10/27 Band

Program

Symphony Band

Program Notes

The award winning score to the Phantom of the Opera was written by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Joel Schumacher, who drew inspiration from Gaston Leroux’s novel. This music has been delighting audiences since 1986 when it first debuted in London and has entertained an estimated 80 million people to become the longest running show on Broadway. A new generation was introduced to the Phantom and his opera house in 2005 when a movie starring Gerard Butler opened in theaters and was nominated for an Oscar. The soundtrack for the movie was backed by a 105 piece orchestra, but tonight we will be slightly smaller ensemble. So, “Turn your thoughts away from cold, unfeeling light - and listen to the music of the night”.
          - Anna Vogrin
 

In the Hall of the Mountain King was composed by Edvard Grieg (1843 – 1907) and was premiered in 1876. It is part of the incidental music to the play Peer Gynt by the great Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. This music accompanies a scene in which, in a dream, Peer Gynt sneaks into the cave of the Mountain King, a fearsome troll. He is discovered, chased, and in the end successfully flees the cave.

While the music of Peer Gynt is immediately recognizable, the play it accompanies is less well known. It isn’t a heroic adventure tale but rather a surreal "satire in Norwegian egotism, narrowness, and self-sufficiency" as one contemporary writer put it. Grieg himself meant for this piece to have an over the top feel: “I have written something that so reeks of ultra-Norwegianism, and 'to-thyself-be-enough-ness' that I can't bear to hear it, though I hope that the irony will make itself felt."

This piece is familiar to almost everyone – it has crossed over from the world of classical music to become part of popular culture and is found in TV, movies, ads, and even video games. Its use in the movies goes all the way back to 1915 as part of the soundtrack to “Birth of a Nation”. More recently, it has appeared in “Inspector Gadget”, “The Social Network”, and even a Burger King commercial.

The theme of this work is a masterpiece of musical description. It starts with a scale suggesting footsteps, followed by a repeated figure with a longer note during which you can imagine Peer glancing around at the trolls. Although the theme remains the same throughout, it is constantly moving to new groups of instruments, depicting the different parties running through the cave. Playing this music is tremendous fun – you start soft and sneaky, then hold on tight as Dr. Wacker yells “Louder!” and “Faster!” until the final prestissimo climax in which Peer escapes. During our performance Dr. Wacker will refrain from audible yelling but if you watch his baton you will see this message clearly.
       -  John Peterson

 

 

The Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach was originally composed for organ around 1704. This unforgettable music has been endlessly arranged by many different artist and bands, such as an arrangement by Liszt for piano, the Canadian Brass arrangement, and Leopold Stokowski’s 1927 arrangement for large orchestra in the movie, Fantasia. Even Trans-Siberian Orchestra has done an arrangement of this piece. In many of Bach’s pieces a toccata usually precedes a fugue but tonight we will just be performing the toccata. Toccata is a renaissance term meaning “to touch” – it is supposed to remind the audience of the performers body and actions rather than a disembodied play of sound. In other words, much of the artistry of the piece is left up to the performer’s interpretation. The many suspensions and dissonances of this piece give it a rather creepy nature. Each instrumental part has a different characteristic which brings out melody or the underlying moving parts. The interlaying of instruments creates a large sonority of sound and a unique texture. All the parts string together in one continuous moving line. Toccata and Fugue has many surprises, and I hope you enjoy this band arrangement of one of Bach’s most memorable pieces.
         - Stephanie Grote

 

From a man in a black suit, devils, sharks, and vampires, you will surely be jumping out of your seat when you hear John Williams’ Chillers and Thrillers. This is a collection of Williams’ movie music, including the Imperial March from Star Wars, Devil’s Dance from the Witches of Eastwick, the themes from Jaws and Dracula, Escape from the City from War of the Worlds, and The Face of Voldemort from Harry Potter.
        - Elizabeth Richardson

 

Night on Bald Mountain, also known as Night on the Bare Mountain, depicts a witchs’ Sabbath. The original version of this piece was composed by Modest Mussorgsky in 1867. The more recognized version, a band arrangement of which you will be hearing tonight, is a revised version by Rimsky-Korsakov after Mussorgsky’s death. This piece premiered in 1886. Right off the bat, Night on Bald Mountain begins with an intense and suspenseful introduction that makes use of exaggerated dynamics. Then, the low brass comes in with a very scary, powerful melody. In Disney’s Fantasia (1942) this melody accompanies the entrance of the demon. The next melody, provided mostly by the low Woodwinds, is subdued, yet no less energetic. The energy continues as the piece grows and becomes aggressive again.Night on Bald Mountain is an extremely theatric, very scary, and very fun piece of music, both for the musician and the audience member. I hope you enjoy it!
        - Dan Woods

 

Carl Orff, a German composer of the early twentieth century, composed Carmina Burana in 1936. The original score includes a subtitle that reads “Profane songs for singers and vocal chorus with instruments and magical pictures”. Orff used texts from a thirteenth-century anthology of poems and songs written in Latin, German, and French. The subject matter of these texts range from simplistic to philosophical. They covered topics such as love, religion, nature, dancing, drinking, and more. Orff selected 24 of these texts and set them to music. The twenty-five movements (Orff uses the same movement, O Fortuna, as an opener and closer of the work) are grouped into five major sections.This instrumental arrangement by Jay Bocook contains the first two movements of Carmina Burana, “O Fortuna” and “Fortune plango vulnera”. These poems lament the power that fate holds: “I bemoan the wounds of Fortune with weeping eyes”. “O Fortuna” has a heavy and dramatic beginning that is immediately followed by an ominous melody that you are sure to recognize (listen for it in the clarinets and trombone). The repetition of this melody grows as instruments are added and intensity increases. The start of “Fortune plango vulnera” can be marked by the sudden dynamic change and the exposed euphonium and trombone line. The second movement gains momentum through accelerations in tempo, louder dynamics, and driving rhythms. The piece is ended by restating the exciting and energetic last line from “O Fortuna”. Carmina Burana is a piece dripping with drama, intensity, and energy that is sure to keep even the most tired concert goer on the edge of their seat. Enjoy!
         - Kali Sheldon

 

The Dies Irae is a plainchant melody whose text is commonly attributed to Thomas of Celano. Dies Irae literally means "the day of wrath." The Latin hymn became a part Roman Catholic Requiem (death) mass in the 14th century. The text describes the day of judgment in which souls are summoned to God to be saved or cast into eternal damnation. It describes the awesome, sometimes frightening power of God. After the 16th and 17th centuries, composers began to use the Dies Irae melody in compositions because of its length and potential to depict orchestral dramatism. Usually, the text is set to music whose velocity equals the vivid descriptions in the poem. For example, the 17th and 18th verses say:
   While the wicked are confounded,
   doomed to flames of woe unbounded
   call me with thy saints surrounded.
   Low I kneel, with heart submission,
   see, like ashes, my contrition;
   help me in my last condition.
This text, in conjunction with a melody that is tense, somber, and awesome, makes the Dies Irae plainchant one of the most exciting in all of music. It evokes trepidation and fear to the listeners, especially in the Requiem masses of composers such as Mozart, Verdi, Berlioz, and Stravinsky. The melody has been quoted or used by other composers including Mahler, Haydn, Liszt, and even Stephen Sondheim in Sweeney Todd.This particular arrangement of the Dies Irae was written by American composer Elliot Del Borgo (b. 1938). Del Borgo holds degrees from State University of New York, Temple University, and the Philadelphia Conservatory where he studied with Vincent Persichetti. He wrote the opening music for the 1980 closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in New York. Now in his retirement from teaching composition, he is in great demand as a guest conductor.
        - Erin Wright