2013-2014: “Titans of the Symphony”—Concerts You Don't Want to Miss
Symphony Series 1
“Deaf Man's Dysfunctional Dance”
Saturday, September 21st at 7:00pm
Symphony no. 7 Ludwig Van Beethoven
Symphony No. 7 in A (1812) – Ludwig van Beethoven
“One of my greatest works,” Beethoven said in a letter to the impresario Johann Salomon, and Beethoven rarely appraised his own works openly. Each Beethoven symphony surpasses its predecessors in originality and expressive power. Beethoven’s Seventh isn’t particularly innovative compared to them, but it is the most rhythmically forceful, varied, and spirited. Each movement demands motion; see if you can keep your feet and head still! The first movement is marked by one of the longest introductions in the repertoire and a driving, galloping dotted rhythm (the pattern of a long note followed by a short note). The steady, relentless rhythm of the second movement seems to dictate the very melody we hear (try to imitate just the rhythm in your head and you’ll see what I mean!). The third movement alternates between a skipping country dance and a courtly minuet, both in triple time. And the finale is a dizzying, whirling romp that leaves shock waves in its wake. No wonder Richard Wagner dubbed this symphony “The apotheosis of the Dance”! (Ron Nadel)
Romanian Folk Dances Bela Bartok
Romanian Folk Dances (1915) – Bela Bartok
Originally composed for piano, this suite of six short dance movements is based on authentic Transylvanian melodies, which would have been played on fiddle or shepherd’s flute. Bartok was keenly interested in the folk music of his native Hungary, and there is a strong affinity between Romanian and Hungarian folk dances. The ethnic character of these melodies is distinctive, contributing a poignancy and innocence that is irresistible. (Ron Nadel)
Hungarian Dances 1 & 5 Johannes Brahms
Hungarian Dances No. 1 & 5 (1869) – Johannes Brahms
Brahms composed 21 of these short works based on authentic Hungarian folk tunes, for piano with four-hands (two pianists). Only three were based on his own original melodies. He later orchestrated several of them, and since then many composers have orchestrated others. Brahms performed these at concerts himself and they became some of his most popular works. They received renewed popularity when Charlie Chaplin used the Dance No. 5 in his 1940 film The Great Dictator and, subsequently, others have been used in cartoons, television shows, and movies. (Ron Nadel)
Prelude to the Opera "The Mastersinger of Nuremberg" Richard Wagner
Prelude to The Master Singers of Nuremberg (1868) – Richard Wagner
Wagner’s comedy Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg is unquestionably his most warmly human and approachable opera. It’s a love story with a moral. To win the hand of the lovely Eva, Walter must compete in and win Nuremberg’s singing competition (think “Nuremburg Idol”!) Unfortunately, he lacks formal training. Natural talent is not enough. With the help of wise mentor Hans Sachs, Walter must overcome youthful, stubborn pride and combine musical tradition with his own intuitive artistic sense. Only then can he sway the judges to accept his new style. Wagner musically evokes the sense of tradition, and the respect it commands, and richly characterizes the young lovers, persnickety judges, and the revered Hans Sachs. (Ron Nadel)
Balance and Swing[World Premiere] Loretta Notareschi
Balance & Swing (2013) - World Premiere - Loretta Notareschi
When Boulder Symphony Music Director Devin Patrick Hughes and I first began talking about a new piece for the 2013-2014 season, the tentative theme for the season was drama and dance. My love for contra dance, a traditional American form with intricate figures similar to those of square dance, but danced in lines, immediately sprung to mind. Although the season's theme eventually changed, I remained inspired by the sound and feeling of contra dance. Funded by a grant from Regis University, I immersed myself in the world of contra dance, attending dances and jam sessions sponsored by the Colorado Friends of Old Time Music and Dance, and taking fiddle lessons from fiddler extraordinaire Debbie Carstensen. In learning the fiddle, I encountered two charming traditional tunes, the reel "Allie Crocker" and the slip jig "Another Jig Will Do," and I composed my own jig, which I named "Ruby's Jig" after my newborn daughter, Ruby Helene. These tunes found their way into the piece, which turned out to be less a representation of a realistic contra dance and more a fantasy informed by the spirit of the tunes, the sound of contra dance bands, and the excitement of the caller and dancers as they move through the fast-paced figures of a traditional contra dance. A rough program for the piece emerged as I wrote it, centering around the rather whimsical notion of jigs dancing with reels. (Loretta Notareschi)
Balance and Swing was generously funded by a grant from the Regis University Research and Scholarship Council.
Deaf Man's Dysfunctional Dance
Celebrate folk traditions spanning half a millennium with the Symphony as we share the greatest musical dance traditions from Transylvania, Hungary and Romania, to present day America. Wagner called Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony the apotheosis of the dance in Dionysian fashion with its gyrating rhythms and intoxicating spirit. Also explored on the program are good old American jigs in the form of the contra-dance in the world premiere of Loretta Notareschi’s Balance and Swing.
Symphony Series 2
“Mayhem on Canyon Boulevard”
Saturday, October 26th at 2:00pm
March of the Toreadors from Carmen (1875) Georges Bizet
To French audiences of the day, the Spanish setting of Bizet’s opera was exotic, its subject of obsession, explicit. The beautiful factory girl, Carmen, is generous with her favors, but fatally fickle. One day it is the handsome, jealous soldier, Don Jose, and the next day, the daring bullfighter, Escamillo. The march of the Toreadors is from the last act, as the crowds cheer the arrival of the bullfighters; Bizet’s music perfectly evokes their bravado and the adulation of the crowd.
Danse Macabre (1874) Camille Saint-Saëns
Legend has it, at the stroke of midnight on All Hallow’s eve, Death summons the dead from their graves to lead them in a dance with his fiddle. They whirl about with increasing intensity, until a rooster crows and the dead return to their graves. Saint-Saëns’ tone poem begins with a harp tolling the same note 12 times, followed by a solo violin, purposely tuned lower, creating a coarse fiddle effect. Xylophones conjure up images of dancing skeletons, and an oboe evokes the rooster’s crowing.
Romeo and Juliet: The Capulets and The Montagues (1938) Sergei Prokofiev
Prokofiev’s ballet masterpiece is one of the greatest ever composed, because of the powerful way in which he combines melody, orchestration, and rhythm to convey a variety of emotions, drama, humor, and tragedy. This movement, from the suite, shows the pomp of the feuding families. Wealthy and important, their pride is a barrier to understanding.
Overture to Der Freischutz (1821) Carl Maria von Weber
The opera The Free Shooter is a cornerstone of German Romanticism and influenced many romantic composers. A Free Shooter uses “free bullets”, which can be willed to go where one wants them to. The catch? One must sell their soul to make them! A marksman, vying for the hand of his beloved, is tempted to use free bullets. The Haunted Wolf’s Glen scene is the scariest in opera. The overture is famous for using music that occurs in the opera.
Night on Bald Mountain (1867) Modest Mussorgsky
This popular ”musical picture”, was not performed in Mussorgsky’s lifetime, but achieved popularity when Rimsky-Korsakov arranged it in 1886, five years after Mussorgsky’s death. The subject is a witches’ Sabbath, in four sections: 1) Assembly of the witches and their chatter, 2) Cortège of Satan, 3) Black Mass, and 4) Sabbath
Toccata and Fugue in D-minor (17??) attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach
A toccata (“to touch”) is intended to demonstrate manual dexterity. A fugue is similar to a “round”, with the repeated sections transposed – not in the same pitch – and subjected to modifications so they contrast and play off each other. Originally performed on organ, the ominous opening, massive chords, and minor-key, make it popular for use in horror films.
Peer Gynt: In the Hall of the Mountain King (1875) Edvard Grieg
The Mountain King is a troll; a hulking, smelly, man-eating creature popular in Norse myth. Grieg wrote music to accompany Ibsen’s satirical play “Peer Gynt”, about the adventures of the Norwegian “hero”. The Mountain King scene is in Act 2: "There is a great crowd of troll courtiers and goblins. The King sits on his throne, with crown and scepter... Peer Gynt stands before him. There is a tremendous uproar in the hall." The crowd want to eat him, but the King wants only to chat with him.
Winner conducts the orchestra
With local Boulder healthy sweets
Instrument Petting Zoo
For kids and all ages
Mayhem on Canyon Boulevard
In collaboration with
Longmont Youth Symphony.
Celebrate Halloween early, for the the whole family as the Symphony presents an epic orchestral Murder Mystery topped off with Trick-or-treating Boulder-style, a costume contest with the winner serving as Maestro, and an orchestra petting zoo so kids test drive some of the world’s greatest instruments! We are joined, at least initially, by the famed Italian Maestro Gianfranco Benedicto Cellini.
Symphony Series 3
“Bridges to Heaven”
Saturday, December 7th at 7:30pm
Symphony no. 4 Gustav Mahler
Mahler feared his seven-part Third Symphony would be too long, so he used its last movement as the finale of the Fourth. He then composed three more movements in reverse, deriving them from the finale in such a way as to make the finale appear to derive organically from them!
Songs of a Wayfarer Gustav Mahler
Originally scored for voice and piano, Mahler used his own lyrics for this cycle of four songs. Orchestrated, they are miniature masterpieces of color and musical mood painting: wistful, exultant, despairing, and resigned.
Gustav Mahler’s music brings us a wealth of experience from the earliest childhood memories to depictions of heaven, and everything in between. For his Fourth Symphony, widely known as his more populist from the genre, classical tradition clashes magnificently with contemporary culture. The Song and Symphony become one as we premiere composer-in-residence Austin Wintory’s modern version of the Song cycle for orchestra, as we welcome back soprano Teresa Castillo and baritone Thomas Kittle.
Symphony Series 4
Saturday, February 15th at 7:00pm
Symphony no. 3 “Organ” (1886) Camille Saint-Saëns
Devon Howard, organ
This remarkable symphony was modern in its use of short units of melody (transformed throughout the work), but also honored tradition, alluding to Bach with a chorale (a hymn-like section) and a fugue (similar to a “round”) in the finale. It is in two movements, each one divided into two sections, resulting in a quasi four-movement structure. Saint-Saëns uses the organ in the second section of each movement.
Overture to the Opera “William Tell” (1829) Gioachino Rossini
One of the most famous overtures in music, it outlines the story of 14th century Swiss hero William Tell, who must shoot an apple off his son’s head, escapes his captors in a storm, and then assassinates tyrannical Austrian governor, Gessler, spurring the people to overthrow their Austrian occupiers.
Violin Concerto Felix Mendelssohn
Phoenix Avalon, violin
In creating something special for his friend, violinist Ferdinand David, Mendelssohn employed some novel features. To name just a few: the violin enters almost immediately (instead of the usual orchestral introduction), the movements are performed with no pause between them, and, whereas the orchestra usually accompanies the soloist in a concerto, sometimes Mendelssohn has the soloist accompany the orchestra.
Returning to the Symphony by popular request is wunderkind violinist Phoenix Avalon, in a concert featuring the great prodigy composers. Camille Saint-Saens was performing the piano for Franz Liszt as a child; Gioachino Rossini wrote more than 30 operas before turning 30, and Felix Mendelssohn composed his most beloved works as a teenager. Camile Saint-Saëns’s Third Symphony, a masterful and seamlessly organic French interpretation of the genre features organist Devon Howard, and is indebted to the composer’s teacher Liszt, who himself showed off his wunderkind piano technique to Beethoven half a century earlier.
Holst composed his suite of seven movements as musical descriptions of the characteristics of the astrological planets, yet his astrological score has become the quintessential model of astronomical music for depicting outer space in movies! You would be amazed by the list of movies that borrow from or use The Planets!
Gravitational Assist[World Premiere] Jonathan Sokol & Julie Rooney
Gravitational Assist, a new piece by composer-artist team Jonathan Sokol and Julie Rooney, takes the complexity of the orchestra and mixes it with the complexity of the universe. The innovative classical score unites with alternative seating, antiphonal brass, and choreography in an exploration of how the death of one planet can create another. Rich and vast, Sokol’s composition is a perfect contemporary partner to the Holst Planets Suite.
A lifelong school teacher turned composer and mystic, Gustav Holst was was profoundly intrigued by both the human condition and our place in the universe. He delved inwardly into the spiritual traditions of humanity by examining the Mahabharata and other Hindu scriptures, as well as outward and upward towards the heavens as an astrologer and horoscope reader. The Planets is the composer’s greatest portrayal of the eternal, one of the most penetrating artistic representations of the Solar System and the great beyond. Joined by members the Metro State Orchestras, Event Horizons will also feature the world premiere of Gravitational Assist, a multimedia feast by Jonathan Sokol and Boulder Symphony violist Julie Rooney.
Symphony Series 6
“Secret Agents for Change”
Saturday, May 17th at 7:00pm
Symphony no. 5 Dmitri Shostakovich
Leonore Overture no. 3 (from the Opera "Fidelio") Ludwig van Beethoven
The fiery and rousing season finale features Mr. Beethoven and Mr. Shostakovich as political activists as much as they were composers. Under the thumb of the powers that be, both composers orchestrated subliminal political messages and innuendos into the their music to combat the status quo. Shostakovich’s epic Fifth Symphony is perhaps history’s greatest dramatic battle between dictator and creator. Making her debut as soloist with the Boulder Symphony is Chamber Music Director and Clarinetist Deborah Marshall.
Chamber / New Music Series
Chamber Music Series 1
Friday, October 11th at 7:00pm
Mutations from Bach Samuel Barber (1910-1981)
Funeral March from Die Götterdämmerung Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
Trans. by Robert King
Six Studies in English Folksong Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Ben Johnson, Tuba Susan Olenwine, Piano
Brass Symphony Jan Koetsier (1911-2006)
You won’t need your opera glasses this time to see the members of Boulder Symphony’s brass section. This evening you’ll have them up close! Join us to hear how more than 50 feet of brass tubing sounds!
Bach may never have heard the Brandenburg Concerto Number 6 himself some 295 years ago, but don’t you miss the chance! Not intended to amaze theorists or provoke intellectuals, this piece was composed for the sheer enjoyment of musicians and audience alike.
Chamber Music Series 3
“Lightness in the Shadows of War”
Friday, January 17th at 7:00pm
Introduction Douglas Pennick
The Deified Invalid Guillaume Apollinaire (translated by Ron Padgett)
Canzonetta, op. 19 Gabriel Pierne (1863-1937)
Mouvements Perpetuels Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)
Sonatine Arthur Honegger (1892-1955)
Lent et soutenu
Vif et rythmique
The Case of the Masked Corporal, that is, The Poet Resuscitated Guillaume Apollinaire (translated by Ron Padgett)
Duo Concertante Darius Milhaud (1892-1974)
Sonata for Clarinet Solo Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983)
Enough of the drama at Downton Abbey. We’d like to invite you to unwind and partake of Boulder Symphony’s relaxing version of a fete at Lord Grantham’s. You may even find Lady Mary playing the violin!
Chamber Music Series 4
Friday, February 21st at 7:00pm
Arnold Schoenberg’s monumental masterpiece sounds as fresh, engaging, and disturbing today as it did at its premiere over 100 years ago. Schoenberg’s acerbic musical language ideally complements Albert Giraud’s symbolist poetry, with its haunting images of moonlight, blood, death, and whimsy. The result is a work of astonishing impact.
Chamber Music Series 5
“Fables and Chivalry”
Saturday, April 12th at 7:00pm
Fables and Chivalry
The Boulder Symphony Chamber Music Series presents the best music the 17th century has to offer with scenes from the Dramatick Opera King Arthur, or The British Worthy. Noted English poet John Dryden's verse, set to music by Henry Purcell, has continued to captivate audiences of all ages for over 300 years with serenading shepherds, delightful demigods, and a victorious Battle Symphony. Featuring performers from the Boulder Symphony, Opera On Tap, and the Boulder Opera Company, the show is guaranteed to rekindle the excitement of the Arthurian legend!
The Symphony performs some of the greatest dance music ever written of Brahms, Bartok & Beethoven in open air for the Boulder community, featuring the latter’s beloved Seventh Symphony. Come out to the market, grab some fresh local produce, lunch and come over to the Bandshell and listen to 500 years of Romanian, Hungarian, Transylvanian and German dance and singing heritage, all for the magical instrument of the symphony orchestra.
Symphony at the Market Series 2
Saturday, May 10th at 12:30pm
Music has the power to influence a people and to change the course of social and political history. Kick off your summer at the Boulder Country Farmers Market by gathering some locally grown staples, and enjoying some politically-charged barn burners of Beethoven, Shostakovich, Bartok and Rossini, including the latter's Overture to William Tell!