Program Notes for March Concert

Dances from Oprichnik

Peter Illich Tchaikovsky

Born – May 7, 1840 in Votkinsk, Russia

Died – November 6, 1893 in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Tchaikovsky’s opera Oprichnik was debuted at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg conducted by Eduard Nápravník on April 24, 1874. 

Written early in his career, Tchaikovsky’s third opera, Oprichnik, was the first of them to receive moderate acclaim.  Work on the opera stretched over two years and was “sluggish and lazy.” The finished product didn’t give Tchaikovsky much joy either – “No movement, no style, no inspiration! I could see my elementary blunders, which I shall certainly not commit when writing my next operas.” Despite his best efforts to bury the opera by denying publication rights, Oprichnik gained momentum in Russia and bolstered the composer’s early career.

Based on an 1843 historical drama by Ivan Lazhechnikov, the opera is set during the rule of Ivan the Terrible and his bodyguards, the Oprichniks. In a rather grim plot – for which Tchaikovsky wrote his own libretto – a young man becomes a member of the Oprichniks and is later executed for loyalty to his wife.  Critics agree that although not Tchaikovsky’s finest opera, the quality of music and orchestration shines with folk songs and dances.

Cello Concerto, Op. 129, A minor

Robert Schumann

Born – June 8, 1810, in Zwickau, Germany

Died – July 29, 1856, in Endenich, Germany

This concerto was premiered on June 9, 1860 with cellist, Ludwig Ebert, and Julius Rietz conducting the Gewandhaus Orchestra in the Leipzig Conservatory.  

In Schumann’s time it was unusual for the cello to be used as a solo instrument, as its tone was considered too dark and the timbre too low to be heard over an orchestra.  The intimate nature of this piece, with its continuous cantabile melodies, provided little incentive for virtuoso cellists of the day to perform it. Nonetheless, this concerto was very dear to the composer and it is now a staple of the cello repertoire. 

The concerto was one of the last pieces Schumann was able to send to publication.

His continuous editing of it kept his mental illness and hallucinations at bay; but only a few days after its completion, he was rescued from the Rhine river and spent the rest of his life in an asylum. 

As Schumann disliked applause between movements, there are no breaks; but in the second movement, aduet between the soloist and the principle cellist of the orchestra creates a lovely texture likened to a conversation between Schumann and his wife, Clara. And despite his aversion to empty technical displays, Schumann indulged the soloist in the third movement with a lighter rondo theme and an accompanied cadenza. 

Petrushka

Igor Stravinsky

Born – June 17, 1882 in Oranienbaum, Russia

Died – April 6, 1971 in New York City

The ballet, Petrushka, premiered on June 13, 1911, with Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and conducted by Pierre Monteux at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. 

After his great success with The Firebird, 28-year-old Stravinsky began to prepare for a much bigger project,The Rite of Spring.  Meanwhile, he sketched a concert piece for orchestra which featured the piano, and the Ballets Russes in Paris requested a full ballet.  Overwhelmingly modern with pure orchestral colors and bold contrasts, the ballet was a triumph.  

The orchestral arrangement consists of four tableaus. The first is set in the 1830’s St. Petersburg Shrovestide Fair, three days before Lent. Among carnival barkers and acrobats, a charlatan entertains the crowd by performing a story with three puppets – mischievous Petrushka, vapid Ballerina, and vain Moor. Russian folk songs and dances accompany the various street performers.  

In the second tableau, Petrushka rebels against his puppet-master, falls madly in love with the Ballerina, and performing a wild display of jumps for her, causes her to run away in fear.  Stravinsky’s signature “Petrushka chord” of clashing black and white piano keys signifies the duality of good versus evil.  

The third tableau features the handsome but brutish Moor; the Ballerina falls in love with him, distracts him with a saucy trumpet tune and they dance an Austrian waltz.  A jealous Petrushka rushes to the scene, but the Moor chases him away.  

More circus acts – including a bear dance – appear in the fourth tableau.  Suddenly, Petrushka and the armed Moor run on stage and Petrushka is slain with a single sword stroke.  The charlatan takes the lifeless puppet, disperses the crowd and walks away.  

Trumpet dialogues reprise the duality of Petrushka and question the conclusion: is Petrushka just a broken puppet or is his “ghost” alive and the entire ballet was merely a scene?   

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Tokuji Miyasaka, Children’s Concert Soloist

Tokuji Miyasaka, age 11, made his solo orchestral debut with the Spokane Symphony in 2018 and has performed as soloist with the Fairbanks Symphony in Alaska. He won First Prize in the Great Composers Competition: Music of Eastern Europe, the Adjudicators Choice Gold Medal at Musicfest Northwest, and Seals of Outstanding Achievement at the Seattle Young Artists Music Festival. He has been a performer at the Brian Lewis Young Artists Program, the International Violin Academy in Liberec, Czech Republic, and was selected to perform on Honors Recitals at the Japan-Seattle Suzuki Institute. Tokuji has performed in masterclasses with Brian Lewis, Aleksey Semenenko, Danielle Belen, and Martin Beaver. Previously a student of Dr. Meredith Arksey, Tokuji currently studies with Simon James of the Coleman Violin Studio. Outside of music, he enjoys math, Legos, and spending time with family and friends.

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Program notes for January concert

January 14, 2019 – notes compiled by Caroline Faflak

Overture to The School for Scandal

Samuel Barber

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

César Franck

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.

 

 

 

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Holiday Pops Concert

December 9 & 10, 2018 – Holiday Pops

Sleigh Ride, Blue Tango, Sandpaper Ballet, Trumpeter’s Lullaby

Leroy Anderson

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

Alan Silvestri

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

Josef Strauss

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.

Indigo March

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.

Chanukah Medley

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

William Ryden

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

Rafael Mendez

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

John Cacavas

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

Chris Ridenhour

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
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Symphony Apparel

For Sale – Cascade Symphony Apparel!

Re-Revised Apparel Order Form Public-050618

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Chamber Music at the Chamber of Commerce (Edmonds)

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.

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Cascade Percussion Ensemble

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.

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David Dolacky, Narrator, Holiday Pops! and Children’s Concerts

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.

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George Steward, Trumpet Soloist, Holiday Pops!

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.

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David Brewer, Tuba Soloist, Children’s Concert – February 9, 2019

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.

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