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Concert Program Cover

Second Concert of the 71st Season

Holiday with the Americans

Sunday, December 6th, 2009
Cordier Auditorium
Scott Humphries, Conductor

  A Christmas Festival Leroy Anderson  
  Three Songs from Home Alone John Williams  
  Christmas Singalong John Finnegan  
  Amahl and the Night Visitors Gian Carlo Menotti
Debra Lynn, conductor
Coleson Baker
Denise Ritter Bernardini
David Moan '09
James Hutchings '05
Richard Crist
Zach Blatz

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  A Christmas Festival Leroy Anderson

Leroy Anderson was born in Cambridge, Mass., in 1908, and died in Woodbury, Conn., in 1975. He is best known for his attractive melodies and jaunty rhythms in such pieces as The Syncopated Clock, Sleigh Ride, Blue Tango, Jazz Pizzicato, and many others.

Anderson studied composition at Harvard with Georges Enesco and Walter Piston. He was a linguist, speaking Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, German, French, Italian, and Portuguese. He almost accepted a position as language teacher at a private school in Pennsylvania, but fortunately backed out of that option in favor of composing. He served with U.S. Intelligence in Iceland as an interpreter during the Second World War. In addition to the well-known pieces mentioned above, he wrote a number of short works for unusual "instruments" such as the typewriter, and sandpaper, for his Sandpaper Ballet.

Anderson was "discovered" by Arthur Fiedler, who commissioned him to write many works for the Boston Pops Orchestra. He soon became one of the most popular composers of light music in America. His tunes were frequently used as background music for television shows, such as the CBS "Late Show." Plink, Plank, Plunk! was known to many in the '50s as the theme for the TV game show "I've Got a Secret."

Though Anderson was best known for his light miniatures and arrangements (he typically wrote for full orchestra, but later re-orchestrated many of them for bands and other groups), he did try his hand at more substantial forms. He wrote a Piano Concerto in C, but withdrew it to "make corrections." He never got around to making those corrections, but the work was published posthumously, and can be found on the Naxos label.

The work we hear today is a medley of favorite Christmas tunes, including Joy to the World, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Hark! the Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night, and others that you will surely recognize.

  Three Songs from Home Alone John Williams
(b. 1932)

John Williams is arguably America's most famous composer. You might not know the name, but you will certainly know the music. Williams has more than ninety film scores to his credit. There is not enough space here to mention all of them! I'm sure you will remember the music from Star Wars, Superman, Indiana Jones, E.T., Harry Potter, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and certainly Jaws. As of 2005, he had won five Oscars (nominated forty-three times), four Golden Globes (nominated nineteen times), six BAFTAs (British Academy), seventeen Grammies (nominated forty-seven times), and received fourteen honorary degrees. He was the conductor of The Boston Pops Orchestra for over a decade, and is a frequent guest conductor of prestigious orchestras all over the world.

Williams was born in New York. His father was a jazz drummer, which might explain "Johnny" Williams' early work as a jazz pianist. Some of that influence can be heard in his score for The Missouri Breaks. Most biographies and reviews stress the influence of Wagner and the Leitmotiv principle, as well as Mahler and Richard Strauss. With regard to his best-known music, there is another lesser-known composer as his muse: Erich Korngold. I once played a piece by Korngold, and asked my son what it made him think of. With no prodding, he answered Star Wars.

As Star Wars was taking shape in the mind of George Lucas, he asked Williams to watch some old Errol Flynn swashbucklers that Lucas had loved as a teenager. He wanted to recreate those same feelings in Star Wars. Some of the battle scenes in Star Wars were patterned after dog-fights in those early adventure films, and Williams was impressed with the background music by Korngold. Don't be surprised if you hear hints of The Sea Hawk, and King's Row in the Star Wars films.

Since Home Alone is a mixture of comedy and frantic action, the mood of the music is quite varied. The more contemplative sections bear a strong resemblance to the "love" music (Can You Read My Mind?) from Superman. The selections we shall hear today are NOT taken from the frantic scenes!

  Amahl and the Night Visitors Gian Carlo Menotti

Although Menotti was born in Italy, and retained his Italian citizenship until his recent death, he is regarded by many as an American composer. His mother brought him to this country when he was seventeen, and he enrolled in the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Before coming to the United States, he had entered the Milan Conservatory at the age of thirteen, and before that, had written two operas! Although he has written attractive orchestral music, he is best known as a composer of opera, and many of them were commissioned for television and radio broadcasts.

His most successful work is Amahl and the Night Visitors, commissioned by NBC-TV in 1951 for a Christmas broadcast. Since then, it has been broadcast and performed on stage as a regular event on Christmas eve, rivaling Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker in such a role. That particular work brought him great fame. When he appeared on the cover of Time magazine, he expected his mother to accept the fact that he had, indeed, arrived. Unfortunately, she hadn't heard of Time or at least didn't think it was an important publication.

In 1958, Menotti founded the Spoleto Festival in Italy in an effort to bring his native country and his adopted one together. He called it the Festival of Two Worlds. In 1977, he founded a companion festival in Charleston, S.C. He directed it until 1993, when he became director of the Rome Opera.

He has received many honors, including the Kennedy Center for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, and in 1991, "Musician of the Year" by Musical America.

Menotti on the one hand, has been condemned as being too conservative, and on the other, praised as having written music accessible to the masses. He has explored a number of modern styles, though mostly as parody. His inclination is toward Puccini lyricism, but with occasional nods to Schönberg.

Amahl and the Night Visitors is a short opera (approximately 46 minutes) about a visit from the Magi to the hut of the crippled child Amahl and his mother. They are on their way to Bethlehem and need a place to stay for the night. When the impoverished mother sees the riches before her, and is told that they are gifts for a different child, she becomes bitter. During the night, she steals some of the gold. When the Wise Men explain for whom the gifts are intended, she repents and returns the gold. Amahl, too, feels the need to contribute, but the only thing of value to him is his crutch. He gives that to the Magi, and is thus cured of his affliction. At the end of the opera, Amahl joins the Wise Men on their trip to Bethlehem.


Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

  Violin I
Dessie Arnold, Concertmaster
Lois Clond
Rachel Nowak +^
Ilona Orban
Liisa Wiljer

Violin II
Joyce Dubach *
Martha Barker
Erin Cole +^
Jennifer Iannuzzelli +^
Tyler Krempansky
Paula Merriman

Naida MacDermid *
Kelsey Airgood +
Julie Sadler
Margaret Sklenar

Margery Latchaw *
Cori Miner +^
Najah Monroe +^

Darrel Fiene *

Barbi Pyrah

Kathy Urbani *
Sarah Curry +^
Barbi Pyrah

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

Erich Zummack *

John Morse *
Tammy Sprunger
Nicole Anderson +^
Brittany Cook

Steven Hammer *
Nicholas Kenny +^

Jon Hartman *
Larry Dockter

Robert Lynn

Dave Robbins *

Joshua Faudree +^
Nicholas Camacho +
Robin Jo Steinman +

Debra Lynn

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

Manchester College A Cappella Choir

  Debra Lynn, conductor  
  Soprano I
Emily Abraham
Maria Asuzu
Casey Faricelli
Casey Lambert *
Najah Monroe
Alexa Stitt
Kimberlee Weaver
Cassie Whitaker

Soprano II
Jackie Dobbert
Nicole Glassley
Kaitlin Hughes *
Sabrina Huskins
Sandra Knoch
Gabrielle McAfee
Rebekah Maiden
Ashely Noll
Rebecca Oren
Sheila Prather
Darcy Robins
Brittany Stevens

Tenor I
Wallace Butts *
Geneviéve Kidwell
Kahler Willits

Tenor II
Zach Blatz
Jason Eakins
Josh Huffer
Tyler Secor
Alto I
Katy Dunlap
Stephanie Green *
Kay Guyer
Kaylee Hawley
Rebekah Maiden
Jessica Rinehart
Carrie Waits

Alto II
Samantha Baker
Tiffany Berkebile
Megan Bucher
Tonya Colwell
Aimee Hoffbauer
Katrina Kardys *
Danielle Kelley
Brittany Kurtz
Elizabeth Mishler
Sara Sims

Bass I
Alex Drew
Stephen Hendricks
Daniel Myers-Bowman *
Chris Teeters

Bass II
Dylan Hiner
Kyle Leffel *
Craig Morphew
Russell Turner

* Denotes section leader
Denise RitterLyric Soprano Denise Ritter has extensive Oratorio experience with performances that include the Glorias of Poulenc and Vivaldi; the Masses of Mozart, Schubert, Bach and Haydn; the Requiems of Brams, Mozart and Rutter; Bach's Magnificat, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony; Dubois' Seven Last Words of Christ, Ramirez's Misa Criolla, Haydn's The Seasons, as well as 16 performances of Handel's Messiah.

Ms. Ritter's operatic roles include her recently performed La Traviata in Charlottesville, Va., as Violetta, as well as with Master Works Festival. After receiving rave reviews, Ms. Ritter was asked to return as Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto with the Oratorio Society of Charlottesville. Other leading roles in opera include Hanna in The Merry Widow, ChoChoka in The Cunning Little Vixen, Yum Yum in The Mikado, and Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus. Her recital work is equally impressive, and she has collaborated with coaches and accompanists such as Steven Blier, Martin Katz, Marilyn Horn, Julian Kwok, Sherill Milnes, and Paul Sperry.

Ms. Ritter is currently preparing to perform a series of recital performances in Indiana, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. She has received awards from the American Traditions Competition, Benton-Schmidtt Contest, Metropolitan Opera, National Association of Teachers of Singing, and the National Federation of Music Clubs.

Coleson BakerColeson Baker is an 11-year-old sixth grader at Lincoln Elementary School in Warsaw, Ind. Coleson participates in his school music program and enjoys singing in the Lakeland Youth Chorale. He is currently taking drum lessons and hopes to play percussion in the middle school. This is Coleson's second time to be in Amahl -- his first time, he was in the chorus and decided to do a cartwheel on stage, nearly falling into the orchestra pit. He was three at the time!

James HutchingsTenor James Hutchings earned an undergraduate degree in vocal performance from Manchester College and an MM in choral conducting from the University of Missouri. He has conducted ensembles at Manchester College, University of Missouri, Westminster College, and currently serves as the coordinator of music and choral director at Carl Sandburg College. Hutchings is an active vocalist having performed in Gianni Schicchi, Carmina Burana, and as a featured soloist in several university and church choirs, including the University of Missouri performance of Veljo Tormis' Raua Needmine. In 2005, he was awarded the top prize in the Manchester Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition and is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda. Hutchings has conducted church and community choirs for many years and is active as a choral and vocal clinician. He has studied voice with Debra Lynn and Jo Elle Todd and conducting with R. Paul Crabb.

Richard CristRichard Crist, bass, is a native of Harrisburg, Pa. He is equally at home in opera, oratorio and concert, and known for his superb acting abilities and musicianship. While completing his graduate studies at Boston's New England Conservatory, he made his operatic debut with Sarah Caldwell's Opera Company of Boston, gaining further experience with the Goldovsky Opera Theater.

His career has taken him throughout the United States including the Metropolitan Opera and the companies of Santa Fe, San Francisco, San Diego, Philadelphia, Memphis, Mobile, Charlotte and Orlando; the Lyric Operas of Boston, Kansas City, New York; and the Virginia, Indianapolis, Syracuse, and Kentucky Opera Theaters. Internationally, he has since appeared with the Hamburg State Opera, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Opera de Lyon, Opera di Turino, Dublin Grand Opera, the Wexford and Edinburgh Opera Festivals, and the American Soviet Festival in Boston and Moscow with the Bolshoi and Kirov Operas. Among his many PBS "Great Performances" appearances was Gian Carlo Menotti's production with the Philadelphia Opera of Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades.

Crist has appeared as soloist numerous times in New York at Carnegie, Alice Tully, and Avery Fisher Halls with organizations including New York Philharmonic and "Live from Lincoln Center." Crist holds degrees in music education and vocal performance from Messiah College and New England Conservatory of Music.

David MoanDavid Moan, baritone, graduated from Manchester College in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in voice performance and a minor in history. He has been active in opera, theater, and musical theater for several years. He has performed many principal roles including Leporello in Don Giovanni, Bob in The Old Maid and the Thief, Henry in The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, Bobby Strong in Urinetown, Dr. Shrinck in The Boy Who Grew Too Fast, The Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance, Chad in All Shook Up, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, and title roles such as Gianni Schicci, Die Fledermaus and Cyrano de Bergerac. In addition to acting, Moan has directed several productions and founded a summer youth theater program called Kids Take the Stage in Middlebury, Ind. Currently, he is an adjunct instructor at Manchester College, teaching courses in diction and conducting Cantabile, an auditioned women's choir.

Debra LynnDebra Lynn, associate professor of music, is in her eleventh year at Manchester College where she serves as chair of the Music Department, director of choral organizations, and instructor of applied voice, conducting, vocal pedagogy, and choral arranging. Choral ensembles under her direction include the A Cappela Choir and Chamber Singers. Her ensembles have performed at various locations throughout the U.S., including Carnegie Hall in New York. In 2004, her A Cappella Choir traveled to Italy for a tour emphasizing world peace. Lynn holds a Doctor of Arts in Music degree with an emphasis in choral conducting and voice performance from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. Prior degrees from Truman State University and William Jewell College include emphases in choral conducting, voice performance, and music education. Before moving to North Manchester, Dr. Lynn has held teaching and conducting positions at Northeast Missouri State University, William Jewell College, and Mid-America Nazarene College. She has served as opera chorus director for Illinois Opera Theatre and as guest conductor for various composer forums and honor choir festivals.