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Concert Program Cover

Fourth Concert of the 82nd Season

Around the World in 80 Minutes

Sunday, May 16th, 2021
Cordier Auditorium
Debra Lynn, Conductor

  Arrival of the Queen of Sheba from "Solomon" Georg Fredrich Handel  
  Hungarian Dances Nos. 5 and 6 Johannes Brahms  
  Variations on "America" Charles Ives  
  Kahoot! Trivia Quiz with Shannon Lee
  Bachianas Brasileiras No. 2 Villa-Lobos  

II. Aria ("The Song of Our Country")
IV. Toccata ("The Little Train of Caipira")

  Songs of the Islands Dominique Le Gendre  

I. Aller, Moin Ka-allé
II. John Wrote
III. Weary Travellers
IV. Call Up Me Rosebud
V. Pain 'Ou Ca Mangé
VI. Blow Nelson Blow
VII. Hear Me
VIII. I Shall Return
IX. New World A-Comin'
X. Till I Collect
XI. White Egrets III
XII. White Egrets VII 

  World Premiere Orchestral Arrangement  
  Jamie Chamberlain, soprano
Nathan Granner, tenor
Maegan Polonais, mezzo-soprano
Andrew Mauch & Scott Workman, classical guitar
Chamber Singers Ensemble
  He's Got the Whole World In his Hand Arr. Margaret Bonds  
  Jamie Chamberlain, soprano
Nathan Granner, tenor
Maegan Polonais, mezzo-soprano

Program Notes

  by Dr. Robert Lynn  
  "Arrival of the Queen of Sheba" from Solomon George Frideric Handel

HandelHandel was a successful composer of Italian opera for London audiences, but he is best remembered for his oratorios, most particularly Messiah, although Messiah is the least-representative of his oratorio works due to a lack of narrative story and soloists who represent characters from the story. Solomon, composed in 1748, is a better example of a "traditional" Handelian oratorio. Handel was a pretty quick composer; he complete the entire work -- lasting well over two hours -- in about six weeks. The story is the traditional biblical story of Solomon, taken largely from the first book of Kings and the second book of Chronicles. In the third act, Solomon enjoys a state visit from the Queen of Sheba, and it is this scene that the excerpt from today's concert introduces. The work is lively, with quick notes from the violins which are echoed in the oboes.

  Hungarian Dances Nos. 5 and 6 Johannes Brahms

BrahmsBrahms' 21 Hungarian dances were originally composed for piano four hands. He arranged 10 of them for solo piano, but only three for orchestra. Many other composers took up the task of arranging Brahms' dances for orchestra. The Hungarian dances have proved to be among Brahms' most popular works -- indeed, they were one of his best money-makers. Some of the Hungarian dances were among the classical works appropriated by various score composers for cartoons during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. Number 5 has probably been used more than any other, and you may well recognize it even if you don't know it from the title.

Most of the dances make use of Hungarian dance melodies; only three use original melodies by Brahms. Number 5 is one of the several which use melodies thought by Brahms to be folksongs, but turned out to be compositions by Hungarian composers. In the case of No. 5, the melodies are borrowed from the csárdás "Bártfái emlék" by Béla Kéler.

  Variations on "America" Charles Ives

IvesCharles Ives was an American musical pioneer. Many of the techniques he employed in his pieces were not widely adopted by other composers until decades after he first used them, and many of his works are found difficult to listen to by audiences. One of his most often heard works is the Variations on America, which he wrote in 1891, when he was 17 years old. Ives had been serving as a church organist since he was 14, and so it would seem natural that he would choose that instrument for the Variations. The work is quite challenging, even by modern standards, but Ives said that it was "as much fun as playing baseball." Like many of his works, the Variations remained unpublished for several decades. It was "discovered" by E. Power Biggs after being published in 1949. Wider popularity came after the work was arranged for orchestra by William Schuman in 1962, and for band by William Rhodes in 1968.

The work follows the usual theme and variation structure: an introduction based on material from the theme, an introduction of the theme, and several variations of the theme. The presentation of the main theme makes use of col legno in the strings (when they strike the strings with the wood of the bow). The first variation involves many running notes in the woodwinds which at times sound as if they have lost their way. The second variation utilizes a highly chromatic and haunting theme in the bass instruments.

Ives also inserted two interludes, one after the second variation and one after the fourth. The interludes contain some of the most dissonant material in the entire work. After the jarring first interlude, the third variation begins with a rather jolly dance in which someone seems to be a bit tipsy. The fourth variation is marked "polonaise" although it sounds more Spanish than Polish. The second interlude follows this, again, quite dissonant, with muted brass. Schuman followed the structure of the original work pretty closely, but he did insert an extra variation -- or a "forward extension" of the fifth variation. This happens right after the second interlude and begins with a substantial trumpet solo. After the trumpet solo, the arrangement resumes following Ives' original material which features quick runs in the bass instruments (which would have involved some fancy footwork on the part of the organist), and this variation leads into a finale that resembles the opening.

Some Americans take offense at Ives' Variations, as the twentieth century techniques seem to inflict rather nasty insults on the familiar patriotic melody. British folks might take greater offense, as the tune is their national anthem. However, Ives certainly did not mean to heap any abuse upon the well-loved melody. He was simply fascinated by harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic combinations of sounds that were shocking in his own time and are still quite startling today. He occasionally asked, "Are my ears on wrong?" Fortunately, he set aside these occasional doubts and left a remarkable legacy of highly original American music. If you think you might not like the Variations on America, try putting your ears on wrong before it begins.

  "Aria" and "Toccata" from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 2 Heitor Villa-Lobos

Villa-LobosHeitor Villa-Lobos wrote nine Bachianas Brasilerases, beginning in 1930 and finishing in 1945. The works celebrate both Villa-Lobos' native Brazilian folk songs as well as the music of J.S. Bach. This is reflected in the dual titles which are used for each movement. The various Bashianses are composed for a variety of instrument combinations -- for example, the first is for an orchestra of cellos. However, most, such as No. 2, are for a fairly traditional orchestra. In No. 4, in addition to the traditional orchestra instruments, there are parts for saxophone and a greatly expanded percussion section.

The work is composed in four movements; today's concert includes the second and fourth. The second movement is "Aria-O canto da nossa terra." The aria term indicates the Bach connection -- a slow, lyrical, and expressive song-like piece; "O canto da nossa terra" roughly translates to "song of our land." The second movement is in three distinct sections, two outer slower sections with a quicker, more dance-like middle part. The fourth movement is "Toccata-O trenzinho: The Little Train of the Caipira." The toccata term refers to Bach -- many of his fugues are preceded by a toccata, a showy piece with a variety of tempos and styles. "Trenzinho" means train; a "caipira" is a person from a small rural town; the fourth movement is a vivid depiction of a train.

We hear the train beginning to move, gradually picking up pace, not entirely smoothly. Once a good "traveling" speed is attained, a cheery song begins. Gradually intensity increases -- the train would seem to be climbing a hill. Speed and momentum gradually slow, and just as it appears to lose all forward motion, the hill is crested and the previous pace is resumed. As the train approaches arrival at its stop, speed gradually slows. We hear the screeching of brakes and steam being released; finally the train lurches to a halt in a crunching chord.

  Songs of the Islands Dominiques Le Gendre
(b. 1960)
orch. LeGendre and Debra Lynn

LeGendreBorn and brought up in Trinidad, Dominique Le Gendre trained as a classical guitarist in Paris with Ramon de Herrera while composing music for experimental films and assisting Haitian film-maker Elsie Haas on her documentary La Ronde des Vaudou. Her musical trajectory spans performance, musical direction, teaching, curation, and producing music events, as well as composing music for theatre, dance, art installations, film, television, and radio drama for BBC Radio 3 and 4. She composed and produced music for all 38 Shakespeare plays for the audio collection, The Complete Arkangel Shakespeare.

A former Associate Artist of the Royal Opera House, her chamber music and operas have been commissioned and performed by numerous ensembles including the Royal Opera House and Royal Opera House Soloists, Philharmonia Orchestra, Manning Camerata, Tête-a-tête Opera (UK); Ibis Ensemble, Metamorphosis Dance, Natalia Dopwell (Trinidad and Tobago); Ensemble du Monde and Maegan Pollonais (USA); Clarinettist Jože Kotar and Pianist Luca Ferrini (Slovenia). Her musical-theatre work, Jab Molassie with libretto by Bassist Caitlyn Kamminga was produced by Calabash Foundation for the Arts, premiering at the Little Carib Theatre. Ms. Le Gendre is co-founder and artistic director of the UK arts charity StrongBack Productions.

Notes about "Songs of the Islands" by the Composer:

This collection of songs has emerged out of a commission that I received from the Classical Music Development Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago, a visionary foundation that was created by Annette Dopwell and her daughter, soprano Natalia Dopwell.

There are twelve songs here; the first six are arrangements of traditional songs from the edited collections of two of Trinidad's leading musicologists, Edric Connor and Olive Walke. It just so happens that Olive Walke was my first piano teacher, our next door neighbor, and chorale director of Trinidad's leading choir in the 1960s, La Petite musicale. Annette Dopwell, co-founder of CMDFTT was also a member of that choir for many years and our paths crossed unknown to each other as Annette rehearsed many of the songs in this collection with the choir at Olive Walke's home while my sister and I listened in to rehearsals from under the piano.

The second set of songs -- six in number -- are musical settings of poems by Caribbean poets, Edward Braithwaite, Martin Carter, Christina Dopwell, Claude McKay, and Derek Walcott. These are songs of resistance, faith, lament, exile, resignation, return, myth, time passing, and of landscapes, expressed in words richly evocative of the Caribbean.

Dominique Le Gendre
London, 26th July 2016

  "He's got the Whole World in His Hand" arr. Margaret Bonds

BondsMargaret Bonds was one of the first Black composers to gain recognition in the U.S. A prodigious pianist and composer, Bonds wrote her first composition "Marquette Street Blues" when she was only five years old. Her most popular works were arrangements of African-American spirituals and her collaborations with poet Langston Hughes.

"He's got the Whole World in His Hand" is a traditional African-American spiritual. The song was first published in the 1927 hymnal, Spirituals Triumphant, Old and New. The work achieved lasting fame during the 1950s as it was performed and recorded by numerous singers, including Marian Anderson, Kate Smith, and Mahalia Jackson, as well as the young Laurie London (13 years old at the time of his recording) from the UK.


Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

  Violin I
Elizabeth Smith, Concertmaster
Linda Kummernuss
Ilona Orban
Pablo Vasquez
Kristin Westover
Pryce Whisenhunt +^

Violin II
Joyce Dubach *
David Blakely
Yana Burkova-Morunov
Kaitlin Graber +^
Paula Merriman
Nailea Ponce +^

Margaret Sklenar *
Gabrielle Hochstetler +^
Emily Mondock
Colleen Phillips
Lori Stroup

Robert Lynn *
Benjamin Bolduc +
Wallace Dubach
Monique Hochstetler +^

Darrel Fiene *
Katie Allison

Kathy Davis *
Jennifer Wagner +^
Erika Renbarger +

George Donner *
Diane Whitacre

English Horn
George Donner

Lila Hammer *
Mark Huntington
Bass Clarinet
Mark Huntington

Erich Zummack *
Kendall Brown +

Tenor/Bari Saxophone
Scott Humphries

Matt Weidner * (co-)
Jamie Weidner * (co-)
Tammy Sprunger
Barb Burdge

Josh Ganger *
Steve Hammer
Manuel Hernandez +^

Jon Hartman *
Alvaro Castillo +^
Kyle Bailey +

Mason Kniola +^

David Robbins

David Robbins *
Lydia Kelly +
Manuel Hernandez
Mason Kniola +^
Jonah Lechlitner +^
Hailey Schneider

Pamela Haynes

Classical Guitar
Andrew Mauch
Scott Workman

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

Chamber Singers Personnel

Emily Lynn '20
Brooke Mosbaugh
Elizabeth Schmidt

LaDavie'a Shears
Elyssa Stanard
Renae Walker-Zamora
Benjamin Tipton
Samuel Mayberry

John Gallatin
Brandon Gurrola
Mason Kniola
Rohan Willoughby
Jamie ChamberlinArtsInLA hailed Jamie Chamberlin, soprano, as "jaw-dropping." And she earned rave reviews for her "soaring tone" (LA Weekly) and "superhuman soprano" (Schmopera) as Faustine in The Invention of Morel, by Stewart Copeland of the legendary rock band, The Police. In 2015, Chamberlin garnered national attention for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in the US Premiere of Gavin Bryars' Marilyn Forever in a haunting production by visionary Artistic Director, Andreas Mitisek.

A gifted interpreter of new music, Ms. Chamberlin created the powerhouse role of Elyn Saks in the World Premiere of Kenneth Wells' The Center Cannot Hold (based on Saks' memoir of the same title), which continues to receive national attention for its impact in both the art and mental health communities. As a Young Artist, Jamie was selected to participate in the Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera, where her portrayal of troubled poetess Anne Sexton in Conrad Susa's Transformations was called "spellbinding" by SF Chronicle's Joshua Kosman.

As a Delos Recording Artist, Ms. Chamberlin's "fresh-sounding, expressive soprano" (Opera News) has been praised for her work on "Terrain of the Heart," song cycles of Mark Abel. Ms. Chamberlin created the role of Lisa on the World Premiere Delos recording of Abel's 2016 Chamber Opera, Home is a Harbor. Jamie's recognizable sound can also be heard during the epic water ballet scene in the 2016 Coen Brothers film Hail, Caesar!, for which she was hand-picked by prolific film score composer, Carter Burwell.

Jamie holds both Bachelor of Arts and Master of Music Degrees from UCLA and is the recipient of many awards and scholarships from organizations which include The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, First Prize in the Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation, Third Prize in the Inaugural José Iturbi International Music Competition, The Opera Buffs, The Pilsbury Foundation, and the Society of Singers.
Nathan GrannerNathan Granner is a world-renowned leading tenor, headliner, solo and collaborative artist, specializing in Contemporary Opera and late bel canto repertoire. The San Francisco Chronicle recently described Mr. Granner's singing as possessing a "sinewy, ringing tone; splendidly flexible," and the San Francisco Classical Voice extolled "tons of squillo on his top notes, his honeyed tone, and his sensitive dynamic choices..."

Nathan has created numerous characters in world premiere operas, including the role of Korey Wise in Anthony Davis' Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Central Park Five," the title character in Stewart Copeland's "The Invention of Morel," and the role of Aubrey Wells in Laura Kaminsky's newest opera "Today it Rains."

Not to be undone by COVID-19, Mr. Granner has used his skills as a producer to create a multitude of video performances for various organizations including "Sing Out Loud," a web series for LA Opera's Connects division, and a modernized cell-phone-era film version of Gian Carlo Menotti's comedic one act opera "The Telephone," (both with his wife, soprano Jamie Chamberlin).

Granner's work as a recording artist with Sony Classical (as a founding member of The American Tenors), has netted a top five on the Billboard Classical-Crossover charts and has sent him touring across the U.S., Europe, and into Russia.
Maegan PollonaisMaegan Pollonais is a Caribbean mezzo-soprano from Trinidad and Tobago, hailed for her "shimmering, clarion vocals, never lacking in its equal parts which requires intensity and sweetness" (The Newsday Newspaper). Pollonais graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh with a bachelor's degree in sociology and music, with a minor in theatre arts in May, 2012. Maegan earned a master's degree in vocal performance at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, where she was the recipient of the Winifred O. Stone Presidential Graduate Student Scholarship. Pollonais made her Canadian debut in 2013 at the Vancouver Summer Opera Studio as Marcellina in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro. Later that year, she was accepted into the renowned OperaWorks' Emerging Young Artist Program in Los Angeles, California.

In 2014, Pollonais went on to be the first place winner in the Classical Music Development Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago's Voice Competition. The following year, she made her CMDFTT debut as Dorabella in their production of Cosí fan tutte. In 2016, she performed the role of Nicklausse in Offenbach's opera fantastique Les contes d'Hoffmann with the Picoplat Music Development Foundation in Trinidad and Tobago. She returned to the company to reprise her role of Third Lady in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. In the fall of 2017, Ms. Pollonais was the recipient of the Great Composer's International Voice Competition representing the USA. In 2019, Pollonais made her professional debut performance with Saltworks Opera in Virginia as the Witch in Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel. Pollonais was honored to perform at the National Opera Association Conferenced in 2020 in the role of the Reporter in Jody Nagel's opera Fifty-Third Street.

Pollonais has branded her recital career as a Caribbean Art Song enthusiast performing lecture recitals of Dominique Le Gendre's Caribbean song cycle Songs of the Islands at several institutions of higher learning through the Midwestern U.S.

In 2020, Pollonais graduated with her Doctorate of Arts in Music, with a concentration in educational psychology from Ball State University.