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Concert Program Cover

Fourth Concert of the 63rd Season

Season Finale
featuring Young Artist Competition Prize Winners

Sunday, May 12th, 2002
Cordier Auditorium
Robert Jones, Conductor

  Savannah River Holiday Ron Nelson  
  Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 23 Edward MacDowell  

I. Larghetto calmato

  Adam Smith, piano  
  Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28,
for Violin and Orchestra
Camile Saint-Saëns  
  Louisa Ann Danielson, violin  
  Slavonic Dances, Op. 46, Nos. 5-8 Antonin Dvořák  

5. Allegro vivace
6. Allegretto scherzando
7. Allegro assai
8. Presto


Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  Savannah River Holiday Ron Nelson
(b. 1929)

Ron Nelson was born in Illinois in 1929. He was not born into a formally musical family, but both parents liked music, and his mother could play the piano by ear. She was determined that her sone would be a church organist, and enrolled him in piano lessons when he was six. He soon found that he preferred to make up the music than to play it as written. At thirteen he became a church organist, an art which helped him develop orchestration skills. While still a teenager, he was accepted into the Eastman School of Music, where he studied under Howard Hanson and Bernard Rogers. He won a Fulbright Grant to study in Paris from 1954-1955. He received his doctorate from the Eastman School in 1956. During his final year there, he decided he would be a writer of film music (not surprisingly, since one of his mentors, Bernard Rogers, is best known for his film music). Upon graduation, he took a position at Brown Universiry, where he taught until his retirement in 1993.

Savannah River Holiday was the first (1952) of a series of "Holidays," including Rocky Point Holiday, Sonoran Desert Holiday, and six other "Holidays." It was so popular that it prompted commissions by those who expected similar sounds, and Nelson produced them. (Rocky Point sounds very much like Savannah River, only shorter.) But Nelson became tired of being thought of as writing "movie music," and determined that Sonoran Desert Holiday would be the last of that genre. He declares that "there are two distinct aesthetic tracks" in his music. What we will hear today represents a very American, urban sound. There is also a more academic side to Nelson. He shows a respect for the past in his music, expressed in his Courtly Airs and Dances, and Chaconne, as well as in his many chorales. Even in the Savannah River Holiday, with its twentieth-century sonorities, there is an underlying structure harking back to the days of Vivaldi. Nelson calls this work an "Overture." It is a sort of Italian Overture, which was made up of three movements: fast, slow, fast. Here, the "movements" proceed from one to the other without a clear break, but the segments remain distinct.

The work opens energetically (allegro vivace), and strongly suggests music running under the openine credits of a 1950s movie. Think Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra in New York! A four-mote motif is established, and can be found throughout the rest of the work. It is broken only by a related three-note motif during the slow movement, featuring harp, strings, and muted trumpets. The word "wistful" comes to mind. (Nelson marks it "adagio plaintive.") The third movement is, again, allegro vivace, and repeats the opening motif. It will doubtless bring to mind "chase" music, leading to a fast march finale.

  Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 23 -- Mvt. 1 Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell was probably the first celebrated American composer. He was born in New York and studied piano there with family friends until he was fifteen years old, whereupon he sailed for Europe and took up residence in Germany. He soon decided that he was more interested in becoming a composer than in being a concert pianist. He seemed content to stay in Germany, and did so until he was twenty-seven, returning only briefly to marry one of his ex-students who had already gone back. His music was admired by Liszt, among others, and he felt quite at home in Germany, but he was finally persuaded by American visitors to return to the United States and take part in the making of American music.

There is an irony here. Most critics think of MacDowell as a minor composer whose best works are miniatures. He wrote very successful songs and piano pieces. His few larger works seem to be pastiches of episodes very imitative of Grieg, Wagner, and (in his earlier works) Debussy. Yet, he was enormously popular in his own time ... and as a particularly "American" composer!

If you listen carefully, at about eight minutes into the work you will hear a six-note motif very like one in Dvořák's "New World Symphony." One might suppose that it was picked up from that Bohemian composer, but the MacDowell concerto preceded the Dvořák by two or three years! This is especially interesting in that MacDowell attacked Dvořák (and Smetana) in a lecture at Columbia University for his "nationalist" approach to music. MacDowell contended that anybody could write "Bohemian" music simply by learning a few folkloric tricks. Real art was above that!

Dvořák, in his symphony From the New World (No. 9), quite consciously incorporated tunes from American sources in order to make that symphony have an American flavor. It seems he was paying homage to America's first "serious" composer, by using a theme from his most popular work.

MacDowell's Second Piano Concerto had its world premiere in New York on March 5, 1889. On the same program was the American premiere of a work by another famous composer of the time. At least one critic wrote that he had enjoyed the work of the young American composer more than he had the other work, the Fifth Symphony of Tchaikovsky!

  Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28 Camille Saint-Saëns

A "rondo" is a piece with several repeating themes. For example, if we label the themes as we would in poetry, ABACABA, that would be a rondo. They can be less complicated or more complicated; the composer has latitude. This one is defined as "capricious," because the composer uses that latitude. This is a showpiece, designed to tax the abilities of the performer. It was written for the great Spanish violinist, Pablo de Sarasate. For that reason, in addition to being technically demanding, it has a distinct Spanish flavor.

Saint-Saëns was a Romantic composer. In this period, there was great interest in far-off places ... exotic locales. Although almost any foreign land would do for most Romantic composers, Spain was most frequently chosen. There are many "Spanish" compositions by such composers as Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Verdi, and Rossini. Spain seemed particularly attractive to French composers. It has been said that the best Spanish music was written by Frenchmen (but the Spanish would not agree!). Still, the list of French composers of "Spanish" music is long: Chabrier, Lalo, Ravel, Debussy, Bizet, and of course Saint-Saëns. What's more, some of these composers wrote several "Spanish" pieces.

Saint-Saëns had a fondness for the violin, and wrote a great deal for it. Apart from the three violin concerti, he featured the violin in other concert pieces, such as Danse Macabre. The Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso has three movements, played without a pause: Andante (malinconico), Allegro ma non troppo, and Più Allegro. In English, that would be slow - at a walking pace (melancholid), fast - but not too fast, and faster.

  Slavonic Dances, Op. 46, Nos. 5-8 Antonin Dvořák

Dvoák was born in the outskirts of Prague. He was the son of an innkeeper-butcher who expected him to continue the family business. However, he showed such early talent that he was sent to the organ school of the Bohemian Church Music Society.

Dvořák's early days were spent in poverty. He earned money by playing in cafés and in an insane asylum! He played viola in the former and organ in the latter. When he was twenty-one, his fortunes changed. Bedřich Smetana established the National Theatre of Prague, and Dvořák earned a place as a viola player in the orchestra.

His early works were many, but extremely derivative. It wasn't until he was in his thirties that he began to put a strong Czech nationalistic stamp on his music, the characteristic for which he was to become best known.

His work came to the attention of Brans during an annual competition, when Brahms awarded him a prize for his Moravian Duets. The older composer sensed in Dvořák a number of qualities in tune with his own, not the least of which was his great interest in folk-sources.

After the publishing house of Simrock successfully published Brahms' first set of Hungarian Dances, it pressured him for some more. It was another ten years before the second set was ready for publication, and during this time Simrock kept after him. In desperation, Brahms suggested that Simrock ask Dvořák to write a set of dances, knowing that the younger composer was capable of producing a set, similar to his own, yet fresh, original, and full of national fervor.

Dvořák produced the first set of eight Slavonic Dances for piano duet in record time. The works were immediately a financial success for Simrock, who asked him to orchestrate them, and it is in that form that we hear them today. Shortly after that success, he was persuaded to write a second set of eight, the Opus 72, this time as an orchestral set.

We hear dances 5, 6, 7, and 8 of the first set.


Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

Linda Kanzawa Ard, Concertmaster
Joyce Dubach *
Martha Barker
Amy Bixler +
Sherry Gajewski
William Klickman
Lita Luginbill
Rodney Morrison
Sandra Neel
Margaret Piety
Moo Il Rhee
Carolin Schober
Rebekah Yoder +

Naida MacDermid *
Jill Hess
Emily Mondock
Julie Sadler
Liisa Wiljer

Tim Spahr *
Laura Koczan +
David Rezits
Amanda Schwersky
Tony Spahr

Darrel Fiene *
Mark Huxhold

Barbi Pyrah

Kathy Urbani *
Carol Snodgrass

Rita K. Merrick *
George Donner
Lila D. Hammer *
Jane Grandstaff
Mark W. Huntington

Erich Zummack *
Nathan Bremer

Nancy A. Bremer *
John Morse
Kim Reuter +
Steven Bergdall

Steven Hammer *
Nathan Reynolds +^ (Asst.)
Ray Hart +
Rich Pepple

Jon Hartman *
Larry Dockter
Scott Hippensteel

William DeWitt

David Mendenhall

David Robbins
Greg Wolff

Debora DeWitt

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes Keister Scholarship recipient
Louisa Ann DanielsonLouisa Ann Danielson is the daughter of Louise and Jerry Danielson, Fort Wayne, Ind. She began studying violin at age 3 and is currently a student of Eloise Guy. She is a member of the Suzuki Chamber Music Program and is concertmaster of the Suzuki Advanced Orchestra. Louisa has been a member of the Fort Wayne Youth Symphony since 1998 and was a soloist with the Youth Symphony.

Louisa has attended the Suzuki Institute of the University of Wisconsin Steven's Point and has been selected a soloist five times. At age 10, she won the county and regional 4-H Share the Fun Contest and performed at Purdue. At age 11, Louisa Ann was the winner of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Young Artist Competition, junior division, and soloed with the Philharmonic. She also soloed with the Manchester Symphony Orchestra in 2000. Louisa has been awarded the Performance Certificate from the Taylor University (Fort Wayne) Performance Contest five times.

Louisa Ann has been awarded a Gold Key Award and a Portfolio Award at the Regional Scholastic Arts Competition. Her photo and portfolio are currently in the national competition in New York.

Louisa has received awards from the Regional Science Fair, the Army, and the Navy for her projects in physics and mathematics. Her poetry has received awards in the ACPL poetry contests. Her short stories and editorials have won awards and have been published in the News-Sentinel. ARTS nominated her for Who's Who Among American High School Students 2000-2001.
Adam SmithAdam Smith, currently a junior at East Noble High School, resides in Kendallville, Ind., with his parents Nicholas and Stormy. He began piano studies with his current teacher, Mrs. Judy Petersen, in May of 1996.

Adam has received awards in numberous competitions. His first-place awards include: state winner at the Indiana MTNA Competition in 2001 and winner at the IMTA District Competitions for District H in 1998. His second-place awards include runner-up at the Grace College Young Artists Competition in 2000 and 2001, runner-up at the Indiana MTNA Competition in 1997 and 1998, and runner-up at the IMTA State Competition in 1998.

Adam's festival experiences include the ISSMA and Ball State Junior Festivals. He received first division ratings in all ISSMA events he participated in from 1996 to 2001. At the Ball State Junior Festival, he received numerous superior ratings, including three in the Senior Piano Concerto division from 2000 to 2002. In 2002, he received perfect scores on both his solo and concerto playing. He has also performed in the Honors Recital in 1997 and in 2002.

Adam plans to continue his music education at the collegiate level.