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Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra – Roster

May 2nd, 2018

ORCHESTRA ROSTER 2017 – 18

(Jan 2018)

 

FIRST VIOLINS

Frank Almond, Concertmaster

Ilana Setapen, Associate Concertmaster

Jeanyi Kim, Associate Concertmaster

    Third Chair

More…

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra – Program Notes

May 2nd, 2018

GREEN BAY
Saturday, May 5, 2018 at 7:30pm

Leonard Bernstein

Born 25 August 1918, Lawrence, Massachusetts

Died 14 October 1990, New York, New York

 

Candide Overture

Composed: 1955-56

First performance: 1 December 1956; New York (Broadway opening)

26 January 1957 (concert version)

Last MSO performance: May 2016; Asher Fisch, conductor

Instrumentation: 2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, E-flat clarinet, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (bass drum, cymbals, glockenspiel, snare drum, tenor drum, triangle, xylophone), harp, strings

Approximate duration: 5 minutes

 

Leonard Bernstein’s best-loved concert piece began its life in the theatre. Following a three-week trial run in Boston, his operetta Candide opened at Broadway’s Martin Beck Theatre on 1 December 1956, with Samuel Krachmalnick as music director. The composer led the New York Philharmonic in a concert-hall performance of its sparking overture less than two months later. Within a couple of years, nearly a hundred orchestras had performed the work.

 

Candide ran for 73 performances, a staggering number in the opera world, but disappointing by Broadway standards. Lillian Hellman’s adaptation of Voltaire’s novella received much of the blame for the show’s failure, but adapting its many locations and quick-paced adventures to the stage was no easy task. Across the following decades, Bernstein’s “valentine to European music” continued to be tweaked, growing ever more convincing; a 1989 Deutsche Grammophone recording under his direction was one of the maestro’s final projects.

 

The overture features some of the show’s great tunes, including a duet for Candide and Cunegonde, “Oh, Happy We,” and Cunegonde’s coloratura aria “Glitter and Be Gay.” At times wistfully lyrical, at others whimsically effervescent, it’s an appropriate curtain-raiser both for Voltaire’s story and the MSO’s new season.

 

Recommended recording: Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic (Sony Classical)


 

Aaron Copland

Born 14 November 1900; Brooklyn, New York

Died 2 December 1990; New York, New York

 

Quiet City

Composed: 1939; revised 1940

First performance: 28 January 1941; New York, New York

Last MSO performance: MSO premiere

Instrumentation: English horn, trumpet, strings

Approximate duration: 10 minutes

 

In 1939, Aaron Copland was called upon to provide incidental music to Irwin Shaw’s Quiet City—for his cash-strapped friends in the Group Theatre. The play’s leftist political leanings—and the opportunity to work with talented, cutting-edge artists on socially relevant issues—drew Copland to the project. Though the production failed, the following year the composer fashioned portions of the score into a ten-minute orchestral piece. Decades later, in conversation with oral historian Vivian Perlis, the composer recalled:

Quiet City was billed as a “realistic fantasy,” a contradiction in terms that only meant the stylistic difference made for difficulties in production. The script was about a young trumpet player who imagined the night thoughts of many different people in a great city and played trumpet to express his emotions and to arouse the consciences of the other characters and of the audience. After reading the play, I composed music that I hoped would evoke the inner distress of the central charcter. [Group Theatre co-founder Harold] Clurman and Elia Kazan, the director, agreed that Quiet City needed a free and imaginative treatment. They and the cast… struggled valiantly to make the play convincing, but after two try-out performances in April [1939], Quiet City was dropped.

From its 1941 premiere, Copland’s nighttime urban pastorale has needed no programmatic context, except perhaps its title, to make it one of his most popular scores. “Since it is mostly quiet, it fills a niche in concert programs,” the composer modestly remarked. But we know better: Along with Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Ives’s The Unanswered Question, it ranks as one of America’s most contemplative musical meditations.

Recommended recording: Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic (Deutsche Grammophon)

 


 

Antonín Dvořák

Born 8 September 1841; Nelahozeves, Czech Republic

Died 1 May 1904; Prague, Czech Republic

 

Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Opus 95, [old No. 5] “From the New World”

Composed: 1892-93

First performance: 16 December 1893; New York, New York

Last MSO performance: March 2013; Edo de Waart, conductor

Instrumentation: 2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes (2nd doubling English horn), 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (cymbals, triangle), strings

Approximate duration: 40 minutes

 

At the behest of Mrs. Jeanette Thurber, Antonin Dvořák came to this country from his native Bohemia in the autumn of 1892. Mrs. Thurber, the wife of a New York millionaire wholesale grocer—and self-appointed cultural maven—had invited the composer to become the director of New York City’s National Conservatory of Music. His arrival was planned to coincide with celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of America. Mrs. Thurber’s conservatory operated on philanthropic principles, and she held the purse strings. For a yearly salary of $15,000, Dvořák was expected to give lessons in composition and instrumentation to the most talented students three days a week, and on the other three days to rehearse the choir and orchestra. Since Thurber wanted a figurehead rather than an administrator, Dvořák was expected to be available for business consultations with her, if called upon. (By 1895, a homesick Dvořák was back home for good, contentedly surrounded by his family and again teaching composition at the Prague Conservatory.)

Dvořák spent his 1893 summer holiday with his family in Spillville, Iowa—in a Czech community where he could relax with his own countrymen and be free of the constant need to speak English, a language he never really mastered. Just prior, he had put the finishing touches on his E minor symphony—better known as “From the New World.” Publication was expedited when the composer’s good friend Johannes Brahms offered to correct the proofs. Its Carnegie Hall premiere, conducted by Anton Seidl, was a huge success. When the Symphony No. 9 was first presented in Vienna (1895), Brahms sat with Dvořák in the director’s box. “I have never had such a success in Vienna,” the composer later stated.

The “New World” Symphony also generated lengthy discussions as to whether the composer had appropriated Bohemian, Native American, or African-American themes as the basis for his new work. Dvořák eventually felt compelled to settle the matter by flatly denying that any folk music was used verbatim in the symphony. “I tried to write only in the spirit of these national American melodies,” he explained.

For many concertgoers, this Symphony is so beloved and so well-known that little explanation is needed. Here, however, are a few highlights to listen for:

  1. The melancholy introduction—some claim this depicts Dvořák’s homesickness, others think it evokes the wide, open spaces of the American West—is soon shattered by the vigorous horn theme that outlines an E minor chord. This motif will reappear in the other three movements. Later comes a melody that suggests to some listeners “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”
  2. The Allegro molto ended decidedly in E minor. The well-known Largo is in D-flat major. Dvořák employs seven sonorous chords that take us there seamlessly. William Arms Fisher wrote the words “Goin’ Home” to the famous English horn melody. It is said that Dvořák chose that instrument over the clarinet because its timbre reminded him of the vocal color of Harry T. Burleigh—the great African-American collector and arranger of spirituals, and a student of Dvořák. Near the movement’s end, the motto theme loudly reasserts itself, but the English horn restores calm and the Largo ends very softly, with double basses alone.

III. According to Dvořák, the music of the scherzo was inspired by the feast and dance of Pau-Puk Keewis in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “The Song of Hiawatha.” A motif from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony introduces the dance.

  1. A powerful brass theme opens the Allegro con fuoco; a gentler clarinet melody soon follows. By re-introducing the principal themes of the previous three movements early in the development section, Dvořák is later able to seamlessly combine them into a brilliant climax. Listen: You’ll even hear the stately chord progression that opened the Largo.

Recommended recording: George Szell, Cleveland Orchestra (Sony Classical)

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra – Program

May 2nd, 2018

GREEN BAY
Saturday, May 5, 2018 at 7:30pm

Yaniv Dinur, conductor
Margaret Butler, English horn
Matthew Ernst, trumpet

5′ LEONARD BERNSTEIN
Overture to Candide

10′ AARON COPLAND
Quiet City
Margaret Butler
Matthew Ernst

18′ AARON COPLAND
Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo
I. Buckaroo Holiday
II. Corral Nocturne
III. Saturday Night Waltz
IV. Hoe Down

20′ Intermission

40′ ANTONIN DVORÁK
Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Opus 95, [old No. 5] “From the New World”
I. Adagio – Allegro molto
II. Largo
III. Molto vivace
IV. Allegro con fuoco

Thank you, George Kress Foundation

May 2nd, 2018

The exceptional achievement and generosity of one local family has done much to make Saturday night’s concert possible.  Their dedicated sponsorship of our annual closing concert with the MSO helps Civic Music fulfill our objective of “bringing the world’s greatest music to the local stage, live and in-person, at a price that is affordable for all.”  For that, we extend sincere appreciation to the Kress Family… and to the George Kress Foundation.

Post-concert reception

May 2nd, 2018

Following the concert tonight (Saturday, May 5), please join us for a reception at Titletown Brewing Company’s Tap Room – if you’ve not been there, look for the giant smokestack with “Titletown” lettering, near the old depot. Light snacks, a cash bar and plenty of good talk about good music.

Bring a friend on Saturday

May 2nd, 2018

Reminder: If you know someone who’s a potential Civic Music subscriber but they just don’t know it yet…  Bring them to Saturday’s Milwaukee Symphony concert. If they purchase a single ticket for that night’s show and decide they like it, they can sign up for next season at intermission. We’ll subtract the price of their single ticket from the $80 full membership. (They’ll then get all five of next year’s concerts, INCLUDING next year’s Symphony concert, at a huge discount.)

Opera in the Garden

May 2nd, 2018

Civic Music is partnering with the Green Bay Botanical Garden on Opera in the Garden at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 10. Five artists from Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera will be joined by two homegrown, guest performers, Emily (Brand) Oehrtman and Anna Parks. Lawn seating is free (no ticket is necessary). Reserved seating on Cowles Terrace is $10 per ticket, at gbbg.org/Opera.

Praise for pianists; possibility for ‘19

April 15th, 2018

Chris Sampson, board president, reports he heard from a number of very impressed members after the Anderson & Roe concert that Civic Music should bring back the piano duo as soon as possible. (If you missed it, see Warren Gerds’ glowing review.) While there’s no stand-alone piano recital on next year’s series, Civic Music is negotiating for a featured pianist to join the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for a big May 2019 closer at the Weidner.

Yes, a post-concert reception

April 15th, 2018

Even after a mid-week concert, we’ll still gather at the Tap Room, Titletown Brewing Co., 200 Dousman St., following the Tuesday, April 24, Seraph Brass concert at West High. It’s a good possibility this time the performers will join us.

Blockbuster: June 10 at Garden

April 15th, 2018

Did we mention that there’s even more reason to bring your friends and family to Civic Music’s June 10 “Opera at the Garden” extravaganza? Our hosts at the Green Bay Botanical Garden have a one-of-a-kind touring exhibit in residence this summer. Called “Nature Connects: Art with LEGO Bricks,” by artist Sean Kenney, the exhibit features 16 oversize sculptures crafted from more than a half-million Lego blocks. Come early for the flowers, and the LEGOs. Learn more at https://gbbg.org/natureconnects/.