Sunday, May 5, 2013
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall
50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston
Elgar’s love of the Malvern Hills found expression in his final masterpiece, which will spotlight the return of local favorite Wendy Warner. We celebrate Britten’s 100th birthday with his portraits of the Suffolk seacoast. The Fifth Symphony of Ralph Vaughan Williams epitomizes the spiritual qualities of the English pastoral tradition.
INDIVIDUAL CONCERT TICKETS:
$28 Adult, $23 Seniors
Children 12 and younger are admitted absolutely FREE.
Please call 847.864.8804 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for all orders with children’s tickets.
Box Office Sales:
$35 Adult, $30 Seniors
Children 12 and younger are admitted absolutely FREE.
$5.00 Student Tickets, subject to availability, at the box office with ID.
Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more. Please call 847.864.8804 for further information
Friday, May 3, 2013 at 1:30 PM
North Shore Retirement Hotel
1611 Chicago Ave., Evanston
by David Ellis
FOUR SEA INTERLUDES FROM PETER GRIMES
Benjamin Britten (1913–1976)
Benjamin Britten spent most of his life in Suffolk, on the east coast of England. However, he spent the early part of World War II in the US, and he was living in Escondido, CA (northeast of San Diego) when he conceived and began work on his opera Peter Grimes. The impetus for the composition was Britten’s discovery of a talk by E. M. Forster about Suffolk poet George Crabbe, whose 1810 poem titled The Borough included a brutal fisherman named Peter Grimes. Crabbe’s poems are set in Aldeburgh, which was Britten’s home after 1947 and the site for the renowned music festival which he established in 1948. Britten returned to England in 1942 and worked on his operatic setting of Crabbe until its triumphant premiere in June 1945.
Britten selected these four orchestral passages from interludes between scenes of the three act opera. “Dawn” uses high strings, woodwinds and suspended cymbal to depict a seaside dawn, while the deep brass and bass drum hint at the hidden power of the sea. “Sunday Morning” begins the second act with bright bell sounds, while “Moonlight” serves as a much darker counterpart as the prelude to the third act. The “Storm” interlude brings together several orchestral passages near the end of the first act into a shattering conclusion.
CONCERTO FOR CELLO AND ORCHESTRA IN E MINOR
Edward Elgar (1857–1934)
Elgar first achieved fame in 1899 with his Enigma Variations, followed shortly by the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, the Coronation Ode, two symphonies and his violin concerto. All of these works feature large orchestral forces and reflect musically the zenith of the British Empire. World War I deeply affected Elgar, however, and shortly after its conclusion he turned to chamber music with his Violin Sonata, String Quartet, and Piano Quintet. His final masterpiece is the Cello Concerto, premiered late in 1919 in London. Although the score calls for a full orchestra, the concerto maintains the chamber music like intimacy of Elgar’s late compositions.
Adagio-Moderato. The soloist opens the concerto with a dramatic recitative, which will recur at the end of the final movement. The violas then introduce the main theme, whose undulations suggest to some the landscape of Elgar’s beloved Malvern Hills. The woodwinds are featured in the secondary theme. This concise first movement proceeds without a pause in the second movement.
Lento-Allegro molto. After introductory pizzicato (plucked) notes, the solo cello plays almost continuously in this perpetual motion scherzo.
Adagio. This heartfelt song for the cello requires only four pages of the 104 page score, but is the emotional core of the concerto. It leads without a pause into the finale.
Allegro-Moderato-Allegro, ma non troppo-Poco piu lento-Adagio. By far the longest movement of the concerto, the finale begins with a vigorous theme in the style of one of Elgar’s earlier marches. However, the mood becomes calmer, leading to a recall of the third movement Adagio and then the return of the opening recitative before the final condensed version of the march theme.
SYMPHONY NO. 5 IN D MAJOR
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958)
Ralph Vaughan Williams was a pioneer in researching English folk song and of
either using actual folk tunes in his works or of composing in this same style.
He also edited a complete revision of the English Hymnal, adding several new hymns of his own.
Ironically, he was a self-described “cheerful agnostic,” born into privileged status on both sides of his family. His father was a vicar
and the son and grandson of highly successful lawyers and judges. His mother
was the daughter of Josiah Wedgwood III of pottery fame and was the niece of
Charles Darwin. When the young Ralph asked her about why
On the Origin of Species caused such controversy, she replied that while most people believed God created
the world in six days, “Great Uncle Charles just thinks it took a little longer!”
The nine symphonies by Vaughan Williams are a cornerstone of English music, and the Fifth Symphony, premiered in London in 1943 during the depths of World War II, ranks among the greatest. Its mood is one of serenity and transcendence, and several of the musical themes are taken from his opera, The Pilgrim’s Progress, started around 1920 but not premiered until 1951.
Preludio. The work opens with a horn call, reminiscent of the opening of the Fifth Symphony by Jean Sibelius, to whom the symphony is dedicated. The second theme, of surpassing beauty and played by the strings, is taken from The Pilgrim’s Progress.
Scherzo. This is the only movement with fast music, and the only movement without themes taken from the opera.
Romanza. Soft string chords preface an English horn solo of great beauty; this theme is sung by the Pilgrim in the opera to the words “He hath given me rest by his sorrow and life by his death.” The orchestration is then reversed with woodwind chords prefacing the theme on the strings. A central section is more agitated before a return to the opening material.
Passacaglia. This movement heading refers to the theme in the lower strings, taken from the opera, which repeats in the bass throughout much of the movement. A second theme in the higher strings and winds becomes more important over the course of the movement. The horn call which opened the first movement returns close to the end, succeeded by the second theme in the strings which climb upwards toward heaven.