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Concert Program Cover

Fourth Concert of the 70th Season

Our Homegrown Legacy: Air

Sunday, May 10th, 2009
Cordier Auditorium
Scott Humphries, Conductor

  Airs de Danse, from Le Roi S'Amuse Leo Delibes  
       
  Summertime, from Porgy and Bess George Gershwin  
  Najah Monroe, Soprano  
       
  Concerto in E-flat Major Johann Hummel  
  I. Allegro con Spirito    
  Nick Kenny, Trumpet  
       
  Songs from A Shropshire Lad George Butterworth
orch. Debra Lynn
 
 

I. Think No More, Lad
II. The Lads in their Hundreds
III. Is My Team Ploughing, from A Shropshire Lad

 
 

IV. Largo al factotum, from Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Gioacchino Rossini  
  David Moan, Baritone  
       
  Stardust Hoagy Carmichael
arr. Henry Sopkin
 
       
  Intermission  
       
  Fern Hill John Corigiliano  
  featuring: Manchester College A Cappella Choir  
       
  Wings of Dreams Kentaro Sato  
       
  Tales from the Vienna Woods Johann Strauss  
 
*Congratulations to our soloists, recent winners of the Manchester Symphony Orchestra Concert Competition: David Moan, 1st place; Nick Kenny, 1st runner-up; Najah Monroe, 2nd runner-up.
 
       
 

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

 
  Airs de Danse from Le Roi S'Amuse Leo Delibes
(1836-1891)
 
 

Leo Delibes' father was in the French postal service. His mother was a musician from a musical family. Leo inherited a flair for music. After the death of his father, the family moved to Paris where he entered the Conservatoire where he did not distinguish himself. Throughout his life, he enjoyed the good life, and study wasn't part of that. However, his natural talent led him to great success, at first as a composer of operettas: fourteen of them.

It was as a composer of ballets and more serious operas that Delibes began to shine. Tchaikovsky admired his work. So did Bizet. Probably his finest opera was Lakmé, but it is hard to choose among his ballets...Coppélia or Sylvia?

Delibes' love of fast living was commented on by the great violinist Fritz Kreisler, who was a student of Delibes. Kreisler says his lessons were often interrupted by the arrival of a pretty girl, who would pull the professor off to lunch. Delibes would hand Kreisler the beginnings of some composition, and ask him to finish it! To the day he died, Kreisler claimed that the waltz motif in Coppélia was his.

In 1882, Delibes wrote incidental music to Victor Hugo's play, Le Roi S'Amuse. From that music was created the suite, described as six airs de danse dans le style ancien. Writing music "in ancient style" has been popular for a long time (Stravinsky's Pulcinella, Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dancese, Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra).

Censors thought Hugo's play was insulting to the king and banned it for fifty years. A "suite" is made of short dance pieces. Perhaps the action was a trifle risqué in those days. Delibes does something a bit anachronistic in this suite, having the Gaillarde come before the Pavane. Typically, the Gaillarde comes after the Pavane because it was livlier, and intended to relieve the solemnity of the Pavane. Delibes probably switched the order because he wanted a more dramatic opening. This Pavane might be familiar to you because Delibes borrowed it from an earlier composer, Arbeau, who has provided the impetus to other composers (Britain's Peter Warlock, for example). Stravinsky took his themes for Pulcinella from Pergolesi, and Benjamin Britten took his from Purcell. It was a form of homage. Thoinot Arbeau was a 16th century expert on dance, and his writings on dances of the period provide us with almost all we know about the role and the etiquette of dance in that period. His advice to dancers is often very humorous: "...spit and blow your nose sparingly'; '[after danding, the dancers] are permitted to kiss their mistresses...to ascertain if they are shapely or emit an unpleasant odour as of bad meat")

Lesquercarde is from the Languedoc language of southern France, and refers to a maiden in love. Perhaps it was such a dance that prompted Arbeau's interesting comment about kissing.

The six Airs here (plus the Finale) are:

Gaillarde
Pavane
Scène de Bouquet
Lesquercarde
Madrigal
Passepied
Finale


 
       
  Summertime, from Porgy and Bess George Gershwin
(1898-1937)
 
 

Little needs to be said about George Gershwin, an American composer who became very popular for his "Tin Pan Alley" music, and leaned toward the "Classical" with his Concerto in F, Rhapsody in Blue, and his folk opera, Porgy and Bess, the only American opera ever performed at the famous Teatro alla Scala di Milano, in Italy. He studied classical style with several teachers, and even when he had achieved great success was still seeking teachers from the world of "classical" music. He was turned down by Ravel, who said "Why be a second-rate Ravel, when you can be a first-rate Gershwin." Much of his serious music bears a strong resemblance to that of Debussy, and especially Ravel. But the influence went both ways, with Ravel writing piano concerti with a strong Gershwin flavor.

We hear today Summertime, one of his best known songs from his only opera, Porgy and Bess.


 
       
  Concerto in E-flat Major (First Movement) Johann Nepomuk Hummel
(1778-1837)
 
 

Who was Hummel? While some of you might know of him, it is likely that most of you do not. Hummel was quite a prodigy. At four, he could read music. At five, he could play the violin, and at six, the piano. He so impressed Mozart that he was offered free lessons and free board and room in Mozart's house. He had his public debut at the age of nine, and went on a European tour when he was ten. He studied with both Salieri and Haydn.

He grew to be a great virtuoso of the piano, and the teacher of a number of famous performers. Even Franz Liszt wanted to become his pupil, but couldn't afford the high tuition cost. He wrote eight piano concerti, ten piano sonatas, eight piano trios, two piano septets, and twenty-two operas, among other things. He played for royalty, and knew all the important writers, composers, and artists of the day. He was close friends with Goethe anc Schiller, praised by Haydn and Schubert, and was perhaps the most famous musician of his day.

So why is he practically unknown today? The answer is Beethoven. The fame of Beethoven has grown to immense proportions, totally eclipsing poor Hummel. It is interesting that the two had a stormy but enduring friendship that lasted throughout their lives.

Hummel wrote one trumpet concerto, the first movement of which we hear today. It is in Mozartian sonata-form, and, typical for concerti of this period, the solo instrument doesn't enter until about two minutes into the piece. The first movement is designated Allegro con spirito.


 
       
  Songs from A Shropshire Lad George Butterworth
(1855-1916)
orch. Debra Lynn
 
 

George Butterworth was born in London, studied at Eton and then at Trinity College, Oxford. He developed a great interest in folk-song and folk-dancing. At Oxford, he met Ralph Vaughan Williams, and they became great friends. Together, they scoured the countryside collecting folk-songs. This interest in folk music informed the work of both composers, with actual quotations appearing in the music of Butterworth.

Whiile at Oxford, his interest in music grew to the point where he abandoned his intention of pursuing a career in the legal profession (much to the displeasure of his father, Sir Alexander Butterworth).

When the First World War broke out, he immediately joined the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, and as a lieutenant, led his troops gallantly in the Battle of the Somme. He was shot to death by a sniper, and his body was hastily buried near Pozières, the exact spot now unknown.

The death of Butterworth was a great blow to the English music community, since he was considered to be one of the most promising composers of his generation. He had little time to compose, and at the beginning of the war, he destroyed many of his works which he considered unworthy. His best-known works are Two English Idylls, The Banks of Green Willow, and A Shropshire Lad Rhapsody.

The poems of A.E. Houseman were an inspiration to many British composers. Butterworth set a number of his poems to music, producing two song cycles, Bredon Hill and other Songs, and Six songs from A Shropshire Lad, written in 1911. A year later, he produced the orchestral version, A Shropshire Lad Rhapsody. We hear three of the six songs today.

Think No More, Lad
The Lads in Their Hundreds
Is My Team Ploughing?


 
       
  Largo al Factotum from Il Barbiere di Siviglia Gioachino Rossini
(1792-1868)
 
 

Largo al factotum is one of the best known arias, largely through the many parodies sung by the likes of Woody Woodpecker, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester the Cat, and many other cartoon characters. It translates as "make way for the factotum," and is sung by Figaro, the barber of Seville, who brags about his popularity, and being constantly on call.

Gioacchino Rossini was born into a musical family and began exploring composition as a young child. He was an excellent performer on piano, horn, and viola in addition to possessing a very fine singing voice. He composed Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) very quickly (in less than a fortnight), and it remains a favorite among all the operatic comedies in the repertoire. Rossini loved writing long florid virtuosic passages for the voice. When composing opera arias, Rossini believed that plot exposition was secondary to showing off the wide range and pyrotechnic ability of the human voice. Largo al factotum is no exception. While its quick tempo and florid tune make it a perfect backdrop for animated on-screen mayhem, this is not a piece to be taken lightly. Rather, it is one of the most difficult baritone arias in existence. It features a high range, long phrases, a tongue-twisting Italian text, and a dizzying stream of fast notes. The Barber is the character Figaro who, at this point in the first act of the opera, has entered the town square bragging about the barbering (and match-making) skills, for which he has become quite popular. See insert for a complete translation.


 
       
  Stardust Hoagland (Hoagy) Carmichael
(1899-1981)
arr. Henry Sopkin
 
 

"Hoagy" Carmichael was a true Hoosier, born and buried in Bloomington. Although he had a glamorous career, hobnobbing with Hollywood stars and jazz greats, he never lost sight of his Indiana roots. He described his voice by saying he had Wabash fog and sycamore twigs in his throat. Several of his songs refer to Indiana, and he wrote a Johnny Appleseed Suite.

He attended Indiana University and earned a law degree there in 1926. In 1972, he was given an honorary doctorate by the university. He even practiced law in Indianapolis for a while, but finally realized that law was not in his bones.

Carmichael wrote songs and lyrics, and acted in a number of movies, almost always as a pianist, singing his own songs. He played opposite Humphry Bogart and Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not, and with Myrna Loy, Frederick March, and Kirk Douglas in other films. Some of his best-known songs are Georgia on My Mind, Up a Lazy River, Old Buttermilk Sky, In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening, and Lazy Bones, but the most popular one is Stardust (originally titled Star Dust).


 
       
  Fern Hill John Corigliano
(b. 1938)
 
 

John Corigliano was born into a musical family. His father, John Corigliano, Sr., was concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, and his mother, Rose Buzen, was a concert pianist and educator. Corigliano is a prolific composer, and in many genres. He has done film scores (his violin concerto written for Joshua Bell won an Oscar for its use in the film The Red Violin). He has written several concerti for a variety of instruments, and at least one "experimental" work, Chiaroscuro for two pianos, tuned a quarter-tone apart.

From 1987 to 1990 he was Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony. In 1997 he earned a Grammy Award for his Symphony No. 1, and in 2001, a Pulitzer Price for his Symphony No. 2.

Corigliano teaches composition at the Juilliard School of Music and holds the position of Distinguished Professor of Music at Lehman College, City University of New York, which has established a scholarship in his name.

Although he has written three symphonies and eight concerti, his strongest interest might be in the vocal realm. He has one opera, The Ghosts of Versailles, but hundreds of songs and choral pieces.

The work we hear today, Fern Hill, is a setting of a poem by Dylan Thomas. Corigliano has set several of Thomas' poems to music, and later, worked three of them into A Dylan Thomas Trilogy. The other two poems in the trilogy are Poem in October, and Poem on His Birthday.


 
       
  Wings of Dreams Kentaro Sato
(b. 1981)
 
 

If you find this music familiar, perhaps you have heard Sato's work before. He is a California-based composer of film music, and you might have seen one of the films for which he composed the music: Peter Pan, for example. He was born in Hamamatsu, Japan. He has a Master of Music degree in conducting, and a Bachelor of Music in Media and Commercial Writing from California State University. He also has a degree in Cinema from Santa Monica College. Much of his music is choral, and it has been described as full of rich and colorful harmony. It is certainly true that his orchestration is rich and melodious, although the melodies are usually not sustained, betraying his association with film music.

Orchestration is his strong suit, and he offers to teach students over the Internet. He has received so many letters asking how he goes about orchestrating his melodies that he decided to write a book on orchestration. He is actually posting it, bit by bit, on the Web, and walks one through all the stages, from the basic melody, played on the piano, to the simple harmony on the left hand, through the change from piano to flute for the theme, and to other instruments for the harmony, and finally through the variations. Sato seems to be a very engaging man.

Sato's works have been performed by major orchestras throughout the world. The work we hear today, Wings of Dreams, won second place in the 2004 GPO Orchestration competition, and was premiered in 2005 by the Moravian Philharmonic in the Czech Republic.

It is characterized by a slow, soft series of harmonies, just a little like New Age music. The music picks up momentum and swells to an almost heroic crescendo before dropping abruptly to a soft murmur. This procedure is repeated twice, but the third time remains soft to the end.


 
       
  Tales from the Vienna Woods Johann Strauss II
(1825-1899)
 
 

Johann Strauss II came from a large family of musicians who dominated the court life of Vienna during the waning years of the Hapsburg empire. Johann Strauss II, often called "The Younger," was known as the Waltz King.

Joseph Lanner had earlier developed the concert waltz from a peasant dance into something more sophisticated. Johann Strauss Senior had continued that development, and Johann the Younger expanded the form further.

This waltz, like many of his, has a long introduction, but this one has a very long introduction. There is a section with a flute cadenza suggesting bird-song in the woods, followed by a part featuring a zither, commonly associated with folk music. The title of this waltz is intended to remind us of its humble beginnings among the peasants, and there are allusions to ländler dances during the zither part, before the familiar waltz rhythm returns.

Please note: In this performance, other instruments have been substituted for the zither.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin I
Dessie Arnold, Concertmaster
Lois Clond
Janice Eplett
Casey Lambert +
Ervin Orban
Ilona Orban
Liisa Wiljer

Violin II
Joyce Dubach *
Martha Barker
Erin Cole +^
Heather Hufgard +^
Jennifer Iannuzzelli +^
Linda Kummernuss
Paula Merriman
Emma Naragon +

Viola
Naida MacDermid *
Julie Sadler
Margaret Sklenar

Cello
Margery Latchaw *
Rosemary Bond +^
Erica Hedges +^
Cori Miner +^
Tim Spahr

Bass
Darrel Fiene *
Brenton Carter

Piccolo
Barbi Pyrah

Flute
Kathy Urbani *
Sarah Curry +^
Barbi Pyrah

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

Bassoon
Erich Zummack *
Karen Labuda

Alto Saxophone
Barb Burdge

Horn
John Morse *
Nicole Anderson +^
Brittany Cook
Josh Murray

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Nicholas Kenny +^

Trombone
Jon Hartman *
Larry Dockter

Tuba
Robert Lynn

Timpani
Dave Robbins *

Percussion
Joshua Faudree +^
Olyesa Savenkova +
Robin Jo Steinman +

Piano
Scott Humphries
Debra Lynn

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes Keister Scholarship recipient