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Concert Program Cover

Third Concert of the 60th Season

A World Premiere

Sunday, March 7th, 1999
Cordier Auditorium
Robert Jones, Conductor

  Orchestral Highlights from Show Boat Jerome Kern  
  Suite from The River Virgil Thomson  

The Old South
Industrial Expansion in the Mississippi Valley
Soil Erosion and Floods

  Three Pieces for Orchestra Debora DeWitt  

Sighs and Meditations

  World Premiere performance  
  Vocal Highlights from Show Boat Jerome Kern / Oscar Hammerstein II  

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

  Carol Streator, soprano
William White, baritone

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  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!

Today we hear a medley of themes from Show Boat played by the orchestra. Later we shall hear some of these selections sung.

Selections heard today include:

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

  Suite from The River Virgil Thomson

Virgil Thomson is an American composer...not just by birth, but by conviction. There are successful American composers of international cast, people such as Wallingford Riegger and Roger Sessions, who are to American music what Walter Gropius and Philip Johnson are to American architecture. They represent a kind of musical Bauhaus, showing perhaps an American energy, but an international style. Thomson, on the other hand, put an American stamp on his music.

Like Aaron Copland, Thomson studied in Paris with the famous Nadia Boulanger. He was soon a regular visitor to the salon of the American expatriate poet Gertrude Stein, who served as his librettist for some of his most memorable music.

Thomson's earlier experience as organist and choir director reveals itself in his penchant for hymn-tunes and modal relationships. Apart from Nadia Boulanger, his strongest musical influence was that of the Frenchman, Erik Satie, from whom he learned the virtue of simplicity.

Like Copland, Thomson wrote for the films. He considered film music akin to opera, a view shared by few American critics, who argue that if film music is memorable, it is bad film music! In his attitude to film, Thomson has more in common with European composers such as Vaughan-Williams, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Saint-Saƫns, who believed that music should be a partner to the picture rather than a subdued background.

The suite we hear today is from the film The River, a documentary about the Mississippi, its uses and abuses. The sections are titled: The Old South, Industrial Expansion in the Mississippi Valley, Soil Erosion and Floods, and the Finale.

There are several easily recognized references to popular tunes, and many members of the audience will recall that it was used (among other sources) as background music to Memory Speaks, the sesquicentennial pageant.

  Three Pieces for Orchestra
(notes by the composer)
Debora DeWitt
(b. 1961)

Sighs and Meditations is an expressive piece which moves from dissonance to consonance. As a teacher of music theory and piano, I often tell my students that dissonance is really what makes a piece beautiful, because when there is dissonance the resolution that follows can be all the more dolce. Dissonance in this movement begins with an expressive duet between tuba and violins which seem to be moving independently, but end up coming together with clashing Major sevenths. As the piece moves forward the dissonance gradually gives way to sweeter melodies accompanied by major and minor triads, ending in G Major.

The second movement grew from the sound of the tone cluster. I've sung 20th Century choral music built around the idea of the cluster, and the sound of the choral cluster has always elicited a sense of awe in me. The sound itself is so resonant, full, expansive, and expressive, that it reminds me of the wonders of the natural world in which we live, hence the title of the movement. The cluster also can be expressive of human emotion, however, it's not always a "beautiful" sound. We don't always have "beautiful" emotions. The sound of the forte cluster has been used by many composers, including Krzysztof Penderecki whi used it to imitate the sound of the simultaneous screams of many people and the sound of a bomb dropping.

I use two ideas in this movement, a chant-like melody reminiscent of Gregorian chant, and the sound of the tone cluster. The cluster itself is organic, growing outward from the chant as it is repeated and transposed by step.

The melodies in Articulations are set in mixed meters, unexpectedly shifting from simple to compound meter, and then back again. The notes themselves could all be placed in common time (4/4), but the accents and groupings of the notes suggest a more complicated rhythmic structure. The movement is in three parts, with the first part returning at the end. The middle section is a longer developmental section which plays with mixed meter and the two melodic ideas established in the first section.


Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

Linda Kanzawa Ard, Concertmaster
Joyce Dubach *
Dessie Arnold
Martha Barker
Christina Beyer +^
Amy Bixler +
Jamie Eller +^
Sherry Gajewski
Matt Hendryx +
Rosemary Manifold
Margaret Piety
Moo Il Rhee
Rebekah Yoder +^

Naida MacDermid *
Peter Collins
Eric Stalter +^
Liisa Wiljer

Tim Spahr *
Unhee Do
Joseph Kalisman
Robert Lynn
Preston Thomas +^

Darrel Fiene * (co-)
Randy Gratz * (co-)

Kathy Urbani * (co-)
Madalyn Metzger *+^ (co-)
Barbi Pyrah

Rita Kimberley *
George Donner

English Horn
George Donner
Lila D. Hammer *
Jane Grandstaff

Bass Clarinet
Kris Bachman

Erich Zummack *
Michael Trentacosti

Nancy A. Bremer *
William Klickman
John Morse
Michael Galbraith

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

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

William DeWitt

Mark Sternberg

David Mendenhall
David Robbins

Anne LeWellen

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes MSS Scholarship recipient
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 3-year-old son, Gregory, enjoys listening to music.

Carol StreatorCarol Streator, soprano, holds a master's degree from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Metropolitan opera star, Anna Kaskas. Her concert experience has included opera, oratorio and chamber music, and recitals in both New York state and Indiana.

Mrs. Streator teaches part time at Grace College, Winona Lake, and maintains a private studio for voice. Sundays find her directing Ecclesia Choir and Youth Choir at the Manchester Church of the Brethren, and she recently founded a small madrigal group.

She has served many years as a district and state contest judge and is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and American Choral Directors Association.

Carol is the wife of Dr. James T. Streator of Manchester College and they have two sons, Eric and Randy.
William WhiteWilliam White ('78) has appeared frequently as soloist in oratorio, opera and musical theater. On the Cordier stage he has appeared as Tommy in Brigadoon, Tevye in A Fiddler on the Roof, and gave the premier performance of This Green Morning, a choral/orchestral work commissioned for the Centennial Celebration by R. Gary Deaval.  He has appeared with the University of Kansas Opera, the Ithaca Opera, the Auburn Chamber Orchestra, the Hanger Theater, the Ole Olson Memorial Theater, and Measure for Measure (a men's choral society). In addition to work as a soloist, he has acted as music director for numerous churches in Indiana and New York. Most recently, he studied voice with retired international opera singer George Shirley, and accompanist/coash Jean Schneider.