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Program notes
Sunday 24th June 2012 Print E-mail
Overture to Don Pasquale
Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848)

Donzietti was the son of a pawnshop caretaker in Bergamo, northern Italy. Although born into poverty, he was awarded a scholarship to study music, and in 1818 he launched his career as a prolific operatic composer. He achieved fame and popularity throughout Italy with works such as Anna Bolena, L'elisir d'amore, and Lucia di Lammermoor, but moved to Paris in 1838 after trouble with Italian censors. There the comic opera Don Pasquale, the 64th of his eventual 66 operas, was performed on 3rd January 1843 at the Salle Ventadour. At the time of its composition, Donzietti had just been appointed music director and composer to the court of Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria. However, he was already showing symptoms of syphilis and bipolar disorder, and was admitted to a Parisian asylum in 1845. He died, insane and paralysed, back in Bergamo in 1848.

The first Australian performance of this comic masterpiece was in Sydney in October 1854 at the Royal Victoria Theatre.

The overture starts with an orchestral laugh, settles down to a lyrical section with the strings, followed by more melodrama, Viennese elegance and a brilliant finish.

Piano Concerto in A minor (Op. 16)
Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

Soloist: Sonya Pigot

Grieg was born in Bergen, Norway, where his father was British consul. His musical talent was soon recognised and in 1858 at the age of fifteen he was sent abroad to study at the Leipzig Conservatory.

This early paino concerto, written on holiday in 1868 in Sollerud, Denmark, is Grieg's only full length orchestral work. It is stylistically similar to Schumann's piano concerto in the same key, which he had heard, played by Clara Schumann, in Leipzig in 1858. Today the two works are often coupled in recordings. In fact, Grieg's was the first piano concerto ever recorded, by Wilhelm Backhaus in 1909. Due to the shortcomings of the technology of the time, it was heavily abridged into a six minute "sound bite".

Although the work has a Norwegian flavour and uses rhythmic patterns characteristic of peasant dances, it was written before Grieg had come into close contact with Norwegian folk music. It was first performed on 3rd April 1869 in Copenhagen, with Edmund Neupert as solist - Grieg pulling out because of work commitments in Norway.

Although an immediate success and winning praise from Liszt, Grieg himself was dissatisfied with the work, and modified it in over 300 subtle ways over the course of his life, up to a few weeks before his death. Despite its enduring popularity, he decided that he was more at ease with short lyrical piano pieces and songs.

1. Allegro molto moderato

The famous opening drum-roll and a sharp orchestral chord lead to a flourish from the piano. Then the woodwind state a quirky theme, perhaps influenced by Norwegian folk music, which forms the basis for much of the movement. The brilliant piano cadenza near the end of the movement was written out in full by Grieg.

2. Adagio

Muted strings play one of Grieg's most elegiac melodies, later embellished by bassoon and horn. The piano enters with its own rippling theme, before it joins the orchestra with the main theme.

3. Allegro moderato molto e marcato - Quasi presto - Andante maestoso

The piano enters with the lilt of a halling, a frenetic Norwegian folk dance in duple time with strong accents, which is repeated with increasing vigour by soloist and orchestra. There is a long, more relaxed middle section, marked tranquillo, with a prominent flute part. Eventually the halling returns, followed by a theme in triple time reminiscent of a springdans, another Norwegian dance. Towards the end there is a sonorous rendition of the middle theme by full orchestra and soloist.

Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

This symphony was completed in May 1812, whilst Beethoven was recuperating at the Bohemian spa town of Teplice. However it was not performed until 8th December 1813, in Vienna at a charity concert for soldiers wounded in the Battle of Hanou. The orchestra included a host of famous musicians, including Spohr, Meyerbeer, Hummel, Salieri and the double bass virtuoso Dragonetti. Beethoven himself conducted in his higly eccentric manner, although it was obvious that he could not hear the pianissimo passages.

Although popular with the audience, critics were less kind. It was suggested that Beethoven must have been drunk when he wrote the outer movements. The symphony is notable for its almost obsessive rhythms - Wagner called it the "apotheosis of the dance" and is said to have actually done so while Liszt played it on the piano. It contains traced of Celtic folk melodies, which Beethoven was arranging for the Edinburgh publisher George Thomson at the time.

1. Poco sostenuto - Vivace

A stately introduction with a prominent oboe part is followed by a joyous, boisterous allegro pervaded by the dotted triplet "amsterdam" rhythm. Toward the end comes the passage which caused Carl Maria von Weber to pronounce Beethoven "fit for a madhouse."

2. Allegretto

A slow thoughtful march is decorated by a wistful counter-melody. Later the clarinet and bassoon provide a beam of sunlight, and the march climaxes in a dramatic fugue. This movement was encored at the premiere and has remained popular ever since.

3. Presto-Assai meno presto

This delightful skipping scherzo is twice followed by a slightly slower trio, said to be based on an Austrian pilgrim's hymn.

4. Allegro con brio

"The acme of shapelessness" ... "this is delirium, in which there is no trace of harmony or melody, no single sound to fall gratefully on the ear" ... "this wild Bacchanale" ... "whirling dervishes" ... "this absurd untamed music" ...

*****

Sonya Pigot was born in 1996 and started playing piano at the age of 4 with Christine Kara and violin at the age of 8, at Mt Nelson School. She first played piano solo on stage when she was 5, at the concert organized by St. Cecilia School of Music, at the Tasmanian Conservatorium.

At the age of 13, Sonya commenced piano lessons with Shan Deng, Lecturer in Classical Piano, at the Conservatorium of Music, University of Tasmania.

Sonya played piano and violin solo in the Hobart and Clarence Eisteddfods won many prizes and was invited to play in the Eisteddfod Highlights

Sonya received AMEB Piano exam Awards, and was highly commended at the Sydney Eisteddfod Piano competition.  She also came second in the 15 years and under Piano competition of the Musical Society of Victoria and played in the Prize Winners Concert.

In 2011 Sonya was selected to play a Concerto in the second stage of the ABC Symphony Australia, Young Performer Awards and she played the Beethoven Piano Concerto Nr 2.  In the same year, Sonya was awarded the first prize in the Hobart Eisteddfod - Open Piano Concerto, and won the Lady Cross Trophy Senior and Junior.

Sonya was also selected to perform in the second stage of the 2012 ABC Symphony Australia, Young Performer Awards.  She played the Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor and now she is thrilled to play this Concerto with the Derwent Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jamie Allen.

In parallel with her solo Piano performances, Sonya also leads the Collegiate Senior String Quartet and plays violin in the Collegiate Orchestra, the Tasmanian Youth Orchestra and the Derwent Symphony Orchestra.

In May 2011 Sonya played the first movement of the Bach Double Violin Concerto - violin solo, with the Tasmanian Youth Orchestra -at the Hobart Town Hall.

Sonya is currently in year 9 at Collegiate and her violin teacher is Nara Dennis.

*****

Having studied at The NSW Conservatorium of Music in Sydney and Newcastle, Jamie Allen finished his studies in flute with High Distinction, beginning a freelance career as an orchestral player and teacher.

Jamie became attracted to singing and set about training as a tenor. An audition with Opera Australia was successful, and he was offered the roles of one of the apprentices in Wagner's Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg and a permanent chorus position.

After winning the Australian Singing Competition and the Remy Martin Opera Award, Jamie was made a young artist with Opera Australia, where he performed roles such as Benedict in Beatrice and Benedict, Rodolfo in La Boheme, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Max in Der Freischütz and Orpheus in Orpheus in the Underworld.

Overseas work has included the role of Nadir in The Pearlfishers in Sri Lanka and Steva in Jenufa for New Zealand Opera.

Concert work has also been a feature of Jamie's musical life working with all of the Australian Symphony Orchestras, with repertoire ranging from Monteverdi through to the present time.

In 2010 Jamie participated in Symphony Australia's conductor masterclasses, working with the TSO and Orchestra Victoria and receiving guidance with conductors Sebastien Lang-Lessing and Christopher Seamen.

Presently Jamie is Music Director of both St Mary's Cathedral Choir and The Tasmanian Chorale.

 
Sunday 22nd April 2012 Print E-mail
Karelia Suite
Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)


In 1893 Sibelius was invited to write music for a patriotic historical pageant to be presented by students of Helsinki University in Viborg, Karelia. This province lies in the south-eastern corner of Finland, and was very dear to Sibelius. In earlier years he had found stimulus in its folk music, and later he was to spend his honeymoon there. From the pageant's incidental music he subsequently compiled a "Concert Suite" of three pieces:

Intermezzo

This movement depicts the Karelians passing in procession to pay tribute to a Lithuanian prince. Sibelius said of this movement "There is this sense of the "Ur-Wald" the primeval forest, the feeling of some elemental power, that one is dealing with something profound."

Ballade

This rather melancholy movement, originally a vocal piece, depicts the deposed fifteenth-century king, Charles Knutsson Bonde, sitting in his castle being entertained by a minstrel. The orchestra is reduced to oboes, clarinets, bassoons and strings, but a cor anglais is added and used to great effect.

Alla marcia

This exhilarating march, written for the full orchestra, was inspired by a call to battle issued by Pontus de la Gardie, a French-born, sixteenth-century soldier who became Swedish high commander in a war against Russia.

Aria O quante volte from I Capuleti e i Montecchi
Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835)

Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet has inspired at least 24 operas, as well as overtures, ballets and other musical adaptations, by Berlioz, Gounod, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Delius and Bernstein amongst others. In this aria (Oh how many times ...) from Bellini's 1830 operatic version, Giuletta sings of her longing for Romeo.

Soloist: Carmen Young

Duet Bei Männern from The Magic Flute
W.A. Mozart (1756-1791)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the fabled musical child prodigy, began his musical career playing for emperors and ended it with a fitful illness and the unfinished Requiem. One of his most famous operas is Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute). Composed in 1791, it is in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue. Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen is a duet from the end of Act 2. Pamina, daughter of the Queen of the Night, has just discovered that the prince Tamino is in love with her. Her companion at the time, the bird catcher Papageno, longs for a wife that he can love. Together they sing Bei Männern, an ode to love.

Soloists: Michael Lampard and Carmen Young

March Slav
P. I. Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

In June 1876, Tchaikovsky was commissioned by the Russian Musical Society to compose an orchestral work in recognition of the Serbian soldiers who had fought against the Ottoman Empire. He completed the work in just five days and referred to it as a "Serbo-Russian March." It was premiered in Moscow on 17 November 1876.

This highly programmatic work opens with a doleful melody reflecting the oppression of the Serbs by the Turks. In this opening melody Tchaikovsky makes use of two Serbian folk tunes Sunce jarko, ne sijaš jednako (Bright sun, you do not shine equally), and Rado ide Srbin u vojnike (Gladly does the Serb become a soldier). Later, God Save the Tsar appears twice, first in the middle section and again near the conclusion. Toward the end, a few refrains from the 1812 Overture can be heard.

All those present at its premiere felt the great patriotism encapsulated in March Slav. An unnamed member of the audience recorded, "The whole audience rose to its feet, many jumped up upon their seats: cries of 'bravo' and 'hurrah' were mingled together. The march had to be repeated, after which the same storm broke out afresh... It was one of the most stirring moments of 1876.

Overture to Nabucco
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)

Nabucco, first performed in 1842, was Verdi's first great operatic success. Between 1838 and 1840 he had suffered great tragedy with the death of his wife and children and the failure of his second opera, Un Giorno di Regno. Had Nabucco also been a failure, Verdi would have given up composing all together. Nabucco retells the biblical story of the slavery and eventual exile of the Jews under the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. In spite of the dark story, the score is full of memorable melodies. In fact, one of Verdi's biggest hits is the Act III chorus, Va pensiero, in which the Hebrew slaves sing wistfully of their lost homeland.

Like most of Verdi's overtures, Nabucco is a mélange of themes, mostly taken from the opera. After a stately introduction in the brass and a more sinister transition, Verdi spins a gentle variation on Va pensiero. The faster music that follows juxtaposes different themes associated with the Hebrew slaves and their Babylonian captors, and neatly foreshadows the opera's central conflict.

Yeletsky's aria from The Queen of Spades
Tchaikovsky

The opera The Queen of Spades, composed in 1889, is based on a short story by Alexander Pushkin. This fantastic tragedy moves in the aristocratic salons of 18th-century St Petersburg. Yeletsky is betrothed to Liza, who chooses to leave him for Herman, the reckless kleptomaniac. In this aria, Yeletsky voices his sadness and frustration at seeing Liza slowly slip away from him.

Soloist: Michael Lampard

Duet La ci darem la mano from Don Giovanni
Mozart

In 1787, during his Viennese period, Mozart composed Don Giovanni, an opera detailing Don Giovanni's conquests of women. In Act I, the insatiable Giovanni attempts to trick the affianced servant girl Zerlina in the duet La ci darem la mano. Don Giovanni opens the duet singing "There we'll be hand in hand, dear, there you will say, 'I do.' Look, it is right at hand, dear; Let's go from here, me and you." Poor Zerlina is confused and uncertain. She is, after all, betrothed to Masetto but the handsome Don Giovanni lures her. With Zerlina's doubts dispelled, they conclude the duet together "Let's go, my love, let's go, to heal the pain and woe, of love that's innocent."

Soloists: Michael Lampard and Carmen Young

Pomp and Circumstance March No.4
Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

Pomp and Circumstance is a set of five military marches, which reflect the regal flair and ceremonial grandeur of British pageantry. Elgar's great love for England is reflected in his compositions, which have become synonymous with the English patriotic spirit. The rousing British song Land of Hope and Glory is taken from the trio section of Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1.

March No. 4 was completed on 7th June 1907, and was performed on 24th August in the Queen's Hall, London, with Elgar himself conducting. It is similar to No. 1 in that it is energetic and follows the same structure, having a central trio section that contains a robust, grand melody. In World War II, No. 4 also acquired words: a patriotic poem by A. P. Herbert with the refrain beginning "All men must be free" was used as a "Song of Liberty."

American Salute
Morton Gould (1913-1996)

Gould was an American composer, conductor, arranger and pianist. His output, often featuring well-known American folk tunes, consists of more than 1000 works for radio, television, films, the stage and concert hall. His best-known work, American Salute, was written for a national radio broadcast on the Mutual Radio Network on Lincoln's birthday, 1942. Composed for orchestra, it is a theme and variations based on the Civil War song When Johnny Comes Marching Home. American Salute displays Gould's amazing skill in thematic development, as he takes a familiar tune and transforms it into an orchestral work. It was later arranged for bands and wind ensembles, and has become a program favourite.

*****

Michael Lampard is one of Australia's most exciting young operatic talents. He has performed in opera, oratorio, recital and musical theatre in Australia, Europe, USA and Asia. He has a Masters degree from UTas, an A.T.C.L. from Trinity Guildhall in London and an L. Mus. from the AMEB. Michael is also an experienced composer and conductor. He has worked with many leading companies including SSO, TSO, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, The Rome Opera Festival, Orchestre Pasdeloup, Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, More Than Opera, Melbourne Opera, IHOS Opera and most of Tasmania's orchestras, choirs and theatre companies. In 2008 Michael launched "Hip-Pocket Opera", a chamber opera company based in Hobart.

Michael is making a number of appearances in Tasmania during 2012. These include Schubert's Schwanengesang with Philippa Moyes (Hobart 2012), Schumann's Dichterliebe with David Bollard (Hobart 2012), as well as several recitals across Tasmania in metropolitan and regional centres. Operatic engagements include roles in John Blow's Venus and Adonis (Hip-Pocket Opera, Hobart 2012) and the workshop premiere of Scott McIntyre's opera Fire on the Snow (University of Tasmania, Hobart 2012). In other parts of the globe Michael will be performing Winterreise with Rhodri Clarke (Lieder Society of Victoria, Melbourne 2012), a recital in Gloucestershire, UK (Ivor Gurney Society, May 2012), a world premiere in Cincinnati, USA (2012) and recitals in Sydney, Canberra (ArtSong Canberra, 2013) and Adelaide (2014).

For more information visit http://www.michaellampard.com/

*****

Carmen Young commenced classical singing at the age of nine, studying with Suzanne Ortuso. Since then Carmen has won numerous awards in competitions including the Joshua Cooper Memorial Award, The Clem Clifford Award and the Arnold Robinson Memorial Award for the 'singer showing most promise'.

In 2003, she performed her first operatic leading role as Widow Grumble in the Australian premiere of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' opera Cinderella as part of the Tasmanian Ten Days on the Island Festival. In 2005 Carmen gained first place in the oratorio, art song and recital 16, 18 years and open categories at the Hobart Eisteddfod. She also competed in the McDonalds Performing Arts Challenge in Sydney winning the Art Song, French Song, Italian Song, and opera aria and was awarded the Joan Sutherland Vocal Scholarship.

Carmen recently competed in the heats, semi-final and final of the Australian Singing Competition (Mathy) and is the youngest contestant ever to reach the Finals. She won the David Harper Award, The Alliance Francais award, and the Opera Australia award. Following the Australian Singing Competition, Carmen was invited by the Joan Sutherland Society to appear as a guest artist for Dame Joan Sutherland's eightieth birthday celebration concert.

 
Sunday 20th November 2011 Print E-mail

Danse Slave
Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-1894)

Chabrier's sudden change to music might be seen in today's eyes as a kind of mid-life crisis. Although having had private music study since childhood, it was initially in law (apparently at the insistence of his father) that he made a living, working for 18 years at the Ministry of Interior. But at the age of 40, after travelling to Germany and hearing Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, he decided to throw in his desk job and devote himself solely to music.

He was well-connected to the arts scene in France, being friends with painters such as Claude Monet and Edgar Degas. His music also influenced many composers including Fauré, Ravel, Poulenc and Stravinsky.

In 1887 Chabrier wrote a three-act opéra-comique called Le roi malgré lui (The Reluctant King). The story is based loosely on Henry of Valois, who rather reluctantly accepted the role of King of Poland, before returning to France to become King Henry III. The music itself was very well received, but its cumbersome libretto and confusing plot-lines are said to have contributed to the opera falling into obscurity.

One of the orchestral pieces from the opera is the Danse Slave (or Slavonic Dance). An introductory fanfare is followed by the main theme of the work: an exuberant ceremonial-like dance. The middle section could be described as a more intimate waltz, which is interrupted by the winds announcing the return of the main theme. Much like another of his works, Espańa, Chabrier draws heavily on the musical qualities of the region (in this case, Poland) and mixes it with his French background.  

Suite Pastorale
Chabrier

I. Idylle
II. Danse Villageoise
III. Sous Bois
IV. Scherzo-Valse

In 1880 (the year that he switched to full-time composing), and while on holiday on the coast of Normandy, Chabrier wrote Pičces pittoresques: ten pieces for piano. The work was to have a profound influence on composers such as Ravel and Poulenc. Poulenc is said to have declared the work as important to French music as Debussy's Preludes.

From these ten movements Chabrier orchestrated four, placing them under the title Suite Pastorale. His connection with the great French painters of the day seems to have rubbed off, as each movement is like a painting of a rural setting.

The first movement, Idylle, describes the feeling of these types of short poems about love, set amongst pastoral surroundings.

The second movement is a village dance, introduced by the clarinets. The third movement, Sous Bois ('under the trees'), has a feeling of walking through the shrubs and undergrowth (represented by the cellos and basses) with the flutes, oboe and violins giving glimpses of sunlight through the trees.

The lively last movement has a real sense of joie de vivre, with small pauses for reflection in the middle.

Morceau de Concert
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)


Saint-Saëns was a man of immense knowledge. His interests and expertise ran to subjects such as science, mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy. He also wrote books, plays and poetry.

He is most remembered, however, for his music. He was a composer, organist, conductor, and pianist. He was also strongly opinionated, and was either loved or loathed by fellow composers, Fauré and Liszt being examples of the former, Debussy the latter.

In 1880 Saint-Saëns composed the Morceau de Concert ('Concert Piece') for the winner of that year's prize at the Paris Conservatoire, virtuoso horn player Henri Chaussier. Although a strong believer and exponent of the natural horn, Chaussier was equally talented on the valve horn, which was gaining more and more popularity at the time. In fact, in the same year, Chaussier developed, with a French instrument maker named François Millereau, a new type of horn consisting of four valves. This rather complex and cumbersome horn was not as reliable as the modern horn we see today, but it did give Chaussier the ability to play a wide range of notes that were impossible on the natural horn. It is believed that it was on this instrument that he premiered the Morceau de Concert.

The work begins with a sort of theme and variations, typical in a piece written for Conservatoire competitions. The middle section is slow and lyrical, and also demonstrates hand-stopping and low playing. After a return to the opening theme by the orchestra, the finale begins with the horn playing ascending notes taken from the harmonic series, well known to the players of natural horn. The piece finishes with virtuosic flourishes.

*****

Heath Parkinson began playing the horn at the age of 13 as part of the Special music program at Marryatville High School in Adelaide. During that time, he was a regular member of the Adelaide Conservatorium Orchestra and Wind Band and studied with French horn players Phillip Hall and Phillip Paine. After secondary school, in 2000 Heath joined the Royal Australian Air Force Band in Sydney as a permanent member till 2005. Heath was then accepted to study with Andrew Bain for a Post Graduate Diploma in Performance at the Sydney Conservatorium.

During his studies over the following 3 years, Heath played regularly with the Australian Opera Ballet Orchestra and the Tasmanian, Sydney and Queensland Symphony Orchestras. In 2009 he  moved to Melbourne, where he played in the Melbourne season of Billy Elliot for 6 months and studied with Geoff Viking Lierse at the Australian National Academy of Music. Since late 2009 Heath has been principal 3rd horn in the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.       
      
Georges Bizet (1838 - 1875)

Even in his relatively short life, Bizet's musical output was impressive. While a student he won many prizes in composition, most notably the Prix de Rome. Although remembered mostly for his hit opera Carmen, arguably his best orchestral writing can be heard in today's two orchestral suites:
     
Jeux d'enfants (Petite suite d'orchestre)
Bizet
I. Marche (Trompette et Tambour)
II. Berceuse (La Poupée)
III. Impromptu (La Toupie)
IV. Duo (Petit Mari, Petite Femme)
V. Galop (Le Bal)
Like Chabrier's Suite Pastorale, Bizet took parts of a piano work of his own and arranged it for orchestra. In this case, the original was a 12-movement suite for piano duet called Jeux d'enfants (Children's games).

The first movement ('Trumpet and Drum') is a march involving toy soldiers. It has hints of the children's march that Bizet later wrote for Carmen.

The second movement ('The Doll') has a gentle rocking melody introduced by the violins, accompanied by the cellos.

The third movement starts with a burst of sound, depicting the start of the 'Spinning Top'. This opening recurs in the middle of the movement, suggesting that the top needed another spin to keep it in action.

The fourth movement ('Little Husband, Little Wife') has the first violins and cellos portraying a game of playing pretend husband-and-wife.

Finally we hear a lively gallop, to be played at a ball, but no doubt also appropriate for any children's party.

L'Arlésienne Suite No. 1
Bizet

I. Prelude
II. Minuetto
III. Adagietto
IV. Carillon
Bizet wrote incidental music to accompany Alphonse Daudet's play L'Arlésienne ('The Girl from Arles'), which was premiered in 1872. Shortly after, he arranged four extracts into a suite. (The second suite was arranged after Bizet's death by his friend Ernest Guiraud). The play is set in Provence, and revolves around a farmer named Frédéri and his love for an un-named girl from Arles.
     
The Prelude begins with a march taken from a traditional Christmas carol, 'March of the Kings'. The slow passage following represents Frédéri's brother, and the conclusion is the theme of Frédéri himself.

The minuetto describes a small party in the town, celebrating the impending marriage of Frédéri to another girl, Vivette.

The third movement is a tender piece for muted strings.

The last movement centres around the bells ringing in the town to mark the start of a festival. Bizet cleverly uses instruments such as the horns and harp to convey the sound of the bells. There is a rather tender middle section with interplay between the winds and strings, before the horns bring the sound of the bells back, and the whole orchestra joins in for a festive finale.  

 
Sunday 11th September 2011 Print E-mail

Derwent Overture
Matthew Dewey (b. 1984)


"One of the most exciting things to experience as a composer is the moment that a musician asks you to compose a new work, having played your music in the past. So it is with this overture, the second orchestral work that Damien has been kind enough to ask me to write.

Unlike the first work, a symphony full of pathos and darkness, this overture is a fantasy and has a far more diverse and generally warmer emotional palette. It has no specific program, but seeks to paint a trajectory through a series of varied dramatic episodes, expanding finally into an optimistic and warm final section, setting the scene for a new adventure full of hope.

The overture is titled in honour of the orchestra and I would like to thank the players, the organisers and Damien Holloway for affording me the privilege of composing this piece for you."

*****

Matthew Dewey is a Tasmanian composer of concert, theatre and film music. His compositions have been commissioned, recorded and performed by groups and companies, including the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, Contemporanes ensamble de guitarras de Monterrey (Mexico), The Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, The Seymour Group (Sydney), The New York Miniaturist Ensemble (USA), The Sydney Children's Choir, IHOS Music Theatre laboratory, The Hobart Chamber Orchestra, Backgammon Baroque, Terrapin Puppet Theatre, Tasmanian Theatre Company, Tasmania Performs and many others.

Dewey's music for orchestra is celebrated on a new CD Echoes which was recorded in 2009 by the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra at the Moscow Radio House. The disk contains the world premiere recordings of his Orchestral Suite No.1 and Symphony No. 1 (Port Arthur, 1996). The latter was commissioned by Damien Holloway for the Hobart Chamber Orchestra and given its concert premiere in 2008 at the Hobart Town Hall.

He has been the recipient of the Don Kay Scholarship for Music Composition, the IHOS Music Theatre and Opera Young Artist Bursary, and grants from the Australia Council, Arts Tasmania, the Australian Foundation for Young People and Ars Musica Australis.

Dewey has previously lectured in composition at the University of Tasmania, worked as a presenter and live music producer for ABC Classic FM and is the founder and director of the Tasmanian Composers Collective.

Matthew Dewey's music is available from his website (http://www.matthewdewey.com/score), the Australian Music Centre, iTunes and from Music Without Frontiers in Collins Street, Hobart.

Sea Pictures, Op. 37
Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

Elgar was born into a musical family in Worcester, England. Although he had little formal musical training, he learnt the violin, bassoon and organ, and aspired to become a professional violin soloist. In London, however, he soon gave up the idea and returned to Worcester, where his early posts included conducting the Worcester Glee Club and Worcester County Lunatic Asylum Band. His first published compositions, largely choral works, date from the 1890s, but the orchestral Enigma Variations of 1899 established his reputation as a leading composer, arguably the first from England for two centuries.

The song cycle Sea Pictures was originally intended for soprano, but for its first performance, at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival in 1899, it was transposed down for the contralto Clara Butt, who dressed as a mermaid. A few weeks later she, no doubt more soberly dressed, sung it for Queen Victoria at Balmoral. Maria Lurighi performed it with the DSO in 2006. This is possibly its first Australian performance by a baritone.

1. Sea Slumber Song
Sea birds are asleep, the world forgets to weep.....

The lyrics of this sea lullaby are from a poem by the Victorian poet Roden Noel. Parts of the music reappear later in the cycle.

2. In Haven (Capri)
Closely let me hold thy hand.....

This, the shortest of the five songs, is a reworking of an earlier 1897 version, Love alone will stay, with added allusions to the sea. The words are by Elgar's wife, Caroline Alice.

3. Sabbath Morning at Sea
The ship went on with solemn face
To meet the darkness on the deep.....

The original poem is by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

4. Where Corals Lie
The deeps have music soft and low.....

This was the most popular of the five songs in Britain, and appeared in the radio programme, Your Hundred Best Tunes. It is based on a poem by Richard Garnett, published in 1859.

5. The Swimmer
With short, sharp violent lights made vivid
To southward as far as the sight can roam...

The song, evocative of tempests and shipwrecks, is based on a poem by Adam Lindsay Gordon, published in Bush Ballads and Galloping Hymns in 1870, when he was living in Melbourne.

*****

Michael Lampard is emerging as one of Australia's most exciting young operatic talents. He has performed in opera, oratorio, recital and musical theatre in Australia, Europe, USA and Asia. He has a Masters degree from UTas, an A.T.C.L. from Trinity Guildhall in London and an LMus from the AMEB. Michael is also an experienced composer and conductor.

Competition success includes twice being an award-winning finalist in the Australian Singing Competition, being a Quarter Finalist in Placido Domingo's Operalia in Paris 2007, winning the DJ Motors Operatic Aria and reaching final rounds in competitions such as the Herald Sun Aria, the German Australia Opera Grant, and the Victorian National Liederfest.

Of the almost 50 operas or oratorios in his repertoire, highlights include Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte and Die Zauberflöte, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Verdi's La Traviata, Puccini's La Boheme, Handel's Messiah, Bach's St. Matthew Passion, Faure's Requiem, and Mozart's Requiem.  Recital repertoire includes both standard works for the baritone voice such as Schubert's Winterreise and Die Schone Mullerin, Mahler's Kinderotenlieder, Shostakovich's Michelangelo Suite, and many world or Australian premieres such as Matthew Dewey's Il Tempo Passa and Lori Laitman's The Seed of Dream.

He has worked with many leading companies including SSO, TSO, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, The Rome Opera Festival, Orchestre Pasdeloup, Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, More Than Opera, Melbourne Opera, IHOS Opera and most of Tasmania's orchestras, choirs and theatre companies. Recently, Michael launched 'Hip-Pocket Opera' a chamber opera company based in Hobart.

Upcoming appearances include recitals in Tasmania,  Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and the United Kingdom, Carl Rutti's Requiem, roles in Bizet's Carmen with the Melbourne Opera Company, Mozart's Bastien and Bastienna, McIntyre's Fire on the Snow and the medieval church drama The Play of Daniel.

For more information visit http://www.michaellampard.com/

Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39.
Jean Sibelius (1865 - 1957)


Sibelius was born in Hämeenlinna, in south-central Finland, where his father was a doctor. He studied at the Helsinki Conservatory, and later in Berlin and Vienna, but from the outset had his own musical style. His music is redolent of the wild grandeur of the north and expresses Finland's national aspirations.

Sibelius began writing his first symphony in 1898, shortly after returning to Finland from Italy. It was first performed, in an earlier version, by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in 1899; thus it is contemporaneous with Elgar's Sea Pictures. Like the tone poem Finlandia, also of the same year, it is romantic, heroic and nationalist in style: at about this time, Finland was in the grip of intensified repression from her Russian overlords. Nevertheless, Sibelius dismissed attempts to find extra-musical meaning in his symphonies, just as he vehemently objected to comparisons with Tchaikovsky.

1. Andante ma non troppo-Allegro energico.

The symphony begins with a forlorn clarinet solo, accompanied by a quiet drum roll, which leads to an Allegro of surging energy.

2. Andante- poco a poco meno andante- Andante.

The opening "seems to sigh in wonder at some sunset scene" before (maybe) gusty winds spring up and then suddenly die away.

3. Scherzo. Allegro- lento ma non troppo- Allegro

The nervous quirky momentum of the scherzo is interrupted by the luscious trio, led by the horns.

4. Finale, quasi una fantasia

The opening clarinet theme, now in the strings, is followed by a "chase passage", then a broad melody, leading to a grand climax.

 
Sunday 26th June 2011 Print E-mail

Invitation to the Dance Op. 65
Carl Maria von Weber (1786 - 1826)  Orchestrated by Felix Weingartner

Invitation to the Dance was originally composed as a ‘rondeau brillante’ for solo piano in the summer of 1819. Weber dedicated the work to Caroline, his wife of only a few months.

It was the first concert waltz to be written: that is, the first work in waltz form meant for listening rather than for dancing. John Warrack calls it “the first and still perhaps the most brilliant and poetic example of the Romantic concert waltz, creating within its little programmatic framework a tone poem that is also an apotheosis of the waltz in a manner that was to remain fruitful at least until Ravel’s choreographic poem, La Valse…”.

The idea of producing a concert piece in an unmistakable dance form was still somewhat new; suites of dances intended for concert performance had only begun to appear a decade earlier. Here Weber constructs an entire suite of waltzes and melds them together into a quasi tone poem in which a gentleman asks a woman to dance, after which they dance and part, with the conclusion returning to the music of the beginning. The waltz was the “new kid on the block” among ballroom dances of the time, and Weber’s virtuosic keyboard piece immediately legitimized it as a concert form - fatefully so, since it would soon become the dominant dance type of the nineteenth century.

The work has a slow introduction (Moderato) leading to a fast section (Allegro vivace), then a lilting waltz theme. Other waltz tunes appear, and the fast section, exuberant scale passages and the main waltz theme are all repeated. It comes to a rousing conclusion – or what sounds like one – then finishes with a quiet coda.

Weber offered this very specific scenario for the piece: “First approach of the dancer, to whom the lady gives an evasive answer. His more pressing invitation; her acceptance of his request. Now they converse in greater detail; he begins, she answers; he with heightened expression; she responds more warmly; now for the dance! His remarks concerning it; her answer, their coming together; their going forward; expectation of the beginning of the dance. The Dance. End: his thanks, her reply and their parting. Silence.”

The work is commonly heard in the orchestration made by Hector Berlioz shortly after the composer’s death. Today, however, we are performing the 1928 orchestration by the Austrian composer, conductor and pianist Felix Weingartner (1863 - 1942).

Hungarian Dances Nos 5 & 6
Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897) Arranged by Adolf Schmid

Brahms was active as a pianist and arranger for small ensembles during his teens in Hamburg. He gave his first solo concert as a pianist in September 1848 aged fifteen. During the summer of that year, the Austrian and Russian governments had suppressed revolution in Hungary, with the result that many Hungarian refugees passed through the port of Hamburg on their way to the USA as emigrants. They brought with them their music, which was frequently played both for profit and in order to show solidarity with the rebels. Brahms thus came to know the gypsy music of Central Europe, which for many years was mistaken in Germany and elsewhere for original Hungarian folk music. Brahms (like many others including Liszt), generally saw gypsy music as being Hungarian in origin.

A major interpreter of the gypsy style was the Hungarian violinist Eduard Hoffmann, known by the name of Remenyi. In 1850 Remenyi performed in Hamburg and greatly impressed Brahms. Three years later, in 1853, he prevailed upon Brahms to accompany him on a concert tour. This tour also proved to be highly influential, as on it, Brahms met Joseph Joachim, who came to be a close friend, and at Weimar he met Franz Liszt. Joachim had suggested to Brahms that he meet Clara and Robert Schumann, so he left Remenyi and travelled to Düsseldorf where the Schumanns then lived. He met Schumann on 30th September 1853 - a momentous encounter and the foundation of his subsequent career.

Five years later, in 1858, whilst staying with the conductor Julius Grimm, Brahms entertained his hosts with some wild, gypsy-style piano pieces, probably the first formal examples of the Hungarian Dances. Clara Schumann was to perform several of these pieces during the coming decade of the 1860s. What seems to have been the first complete performance of the first ten Hungarian Dances, composed for piano duet, took place in 1868 with Brahms and Clara as the pianists. The Dances proved to be immensely popular and commercially successful. His publisher, Simrock, was delighted with this success and persuaded Brahms to compose a further set.

The majority of the tunes derive from the czardas found in contemporary collections of Hungarian music. Brahms learned many of these through his encounter much earlier with Remenyi, but he invested the melodies with even greater character, recreating them in an expanded form. Abrupt transitions of tempo, material and mood conjure up the commonly held image of gypsy violinists.

Slavonic Dances Op. 46 Nos 6 & 7
Antonin Dvorák (1841 - 1904)

In 1877 Johannes Brahms, on hearing a set of Moravian Duets by the relatively unknown Dvorák recommended them to Simrock, his publisher. Simrock agreed to publish them and ordered a set of eight Slavonic Dances for piano duet, in the hope that Dvorák would produce something like the Hungarian Dances of Brahms. He was not to be disappointed.

The dances were composed and published both as piano duets and in an orchestral version (which the composer declared sounded like the devil). These dances attract us by their freshness, good humour and occasional melancholy.

Dance no. 6 is in the form of a sousedská, a Czech folk dance in triple meter and moderate tempo, similar in character to the minuet, waltz, and landler. Dance no. 7 is in the form of a skocná, a fast Slavic folk-dance, normally in 2/4 metre.

Rumanian Folk Dances
Béla Bartók (1881 – 1945)

As composer, pedagogue, pianist, and ethnomusicologist, Béla Bartók stands as one of the most inventive figures in twentieth-century music. Born in a part of Hungary that is now Romania, Bartók brought to his musical occupations a keen sensitivity and intuitive understanding of the uniqueness and authenticity of indigenous music, especially that which originated in the diverse ethnic regions of Eastern Europe.

Bartók’s lifelong commitment to preserving folk music is reported to have begun during a summer stay in Slovakia in 1904 when he overheard a woman singing a traditional peasant tune. He immediately jotted down what he had heard, capturing what he thought was sure to become a lost cultural form. In the following year he met composer and pioneering musical ethnographer Zoltán Kodály, and the two formed an enduring collaboration that resulted in the preservation of several thousand folk songs, many of which they recorded with the recently invented Edison cylinder phonograph. Bartók and Kodaly travelled to isolated, outlying areas of Hungary and Romania, systematically collecting, documenting, and later analysing the myriad variations of the songs and dances they encountered. The melodies found in Romania held special interest for Bartók, as he thought their insularity from external influence represented folk music in its purest, most authentic form.

Originally composed for piano in 1915, his Romanian Folk Dances were later arranged for violin and piano, and then for chamber orchestra. Brimming with rhythmic vitality, melodic richness, and harmonic colour, the Romanian Folk Dances are among Bartók’s most popular and approachable works.

The first of the dances, Jocul cu bâta (Stick dance) has its origins in Mezoszabad, Transylvania. Bartók reportedly heard this tune played by two Romanian gypsy violinists. Brâul (Sash dance) is a type of chain dance performed by inhabitants of Egres in the Torontál area; the dance makes use of a sash, or cloth belt. Pe loc (in one spot), also from the Torontál, is a “stamping dance” performed “in one spot,” or in place. It begins with a simple drone followed by a haunting, mysterious melody played by the piccolo. Buciumeana (horn dance), from the Torda-Aranyos region in central Romania, features an exotic, languorous melody that builds in intensity and then softens as it closes. Poarga românesca (Romanian “polka”) hails from the Bihar region. Like life at its most exuberant, the dance is all-too-brief, moving by swiftly and with abandon, only to come to a sudden close. Immediately, though, we are swept into two final dances, from Bihar and Torda-Aranyos respectively; both are entitled Maruntel (fast dance) and played without pause. These final dances express irrepressible vitality, and it is at this level of fever-pitched intensity and joyful abandon that the dances end.

Courtly Dances from ‘Gloriana’
Benjamin Britten (1913 - 1976) Arranged – David Stone


Born appropriately on 22 November, St. Cecilia's Day (the patron saint of music), Edward Benjamin Britten was the fourth child of a Lowestoft dentist. Encouraged by a doting mother, he privately studied composition with the Sussex-born composer Frank Bridge, later studying at the Royal College of Music under John Ireland.

Britten's music first attracted a wider audience in 1936 when he wrote background music for three GPO Film Unit “shorts”. He lived in the USA from 1939 to 1942 in the company of Peter Pears and W. H. Auden, where friendships were struck which were to have a profound effect on his future. During these years, Britten wrote his Violin Concerto, Sinfonia da Requiem and his first opera Paul Bunyan. Also, the first thoughts of what was to be his most popular opera - Peter Grimes - were taking root.

Gloriana, his sixth opera, was commissioned by Covent Garden to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953. Heavily criticised after its first performance, it has never found a permanent niche in any opera house. The criticism was mainly aimed at the opera’s scenario, which tended to highlight the Queen Elizabeth I’s frailties, her personal relationship with the Earl of Essex, and the intrigues and jealousies at Court. It was thought that the persona of the Queen should have been portrayed as the monarch of a burgeoning European power.

The Courtly Dances appear in the third scene of Act II. In the Great Room of Whitehall Palace, a ball is being given by the Queen. Accompanied by a stage band, the curtain rises on a stately Pavane, following which the Countess of Essex requests a Galliard. The Queen enters. On catching sight of the Countess, her jealous rival, she commands a La Volta - a vigorous dance during which the ladies are tossed in the air by their partners. It is so vigorous in fact that at its end the Queen further commands that the “Ladies, go change thy linen”! Meanwhile a Morris Dance is performed to entertain those who remain in the room.

From the opera, Britten subsequently compiled a Symphonic Suite. The dances outlined above, together with a March, Coranto, and Coda, form the third section of the Suite.

Roses from the South Op. 388
Johann Strauss Jnr (1825 - 1899)


This waltz medley takes its themes from the operetta, The Queen’s Lace Handkerchief. The general mood is rather pensive but the final moments of the piece sparkle with some of Strauss’s happiest tunes. The ending, heralded by a series of descending chords and underlined with a drum roll, leads to a final flourish.

Voices of Spring Op. 410
Johann Strauss Jnr (1825 - 1899)


Frühlingsstimmen (Voices of Spring) was written as an orchestral waltz featuring a solo voice part for the coloratura soprano Bianca Bianchi, then a famous member of the Vienna Court Opera. The grand chords that introduce the piece lead to the gentle and swirling melody of the first waltz. The second waltz section invokes the pastoral joys of spring with the flute imitating birdsong. The third section perhaps suggests spring showers followed by a fourth more cheerful melody. The familiar first waltz then makes a grand entrance before a breathless finish, strong chords and the usual timpani roll and brass flourish.

Feuerfest! (Polka française) Op. 269
Josef Strauss (1827 - 1870)


Josef Strauss added the words Polka française to the title of this work (which loosely translates as ‘fireproof’), though there is little in the music that is particularly French. Although not as prolific as his older brother Johann II, Josef’s deep musical sense is reflected in his imaginative harmonies and subtle melodic invention, both evident in this colourful and vigorous piece. It features a joyous, bouncy theme and the sounds of anvils that combine to produce one of the composer’s most buoyant, festive works.

 
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Carl Orff

Carmina Burana

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Saturday 15th Nov. 2014
7.30pm

Sunday 16th Nov. 2014
2.30pm

Conductor: Hans-Eduard Kooij

The Farrall Centre
The Friends’ School

Tickets at door $25 $20(conc)
or on-line at www.trybooking.com/FZEB

 

 
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