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PEER GYNT Friday, March 25, 2022 at 7:30 pm Saturday, March 26, 2022 at 7:30 pm Sunday, March 27, 2022 at 2:30 pm ALLEN-BRADLEY HALL

Peer Gynt Music by Edvard Grieg Conducted by Ken-David Masur Written and Directed by Bill Barclay Adapted from the play by Henrik Ibsen Produced by Concert Theatre Works In a new full-length adaptation for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Originally commissioned by The Boston Symphony Orchestra. Bill Barclay, artistic director

The 2021. 22 Classics Series is presented by the UNITED PERFORMING ARTS FUND. The length of this concert is approximately 2 hours with one intermission. Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra can be heard on Telarc, Koss Classics, Pro Arte, AVIE, and Vox/Turnabout recordings. MSO Classics recordings (digital only) available on iTunes and at MSO Binaural recordings (digital only) available at



2021.22 SEASON KEN-DAVID MASUR Music Director Polly and Bill Van Dyke Music Director Chair EDO DE WAART Music Director Laureate YANIV DINUR Resident Conductor CHERYL FRAZES HILL Chorus Director Margaret Hawkins Chorus Director Chair TIMOTHY J. BENSON Assistant Chorus Director FIRST VIOLINS Ilana Setapen, Acting Concertmaster Charles and Marie Caestecker Concertmaster Chair Jeanyi Kim, Acting Associate Concertmaster (2nd Chair) Chi Li, Acting Assistant Concertmaster Alexander Ayers Michael Giacobassi Yuka Kadota Dylana Leung Lijia Phang Margot Schwartz SECOND VIOLINS Jennifer Startt, Principal Andrea and Woodrow Leung Second Violin Chair Timothy Klabunde, Assistant Principal Glenn Asch John Bian Lisa Johnson Fuller Paul Hauer Hyewon Kim Shengnan Li Laurie Shawger Mary Terranova VIOLAS Robert Levine, Principal Richard O. and Judith A. Wagner Family Principal Viola Chair Samantha Rodriguez, Acting Assistant Principal Friends of Janet F. Ruggeri Viola Chair Alejandro Duque, Acting 3rd Chair Assistant Principal Elizabeth Breslin Nathan Hackett * Erin H. Pipal Helen Reich

CELLOS Susan Babini, Principal Dorothea C. Mayer Cello Chair Nicholas Mariscal, Assistant Principal Scott Tisdel, Associate Principal Emeritus Madeleine Kabat Gregory Mathews Peter Szczepanek Peter J. Thomas Adrien Zitoun BASSES Jon McCullough-Benner, Principal Donald B. Abert Bass Chair Andrew Raciti, Associate Principal Scott Kreger Catherine McGinn Rip Prétat HARP Julia Coronelli, Principal Walter Schroeder Harp Chair FLUTES Sonora Slocum, Principal Margaret and Roy Butter Flute Chair Heather Zinninger Yarmel, Assistant Principal Jennifer Bouton Schaub PICCOLO Jennifer Bouton Schaub OBOES Katherine Young Steele, Principal Milwaukee Symphony League Oboe Chair Kevin Pearl, Assistant Principal Margaret Butler ENGLISH HORN Margaret Butler Philip and Beatrice Blank English Horn Chair in memoriam to John Martin CLARINETS Todd Levy, Principal Franklyn Esenberg Clarinet Chair Benjamin Adler, Assistant Principal, Donald and Ruth P. Taylor Assistant Principal Clarinet Chair William Helmers E FLAT CLARINET Benjamin Adler BASS CLARINET William Helmers BASSOONS Catherine Chen, Principal Muriel C. and John D. Silbar Family Bassoon Chair Rudi Heinrich, Assistant Principal Beth W. Giacobassi

CONTRABASSOON Beth W. Giacobassi HORNS Matthew Annin, Principal Krause Family French Horn Chair Krystof Pipal, Associate Principal Dietrich Hemann Andy Nunemaker French Horn Chair Darcy Hamlin TRUMPETS Matthew Ernst, Principal Walter L. Robb Family Trumpet Chair David Cohen, Associate Principal Martin J. Krebs Associate Principal Trumpet Chair Alan Campbell, Fred Fuller Trumpet Chair TROMBONES Megumi Kanda, Principal Marjorie Tiefenthaler Trombone Chair Kirk Ferguson, Assistant Principal BASS TROMBONE John Thevenet, Richard M. Kimball Bass Trombone Chair TUBA Robert Black, Principal TIMPANI Dean Borghesani, Principal Chris Riggs, Assistant Principal PERCUSSION Robert Klieger, Principal Chris Riggs PIANO Melitta S. Pick Endowed Piano Chair PERSONNEL MANAGERS Françoise Moquin, Director of Orchestra Personnel Paul Beck, Interim Assistant Personnel Manager LIBRARIANS Patrick McGinn, Principal Librarian, Anonymous Donor, Principal Librarian Chair Paul Beck, Associate Librarian PRODUCTION Tristan Wallace, Technical Manager & Live Audio Supervisor Paolo Scarabel, Stage Technician & Deck Supervisor

* Leave of Absence 2021.22 Season

Cast Georgia Jarman, Solveig Vidar Skrede, hardanger fiddle Caleb Mayo, Peer Gynt Bobbie Steinbach, Aase Robert Walsh, The Button Molder Kortney Adams, Ingrid, Anitra, Ensemble Daniel Berger-Jones, Aslak, Begriffenfeldt, Ensemble Caroline Lawton, The Woman in Green, Ensemble Risher Reddick, The Dovre King of the Trolls, Mads Moen, Ensemble Will Lyman, Voice of Boygen Milwaukee Symphony Chorus Cheryl Frazes Hill, director

Production Team Cristina Todesco, scenic designer Charles Schoonmaker, costume and puppet designer David Reiffel, sound designer Maura Gahan, puppet co-designer and puppet realization Rachel Padula-Shufelt, assistant costume designer Stephanie Macklin, costume construction Nicole Pierce, dance choreography Tristan Wallace, sound engineer Slu Maldonado-Stone, lighting designer Justin Seward and Cristina Todesco, properties Chaal Aydiner, stage manager Kimberly Schuette, associate producer Justin Seward, production manager



Guest Artist Biographies BILL BARCLAY, director and writer Director, writer, and composer, Barclay was director of music at Shakespeare’s Globe from 2012-2019 where he produced music for 130 productions and 150 concerts, composing 12 shows including Hamlet Globe-to-Globe which performed in 197 countries. He is artistic director of Concert Theatre Works. Broadway and West End credits as music supervisor include Farinelli and the King, Twelfth Night, and Richard III, all starring Sir Mark Rylance. This season’s collaborators include: National Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Music of the Baroque, Gandini Juggling, United Strings of Europe, Chautauqua Institution, Caramoor Festival, and the Harlem Chamber Players. A “personable polymath” (London Times), Bill Barclay has debuted works of concert theater for the LA Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Grammy-winning Silkroad Ensemble, City of London Sinfonia, and annually with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He has created new work for some of the world’s most iconic spaces: The Hollywood Bowl, The Kennedy Center, the Barbican, Buckingham Palace, Shakespeare’s Globe, The Southbank Centre, Hampton Court Palace, and Washington National Cathedral. Collaborators include the conductors Marin Alsop, Andris Nelsons, Dame Jane Glover, Charles Dutoit, Seigi Ozawa, JoAnn Falletta, Bramwell Tovey, Gianandrea Noseda, Harry Christophers, Trevor Pinnock, and Sakari Oramo. Other partners include The English Concert, Tanglewood, The Virginia Symphony, Orchestra for the Age of Enlightenment, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, The Sixteen, Mostly Mozart Festival, and Handel & Haydn Society. As a composer, Barclay’s original music has been performed for President Obama, the British Royal Family, for the Olympic Torch, at the United Nations, and in refugee camps in Jordan and Calais. He recently created a new Four Seasons Recomposed for Max Richter on period instruments with the puppetry masters Gyre & Gimble. He conducted Soumik Datta’s King of Ghosts on tour with City of London Sinfonia and the USACH Orchestra in Chile. Barclay seeks to collapse the space between arts and advocacy, composing the film A Mother’s Love for the Wild Foundation, creating Tales in Migration to score immigrant’s stories, and funding The National Alliance for Audition Support. His single Let Nature Sing, made entirely of birdsong, debuted at #11 on the UK Pop Charts for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. A noted curator, he piloted the Candlelit Concerts series in the Globe’s Sam Wanamaker Playhouse from its construction in 2014. He founded the record label Globe Music, recognized by the BBC and Royal Philharmonic Society, for Shakespeare’s Globe. Contributor to the Guardian and Songlines, Bill writes and lectures widely, and has been published in Cambridge and Oxford University Presses on the music of Shakespeare. His newest play with music, The Chevalier, was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and premiered at Tanglewood in 2019.



Guest Artist Biographies GEORGIA JARMAN (Solveig) Vocal dexterity aligned with a strong theatrical instinct have been key to Georgia Jarman’s numerous successes, in roles spanning lyric and bel canto repertoire alongside a growing reputation in new commissions. Of those which hold special significance are the landmark compositions of George Benjamin – Written on Skin and Lessons in Love and Violence which Jarman has debuted at Venice Biennale Musica – under the composer’s baton – Staatsoper Hamburg, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Opera National de Lyon, and at the Beijing Music Festival with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra under Lawrence Renes. Her breakthrough performance and debut at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, came as Roxana in Kasper Holten’s spectacular production of Krol Roger – seen in cinemas and subsequently released on DVD – and further debuts include Musetta (La bohème) for Opernhaus Zurich, Helena (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) for Opera Philadelphia, Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor) for Opéra National de Bordeaux, Gilda (Rigoletto) for her Santa Fe Festival debut, all four heroines in Richard Jones’ production of The Tales of Hoffmann for English National Opera, Maria Stuarda for Washington Concert Opera, and Manon at Malmö Opera. Exploring neglected bel canto repertoire, she has made numerous critically acclaimed appearances at the former Caramoor Summer Music Festival with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s including, most recently, Zenobia in Rossini’s rarely performed Aureliano in Palmira, alongside Norina (Don Pasquale) and Amina (La sonnambula).

VIDAR SKREDE (hardanger fiddle) Vidar Skrede is a Nordic folk musician and teacher from Haugesund, Norway, currently living in Milwaukee. He is a performer and a teacher of Harding-fiddle, fiddle, and guitar. He has a background in traditional music from his home area, Rogaland (South West of Norway) and has a master’s degree in performing Nordic folk music at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm. Skrede has numerous bands, projects, and record albums behind him, both in Scandinavia and in America. He has received nominations and awards for his albums in both Norway and Finland. He has toured all the Nordic countries, Scotland, Canada, and the United States, and he has performed with a wide range of artists, such as Arja Saijonmaa (FI), Kevin Henderson (UK), Liz Carroll (US), Bruce Molsky (US), Natalie Haas (US), to mention a few artists outside of his own tradition. Skrede is a leading musician on the Nordic folk music scene and is well known for his own tune creations across the scene; played and recorded by many artists besides himself.



Guest Artist Biographies CALEB MAYO (Peer Gynt) Caleb Mayo originated the role of Peer with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2017. Credits include Stage: Los Angeles: Hamlet (Inner Circle Theatre), Antigone, The Beaux Stratagem (A Noise Within), Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Knightsbridge Theatre); Washington DC: Cyrano, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Rivals (The Shakespeare Theatre); Boston: Twelfth Night (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company), To Kill A Mockingbird (Huntington Theatre Company); Lewiston: Moonshine (The Public Theatre) Film: One-Eyed Monster, Plato’s Symposium, The Time Machine, Hoax, The Proposition, 10,000 AD TV: Criminal Minds Web: ftrhstry. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in drama from Vassar College and has studied with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the American Repertory Theatre, Shakespeare and Company, the Rebel Shakespeare Company, and the Beverly Hills Playhouse.

BOBBIE STEINBACH (Aase) Bobbie Steinbach is delighted to be revisiting Peer Gynt at Milwaukee Symphony’s new concert hall. A longtime actor, director, and acting coach based in Boston, she has performed in countless plays and musicals with many local and regional theatre companies, including The Lyric Stage, New Repertory Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, Commonwealth Shakespeare, Boston Symphony, Greater Boston Stage Company, Michigan Opera Theatre, Cherry County Playhouse, and Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. She is a founding member of Actors’ Shakespeare Project, and as a resident actor with ASP, she has trod the boards in 22 of the Bard’s plays, one of which, Timon of Athens, was stunningly directed by the amazing Bill Barclay. In 2016 The Theatre Communications Guild honored Steinbach with a prestigious two-year Resident Actor Fox Fellowship for Distinguished Achievement, for which she partnered with ASP to develop a company project, I Am Lear, and a solo show, In Bed with the Bard. She is also the 2016 Huntington Theatre Company’s LuntFontanne Fellow and was honored with an Eliot Norton Award for Outstanding Actress for a trio of performances. She recently added a new credit to her resume as host of All Together Now, streaming on YouTube and Facebook, where she presented and interviewed performing artists, composers and writers from around the world.



Guest Artist Biographies ROBERT WALSH (The Button Molder) Off-Broadway: Gloucester Blue (Cherry Lane Theatre), Big Maggie (Douglas Fairbanks Theatre), Penelope (Perry St. Theatre), company member: Theater of the Open Eye and Riverside Shakespeare Company. Boston: Ah, Wilderness! and Hamlet (Huntington Theatre); Our Town, Mass Appeal, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Merrimack Rep), Sins of the Mother, The Subject Was Roses (Gloucester Stage) ‘ART’, The Cocktail Hour (New Rep), Next Fall (Speakeasy Stage), and Coriolanus, Macbeth, Henry V (Commonwealth Shakespeare Co.), and King Lear, Henry IV, Titus Andronicus, and Hamlet, among others, for the Actors’ Shakespeare Project, where he was also a founding company member. Regional: Streamers (Arena Stage); Anna Christie (Stage West); Romeo and Juliet (Portland Stage Co.); Peter Pan (Barter Theatre); The Children’s Hour (American Stage Festival). Television: Body of Proof (ABC); One Life to Live; The Guiding Light; Another World. Film: Black Mass; The Spirit of Christmas; Evening; State and Main; Amistad; Eight Men Out; The Spanish Prisoner; In Dreams; Turk 182! For seven years he was the artistic director of Gloucester Stage Company and is an associate professor of the Practice at Brandeis University. He directed the on-field ceremonies for 1999 All-Star Game for Major League Baseball.

KORTNEY ADAMS (Ingrid, Anitra, Ensemble) Kortney Adams is a native of St. Louis, Missouri, and has been working as an actor, director, and teaching artist in Boston since 2002. Regional credits include A Human Being Died That Night (Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre), Becky’s New Car (Lyric Stage Co. of Boston), Two Gentlemen of Verona (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company), Pippi Longstocking and Aladdin (Wheelock Family Theatre), Voyeurs de Venus (Company One), Doubt (Gloucester Stage Co.), After Mrs. Rochester (IRNE for Best Supporting Actress, Wellesley Summer Theatre), Young Nerds of Color, Harriet Jacobs, and the World Premiere of From Orchids to Octopi (Underground Railway Theater), and the role of Barbara Demarco in the long-running hit Shear Madness. Recent films include The Makeover, R.I.P.D., The Proposal, and On Broadway. Adams is the education manager for Central Square Theater, and also the managing director of Theatre Espresso, which uses theatre in education to introduce young people to issues of social justice and the law.



Guest Artist Biographies DANIEL BERGER-JONES (Aslak, Begriffenfeldt, Ensemble) Daniel Berger-Jones is a Boston-based actor, producer, director, and entrepreneur. In the classical music world, he has enjoyed sharing the stage with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (Peer Gynt), Virginia Symphony Orchestra (Schmitt’s Antony and Cleopatra), The Boston Pops (Peter and the Wolf), The BYSO (Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Peter and the Wolf), Boston Chamber Symphony, Odyssey Opera, and other small companies and performances which have given equal delight. As a stage actor, he has been in productions with the ART, Huntington, Lyric Stage, Speakeasy Stage, Boston Playwright’s Theatre, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Shakespeare and Company, and many other small companies and performances which have given equal and sometimes more delight. As a cofounder of the Boston Fringe Theatre company Orfeo Group, he enjoyed three Eliot Norton Awards for Best Production by a Fringe Company in five years, starring in five of the group’s critically-acclaimed productions. Currently, he is the executive director of a nonprofit boutique tour company called Cambridge Historical Tours, giving entertaining tours of history, science, and art throughout the Greater Boston area. He is the host of the new podcast A People’s History of Food and Drink, the first season of which is now available wherever you get your podcasts.

CAROLINE LAWTON (The Woman in Green, Ensemble) Caroline Lawton is a Boston-based actor, who recently received her Master’s in classical theatre at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Since returning from London, Lawton has been seen on Boston stages in Orlando, The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife (Lyric Stage) Charlotte’s Web and Trumpet of the Swan (Wheelock), Oceanside (Merrimack Rep), Women Who Mapped the Stars (Poets Theatre), Shear Madness (Charles Playhouse) and Reconsidering Hanna(h) (Boston Playwrights) as well as numerous films and commercials. International credits include Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune (Chipping Norton Theatre), A Woman of No Importance (Clandon Park), Private Thoughts in Public Spaces (CASA Festival). U.S. theater credits include Taming of the Shrew (Commonwealth Shakespeare), Arcadia and Comedy of Errors (Publick Theatre), An American Daughter (SpeakEasy Stage), The Underpants (Lyric Stage), and Mr. Sensitivity (NY International Fringe Festival). Film and television credits include Confessions of a Shopaholic, One Night Only, Scotch Hill, Casting About, My Brother Jack, Guiding Light, and Castle Rock. When not on stage or leading her double life working in a biotech company in the immunoncology space, Lawton can be found hanging upside down from the ceiling...studying aerial acrobatics at Esh Circus Arts.



Guest Artist Biographies RISHER REDDICK (The Dovre King of the Trolls, Mads Moen, Ensemble) Risher Reddick is a theater artist of many stripes with roots in Boston, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. He cut his teeth as an actor, working with many regional theaters including Shakespeare & Company, The American Repertory Theatre, and Actors Shakespeare Project. From 2007-2012, Reddick produced, directed, and acted in plays with his theatre company, Orfeo Group, garnering praise from audiences and critics alike and winning three Elliot Norton Awards for outstanding production. As a teacher, he has worked with theater companies and universities across the country and is currently on faculty at UMass Amherst. These days Reddick works primarily as a director, re-imagining classics and devising new plays both in professional and academic settings. In 2014, he led the devising process of a new play, Hymns to Future Tense, with Bricolage Production Company. In 2015 and 2016, he spent most of his time working at Steppenwolf and Lookingglass theaters, serving as an assistant to his directing mentors, Michael Rohd, Jessica Thebus, and Mary Zimmerman. In 2019, Reddick directed a site-specific production of King Lear at an abandoned steel facility in Pittsburgh. Reddick is currently working on a new project, To the Table, a civic engagement piece using story, song, and food to facilitate conversation between community stakeholders, and later this year he will direct an intimate production of Harold Pinter’s Old Times presented in homes throughout New England. Reddick holds a BFA in acting from Boston University and an MFA in directing from Northwestern University.

Production Team CRISTINA TODESCO (Scenic Designer) Based in Boston, Cristina Todesco is a scenic designer working in both theater and film. Theater companies and institutions include Actors Shakespeare Project, Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Company One, Capital Rep, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, the Culture Project, Huntington Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theater, New England Conservatory, New Repertory Theater, Olney Theater Center, Poet›s Theater, Shakespeare and Company, Speakeasy Stage Company, Summer Play Festival, Trinity Rep, Wheelock Family Theater, Williamstown Theater Festival, among many more. She is a frequent collaborator with Sally Taylor and the artists in Taylor’s Consenses, a festival which mines the deep connectivity between art mediums. Todesco has designed for the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall in Boston and at Tanglewood in the Berkshires. For Outstanding Design, she is the recipient of four Elliot Norton Awards and an IRNE Award. She received her MFA in scenic design from Boston University’s School of Theatre Arts, where she currently teaches.



Production Team CHARLES SCHOONMAKER (Costume and Puppet Designer) Charles Schoonmaker has extensive experience designing costumes for television, theatre, dance, and opera. Current projects for Concert Theatre Works include Mendelsshon’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Grieg’s Peer Gynt, and The Chevalier. For Boston Baroque: Handel’s Agrippina and Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’ Ulisse in Patria. For Boston Midsummer Opera: The Barber of Seville, Don Pasquale, The Italian Girl in Algiers, Trouble in Tahiti, and Bon Appetit. Schoonmaker is the recipient of four Daytime Emmy Awards for his work in television and the IRNE for best costume design for Venus in Fur at the Huntington Theatre in Boston. Additional regional theatre credits include productions at Israeli Stage, Arts Emerson, the Berkshire Theatre Group, Dorset Theatre Festival, Chester Theatre Company, Weston Play House, Northern Stage, Bay Street Theatre, Riverside Theatre (FL), and seven seasons as the resident costume designer at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Other dance credits: The Richmond Ballet, The Atlanta Ballet, Nashville Ballet, BAM Next Wave, Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, The Limon Company. Television credits include All My Children, As the World Turns, and Another World. He teaches costume design at Bennington College. MAURA GAHAN (Puppet Co-Designer and Puppet Realization) For over 20 years, Maura Gahan has studied, created, and performed with large and small scale puppets around the world for theater and dance performances, orchestras, parades, festivals, pageants, bicycle shows, and schools. Gahan has enjoyed collaborating with dozens of companies and artists, including the Bread and Puppet Theater (full-time member 2007-2013), Dance Hegginbotham/Redwing Blackbird Theater, National Symphony Orchestra, Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Robert Ashley/Steve Paxton, and Ensemble Pi. Gahan is currently an MFA Teaching Fellow in Dance at Bennington College. NICOLE PIERCE (Dance Choreography) Nicole Pierce is a choreographer, dancer, performance artist, and video maker. She founded and ran EgoArt, Inc., a dance theater company, for which she created over 30 works. Her work is hailed as “expansive, muscular movement etched with vivid detail.” (Boston Globe) A classically trained pianist and teacher, much of her output is musically inspired leaning on rhythm, edite to texture and, innate musicality. She collaborates regularly with painter/sculptor Michael Prettyman with whom she creates dances for camera using found or invented art environments. Lastly, Pierce is a monologist skirting the line of standup comedy wherein she uses autobiographical content to tell universal stories. JUSTIN SEWARD (Production Manager) Before stepping into the role as production manager, Seward worked as props designer for past CTW productions of Midsummer Night’s Dream and A Soldier’s Tale. Seward resides in Boston and works full-time as assistant props director for the Huntington Theatre Company, 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award recipient. Seward also regularly freelances for Antiques Roadshow (assistant set decorator,) The Boston Pops, and Boston Symphony/Tanglewood. Seward has produced props for various Broadway and off-Broadway productions including The 39 Steps, Porgy and Bess, Sons of the Prophet, All the Way, and Finding Neverland. Seward has worked for various companies including Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Seagle Festival, North Shore Music Theatre, and American Repertory Theatre. Seward is a proud member of the Society of Properties Artisan Managers.



Program notes by J. Mark Baker Tonight’s Peer Gynt is unlike any you’ve ever experienced before! In this fully-staged adaptation, conductor Ken-David Masur and director Bill Barclay unite Grieg’s unforgettable music with a fun and modern take on Ibsen’s 19th-century drama. Henrik Ibsen

Born 20 March 1828; Skien, Telemark, Norway Died 23 May 1906; Kristiana (now Oslo), Norway

Edvard Grieg

Born 15 June 1843; Bergen, Norway Died 4 September 1907; Bergen, Norway Peer Gynt

Published: 1867 Composed: 1874-75 First performance: 24 February 1876; Kristiana (now Oslo), Norway Last MSO performance: MSO premiere Instrumentation: 3 flutes (all doubling piccolo); 2 oboes; 2 clarinets; 2 bassoons; 4 horns; 2 trumpets; 3 trombones; tuba; timpani; percussion (bass drum, chimes, cymbals, snare drum, tam tam, tambourine, triangle, xylophone); harp; organ; piano; strings Approximate duration: 90 minutes with one intermission Edvard Grieg was the most important Norwegian composer during the nationalist-Romantic era. First and foremost a master melodist, his compositions show the influence of native folk idioms. His Lyric Pieces for piano solo, the much-loved Piano Concerto in A Minor, and the incidental music to Henrik Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt all possess an abundance of memorable, hummable tunes. The two concert suites (Opus 46 and Opus 55) he fashioned from the latter spread his name throughout the world. Indeed, he could never quite escape their popularity. The two suites, however, include only eight of some 26 numbers. Their order does not reflect the sequence of events in Ibsen’s drama; thus, we miss out on the impact they have when set in a narrative context. This weekend’s performances will remedy that situation. When Grieg first met Ibsen (1828-1906), in Rome in 1866, the composer was in his 20s and the playwright had already attained some celebrity. As one of the founders of modernism in theatre, Ibsen is sometimes called “the father of realism.” Peer Gynt, which began its life as a dramatic poem before being crafted into a five-act play, predates the more realistic dramas of Ibsen’s maturity, such as A Doll’s House (1879) and Hedda Gabler (1890). It tells the story of a loudmouth peasant who desires money and status. Though he is well on his way from rags to riches, his materialism effects his ultimate downfall, Ultimately, however, he gains redemption through the love and fidelity of Solvieg. When Ibsen invited Grieg to compose incidental music for his repurposed poem, the composer responded with immediate enthusiasm. Though Ibsen provided detailed explanations as to where music was needed, Grieg sometimes felt overwhelmed by such an extensive task. He told his friend Frants Beyer, “It is a terribly difficult play for which to write music.” One exception he noted was Solvieg’s heart-melting song. He never cared for the ever-popular “In the Hall of the MILWAUKEE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA


Mountain King,” calling it “…something that I literally can’t bear listening to because it absolutely reeks of cow-dung, exaggerated Norwegian nationalism, and trollish self-satisfaction!” In its original guise, the collaboration between the playwright and composer was set in five acts and lasted, Wagner-like, for five hours. In 2017, director Bill Barclay (see page xx), on commission from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, condensed the work into two acts that run just over an hour. He read all the English translations of Ibsen’s play, then created his own, shifting items in the incidental music so they match the action. It is this version that we’ll revel in tonight. Utilizing costumed actors, a playful puppet, props, lighting effects, a fiddler, a chorus of voices, and a soprano soloist – this production tells the sometimes whimsical, sometimes comical, sometimes charming, sometimes picaresque, sometimes moving, decades-long story of protagonist Peer Gynt. The inveterate yarn-spinner lies and sneaks his way through many misadventures, but finally learns his lesson.

Director’s Note by Bill Barclay Henrik Ibsen’s sprawling verse play has always been intimidating to stage. His protagonist encounters a who’s who of Scandinavian folklore across three continents, 40 scenes, and 60 years. As a contrast, Grieg’s original incidental score survives neatly in two concert suites, fashioned by the composer after the 1876 Oslo premier. This new adaptation tonight tries to tame the story while going back to the wilder incidental score, mining for fresh bits of Grieg you’ve probably not heard before. It’s hard to identify a more exuberant writer than Ibsen in 1867. In its grab bag of genres from fantasy to naturalism, Peer Gynt is said to anticipate the literary modernism of the First World War. I rather think it anticipates film, cutting from place to place, exploring fantastical imagery, and using comedy to connect us to Peer the person (who many thought had actually lived). Those innovations still amaze readers today, and all this before he wrote his greatest plays: Hedda Gabler, A Doll’s House, Ghosts, The Wild Duck, and The Master Builder. Like the play that barely contains him, Peer has a foot in both romantic and modernist impulses. A dreamer and an opportunist, he pursues the world’s temptations in the mold of the self-made man, only to realize at death’s door the hollowing consequences of individualism. In all the translations I’ve read, the word Self reigns supreme in Peer Gynt. His simple aim is to be who he is above all else. After all, didn’t Shakespeare counsel us to be true to thyself “above all?” Peer dares us to criticize him for this. What is amazingly insightful is in the decades since Ibsen wrote Peer Gynt, our global industrialized economy has only increasingly spun on this idea, as does our social media, celebritizing the Self one Instagram photo at a time. But where does compassion factor in? Where meaning? Is pleasure all? Peer’s cautionary tale of hedonism becomes more relevant with each passing day. It is a joy to bring theatrical tools so fully into the concert hall with this iconic score. Too often, Peer Gynt is only known to us through Grieg’s greatest hits. I have labored to find homes for as many unfamiliar movements from the original score as I could. To serve the music, the text had to be written from scratch, economizing the narrative while retaining the spirit of Ibsen’s many different meters and rhyme schemes. We have committed to a rare fully staged presentation in the concert hall so that Grieg’s iconic music can reunite with the grandeur of the story and the caprice of its characters. Above all, we have stayed true to the spirit of equal partnership between Ibsen and Grieg in our “concert theater” approach. However I hope we are honoring these legends most in making something that feels very true to us too.



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