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Concert Program Cover

Second Concert of the 68th Season

Holiday Magic

Sunday, December 3rd, 2006
Cordier Auditorium
Suzanne Gindin, Conductor

  Christmas Suite François-Joseph Gossec  
 

I. Adagio - Siciliana
II. Le Chant
III. Accurrite gentes

 
       
  "The Adoration of the Magi" from Trittico Botticelliano Ottorino Respighi  
       
  Kol Nidrei, Op. 47 Max Bruch  
 

Brook Bennett, cello

 
       
  Intermission  
       
  "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus"
performed to "Nimrod" from Enigma Variations
Sir Edward Elgar  
  Stuart Jones, narrator  
       
  Christmas Music for Orchestra John Cacavas  
       
  Sleigh Ride Leroy Anderson  
       
  Christmas Sing-along John Finnegan  
       
 

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

 
  Christmas Suite François-Joseph Gossec
(1734-1829)
 
 

It's amazing that we don't hear more of the music of Gossec. He was very prolific, and made great contributions to French music. He appears to have had an influence on the young Mozart. Although born in Belgium, Gossec spent most of his life in France, and is considered a French composer. He had a fine voice, and was a featured singer from a young age, having begun formal musical study at the age of six. He wrote in many genres, and was partiularly fond of the "sinfonia concertante," a specifically French form. He was as important to French music as Haydn was to the Germanic countries. Although very French in many ways, he was strongly influenced by the Mannheim school.

Among his works are twelve string quartets, seven sextets, and ten symphonies (some sources count fifty), and a number of operas.


 
       
  "The Adoration of the Magi" from Trittico Botticeliano Ottorino Respighi
(1879-1936)
 
 

The Trittico was inspired by three paintings by the Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli. They were "Spring, " "The Adoration of the Magi," and "The Birth of Venus." The central "panel" is appropriate for our season. Respighi (pronounced "ress PEEG ee") studied with Max Bruch and Rimsky-Korsakov, and his brilliant orchestration owes much to the latter.

Often referred to as an "Impressionist" because of his tone-painting in such works as The Pines of Rome and The Fountains of Rome, he was really quite eclectic. He wrote music with a Brazilian flavor, as well as music that could be mistaken for that of an earlier century (Ancient Airs and Dances). In fact, in his later years he became almost obssessed with early ecclesiastical music, using themes from Gregorian chant, and writing in the old church modes. Certainly a hint of that can be found in The Adoration of the Magi.

The piece begins with a polyphonic rendering by woodwinds, quickly moving to a suggestion of medieval church music, as we hear variations on O Come, O Come Emmanuel. References to the Three Kings can be heard in the use of the piano, the celeste, and the harp.


 
       
  Kol Nidrei, Op. 47 Max Bruch
(1838-1920)
 
 

Bruch was a child prodigy, writing chamber music at the age of eleven, and a symphony at the age of fourteen. His work was melodious and well-crafted, but he was overshadowed by the "new music" of the Second Viennese School. Maligned by the critics for being old-fashioned, he was nevertheless popular among the people, because his music was accessible to them. Some critics believe that his strength lay in his choral writing.


 
       
  "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus"
Narrated to the music of "Nimrod" from The Enigma Variations
Sir Edward Elgar
(1857-1934)
 
 

Of all the music written by Elgar, The Enigma Variations are certainly the most famous, particularly outside Britain. Elgar is a late Romantic composer, some would say in the Germanic manner. Actually, Elgar was virtually self-taught. He studied under no great masters, but absorbed all he heard. He was very familiar with Continental music, but was uncomfortable theorizing publicly. Except among his closest friends, he didn't like to "talk shop."

Elgar wrote in almost every genre except opera. But he did write striking oratorios, among the most successful: The Dream of Gerontius. Of course, college graduates are familiar with his Pomp and Circumstance marches.

Elgar's Enigma Variations (which he had named "Variations on an Original Theme") was an unusual work for him, being made up of a series of short pieces. Each one of the fourteen variations was written to express the character of a group of friends, his wife, and himself. He wasn't interested in our knowing to whom they referred, preferring to offer them simply as "a piece of music." The truth eventually emerged, and all the references are now known. Nimrod, the ninth variation, refers to Elgar's friend from the publishing house of Novello, Arthur Jaeger. It's character goes well with the narration of that famous letter written by Francis P. Church, first published in The New York Sun in 1897, to a little girl named Virginia O'Hanlon, who had written the newspaper to find out the truth about Santa Claus.


 
       
  Christmas Music for Orchestra John Cacavas
(b. 1930)
 
 

John Cacavas is one of those composers whose music you have almost certainly heard many times without knowing it. He is an American composer, born in Aberdeen, South Dakota. At the age of thirteen, he started a dance band at his school. You probably don't remember that. Later, he composed an oratorio, The Conversation of Paul, for NBC radio. You probably don't remember that, either. But I suspect you do remember the television series Kojak, starring Telly Savalas, and the films Airport 1975, Airport '77, the TV programs The Executioner's Song and Margaret Bourke White. Perhaps you remember the film Horror Express (starring Telly Savalas, Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing). All right, you don't remember that one, either.

John Cacavas is a successful journeyman composer of incidental music. He is the kind of composer we need even if we didn't notice him. In fact, some people do notice him, and those who don't would miss him if they had to watch those films and TV programs without his music. To my knowledge, he has not written a large-scale work in which his concept of musical form would be put to the test. Background music rarely lends itself to such notions as "grand design," serving, as it must, the demands of the plot. His orchestration is clever, and the orchestral color inventive. He uses electronic devices imaginatively, but not overpoweringly. He has arranged a great deal of other people's music, including a suite called Star Spangled Spectacular with music by George M. Cohan, and of course today's Christmas Music for Orchestra. He has conducted orchestras world-wide, and has lectured on writing music for films. He won a Grammy Award for the background score for Senator Everett Dirckson's spoken word, Gallant Men.


 
       
  Sleigh Ride Leroy Anderson
(1908-1975)
 
 

Leroy Anderson was born in Cambridge, Mass., in 1908, and died in Woodbury, Conn., in 1975. He is best know for his attractive melodies and jaunty rhythms in such pieces as The Syncopated Clock, and Sleigh Ride. He was also notable for his use of unconventional instruments, as in The Typewriter, and The Sandpaper Ballet (yes, a typewriter and sandpaper were both used as instrument).

Anderson studied composition at Harferd with George Enesco and Walter Piston. He was a linguist, specializing in German and Scandinavian languages, and served with U.S. Intelligence in Iceland and the U.S. during the Second World War.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin I
Dessie Arnold, Concertmaster
Ross Bercot
Linda Kummernuss
Ervin Orban
Ilona Orban

Violin II
Joyce Dubach *
Martha Barker
Janice Eplett
Casey Lambert +

Viola
Naida MacDermid *
Caleb McMillan
Nick Kwolek
Julie Sadler
Margaret Sklenar

Cello
Brook Bennett *
Jason Ney
Tim Spahr
Tony Spahr
Sara Thomas

Bass
Darrel Fiene *
Sam Gnagey
Brad Kuhns

Piccolo
Jena Eichenlaub +

Flute
Sarah Curry +
Jena Eichenlaub +
Sara Kauffman +

Oboe
George Donner *
Nyssa Gore +
Deana Strantz +
Clarinet
Lila D. Hammer *
Mark W. Huntington

Bassoon
Erich Zummack *
Amy Cox

Horn
John Morse *
Brittany Cook ++
Katie Daniels +
Tammy Sprunger

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Jason Lucker

Trombone
Jon Hartman *
Larry Dockter

Bass Trombone
Scott Hippensteel

Tuba
Robert Lynn

Percussion
Dave Robbins *
Andrew Klein
Michael Holler +

Harp
Megan Stout

Keyboard
Alan Chambers
Michael Good

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
++ Denotes student librarian
 
Brook BennettBrook Bennett, from Chandler, Arizona, becan playing the cello at age ten and later studied with Jan Simiz, associate principal cellist of the Phoenix Symphony. He received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied cello with Alan Harris and Merry Peckham, and chamber music with Peter Salaff. As a student of Julia Lichten, Brook received a Master of Music degree from the Purchase College Conservatory of Music, State University of New York. During the summers of 2003 and 2004, Brook served as cello faculty member and ensemble coach for the CREDO Chamber Music Festival's "Opus 1" program. As cellist for the Alaska Quarter, he has toured throughout Alaska, performing public concerts as well as ministry outreach for incarcerated men and women. Brook studied Suzuki cello pedagogy with Catherine Walker at Southwestern Ontario Suzuki Institute, and with Barbara Wampner at the Suzuki Institute of Chigao. He was appointed Suzuki cello teacher of the Community School of the Arts at Goshen College in 2004.