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Concert Program Cover

Third Concert of the 74th Season

The ABCs of Music

Sunday, March 10th, 2013
Honeywell Center, Wabash
Scott Humphries, Conductor

  Overture to The Merry Widow Franz Lehár  
       
  Orchestral Suite from The Inn of the Sixth Happiness Sir Malcolm Arnold  
 

III. Happy Ending

 
       
  Quiet City Aaron Copland  
  John Adler, trumpet
George Donner, English horn
 
       
  Rhapsody for Clarinet and Orchestra Claude Debussy  
  David Widder, clarinet  
       
  Intermission  
       
  Three Dance Episodes from On the Town Leonard Bernstein  
 

I. The Great Lover Displays Himself
II. Lonely Town: Pas De Deux
III. Time Square: 1944

 
       
  Romanian Rhapsody No. 2 Georges Enesco  
       
  The Liberty Bell John Phillip Sousa  
       
 

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

 
  Overture to The Merry Widow Franz Lehár
(1870-1948)
 
 

Lehár, like Johann Strauss, was a composer of light music. But, unlike Strauss, his work consisted of operettas. Like Strauss, Lehár has been harshly treated by serious critics. There is a story that Gustav Mahler and his young wife, Alma, were so taken by a performance of The Merry Widow that they rushed home to play it from memory, and to dance around the room. They had trouble remembering one passage, and the next day went to a music shop to seek out the score. They could not bring themselves to admit to the clerk that they were interested in a mere operetta, so while Mahler occupied the staff with questions about the sales of his own work, Alma sneaked a look at the score, and, once out of the shop, sang it to her husband to make sure they could remember it!

The operetta itself is a bedroom farce, owing a lot to Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, and Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. It takes place in the Pontevedran embassy in Paris. "Pontevedro" is really Montenegro, and has to do with its attempts to remain independent and solvent. The solvency has to do with getting the wealthy widow of the title to marry a Pontevedran. It is a parody of actual events in the history of Montenegro.


 
       
  Orchestral Suite from The Inn of the Sixth Happiness Sir Malcolm Arnold
(1921-2006)
 
 

Malcolm Arnold was born in England in 1921 and died there in 2006. 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 very popular, especially in Britain. But even there, his reputation among the critics was not high until recently. Quite a few books on twentieth century British composers did 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 Schonberg, Webern, and Berg, was so successfully marketed that a tune lasting more than a measure was often condemned as decadent.

The disparity of views on Arnold between the public and critics was due largely to his holding his own against the prevailing new academism of the New Viennese School. Arnold's music was too tuneful and attractive. He still thought the major/minor scale had something to offer. He believed that music must communicate something to the public... "a gesture of friendship," as he put it. He believed that the avant-garde was 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 playing 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 made his livint writing film scores. (He won an Oscar for The Bridge on the River Kwai.) This kept him from being considered a serious composer.

Arnold was very prolific and, although he is best known for his "pretty" music, he produced nine symphonies, some of which have the dissonances commonly associated with twentiety-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 Blass, who write music in search of a theme. Arnold's music provides the rhythmic effects which appear to attrac the public to the Minimalists, but, unlike them, he provided striking themes to inform the rhythms.

In addition to his Academy Award-winning score for David Lean's The Bridge on the River Kwai, Arnold wrote scores for over one hundred films, plus many TV shows. He won the Ivor Novello Award for his score for The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.

This suite comprises three parts: the first, dubbed London Prelude, describes the heroine's determined march to Victoria Station to begin her trip to China as a missionary; the second part, Romantic Interlude, describes her budding romance with a Chinese officer; the third, Happy Ending, describes her heroic effort to evacuate a group of children across the mountains to safety from the invading Japanese. You will hear the "determination" theme from the first section again, and then the children's song, This Old Man, followed by the love theme in a triumphant roar from the full orchestra, complete with percussion.


 
       
  Quiet City Aaron Copland
(1900-1990)
 
 

Aaron Copland, the son of an immigrant family, grew to be considered the most "American" of American composers. He was born in Brooklyn, NY, and spent the first twenty years of his life there on a street which, in his words, "can only be described as drab." At the age of twenty-one, he was able to go to Paris where he studied under Paul Vidal and the legendary Nadia Boulanger. He was her first American student, and she was sufficiently impressed to commission him to write an organ concerto for her to perform during her American tour. With this work, he established himself as an important addition to American musical life.

Although he is most famous for his ability to evoke images of rural America, his urban background provoked a touch of the Blues in more than one work. Quiet City was written in 1939 as incidental music to a play of the same name by Irwin Shaw. A year later, it was orchestrated for strings, English horn, and trumpet. It is very different from his "rural" pieces like Rodeo, Billy the Kid, and Appalachian Spring, which are exuberant and folksy. Quiet City suggests a pensive, even melancholy mood, derived from the plot of the play. In the vast city of New York, a lonely Jewish boy plays a lament on his trumpet. Critics note the "African-American" quality of the blue notes as well as a hint of the Cantor in this music.

After a very soft opening in the strings, the trumpet states the theme. Later, the English horn echoes the trumpet with wide intervals suggesting emptiness and isolation. At the risk of irritating those who object to subjective interpretation of music, I must say that, for me, Copland evokes a scene of New York at 3 a.m. Street lamps gleam off the wet pavement left by the street cleaners. The city seems deserted, except for the wail of a distant siren. A young man, alone in his room, is calling out. Otherwise, the city is quiet.


 
       
  Rhapsody for Clarinet and Orchestra Claude Debussy
(1862-1918)
 
 

Debussy is often spoken of as an "Impressionist." Labels are dangerous, because all great artists are individualists, but it is more instructive to say that he was an Impressionist than to say simply that he was a composer! Debussy was an admirer of Monet, Manet, and other painters whose works inspired the sobriquet "Impressionism," and, paralleling those painters whose subject was light itself, his was sound. If that sounds vague, it matches, in a sense, their art, because painter and musician alike, they were willing to sacrifice structure for atmosphere.

They differ to the extent that content mattered little to the Impressionist painters... it was the way they painted, not what they painted that mattered. For Debussy, content was also important, and, in this respect, he is related to the "Symbolist" poets like Verlaine, Mallarmé, and Baudelaire. They stressed "implication" rather than direct statement. Debussy hinted at events and appearances in his music.

This close affinity between composer, painter, and poet, and the mutual inspiration is really typical of the Romantic Age against Debussy thought he was rebelling. As one critic has suggested, Debussy's music was not so much a repudiation of Romanticisn as it was a refinement of it, and the same could be said of the painting of the Impressionist period.

Debussy hated to be tagged as an Impressionist, but perhaps that was because the painters of that group were getting panned by the critics, and Debussy wanted to distance himself from that criticism. Some critics think that today Debussy would welcome such a comparison since Impressionism no longer has that stain.

The Rhapsody for Clarinet and Orchestra begins with a descending series of four notes, which sound remarkably like a phrase used by Ravel in his Daphins et Chloe ballet. Both Ravel and Debussy are considered Impressionists, and both of thise pieces were written at the same time, between 1909 and 1910. Perhaps one was looking over the other's shoulder. In fact, each accused the other of stealing from him in several compositions.

The four note opening phrase repeats from time to time, in a dreamy, pastoral manner, and is interrupted only occasionally by an orchestral outburst. About halfway through the piece (at four minutes) there is a goofy sort of playfulness in the clarinet part, with an occasional reprimand from the brass. Then the dreamy theme continues for a while before there is a reiteration of the playful part punctuated by a blast from the full orchestra.


 
       
  Three Dance Episodes from On the Town Leonard Bernstein
(1918-1990)
 
 

The "town," of course, is New York City, and the story takes place in the twenty-four hours of shore-leave for three sailors. Their chief desire is to be able to make out -- the skyline of the city from the top of the Empire State Building after enjoying the other attractions. Who could forget the lines that open and close the show?: "New York, New York, It's a wonderful town. The Bronx is up and the Battery's down. The people ride in a hole in the ground!"

During the course of the day, all three meet the girl that was meant for each of them, a cab driver, an anthropologist, and a cover girl (sort of). The story centers around the cover girl who has been chosen as "Miss Turnstiles" of the New York subway system for one month. The main character sees her poster in the subway train and mistakenly assumes she is really well-known and the toast of the town. He actually meets her, loses her, and then for the rest of the day tries to find her again.

He does find her, and there is instant chemistry (these days it would be amphetamines, but those were simpler days, and it was just romance). The plot quirk is that she is almost totally unknown, but she lets him think she is special because she is ashamed of having been forced to work in a Coney Island hoochie-coochie show to pay the fees of her dance instructor. She is actually from a small town in Indiana, as is the sailor. She agrees to go out with him, and he is ecstatic. She has to leave at 11:30 for her show, but doesn't want to disillusion him, and just leaves him a note.

The sailors and their girlfriendds track her down and she confesses to him about her ordinary status. He says he doesn't care about that, and we are left with the notion that after he gets out of the Navy they might see each other again in Indiana.

Bernstein said that it was the first Broadway musical to have as many as seven or eight dance episodes in the space of two acts. The work was suggested to him by his frequent collaborator, Jerome Robbins, and the success of his recent ballet, Fancy Free.

Bernstein is one of the few composers who have been able to straddle the fence between popular and classical music, while winning almost unanimous approval from the critics. While everyone will recognize the roots of jazz and the blues in this work, there are also daring effects of dissonance and unexpected changes of key.

From the score for the show, Bernstein re-orchestrated three segments. They are: The Great Lover, Lonely Town, and Times Square 1944. Bernstein describes them as follows:

"In the Dance of the Great Lover, Gaby, the romantic sailor in search of the glamorous Miss Turnstiles, falls asleep in the subway and dreams of his prowess in sweeping Miss Turnstiles off her feet.

"In the Pas de Deux, Gaby watches a scene, both tender and sinister, in which a sensitive high-school girl in Central Park is lured and then cast off by a worldly sailor.

"The Times Square Ballet is a more panoramic sequence in which all the sailors in New York congregate in Times Square for their night of fun. There is communal dancing, a scene in a souvenir arcade, and a scene in the Roseland Dance Palace."


 
       
  Romanian Rhapsody No. 2 George Enescu
(1881-1955)
 
 

George Enescu, or Georges Enesco, as he is known in France, virtually his second home, was a remarkable person. He began playing the violin when he was four years old, and began composing when he was five. He graduated from the Vienna Conservatory when he was twelve. His first published works were written when he was fourteen.

He was an expert violinist, pianist, conductor (he was considered as a replacement for Arturo Toscanini with the New York Philharmonic), writer, and teacher. Among his students was the violinist Yehudi Menuhin. He also had a prodigious memory. He could play all of Bach's works from memory, and he knew all of Wagner's operas also, and could conduct them without a score. Some of his most-liked works were never written down because he kept them in his head for instant recall.

Although the influences of Wagner and Brahms are heard in many of his works, the trait that most defines him as a composer is his use of Romanian folk sources. Unlike other nationalistic composers, such as Tchaikovsky, who actually incorporated folk songs into their compositions, Enescu created his own folk song-like melodies. He became fascinated by the Gypsy performers in the bars and restaurants of Bucharest, and used some of the native instruments in his works, and conventional instruments to imitate others.

Enescu is renowned in Romania as their greatest national composer, and his hometown, Liveni, was renamed "George Enescu." By the was, his first name is pronounced almost like our "Georgia" in Romanian. Outside Romania, he is known by the Frenchified name, Georges.

He wrote several symphonies, orchestral suites, quartets, sonatas, and an opera, but his best-known works are the two Romanian Rhapsodies. Enescu professed to dislike them, since their popularity overshadowed what he considered his more serious work.

Both rhapsodies, as you would expect, reflect the influence of Romanian folk music, perhaps emulating the Hungarian Rhapsodies of Liszt. The first of the rhapsodies is extremely energetic, with rapid dance rhythms, while the second is more stately and fluid. Some critics think it is more uniform in construction, and even more folk-like than the first. While the First Rhapsody is based on dance, the second is based on song.

The opening portion is slow and melodic, reminding us somewhat of Brahms. It is almost a lullaby. Many people would wonder what is so "Romanian" about it, but at about four minutes into it a sudden change takes place. A very Oriental portion begins. Remember that the Romany Gypsies had their origin in what is now Pakistan, and carried their musical characteristics with them on their long migration through Romania, Hungary, and on to Spain, where it can be heard in Flamenco music.

At another point, there is a short dance played by a small string group that was described by one reviewer as suggesting a Gypsy quartet emerging from the orchestra to the front of the stage to do their bit before returning to the orchestra. The work ends with a five-note solo, played on the clarinet.


 
       
  The Liberty Bell John Philip Sousa
(1854-1932)
 
 

John Philip Sousa Hardly needs an introduction. The Norman Rockwell of American music, he is known to (or at least his music is recognized by) all Americans. He was born, appropriately, in Washington, D.C., the son of a Spanish trombonist in the Marine Band. His father, though born in Spain, was of Portugese origina. "Sousa" is a town in Portugal. Legend has it that his name originally was Antonio So, and that he added the "usa" to the name as a tribute to his adopted country. Sousa denies this, but if this story is not true, it ought to be, for as musicologist Wilfrid Mellers says, "...it is truer than fact." Mellers, a British expert in American music, says that Sousa is to the march as Strauss is to the waltz.

Mellers goes on to contrast Sousa with that other American icon, Stephen Foster. While the latter represents pessimistic nostalgia, the former evinces optimistic bouyancy. Foster is all heart; Sousa is all body. Sousa, himself, declared that his music was not for the head... it was for the feet! It "...should make a man with a wooden leg step out."

The Liberty Bell was written before it was named. It was intended for an operetta that Sousa was writing, but the funding fell through. It was still unpublished and unnamed when Sousa and his band manager visited Chicago for the Columbian Exposition of 1893. They were watching a show, "America," during which the backdrop came down that featured the Liberty Bell. Sousa's band manager, George Hinton, suggested The Liberty Bell as the name of the recently composed march. I don't know if the prominence of the bell in that work suggested the title to Hinton, or if Sousa added that bell after the suggestion by Hinton.

If the music sounds familiar to you, that could be for many reasons, but one of them is that it was the theme song for the BBC comedy series, Monty Python's Flying Circus. It seems to have been chosen for two reasons. One, in typical perverseness, the group thought it was completely irrelevant to the series, and two, it was in the public domain, and cost them nothing!

Another reason it will seem familiar is that it has been played at the last four presidential inaugurations.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin I
Elizabeth Smith, Concertmaster
Lois Clond
Sarah Wright
Bill Klickman
Rachel Nowak +^
Ilona Orban

Violin II
Joyce Dubach *
Linda Kummernuss
Paula Merriman
Alyssa Loos +^
Colleen Phillips
Will Stanley

Viola
Julie Sadler *
Benjamin Crim +^
Renée Neher +
Carrie Shank +^

Cello
Robert Lynn *
Michael Rueff +^
Timothy Spahr
Tony Spahr

Bass
Darrel Fiene *
Jess Gaze
Katie Huddleston +^

Piccolo/Flute
Kathy Davis *
Alyssa Rosheck +
Kathy Urbani

Oboe
George Donner *
Nyssa Tierney

Clarinet
Lila D. Hammer *
Mark W. Huntington
Sarah Leininger +^
Bass Clarinet
Sarah Leininger +^

Bassoon
Erich Zummack *
Barry C. Trent

Alto Saxophone
Terry McKee

Horn
John Morse *
Christen Adler **
Kristen Hoffman +^
Michael Paynter +^
Dana Dillon +^

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Alan Murphy
Dennis Ulrey

Trombone
Jon Hartman *
Chris Hartman +^
Larry Dockter

Tuba
Caleb Dehning

Timpani
Dave Robbins *

Percussion
Dave Robbins *
Timothy Johnson +
Kevin Friermood +
Mackenzi Lowry +
Katie Lowther +

Harp
Kathryn Fenstermacher

Piano/Celeste
Alan Chambers

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MU student
^ Denotes Keister Scholarship recipient
** Denotes assistant principal
       
 
David WidderDavid Widder is Professor of Music at Virginia Tech, where he teaches clarinet and served as conductor of the University Symphonic Wind Ensemble for thirty years. A graduate of the University of Arkansas (Bachelor of Music) and the University of North Texas (Doctor of Musical Arts), he works actively as a soloist, clinician, guest conductor, and adjudicator. His first teacher was his father, Roger Widder, and subsequent teachers included David Pittman and Lee Gibson. He has appeared more than thirty-five times as a concerto soloist as well as a chamber and orchestral clarinetist in venues around the world, and at conferences of the International Clarinet Society, Horn Society, Double Reed Society, and the Midwest Clinic. In addition to modern clarinet, Widder performs on historical clarinets which he studied with Hans Rudolf Stalder. In 2004, many of his former Virginia Tech clarinet students honored him by returning to campus for a suprise performance on his final Wind Ensemble Concert.
John AdlerA native of Reno, Nevada, John Adler joined the faculty at the University of Northern Colorado in 2010, coming from Virginia Tech where he taught trumpet and jazz studies for four years. Dr. Adler's D.M.A. in trumpet performance was completed at the University of Miami, where he studied with former principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Craig Morris.

Adler has a diverse performance resume and is in demand as a soloist/educator all across the country. In the spring of 2010, John was featured soloist with the New River Valley Symphony Orchestra, the Manchester Symphony Orchestra, and performed guest recitals at the Ohio State University, Western Michigan University, Bowling Green State University, and Grand Valley State University. His first solo CD, "Confronting Inertia," was released on Origin Classical in October 2009, The CD includes six new classical works by jazz composers commissioned for the project. He has shared the stage with numerous jazz greats including John Hollenbeck, Maria Schneider, Bobby Shew, and Conrad Herwig, and has played lead trumpet in the Jaco Pastorius Big Band, the Denis Noday Big Band, the Reno Jazz Orchestra, and the Grammy Award-Winning University of Miami Concert Jazz Band. He is a founding member of the jazz chamber group Seven Minus.

He can be heard as lead trumpet on "Pulse," a big band record featuring the music of Dan Cavanagh, which was released on OA2 records in November, 2008, and "Stand Up Eight," a big band project featuring the writing of Steve Owen, which was released on OA2 records in February, 2013. John recently recorded his first jazz CD as a leader with pianist Dan Cavanagh and percussionist Jaime Reyes. The project is currently in post-production with a prospective release date sometime in 2013.
George DonnerGeorge Donner, oboist, is currently a member of the Manchester Symphony, Marion Philharmonic, and Jaenicke Consort. He has also performed with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Elkhart Symphony, Delbarton Ensemble, and the Blake Ensemble.

Donner's principal teachers were Frank Rosenwein, John Mack, Harold Gomberg, Ralph Gomberg, and Anton Maly. George is a native of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and is a graduate of Maple Avenue Elementary School and several other respected institutions of learning.