February 2017 Symphony

February Symphony: Leaping Into Spring

Scott Seaton | Conductor

  • Saturday, February 25, 2017 @ 7:30PM Laxson Auditorium, Chico, CA
  • Sunday, February 26, 2017 @ 2PM Cascade Theatre, Redding, CA

Guest Artist
Terrie Baune, Violin

Rimsky-Korsakov: The Snow Maiden Suite
Larsen: Dancing Man Rhapsody (co-commission with Eureka Symphony)
Biedenbender: Schism
Schumann: Symphony No. 1 in Bb major, Op. 38 Spring

In the span of an evening, we take you from the icy melodies of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Snow Maiden Suite and conclude with the warm and optimistic passages that adorn Robert Schumann’s Spring Symphony.  The North State Symphony concertmaster, Terrie Baune, explores the imagination of Libby Larsen in her Dancing Man Rhapsody and David Biedenbender’s Schism takes us on an energized tour of politics in America.

Free pre-concert talk one hour before each performance.

Soloist: Terrie Baune, Violin

Terrie Baune is concertmaster of the Eureka Symphony and the North State Symphony, and co-concertmaster of the Oakland Symphony. She is a member of the professional new-music ensembles Earplay and New Music Works, and she is the associate director of the Humboldt Chamber Music Workshop at Humboldt State University.

Terrie's professional credits include four years as a member of the National Symphony of Washington DC and two years as a member of the Auckland Philharmonia of New Zealand, where she also performed with the Gabrielli Trio, a New Zealand National Ensemble. She has held concertmaster positions with the Fresno Philharmonic, the Santa Cruz County Symphony, and the Rohnert Park Symphony, and has performed as concertmaster with many other orchestras including the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, El Paso Opera, the Santa Rosa Symphony, and the Vallejo Symphony.

For over twenty years Terrie was concertmaster of The Women's Philharmonic, during which time she participated in over a hundred premieres, made several recordings, including one as soloist in the Maddalena Lombardini Violin Concerto #5, and performed as soloist in the world premiere of Chen Yi's Chinese Folk Dance Suite for Violin and Orchestra, a piece commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation and written for her and the WP. Well known for her work with living composers, Terrie has had solo pieces written for her by Pablo Ortiz, Richard Festinger, Ross Bauer, and many other composers.

Terrie graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Music degree, having won the Oberlin Concerto Competition and Grand Prize at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. She attended summer programs in Taos, New Mexico and received a full fellowship to the Aspen Festival. She has taught violin, viola and chamber music as well as string pedagogy at Stanislaus State University and Sonoma State University, and does private teaching and chamber music coaching in Northern California.

Program Notes

nikolai-rimsky-korsakov-2Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was a member of the group of Saint Petersburg composers known as “The Five” that also included Borodin, Ciu, Balakirev, and Mussorgsky among its members. In contrast to the Moscow School of Tchaikovsky and his musical disciples, they sought a pure Russian music, without foreign influence. The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka) was the third of his 15 operas, and the Suite (1895) was based on dances and images from that opera, which began as a fairy-tale by Alexander Orlovsky. The original play was adapted into a four-act opera that was first performed at St. Petersburg in 1882, and interestingly, the original cast included Igor Stravinsky’s father, Fyodor in a leading role. The libretto is basically a love story, and the Suite follows that theme with expressive melodies and dances. The Introduction depicts a beautiful spring evening around the palace of Tsar Berendey. Imagine a moonlit scene of snow-covered mountains, forests, and a flowing river. Short phrases are woven into a fabric of orchestral color. The strings swirl around the crispness of the piccolo and violins, contrasted by the warmth of the horns and cellos representing the spring after the frost. The second movement is a Dance of the Birds, wherein we encounter an animated entourage of birds dancing to keep warm. The chirping and birdsong are unmistakable. Enjoy the delightfully tuneful and cheerful simulated aviary of cranes, geese, ducks, rooks, magpies, starlings, and skylarks. The Procession of Tsar Berendey is a stately march that accompanies a gathering of the villagers assembled to listen to the Tsar's decree. Also known as The Cortège, its merry march is subtly disrupted by the timpani that promulgate a note of fear and uneasiness. The energetic Dance of the Clowns has a wonderful exuberance, taking place amid celebrations of spring as villagers sing and dance. At the end of the festivities the Tsar asks for one more dance, and in a rush the clowns dance to one of Rimsky-Korsakov's best-known showpieces. The whirlwind coda will leave you breathless. Rimsky-Korsakov was a master of orchestration; his textbook, Principles of Orchestration (1913, published posthumously) is still widely used, and we can discern his innovations in orchestration and harmony in the compositions of Ravel, Stravinsky, and Shostakovich among others. This orchestra includes: flute, piccolo, oboe, English horn, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, timpani, 2 percussion, and strings.

libby1The Dancing Man Rhapsody by American composer Libby Larsen was co-commissioned by the Eureka Symphony and concertmaster Terrie Baune to celebrate the Orchestra’s 25th year in Humboldt County. The piece, basically a violin concerto in five movements, was written for Baune as the soloist, and has been performed and supported by the San Bernardino Symphony in Southern California as well. The composition is witty and colorful, characteristic of Larsen’s sound that is described by critics as sporting “freshly sprung rhythms, freely tonal harmony and bright orchestration.” Her imaginative creativity and optimism shine through her music. She is known for her unique style of orchestration and the textures and auras that ensue, and her ability as a tunesmith makes her music especially memorable. Larsen has published over 500 major works covering all genres. The McKnight Foundation described her as “a virtuosic composer…breath[ing] new life into the concert music tradition for the new millennium.” Such productivity and acclaim has made her one of the most performed living composers today. Larson explains her approach to composition as follows: “Music exists in an infinity of sound…existing in the substance of the air itself…the composer’s task to order and make sense of sound, in time and space, to communicate something about being alive through music.” The orchestration for Dancing Man Rhapsody includes: flute (piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, piano, timpani, and percussion (includes xylophone, congas, glockenspiel, woodblocks, marimba, temple blocks, sleigh bells), and strings. The piece opens appropriate to the title with a little soft shoe, followed by a section titled "A Sudden Conga." A change of tempo is followed then by "A Minute Waltz" and "Backwards in High Heels." After another a quick shift in tempo, "Dancin' with Kravitz" completes the set.

biedenbenderBWWisconsin native, David Biedenbender, wrote that Schism was written in 2010 during the turbulent national mid-term elections. He says that the music is about divisions, and that he was “overwhelmingly frustrated by the sophomoric mud-slinging and ridiculous lies being told by many politicians and the variously allied media.” At the same time he says that he “was also somewhat amused by what was nothing short of a nationwide ‘goat rodeo’” (a slang term for a dysfunctional chaotic situation with clashing agendas and perceptions). The original small orchestra score was transcribed relatively faithfully from a piano improvisation, its premiere was in 2011, directed by Alan Pierson in the Missouri Theater in Columbia, MO. His work is overtly influenced by his experiences as an electric bassist and low brass member of New Orleans-style bands. The orchestra opens divisively - pitting high and low pitched motifs against each other to create an effect that he describes as “similar to J.S. Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites, where a single melodic line is perceptually transformed through large leaps into multiple voices.” Then a bluesy groove emerges, wherein a swaggering trumpet assumes the lead. The piece is based on a single divided melodic line that jumps around the piano in very large leaps. The ensemble serves to extend the piano rather than adding character, and attitude to the independent voices. The groove is divided in unexpected ways that he described as “like running a few of the licks and grooves through a meat grinder.” The rhythm is interrupted periodically, to allow the higher melody of the opening to resurface, but overall the groove stays dominant until the opening idea forcefully returns to end with a bang. The piece calls for a chamber orchestra of flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, horn in F, trumpet in C, trombone, marimba, vibraphone, drum set, piano, and strings.

Robert_Schumann_1839bwRobert Schumann composed his Symphony No. 1 in Bb major, Op. 38 in 1841, giving it the title Frühlingssinfonie, that we now know by its English byname the “Spring Symphony.” Dedicated to Friedrich August, King of Saxony, the 1841 premiere by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra was conducted by Felix Mendelssohn, and this work has since become the most commonly performed of Schumann’s four symphonies. With the encouragement of his future spouse, Clara Wieck, he sketched the entire symphony in only four days. He associated this symphony with the season from its genesis, its inspiration being a poem by Adolph Böttger portraying imagery of springtime. Schumann removed his descriptive titles of the movements before publication, which were named "The Beginning of Spring," "Evening," "Merry Playmates," and "Spring in Full Bloom." In a letter to the conductor Wilhelm Tauber, Schumann asked him to “breathe a little of the longing for spring into your orchestra as they play…that was what was most in my mind when I wrote [the symphony].” The first movement opens with a great fanfare and majestic theme described by the composer as a "summons to awakening," and "The vernal passion that sway men until they are very old, and which surprises them with each year." He wrote the first trumpet entrance to sound as if it came from on high, like a summons to awakening. Later, the movement suggests a gentle world turning green, and then, in the Allegro spring comes alive. The second movement connotes a more delicate depiction of spring, jarred slightly by the horns near the end. Lively dances erupt in the third movement that has two trios - the first is rustic, the second is raucous. The final movement opens with another fanfare before lightening into a ballet-like theme. Note the final theme from Kreisleriana, drawn from the romantic inspiration of his piano compositions, and enjoy the passion as the pastoral sounds of the oboe, horn, and flute give rise to the animated finale. The classic orchestration calls for: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, triangle, and strings.

* Program Notes by Theodore Bell


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