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January 14, 2019 – notes compiled by Caroline Faflak
Overture to The School for Scandal
Born – March 9, 1910 in West Chester, Pennsylvania
Died – January 23, 1981 in New York City
This piece was composed in 1931 and first performed on August 30, 1933 with Alexander Smallens conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Samuel Barber was in the first class admitted (in 1924) to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. By age 21, he was finishing his studies and beginning his career in composition. He was a harsh critic and scrapped any works that weren’t up to his exacting standards. The works he did publish – including his two Pulitzer Prize-winning works, the opera Vanessaand his first piano concerto – quickly became favorites in America and abroad.
In a letter to his parents, Barber mentioned that this first orchestral composition was “an effort to work at.” Nonetheless, after its successful debut his reputation as a neo-Romantic American composer spread quickly.
Not an overture in the theatrical sense, the piece is more in the vein of a classical French overture, designed to contribute a sense of gravitas to a more formal event. Ironically, the event in this case is less formal and more comedic. The School for Scandalby English playwright Richard Sheridanis a satire on the social manners of 1777, and the piece is a “musical reflection of the play’s spirit,” with snappy rhythms, unexpected outbursts, and a wide melodic range.
Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 58, G major
Ludwig Van Beethoven
Born – December 16, 1770 in Bonn, Germany
Died – March 26, 1827 in Vienna, Austria
This concerto was first performed in March, 1807 at a private concert in the home of Prince Franz Joseph von Lobkowitz. It received its public premier on December 22, 1808 at Vienna’s Theater an der Wein. Beethoven, himself, was the soloist at both performances.
Composed in the middle of his life, this concerto marked Beethoven’s final public performance. As his increasing deafness made performing and rehearsing nearly impossible, Beethoven originally sought out other soloists to perform, but the concerto proved too difficult. Furious, Beethoven performed it himself at a concert that was already over-booked with his other premiers, including the 4thand 5thsymphonies, his Choral Fantasy, and movements from his Mass in C. Too innovative for 1808 audiences, the program was coolly received, perhaps in part because the concert lasted over four hours in a frigid church!
The concerto remained obscure until Felix Mendelssohn revived it in 1836, nine years after Beethoven’s death. Since then, it has become a favorite technique of composers to begin a concerto with the soloist – in this case with simple chords and repeated notes. The second movement is one of Beethoven’s shortest; only five minutes long, it is a dialog between the piano and strings alone. Beethoven’s biographer likened the second movement to Orpheus (the piano) taming the wild beasts (the unison strings.) The rondo, traditional in form and rambunctious in character, begins without pause after the second movement.
Symphony in D Minor
Born – December 10, 1822 in Liège, Belgium
Died – November 8, 1890 in Paris, France
This symphony was premiered on February 17, 1889 conducted by Jules Garcin and the Paris Conservatory orchestra.
For most of his life, Cesar Franck was a performer –beginning as a touring prodigy and later becoming a professional organist and professor at the Paris Conservatory.
This symphony, Franck’s only mature symphonic composition, was written just two years before his death. Harshly received and highly controversial, it was denounced even by his wife for being too passionate and sensual. The Paris conservatory orchestra only reluctantly performed it. To Franck’s critics, it was a betrayal of pure French music to combine German Romantic methods and the textures and colors of Liszt and Wagner with French cyclic form.
Unabashed romanticism abounds in this symphony. Borrowed from a late string quartet of Beethoven, the opening three-note theme (dubbed by Beethoven,”Must it be?“) feverishly permeates the first movement. The second movement includes both a slow section and a scherzo. An English horn solo provides the slow theme (another controversial move, as the English horn was not a popular instrument during Franck’s time) while the strings have a swiftly moving line underneath.
Like Beethoven’s ninth symphony, the final movement elaborates themes from the previous movements. Chaos occurs just before the end with harp arpeggios accompanying the “Must it be?” theme. A triumphant crescendo concludes with a jubilant brass version of the second theme.
December 9 & 10, 2018 – Holiday Pops
Sleigh Ride, Blue Tango, Sandpaper Ballet, Trumpeter’s Lullaby
Born – June 29, 1908 in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Died – May 18, 1975 in Woodbury, Connecticut
Sandpaper Ballet and Trumpeter’s Lullaby were first recorded in 1945, Sleigh Ride in 1949, and Blue Tango in 1951, all by Anderson and his orchestra for Decca records.
Chief of the Scandinavian Desk of Military Intelligence in the Pentagon, translator for the US Army, and composer of over 200 short orchestral pieces and an opera, Leroy Anderson enjoyed a long composer-performer relationship with Arthur Ziegler of the Boston Pops Orchestra. When the principal trumpet of the Pops requested a solo piece that was not loud, martial, nor triumphant, Trumpeter’s Lullaby was born.
Anderson is known for his use of unconventional “instruments” and non-musical sounds. Percussionists in Sandpaper Ballet must use three grades of sandpaper to mimic the sounds of a vaudeville soft-shoe dance.
Few pieces are more popular than Anderson’s Sleigh Ride and Blue Tango. Sleigh Ride was written to convey a winter scene during a scorching July and became one of the top holiday songs today. Combining the blues and a tango, Blue Tango was the number one hit song for 15 weeks in 1952.
Christmas Music from the Movies: Polar Express
Believe, The Polar Express, When Christmas Comes to Town, Spirit of the Season
Born – March 26, 1950 in New York City
Jerry Brubaker – Arranger
Born -1946 in Altoona, Pennsylvania
The Polar Express was released on October 21, 2004 at the Chicago International Film Festival.
Based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express follows the story of a doubting young boy who journeys to the North Pole on a magical steam engine, making friends and rekindling his belief in Christmas along the way. Although the style of animation met with some criticism, the film was a box office success and hailed as a Christmas classic. Composer Alan Silvestri collaborated with director Robert Zemeckis on Forrest Gump, the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Castaway. The song, “Believe”, was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards in 2005 and won a Grammy Award in 2006.
A Woman’s Heart
Born – August 20, 1827 in Vienna, Austria
Died – July 22, 1870 in Vienna, Austria
A Woman’s Heart was debuted at the Volksgarten, in Vienna on September 6, 1864.
Although he never achieved the fame of his father, Johann Strauss Sr., or younger brother, Johann Strauss Jr., it is often noted that Josef was the most poetic of his musical family and his dances have the most musical value. He made a living as an engineer; one of his inventions was a horse-drawn street-cleaning machine. Nonetheless, his ability to step in as conductor for the family orchestra made for a busy travel schedule.
As an expression of concern for the social issues of women, he composed this polka-mazurkafor his beloved wife. There are three beats to a bar with emphasis on the first beat and a contrasting, march-like middle section. As elegant as any of his father’s or brother’s waltzes, Strauss, Jr. wrote “Josef is the more gifted of us two; I am merely the more popular.”
On a trip to Poland,
The polka refers to the form of the dance,
Santa’s Reindeer Team, a Christmas Story
Poem by John Miller
Music by Frank Milholland
This work was first performed in Miami on December 6, 2015 by the Southwestern Ohio Symphonic Band, with Miller narrating.This performance is the Northwest premier.
In the tradition of “ ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” this narrated symphonic work is the result of a collaboration between two Miami University alumni, John Miller and Frank Milholland. Miller owns a theatrical company and publishes children’s Christmas stories, and Milholland composes and arranges music for orchestra, band, and choir. Miller’s poem describes the special talent of each reindeer Santa selects to be on his team.
Johann Strauss II
Born – October 25, 1825 in Vienna, Austria
Died – June 3, 1899 in Vienna, Austria
Eduard Strauss conducted the first performance of this march on April 9, 1871 in Vienna.
Although the Viennese public admired both Johann Strauss, Senior and Johann, Junior, the rivalry between father and son was no secret. For many years it was difficult for young Strauss Jr. to find work because so many dance halls were committed to his father.
The march is a compilation of melodies from the operetta, Indigo and the Forty Thieves, which is based on the tale of Ali Baba in A Thousand and One Nights.
Arranged by Robin Seletsky
Orchestrated by Ed Marcus
Klezmer originated in Romania and Moldavia with Ashkenazi Jews and in the early 20thcentury mixed with American jazz. Klezmer bands traditionally include violins, clarinets, accordions, a hammered string instrument like a dulcimer or cimbalom, with minimal percussion, such as wood blocks or snare drum.
A Klezmer clarinetist herself, Robin Seletsky showcases the sounds of Eastern European Jewish song and dance music. The variety of melodies and dances – tango, waltz, polka, as well as the more regional czardas, freylekhs, and shers. express a range of emotions from crying to laughing.
Hark, the Herald Angels Sing and Deck the Halls
Born – December 19, 1939 in New York City
Died – January 21, 2018 in Forest Hills, New York
The lyrics for Hark, the Herald Angels Singwere written in 1758 by George Whitefield, one of the founders of the Methodist church, and set to a slow and somber tune. In 1855, English tenor, William Hayman Cummings, combined Whitefield’s lyrics with the melody composed by Felix Mendelssohn in 1840 as a part of his secularGutenberg Cantata to form the Christmas carol we hear today in this festive arrangement.
Deck the Halls was a Welsh melody from the 1600’s, with words translated into English by Thomas Oliphant in 1862. Originally carols were not hymns but dances; the “Fa La La “section between lines in the carol functioned as an interlude between competing singers and dancers. Mozart allegedly used this tune in his 18thviolin sonata, as did Haydn in his “New Year’s Night.”
Whitefield’s nearly a hundred years earlier,was,unlike the joyful melody sung today
La Virgen de la Macarena
Born – March 26, 1906 in Jiquilpan, Mexico
Died – September 15, 1981 in Encino, California
Known as the Heifetz of the trumpet, Rafael Mendez was recognized as a virtuoso when very young. He began his trumpet studies at age five in order to join the family band. When Rafael was only 10 years old, Pancho Villa invaded his village and conscripted the band into his army. When he was 20, he emigrated to the United States and worked in a Buick factory in Detroit until he “caught a break” as soloist for the Michigan Theater. Eventually, he became the principal trumpet for MGM recording studios.
Mendez set the standard for trumpet artistry and technical brilliance. He had unparalleled technique and – aided by circular breathing – impossibly long phrases!
In addition to teaching, arranging, and promoting the arts he was known for his mix of classical, jazz, and Mexican traditions. This piece is based on a traditional Spanish bull-fighting tune and named for the patron saint of bullfighters.
Christmas Music for Orchestra
Born – August 13, 1930 in Aberdeen, South Dakota
Died – January 28, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California
This medley of Christmas songs was published in 1964.
Born in a small Midwestern town, Cacavas started his musical career by arranging music for his high school band. After college, he became the chief arranger for the United States Army Band and eventually worked his way to composing and arranging music for Hollywood.
Soaring countermelodies accompany the beloved Christmas carols in this easily singable medley of O Come all ye Faithful, Silent Night, Jolly Old St. Nicholas, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Away in a Manger, The Twelve Days of Christmas, and Angels We Have Heard on High.
Many of his compositions reflect his Midwest roots and variety of musical genres from classical to jazz, for example his Redfield Concertino and Bowdle Town Blues refer to two small South Dakota towns
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
The exact origins of this Christmas carol are unknown, but it was first notated in England in the early 18thcentury. Thanks to Bristol composer Arther Warrell, the carol gained popularity when he arranged it for his choir in 1935. It was published under the title “A Merry Christmas: West Country traditional song.”
As Chris Ridenhour is primarily a film composer, this festive version opens with a flourish and the holiday melody is adorned by cinematic stylings.
- notes by Caroline Faflak
David Tan, cello, and Helen Lee, flute, performed at the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce on September 12th as part of the Cascade Symphony Orchestra presentation at the weekly Chamber breakfast.
On a beautiful and warm afternoon on Tuesday, July 17th, the Cascade Percussion Ensemble, directed by Ian Alvarez, performed a one hour concert at the Hazel Miller Plaza in downtown Edmonds
Ian Alvarez, Curt Cheever, Ryan Templin, Roni Flynn and Storm Benjamin played xylophones, marimbas and vibraphone for the concert.
The Cascade Percussion Ensemble was founded in 1995 by Ian Alvarez. The original members were Percussionists from The Cascade Symphony and Cascade Youth Symphony Orchestras along with outstanding High School Students from The Edmonds and Northshore School Districts. Their concert schedule in the early years had them performing with The University Of Washington, Seattle University, The Olympic Ballet, The Edmonds Percussion Symposium, Musicworks Northwest, The Cascade Youth Symphony, The Cascade Symphony and Live on King FM.
Today the group is based at Edmonds United Methodist Church where they perform an annual Christmas Concert, The Cascade Symphony Chamber Music Concert, and a Summer Concert of New Music with The Octava Chamber Orchestra. The Cascade Percussion Ensembles Performance Schedule usually has them playing with The CSO, CYSO, Sno-King Chorale, Pacifica Chamber Orchestra, Octava Chamber Orchestra, and sharing a Concert with a University Percussion Ensemble. Outstanding High School Percussionists are regularly included in performances with the group to encourage continued leadership in their school music programs.
David Dolacky will again be the narrator for this season’s Holiday Pops! and Children’s Concerts.
The role of announcer is familiar territory for Dave. In Seattle he was an on-air personality for KISW-FM, KVI, and from 1980 to 2000 a news and talk show host for KIRO Radio & Television. He continues to use his voice talent as a Master of Ceremony for various performance and fund raising events, as well as doing voice-over work. Beginning in September, 2004, Dave, an Edmonds resident for over 35 years, spent two years as a technical advisor for the new Edmonds Center for the Arts and is thrilled to have the opportunity to perform on the stage he helped create.
George Steward, in his 12th year as Principal Trumpet of the Cascade Symphony Orchestra, will perform Rafael Mendez’s La Virgen de la Macarena at this year’s Holiday Pops! concert.
George Steward is a trumpet performer and private instructor. He earned a Bachelor of Music at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music and a Master of Music at Yale University School of Music. While at Yale he received the Keith Wilson Scholarship for Outstanding Wind Player and earned Honorable Mention in the concerto competition. He has studied trumpet with Terry Schwartz at Wheaton, Ross Beacraft of Chicago Brass Quintet, William Scarlett of Chicago Symphony, Robert Nagel of New York Brass Quintet and trumpet professor at Yale, and David Gordon of Seattle Symphony.
George has soloed with a number of ensembles, including Wheaton Summer Symphony (IL), Central Connecticut State University Chamber Orchestra, Clinton Symphony (IA), as well as other high school, college, and community bands. Locally, George has been featured soloist with: Everett Philharmonic, Thalia Symphony, Octava Chamber Orchestra, Rainier Symphony, Skagit Symphony, Sammamish Symphony, Northwest Wind Symphony, Everett Symphony, Cascade Symphony, Mukilteo Community Orchestra, Philharmonia Northwest, Eastside Symphony, Brass Band Northwest, Boeing Employees Concert Band, and Whatcom Wind Ensemble.
He is principal trumpet with Everett Philharmonic, Cascade Symphony, and Octava Chamber Orchestra. He is also a member of North Corner Chamber Orchestra and Lake Washington Symphony. George is a member of the Brass Reflections quintet. He has performed with the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera, Bellevue Philharmonic, Symphony Tacoma, Northwest Sinfonietta, Yakima Symphony, and many other groups throughout the Northwest.
George has been collaborating with other performers in unusual chamber ensembles, notably a trumpet/guitar duet with Meredith Connie. With Jameson Bratcher, he recently premiered Three Inventions for Trumpet and Tuba, written for him by Richard Vitzhum.
Recently, George received training in Sweden to teach the Suzuki method for trumpet. He was in the first group of U.S. teachers to get this training, and the only teacher in Washington State. He loves teaching beginners to advanced and adult students. This training gives him the tools to work with beginners as young as four years old.
Information on upcoming performances and George’s teaching studio can be found at www.georgetrumpet.com.
David Brewer, the Rick Steves Principal Tuba for Cascade symphony for 24 years, will perform Tubby the Tuba at this season’s Children’s Concert.
Since elementary school, David Brewer has played a variety of brass instruments in different types of ensembles, from stage bands to orchestras. He currently is the Cascade Symphony’s tubist, having played tuba and bass trombone with them for 23 years. He also is in his 37thyear with Orchestra Seattle and is a charter member of the Olympic Brass Ensemble, a brass quintet, founded in 1995.
Over the years he has played with a number of orchestras including: Bellevue Philharmonic, Federal Way Philharmonic, Philharmonia Northwest, Seattle Philharmonic and Thalia Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed with Edmonds and Shoreline community colleges and the British brass bands: Brass Band Northwest and Puget Brass.
David graduated from the University of Washington with degrees in Music, Music Education and Computer Science where he performed with and was the undergraduate assistant for the Husky Marching Band.
He is a retired Software Engineer for The Boeing Company.
At the age of 12, Yesong Sophie Lee won First Prize at the 2016 Menuhin International Junior Violin Competition in London. After her Berlin debut, Kultur Radio, Berlin wrote:
“Yesong Sophie Lee plays with an intense sound, as one who has played Bach for decades. Her seriousness and density of expression is amazing…one is almost reminded of Yehudi Menuhin… a huge talent.”
Her London debut brought praises from major newspapers:
“In Summerfrom Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, she showed poise right from the slow introduction and led the orchestra with remarkable assurance. She displayed a fine sense of line and had all the colours needed for the tone-painting essential in this music.” The Telegraph, London “… her composure was remarkable. Her playing was silk-toned, notable especially for the intensity it maintained even at the furthest tip of the bow, and a real homage to Menuhin in the way her vibrato extended seamlessly from note to note… The Guardian, London
“[I] was very impressed by her performance…she oozed confidence and ability, both musical and technical.” Early Music Review, London
Ms. Lee’s other accolades include receiving the Composer’s Award at the Menuhin Competition for her performance of the newly commissioned work, Shpigl, by Oscar Colomina i Bosch, winning First Prize in MTNA’s 2015 National Junior Strings Competition, and soloing with the Seattle Symphony at age eight, having made her orchestral debut at the age of seven. She has been featured on NPR’s From the Top, and also played at their fundraiser concert in Boston.
Since winning the Menuhin Competition, she has soloed with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, Berlin’s Konzerthaus Orchestra, and made a recital tour of the UK in 2016. The following spring, Ms. Lee performed a recital at the Gstaad Menuhin Festival in Switzerland, and participated in the final concert of the Violin Master Classes at the Kronberg Academy in Germany.
Highlights of the 2017-2018 seasons include performing the Bach Double Concerto with Joshua Bell and the Richmond Symphony, soloing with the Seattle Symphony and the Orchestra de la Suisse Romande in Switzerland, giving a recital in Geneva, and in the same festival playing a duo composed by and performed with Henning Kraggerud. In April, she will be appearing in the University of Washington Rising Star Series.
Yesong Sophie Lee is an 8th-grader at Heatherwood Middle School in Mill Creek. She started violin at the age of four with Jan Coleman. She currently studies with Simon James and studio coach, Hiro David. She also feels very fortunate for having worked with Igor Ozim, Ana Chumachenco, Jamie Laredo, Robert Lipsett, James Ehnes, and Augustin Hadelich.
Her other interests include reading, drawing, riding her bike and playing with her brother Benjamin