
  Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88 Antonin Dvořák
(1841-1904)
 
 

Musically, Dvořák is the heir to Schubert; emotionally, the heir to Smetana. He had Schubert's natural gift of lyricism, and he tried to follow Smetana as a Czech nationalist. He failed in his attempt to develop as an opera composer, never matching Smetana's success in this field, but many think he outdistanced his model as far as musical nationalism is concerned.

Dvořák was born in Vlatava, a small village where his father was an inn-keeper. His music, with its frequent references to peasant dances and folk tunes, may have been colored by his exposure at an early age to the small town bands he heard at his father's inn.

He became a very accomplished violinist, and eventually won a post in the Czech National Theatre Orchestra as violist. He played there for several years under the baton of Bedřich Smetana. He wrote a number of string quartets and became very adept at writing for massed strings, an important element in developing orchestral tone.

There is a straightforward, down-to-earth quality about Dvořák and his music. He loved birds, his garden, the Church, and locomotives (!). He wrote the Ninth Symphony when he was in New York and, when he was homesick, would travel over an hour to get to a point from which he could watch the express trains go by. His love of the Church was so heartfelt that he was very disappointed to discover that his great friend and patron, Brahms, did not share his devotion. "Such a man, such a soul - and he doesn't believe in anything!"

Critics are divided in their opinions of Dvořák's orchestration. Some think there is evidence in his music that he spent too much time listening to village bands ... that he tried too hard to be Czech. Others believe he was self-indulgent, that he refused to revise or to edit. "What I have written, I have written," he once remarked. However, there is much evidence to the contrary. The final movement of the G major symphony was revised at least nine times. The very numbering of the symphonies bears witness to his self-critical nature.

The Eighth Symphony in G major used to be called the Fourth. The familiar New World Symphony, known to many of us as the Fifth, is now called the Ninth. This is because Dvořák was dissatisfied with his first four symphonies and withdrew them. It was a terrible thing to live in the shadow of Beethoven, so many composers (including Brahms) waited until they were quite mature before venturing to write their first symphonies. Dvořák dared to start early, but repented.

The Eighth has four movements. The first is marked Allegro con brio, and begins with a slow, plaintive melody which soon turns brighter with the flute doing a familiar "bird song." I say familiar because Dvořák loved birds and frequently imitated them in his music. We have the introduction sounding rather ecclesiastic, followed by the light tune played by the flute, a contrast which prompted one critic to write that Dvořák was "at first in church and then in his garden."

The second movement, Adagio, is considered "a delight" or "an embarrassment," depending on the critic. This is the movement which most recalls the "village band." There are at least two references to the use of a cimbalom in this movement, but there is no indication of it in the score. The cimbalom is a stringed instrument played with mallets, and common to Hungary, Romania, and Czechoslovakia. It is a folk instrument, and not found in many serious works. Grove's musical dictionary simply comments that the descenging sixths of the middle section of this movement recall the sound of the cimbalom. Other sources refer to the playing of the cimbalom. It is possible that early performances included this folk instrument, but in the face of criticism that it lowered the tone of the piece, Dvořák removed it from the instrumentation. If that is the case, it is further refutation of the allegation that Dvořák resisted editing or revision.

The third movement, Allegretto grazioso, is even more folk-like than the adagio. It is in waltz-time, and the theme is taken from an unsuccessful opera, The Strong Heads, or The Pig-Headed Peasants, depending on the translation. It is hard to avoid cliché when writing of this section. The phrases "singing strings," and "soaring melody" come naturally to mind. Village dancing breaks out near the end, in 2/4 time, molto vivace. Brahms had used the same device in the third movement of his D major symphony.

The fourth movement, Allegro ma non troppo, is a theme and variations. It begins with a trumpet fanfare, and is followed by rich, dark strings. The middle section has an interesting series of downward modulations. There are a number of Wagnerian touches in this movement. The theme upon which these variations are based is related to the flute tune in the first movement, thus lending a unifying quality to the work.

Some have said that all of Dvořák's symphonies collectively represent a single pastoral symphony, a life-long song in praise of Nature, and the landscape of Bohemia. If any one symphony must be singled out to play that role, it might well be the Eighth.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin
Linda Kanzawa Ard, Concertmaster
Dessie Arnold *
Martha Barker
Christina Beyer +^
Amy Bixler +
Beth Chiarenza
Jaime Eller +^
Sherry Gajewski
Matt Hendryx
Rosemary Manifold
Lenelle Morse
Margaret Piety
Rebekah Yoder +^

Viola
Naida MacDermid *
Gordon Collins
Peter Collins
Eric Stalter +^

Cello
Tim Spahr *
Unhee Do
Joseph Kalisman
Joy Struble
Preston Thomas +^

Bass
Randy Gratz *
Darrel Fiene
George Scheerer

Piccolo
Madalyn Metzger +^

Flute
Kathy Urbani *
Barbi Pyrah
Julie Tilsy +
Oboe
Rita Kimberley *
George Donner

English Horn
Rita Kimberley

Clarinet
Lila D. Hammer *
Jane Grandstaff

Bassoon
Erich Zummack *
Michael Trentacosti

Horn
Nancy A. Bremer *
Bryan Gibson
Morgan Owen
John Morse

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Richard Pepple (asst.)
Shawn Sollenberger +^

Trombone
Jon Hartman * (co-)
Jeremy Dawkins *+^ (co-)
Larry Dockter

Timpani
David Mendenhall

Percussion
David Mendenhall
David Robbins

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes MSS Scholarship recipient
       
 
Jodie DeSalvoJodie DeSalvo is an exciting, young pianist capturing international attention as a dynamic and versatile artist noted for her strong, polished technique, superb musicianship, and commanding powers of communication.

Born in Connecticut, Ms. DeSalvo made her Carnegie Hall debut as winner of the Artists' International Competition to such unanimous acclaim that she returned the following season for a command performance at New York's Merkin Concert Hall. Her subsequent recitals throughout the United States and Europe have been eloquently praised for their diverse programming and outstanding execution. Her commitment to women in music has especially made her a champion in the works of Clara Schumann, Amy Beach, Fanny Mendelssohn, and Ellen Taffe Zwilich.

This past season, Ms. DeSalvo has been guest artist with numerous orchestras, including her debut with the famed Orchestre de la Suisse Romanade. She most recently gave the world premiere in the Edward Collins Concerto at the Birch Creek Summer Music Festival, and this season will appear as soloist for several Gershwin programs throughout the country honoring the centennial anniversary of the composer's birth.

Ms. DeSalvo was recently lauded for stepping in at the last moment for an ailing Richard Fields to perform the world premiere of Heinrich Stutermeister's "Concertino" with the Chicago Sinfonietta at Orchestra Hall. Her virtuosic performance led the Chicago Tribune to comment, "Kudos to DeSalvo for not only rescuing a world premiere, but for taking on such a Herculean task and handling it so effortlessly!" She returned as soloist with the Chicago Sinfonietta at the Festival de Musica de Canarias in the Canary Islands, and also on a three week tour of Europe.

A frequent guest artist at such outstanging festivals as Chautauqua, Brevard, Taos, and Birch Creek, Ms. DeSalvo has been heard on National Public Radio throughout the world. She has been awarded grants from the Indiana Commission on the Arts, Connecticut Commission on the Arts, Arts United, and the Simone Belsky Foundation as well as being a top prize winner in the Young keyboard Artists' Association Competition, Artists' International, American Music Competition, and the National Federation of Music Clubs Competition.

Ms. DeSalvo has recorded for both the Millennium label and for Koch Discover International. A graduate of both the Manhatten School of Music and the Hartt School of Music. Ms. DeSalvo currently resides in Florida where she is on the adjunct faculty at the Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton.
Debora DewittDebora DeWitt, a member of the music faculty at Manchester College since 1991, has written works for electronic and computer media, chamber orchestra, chamber ensemble, choral ensemble, and voice and piano. Debora's works have been performed throughout Michigan and Indiana, as well as in Hong Kong. In 1995 she was invited to The Chinese University of Hong Kong to oversee the premiere of her vocal composition, Song Cycle for a Bereaved Mother, a work based on a poem written by '48 MC alumnus, Dr. Wu Ningkun. She has received awards for her work in composition, including winner of the 1996 IMTA Composition Commission contest. Her PH.D. in music composition is from Michigan State University where she studied with Mark Sullivan and Jere Hutcheson.

She is also an accomplished pianist and performs frequently throughout Indiana and Michigan. Her M.M. in piano performance is also from Michigan State University. Her primary teachers in piano were Albertine Votapek and Deborah Moriarty.

Debora lives in Silver Lake, Indiana, with her husband, Bill, a tubist in the MSO and Manager of Information Systems at Heckman Bindery. Their two oldest children are involved in music and dance in the community. Their three-year-old son, Gregory, enjoys listening to music.