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Concert Program Cover

First Concert of the 65th Season

Return Engagement

Sunday, October 26th, 2003
Cordier Auditorium
Robert Jones, Conductor

  American Salute Morton Gould  
       
  Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 Edvard Grieg  
 

I. Allegro molto moderato
II. Adagio
II. Allegro moderato molto e marcato

 
 

Abigail Falkiner, piano

 
       
  Intermission  
       
  Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E-flat Major, Op. 74 Carl Maria von Weber  
 

I. Allegro
II. Romanze
III. Alla Polacca

 
 

Robyn Jones, clarinet

 
       
  Four Cornish Dances, Op. 91 Malcolm Arnold  
 

Vivace
Andantino
Con moto e sempre senza parodia
Allegro ma non troppo

 
       
 

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

 
  American Salute Morton Gould
(1913-1996)
 
 

Morton Gould, like Aaron Copland, is among those American composers who have tried to establish an "American idiom" by incorporating both jazz and folk elements in their music. His music with a jazzy flavor reminds one of Gershwin, but the two are very different sorts of composers. While Gershwin had achieved popular success before he bagen to write "serious" music, like the Concerto in F and Rhapsody in Blue (he wrote only the piano part, leaving the orchestration to Ferde Grofé), Gould came at jazz "from the top," as they say, starting with serious music and moving to jazz. He began to compose at the age of four and graduated from New York University when he was fifteen. He was classically trained, but began playing on Broadway to earn a living. He played at Radio City Music Hall for a while, and then moved to NBC. His radio show brought his name to the public.

Gould's music not only sounds American, it even looks American (the titles, that is). Among his works are :Chorale and Fugue in Jazz, Americana Suite, A Cowboy Rhapsody, Spirituals for Orchestra, A Lincoln Legend, Swing Symphonietta, Boogi-Woogie Etude, Big City Blues, Concerto for Tap Dancer and Orchestra, A Foster GalleryMinstrel show, Fall River Legend, and more, on distinctly American subjects.

American Salute is a short set of variations on the theme of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." The theme is so familiar, it needs no further comment. Gould was a master orchestrator, and this piece is an orchestral showcase. The jazz element is apparent.


 
       
  Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 Edvard Grieg
(1843-1907)
 
 

Grieg was a composer of the romantic era, during which nationalism was much in vogue. There was never a more Nordic composer than Grieg. He was not content to write simply "Scandinavian" music, he wrote "Norwegian" music. He was most emphatic about that. His great-grandfather, however, had come from Scotland, where the family name was spelled "Greig." For you trivia fans, Grieg was the cousin of the great-grandfather of the Canadian pianist, Glenn Gould.

Grieg wrote only one piano concerto, but it is one of the most popular piano concerti ever written. Certainly, the solo opening is the most dramatic and recognizable opening of any piano concerto. The work was written in 1868 for Edmund Neupart, who gave the work its world premiere in Copenhagen. It scored an immediate success, and has maintained its popularity ever since. Both Franz Liszt and Anton Rubinstein, the two most renowned pianists of the day, were mightily impressed. (The young Debussy, however, was quite critical: dramatic brass flourishes led to nothing important!)

The work begins after a timpani-roll and an orchestral chord with a series of descending chords for piano solo, maddening in that the series is memorable enough to run through one's mind, but spans a range too great for whistling or humming (unless you have the tessatura of an Yma Sumac!). As we listen to the unfolding of the first movement, it is difficult to believe that it is the first orchestral work by the twenty-five-year-old composer.

The second movement is slow, as is to be expected of a concerto, and here Grieg produces one of his most memorable melodies. This music, which had left Debussy unimpressed, charmed Liszt and Rubinstein when they first heard it.

The third movement, allegro moderato molto e marcato, may be the most obviously Norwegian of the work, featuring the halling, a popular Norwegian folk-dance in 2/4 time with strong accents (marcato) interrupted by lyrical moments. The halling dance rhythm reappears several times, and then a so-called springdans is introduced. While Grieg alludes to folk music frequently in his works, he almost never quotes actual folk music. The only known exception is in "Solveig's Song" from Peer Gynt. This shows great restraint and originality on the part of a great nationalist composer. Other composers of the same period had no compunction about quoting melodies of folk origin in their works.


 
       
  Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 74 Carl Maria von Weber
(1786-1826)
 
 

Weber is known primarily for his opera Der Freischutz, a Romantic opera in the grand manner. In fact, he is credited with the invention of Romantic opera in general, and German nationlistic opera in particular. He had a great impact on Richard Wagner. He had the Romantic's preoccupation with the idea of painting tonal pictures, together with a nostalgia for by-gone times, and the mythology of his country. The writer Harry Halbreich suggests that Weber was the first to use the horn and the clarinet to express the voices of nature.

His Romantic tendencies were, however, tempered by a love of classical order. He idolized Mozart, and he was strongly influenced by his teacher, Michael Haydn. He even criticized Beethoven for a lack of classical restraint. One might, therefore, expect Weber's music to be an admirable blend of innovation and tradition. It is indeed surprising that it has not gained a wider audience.

Weber was a child prodigy, his huge hands contributing to his piano virtuosity. He wrote his first opera when he was fourteen, and became music director of the Breslau town theater when he was seventeen. No doubt he acquired a great deal of stage experience as he accompanied his father on theatrical tours throughout Germany. His interest in the clarinet began in 1811, when he met Heinrich Barmann, the greatest clarinetist in Germany. He wrote a Concerto for Barmann, which met with immediate success and spawned a series of commissions for the clarinet and other wind instruments. The two clarinet concerti followed the Concertino very closely, and the second was first performed (to "frenetic applause") in November of 1811.

The second concerto, which we are to hear today, is described as the more symphonic of the two. But there is a strikingly operatic character to it, especially in the second movement, the Romance. In the second half of that movement, the clarinet could be mistaken for a vocal solo, with the orchestra playing short chords in the manner of recitativo secco, as used by Mozart in The Marriage of Figaro. This is another reflection of Weber's love of classical form in general, and that of Mozart in particular.

The final movement, the Pollacca, makes spectacular demands on the soloist. Leaving aside problems of embouchure and breath control, ignoring the need to hit the right keys, just imagine hitting any keys that fast for that long, and you have a small idea of the difficulty of that piece.


 
       
  Four Cornish Dances, Op. 91 Malcolm Arnold
(b. 1921)
 
 

Malcolm Arnold was born in England in 1921. As a boy, he studied the violin and the trumpet, winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Music. The trumpet began to claim more of his attention than the violin, and he joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra as a trumpet player.

His music is fairly popular, especially in Britain. But even there, his reputation among the critics is not high. Quite a few books on 20th century British composers do not mention him, and those that do refer to his music as "undemanding" or "light." It must be understood that in musical criticism as well as in any other field, there is the matter of "political correctness." The "New Viennese" school of the dodecaphonists (or atonalists) led by Schönberg, Webern, and Berg, was so successfully marketed, that a tune lasting more than a measure is often damned as decadent.

The disparity of views on Arnold between the public and the critics is largely due to his holding his own against the prevailing new academism of the New Viennese school. Arnold's music it too tuneful and attractive. He still thinks the major/minor scale has something to offer. He believes that music must communicate something to the public... a "gesture of friendship," as he puts it. He believes that the avant-garde is too pleased by the "structure" of the music, when such structure is merely mathematical and cannot be heard by the average person.

There is another factor that is finally becoming less an impediment than it used to be as far as serious criticism is concerned: his interest in jazz. Arnold was particularly impressed with Louis Armstrong, whose music prompted him to concentrate on the trumpet. Jazz has become respectable among the critics. It has long influenced "serious" composers from Ravel to Milhaud.

But the main reason Arnold has failed to win the approval of critics is that he makes his living writing film scores (he won an Oscar for The Bridge over the River Kwai). This keeps him from being considered a serious composer.

Arnold is very prolific, and although he is best known for his "pretty" music, he has produced at lelast nine symphonies, some of which have the dissonances commonly associated with 20th century serious music.

The musical public has now lost patience with music that looks better on paper than it sounds, appealing more to the brain than to the ear, and has begun to swing far in the other direction, to the Minimalism of Philip Glass, who writes music in search of a theme. Arnold's music provides the rhythmic effects which appear to attract the public to the Minimalists, but unlike them, he provides striking themes to inform the rhythms.

In 1956, Arnold wrote two sets of English dances at the suggestion of his publisher, as counterparts to the popular Slavonic Dances of Dvořák. The English Dances were soon followed by the Scottish Dances in 1957, then Cornish Dances in 1966, and the Irish Dances in 1986.

Cornwall is a Duchy of spectacular beauty in southwest England. It once had a language of its own, Cornish, a Celtic language related to Welse and Breton, but its last natural speaker died some years ago. Testifying to the fierce independence of these people, clubs have been formed to resurrect the language. The people are now mostly seafarers or farmers, though they were once miners. The tin and copper mines had been exploited by others ever since the Roman invasions, and are now abandoned. The Cornish Dances are a musical attempt to characterize the spirit of these people.

I. Vivace. The first dance starts with a theme in the brass, and although it is simply repeated without development throughout the movement, it does so in an appealingly rhythmic counterpoint.

II. Andantino. The second dance may be intended to depict the bleak moors and the abandoned mines. Or one might imagine the sea with an occasional crash of a breaker.

III. Con moto e sempre senza parodia. This dance reflects the influence of American evangelists Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey on Cornish hymn-singing. The compower respects this tradition and admonishes the orchestra to avoid the temptation to parody this music (senza parodia).

IV. Allegro ma non troppo - Vivace - Tempo primo - Vivace - Tempo primo - Presto - Tempo primo. Unlike the first three dances, which are coherent and simple, the fourth is disjointed. Here, Arnold combines a technique used by Respighi in The Pines of Rome with one introduced by the American Charles Ives in his Decoration Day. A parade passes, growing louder by the moment. Where Ives (and Arnold) differ from Respighi is in contrasting two musical groups. Ives has the two bands playing at cross purposes, as one actually hears marching bands when they pass by. Arnold contrasts a marching band with a group doing a jig. They alternate, but do not override one another except at the end where the marchers triumph. Another interpretation is that there is simply a "cross-cutting" from the marchers to the dancers, in the manner of cinema, so familiar to a writer of film scores.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin
Linda Kanzawa, Concertmaster
Joyce Dubach *
Dessie Arnold
Benita Barber
Martha Barker
Kristin King +^
William Klickman
Linda Kummernuss
Adele Maxfield
Margaret A. Piety
Moo Il Rhee

Viola
Naida MacDermid *
Janet Johnson
Julie Sadler
Michael Spaulding +

Cello
Tim Spahr *
Andy Ross
Tony Spahr
Dawn Stapert

Bass
Darrel Fiene *
Mark Hoxhold
George Scheerer

Piccolo
Allison Hoover +

Flute
Kathy Urbani *
Allison Hoover +
Sara Kauffman +

Oboe
Rita K. Merrick *
George Donner

English Horn
George Donner
Clarinet
Lila D. Hammer *
Jennifer Hann +
Mark W. Huntington

Bass Clarinet
Mark W. Huntington

Bassoon
Erich Zummack *
Michael Trentacosti

Horn
Nancy A. Bremer *
William Browne
Brittany Cook +
Kim Reuter +^

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Ray Hart +
Richard Pepple

Trombone
Jon Hartman *
D. Larry Dockter
Kacie Starkey +

Tuba
William DeWitt

Timpani
Dave Robbins *

Percussion
Drew Cox
Josh Rouse

Harp
Megan Stout

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes Keister Scholarship recipient
       
 
Abigail FalkinerAbigail Falkiner graduated from Manchester College in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Piano Performance. She studied piano at Manchester College with Dr. Debora DeWitt, Chair of the music department, and was a winner of the MSO Collegiate Young Artist competition in 1991, performing the first movement of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3.

She then began work for the Master Degree in Piano Performance at Indiana University-South Bend. While earning this degree, Abigail studied and performed with the Toradze Piano Studio. Her teachers included Ketevan Badridze as well as concert pianist and founder of the studio, Alexander Toradze. During completion of the degree in 2003, Abigail taught as adjunct piano faculty at Indiana University-South Bend.

Following graduation, Abigail relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, in order to pursue a professional career in songwriting while teaching piano. Currently she teaches piano as adjunct faculty at Belmont University and also at Belmont Academy, a precollege program offering private music lessons.
Robyn JonesRobyn Jones, a native of North Manchester, began her clarinet studies at the age of 11 with her father, clarinetist/conductor Robert Jones. In 1991 she won the Manchester Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition, as well as the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Young Artist Competition, performing Weber's Concertino for Clarinet. Ms. Jones received her first orchestral experience as a member of the Manchester Symphony Orchestra from 1990-1992. Since that time, she has played with many professional orchestras, most recently performing Mahler's Eighth Symphony with the Minnesota Orchestra. As a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago from 1998-2000, Ms. Jones performed in Chicago's Orchestra Hall with many esteemed conductors, including Daniel Barenboim, Pinchas Zuckerman, Pierre Boulez, and Mstislav Rostropovich. During her time in Chicago, Ms. Jones maintained an active freelance career, performing with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta, and the Chicago Opera Theater. She has performed as principal clarinet with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. She recently competed for a principal clarinet position in the Tucson Symphony, and was runner-up.

In addition to her extensive performance experience, Ms. Jones spends much of her time teaching. She taught applied clarinet for two years at Florida State University and is currently teaching at the University of Minnesota. For the past seven summers she has been the clarinet instructor at Luzaerne Music Center, in Lake Luzerne, New York. She also performs weekly chamber music concerts in Luzerne and had played several concerts with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Ms. Jones received a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University, where she studied with Howard Klug, and a Master of Music degree from Florida State University, where she was a student of Frank Kowalsky. She is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota, where she studies with Burt Hara.