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Fourth Concert of the 77th Season

The Spring Jubilee

Sunday, April 24th, 2016
Honeywell Center
Scott Humphries, Conductor

  Mein herr Marquis from Die Fledermaus Johann Strauss, Jr.  
  Emily Lynn, soprano
MSO Concerto Competition Winner
High School Division
 
       
  Acrostic Song from Final Alice David Del Tredici  
  McKenzie Hare, soprano
MSO Concerto Competition 2nd runner-up
College Division
 
       
  Five Bagatelles for Clarinet, Op. 23 Gerald Finzi  
 

I. Prelude -- Allegro deciso

 
  Angela Ebert, clarinet
MSO Concerto Competition 1st runner-up
College Division
 
       
  Und Gott Sprach: Es sammle sich das Wasser from The Creation Franz Joseph Haydn  
 

VI. Und Gott sprach
VII. Rollend in schaumenden Wellen

 
  Ô vin, dissipe la tristesse from Hamlet Ambroise Thomas  
  Grant Ebert, baritone
MSO Concerto Competition winner
College Division
 
       
  Casey at the Bat for Orchestra and Narrator Diane Whitacre  
  Bruce Haines, narrator  
       
  Intermission  
       
  The Swan of Tuonela, Op. 22, No. 2 Jean Sibelius  
  George Donner, English horn  
  The Swan of Tuonela is dedicated to Dr. John Planer, Professor of Music, for his 47 years of service to Manchester University, love of teaching, and dedication to his students.  
       
  Concerto No. 10 in B Minor for Four Violins Antonio Vivaldi  
 

I. Allegro
II. Largo - Larghetto - Allegro
III. Allegro

 
  The Mossburg Strings  
  Encore: The Sound of Music Medley    
  The Mossburg Strings  
       
 

The Adams Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

 
  Mein Herr Marquis from Die Fledermaus Johann Strauss, Jr.
(1825-1899)
 
 

Die Fledermaus (The Bat) is a Viennese Singspiel, or operetta. The structure of a Singspiel is similar to that of a Broadway musical, in that spoken dialogue is common. Recordings of Singspiele usually omit the spoken parts, which makes it hard to follow the plot, especially, as in the case of Die Fledermaus, when there are characters who have NO singing parts, and sometimes long speeches.

Often, the titles of foreign operas are translated to English even when the work is sung in the original language: we frequently see The Marriage of Figaro, and then hear it in Italian. The case of Die Fledermaus is the opposite. We use the German title even when it is sung in English. This is because it was thought that few people would go to see a musical called The Bat.

There is no vampire in The Bat (Strauss couldn't have anticipated the remarkable popularity of vampires in the twenty-first century!). In fact, the title refers to an event which had occurred before the curtain rises. Dr. Falke, a notary, had gone to a costume ball dressed as a bat. He drank too much and, when he passed out, his friends laid him out on the sidewalk so that he awoke in full costume to the derisive shouts of the school children. Ever since then, he was jeered at as "Doctor Bat" wherever he went. The plot of the operetta pivots on Dr. Falke's wish to get even with the Marquis, Gabriel Eisenstein, chief perpetrator of the joke. The work is full of mistaken identities, as all participants show up at a ball in disguise, and each reveals what he or she shouldn't reveal to the wrong person.

Eisenstein's maid, Adele, goes to the ball disguised as a real lady, and the Marquis mistakes her for his maid. Of course, she IS his maid, but she is dressed very elegantly, in Eisenstein's wife's gown. Everyone tells him he is very un-gallant to tell her that she looks like a maid. Adele then admonishes him for being so unobservant. She sings the famous "Laughing Song."

"My dear Marquis, a man like you ought to know better than that. Let me therefore advise you to look at people more closely. My hand is too tiny to behold, my foot too small and graceful! My speech, so refined, my dainty waist and elegant figure, you'll never find a lady's maid who has these things!"


 
  Acrostic Song from Final Alice David Del Tredici
(b. 1937)
 
 

David Del Tredici is an American composer born in Cloverdale, California. he studied at the University of California at Berkley and at Princeton University. From 1966 to 1972 he was an Assistant Professor at Harvard, where he taught counterpoint to an appreciative John Adams. The New Grove Dictionary of Music comments that many of his compositions contain a highly virtuoso part, as you will hear today. The last part of his name is pronounced "TREH-dee-chee."

Del Tredici was a talented pianist and won a number of prestigious awards as a performer, but when he attended the Aspen Music Festival, he was embarrassed and insulted by a "mean" teacher. He thought that teacher was a monster, but soon learned that he was simply a New Yorker! In spite of the revelation, he decided that he needed to change professions, and chose composition over performance.

In his early years of composition, he was part of the then-fashioable group of atonalists, whose gods were Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern. Those composers eschewed the notion of "key," and used all twelve tones in their works. Serialism, as it was also known, was more cerebral than it was aural. Or, as Del Tredici put it, using more words, "How the music sounded seemed less important than the theoretical construct." I'm reminded of what Mark Twain said about Wagner: "His music is better than it sounds." During that same period, artists were expected to be Abstract Expressionists, and if anyone painted something recognizable, he was reviled as being "not with it." Del Tredici was heralded by some as the founder of the New Romanticism, and reviled as a recidivist by others. Today's music is an example of that romanticism.

Final Alice is a long, complex opera (sort of), and the piece you hear today is the last song in that long work. Del Tredici proudly claims to be a "maverick," and admits that "I also, maverick-wise, have done bizarre things to the soprano voice. Giving it lines high and low, and asking for a flexibility which really was kind of unprecedented." MU music professor Dr. Debra Lynn confirms the difficulty of this work. "It's extremely difficult. The range is wide, but the bigger problem is the extremely long phrases (the tempo is slow), and the dynamic contrast requires a lot of subtlety." This is a challenging piece for our soloist.

Del Tredici was fascinated by the works of Lewis Carroll, and, over a ten-year period, wrote many pieces based on his poetry. This is probably the last long work in that genre, hence the title, Final Alice, and this song is the last song in that major work.

The title, Acrostic Song, refers to the fact that the first letters of each line of the poem spell out the name of the girl Lewis Carroll had in mind when he wrote the Wonderland stories, Alice Pleasance Liddell. The poem:

A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July ---

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear ---

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream ---
Lingering in the golden gleam ---
Life, what is it but a dream?

In the full operativ version of this work, Del Tredici has the soprano slowly chant the words Uno, Duo, Tre, Quattro, Cinque, and so forth till the final word, Tredici, meaning "thirteen." Like Carroll, he was fascinated by wordplay.

I very much like the advice Del Tredici gives to his students, probably in defense of his move from Modernism to the New Romanticism. "You must do this because you love to do it, and have no alternative. This HAS to be your way. Everything else will conspire to have you not do it. The world does not need or want a composer around. We are made to feel superfluous. You have to really want it, and follow your instinct. That's so important. To do what you want no matter what teachers or universities or other places say you should do. You've got to go on your individual vision and hang on to it. That's all you've got."

That could just as well apply to the visual arts.


 
  Five Bagatelles for Clarinet, Op. 23 -- 1st only Gerald Finzi
(1901-1956)
 
 

Gerald Finzi was born in London to a Jewish-Italian father and a Jewish-German mother, but he is known as the "most English" of English composers. He had a great love of poetry and, upon his death in Oxford, his huge library of over 3,000 books was donated to the University of Reading.

Most of his work consisted of musical settings of poems by Thomas hardy, William Wordsworth, and Christina Rossetti. He did not like the city, and spent most of his life in rural areas of England. Much of his music has a slightly melancholy air, reflecting his reclusiveness, perhaps the result of the loss of three of his brothers and a favorite teacher early in his life.

In 1939, he founded The Newbury String Players and conducted the group until his death in 1956. He used that ensemble to acquaint the public with the works of his contemporaries, but never permitted that group to play his own music.

Although he was an agnostic, he wrote a number of religious works with Christian text, and he considered his choral works to represent his principal medium of expression. he was rather disappointed that the public preferred his instrumental music to what he considered his "mor substantial" works.

His Concerto for Clarinet is still frequently played, as are his Five Bagatelles for Clarinet. A "bagatelle," besides being a game and a small purse, is a "trifle," something to be taken lightly. The one he hear today is the first of the five, Prelude -- Allegro deciso. It is a very lively piece, showing the lighter side of Finzi's typically more introspective life.


 
  Und Gott Sprach: Es sammle sich das Wasser from The Creation Franz Joseph Haydn
(1732-1809)
 
 

Haydn is best known for his many symphonies and chamber works. Indeed, he is frequently called "The Father of the Symphony." He had a long life, and was a prolific composer. He was also of a sunny and outgoing disposition. Doubtlessly, his personality no less than his talent made him welcome in palaces and concert-halls all over Europe, and aided in the spreading of his fame.

While on a visit to England, he heard Handel's Messiah, and was moved to tears. He tried several times to write something on a Handelian scale, but was never satisfied.

It wasn't until late in life that he found a libretto that was worthy of his talents, and only then because of the superb German translation and intelligent suggestions for its application by his friend, the Baron Gottfried van Swieten.

The English critic Percy Scholes comments on the work as follows: "In his old age he composed the oratorio The Creation. It is naive but charming, and admirably reflects the simple devotion of its author, who wrote 'Never was I so pious as when I was composing this work; I knelt down daily and prayed God to strenghen me for it.'"

The Creation (German title: Die Schöpfung) is an oratorio. That is, it is an opera with no stage movements, scenery, or costumes. Our selection is in the form of a recitative by the archangel Raphael, "And God Said: Let the waters..."


 
  Ô vin, dissipe la tristesse from Hamlet Ambroise Thomas
(1811-1896)
 
 

Shakespeare provided inspiration for many composers from many countries. Some twenty-five operas have been based on the plays of Shakespeare, but there is only one based on Hamlet. This work by Thomas premiered in 1868, where it was an immediate success despite the many deviations from the original play. It was much more popular in France than it was in England, whose audiences were more familiar with the original play and lamented the many alterations of the text and events. A British critic, writing in the Pall Mall Gazette wrote, "No one but a barbarian or a Frenchman would have dared to make such a lamentable burlesque of so tragic a theme as Hamlet."

Whatever one thinks of the libretto, the music is undeniable attractive. The English critic, Edward Greenfield, wrote that "Thomas brings off a superb dramatic coup with the most memorable of the hero's solos, his drinking song [...]."

The aria we hear today is from Act II, Scene II, when Hamlet sings a drinking song (in a scene NOT appearing in Shakespeare's play).

In the Chanson Bacchique, Hamlet lifts a goblet and sings "Ô vin, dissipe la tristesse qui pése sur mon cœur! À moi les rêves de l'ivresse et le rire moqueur!" -- ("O wine, dispel the sorrow which weighs upon my heart! Give me dreams of euphoria and the mocking laugh!")


 
  Casey at the Bat for Orchestra and Narrator Diane Whitacre
(b. 1961)
 
 

Diane Whitacre has a close connection with Indiana. In 1984 she earned a BME in Music Education with distinction from the Indiana University School of Music. She has been band director at the Riverview Middle School at Huntington, Indiana, and at the South Newton Jr-Sr High School in Kentland, Indiana. She studied oboe and English horn with Jerry Sirucek at Indiana University, and was a Composition Major at the University of Illinois, Urbana from 1979-1980.

Diane has written for both instrumental and vocal mediums throughout her life, either for her own students and ensembles, for others, or at church, when needed. As a high school junior, her piece A Reflection won the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Student Composer's Competition and was performed by their chamber orchestra in April, 1978. At the request of her high school band director, Thomas Snider, Diane composed and directed her work for band, Equestrienne.

She has written numerous vocal songs, often when asked to write for a special celebration. One such event was the dedication of her home church's building in 1995, for which she wrote a brass introit, and she and her husband, Chris, collaborated to write May We Always Be Faithful.

Diane Whitacre is currently Interim Director at Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne for the remainder of this school year.

The work we hear today is based on a poem which is known to almost all Americans: Casey at the Bat, written by Ernest Lawrence Thayer (1863-1940). He wrote what the Baseball Almanac describes as "the single most famous baseball poem ever written."

This piece was commissioned by Kathy and Martin Blocki, who like to take such pieces into schools, churches, and libraries to do presentations for children. Mrs. Whitacre wrote a version for wind ensemble which was premiered on May 6, 2015, by the Manchester University Symphonic Band under conductor Scott Humphries, after which Professor Humphries persuaded her to re-score the piece for full orchestra; and that is the version we will hear today.


 
  The Swan of Tuonela, Op. 22, No. 2 Jean Sibelius
(1865-1957)
 
 

This is the best-known piece from a four-movement suite about a Finnish folk-hero called Lemminkäinen, found in the epic Kalevala. The Kalevala plays the same role in Finnish culture as the Nibelungenlied does in German culture, providing a rich trove of heroic stories subsequently useful for books, operas, and films. No fewer than twelve of the works of Sibelius were derived from stories in the Kalevala.

Like many folk epics, the events in the Kalevala are slightly different according to the source. Sibelius used four parts of the Lemminkäinen story, and he organized them initially as follows:

1. Lemminkäinen and the maidens of the island (where he tried to seduce many women and was chased away by the men).
2. The swan, swimming languorously in the lake or the river of "Tuonela, the land of death, the hell of Finnish mythology" in the words of Sibelius.
3. Lemminkäinen in Tuonela.
4. Return of Lemminkäinen.

Sibelius later switched numbers 2 and 3. After Lemminkäinen's escape from the island, he is shot with an arrow and falls into the lake or river of Tuonela, and his mother goes to find his body. Like the body of Osiris of Egyptian myth, the pieces of his body had to be gathered and reassembled, in this case by his mother.

In pursuit of a woman (of course), Lemminkäinen had been given the task of killing the swan, but was killed instead. Served him right! He was later brought back to life by his mother. Lemminkäinen does not appear to be a very likeable hero, which might account for the greater popularity of The Swan of Tuonela where he dies, compared to the other three pieces, chronicling his amorous and other manly exploits.

A connection has been made between Sibelius' use of English Horn in this piece and its use by Wagner in Tristan und Isolda. Two years earlier, Sibelius had attended a performance of that opera in Bayreuth, and had been struck by the expressiveness of that instrument.

How are these Finnish words to be pronounced? Compared to Finnish grrammar, with twelve cases, pronunciation is relatively easy. All Finish words have the stress on the first syllable. So it's "TOO-oh-nel-la" and "SEE-bay-lee-ooss."


 
  Concerto No. 10 in B Minor for Four Violins Antonio Vivaldi
(c. 1675-1743)
 
 

Antonio Vivaldi was an Italian violinist and composer. He was born in Venice around 1675, the son of a locally esteemed violinist in the service of St. Mark's Cathedral. The known circumstances surrounding Vivaldi's youth and early manhood are meager, but it has been established that he was ordained to the priesthood in 1703. He was known as "The Red Priest," not for any political leanings, but for his red hair.

Folklore tells us that he was defrocked within a short time for interrupting a mass to dash into the sacristy and jot down a theme that had come to him at the altar. Apparently he had slipped out during a lull, expecting to return before he was "on," but got so involved in his composition that he forgot to return, leaving the congregation waiting in puzzlement! His superiors thought he would make a better composer than he would a priest.

As to Vivaldi's contribution to music, it needs only to be recalled that J.S. Bach was so entranced by his instrumental forms that he made them his own. Vivaldi composed operas, cantatas, motets, and works in various other forms. He is known to have written more than 500 violin concertos for which he is best known today.

Today's selection is from a group of ten concertos known collectively as L'Estro Armonico, Op. 3. The title could be translated as "Harmonious Whimsy." Like most concertos (but not all), it consists of three movements: Allegro, Larghetto, and Allegro.

A "concerto" normally pits one instrument against the rest of the orchestra. Remember that concerto comes from concentare, to vie or contend with. In this case, we have a group of instruments, specifically four violins, vying with the rest of the orchestra, so it is almost a concerto grosso.

These works are examples of "absolute" music, as opposed to program" music. That is, they tell no story; it is just music. I mention that because Vivaldi was an early composer to write "program" music, the most notable example of which was his series of four concertos known as Le Quattro Stagione (The Four Seasons), in which you can hear a rainstorm, a barking dog, a babbling brook, a bagpipe, and many different birds. Program music is usually associated with the Romantic period. Vivaldi was ahead of his time in many ways.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
Violin I
Elizabeth Smith, Concertmaster
Kayla Michaels +^
Thomas Dean, Student concertmaster +^
Rachel Felver
Kristin Westover
Pablo Vasquez

Violin II
Joyce Dubach *
Wendy Kleintank
Paula Merriman
Linda Kummernuss
Ilona Orban
Alexandria Roskos +^
Tiffany Hanna +
Abby McVay +

Viola
Derek Reeves *
Carrie Shank +^
Margaret Sklenar
Olivia Jenks +^
Courtney Yount +
Stephanie Camargo

Cello
Robert Lynn *
Michael Rueff +^
Chris Minning

Bass
Darrel Fiene *
Katie Huddleston +^

Piccolo/Flute
Kathy Davis *
Kathy Urbani

Oboe
George Donner *
Nyssa Tierney

English Horn
George Donner
Clarinet
Lila D. Hammer *
Mark W. Huntington
Angela Ebert +^
Lawrence Neumann +

Bassoon
Erich Zummack *
Freddie Lapierre +^

Horn
Matt Weidner
John Morse
Laura Dickey +^
Jamie Weidner

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Mykayla Neilson +^
Grant Ebert +^

Trombone
Jon Hartman *
Chris Hartman +^
Larry Dockter

Tuba
Nathan Crain +^

Timpani
Dave Robbins *

Percussion
Dave Robbins *
MacKenzi Lowry +^
Kevin Friermood +^
Renée Neher +^

Piano
Alan Chambers

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