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Dr. Elizabeth Reed Smith, conductor
Acknowledgments: Dr. Edwin Bingham, Dr. Ann Marie Bingham, Dr. Jeffrey Pappas
Lindsay DiFatta, concertmaster, Angela Scoulas, Chun Hyo-Jung, George Beter, Rebecca Lepanto, Samuel Bauserman, Abby Holmes, violin I
Janet Bromley, principal, Megan Hunt, Michael Wilcoxon, Kelcey Perkins, Olivia Hay, violin II
Tim Feverston, principal, Aaron Caviani, Jame C. McCumbee, Vera Miller, viola
Ezgi Karakus, principal, Dean Pauley, Ronnie Thompson, cello
Rebecca Harrison, principal, Ethan Howard, Jeff Smith, Dustin Moraczewski, Trevor Davis, bass
Brittany White, principal, Emily Crabtree, flute
Shey Dillon, piccolo
Elider DiPaula, keyboard
Cassandra Chapman, principal, Emily Cline, assistant principal, Lee Ann Lykens, oboe
Cassandra Chapman, English horn
Christa Fry, principal, Tim Cline, clarinet
Edwin Bingham, principal, Kay Lawson, bassoon
Billy Holderby, principal, Kristen Bobuk, Melinda Kelle, Nicholas Bragg, horn
Briana Blankenship, principal, Dylan Elder, Natasha Vance, trumpet
John Galloway, principal, Andrew O'Neal-bass trombone, John Bruce, trombone
Adam Phillips, Timpani, Levi Billiter, tuba
Stephanie Boothe, Daniel Miller, Anna Maria Firth, percussion
Tonight's program explores the repertoire of orchestral overtures, fanfares and preludes, genres that traditionally were intended as introductions, but later became free-standing concert forms.
Sir Edward Elgar composed his Civic Fanfare at the age of 70 for the 1927 Three Choirs Festival in Hereford. It was designed for the processional of local officials into the grand opening ceremonies, and was intended to link with his earlier arrangement of the National Anthem. The first performance, conducted by the composer, was actually recorded by a mobile recording van, an early use of such technology. The fanfare is scored for full orchestra, minus violins.
The two-act opera Eduardo e Cristina was written hurriedly for a performance in 1819 and borrowed heavily from Rossini's other works. Although rarely performed today, it enjoyed much popularity in Rossini's lifetime. The overture begins with a slow introduction featuring the strings, followed by an allegro, which has all the hallmarks of a good Rossini overture: attractive lilting tunes, prominent woodwind solos, and the famous "Rossini crescendo," a slow rise from very soft to very loud.
The origin of the title of Liszt's symphonic poem Les Préludes continues to be debated by scholars. The full title "Les Préludes (d'apres Lamartine)" refers to an ode by Lamartine, which may or may not have served in some way as a model for the work. The first edition of Les Preludes is prefaced by an essay, written after the composition of the music, that asks, "What else is our life but a series of preludes to that unknown Hymn, the first and solemn note of which is intoned by Death?" Some Liszt scholars have also postulated that it was conceived as the overture to a set of unpublished choral works. Liszt himself in a letter suggested that the work may have been a "prelude" to his future compositions, and indeed it is often thought of as the first "symphonic poem."
Much of Les Préludes is woven around the motive C-B-B first introduced by the strings. The work is composed as a continuous composition, but has roughly four main sections that may be identified as 1) the Dawn of Existence; Love, 2) Storms of Life, 3) Refuge and Consolation in Rural Life, and 4) Strife and Conquest.
Prélude à l'apres-mid d'unfaune ("Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun") was inspired by a poem by Stephane Mallarme, who later complained about his work being used in this way, feeling that his own work stood alone on its own merits. Debussy probably intended to write a suite of movements, of which the prelude, naturally, would be the first. In the poem, a faun, a mythical deity often depicted with the trunk and head of a man and the legs and tail of a goat, plays panpipes in the forest. His music awakens sleeping nymphs and naiads, whom he pursues unsuccessfully, after which he abandons himself to his dreams. Debussy's "faun" plays the flute; the opening chromatic flute melody is a wonderful example of exoticism in impressionistic music.
Johannes Brahms, often considered a stuffy German composer, demonstrated his sense of humor in the Academic Festival Overture, when he discovered that he was expected to compose a symphony as a thank-you for receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Breslau (the degree citation referred to him as a "composer of serious music.") Instead he composed a delightful overture based on student songs. The conductor of the university orchestra thought the title "devilish academic and boring" and so must have been surprised at the light-hearted content of the overture. Among the student songs included is "The Fox Song," which rags on freshmen from the provinces (introduced by the bassoons), and the famous "Gaudeamus Igitur," that throughout Europe is both a drinking song and a graduation song. The latter forms the majestic coda of the concert overture.
Notes by Elizabeth Reed Smith
Smith Recital Hall
Smith, Elizabeth Reed, "Marshall University Music Department Presents the Marshall University Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Elizabeth Reed Smith, conductor, in, By Way of Introduction..." (2010). All Performances. 531.