3/25/12 – Grounded

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Dr. Sarah McKoin
guest conductor

by Ryan George

by John Stevens

Flourishes and Meditations on a Renaissance Theme
by Michael Gandolfi

by Eric Whitacre

Angels in the Architecture
by Frank Ticheli

In trutina, from “Carmina Burana”
by Carl Orff, arr. John Krance

Grounded 3/25/12

Grounded 3/25/12

Ryan George writes the following about FIREFLY:

I’m amazed at how children use their imaginations to transform the ordinary and normal into the extraordinary and fantastic. Just about anything they come across can be used to spark their fantasies and usher their minds into unseen worlds. A stick on the ground becomes a wand with magical powers or a sword to fight off bad guys. A collection of rocks turns into buried treasure and a blanket stretched over two chairs becomes a cave to hide in. And things found in nature; birds, waterfalls, flowers, and even insects can take on mythic identities when viewed through the eyes of a child.

The idea for FIREFLY was born one night as I watched my 4-year old become mesmerized by a firefly that had wandered into our front yard. When I asked her what she thought of the “firefly” she looked at me with a puzzled look and said with a corrective tone, “Dad, that is not a firefly… that’s Tinkerbell, and she’s come to take me with her on an adventure!”

FIREFLY is dedicated to my daughters Sophia and Nyla, who ignite my imagination and bring awe and wonder into my life every day.

John Stevens is Director of the School of Music and Professor of Tuba and Euphonium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also a member of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, a UW-Madison faculty ensemble-in residence. Professor Stevens has enjoyed a varied career as a teacher, orchestral, chamber music, solo and jazz performer and recording artist, composer/arranger, conductor and administrator.

Originally scored for brass choir in 2002, composer John Stevens brings us this marvelous version of Benediction featuring flowing melodies and counterlines in a rich chorale-like setting, encouraged by and dedicated to Scott Teeple, Director of Bands at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Michael Gandolfi’s music has been performed by many leading ensembles including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam, the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. He presently holds commissions from the Michael Vyner Trust (a piano concerto), the Fromm Foundation (a saxophone concerto for Kenneth Radnovsky and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, 2007), the Weilerstein Trio, and Boston-based pianist Duncan Cumming.

Flourishes and Meditations on a Renaissance Theme was commissioned by The President’s Own United States Marine Band and is dedicated to them, their Director, Colonel Michael J. Colburn and their Assistant Director, Major Jason K. Fettig. It is a set of seven variations on an anonymous Renaissance melody that is simply titled Spagnoletta, derived from a popular melody titled Españoleta, or ‘Little Spanish Tune’.

Eric Whitacre is one of the most popular and performed composers of our time, a distinguished conductor, broadcaster and public speaker. His first album as both composer and conductor, Light & Gold, won a Grammy® in 2012 for Best Choral Performance, reaped unanimous five star reviews and became the No. 1 classical album in the US and UK charts within a week of release. His second album, Water Night, will be released in April 2012. It features seven world premiere recordings and includes performances from his professional choir, the Eric Whitacre Singers, the London Symphony Orchestra, Julian Lloyd Webber and Hila Plitmann. His compositions also feature on multiple other recordings made in Europe, North America and Australasia.

Whitacre originally published Cloudburst in 1995 for mixed chorus.  He writes:

After a performance of Go, Lovely Rose in 1991, Dr. Jocelyn K. Jensen approached me about writing a piece for her High School Choir. She is an amazing conductor, legendary for doing crazy things on stage (choralography, lighting, costumes, you name it), and I wanted to write something for her that would really knock the audience out. I had recently been given an exquisite book of poems by Octavio Paz, and around the same time I witnessed an actual (breathtaking) desert cloudburst, and I guess it just all lined up. The finger snapping thing (all of the singers snap their fingers to simulate rain) is an old campfire game that I modified for the work, and the thunder sheets were giant pieces of tin we took from the side of the school.

Frank Ticheli is well known for his works for concert band, many of which have become standards in the repertoire. In addition to composing, he has appeared as guest conductor of his music at Carnegie Hall, at many American universities and music festivals, and in cities throughout the world.  About this composition, he writes:

Angels in the Architecture was commissioned by Kingsway International, and received its premiere performance at the Sydney Opera House on July 6, 2008 by a massed band of young musicians from Australia and the United States, conducted by Matthew George. The work unfolds as a dramatic conflict between the two extremes of human existence — one divine, the other evil.

The work’s title is inspired by the Sydney Opera House itself, with its halo-shaped acoustical ornaments hanging directly above the performance stage. Angels in the Architecture begins with a single voice singing a 19th-century Shaker song:

I am an angel of Light
I have soared from above
I am cloth’d with Mother’s love.
I have come, I have come,
To protect my chosen band
And lead them to the promised land.

In 1934, Carl Orff encountered the medieval text in Johann Andreas Schmeller’s 1847 edition of the Carmina Burana. Michel Hofmann, then a young law student and Latin and Greek enthusiast, assisted Orff in the selection and organization of 24 of these poems into a libretto, mostly in Latin verse, with a small amount of Middle High German and Old Provençal. The selection covers a wide range of topics, as familiar in the 13th century as they are in the 21st century: the fickleness of fortune and wealth, the ephemeral nature of life, the joy of the return of Spring, and the pleasures and perils of drinking, gluttony, gambling and lust.

In trutina is from Section III of Carmina Burana, “The Court of Love”:

In trutina mentis dubia fluctuant contrari
lascivus amor et pudicitia.

Sed eligo quod video, collum iugo prebeo;
ad iugem tamen, suave transeo.

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