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Concert Program Cover

Second Concert of the 75th Season

Holiday Pops with Boston Brass

Sunday, December 8th, 2013
Cordier Auditorium
Scott Humphries, Conductor

  Sleigh Ride Leroy Anderson  
       
  Fantasia on We Three Kings Brian Balmages  
       
  Polonaise from Christmas Eve Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov  
       
  Nutcracker Suite Peter Tchaikovsky
Arr. by J.D. Shaw
 
 

I. Chinese Dance
II. Arabian Dance
III. Russian Dance

 
  Boston Brass  
     
  Coventry Carol Arr. by Richard Price  
  Boston Brass  
       
  Jingle Bells Forever Arr. by Robert W. Smith
Adapted by J.D. Shaw
 
     
  Intermission  
       
       
  Motown Jingle Bells Sam Pilafian  
  Boston Brass and select members of MSO  
       
  Frosty the Snowman Jack Rollins
Arr. by J.D. Shaw
 
  Boston Brass  
       
  The Christmas Song Mel Torme
Arr. by Nathan Tanouye
 
  Boston Brass  
       
  Christmas Sing-a-long John Finnegan  
  MSO and audience  
       
  I Wonder as I Wander Arr. by Rick DeJonge  
       
  Christmas Bells are Swinging Arr. by J.D. Shaw and S. Cirillo  
 

I. Let it Snow
II. White Christmas
III. It Came upon a Midnight Clear
IV. Greensleeves

 
  with the Manchester Symphony Orchestra  
       
  Encore: We Wish You a Merry Christmas Traditional  
       
 

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

 
  Sleigh Ride Leroy Anderson
(1908-1975)
 
 

Leroy Anderson was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1908, and died in Woodbury, Connecticut, in 1975. He studied composition at Harvard with George Enesco and Walter Piston. Anderson became very active in musical circles. He was chairman of the board of review of the American Society of Composers, and was a board member of the New Haven and Hartford symphony orchestras. He was a linguist, fluent in nine languages, but specializing in German and Scandinavian ones. He served with U.S. Intelligence in Iceland and in the United States during the Second World War, and was recalled to duty during the Korean War in 1951. He was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. While working there in Military Intelligence, he found time to write several of his most popular works, such as Blue Tango.

He is best known 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 instruments).

Anderson had been discovered by Arthur Fiedler, director of the Boston Pops Orchestra, and was championed by Fiedler, who invited him to conduct his own works with that orchestra. When he conducted The Typewriter, he did so wearing a green visor, with his sleeves rolled up, and pretending to be typing in time with the music.

Sleigh Ride is perhaps the most often performed Anderson work. The Manchester Symphony Orchestra plays it very often during the holidays.


 
       
  Fantasia on We Three Kings Brian Balmages
(b. 1975)
 
 

Brian Balmages is a versatile man ... a composer, conductor, arranger, and performer. he graduated with a B.A. in music from James Madison University in Virginia, and received his Master's Degree from the University of Miami in Florida. He specializes in wind instruments, particularly brass, and enjoys working with school orchestras. He has played with professional symphony orchestras, and his music has been performed by many important orchestras, such as the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, and many others.

As a conductor, he has worked mostly with bands, especially with regional band clinics, such as the Midwest Clinic, the Wester International Band Clinic, the College Band Directors Eastern Regional Conference, and others.

The work we hear today is based on the well-known Christmas carol We Three Kings of Orient Are, written in 1857 by the Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr., who was a deacon in the Episcopal Church. He was the music director of the General Theological Seminary in New York City, for whom he wrote this carol.

We are all familiar with this work, but it is interesting to hear what Brian Balmages has done with it. There is a good deal more here than Hopkins wrote in this music. You will no doubt hear allusions to many other composers, such as Debussy, and there is a great deal of inventive orchestration in the music. It works its way from a delicate beginning to a dramatic conclusion.


 
       
  Polonaise from Christmas Eve Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov
(1844-1897)
 
 

Rimsky-Korsakov belonged to that group of Russian nationalist composers known as "The Five," consisting of Balakirev, Cui, Borodin, and Mussorgsky. The Nationalist position was set forth by Rimsky's older contemporary, Glinka, who divided his attention between subjects of Russian history on the one hand, and legend on the other. Rimsky-Korsakov appeared to satisfy what interest he had in history by working with other composers on such projects. When it came to his own music, he was inspired almost exclusively by legend and fantasy.

One of the peculiarities of "The Five" is that they were all amateurs, earning their living (at least initially) through other means. Rimsky was a naval officer, who wrote much of Russia's first symphony while on duty with the Tsar's navy in England. Perhaps it was because they had to earn a living first, and compose second, that so many of their works had to be finished by someone else; they collaborated often with each other. Initially, all of the disdained serious study of musical theory, but Rimsky-Korsakov, in his memoirs, remarks on having the good sense to review his notions regarding the importance of theory, and re-energize his career. Of the lot, Rimsky-Korsakov developed the most as a theorist, and his writings on orchestration are still revered. Among his students were Arensky, Ippolitov-Ivanov, Lyadov, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Respighi.

The opera Christmas Eve was written mid-point in his career, and he often spoke of it as one of a group of three operas (the others being Mlada and Sadko), which formed a turning point in his development as an operatic composer. Sadko, for the first time (in Rimsky's opinion), combined faultlessly the textual content with the musical expression. The other two operas, he thought, were almost overpoweringly mythical.

He had based Christmas Eve on a text by Gogol ... a text with light-hearted wit. Those elements that appealed most to Rimsky-Korsakov were the mystical or fantastic ones, which he then exaggerated. In retrospect, he thought he had made a mistake in doing that, but at the time he was so enamored of the fantastic that he got carried away.

Gogol's story concerns a village lad, Vakula, whose girlfriend agrees to marry him only if he performs what she considers to be an impossible task: To bring her the slippers of the Tsaritsa. The Devil sets up all sorts of obstacles for Vakula, but is outwitted, and the latter persuades the Tsar to give him the slippers, after which he wins his bride. The Polonaise heard today comes near the end of the opera, when Vakula is welcomed into the Tsar's palace.

Rimsky-Korsakov routinely made suites from the music of his operas. The Polonaise is from the Second Suite, and was actually performed in 1894, one year before the opera itself. Almost all members of "The Five" grew up as gentlemen in the country, and had ample opportunity to become familiar with folk music. The Polonaise, a dance of Polish origin, became a popular form with virtually all Russian composers. It was a stately dance, commonly played at formal events, and this one has a distinctly imperial air about it. (You might recall John Williams' polonaise at the end of the original Star Wars film as Princess Leia makes her triumphant entrance!)

The work begins, tutti, in grand manner, with the brass soon emphasized. Rimsky-Korsakov earlier had too great a fondness for the brass, and remarks that he and Borodin much improved Borodin's Third Symphony when the reduced the brass in that composition. Here there is justification for it, and the trumpets peal out in fanfares. The opening theme is followed by a motif already made familiar to hearers of the complete suite in the ride on the Devil's back to the palace of the Tsar. Hereafter, the two themes alternate, interrupted by a soft middle section emphasizing the woodwinds. The work ends with a dramatic accelerando of the principal theme.


 
       
  Coventry Carol Arr. by Richard Price  
 

This carol dates back to the 16th century, and is the only surviving carol written to be part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and the Tailors, regularly performed in Coventry, England. It tells the Christmas story as it is in the Gospel of Matthew, and refers to the Massacre of the Innocents. Normally, it is sung a capella.


 
       
  Jingle Bells Forever Arr. by Robert W. Smith
Adapted by J.D. Shaw
 
 

Originally called One Horse Open Sleigh, this most commonly sung carol, known to us all as Jingle Bells, was written in 1857 by James Lord Pierpont. Though it is always considered a Christmas song, it was actually intended to be sung for Thanksgiving!


 
       
  Motown Jingle Bells Sam Pilafian
(b. 1949)
 
 

Sam Pilafian is a tuba virtuoso and professor at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. He often performs as a soloist, but also orchestrates music for brass ensembles. In this case, the work is to be a jazz version of a popular tune, with a Motown flavor.


 
       
  Frosty the Snowman Jack Rollins
Arr. by J.D. Shaw
 
 

From 1934 to 1964, Gene Autry was a big name in movies and, later, television. As a child, I knew him as "The Singing Cowboy" (that would be "country-western" these days), and although my friends and I liked him as a cowboy hero, we thought he sang too much, and we cringed when he kissed the schoolmarm in the last scene. He became far more widely known when he sang Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a song written for him by Walter "Jack" Rollins in 1949. That song was such a tremendous success that Rollins wrote Frosty the Snowman the following year, in an attempt to repeat that success.


 
       
  The Christmas Song Mel Torme
Arr. by Nathan Tanouye
 
 

Despite the lyrics and intent of the song, it was written during a blistering summer. Torme wrote that he had seen a spiral pad on his co-writer's piano, with four lines written in pencil. They were "Chestnuts roasting..., Jack Frost nipping..., Yuletide carols..., Folks dressed up like Eskimos." The co-writer, Bob Wells, hadn't been thinking about a song; he was just trying to keep cool by writing down cool things. It took forty minutes for Torme to write the song ... all the music and some of the lyrics. Nat King Cole released a number of versions over the years, and it became a great hit.


 
       
  I Wonder as I Wander Arr. by Rick DeJonge  
 

This song was written by John Jacob Niles, an American folklorist and singer, who based it on a short melodic phrase sung by an untutored girl at an outdoor evangelical fund-raising meeting in a small town in North Carolina. It dates back to 1933, but many people mistakenly think it is an ancient folk-song. In fact, it is possible that it does have its origin in older music, and was simply handed down to the girl who sang it for Niles, who holds the copyright.

Benjamin Britten used it in his set of folk songs in 1934. It has inspired other composers to make use of it in their works. Luciano Berio, for example.

This arrangement is by Rick DeJonge, who writes a great deal of music for films and television. He has done arrangements for the Boston Brass for the past seven years.


 
       
  Christmas Bells Are Swinging Arr. by J.D. Shaw and S. Cirillo  
 

I. Let it Snow
    Music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Sammy Cahn

II. White Christmas
    Words and music by Irving Berlin (1940)

III. It Came upon the Midnight Clear
    Words by Edmund Sears (1849), music by Richard Storrs Willis (1850)

IV. Greensleeves
    A traditional English folk song, dating back to Elizabethan times


 
       
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin I
Elizabeth Smith, Concertmaster
Thomas Dean +^
Ilona Orban
Kristine Papillon
Lois Clond

Violin II
Joyce Dubach *
Rachel Nowak
Paula Merriman
Emily Lynn
Linda Kummernuss
Will Stanley

Viola
Julie Sadler *
Carrie Shank +^
Margaret Sklenar
Colleen Phillips

Cello
Robert Lynn *
Michael Rueff +^
Jade Keane +^
Robert Hudson

Bass
Darrel Fiene *
Katie Huddleston +^

Piccolo/Flute
Kathy Davis *
Kathy Urbani
Alyssa Rocheck +

Oboe
George Donner *
Nyssa Tierney
Abigail Lynn
Clarinet
Lila D. Hammer *
Mark W. Huntington
Sarah Leininger +^

Bass Clarinet
Sarah Leininger

Bassoon
Erich Zummack *
Elena Bohlander +

Horn
Christen Adler *
John Morse **
Michael Paynter +^
Dana Dillon +^
Kelly Weeks +^

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Dennis Ulrey
Mykayla Neilson +^

Trombone
Jon Hartman *
Chris Hartman +^
Larry Dockter

Tuba
Caleb Dehning

Timpani
Dave Robbins *

Percussion
Dave Robbins *
Joseph James Ulrey
Mackenzi Lowry +^
Katie Lowther +
David Dicken +

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MU student
^ Denotes Keister Scholarship recipient
** Denotes assistant principal
 
Boston Brass

JOSE SIBAJA, trumpet
JEFF CONNER, trumpet
CHRIS CASTELLANOS, horn
DOMINGO PAGLIUCA, trombone
ANDY HITZ, tuba (not pictured)

For over 25 years, Boston Brass has set out to establish a one-of-a-kind musical experience. From exciting classical arrangements, to burning jazz standards, and the best of the original brass quintet repertoire, Boston Brass treats audiences to a unique brand of entertainment, which captivates all ages. The ensemble's lively repartee, touched with humor and personality, attempts to bridge the ocean of classical formality to delight audiences in an evening of great music and boisterous fun. The philosophy of Boston Brass is to provide audiences with a wide selection of musical styles in unique arrangements, provided in a friendly and fun atmosphere.

Through over 100 performances each year, the members of Boston Brass play to audiences at concerts, educational venues, and jazz festivals. In addition to solo performances, Boston Brass regularly performs with orchestras, bands, organ, jazz bands, and a variety of other ensembles. They have performed in 49 states and 21 countries and have conducted master classes around the world, including sessions and residencies at the Eastman School of Music, Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Peabody Conservatory of Music, University of North Texas, Royal Academy of Music in London, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory at the National University of Singapore, and Mahidol University in Bangkok.

Boston Brass helped raise over $100,000 for VH1's Save the Music program, giving musical instruments to schools in need. They have been featured educators and performers at the Mid West Band and Orchestra Clinic, World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, Music Educators National Conference events, American Bandmaster Association Conference, The American and College, and at the Texas Bandmasters Association Convention. Since 2006, Boston Brass has served as Artist/Educational Ambassadors for Jupiter Band Instruments.

Boston Brass has been featured on The CBS Early Show, National Public Radio's Performance Today, The Great American Brass Band Festival, and has recorded several diverse albums. Latin Nights, their latest offering, features a collection of some of the greatest classical and jazz works by Latin composers and performers, and reatures the legendary drummer Steve Gadd, the beautiful voice of Talita Real, percussion and guitar. Other albums include Ya Gotta Try, featuring music from Horace Silver, Chick Corea, and Dizzy Gillespie, produced by legendary jazz recording genius Rudy van Gelder; and Within Earshot, featuring classical works by Shostakovich, Ginastera, Dvorak, Liszt, and others.

Boston Brass has two holiday recordings, Christmas Bells are Swingin', and The Stan Kenton Christmas Carols, featuring the Boston Brass All-Stars Big Band playing the truly phenomenal charts made popular by the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Boston Brass tours a vibrant holiday show each year featuring many of the charts from these two albums, combined with a variety of solo and combo selections and some fun surprises, which has quickly established the show as a perennial audience favorite.

2011 marked the 25th Anniversary of Boston Brass and was celebrated with the "25 Fanfares Project," wherein 25 fanfares by composers from all over the country were premiered. The project proved so successful (and enjoyable for the group), that Boston Brass will continue premiering fanfares in the coming seasons. Boston Brass also premiered a new major commission and new arrangements by the legendary Sam Pilafian. Additionally, Boston Brass undertook a recent and ongoing collaboration with Imani Winds in a program entitled "Sketches of Spain," featuring the music of Miles Davis and Gil Evans.