WEST MICHIGAN SYMPHONY CONCERT MAGAZINE SS CC OO TT TT SS PP EE CC KK || M M UU SS II CC DD II RR EE CC TT OO RR
VOLUME 1//SEPTEMBER 2011 – JUNE 2012
Cirque de la Symphonie
The Magic of Cirque at the Music Hall March 2 & 3, 7: 30 pm Friday & Saturday Frauenthal Theater, Downtown Muskegon
For tickets and more information : : WestMichiganSymphony.org or 231.726.3231 x23 Ticket prices $28, $44, $54 Student tickets $15 (not available online)
What’s Inside MUSIC DIRECTOR Scott Speck ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF Carla Hill President/CEO Karen Vander Zanden Director of Education and Outreach Rhonda Bogner Director of Finance Karen Cummins Finance Manager Rita Smith Patron Services Manager/Tickets Keely Payne Graphic Designer/Marketing Coordinator Perry Newson Director of Operations Gabe Slimko Orchestra Personnel Manager Sarah Ruddy Orchestra Librarian David Dressel Stage Manager
Daniel M. Meyers WMYS Music Director/Conductor Gabe Slimko WMYS Operations Manager The West Michigan Symphony is an Equal Opportunity Employer and provides programs and services without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex or handicap. Programs are funded in part by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts.
3 5 6 7 8 12
Message from the Music Director About Scott Speck Board of Directors Orchestra Personnel About the Orchestra Contributors
PROGRAMS 16 18 22 26 30 34 36 40
Pops.1 :: Oh What a Night! Masterworks.1 Masterworks.2 Pops.2 :: Holiday Pops Masterworks.3 Pops.3 :: Cirque de la Symphonie Masterworks.4 Masterworks.5
THEATER RULES/ETIQUETTE :: Latecomers will be seated by the ushers at a suitable pause in the program. :: Cameras and recording equipment are strictly prohibited. TICKET OFFICE // 231.726.3231 x23 In person at 425 W. Western Avenue, Suite 409 (4th floor of the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts) Muskegon, MI 49440 Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm Concert night 5:30 pm till after concert in the Lobby Online at www.WestMichiganSymphony.org FIND US ONLINE! Website: westmichigansymphony.org Facebook: West Michigan Symphony Twitter: twitter.com/westmisymphony
West Michigan Symphony 425 W. Western Avenue, Suite 409 Muskegon, MI 49440 p: 231.726.3231 f: 231.722.6913 e: firstname.lastname@example.org
:: No food or drink allowed in the hall during the performance. :: Wireless headsets are available in the lobby for hearing impaired patrons. :: Quiet, please! We respectfully request that all signal watches, cell phones, paging devices and such be turned off before entering the hall. Patrons wearing hearing aids should be aware that such devices are sensitive to pitch and may transmit a shrill tone. The wearer often is not conscious of this and nearby patrons may wish to alert them discreetly if this happens. We appreciate your cooperation in helping to make our concerts as enjoyable as possible for everyone. Thank you to tonight’s ushers—volunteers courtesy of Friends of the Frauenthal.
PROGRAM NOTES All program notes by: Joseph & Elizabeth Kahn www.wordprosmusic.com
MUSKEGON SURGICAL ASSOCIATES, PLC
Masterworks.1 Brahms Symphony no.3
scott speck, conductor with special guest alexander Buzlov, cello
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7:30 pm October 28 – 29, 2011
Friday and Saturday •• Frauenthal Theater •• Downtown Muskegon Tickets starting at $15 •• Student tickets $5 (not available online) westmichigansymphony.org •• 231.726.3231 x23
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2 :: West Michigan Symphony Concert Program
A Message from Scott DEAR FRIENDS, At the West Michigan Symphony, we owe a large measure of our success to a strong, healthy creative vision. Creativity, the creative process, and the act of re-creation inform everything that we do organization-wide. This season we celebrate the process of creating music, painting, sculpture, literature and ballet—the Creative Force itself. Many of this season’s highlights explore the relationship between creative artists and their art. Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition is a monumental attempt to turn paintings into music; the Benvenuto Cellini overture of Hector Berlioz introduces us to the works of a legendary sculptor. Antonín Dvořák’s Bohemian-inspired Eighth Symphony and the glorious Third Symphony of Johannes Brahms are the ravishing products of creativity within a structural framework. The searingly powerful Fifth Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich, a perfect example of symphonic form, also makes a compelling statement about the purpose of art itself. And we present the Michigan premiere of Kenji Bunch’s ambitious Symphony no. 1, setting Roy Liechtenstein’s pop-art worldview to music. The soloists bring their own brand of creativity to our stage. Fresh from his star turn in the film Black Swan, violin superstar Timothy Fain traverses the stunning violin concerto of Philip Glass. The phenomenal Russian cellist Alexander Buzlov, recently a winner of the prestigious Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow, plays Elgar’s elegiac and nostalgic cello concerto. Virtuoso pianists Per Tengstrand and Shan-shan Sun perform the sparkling and witty Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns. And the consummate artists of Cirque de la Symphonie combine their exquisite acrobatics with the thrill of live music.
Carnival of the Animals Scott Speck, conductor with special guests Per Tengstrand and Shan-shan Sun, pianists
7:30 pm February 3, 2012 2 pm February 4, 2012
Frauenthal Theater •• Downtown Muskegon Tickets starting at $15 Student tickets $5 (not available online) westmichigansymphony.org •• 231.726.3231 x23
Of course, joining us for every concert, all season long, are the incomparable musicians of the West Michigan Symphony—your own marvelous cultural jewel—bringing their own creativity, love of music and passion for performing to everything they do. And what matters most is that you, our audience, allow the music to unlock your own creative spirit and participate in this journey of creation together with us. It’s this communal discovery that makes our performances worthwhile—we would be nothing without you. Thanks for joining us tonight!
Scott Speck Music Director
Volume 1//September 2011 – June 2012 :: 3
GRAND VALLEY CELEBRATES THE IMAGINATION, CREATIVITY, AND BEAUTY OF THE FINE ARTS. We appreciate the performances that inspire and enlighten us. And, we applaud the artists who share our passion for excellence and our commitment to personal achievement. gvsu.edu | (616) 331-2025
Sunday, November 13, 2011 :: 3 pm :: Mona Shores High School Auditorium Sunday, March 25, 2012 :: 3 pm :: Frauenthal Theater $10/adult :: $5/senior (65 and over) :: FREE for students (18 and under, college with ID)
Daniel M. Meyers, Music Director and Conductor
There’s no intermission in real life. You can wait around, or you can get started now at Western Michigan University, where graduate and undergraduate programs are offered locally in Muskegon. • 18-hour Professional Teacher (Cert) • Educational Leadership (MA) • Manufacturing Engineering (BSE) • The Practice of Teaching (MA) • Recreation (BS) Call (231) 777-0500 or visit www.wmich.edu/muskegon
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4 :: West Michigan Symphony Concert Program
Scott Speck, Music Director Scott Speck’s sensuous and exciting interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony took the audience by storm. His sure, free and expressive conducting style electrified and swept away the Russian musicians. The sophisticated Moscow public was extremely generous with long and tumultuous applause. –Pravda, Moscow
Scott Speck has inspired international acclaim as a conductor of passion, intelligence and winning personality. He is now in his ninth year as Music Director of the West Michigan Symphony and is also the Music Director of the Mobile Symphony. He was recently named Principal Conductor of the Joffrey Ballet; and he was invited to the White House as Music Director of the Washington Ballet. In recent seasons Scott Speck has conducted at London’s Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, the Paris Opera, Washington’s Kennedy Center, San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House, and the Los Angeles Music Center. He has led numerous performances with the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Houston, Chicago (Sinfonietta), Paris, Moscow, Shanghai, Beijing, Vancouver, Romania, Slovakia, Buffalo, Columbus (OH), Honolulu, Louisville, New Orleans, Oregon, Rochester, Florida, and Virginia, among many others. Previously he held positions as Conductor of the San Francisco Ballet (1998 to 2002); Music Advisor and Conductor of the Honolulu Symphony; and Associate Conductor of the Los Angeles Opera. During a recent tour of Asia he was named Principal Guest Conductor of the China Film Philharmonic in Beijing. In addition, Scott Speck is the co-author of two of the world’s bestselling books on classical music for a popular audience, Classical Music for Dummies and Opera for Dummies. These books have received stellar reviews in both the national and international press
Volume 1//September 2011 – June 2012 :: 5
and have garnered enthusiastic endorsements from major American orchestras. They have been translated into twenty languages and are available around the world. His third book in the series, Ballet for Dummies, was released in September 2003. Scott Speck has been a regular commentator on National Public Radio, the BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and Voice of Russia, broadcast throughout the world. His writing has been featured in numerous magazines and journals.
Scott Speck is a great communicator of classical music. He exudes his passion for music in every gesture and every word. —David Styers, American Symphony Orchestra League
Born in Boston, Scott Speck graduated summa cum laude from Yale University. There he founded and directed the Berkeley Chamber Orchestra, which continues to perform to this day. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Berlin, where he founded Concerto Grosso Berlin, an orchestra dedicated to the performances of Baroque and Classical music in a historically informed style. He received his Master’s Degree with highest honors from the University of Southern California, served as a Conducting Fellow at the Aspen School of Music, and studied at the Tanglewood Music Center. He is fluent in English, German and French, has a diploma in Italian, speaks Spanish and has a reading knowledge of Russian.
2011–2012 Board of Directors The Board of Directors of the West Michigan Symphony is an active and involved group that takes its fiduciary and oversight responsibilities very seriously. The Board is made up of business and community leaders and volunteers from throughout the communities served by the WMS. Board members actively participate in committees that are involved in all aspects of the organization.
David F. Gerdes Chair
Dale K. Nesbary, Ph.D.
Tom Ladd Treasurer
Susan Bissell Secretary
Paul R. Jackson Past-Chair
Melissa Jo Skiera
Mary McLaughlin Eyke
Bari S. Johnson
Thomas S. Jones
A Letter from the Board Chair DEAR FRIENDS, Welcome! It’s good to see all of you again for this 2011-2012 concert season of the West Michigan Symphony. We welcome also those of you who will experience the wonderful musical expression of our Symphony for the first time this year. This season’s theme is “Transforming Music. Transforming You.” and we believe that all of us can truly be transformed by these concerts. The music for this season was carefully selected for you in a process begun more than a year ago. This included engaging highly regarded guest artists to join our own professional musicians in a transforming experience. As the West Michigan Symphony has always done, the selections we offer from the masterworks this season are a number of musical treasures by composers from Eastern and Western Europe and from the United States as well. To make the most of your musical experience with us, please take a few minutes to read the program notes that we have included in this booklet about the music and about the artists for each of the concerts. This season will be not only transforming but a whole lot of fun for our ticket holders. We are opening 2011-2012 with a pops concert of music from the 50s and 60s that we hope will evoke fond memories of the teen and early adult years for very many in the audience. In the second half of the season we will bring you Cirque de la Symphonie—The Magic of Cirque at the Music Hall, both a visual and musical spectacular! Finally, the West Michigan Symphony is proud to join in the celebration of the 100th anniversary of another jewel of the Lake Michigan shoreline, the Muskegon Museum of Art, with the concert that will conclude this exciting season entitled “Pictures at an Exhibition.” For this celebration in June 2012, your musical experience will include classical compositions of the 19th century contrasting with a jazz symphony of the 21st as we welcome the beginning of the next hundred years for this wonderful institution. We thank our ticket holders for your continued financial support. Please join me in also sending a special thank you to the individuals, companies and other institutions which provide sponsorship funding of concerts and guest artists and to those who are making additional contributions to the Symphony operations. Without the extra effort none of this is possible. We would now like you to sit back and enjoy this evening’s performance confident that you will be standing in applause at the end!
David F. Gerdes Board Chair
6 :: West Michigan Symphony Concert Program
2011–2012 West Michigan Symphony Personnel FIRST VIOLIN Jennifer Walvoord Concertmaster
CELLO Alicia Gregorian Sawyers Principal
HORN Principal Horn – Open
Gene Hahn Assc. Concertmaster
Igor Cetkovic Assc. Principal
Horn 2 – Open
Jacie Robinson Asst. Concertmaster
Dessislava Nenova Asst. Principal
Lisa Honeycutt Assc. Principal
Camilo da Rosa Simoes
TRUMPET Pamela Smitter Baker Principal
BASS Michael Crawford Principal
Mi Ryoung Kim Jennifer Kotchenruther Oxana Sourine Carla Joy Strand SECOND VIOLIN Amanda Dykhouse Principal Mark Portolese Assc. Principal Vitezslav Cernoch Alyona Dzerbina Francine Harris Karen-Jane Henry Natalie Hockamier
Michael Hovnanian Assc. Principal Robert Johnson Spencer Phillips Douglas LaVerdiere FLUTE Jill Marie Brown Principal Jodi Dyer Flute 3/Piccolo – Open
TROMBONE Dan Spencer Principal Joe Radtke Bryan Pokorney Bass Trombone TUBA Clinton McCanless Principal TIMPANI Andrew Spencer Principal
Britta Bujak Portenga
OBOE Gabriel Renteria Principal
PERCUSSION Matthew Beck Principal
Phil Popham English Horn
VIOLA Leanne King MacDonald Co-Principal Leonid Sourine Co-Principal
CLARINET Jonathan Holden Principal
Lisa Raschiatore Bass Clarinet
Evgeny Gorbstov Antione Hackney Jon McNurlen Sara Rogers
BASSOON Vincent Karamanov Principal
Eric Jones HARP Sylvia Norris Principal PIANO/CELESTE Kelly Estes Principal
Masterworks.2 Dvořák no.8
Scott Speck, conductor
7:30 pm November 18 – 19
Friday and Saturday Frauenthal Theater || Downtown Muskegon
Tickets starting at $ 15; Student Tickets $5 (Not available online) westmichigansymphony.org || 231.726.3231 x23 Volume 1//September 2011 – June 2012 :: 7
About the Orchestra
Photo by Andrew Le Images April 16 – 17, 2010: “Water Music: Experience the Lake Effect” The West Michigan Symphony at the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts in Muskegon, MI
EVERY ORCHESTRA TELLS ITS OWN STORY The West Michigan Symphony is a widely recognized professional orchestra and proud to be a leader in West Michigan’s cultural community for the past 72 years. The first half of the 20th century witnessed tremendous expansion in numbers of symphony orchestras in the United States. While some were permanent, fully professional enterprises from the start, far more orchestras were comprised of avocational musicians or a mix of professionals and non-professionals. Many of these community orchestras came into being through the efforts of a local conductor or musicians; others were formed because a group of music lovers decided that the community needed an orchestra to establish its cultural identify.
In 1975 the orchestra first hired a professional manager. This effort, along with expanded artistic direction by dedicated and talented conductors, provided the climate for the orchestra to seriously organize, sell tickets, raise funds and continue forward momentum. In the 1978-79 concert season, the orchestra began to charge admission to concerts and changed from single presentations to concert pairs. Today the West Michigan Symphony presents eight pairs of subscription concerts (five classical and three pops) in the historic
Mr. A. M. Courtright, a Muskegon Heights teacher, and Mr. Palmer Quackenbush are credited with early pioneering efforts to provide Muskegon with a symphony orchestra. In November 1938 a musical group of 40 members presented its first concert with Mr. Quackenbush conducting and Mr. Courtright assisting. The group incorporated the following year and elected its first Board of Directors. Performances were initially held in area schools, eventually moving into Downtown Muskegon’s historic Frauenthal Theater. Conductors have included Tauno Hannikainen, Hugo Kolberg, Wayne Dunlap, Lyman Starr, John Wheeler, Philip Greenberg, Murray Gross, and current Music Director Scott Speck. 1955 – 56 Season
8 :: West Michigan Symphony Concert Program
Frauenthal Theater. The WMS is made up of musicians of the highest caliber playing extremely challenging repertoire and we present some of the world’s most talented guest artists. Built in 1929, the 1724 seat theater has undergone a $7.5 million renovation that restored it to its original Spanish Renaissance splendor while also creating a spacious modern lobby linking the Frauenthal with the adjacent 180-seat Beardsley Theatre. With its extraordinary beauty, excellent acoustics and sight lines, the Frauenthal Theatre is praised by artists and audiences alike. With the prime location of its performance hall in the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts at the intersection of Downtown Muskegon’s Western Avenue and Third Street, the West Michigan Symphony is proud to be a key player in this period of renaissance that will bring a renewed vitality and life to the center of the city. OUR MUSICIANS... At the heart of the West Michigan Symphony are our musicians and for the majority of them, music is their livelihood. When they aren’t practicing, rehearsing or performing a classical or pops concert with the WMS, many of them are practicing, rehearsing and performing with orchestras throughout West Michigan including those in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Midland, Battle Creek, Holland, and Traverse City. With advanced degrees in performance and a commitment to symphonic music, you will find many of our musicians on the music faculties of major Michigan universities, teaching privately, giving recitals, and playing with fellow musicians in small ensembles. They’ve participated in community events including the Tall Ships Festival and “Feeding the Soul of the City” at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and have been called on to perform in memorial services for prominent community leaders. In the language of symphony orchestras, we are a per-service orchestra and our musicians are independent contractors. That means that we’re not a union orchestra and our players are paid a fee for each service they perform. Each service is 2.5 hours and a typical classical concert rehearsal schedule for string players would include five rehearsal services and two concert services. Even though we are not a union orchestra working under a “collective bargaining agreement,” we adhere closely to the policies of typical union contracts in the scope of our actions with our musicians, e.g., length of rehearsal, minimum and maximum temperature in the hall or outdoor venues, break times, and much more. We have a core of approximately 66 musicians that have agreed to play a particular number of concerts based on the repertoire requirements. For a larger work such as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture requiring 75 musicians, we augment the orchestra from our substitute musician list. In the case of smaller works, our musician count on stage may require only 54 musicians.
Volume 1//September 2011 – June 2012 :: 9
Music Director Scott Speck
The West Michigan Symphony performing a Holiday Pops concert
About the Orchestra Our musicians come primarily from Western and Central Michigan and some from farther afield. Audience members have come to know our core musicians as part of the Symphony family and they look for their favorites on stage at each concert. No matter where they come from or where they live, our musicians become part of our Symphony family and enjoy being recognized as part of this community. ORCHESTRAS ARE A VITAL PART OF AMERICAâ€™S MUSICAL LANDSCAPE AND CIVIC LIFE With more than 1,800 symphony, chamber, collegiate, and youth orchestras across the country, America is brimming with extraordinary musicians, live concerts,
and orchestras as unique as the communities they serve. Orchestral music making is alive and well in our country, offering significant artistic, social, and economic contributions at the local, national, and international levels. Orchestras add value and meaning to American life by fostering the creativity of musicians and engaging the public in the extraordinary experience of orchestral performance. Orchestras exist in all 50 states, with annual budgets ranging from less than $50,000 to more than $70 million. The West Michigan Symphony is one of the 350-400 professional orchestras. OUR EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PROGRAMS With the belief that arts education is a key ingredient for development of life skills and is essential toward creating a vibrant community, the West Michigan Symphony is committed to offering a wide array of education programs Muskegon Chronicle photo by Nick Tremmel
Instrument Petting Zoo at WMS summer concert, Montague Band Shell 2008 Grand Havenâ€™s Lake Hills Elementary fourth grader Caitlyn Cooling, 10, front, reacts as confetti falls from the air to end the Link Up program at the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts 2010 Muskegon Chronicle photo by Darren Breen
Muskegon Chronicle photo by Cory Morse
Marc Yu, 11, hosts workshop for students at Grant Fine Arts Center 2010 Muskegon Chronicle photo by Ken Stevens
WMS American Made: the Art of Manufacturing 2009
10 :: West Michigan Symphony Concert Program
for school children, as well as a variety of activities and concert presentations for children and their families. In 2011 the West Michigan Symphony participated for the seventh year in Communities Link Up, an exciting education collaboration with New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Weill Music Institute. The Link Up curriculum teaches basic musical concepts and listening skills that support elementary curricula while exposing students to quality classical music performances. The WMS partners with the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District (MAISD) to coordinate the program and the advanced teacher training sessions. This year’s program, “The Orchestra Sings,” included three back-to-back performances by the West Michigan Symphony in the Frauenthal involving over 4,000 fourth-grade students from 52 schools in a five-county region. Carnegie continues to provide music workbooks and teaching training aids with the cost for the recorders coming from the participating schools. The remaining artistic and production costs are covered by important gifts from within the communities served. These generous and forward-looking individuals, corporations and foundations understand that we are filling a void left by the funding cuts to arts in our schools. Other education programs include the very successful Instrument Petting Zoo that provides a hands-on experience at creating sounds on musical instruments. This program is offered throughout the region at elementary schools, community events, and as an occasional preconcert activity for youth and families attending a WMS concert. The WMS education department has worked collaboratively with the Muskegon Museum of Art’s Super Saturday programs and a new one-day program in 2011 called “Follow Your Art Day.” This one-day event for middle school students provided a variety of art experience with each student participating in three of the 10 artist workshops offered and included a tour of the MMA and a performance by the West Michigan Youth Symphony.
Volume 1//September 2011 – June 2012 :: 11
We are fortunate to have access to our visiting guest artists and composers who value music education and enjoy teaching. Their in-school visits to perform and to provide master classes to some of the areas accomplished students is a remarkable education service. In addition, our own musicians have performed throughout area schools in various ensembles such as a brass quintet or a wind quintet. Added two years ago, the WMS Music Mentor program pairs seven musicians with Link Up schools enabling the students and teachers to meet and learn from a professional musician. The musicians are a great hit with the students and on concert day, the mentors are greeted like rock stars when introduced from the stage. Under the direction of Daniel M. Meyers, the West Michigan Youth Symphony is comprised of young musicians from throughout West Michigan. Representing fifteen schools and several home schooled students, the Youth Symphony brings together the most talented young musicians in the region for weekly rehearsals, two annual concerts, and other community events. The WMYS provides young musicians with challenging orchestral performance experiences that complement school music programs. The WMYS is committed to nurturing the talents of their members while offering them a unique opportunity to grow in their musicianship. The WMYS became part the WMS family in 2009. Music Director Scott Speck and WMS musicians frequently assist the WMYS in sectional rehearsals and clinics. The Youth Symphony will perform at Mona Shores High School in Norton Shores on November 13, 2011, and here at the Frauenthal Theater on March 25, 2012. To find out more about the WMYS, visit www.WestMichiganSymphony.org/youthsymphony, or contact the WMYS Operations Manager at 231.726.3231 x35. <<
MORE THAN JUST A THEATER Imagine treating your guests to a piece of Muskegon’s history by hosting your event in our unique and versatile venue. BANQUET AREAS • MEETING ROOMS SPACIOUS HALLS LARGE & SMALL THEATER TO RENT A SPACE CALL 231.332.4103 www.frauenthal.org
Contributors Annual Fund
The generosity of numerous individuals, corporations, and foundations of the Annual Fund has been instrumental in advancing the artistry and musical excellence of the West Michigan Symphony. We extend our deepest appreciation to you for helping to make the West Michigan Symphony a cultural touchstone in our community. Contributors listed here made gifts during the Annual Fund from September 1, 2010, through September 1, 2011. We have given careful attention to ensure a complete and accurate list. If your name has been misspelled or omitted, please accept our apologies and inform us of the error by calling 231.726.3231, x23. The Olthoff Challenge Match announced May 21, 2011, will match new and increased gifts/pledges to the West Michigan Symphony on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to the first $50,000 each year for the next three years. Crescendo Club members have pledged an increase or new gift of at least $1,000 each year for three years. +Denotes Crescendo Club Members of the Olthoff Challenge Match ++Denotes Olthoff Challenge Match *Denotes a fund of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County **Denotes a fund of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation
DONORS Golden Baton: $10,000 & up Pat & Julie Donahue+ Daniel & Sheryl Kuznar++ Mike & Kay Olthoff Virtuoso: $8,000-$9,999 Bari Johnson Concertmaster Circle: $4,000-$7,999 Jon & Jane Blyth+ Jan & Christine Deur Fund*+ David Gerdes & Carolyn Smith-Gerdes+ Shirley & Ronald Gossett Fund*+ Paul & Karen Jackson+ Peter M. Turner+ Orchestra Circle: $1,500-$3,999 Roger A. & Marilyn V. Andersen+ Anonymous William & Susan Bissell+ Dr. Harold E. Bowman++ Nancy J. Bunk Estate Trust Dr. & Mrs. J. Max Busard Mike & Marcia D’Oyly Marti Driscoll++ Cathleen & Robert A. Dubault++ William & Mary Lou Eyke Martha Giacobassi Carla Hill++ F. Martin & Dorothy A. Johnson Family Fund** Tom & Diane Jones++ Robert & Wendy Kersman Dr. & Mrs. Thomas Kelso+ Paul & Barbara Kidd+ Clara Lang+
Cathy & Bruce Martin+ John & Jessie Martin+ Richard & Nancy Morgenstern Barbara J. Murphy+ Gary Neal & Chris McGuigan+ Joanna & Fred Norris Steve & Kathy Ongert+ Ken & Sheila Reinecke+ Melissa Skiera Michael & Corina Soimar Mort & Gayle Speck in honor of Scott Speck & in honor of Mike & Kay Olthoff+ Alan & Annoesjka Steinman+ Ken & Teresa Stevens+ matched in part by JP Morgan Chase Dan & Ann Tabor+ Dr. Jane L. Toot Thomas & Elizabeth Tuttle+ George & Patricia Van Epps Norna Verplank Benefactor: $700-$1,499 Dr. Robert & Cindy Ackerman++ Charles & Gloria Alstrom++ Anonymous++ Anonymous Michael Cerminaro, DDS & Connie Verhagen, DDS Curtis Chambers Dr. Paul & Nancy Christie Bob & Betsy Culter Bill & Barbara Harris Charles & Janet Hook Barbara & Hugh Hornstein Warren E. Hutchins
Amy Klop++ James & Elizabeth B. Lieberman++ Dr. & Mrs. Richard W. Peters* Paul & Sally Peterson William L. “Bill” Rogers++ John Saling matched in part by Emerson David & Nancy Sietsema Jack & Becky Slimko Dr. Vance & Deborah Smith Robert & Ruth Stoppert Nancy Summers-Meeusen++ John & Peggy Whitlock Patron: $400-$699 George Barnes++ Herb & Anne Bevelhymer Jim & Jane Bradbury Gordon & Mary Buitendorp Manuel & Barbara Butzow Norman & Maureen Campbell Robert Claflin Lee & Darlene Collet Mr. & Mrs. Bernard J. Craigie Dr. Donald & Nancy Crandall Julia Fugate Carol J. Hall++ Robert & Clara Harrell Bill Hendrick John L. & Linda P. Hilt Advised Fund* Douglas & Janet Hoch Pat & Tom Johnson Ruth & Bob Keessen Kent & Charlotte Krive Mary G. & Norman F. Kruse Dr. Steven & Sherry Lessens Charles & Ruth Ann Matthews 12 :: West Michigan Symphony Concert Program
John & Linda McKendry Norris & Jean Mead Mark & Bonnie Meengs Jeanne S. Moffett Hester P. Newton Fred & Linda Nicles++ Barbara Brandt Novak Pat & Dick Parsons matched by Illinois Tool Works James L. Pitney John Hancock Financial Dr. Patricia Roy & Paul Roy Helen & Jay Smith Dr. F. Remington & Ginny Sprague Mary Towner++ Nancy & Bruce Walborn Dan & Nancy Weller Morris & Marjorie Younts Sponsor: $200-$399 Chris Adams Mike Cramer & Courtney Albers Larry & Julie Ayers Bruce & Paula Baker Douglas Bard Dale & Pauline Barker Paul & Joan Bergmann Jo & Jim Bidle David & Barbara Bloomfield Mary & Bob Boyer Edward & Elaine Brevick++ Tom & Marilyn Case David & Ruth Clark Dr. Mark D. & Kristina M. Clark Clock Funeral Home of White Lake, Inc. Jane Connell & Steven Rosen++ Mary Fisher Cronenwett++ Russ & Sandra Cross Mary & Gust Danigelis Janet B. Day Dr. & Mrs. David Deitrick Hon. & Mrs. Graydon Dimkoff Doris Ducey++ Ms. Marlene Dykstra & Mr. Gerald Paauwe Joel & Linda Engel Robert & Jackie Engel Jerry Engle Jack Farmer Eugene & Karen Fethke Charles & Patricia A. Fisher++ Fran F. Fisher Carol Folkert Richard Charles Ford & John Bigelow Hills Tom & Janet Fortenbacher Barbara Gauthier Robert & Martha Glade Donald & Betty Goodman Bill & Ellen Hanichen Marjorie K. Harrison William & Nancy Hohmeyer Volume 1//September 2011 – June 2012 :: 13
Micaela Iovine++ Wilda James Ted & Nancy Johnson Robert Johnston++ Louis Jorissen Dr. Mort & Maxine Kantor James & Connie Karry matched by Cameron Dr. Ray & Betsy Komray Carol Larsen Joan Leder Noël Long Katherine Maitner Tom & Angela Maloy++ Jim & Shirley Meeks Robert & Susan Mixer++ Rick Murak Greg & Rhonda Myers Ed & Ginevra Naill Eric & Karen Nisja Thomas Pascoe & Jean Stein Roy & Britta Bujak Portenga Hack & Joan Ramseyer Donna Little & Faye Redmond Gary & Pennie Robertson Sarah Ruddy & Michael Miller++ Rick & Ruth Saukas Susan Savoie Richard A. Schroeder Michael & Debby Schubert Robert & Susan Schuiteman Jay & Joanne Sikkenga Robert Slager & Hazel Whittaker Rita Smith Darlene & Anbritt Stengele George & Dottie Strabel Robert & Stephanie Sundholm Frank & René Sundquist Marty & Heidi Sytsema Dr. & Mrs. John L.Tevebaugh Carol Parker Thompson Tom & Pat Trombly Virginia Gay Van Vleck Bill & Shirley Walther Jolee Wennersten Margaret White Dick & Judy Wilcox Jane & Larry Wright Sustaining Member: $75-$199 Ronald & Nancy Anderson Jean & Wes Anderson Bruce & Christine Baker Beth & Ed Baldwin Debbie Barkett Sandy & Allen Beck Carroll & Dorothy Bennink Mr. & Mrs. Bernard Berntson Ron & Sally Bielema Glada Blanchette
Bonnie Borgeson Orel A. Borgeson Janet Briegel Ron & Ann Marie Brown Donald & Jocelyn Bussies Carl & Emma Butenas Tom & Suzanne Carl Joyce Carpenter Rudy & Pat Chmelar Joanne Cochrane James & Diana Cornell Julie & Ron Cornetet Bill & Carol Cross David & Marie Culver Ed DeJong & Diane VanWesep Agnes Derks Lila DeYoung Norma DeYoung Betty Donovan Dr. Sara Dora Karen & Herb Driver Dennis & Barbara Dryer Nancy Edelmayer Robert & Ann Erler Jane & Wallace K. Ewing Eric Fauri Beroz & Siegi Ferrell Robert & Sue Fles A.J. Flogge Performing Arts Fund* Jean Freye Alexandria Fricano Gladys Givan Michael & Bonnie Gluhanich Marjorie Gorajec Dr. Josephine H. Grieve Bob & Eileen Grunstra Bill & Marge Gustafson Rev. Gerald & Susan Hagans Betty Hagedorn Helga E. Hamm Richard & Diane Harder Gary & Anita Hasper Carolyn & Paul Heckle Anita Herald, MD Joan Hilarides John B. Hills Herbert S. & Elinor Hoeker John & Terry Hoekstra Joan & Sam Hollar Connie Holley Don & Barbara Hopper Mary Ann Howe Dr. & Mrs. Huntley Don & Penny Johnson Marti VanWyck Johnson Mr. & Mrs. Mark Johnston William & Jeanne Karis David & Loretta Kasprzyk Robert & Norann Kelly
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Oh What a Night! Billboard Hits from the 1960s
Friday and Saturday September 16 – 17, 2011 7:30 pm Scott Speck, conductor Ron Bohmer, Tituss Burgess and Bradley Dean, guest artists
La Bamba Adapted by Valens Jersey Boys Medley (Tituss, Ron & Bradley) Sherry Gaudio Big Girls Don’t Cry Crewe & Gaudio Can’t Take My Eyes Off You Crewe & Gaudio Oh, What A Night! Junior & Funches Mack the Knife (Bradley) Weill & Brecht It’s Not Unusual (Ron) Reed & Mills Hit the Road Jack (Tituss) Mayfield Tequila Flores Unchained Melody (Ron) North/Zaret Strangers in the Night (Bradley) Kaempfert/Singleton & Snyder For Once in My Life (Tituss) Miller & Murden
INTERMISSION Beatles Hits Medley I Want to Hold Your Hand She Loves You Yesterday Eleanor Rigby Hey, Jude Get Back Yellow Submarine Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (Tituss, Ron & Bradley) I Heard it Through the Grapevine (Ron) Cherry, Cherry (Tituss, Ron & Bradley) Try a Little Tenderness (Tituss) Smokey Robinson Medley Going to a Go-Go The Tears of a Clown Shop Around What a Wonderful World (Tituss, Ron & Bradley) Respect (Tituss, Ron & Bradley) Oh, What a Night!
Lennon & McCartney Lennon & McCartney McCartney Lennon & McCartney McCartney McCartney McCartney Rado, Ragni & MacDermot
RON BOHMER Ron Bohmer recently starred on Broadway as The Father in Ragtime and has starred on Broadway and national tour as the Phantom in The Phantom Of The Opera, Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard (Jefferson Award nomination), as the swashbuckling hero The Scarlet Pimpernel (National Broadway Theatre Award nomination), Alex in Aspects of Love (LA Robby award), the evil Sir Percival Glyde in The Woman in White, Enjolras in Les Miserables, and Fyedka in Fiddler on the Roof. As a concert soloist, Ron has appeared at Radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Center and with Symphonies and Pops orchestras across the country. For more info, visit www.ronbohmer.com.
Whitfield & Strong Diamond Campbell, Connelly & Woods Robinson, Moore, Rogers & Tarplin Wonder, Cosby & Robinson Robinson & Gordy Thiele & Weiss Redding Junior & Funches
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TITUSS BURGESS Tituss Burgess recently starred on Broadway as Nicely Nicely Johnson in the Broadway Revival of Guys and Dolls and sang for the 2009 Tony Awards. He originated the role of Sebastian the Crab in Disney’s The Little Mermaid and has also starred in The Jersey Boys and Good Vibrations. Regionally he was seen in The Wiz (Cowardly Lion, La Jolla), Songs for a New World, as Father in Children of Eden and Jim in Big River. Mr. Burgess has served as a soloist with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, as well as for Academy Award Winner, Ennio Morricone. His Solo CD, “Here’s to You,” is available on iTunes.
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BRADLEY DEAN Bradley, who most recently starred opposite Bernadette Peters in the Broadway revival of A Little Night Music with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury, will return to the Off-Broadway production of The Fantasticks. Other Broadway credits include Spamalot (Sir Galahad), Company (Bobby), Man of La Mancha (Don Quixote), The Story of My Life (Thomas), and Jane Eyre (Rochester). He has toured nationally as Che in Evita directed by Hal Prince, Sir Galahad in Spamalot directed by Mike Nichols and internationally as Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Show performing in over a dozen countries. Bradley has also appeared in concert with Barry Manilow throughout the country. Bradley recently released his debut solo album, “Back Home.” A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Bradley lives in New Jersey with his beautiful wife, Eileen, and their children, Emma and Oliver.
Elgar and Brahms
MICHAEL DAUGHERTY (b. 1954) From: Metropolis Symphony Fourth Movement: Oh, Lois! Michael Daugherty has always been fascinated by American pop culture, and many of his compositions, Jackie O, Hell’s Angels, Motown Metal, Le tombeau de Liberace and Sunset Strip, reflect that interest. An avid comic book reader as a child and teenager, Daugherty contributed his paean to Superman in 1988 at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of granddaddy of all superheroes: Metropolis Symphony.
Friday and Saturday October 28 – 29, 2011 7:30 pm Scott Speck, conductor Alexander Buzlov, cello
Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85
Alexander Buzlov, cello
1. Adagio – Moderato
2. Lento – Allegro Molto
4. Allegro – Moderato –
Allegro, ma non troppo –
Daugherty writes: “I have used Superman as a compositional metaphor in order to create an independent musical world that appeals to the imagination. The symphony is a rigorously structured, non-programmatic work, expressing the energies, ambiguities, paradoxes, and wit of American popular culture...”
Poco più lento – Adagio
INTERMISSION Johannes Brahms
Symphony no. 3 in F major, Op. 90
1. Allegro con brio
3. Poco allegretto
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at the Community Foundation for
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Oh, Lois! refers to Lois Lane, the reporter at the Daily Planet and her colleague of Clark Kent. Marked with the tempo “Faster than a speeding bullet,” the movement is a five-minute concerto for the orchestra using an expanded percussion section with flexatone and whip to suggest the mishaps, screams, dialogue, crashes, and disasters that populate the pages of the iconic comic book (the flexatone is the instrument used to create spooky sounds in cartoons). A perpetual motion theme is rapidly passed around the orchestra, with first chair soloists literally getting a crack at it. Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Daugherty is the oldest of five brothers, all professional musicians. He was educated at Yale University and trained originally as a jazz pianist. Before returning to Yale for his doctorate in composition, he spent a year in Paris as a Fulbright Fellow composing computer music at Pierre Boulez’s IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique—a research and educational center for musicians and scientists working on music and new technologies). Mr. Daugherty was Composer-in-Residence with the West Michigan Symphony in 2005 and 2006. He is currently Professor of Composition at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. EDWARD ELGAR (1857-1934) Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85 If you look at photographs of Edward Elgar, read about his likes and dislikes or listen to his music, the picture that emerges conjures the stereotype of Imperial Britain’s aristocracy or, as Constant Lambert put it, “...an almost intolerable air of smugness, self-assurance and autocratic benevolence...” Elgar’s military bearing, walrus mustache, country gentleman’s attire were in keeping with his conservative, violently anti-Liberal politics. His music sounded fully sanctioned by the Royal College of Music.
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The reality was quite different. Elgar was born to a lower middle class family. Worst of all, his father was a music store owner—“in trade,” as the upper crust in turn-of-thecentury Britain would say. Elgar was nervous, insecure, hypochondriacal and depressive; he had a chip on his shoulder for not being “fully accepted.” He never served in the army. And he was a devout Catholic. He was, however, a model Edwardian composer, whose imperialist ideals fitted the pre-World War I era, for which he served as musical spokesman. His music was a natural product of late nineteenth-century Romanticism, containing a healthy infusion of Schumann, Brahms, Wagner, Dvořák and even early Strauss and Mahler. While he was older than the last two, economic conditions had forced him to teach, preventing him from concentrating on composing until his 40s. Although Elgar completely lacked academic musical training, he played the bassoon, the piano and especially the violin, which he taught well. And he had a muse: his beloved wife Alice, who lovingly bolstered his spirits and critiqued his efforts. To the chagrin of Britain’s music establishment, the “outsider” Elgar was the first English composer since Henry Purcell to achieve world fame; his Enigma Variations propelled him in 1899 from parochial obscurity to worldwide recognition. The trauma and social change spawned by World War I perplexed and embittered him, turning him into an anachronism in
his own lifetime. His work went into decline and neglect, and the Cello Concerto, premiered in October 1919, was his last great musical effort. The Cello Concerto has been called Elgar’s “War Requiem.” It isn’t, however, a requiem for the war dead, but rather for a lost way of life, the end of a civilization. He himself considered it his swan song, noting in his catalogue: “Finis. R.I.P.” The premiere was a disaster. For the concert, Elgar shared the podium for the concert with Albert Coates, described by his contemporaries as a nasty little tyrant. Coates, who was on a Skryabin kick, was to conduct the Poem of Ecstasy and ended up hogging all the rehearsal time. This is a concerto of sadness and disillusion. It owes much to Dvořák, especially to the Cello Concerto, which Dvořák also composed late in life and reflects his personal regrets and heartache. The kinship extends to some of the technical aspects as well. Elgar wanted the cello to dominate the work. While the orchestral forces are large, the writing is always scaled down, economical, never overpowering the soloist who plays nearly continuously. The Concerto commences with a cello recitative that comes across as a challenge and sets the tone for the whole work, reappearing in the second and fourth movements. With the voice of a wise but disillusioned old man, it leads to the main theme, introduced by the violas. Despite the 6/8 time signature that so often suggests an air of lightheartedness, here
the rocking quality that persists throughout the movement comes across almost as selfcomforting keening. The second theme is more dreamy and yearning, but the mood never lightens. The transition into the second movement is mysterious and eerie, accented by orchestral outcries, cello pizzicatos, hesitant, stuttering and bowed sighs. The perpetual motion of the Scherzo has a frantic quality, although requiring the highest level of virtuosity. The Adagio is a long meditation and the heart of the Concerto, again strongly recalling Dvořák. It ends with an impassioned song, first on the cello alone, then joined by the orchestra. The parallels with Dvořák continue into the Finale, where a battle seems to take place between the melancholy soloist with its passionate outbursts and brooding recitatives, and more energetic orchestra. But at the end, with sudden impatience, as if he has suddenly caught revealing too much of his personal feelings, Elgar cuts the work short by introducing the opening cello recitative and a final short flourish from the orchestra. JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony no. 3 in F major, Op. 90 We know virtually nothing about the genesis of the Symphony no. 3, only that it was composed during the summer of 1883 in the German town of Wiesbaden, some six years after the Second Symphony. There
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Program Notes has been some discussion of one of the composer’s many infatuations, this time with a talented young contralto, Hermine Spies, with whom the fifty-year-old composer kept up an intense—but almost certainly chaste—relationship for several years. He apparently spent the fruitful summer in Wiesbaden because of her, but the extent of her influence on his creative output of that period, beyond a number of vocal works, is impossible to ascertain. The Symphony, premiered on November 9, 1883, in Vienna, was a stupendous success, far greater than anything Brahms had ever experienced. Apparently, he was more than a little unnerved by the acclaim, remarking, “The reputation [it] has acquired makes me want to cancel all my engagements.” One cannot discuss the Symphony without spending some time on the dramatic opening measures whose major-minor ambiguity pervades the entire work. The opening chords in the winds present a threenote motive: F-A-flat-F (an f minor third), followed by a sharply descending melodic line in the violin. Brahms’ biographer Jan Swafford notes the strong similarity, especially in rhythm, between the theme and the opening theme of Schumann’s Symphony no. 3; and, given the close personal relationship between the two composers during Brahms’ youth, Swafford considers the thematic relationship as probably deliberate. The second theme, presented by the clarinets, is a mini-variation form, stating the opening phrase three times in increasingly elaborate form. In the second movement Andante, Brahms continues to play with the major-minor ambiguity. In the recapitulation, he omits repeating the second theme altogether, saving it for the Symphony’s final movement. The third movement was the “hit” of the entire Symphony and was frequently encored at performances in Brahms’ time, when such concert etiquette as applause
Alexander Buzlov between movements and internal encores were common. Its triple meter and slightly contrasting middle section are all that remain of the traditional classical minuet or Scherzo and trio. More of a romanza, it opens with a wistful, almost longing theme, replete with sighing figures. In the Classical symphony, the first movement is nearly always the most substantial, raising “issues” that are finally resolved in an exciting finale. After Beethoven’s Ninth, composers frequently appended to the finale a triumphant coda, as did Brahms in his First Symphony. The Third Symphony exemplifies a slightly different take on the custom. Certainly the darkest and most tempestuous movement in the Symphony, the finale begins clearly in F minor, accentuating the major/minor ambiguity that Brahms had set up from the start. Immediately after the fluid opening theme, Brahms brings back in slightly altered form the second theme from the second movement that he had omitted in the recapitulation. Sections of minor storminess are resolved with a C major “heroic” theme first heard in the horns. But this symphony is not a Beethoven’s Ninth nor even a Brahms’ First: rather than concluding in a resounding climax, the darkness and ambiguity dissolve in the final measures where Brahms softly brings back note for note the closing bars of the first movement, with their clear-cut resolution in F major, now serene, pianissimo. <<
NEW THIS SEASON! AUDIO WEB NOTES For a deeper understanding of the music you heard or will be hearing, visit www. westmichigansymphony.org and go to the masterworks program of your choice. There you’ll find an expanded version of the printed notes including musical examples you can hear by clicking on the icon. There are also brief clickable definitions of musical terms as they appear in the text.
Photo by Andrey Mustafaev
Russian cellist Alexander Buzlov [pronounced BOOZ-loff] has “a huge capacity to make the instrument sing,” wrote The New York Times. Having captured the Silver Medal, the MICEX Prize for the best performance of a Tchaikovsky work, and the Vishnevskaya and Rostropovich Foundation Prize at the 2007 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Mr. Buzlov is a favorite of competition juries, critics, and audiences alike. He won First Prize and the Audience Prize at the 35th “Jeunesse Musicale” International Cello Competition in Belgrade in 2005, as well as Second Prize in the 54th International Competition of the ARD in 2005. As winner of the 2004 Guzik Foundation Career Grant, Mr. Buzlov toured the U.S. as soloist with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra conducted by Constantine Orbelian in February 2005, a tour which included his Carnegie Hall debut.
Program notes by: Joseph & Elizabeth Kahn
20 :: West Michigan Symphony Concert Program
The first thing that impresses a listener about Buzlov’s playing is its seeming effortlessness... He plays with energy and elegance. —Washington Post
Mr. Buzlov’s 2008-2009 season in the U.S. included performances as soloist with the Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra (WA), Danville Symphony Orchestra (IL), and the Mobile Symphony (AL), and recitals with University of Florida Performing Arts, South Windsor Cultural Arts Commission (CT), Missouri State University and Friends of the Bay Shore/Brightwaters Library (NY). He has appeared as soloist with Russian orchestras including the Mariinsky Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev, Moscow Virtuosi conducted by Vladimir Spivakov, the Moscow Symphony Orchestra conducted by Alexandre Vedernikov, the Ulianovsk Symphony, the Saratov Symphony, the Kaliningrad Philharmonic and the Yaroslavl Philharmonic. In the U.S., he has appeared with the Utah, Mobile, Champaign-Urbana, West Michigan (formerly West Shore) and Johnson City (TN) Symphonies and the Boise Philharmonic. As winner of the 2000 Young Concert Artists European Auditions in Leipzig and the 2001 Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York, Mr. Buzlov gave debut recitals in New York at the 92nd Street Y, sponsored by the Claire Tow Debut Prize, in Washington, DC at the Kennedy Center and in Boston at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. He also made his Lincoln Center debut through YCA in May 2005, performing Lalo’s Cello Concerto with Leonard Slatkin conducting the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.
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Mr. Buzlov was awarded the Leyda Unger Prize at the 2004 Pablo Casals International Cello Competition in Kronberg, Germany. Mr. Buzlov was awarded First Prize in the 2000 New Names Foundation Competition in Moscow, which resulted in performances at the Barbican Centre in London, in the Czech Republic, France, Switzerland, Macedonia, Norway, Belgium, Austria, Israel, Scotland, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia. The New Names Foundation awarded Mr. Buzlov with an additional special Talent Prize in 2003. His other awards include First Prizes in the 1997 “Virtuosos of the 21st Century” Competition in St. Petersburg and the 1996 Mozart Competition in Monte Carlo. Alexandre Buzlov was born in Moscow and began cello studies at the age of six. At the age of fourteen, he was invited to perform at Mstislav Rostropovich’s 70th birthday concert and participated in the Second International Cello Congress in St. Petersburg. A graduate of the Moscow Conservatory, where he worked with Natalya Gutman, Mr. Buzlov is currently enrolled in the Conservatory’s postgraduate program. <<
Masterworks.2 Dvořák Symphony no.8 Friday and Saturday November 18 – 19, 2011 7:30 pm Scott Speck, conductor
Overture to The Bartered Bride
Program Notes BEDŘICH SMETANA (1824-1884) Overture to The Bartered Bride In 1848-49, the Eastern European nationalities that had been subsumed into the Austro-Hungarian empire, erupted into a series of nationalistic uprisings. Although brutally put down, there resulted a movement to revive and preserve ethnic cultures and traditions, especially in Hungary and Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). This trend accelerated in 1860 when Austria granted political autonomy to Bohemia.
Leoš Janáček Taras Bulba 1. The Death of Andrei 2. The Death of Ostap 3. The Prophecy and Death of Taras Bulba
Composer Bedřich Smetana was in the forefront of the Bohemian cultural revival. “My homeland means more to me than anything else,” he wrote to a friend. Throughout his career, he was drawn to compose program music, with specific, descriptive aims in mind, as well as to operas on Czech themes.
Composed between 1863 and 1866, The Bartered Bride is considered a true folk opera and Smetana’s answer to his critics who accused him of being a Wagnerite and not sufficiently nationalistic. Afforded a cool reception at its premiere in Prague in 1866, it has become over the years a Czech national institution.
Symphony no. 8 in G major, Op. 88 1. Allegro con brio 2. Adagio 3. Allegretto Grazioso – Molto Vivace 4. Allegro ma non troppo
The opera, set in early nineteenth-century Bohemia, takes place during a village fair. Marenka is a peasant girl, whose parents want to marry her off to Vasek, the son of Micha, a rich landowner. But she is in love with the poor peasant Jeník. The marriage broker tries to bribe Jeník to give up Marenka, and Jeník accepts a huge bribe on the condition that Marenka can only marry Micha’s son. After much confusion and lots of folk dances, Vasek gives up Marenka and Jeník turns out to be Micha’s older son by another marriage who had been thrown out by his stepmother. It all ends happily for everyone except for the thwarted matchmaker, who loses his fat commission. The ebullient overture opens with a flourish and one of the most exuberant canons in the literature, starting with violins and gradually moving down through the string section to the double basses. The canon, one of the most cerebral forms of counterpoint, is a bit of musical irony as it introduces an opera celebrating folk music and dance. But the Overture then breaks into a lively peasant dance that sets the mood for the whole opera. The music is taken mostly from the finale to Act II, in which the hero, in front of the whole village, starts his journey of reprisal against the marriage broker. A tender love theme on the oboe makes a brief appearance but is interrupted, since the Overture is more fun than sentiment. LEOŠ JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Taras Bulba
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Leoš Janáček’s early compositions were strongly influenced by Antonín Dvořák and the style of late Romantics. About the time he moved to Brno (now the capital of Slovakia) he began studying Moravian and Slovak folk music, concentrating on reproducing the 22 :: West Michigan Symphony Concert Program
rhythm, pitch and the inflections of Czech speech. His research contributed to his distinct operatic style, which came to fruition in his opera Jenufa (1904). While his hometown valued his music, especially his operas, his work was rarely performed beyond Brno. Then, in 1916, when Janáček was 62, a concurrence of events changed his life and his art, giving him the inspiration and the impetus to write the music on which his fame now rests: The successful performance of Jenufa in Prague, his embrace of the nationalist movement in what was to result in the creation of Czechoslovakia from the ruins of the now defeated Austro-Hungarian empire; and a budding platonic romance. Janáček, a married man, fell in love with 24-year-old Kamila Stösslova, the wife of an antique dealer. For the next twelve years Kamila maintained a warm relationship with the composer—there was no physical affair—and served as inspiration for an unceasing flow of important works. Janáček was an ardent believer in the Pan-Slavic movement, especially with regard to language and culture. For many of his operas, he was inspired by Russian literature and folk tales. In 1918 he composed the rhapsody Taras Bulba, based on Nikolay Gogol’s fictionalized romantic account of the Cossack leader’s violent life and fight against the Poles in 1682. Janáček set to music three episodes from the novella but did not provide a detailed program for the tone poem, as did so many of his Romantic predecessors. In general, Janáček’s instrumental style is characterized by frequent abrupt changes of mood, but many annotators have interpreted the telegraphic shifts as representing specific episodes in the Gogol’s story. Listeners, therefore, are invited to visualize events through the music in their own way. 1. 2. 3.
The Death of Andriy: Andriy, Taras Bulba’s son, has fallen in love with a Polish girl, and during his father’s siege of the Polish town of Dubno, discovers that she is among the besieged. As Taras’s forces approach, Andriy chooses to fight for the Poles, but his father, discovering him in Polish garb shoots him at close range. The Death of Ostap: Following a musical program for the second episode is more problematic. The Poles capture Taras Bulba’s other son, Ostap, and torture him. Taras, hearing of his capture, smuggles himself into Warsaw disguised as a German Count and makes himself known to his son. He witnesses Ostap’s execution as he is broken on the wheel, and Ostap calls out to him. The Prophecy and Death of Taras Bulba: Taras Bulba predicts that his own people will betray him in order to make peace with the Poles. In the final battle he is captured, nailed to a tree and set ablaze. As he dies, he calls out to the Cossacks to continue the fight because a new Russian Tsar is coming to rule the world. The passionate coda with full orchestral forces plus chimes and organ depicts a new era of peace.
Volume 1//September 2011 – June 2012 :: 23
Welcomeret!o the theat Oct. 13 – 16, 2011 Frauenthal Theater
Lend Me a
TENOR Doubt Nov. 17 – Dec. 4, 2011 Beardsley Theater Feb. 16 – March 4, 2012 Beardsley Theater
SPECIAL PRESENTATION May 3 – 6, 2012 Frauenthal Theater
January 20 – 28, 2012 Black Box Theater Setting on the Frauenthal Stage
Call (231) 722-3852 for more information www.muskegoncivictheatre.org
ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphony no. 8 in G major, Op. 88 Given his place as one of the foremost composers of the nineteenth century, Antonín Dvořák was something of a late bloomer, but not for want of musical talent and promise. Dvořák’s father was a butcher and had expected his son to go into the family trade. Only after his uncle had agreed to finance the boy’s musical education was he able to follow his passion for music. Trained as a church organist, his first job was as a performer, playing principal viola in Prague’s new Provincial Theatre Orchestra. During this time, he practiced composition, producing songs, symphonies and entire operas but achieved no recognition until he was in his 30s. After winning national prizes for several years in the 1870s, however, his work came to the attention of Johannes Brahms, who gave him his first real break. The older composer, whose reputation was at its height, promoted Dvořák to his own publisher, Simrock, who in turn offered Dvořák his first commission, the Op. 46 set of Slavonic Dances. Like his older nationalist compatriot Bedřich Smetana, he freely incorporated folk elements into his music, utilizing characteristic peasant rhythms and melodic motives but never actually quoting entire folk melodies. Dvořák was never happier than when he could work in a simple country environment. It was in just such surroundings in 1889 that, in a white heat, he composed the Symphony no. 8 between August 26 and November 8. More than his other symphonies, it reflects his love for his native culture. It is the most nationalistic of his nine symphonies. By the time he composed the Eighth Symphony, Dvořák was well known and respected, but he nevertheless had problems publishing it. His publisher, Simrock, saw quicker profits in short piano pieces —more Slavonic Dances, chamber music and songs—and offered a trifling sum for the Symphony. As a result, it was known for a long time as Dvořák’s “English Symphony” because it was published by London’s Novello, which paid the composer handsomely.
Surprisingly, the Symphony constantly shifts between the major and minor modes. It opens with a solemn introduction for cellos and the lower winds, not unlike a funeral march. This contrasts with the cheery flute melody that dominates the movement, although the solemn introduction reappears twice, once unchanged and the second time brighter with the full orchestra and in a higher register. The slow movement, the longest and most complex of the four, creates a particular kind of tension, both musical and emotional. It begins with what might best be described as a recitative for orchestra. The long opening, sometimes discursive, sometimes halting, consists of numerous motivic fragments that are later developed throughout the movement—including a bird call heard first in the flute and oboe —resolving finally into the movement’s single full-fledged melody. However, Dvořák does not linger on the sunny optimism of this melody, returning to the more passionate, tonally unstable material in which he further develops his expansive collection of motivic ideas. After several more mood swings it is the birdcall—perhaps representing the calming power of nature—that has the final say. The Scherzo is a sad, waltz-like peasant dance with a nostalgic woodwind melody. The lovely Trio melody, also a waltz, is used for the coda, but at double the tempo, a device Brahms had used in his Second Symphony. The Finale opens with a trumpet fanfare theme. It is first transformed into a slow dance tune in the lower strings that undergoes a series of variations. Dvořák again recasts the melody, now into a lively peasant dance, including a resounding trill for the entire horn section for a triumphant conclusion. << NEW THIS SEASON! AUDIO WEB NOTES For a deeper understanding of the music you heard or will be hearing, visit www.westmichigansymphony.org and go to the masterworks program of your choice. There you’ll find an expanded version of the printed notes including musical examples you can hear by clicking on the icon. There are also brief clickable definitions of musical terms as they appear in the text. Program notes by: Joseph & Elizabeth Kahn 24 :: West Michigan Symphony Concert Program
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wnj.com Volume 1//September 2011 – June 2012 :: 25
Holiday Pops: The Sights and Sounds of the Season Friday and Saturday December 9 – 10, 2011 7:30 pm John Thomas Dodson, guest conductor Muskegon Chamber Choir, David Wikman, director Grand Haven High School Chamber Choir, Shirley Lemon, director
Englebert Humperdinck Prelude to Hänsel and Gretel Ralph Vaughan Williams Fantasia on Greensleeves
John Thomas Dodson Guest Conductor With his powerful and insightful interpretations, the American conductor, John Thomas Dodson, has been praised recently by critics as “brilliant and effervescent,” commenting on his “intelligent and logical” leadership, noting his “collaborative hand” coupled with a “commanding authority.” In addition to his regular work in the United States, Mr. Dodson appears with orchestras all over the world including the Athens State Orchestra, Budapest Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra of the Dominican Republic, Bialystok Philharmonic, and the Symphony Orchestra UANL in Monterrey, Mexico. He has made numerous tours of Russia conducting the National Philharmonic of Russia, National Symphony Orchestra of Bashkortostan, Irkutzk Symphony Orchestra, and the Omsk State Academic Symphony Orchestra.
Farandole from L’Arlesienne Suite no. 2
Traditional arr. John Thomas Dodson
An Old English Christmas The Holly and the Ivy, I Saw Three Ships, Coventry Carol, Sussex Carol
Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane arr. Russell Robinson
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Grand Haven High School Chamber Choir Shirley Lemon, conductor
Currently serving as Music Director of the Adrian Symphony (MI) Orchestra and Principal Conductor of Ballet Theatre of Toledo, Mr. Dodson is committed to new music and has led over twenty world premieres in the United States, Russia and
Angels from the Realms of Glory from O Holy Night Cantata Muskegon Chamber Choir & Grand Haven High School Chamber Choir
Mel Tormé & Robert Wells The Christmas Song arr. Bob Lowden (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
Noël Regney & Gloria Shayne Baker arr. Warren Barker
Do You Hear What I Hear Muskegon Chamber Choir & Grand Haven High School Chamber Choir
Carol to the King Muskegon Chamber Choir & Grand Haven High School Chamber Choir
arr. Robert Sheldon
A Most Wonderful Christmas Winter Wonderland, I’ll be Home for Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
West Indian Spiritual arr. Robert De Cormier
The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy Muskegon Chamber Choir David Wikman, conductor
Traditional arr. John Thomas Dodson
Carols of the Seasons O Come Emmanuel, Lo How a Rose e’er Blooming, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks, In the Bleak Midwinter, Away in a Manger, Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella, Good Christian Men Rejoice
arr. John Thomas Dodson
Carol Sing Everyone Joy to the World The First Noel O Come All Ye Faithful Hark, the Herald Angels Sing Angels We Have Heard on High
Irving Berlin arr. Roy Ringwald
White Christmas Muskegon Chamber Choir & Grand Haven High School Chamber Choir
George Frideric Handel
Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah Muskegon Chamber Choir & Grand Haven High School Chamber Choir
Pre-Glow Sponsor: Rehmann Sheet Music Sponsor: Dick & Nancy Morgenstern
26 :: West Michigan Symphony Concert Program
Europe. Under his Music Directorship the Adrian Symphony Orchestra named American composer Kenneth Fuchs its Composer-in-Residence for two seasons, resulting in five world premieres, and he invited Bright Sheng to conduct his music with the orchestra later the following year. Mr. Dodson’s recording of orchestral music by Robert Jager with the Omsk Philharmonic was released on the Naxos label in May of 2011. Beginning in the fall of 2011, Dodson will also serve as Artistic Director of the Conciertos de la Villa de Santo Domingo, and Principal Conductor of Camerata Colonial as part of a newly-formed project in the Dominican Republic featuring Baroque music concerts, educational activities and on-site discovery experiences in the historic buildings of the first city of the New World. Camerata Colonial, the 24-member chamber orchestra for this project, is comprised of international musicians drawn from principal players from the New York City Ballet Orchestra, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra of the Dominican Republic. During his time with the Adrian Symphony Orchestra the organization has experienced tremendous artistic development and remarkable audience growth. The orchestra has introduced audience-educational programs that serve the entire age spectrum, created innovative concert-formats drawing the largest audiences in the orchestra’s history, and released a recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with violinist Janet Sung. In 2008, the Adrian Symphony Orchestra was one of seven orchestras in the nation chosen by the League of American Orchestras for its Institutional Vision Program, a three-year intensive program devoted to long-term institutional growth. The upcoming season includes a three-month residency at the historic Croswell Opera House with the repertoire to serve as inspiration for the creation of new visual artworks to be shown in the Croswell Gallery during the residency. John Thomas Dodson holds a master of music degree in orchestral conducting from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland, where he studied under renowned conducting pedagogue Frederik Prausnitz. He continued his studies with Paul Vermel at the Aspen Music School, studied composition with Robert Jager and was mentored in strings by Ed Meyer, father of bass virtuoso and composer Edgar Meyer. For his impact upon the musical life of the community, Mr. Dodson received the 2008 Lenawee Arts Award from the Croswell Opera House. He was given the Ross Newsom Award for Outstanding Teaching by Adrian College in 2009.
Volume 1//September 2011 – June 2012 :: 27
Dodson writes a blog, Creative Destruction, at www.artsjournal.com/creatived. Visit his website at www.johnthomasdodson.com. He is represented by Christopher Ling at CHL Artists: www.chlartists.com.
Muskegon Chamber Choir
Grand Haven High School Chamber Choir
David Wikman, Music Director/Conductor The Muskegon Chamber Choir was founded by its present Music Director and Conductor in the fall of 1963 as a sixteen-voice ensemble dedicated to the performance of Renaissance and early Baroque music. While it made its early reputation as an outstanding presenter of works from this period, the desire to expand its repertoire dictated larger and larger performing forces. Today the membership stands regularly at 36, expanded to 44-48 for performances of major choral/orchestras works. Members now come from throughout Western Michigan. The choir appeared in Carnegie Hall in 1988 under the direction of the young American conductor, Michael Morgan. Some of the choir’s more illustrious former members are the late Richard Versalle, Gwenneth Bean, and Eric Johanson, all of whom went on to international operatic careers. The choir’s repertoire is extensive. Over the years it has presented, with its own orchestra, sixteen of J.S. Bach’s cantatas and his Magnificat. Other major works with orchestra include Bach’s Mass in B minor, Handel’s Messiah, The Creation by Haydn, Mozart’s Requiem and Coronation Mass, Beethoven’s Mass in C, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah. In addition, the choir has presented well-received concerts of the music of Franz Schubert, Stephen Foster, the English and German Reformations, and programs of Irish and Scandinavian music. The choir’s biennial Wreath of Carols has become a Christmas staple for Muskegon and Northern Ottawa County concertgoers. Through its oratorio performances, the Choir has introduced a number of young vocal artists to Western Michigan. Among them are sopranos Laura Sutton Floyd, Barbara Pearson, Andrea Holliday and Patricia Mueller; mezzo sopranos Annika Rönnqvist; countertenor Steven Rickards; tenors Joel Dulyea, Joshua Krugman and William Watson; baritones Richard Cohn and Robert Lehner and bass Peter VanDeGraaff.
Shirley Lemon, Director The Grand Haven Chamber Choir is one of eight performing choirs with the longest history in the high school. Chamber Choir was the first choir formed in the music department over fifty years ago. It still continues strong today. Muskegon Chamber Choir Roster David Wikman, Music Director and Conductor Cheryl Lohman, Accompanist Maryanne Beery Bonnie Borgeson Ardythe Bulthouse Thomas Clark Sheila Daniels Jessica Dold Michael D’Oyly David Epplett Shaundra Fairfield Candace Fox Diane Goodman Kurt Hazard Betty Kurtz Scott Lachniet Erlund Larson Kathy McHenry
Kenneth Michnay Ginevra Naill Christine Neis Diane Nye Kelly Ortquist Kevin Prince Eric Rettig Tina Root Richard Schneider Greg Scott Gail Smith Janet Smith Jennifer Smith Daniel Spitters Ron Sweet
The choir consists of 48 non-select junior and senior men and women. Chamber Choir continues to grow in both number of members and quality of musicianship. Chamber Choir has been involved in many community service events: Night of 100 Stars, an evening of celebrating volunteerism, Voices of Hospice, celebrating our Hospice organization, Christmas with Carlos, a benefit for the Tri-Cities Ministries, Tri-Cities Chautauqua Celebration in Song, ribbon cutting ceremony for our new high school and many other community events. Chamber Choir has received superior ratings at the Michigan School Vocal Music Association sponsored District Festivals for over thirty years. They earn superior ratings at every State Festival. They have been selected to perform at the prestigious Midwest Conference on School Vocal and Instrumental Music in Ann Arbor in 1991, 2000 and 2003. They performed at the Music Conference in Grand Rapids in 2008. Chamber Choir was selected by a panel of judges as the Outstanding Choir in the state of Michigan in 2000, 2003 and 2009. As a result of this honor, they performed at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival at Western Michigan University. Shirley Lemon is currently the Director of Vocal Music at Grand Haven High School. She is celebrating her 33rd year of teaching, 30 of them in Grand Haven. Her choirs have consistently earned superior ratings at both district and state festivals. 28 :: West Michigan Symphony Concert Program
“Goodwill will find a job that fits YOU.” Shyanne Assembly Worker SAF-Holland USA
Sept 27: Woodwind Trio with Cynthia Goudzwaard, bassoon; Nancy Summers-Meeusen, oboe; Bonnie Bierma, oboe
Feb 28: Double Play Flute and Tuba – The only touring professional flute and tuba duo
Oct 25: Gregory Maytan Grand Valley State University’s new professor of violin
Mar: 27 Kalamazoo String Quartet – will play the Brahms Piano Quintet with pianist Raymond Harvey
Nov 22: Grand Rapids Guitar Quartet – Classical Guitar
Apr 24: Pablo Mahave-Veglia returns by popular demand with more South American Music
Dec 13: Christmas at the Organ with Troy Carpenter Jan 24: Fossil Bones – Trombone Quartet plays everything from Bach to jazz
May 22: Kathleen and Peter Van De Graff, from Chicago, will present a program of musical theater, opera arias and duets called “The Journey of Love”
THE FEEDING THE SOUL OF THE CITY 2011–2012 SEASON
For more information contact email@example.com or St. Paul’s Episcopal Church 231.722.2112
masterworks.3 Beethoven and Blue Jeans Scott Speck, conductor
Featuring Timothy Fain... fresh from his starring musical role in Black Swan... 866.388.6398 www.next-it.net
7:30 pm March 23 – 24, 2012
We welcome wonder...
Friday and Saturday Frauenthal Theater :: Downtown Muskegon
Michigan From the Depths of Time: Prehistoric plants and animals of Michigan’s past.
Ticket information: westmichigansymphony.org 231.726.3231 x23
PH 231.722.0278 Volume 1//September 2011 – June 2012 :: 29
Masterworks.3 Carnival of the Animals Friday, February 3, 2012 7:30 pm Saturday, February 4, 2012 2 pm Scott Speck, conductor Per Tengstrand & Shan-shan Sun, pianists Ottorino Respighi
The Birds 1. Prelude 2. The Dove 3. The Hen 4. The Nightingale 5. The Cuckoo
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings 1. Pezzo in forma di sonatina: Andante non troppo – Allegro moderato 2. Valse: Moderato – Tempo di valse 3. Élégie: Larghetto elegiaco 4. Finale (Tema russo): Andante – Allegro con spirito
INTERMISSION Camille Saint-Saëns
Carnival of the Animals Per Tengstrand & Shan-shan Sun, pianists 1. Introduction and the Lion’s Royal March 2. Hens and roosters 3. Wild asses (quick animals) 4. Tortoises 5. The Elephant 6. Kangaroos 7. Aquarium 8. Characters with long ears 9. The Cuckoo in the depth of the woods 10. Aviary 11. Pianists 12. Fossils 13. The Swan 14. Finale
Artist’s Manager: Herbert Barrett Management, Inc. d/b/a/ Barrett Vantage Artists, Inc., 505 Eighth Ave. Rm. 601, New York, NY 10018
Program Notes OTTORINO RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Gli ucelli (The Birds) Ottorino Respighi was one of the most imaginative orchestrators of the first part of the twentieth century. While most of his musical studies were undertaken in Italy, he spent two crucial years in Russia where he took some lessons in orchestration with Nikolay RimskyKorsakov. He developed a masterful technique in the use of instrumental colors and sonorities, firmly rooted in the late-romantic tradition. He maintained this style with only marginal influence from the revolutionary changes in music that occurred during his lifetime. Respighi was a musical nationalist, keenly interested in reviving Italy’s musical heritage, especially its instrumental music. Beginning in 1906 he undertook to transcribe and arrange music from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, editing the works of Claudio Monteverdi and Tomaso Antonio Vitali—although in an idiosyncratic manner anathema to modern musicological practices. In 1917 he published the first of his three suites of Ancient Airs and Dances, based on Italian and French lute music, mostly from the early seventeenth century. Indeed, most of his works are based on the music of the past, the sources ranging from Gregorian chant (The Pines of Rome) and medieval dances (Trittico botticelliano) to Rossini occasional pieces (La boutique fantasque) and just about every Italian period in between. In 1927 he composed Gli uccelli, a five-movement suite using eighteenth century keyboard pieces imitating birdsong. Composing such pieces had been a popular pastime since the Renaissance; the most well known of these musical birdsong compendia is Le chant des oiseaux (The song of the birds) by Clement Janequin (1480-1558). The most stunning aspect of Respighi’s work is its sparkling orchestration. Although each of the movements begins by featuring a different solo instrument, the developments of the melodies incorporate stunning combinations of instrumental solos to create a kaleidoscope of orchestral color. The opening “Prelude” begins with a festive ritornello, followed by brief hints of each of the birds to be featured in the succeeding movements. The second movement, “The Dove,” is a melancholy air for solo oboe, and later, solo violin, flute and clarinet, based on a tune by lutenist Jacques de Gallot (ca. 1670). Ironically, the dove, considered a symbol of love, fidelity and peace, is actually bad-tempered and tends to steal other birds’ mates.
Sheet Music Sponsor: Bill & Susan Bissell
30 :: West Michigan Symphony Concert Program
The third movement, “The Hen,” is based on a famous harpsichord piece by that name by Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764). It is a perfect description of scurrying, quarreling hens, with an indignant cock call—for clarinet and muted trumpet—at the end. The fourth movement, “The Nightingale,” featuring a pair of flutes, is based on an anonymous seventeenth-century English work describing the wood thrush (a related bird). The suite ends with “The Cuckoo,” based on the air by Bernardo Pasquini (1637-1710). Respighi spins out a demonstration of the variety of ways to incorporate the simple birdcall into complex melodies. He then ties together the suite by returning to the opening ritornello. PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Serenade for Strings, Op. 48
Throughout his creative career, Tchaikovsky went through extreme cycles of inspiration—or lack of it—tied to his frequent bouts of deep depression and self-doubt. His music usually reflected his mood, especially the depression, but sometimes he managed to escape. One of these occasions occurred in 1880. The year had not been a very productive one for Tchaikovsky, but in the fall he produced in quick succession two vastly dissimilar works: The bombastic 1812 Overture, composed for the consecration of the Church of Christ the Savior in Moscow commemorating Russia’s victory over the armies of Napoleon; and the Serenade for Strings, one of his warmest, heartfelt creations. Tchaikovsky commented on the two works: “The overture will be very loud, noisy, but I wrote it without any warm feelings of love and so it will probably be of no artistic worth. But the Serenade, on the contrary, I wrote from inner compulsion. This is a piece from the heart and so, I venture to say, it does not lack artistic worth.” He wrote to his friend and publisher: “Whether because it is my latest child or because in reality it is not bad, I am terribly in love with this Serenade and can scarcely wait to have it presented to the world.” That being said, the Serenade was an accident. Although Tchaikovsky was planning a symphony or a string quartet when he started the compositional process, his work gradually evolved into the Serenade, perhaps because of its lack of weighty substance. In the heading of the score, the composer wrote: “The larger the string orchestra, the better the composer’s desires will be fulfilled.’’ The Serenade’s enthusiastic reception at its first performance in St. Petersburg confirmed the composer’s evaluation; the Valse had to be encored. It is surprisingly lighthearted, compared to the composer’s many melancholy works. Although the number and structure of the movements conform to the symphonic model, it is its sunny mood that caused the composer to refrain from calling it a true symphony. In the nineteenth century, music had to be serious to be taken seriously.
Volume 1//September 2011 – June 2012 :: 31
CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS (1834-1921) Carnival of the Animals Camille Saint-Saëns was a child prodigy who wrote his first piano compositions at age three. At ten he made his formal debut as pianist at the Salle Pleyel in Paris, playing Mozart and Beethoven piano concertos, and as encore offered to play any of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas from memory! In his youth he was considered an innovator, but by the time he reached maturity he became a conservative pillar of the establishment, trying to maintain the classical musical tradition in France. As an accomplished organist and pianist—he premiered his five piano concertos—his technique was elegant, effortless and graceful. But neither his compositions nor his pianism were ever pinnacles of passion or emotion and were called by one critic “Pasteurized and aseptic.” Hector Berlioz noted that Saint-Saëns “...knows everything but lacks inexperience.” But Saint-Saëns did not lack a sense of humor. One of his most popular works today is the witty Carnival of the Animals, subtitled A Grand Zoological Fantasy. It began life as a private joke among friends, originally for two pianos, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, flute, clarinet, glass harmonica or celesta and xylophone, which he dashed off in 1886 during a vacation. It pokes fun at his contemporaries: Berlioz, the comic opera composer Jacques Offenbach, music critics, “fossil” composers, clumsy dancers and talentless pianists. Deeply protective of his image and reputation as a composer of serious music, however, he forbade its performance during his lifetime, except for No. 13, “The Swan,” which acquired a life of its own. The fourteen “members” of the carnival are preceded by an Introduction, continuing with: 1. “Royal March of the Lion” is a regal march with “roaring” scales in the pianos. 2. “Hens and Cocks” is a humorously nervous movement, with passages in the strings suggesting scratching, clucking hens and staccato figures followed by trills in the pianos portraying crowing roosters. 3. “Wild Asses” are portrayed in frantic scales by the pianists evoking the great speed of these animals. 4. In “Tortoises,” Saint-Saëns parodies the frivolity of Paris’ popular entertainment by quoting the famous “can-can” melody from Jacques Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld at an excruciatingly slow pace. A few cleverly placed dissonances complete the caricature. 5. “The Elephant” is another Saint-Saëns parody on his contemporaries: a lumbering and clumsy rendition of Berlioz’s Valse des Sylphes, played by the contrabasses, supported by piano accompaniment. 6. In “Kangaroos” the two pianos imitate the capricious leaps of startled ‘roos. 7. “Aquarium,” a tank of peacefully swimming fish, is decorated by delicate filigree on the glass harmonica, a nineteenth
Program Notes century invention occasionally used for special effects. Modern orchestras often substitute the celesta or glockenspiel. 8. In “Personages with Long Ears,” a sudden change of mood and orchestral shrieks and grunts leave no doubt that these “personages” are donkeys—Saint-Saëns’ swipe at critics. 9. “The Cuckoo in the Forest” is a quiet movement for the pianos continually interrupted by the proverbial orchestral cuckoo, the clarinet. 10. In “The Aviary,” melodies on the pianos and flute are accompanied by rustling strings. The sound is similar to a mixed flock of birds. 11. In “Pianists,” piano hacks play a keyboard exercise over and over, transposing up a half step each time. In the score Saint Saëns instructed them to miss some notes at random. The strings provide short commentary chords and figures. 12. In “Fossils,” Saint-Saëns interweaves numerous overly familiar melodies, including two French nursery songs, a snippet of the aria “Una voce poco fa” from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, and his own Danse Macabre. He felt these melodies had become museum fossils, an appropriate vehicle for the xylophone to imitate clattering bones. 13. “The Swan” is for solo cello with piano accompaniment. It is just about the only movement that doesn’t involve humor. 14. The “Finale” recaps music from many of the previous movements, with snippets of the lion, fossils, wild asses, hens and cocks, kangaroos, cuckoo, and pianists passing quickly in succession. The “Personages with Long Ears” get their last bray just before the final chords.<<
Two pianos, four hands, but one heart. —New York Times
NEW THIS SEASON! AUDIO WEB NOTES For a deeper understanding of the music you heard or will be hearing, visit www.westmichigansymphony.org and go to the masterworks program of your choice. There you’ll find an expanded version of the printed notes including musical examples you can hear by clicking on the icon. There are also brief clickable definitions of musical terms as they appear in the text. Program notes by: Joseph & Elizabeth Kahn
32 :: West Michigan Symphony Concert Program
Per Tengstrand and Shan-shan Sun The duo made their New York recital debut in Merkin Hall in 2004 and performed there again the following season. Highlights since include performances of the Poulenc Concerto for Two Pianos with the Norrlands Opera Orchestra, Mendelssohn’s Double Concerto in A-flat Major with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, touring Sweden under the baton of En Chao, and performing at the Giresta Piano Festival and the Linkoping Chamber Music Festival, both also in Sweden. The duo has performed recitals for the Sunday Afternoons of Music series in Coral Gables, Four Seasons Concerts in Oakland (CA) California State University/Fullerton, the Wolf Trap Foundation, Rockefeller University evening series, and as the closing concert of the prestigious Sarasota Concert Association. At the 2006 Helsingborg Piano Festival in Sweden, they gave their first performance of the Bartók Concerto for Two Pianos and Percussion, and in 2005, the duo received a grant from the Salon de Virtuosi in New York City. Tengstrand-Sun Duo’s latest release is on the Mindfeel label and includes works by Mendelssohn, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Lutoslawski and Milhaud. Mr. Tengstrand is also represented on the Pro Piano label and Ms. Sun on the China Records label. A recording titled Mozart for Mothers was recently released on CD for the composer’s 250th anniversary. Per Tengstrand was born in Sweden and made his first public appearance when he was seven years old. He studied at the Paris and Geneva Conservatories and took first prize at the 1997 Cleveland International Piano Competition. He enjoys great success internationally, and is the subject of an acclaimed Swedish documentary entitled Solisten (The Soloist). Shan-shan Sun gave her first public performance in her native China at the age of six. At age nine, she was admitted to the Young Artist Program at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, performing throughout China. In 1991, Ms. Sun relocated to the United States, continuing her studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She is an active soloist as well as a chamber musician. Among her piano instructors have been Paul Schenly, Anne Epperson, Sergei Babayan, Qing-hua Wang, and Susan Starr. A New York Times headline appropriately characterized the Tengstrand-Sun Piano Duo as “two pianos, four hands, but one heart.” These married pianists, with successful solo careers already in place, made their debut as a duo in October 2003 playing Mozart’s Two Piano Concerto with the Canton Symphony which led to their decision to enter the Murray Dranoff International Piano Competition in December. They received first prize and made their New York recital debut at Merkin Hall in January of 2004. Since then they have played with orchestras, in recital and at festivals throughout the US and Scandinavia. They have released a number of recordings on the Mindfeel label, the most recent of which features Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and Arensky’s Silhouettes.
Volume 1//September 2011 – June 2012 :: 33
Both Tengstrand and Sun take a special interest in presenting the repertoire of transcribed symphonic works in smaller cities where these works would otherwise not be heard. They are active participants of educational outreach in schools, pursuing a mission to bring classical music to young people. <<
Cirque de la Symphonie Friday and Saturday March 2 – 3, 2012 7:30 pm Scott Speck, conductor
Roman Carnival Overture
Carmen Suite no. 2 – Danse Bohème Vladimir Tsarkov, Ring Juggling
Carmen Suite no. 1 – Les Toréadors Alexander Streltsov, Spinning Cube
Valse from Masquerade Elena Tsarkova, Contortion/Dance
Rhapsody for Orchestra from España
Bacchanale from Samson et Delilah Christine Van Loo, Aerial Hoop
INTERMISSION Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Danse des Cygnes from Swan Lake Vladmir & Elena, Magic Act with Scott Speck Johannes Brahms
Hungarian Dance no. 5
Danse Macabre, Op. 40 Christine Van Loo, Aerial Rope
Ottorino Respighi/ Gioachino Rossini
Cancan from La boutique fantasque Vladmir & Elena, Juggling Batons with Ribbon Dance
Harry’s Wondrous World from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Across the Stars from Star Wars: Episode II, Attack of the Clones Alexander Streltsov, Aerial Acrobatics on Fabrics
Boléro Jarek & Darek, Strongmen
Carmen Suite No 1- Les Toréadors
Cirque de la Symphonie Ladies and gentlemen, and children of all ages! Imagine aerialists flying high above the orchestra in a gravity-defying ballet, astonishing acrobats, sinewy strongmen, nimble jugglers, and amazing contortionists… it’s the art of cirque. Now, add the excitement of synchronized favorite classics and contemporary music played live by your West Michigan Symphony—with ringmaster Scott Speck—and you have Cirque de la Symphonie. Having played to capacity crowds in concert halls all over the world, they now make their long-awaited debut in Muskegon. You’ll enjoy musical selections like Maurice Ravel’s Boléro, John Williams’ Across the Stars from Star Wars: Episode II, Attack of the Clones, Saint-Saëns Danse Macabre and much more. It’s a breathtaking sight-and-sound spectacular! You’ll want to run away with this circus!
Circus act adds thrills, chills to MSO Pops concert... One doesn’t usually hear gasps, ooh and aahs from a symphony orchestra audience, but then one doesn’t usually see a woman dangling by her feet from a hoop that swings high above the lip of the stage as an orchestra plays. —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION
Join the West Michigan Symphony, with conductor Scott Speck, in celebration of the Muskegon Museum of Art’s 100th Anniversary 7:30 pm June 1 – 2
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Volume 1//September 2011 – June 2012 :: 35
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Beethoven and Blue Jeans Friday and Saturday March 23 – 24, 2012 7:30 pm Scott Speck, conductor Timothy Fain, violin
Ludwig van Beethoven Overture to Fidelio Philip Glass
Violin Concerto no. 1 1. Movement I 2. Movement II 3. Movement III
INTERMISSION Dmitri Shostakovich
Symphony no. 5 in D minor, Op. 47 1. Moderato 2. Allegretto 3. Largo 4. Allegro non troppo
Program Notes LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Overture to Fidelio, Op. 72 Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, underwent numerous major revisions before the composer arrived at the final version. The overture to the opera underwent even greater transformations. We have today four different overtures, all of them popular in the concert hall. The first three are called Leonore (nos.1, 2 and 3), after the heroine’s name and original title of the opera; the fourth is known as Fidelio, Leonora’s pseudonym and Beethoven’s final title of the opera. The complex plot is a paean to marital fidelity and political justice. Leonore disguises herself as a young man, Fidelio, to free her husband Florestan, who has been incarcerated unjustly as a political prisoner. Beethoven’s difficulties with the earlier versions of the overture (the three entitled Leonore) stemmed from the fact that they were too dramatic and explicit, following the trajectory of the plot by including themes from the opera, thereby giving away the most dramatic and exciting moments. The final version, the Fidelio overture, is neither particularly dramatic nor closely related to the opera itself. In that sense it could be called a generic overture, similar to many by Rossini—who routinely recycled his own overtures. The Fidelio Overture is, nevertheless, a wellcrafted—if somewhat lightweight—composition. Today the opera is frequently performed with the Fidelio Overture before the opera and Leonore no. 3 as an entr’acte between the two acts. PHILLIP GLASS (b. 1937) Violin Concerto no. 1 Philip Glass is more than a composer; he is a cultural phenomenon. Like a sponge, he went through his prodigious childhood and early career soaking up musical styles and traditions from classical and serialism to ragas and rock. He pursued the standard path of young composers of his era at Juilliard, then tutorials in Paris with the doyenne of all composition teachers, Nadia Boulanger. But in Paris he also met and worked with Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar, and when he returned to New York, after a transformative trip to India, he heard the minimalist music of Steve Reich.
From the Indian raga he learned the hypnotic effects of repetition and additive rhythm and, striving to obtain a maximum effect with a minimum of means, a technique that fit perfectly with minimalism. Despite a certain rivalry, Reich and Glass teamed up—with such limited success that Glass had to work a day job as a plumber. The premiere of his surrealistic opera Einstein on the Beach in 1976, however, helped catapult him to success and a new turn in his career to musical theater and opera.
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Glass composes in two different media. On the one hand he writes for his Philip Glass Ensemble, made up of electronically amplified instruments, and on the other for the conventional symphony orchestra and opera. Occasionally he mixes the two.
is a contrasting theme, the first chance that the violin has to sing with its own voice. The movement ends quietly, the violin playing doubly stopped harmonics.
Glass’ orchestral works are much more traditional. The Concerto for Violin and Orchestra no. 1, composed in 1987, was his first major orchestral work and is in the traditional three-movement form. While the underlying repetitiveness of minimalism can be heard throughout the work, its harmonies are conservative and its sensuality is strictly romantic.
The central movement is a chaconne, a set of variations on a repeated descending bass line. The repetitive nature of the chaconne fits perfectly into the minimalist aesthetic. Glass’ ground bass goes back to the Renaissance, where it was primarily used for laments. The violin part makes only incremental modifications in its repetitions over the bass line and the emotional kick comes in the tension generated by waiting for a major change.
The Concerto opens with a chord progression in the orchestra that serves as the motto of the piece. When the violin first enters, it is to some degree bound to that progression and can only decorate it and make minimal modifications to its own melody. As in a typical sonata allegro form, however, there
The finale is intense and hypnotic. The movement begins with the buildup of an ostinato rhythm in the bass. The slightly varied repetitions in the violin wax and wane, the orchestra breaking over the listener like waves. The slow, delicate coda in the instrument’s highest range was the
request of violinist Paul Zukofsky, to whom the Concerto was dedicated. DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony no. 5 in D minor, Op. 47 Dmitri Shostakovich’s roller coaster ride from Soviet adulation to denunciation began in January 1936 when an article appeared in the Soviet newspaper Pravda severely criticizing his successful new opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtzensk District. The result was that, upon the order of the government, the opera—as well as the rest of the composer’s music—was withdrawn from the stage and the concert hall. For the first of many times Shostakovich was cast into Soviet limbo, his music unperformed, his livelihood withdrawn and his life in jeopardy. In later years he recalled that he was so certain of being arrested that he would sleep with his suitcase packed near the front door so that if the secret police were to pick him up they would not disturb the rest of the family.
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Program Notes Shostakovich’s response was to go in two directions. Because of his fame both at home and abroad, the government was willing to give him the chance to earn a living composing music for propaganda films and politically correct spectacles. To satisfy his own creative energy, he composed works “for the drawer.” Some of his greatest and most personal works did not see the light of day until after Stalin’s death in 1953. The Fifth Symphony was the composer’s attempt to rehabilitate himself as a serious artist in the eyes of the authorities after the Lady Macbeth debacle. The chromatic, dissonant Symphony was certainly not in line with the cultural commissars’ requirement for cheerful, uplifting music. According to Mikhail Chulaki, then director of the Leningrad Philharmonic, the wild audience enthusiasm at the 1937 premieres—both in Moscow and in Leningrad—made the Soviet bureaucracy suspicious. They were convinced that the enthusiastic reception had been organized by Shostakovich’s friends and colleagues; they grilled the conductors and musicians looking for evidence for a conspiracy. It took a special performance for the apparatchiks alone to finally convince them to give the Symphony the official seal of approval. The Symphony opens with a broad theme, a constant presence underlying a melancholy counter-theme in the upper strings. The composer slowly ratchets up the hushed tension, gradually adding other instruments, a calm before the storm. More than halfway through the movement, clouds appear on
the horizon with the trombones blaring out the first string theme with an increase in tempo and dynamics until the shrieking violins introduce it as a violent march with full brass and snare drums. But the storm suddenly passes, and the movement concludes with a gentle glockenspiel solo. The short Scherzo is a rhythmically lopsided waltz evoking everything from Viennese ballrooms to music boxes. Erratic shifts in dynamics suggest a kind of musical satire that emerged more overtly and with greater bitterness in the composer’s later works. According to Solomon Volkov in his controversial biography Testimony, the composer told him that the movement depicts the brutality of the regime. Given the Viennese overtones and the many lightly orchestrated pianissimo passages, it is one of those statements that raise more questions than answers. The Largo is a somber outpouring that probably best reflects the composer’s mood during those terrible years—a gentle melody reminiscent of Bach. Melancholy solos for flute and especially the oboe punctuate the long lament. As in the first movement, the tension slowly builds, until it reaches a climax beginning with a xylophone and violin theme accompanied by a loud tremolo in the rest of the strings. The Finale is a military quick march, blaring in the approved “Socialist Realism” style. There are two principal themes, which both undergo significant transformations in mood, from strident militarism to pensive
melancholy. The moments of shrieking ostinato passages in the violins and rising chromaticism, as well as the somber middle section belie the triumphal themes. It is as if Shostakovich is surveying his environment at the beginning of the movement, grimly pondering it in the slow middle section and, in the final measures, fatalistically accepting it. Later, he put an unflattering interpretation on this movement, equating it with a forced march, the coerced and highly organized Soviet “spontaneous outpouring” in mass demonstrations. For the following ten years Shostakovich was able to compose relatively undisturbed. But in 1948 the official axe fell again; it was only with the death of Stalin in 1953 and the subsequent temporary cultural thaw that his music was heard again and his “good name” restored in the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, Shostakovich’s periodic bending to the official Soviet will did not sit well with the academic serialist composers of the West, who denigrated his work until a parallel “cultural thaw” in the West relaxed the stranglehold of rigid atonal music.<< NEW THIS SEASON! AUDIO WEB NOTES Visit www.westmichigansymphony.org and go to the masterworks program of your choice. There you’ll find an expanded version of the printed notes including musical examples you can hear by clicking on the icon. There are also brief clickable definitions of musical terms as they appear in the text. Program notes by: Joseph & Elizabeth Kahn
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Timothy Fain With his adventuresome spirit and vast musical gifts, violinist Tim Fain has emerged as a mesmerizing new presence on the music scene. The “charismatic young violinist with a matinee idol profile, strong musical instincts, and first rate chops” (Boston Globe) was featured as the sound of Richard Gere’s violin in Bee Season and, most recently, seen and heard on screen and on the sound track of the new hit film Black Swan. Selected as one of Symphony magazine’s “Up-and-Coming Young Musicians” and a Strad Magazine “Pick of Up and Coming Musicians,” Fain captured the Avery Fisher Career Grant and a Young Concert Artists International Award. He electrified audiences at recent debuts with the Baltimore Symphony with conductor Marin Alsop, at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival and with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. He has also appeared with the Mexico City and Oxford (UK) Symphonies, Brooklyn and Hague Philharmonics, and Curtis Symphony in a special performance at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, and was the featured soloist with the Philip Glass Ensemble at Carnegie Hall in a concert version of Einstein on the Beach. He appeared in recital at the Ravinia Festival, Amsterdam’s venerable Concertgebouw, Boston’s Ives Festival at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Kennedy Center, Mexico’s Festival de Musica de Camara in San Miguel de Allende, Carnegie’s Weill Hall, California’s Carmel Mozart Society, University of Georgia, Ringling International Festival, San Diego Art Institute, University of California at Davis, Alice Tully Hall, the 92nd St Y, and elsewhere across the globe. His new multi-media solo evening, featuring the World Premiere of a new work written especially for him by Philip Glass opens New York City’s Symphony Space’s 2011-12 season. A sought-after chamber musician, Tim Fain has performed at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New York’s Bargemusic, Chamber Music Northwest, and the Spoleto (Italy), Bridgehampton, Santa Fe, Caramoor, Bard, Lucerne (Switzerland), Vail Valley, Moab, and Martha’s Vineyard Festivals. He has toured nationally with Musicians from Marlboro, and was first violinist of the Rossetti String Quartet. A dynamic and compelling performer in traditional works, he is also a fervent champion of 20th and 21st century composers with a repertoire ranging widely from Beethoven and Tchaikovsky to Aaron Jay Kernis and John Corigliano. His provocative debut CD on Image Recordings of music for solo violin reflects Fain’s inquisitive passion and intellect, by combining old and new solo works by J.S.
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Tim Fain is quickly emerging as a leading violinist of the younger generation, possessing ‘everything he needs for a first-rate career.’ —Washington Post
Bach, Fritz Kreisler, Kevin Puts, Mark O’Connor, Daniel Ott, and Randy Woolf and he looks forward to another disc to be released next season on Naxos of solo American works. He was hailed for his appearance onstage with the New York City Ballet, where he performed alongside the dancers in the company’s acclaimed premiere of Benjamin Millepied’s “Double Aria,” and he has also appeared with the Mark Morris Dance Group, Seán Curran Company, and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in the U.S. and abroad. He continues to pursue his passion for jazz, and has worked with jazz pianist Ethan Iverson, and appeared at the Jazz Standard with composer and saxophonist Patrick Zimmerli and The Cutting Room with composer Daniel Bernard Roumain. A native of Santa Monica, California, Tim Fain is a graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied with Victor Danchenko, and The Juilliard School, where he worked with Robert Mann. He currently lives in New York City.<<
In celebration of the Muskegon Museum of Art’s 100th Anniversary
HECTOR BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Overture to Benvenuto Cellini
Pictures at an Exhibition Friday and Saturday June 1 – 2, 2012 7:30 pm Scott Speck, conductor
Overture to Benvenuto Cellini
Symphony no. 1: Lichtenstein Triptych for Orchestra 1. Varoom! 2. We Rose Up Slowly 3. In the Car
INTERMISSION Modest Mussorgsky/ Maurice Ravel
Pictures at an Exhibition Promenade I No. 1: The Gnomes Promenade II No. 2: The Old Castle Promenade III No. 3: Tuileries No. 4: Cattle Promenade IV No. 5: Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks No. 6: Samuel Goldenberg and Schmüyle No. 7: The Market at Limoges No. 8: The Catacombs (Roman Sepulcher) and “Cum mortuis in lingua mortua” (“With the dead in a dead language”) No. 9: The Hut on Fowl’s Legs (Baba-Yagá) No. 10: The Great Gate of Kiev
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One of Hector Berlioz’s great fiascoes was his opera Benvenuto Cellini, based on the autobiography of the sixteenth century Roman sculptor and goldsmith known for his brilliant craftsmanship, fiery temper and enormous ego. A brilliant musical score could not hide an impossible libretto with fatal dramatic problems. In addition, Berlioz’s musical criticism—he was not known for tact and diplomacy—created animosity among the musical establishment that doomed the production. The premiere at the Paris Opera in 1838, the composer reported, “…was hissed with admirable energy and unanimity.” It survived for just three performances, and an attempt at a revival a few years later failed as well. Liszt, who considered it one of the foremost works of its time (“at once gorgeous metal-work and vital and original sculpture”), staged it in Weimar in 1852 with great success. However, in spite of occasional revivals, it has never caught on. Berlioz was a brilliant and innovative orchestrator, especially for the brass, and the Overture bears witness to the fact with its scoring for the usual suspects plus two extra bassoons, four horns, four trumpets, two cornets, and ophicleide (a bass valved horn that became a standard in Romantic orchestras, generally replaced now by tuba). The overture, however, using themes from the opera, has fared better, although some of Berlioz’s quirky harmonies may have raised eyebrows in the original audience. It literally bursts upon the scene with a wild syncopated theme, followed by a number of themes from the opera, beginning with a solemn theme where the Pope Clement VII grants absolution to Cellini, convicted of an accidental murder during Carnival. Later Berlioz expands on the gentle love duet between Cellini and his beloved Teresa, accompanied by the main figure from the beginning of the overture (a standard Berlioz technique). Finally the absolution theme returns with a flourish for the climactic conclusion. Never one to waste good music, in 1844 the composer took two of the most fetching musical segments of the Roman Carnival scene from Act I and fashioned from them the Roman Carnival Overture, originally meant as the introduction to the opera’s second act.
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KENJI BUNCH (b. 1973) Symphony no. 1: Lichtenstein Triptych Composer and violist Kenji Bunch is a native of Portland, Oregon, who currently resides in New York. A graduate in both viola and composition from Juilliard, he currently teaches there in the pre-college school. Bunch still maintains an active career as a performing violist with the Flux string quartet, which is dedicated to performing cutting edge new music, and the performing composer group Ne(x)tworks. Comfortable in many musical genres, he also plays fiddle and sings in the bluegrass band Citigrass, and has been a featured guest performer with many noted rock and jam bands. As one of only three composers selected nationwide to inaugurate the Meet the Composer “Magnum Opus” Project, Bunch composed his Symphony no. 1: Lichtenstein Triptych in 2004. Three Roy Lichtenstein paintings from the 1960s inspired the Symphony. Pop artist Lichtenstein (19231997) used the hard-edged images of classical comic strips as a means to satirize contemporary popular culture. He described pop art as “Industrial painting.” Bunch writes: “Ever since a high school art class exposed me to the work of the late Roy Lichtenstein, I’ve found inspiration in his ability to re-contextualize vernacular images as serious art. Often, I find myself working toward a similar goal with my music—to refit elements of popular music for the formalized environment of the concert hall. Thus, it seemed a natural step to dedicate my first major orchestral work to his work.” Bunch sees himself as writing in a “cartoon sound world” that pays homage to sound track composers Carl Stalling, Bernard Hermann and, to a degree, Leonard Bernstein. The Symphony is eclectic, moving freely from classical to jazz, pop and movie music. Just as Lichtenstein co-opted the styles and clichés of advertising and comic strips, Bunch borrows from cartoon music and film soundtracks. The first painting, Varoom! is a big explosion, the word itself coming at the viewer in the middle of a starburst of yellow that resolves Volume 1//September 2011 – June 2012 :: 41
into a spiky halo of red and black rays. In an interview as part of his Meet the Composer grant, Bunch said: “What I love about it is we see this big colorful boom! on the canvas, and we don’t know how it got there. Is it a good thing or bad thing? I love the ambiguity! I wanted to write music that sort of suggests what this explosion could be and what might happen before and after. So the music is all about big buildups and climaxes and denouements.” Listeners will experience that ambiguity as they careen through a gallery of musical styles. In the second movement, Bunch switches from unrestrained energy to the sentimental nostalgia of 1940s movie music, inspired by Lichtenstein’s painting, We Rose Up Slowly, a picture of lovers embracing underwater. Musical allusions to Mahler (the Adagietto
from the Fifth Symphony) and Wagner pervade the movement, including a quote of the famous “Tristan” chord progression that symbolizes the love that can only be resolved in death. Bunch describes the movement as an example of “hyper-romanticism.” He gives his own instrument, the viola center stage to open the movement. The third image in the triptych shows a couple riding in a car; she is blond with her eyes half closed and her neck swathed in a leopard skin collar; he is at the wheel, blackhaired and looking at her out of the corner of his eye. Randomly spaced lines of black and white symbolize that the car is going very fast. This movement is a moto perpetuo of manic cartoon energy with a slightly sinister air.
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Program Notes MODEST MUSSORGSKY(1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition (Orchestrated by Maurice Ravel)
Modest Mussorgsky, one of the wild cards of nineteenth century Russian music, left very few completed scores by the time of his early death from alcoholism. Of his meager output, the opera Boris Godunov, some of his songs, the short orchestral score St. John’s Night on Bald Mountain and the piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition, have stood the test of time. Although Boris and St. John’s Night are most often heard in Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov’s “corrected” form, they now are considered among the highlights of Russian music. In July 1873 Mussorgsky’s close friend, the young architect and painter Victor Gartman (the Germans mistakingly called him Hartmann, a name that stuck in much of the old literature), died suddenly. The following year a posthumous showing of his drawings, paintings and designs was presented in St. Petersburg. The fantastic and bizarre elements of much of Gartman’s work fascinated Mussorgsky, who set out to create a musical memorial to his friend in the form of a suite of piano pieces. He depicted his impressions of ten of the pictures, portraying himself as the observer in the Promenade that introduces the work and serves as connector between the tableaux. A striking aspect of the suite is the nearly complete absence of any subjective emotion in a work directly inspired by a great personal loss. Mussorgsky gives us his personal impressions of Gartman’s art, but rarely of his feelings about Gartman’s death. Even in the Promenade, strolling from picture to picture, he portrays a cool, objective viewer rather than a grieving friend. There is no evidence that Mussorgsky ever planned to orchestrate the suite, although many of the pieces cry out for orchestration. The score was not published until five years after the composer’s death, at which point other composers started its long history of orchestrated versions. The first arranger was Mikhail Tushmalov in 1890, but the most popular and by far the most successful is by Maurice Ravel, commissioned in 1922 by the conductor Sergey Koussevitzky.
2. Il vecchio castello: A medieval castle before which a troubadour sings a love song. The mournful sound of the alto saxophone was Ravel’s stroke of genius. 3. Tuileries: Children quarreling and nurses shouting on a path in the Tuileries garden in Paris. 4. Bydlo: A Polish oxcart with enormous wheels is heard in the distance as it gradually approaches, passes and disappears again. 5. Ballet of chicks in their shells: A design for a scene for the ballet Trilby. 6. Two Polish Jews: One rich, the other poor. No picture by Gartman corresponding to this tableau has ever been found. The subtitle “Samuel Goldenburg and Schmuyle” is a late addition, not by Mussorgsky. Ravel uses the basses and a solo muted trumpet to represent the two characters. 7. The Marketplace of Limoges: French women haggling violently in the market. 8. Catacombs: The interior of the catacombs in Paris illuminated by lantern light with the figure of Gartman himself in the shadows. 8a. “Cum mortuis in lingua mortua” (“With the dead in a dead language”): The Promenade, in the minor mode, constitutes the second part of the Catacombs. 9. The Hut on Fowl’s Legs: Baba-Yagá, the hideous old crone of Russian folklore, who lives in a hut supported on fowl legs and flies around in an iron mortar was Gartman’s design for the face of a clock. 10. The Great Gate of Kiev: Gartman’s design for a memorial gate in Kiev in honor of Tsar Alexander II. The design is in the massive old Russian style, topped by a cupola in the shape of the helmet of the old Slavic warriors.<<
NEW THIS SEASON! AUDIO WEB NOTES For a deeper understanding of the music you heard or will be hearing, visit www.westmichigansymphony.org and go to the masterworks program of your choice. There you’ll find an expanded version of the printed notes including musical examples you can hear by clicking on the icon. There are also brief clickable definitions of musical terms as they appear in the text. Program notes by: Joseph & Elizabeth Kahn
One of the most striking features of Mussorgsky’s piano version, further enhanced by Ravel’s orchestration, is the vivid tone painting that enables the listener to actually visualize the painting. And it’s a good thing too since the originals of some of Gartman’s works upon which the suite is based are lost. The musical “exhibition” comprises the “Promenade” and musical renditions of the ten pictures: 1. Gnomus: A sketch of a little gnome on crooked legs, said to be a design for a nutcracker.
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