Program Notes

Read about many of the pieces on the Jack Lawrence Fall 2023 Concerts. 

PRINCIPAL, with The Villalobos Brothers

Lyrics to “Desierto” (“Desert”) by Luis Villalobos, with guest artist INTEMPO Youth Choir

LYRICS – “DESERT”

I am on a deadly journey, Across the desert, People call me “illegal”, but I will continue To fight for what I know to be true: All human beings are equal, And you and I are brothers, even if you point a hateful Finger towards me.

They say I have no real problems or motives, That being poor has been my own choice, They say I am dirty, but my brown skin Is the emblem of my freedom!

I am on my way To crossing the deadly wall of Melilla, Even if they hit me with truncheons And hurt me with spikes, I shall cross, I have no alternative, Either I starve, or I risk my life crossing, Either I face war, Or a forbidden land.

They say I am black and a criminal, That I will only bring trouble, They say I am evil because I am different, That I am not worthy of water or bread!

Lack of love, Darkening our future, Let there be light inside us, To clear the skies above.

And what a world it would be, If we were able to see, Every life as a bright branch, Of a luminous tree.

There would be no injustice and, There would be no more fear, There would be no more borders, If the whole world was free.

Wake up, love is needed! Stand up for all people! Side by side as equals, ’til all hate’s defeated.

Let us be united, Let us be enlightened, We must be the change that We would like to bring about!

I will express what I feel, I will sing the truth, And I care little, If I I receive disapproving glances, If right in this moment, My message resonates true with you, Then join my struggle, Stop being only a witness!

Let us sing this urgent melody, For many die looking for equality, We are immigrants, but more importantly, We are people looking for opportunities!

Clamor of all immigrants! Fighting to survive! Listen to their heartbeat! Like a roar, it demands: Equality!

LETRA – “DESIERTO” 

Voy a cruzar el desierto, Voy en un viaje mortal, Aunque me digan “maldito ilegal” lucharé por lo que sé que es cierto: Que los seres humanos, somos todos iguales, Y que yo soy tu hermano, Aunque tú me señales. 

Dicen que no tengo motivos ni problemas, Que la pobreza es algo opcional, Dicen que soy sucia pero mi piel morena Es el emblema de mi libertad! 

Voy a cruzar por Melilla, Voy a esa reja fatal, Aunque me hieran con porra y metal, cruzaré, no tengo otra salida, O me muero de hambre, O me juego la vida, O me enfrento a la guerra, O a una tierra prohibida. 

Dicen que soy negro, que soy un delincuente, Que solo vengo a causarte mal. Dicen que soy malo porque soy diferente, Que no merezco el agua ni el pan! 

Falta de amor, Que obscurece nuestro porvenir, Que haya luz en nuestro interior, Para despejar los cielos.

Que hermoso mundo sería, Si tan solo pudiésemos ver, Cada vida como una rama encendida De un mismo árbol de luz.

Cesaría toda injusticia, Y no nos tendríamos mas miedo, Si todo el mundo fuese libre, No existirían más las fronteras.

Despierta, se necesita más amor! Lucha por toda la humanidad! Lado a lado, como iguales, Hasta vencer al odio por completo.

Unidos! Iluminados! Debemos ser el cambio, Que nos gustaría ejercer.

Voy a decir lo que siento, Voy a cantar la verdad, Poco me importa que me miren mal, La opinión nunca fue mi sustento, Y si en este momento, Sientes que hablo contigo, Súmate a mi lamento, Deja de ser testigo!

Deja que te cante esta melodía urgente, Pues muchos mueren buscando igualdad, Somos inmigrantes pero antes somos gente, Que solo quiere oportunidad!

Clamor del inmigrante! Que lucha por vivir! Escucha su latido! Como un rugido pide: Igualdad!

“Desierto” is the first movement of a three part symphonic poem entitled “Suite Inmigrante” for orchestra, mixed choir, and children’s choir composed by Luis Villalobos. Desierto translates from Spanish to desert in English. “Desierto” tells the story, in Spanish and English, of the journeys of Latin American and African immigrants who cross deserts in search of better lives in other countries.

Luis writes in the preface to the score, “This work was born as a defiant response to the appalling reality that immigrants face in the United States and Europe. My mission as a Mexican-American artist is to erode the negative clichés that continue to stigmatize immigrants. I have found the universal beauty of music to be the most powerful catalyst to trigger this change and to elevate people’s consciousness. By bringing immigrant voices out of the shadows and telling their stories through the power of the orchestra and the choir, I hope to open people’s hearts and deliver a clear message: Immigrants are beautiful, creative and inspiring people; a force for good, and an inextricable part of every healthy society.”

El Pijul: Half of “El Pijul” is all original music composed by Luis Villalobos. The rest of the piece is arranged from a traditional song from Veracruz, Mexico in the “Son Jarocho” style, which is traditionally performed with Jarana guitars, Requinto, and voice. The song is about the little “Pijul,” a Venezuelan name for the smooth-billed ani, a bird with a distinctive (and loud) rising call that is mimicked in the lyrics (“ay-hee, ay-hee”). In February 2023, the album “Fandango At The Wall Live in NYC” won the Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album of the year. “El Pijul” is part of this album, and the Villalobos Brothers are credited both as composers and featured artists.

Somos” (“We Are”) is the title track from the Villalobos Brothers’ 2019 album. Composer Luis Villalobos describes it as a song about compassion. He explains, “We are not only Mexicans or Americans or Catholic or Jews or Muslims or blue, red musicians. We are one big family. One big human family.” The lyrics are delivered in rapid-fire form with infectious energy, reminding us that we were all “born free!”

Baccanale from “Samson and Delilah”, Camille Saint-Saëns

This is a show piece from Act III of the Opera Samson and Delilah, during which Delilah performs a sensual and somewhat raucous for Samson. It precedes the destruction of the Philistine Temple. The Opera itself is based on the story of Samson and Delilah in the bible. The Opera was premiered in Germany in 1877 and remains the only opera by Saint Saëns to be played.

 

PHILHARMONIC

“Molly” from Wonderland, Michael Nyman

Wonderland is the 38th album release by British composer Michael Nyman and the soundtrack to the 1999 film “Wonderland.” The Guardian characterized it as “sumptuous, romantic.” Senses of Cinema said the music was “heart-wrenching, full of tragic qualities, yet also extremely light.”

Carmen Suite No.1, Georges Bizet

The Carmen Suites are two suites of orchestral music drawn from the music of Georges Bizet’s 1875 opera Carmen and compiled posthumously by his friend Ernest Guiraud. They adhere very closely to Bizet’s orchestration. However the order of the musical allusions are in reversed chronological order, and do not adhere to the operatic versions entirely, although the Suite is directly inspired by Bizet’s opera.

If I Didn’t Care, Jack Lawrence

If I Didn’t Care is a song written by Jack Lawrence that was sung and recorded by the Ink Spots featuring Bill Kenny in 1939.

Palladio, Karl Jenkins

Palladio is a composition for string orchestra by Karl Jenkins, completed in 1995, with the title referring to the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio (1508–1580). The work in three movements is in the form of a concerto grosso.

 

VIRTUOSI

The Easy Winners, Scott Joplin

Scott Joplin (1868-1917) was dubbed the “King of Ragtime” and wrote over 40 rags for piano, one ratime ballet, and two operas. Joplin elevated the ragtime from its “lowly” association with Tin Pan Alley, writing rags combining Afro-African rhythms and 19th-century European harmony. The Easy Winners, published in 1901, is a rag in four sections. Just as title references athletes that are expected to win sporting events and competitions with ease, the music shows triumph and jest in its rhythm and melodies.

Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Edvard Grieg

Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) was a Norwegian Romantic composer who helped develop a national musical identity for Norway. His Peer Gynt suites are his most notable pieces of music for orchestra, with themes used in different areas of pop culture such as movie soundtracks, cartoons, and arrangements by later musicians.

Linda, Jack Lawrence

A song written by Jack Lawrence in 1942 during his tour of duty in World War II, “Linda” was written for Lawrence’s lawyer’s daughter, Linda Eastman. It was published when Lawrence left the military in 1946. Artists who have recorded the song include Buddy Clark and the Ray Noble orchestra, Frank Sinatra, Paul Weston, and Charlie Spivak. Virtuosi Orchestra is proud to share Lawrence’s legacy in their performance of the song, arranged by conductor Britney Alcine.

SINFONIA

Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major BWV 1068, Johann Sebastien Bach

The four orchestral suites BWV 1066–1069 (called ouvertures by their composer) are four suites by Johann Sebastian Bach from the years 1724–1731. The name ouverture refers only in part to the opening movement in the style of the French overture, in which a majestic opening section in relatively slow dotted-note rhythm in duple meter is followed by a fast fugal section, then rounded off with a short recapitulation of the opening music. More broadly, the term was used in Baroque Germany for a suite of dance-pieces in French Baroque style preceded by such an ouverture. This genre was extremely popular in Germany during Bach’s day.The celebrated ‘Air’ is the second movement of J.S. Bach’s third Orchestral Suite in D major. A hauntingly beautiful timeless melody.

Farandole (from “L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2”), Georges Bizet

Beginning with an introduction of the famous March of the Kings melody, this enchanting dance from Bizet’s “L’Arlesienne Suite No.2” is a fabulous selection for young full orchestra!

It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing), Duke Ellington

Here’s a carefully crafted version of this jazz standard that treats syncopation and melody in a practical, teachable way for younger players. Add the optional drums, piano and electric bass and you’ve got a strong rhythm section for your swinging strings!

 

STRING

Country Wedding from The Moldau, Bedrich Smetana

The Moldau (Vltava) is one of a cycle of six tone poems entitled My Fatherland (Ma Vlast) by the Czech composer Bedrich Smetana. It depicts a river in Bohemia from its beginning as the merging of two tiny streams, past a hunting scene, an enchanted forest, through the rapids and, finally, at its most majestic point past the city of Prague. The arrangement presents the episode of a peasant wedding celebration taking place on the bank of the river. Imagine country folk in colorful costumes dancing the characteristic dance of Bohemia, the slow polka.

Phantom Train, William Owens

Driving rhythms and a brisk tempo are at the center of this strange musical journey on a fictitious phantom train. Haunting melodic lines, as well as moments of both discord and tenderness, paint a vivid picture of an eerie phantom juggernaut doomed to travel the rails in eternal search of a final destination.

1812 Overture, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky wrote this festival overture to commemerate the Russian Army’s struggle against Napoleon’s forces. The themes that are presented in this arrangement include an opening hymn, a pastoral interlude, a Russian folk dance, and a jubilant victory melody set over an exultant Russian anthem.

 

WIND ORCHESTRA

Flower Duet from Lake, Leo Delibes

This duet from the opera Lakmé was originally sung between the characters Lakmé and Mallika as they gathered flowers by the river. This work is likely to be recognizable even by those who have not heard the opera, as it has been used in several movie soundtracks.

Highlights from Jurassic Park, John Williams

John Williams has been widely known as one of the most profliic film score writers of his time. Jurassic Park is one of his best known works featuring themes that take you back in time to a golden age of film. This particular arrangement by Johnnie Vinson features two primary themes from the movie. The beginning teases the more brisk movement followed by a proper introduction of the famous theme from their first introduction to Jurassic Park in the film. This is followed by the more up tempo march that was foreshadowed in the beginning of the piece. After a brief development section, this theme comes to a rousing finish ending the audiences trip down memory lane.

SAXOPHONE

The Invincible Eagle, John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa was known as “The American March King” writing over 130 marches. The Invincible Eagle march was dedicated to the Pan-American Exposition, held in Buffalo in 1901.

Gymnopédie No. 1, Erik Satie

This famous haunting melody is part one of a three-part set of piano compositions by Satie.

Lullaby of Birdland, George Shearing

The owner of New York City jazz club Birdland, Morris Levy, asked Shearing to write a song he could play “every hour on the hour” for his Birdland radio show. The result was Lullaby of Birdland. Shearing said he composed “the whole thing […] within ten minutes.”

JAZZ I

Lester Leaps In, Lester Young

“Lester Leaps In” is just one of dozens of songs in which the melody and arrangement is original but the harmony is borrowed from another song. In this case the borrowed harmony is from the George and Ira Gershwin song, “I’ve Got Rhythm.” Melodies like “Lester Leaps Is” are know as contrafacts, and jazz musicians refer to these particular harmonies as “Rhythm Changes.”

Beyond the Sea, Charles Tenet & Jack Lawrence

Bobby Darin had a huge hit with the song “Beyond the Sea” in 1959. While the French original was an ode to the sea, Jack Lawrence – who composed the English lyrics – turned it into a love song.

Cubano Chant, Ray Bryant

Pianist Ray Bryant composed and recorded the catchy “Cuban Chant” as a tribute to the steady flow of music finding its way to the United States in the mid-50s. This arrangement by Victor Lopez moves the melody around the various sections, and adds a little blues and soul along the way.

Ornithology, Charlie Parker

“Ornithology” (the study of Birds) takes its tongue-in-cheek title from Charlie Parker’s nickname, Bird.This challenging arrangement by Greg Yasinitsky puts our saxophone section through its paces, and maintains the energy and spirit of the original.

 

JAZZ II

Second Line (Joe Avery Blues), Traditional

Travel with us to the Treme District of New Orleans for this great piece of American music history! Students have been studying swing, jazz articulation, and improvisation in this up tempo blues.

Moanin’, Bobby Timmons

Moanin’ is the title track of a record Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers recorded for Blue Note Records in 1958; the record released in 1959. This piece is a wonderful bluesy song off an all-time great hard bop album. This record was important in my own jazz education and I am pleased to share it with our Jazz II Orchestra!

 

PERCUSSION

Cuccina Bella, Chris Crockarell

Cuccina Bella uses everyday objects one might find in their kitchen to create a polyrhythmic work with five different parts mixing together for a tasty treat for your ears.

STEEL PAN FUTURE STARS

Three Little Birds, Bob Marley

Three Little Birds A Bob Marley favorite thats a simple, joyful song that has been a hit several times over, was a gift from nature, its writing prompted by the birds that fluttered by.

Ginger Bulla, John Wilmarth

Ginger Bulla is a Jamaican cake made with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla, and ginger. This piece is in a straight eighth reggae feel.

STEEL PAN JUNIOR STARS

Stir It Up, Bob Marley

Stir It Up another big notable hit my Bob Marley, The song reminds one of a relaxed lazy Sunday afternoon.

We Like We Pan, Jim Royle

We Like We Pan was written in a traditional Trinidadian style to reflect group vocal participation as well as the fun exciting rhythms of steel pan.

STEEL PAN ALL STARS

Coconut Shrimp, John Wilmarth

This tune is an uptempo calypso based on the chord changes to Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm”

Banana Wind, Jimmy Buffett

Banana Wind is composed by late Jimmy Buffet who just recently passed away. We perform this today in his memory with so many of his songs that make us feel we are in the islands.

Jai Ho, A.R. Rahman

Jai Ho is from the movie Slum Dog Millionaire adapted for steel pan in the exciting rhythms of India!

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Learn more about the pieces played at the Spring 2023 Concerts. 

PRINCIPAL

Overture from Marriage of Figaro, W.A. Mozart

The Overture to the Marriage of Figaro is perhaps one of the most recognizable pieces of music from it’s time. The Opera was premiered in Vienna in 1786 and is still considered one of the greatest operas every written. It details a “day of madness” in the castle of Count Almaviva.

Overture to Orpheus in the Underworld, Jacques Offenbach

Orpheus in the Underworld was premiered in Paris in 1858 and is a spoof on the opera Orfeo et Eurydice. In this version, after Eurydice is abducted by the god of the underworld, Orpheus is happy to be rid of her. It is only after losing the support of the public that he agrees to go and rescue her. It is believed to be a veiled commentary on the inner workings of Napoleon III’s government.

Concerto in E minor, Edward Elgar (Brian Li, Cello)

Concerto in E minor, Op. 85, Mvt. 1 by Edward Elgar, was Elgar’s last notable work and a cornerstone of the solo cello repertoire. In contrast with his earlier Violin Concerto, which is lyrical and passionate, the Cello Concerto is for the most part contemplative and sorrowful. The work did not achieve wide popularity until the 1960s, when a recording by virtuoso British cellist Jacqueline du Pré caught the public imagination and made the piece a classical phenomenon. Since then, leading cellists have performed the work in concert and in the studio.

Marche Slav, P.I. Tchaikovsky

Marche Slav was written in 1876 during the Serbia-Ottoman War, in which Russia openly supported Serbia. Tchaikovsky called it his Serbo-Russian March while he was working on it. It is a highly programmatic piece which depicts the plight of the Serbian people and their ultimate hope of being victorious. It features the same “God Save the Tsar” tune that Tchaikovsky uses in the 1812 Overture.

 

PHILHARMONIC

Waltz from Ball Masquerade, Adam Khachaturian

Masquerade was written in 1941 by Aram Khachaturian as incidental music for a production of the play of the same name by Mikhail Lermontov.

Etude-Fantasia (world premiere), Varvara Rogovich

Varvara Rogovich is a female composer from Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan. Varvara is the only female jazz-fusion-rock artist in Turkmenistan. Varvara is a sought-after composer and performer currently based in New York. “Etude-Fantasia” is inspired by the beauty and power of the Atlantic Ocean.

La Forza del Destino Overture, Giuseppe Verdi

La Forza del Destino (The Power of Fate,often translated The Force of Destiny) is an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi based on a Spanish drama, Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino (1835), by Ángel de Saavedra.

 

VIRTUOSI

Danse Negre, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, arr. Deborah Baker Monday

“Danse Nègre” is the last movement of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s African Suite for piano published in 1898. Born of an English mother and West African father, Coleridge-Taylor began exploring his paternal heritage through his compositions. The familiar movement was later orchestrated by Coleridge-Taylor as its own work. Just like much of his music, there is plenty of excitement in the rhythms and dynamics in this work. To contrast, Coleridge-Taylor includes a lyrical melody shared by the violin and viola sections.

An American in Paris Suite, George Gershwin, arr. John Whitney

One of his most celebrated large scale pieces, An American in Paris is a piece for full orchestra influenced by jazz of the 1920s. The piece was performed by conductor Walter Damsrosch and the New York Philharmonic in 1928. After writing Rhapsody in Blue in 1924, George Gershwin decided it was time he received some formal training and went to Paris to study composition with Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky. That trip inspired this piece, and he even brought back four Parisian taxi horns to include in the performance (unfortunately you won’t be hearing those in this version)! John Whitney took the most memorable themes of the work to create this short suite for orchestra.

 

SINFONIA

Sinfonia No. 2, Felix Mendelssohn, arr. Kirk Moss

Felix Mendelssohn was born in Hamburg in 1809. In 1812, the family moved to Berlin, and Mendelssohn subsequently recieved music educationas a pupil of Carl Zelter, from whom Young Mendelson studied counterpoint, composition, theory and the Classical period. The young Mendelssohn wrote his 12 string symphonies between 1821 and 1823, completing the first six of these works at hte age of eleven. Sinfonia No.2 displays the brillance and the charm of this prodigy composer.

Rhythm Dances, Brian Balmages

Brian Balmages is known worldwide as a composer and conductor who equally spans the worlds of orchestral, band, and chamber music. His music has been performed by groups ranging from professional symphony orchestras to elementary schools in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Sydney Opera House, Toronto Centre for the Arts, and many more. He is a recipient of the A. Austin Harding Award from the American School Band Directors Association, won the 2020 NBA William D. Revelli Composition Contest with his work Love and Light, and was awarded the inaugural James Madison University Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Visual and Performing Arts. The “Rhythm Dances” unleash the orchestra with this wild dance that includes moments of lightheartedness, unabashed lyricism, and intense rhythmic outbursts. A riveting performance will take an audience on an emotional roller coaster as the musical lines trot, stumble, float, run, and eventually barrel into the dynamic conclusion.

Vocalise, S.V. Rachmaninoff, arr. Farbod Fani

Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff (1 April 20 March 1873 – 28 March 1943) was a Russian composer, virtuoso pianist, and conductor. Rachmaninoff is widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music. Early influences of Tchaikovsky, Rimski-Korsakov and other Russian composers gave way to a thoroughly personal idiom notable for its song-like melodicism, expressiveness, and rich orchestral colors. The piano is featured prominently in Rachmaninoff’s compositional output and he made a point of using his skills as a performer to fully explore the expressive and technical possibilities of the instrument. Originally written as a vocal solo without words, this hauntingly beautiful melody is perfect for instrumental settings. This skillful orchestral setting allows the expressive nuances to be artfully displayed while balancing the subtle and at times lush harmonies. Memorable and moving, it’s sure to have significant effect and long-lasting popularity.

Pirates of the Caribbean, Klaus Badelt, arr. Ted Rickets

Disney’s adventure film was a “must-see” for audiences of all ages and part of the wide spread appeal was the outstanding musical score. Ted Ricketts has adapted the film score for string ensembles with this well-paced medley that captures the most dramatic moments from the original soundtrack.

 

STRING

Allegro Presto from Symphony No. 2, Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, arr. Deborah Baker Monday

Joseph Bologne (1745-1799) was born in the West Indies, the son of a plantation owner (Georges de Bologne Saint-Georges) and his wife’s African slave. When he was 7, his father took him to Paris and enrolled him in boarding school. He later attended an academy for fencing and horsemanship. When he graduated in 1766 he was made a Gendarme du roe (officer of the king’s bodyguard) and a “chevalier.” After that he was known as Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. He met with great success in Europe. Haydn’s Paris Symphonies were actually commissioned by Bologne in 1785 and he conducted their premiere. Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de St. Georges, was famous in Europe during the time of Haydn and Mozart. Francois Gossec and Antonio Lolli, prominent musicians in France, composed music for him and recognized his talents as a violinist and composer. He was equally if not more known for his fencing skills. He composed in all of the classical forms of the time, including opera, concerto, symphony and chamber music. He was one of the chief exponents of the Symphonie-Concertante which Mozart adopted so brilliantly.

Symphony No, 8, D. 759, “Unfinished”/II. Andante, Franz Schubert, arr. Jeff Bailey

Music historians do not know why Franz Schubert (1797-1828) never completed his eighth symphony. It’s one of music’s great unanswered questions. But what we do know is that his manuscript is dated October 30, 1822 and the premiere performance was given in Vienna, Austria in 1865. It’s a symphony in two movements. An incomplete 9-measure Scherzo movement was included in the manuscript, but for some reason Schubert never returned to the symphony. He did move on to compose one more symphony and quite a few other works before his life came to an end due to illness. This Andante movement, the second movement of the symphony showcases Schubert’s gift for composing beautiful and flowing melodies. What might seem so simple, is actually masterful and rich. It is a perfect representation of Schubert’s most mature style of writing which actually showed the qualities of music described of the early Romantic period. He was noted for bridging classical and romantic periods of music and his 8th symphony was a good example of that.

 

WOODWINDS

Lord of the Dance, Ronan Hardiman, arr. Johnnie Vinson

Our opening tune features the titular song from “Lord of the Dance”, an Irish musical and dance production with music by Ronan Hardiman. The title of this musical is taken from a contemporary hymn that uses melodic material from “Simple Gifts”. 

Bohemian Rhapsody, Words & Music by Freddie Mercury, arr. Paul Murtha

This arrangement of “Bohemian Rhapsody” is sure to make you want to sing along to the lead single from Queen’s acclaimed album “A Night at the Opera”. Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen and the writer of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, referred to this tune as a mock opera that came out of the combination of three different songs that he was writing.

 

WIND

A Mighty Fortress is Our God, Martin Luther, arr. Peyton Johnson

Having been used by a multitude of famous Baroque composers, this Lutheran hymn is a staple in the classical repertoire. I took the time to rearrange a setting done by Bach for the students in order to diversify their repertoire and give them experience performing in the chorale style.

The Lion King, various composers, arr. Michael Brown

One of the most iconic film soundtracks of all time, The Lion King has been an iconic musical gem in animated film. The combined genius of Elton John and Hans Zimmer make for a magical experience that has left an imprint on the film and musical world forever. This arrangement by Michael Brown condenses the highlights for the film for young musicians to join in on the magic and bring to life some of the most exciting music Disney has to offer!

SAXOPHONE

Muskrat Ramble, Kid Cry

Written by Kid Ory and first recorded in 1926 by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five, Muskrat Ramble became a Dixieland staple, performed and recorded by many artists of the day. The style is today commonly called “trad jazz” which is short for “traditional jazz.”

Fantasy EW&F, Maurice White, Eddie Del Barrio, Verdine White

Fantasy is an R&B classic, recorded by Earth, Wind & Fire in 1978. Produced by Maurice White, it remained unfinished for months until White saw the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which inspired him to complete the song.

JAZZ I

Song from M*A*S*H, Mike Altman & Johnny Mandel, arr. John Denton

A really nice arrangement of the ever-popular theme from the movie M*A*S*H.

Ornithology, Charlie Parker and Benny Harris, arr. Greg Yasinitsky

“Ornithology” by Charlie Parker and Benny Harris, translates roughly as the study of birds. Alto sax master Charlie “Bird” Parker was one of the cadre of musicians who created, defined and refined the style of jazz still known as be-bop. Appropriately, this arrangement by Greg Yasinitzky features the saxophone section.

It Don’t Mean a Thing, Duke Ellington & Irving Mills, arr. Victor Lopez

The perennial favorite “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” features our vocalist (and bassist!) Virginia Grabovsky.

The Days of Wine and Roses, Henry Mancini & Johnny Mercer, arr. Dave Rivello

Another movie theme, this time with music by Henry Mancini. He also wrote such classics as “The Pink Panther,” “Moon River,” and dozens of other memorable themes.

Brother Mister, Christian McBride, arr. Mike Kamuf

“Brother Mister” by Christian McBride is an interesting and energetic take on the blues. In a funk style, the altered harmonic changes are a refreshing rethinking of a traditional form.

 

JAZZ II

Aventuras, Paul Baker

This is an energetic Latin Jazz piece that sounds fresh and exciting! The rhythm section as a whole, and especially the bassists, have worked very hard to perform characteristic Latin rhythms that make this song really feel alive. The winds and brass have developed their rhythmic skills as well, and you will be able to hear their improvement through the mature sound they can achieve on this song.

Abracadabra!, Larry Barton

Abracadabra is a really fun blues song with some real drive. We have worked on improvising in the key of F and will open up an extended solo section to let the musicians really express themselves. There may be more surprises as well!

 

PERCUSSION

Be The Nan, Brian Ente

I wrote this piece originally as a feature for steel drum, but later arranged it for percussion ensemble as a xylophone feature. As you listen, feel yourself carried away by the three different mallet parts behind the xylophone which start the piece and carry us through to the end, and the drum set player who is taking on all the major parts of a latin percussion section by himself.

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Read about many of the pieces from the Winter 2023 Concerts. Note how many were arranged by our own conductors!  

PRINCIPAL

Violin Concerto No. 2 by Florence Price

Florence Price is the first African-American woman recognized as a composer and the first to have a work for symphonic orchestra commissioned. She is a relatively modern composer born in 1887. Price completed her Violin Concerto No. 2 in 1952, the year before her sudden death at age 66, just as she was set to explore career possibilities in Europe. She was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and studied music and composition at the New England Conservatory.

Masques et Bergamasques, Op. 112 by Gabriel Fauré

Masques et Bergamasques is an orchestral suite originally written in 8 movements which included vocal solos and a movement for choir. Those movements were not included in the published score. It was commissioned by Albert I, Prince of Monaco, in 1919, and was intended to be incidental music for a theatrical presentation. 

Finale: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 43 by Jean Sibelius

The 2nd Symphony of Sibelius is generally connected with Finland’s struggle to gain independence.

PHILHARMONIC

The Snowstorm Suite by Georgy Sviridov

The original sketch of the melodies included in the suite “The Snow Storm” was written by Sviridov in the form of musical illustrations for the movie “The Snow Storm,” created in 1964  based on the tale of the same name by Alexander Pushkin. The final form of the suite was created ten years after the release of the film.  

Melody by Andrey Shuvalov, arr. David Caldarella

Melody was written by Andrey Shuvalov (Ms. Polina’s very first composition teacher) and arranged specifically for our orchestra by David Caldarella, a 20-year-old Connecticut native composer and former student of Ms. Polina at ECA in New Haven who is currently pursuing a Bachelor in Music Composition at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. The composer Mr. Shuvalov was an engineer before he returned to music in the later half of his life. GCTYO has the privilege of debuting this piece in the U.S. The music, originally written with a piano solo, is incredibly beautiful, touching, and emotional. Students have really connected with it, which you will see and hear during the performance. 

Farandole from “L’Arlésienne Suite No. 2” by Georges Bizet

Georges Bizet composed L’Arlésienne as incidental music to Alphonse Daudet’s play of the same name, usually translated as ‘The Girl from Arles’. The incidental music has survived and flourished. It is most often heard in the form of two suites for orchestra, but has also been recorded complete. A month after the first production, Bizet rescored the four extracts that form the first suite for full orchestra, with the equally sunny and melodious second suite arranged by his friend, the composer Ernest Guiraud, after Bizet’s death. Both have proven more durable than the play. Lyrical and spirited by turns, the melodies are rooted in Provençal folk songs and dances, yet have all the color and drama associated with Bizet, who also composed Carmen.

VIRTUOSI

Adoration by Florence Price, arr. Elaine Fine

Originally written for Ms. Price’s instrument, the organ, Adoration was a piece published in 1951 for performance in the church. This piece has been arranged for many different instruments and ensembles, including violin and piano, violin solo and orchestra, wind ensemble, and more. This string orchestra arrangement by Elaine Fine puts the melody in the first violins and employs the sustainability of the strings to emulate the large (and sometimes small) organ sound.

Overture to Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II, arr. Richard Meyer

An operetta premiered in 1874 in Vienna, Austria, Die Fledermaus is a comedy that entangles the lives of friends and loved ones by placing them on equal footing at a costume party. As each character shows up, the story gets more complicated. The music to the operetta’s overture shows plot through its distinct melodies and dramatic tempo shifts. 

Viola Concerto in D Major, Op. 1 by Carl Philipp Stamitz, arr. Britney Alcine

A standard in the viola solo repertoire, the Stamitz viola concerto was written when very few solo pieces for viola existed. Written in 1774 or earlier, the piece follows the late-Baroque concerto form while including newer wind and brass instruments for that time. The viola is melodic and virtuosic, while also supportive of the strings when they have the melody. Ms. Alcine is excited to be accompanying her good friend and viola soloist, Devin Cowan, in her arrangement of this concerto. 

SINFONIA

Warrior Legacy by Soon Hee Newbold

This inspiring homage to New England pioneers is an original work in which Soon Hee Newbold challenges advancing young orchestras to focus on driving rhythms and emphatic accents. Heroic melodies abound and solos shine with attention to ensemble dynamics.

Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, arr. Paul Jennings

The Tony Award-winning Best Musical of 1988, The Phantom of the Opera is one of the most dramatic, appealing and enduring musicals to ever hit Broadway. This year is the 35th for the show on Broadway. The familiar opening strains are nothing short of stunning!

 Symphony No. 1 in D Major by Gustav Mahler, arr. Sandra Dackow

This 2nd movement from Mahler’s “First Symphony” is a vigorous, exuberant work that evokes rustic good times. Excellent for building confidence and aggressive playing, this is a superb selection for both rehearsal and performance! In reducing the work from a full to string orchestra, the illusion of the original colors have largely been retained, while the structural alterations are balanced.

Beale Street Strut by Doug Spata

Taking its name from the epicenter of Southern jazz in Memphis, this fun little boogie will get the orchestra moving! Each section gets its turn at jazzy, swaggering melodies as well as the bouncy accompaniment parts. It’s great practice for chromatics and a fun piece that students enjoyed learning.

STRING

Fantasia on a Spanish Carol (Fum, Fum, Fum), Traditional, arr. Michael Story

“Fum, Fum, Fum” is a popular traditional 16th- or 17th-century Christmas carol from Catalonia, which is located in northeastern Spain. The name originates not from the Spanish language but is derived from the sound of a stringed instrument being strummed, most likely a guitar. 

Rondeau (from Abdelazer Suite) by Henry Purcell, arr. Deborah Baker Monday

Henry Purcell (1659-1695) was considered one of the greatest composers from England. His fame was not surpassed until the 20th century with the emergence of the music of Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, William Walton and Benjamin Britten. Purcell’s life was short but his immense body of work earned him the status to be buried in Westminster Abbey. Purcell has also had a strong influence on the composers of the English musical renaissance of the early 20th century, most notably Benjamin Britten who arranged many of Purcell’s works. Britten’s well-known Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra is a theme and variations based on this Rondeau.           

 Variations on a Sailing Song by Carl Strommen

Variations on a Sailing Song is based on a sea shanty known as “Drunken Sailor” or “Up She Rises.” Sung aboard sailing ships as early as the 1830s, it shares its tune with the traditional Irish folk song “Óró sé do bheatha abhaile.” The song was sung to accompany certain work tasks that required a brisk walking pace. The first published description of the shanty is found in an account of an 1839 whaling voyage out of New London, Connecticut, to the Pacific Ocean. It was used as an example of a song that was “performed with very good effect when there is a long line of men hauling together.”

WOODWINDS

The Pink Panther by Henry Mancini, arr. Michael Story

This famous tune was first written for the soundtrack to the 1963 film “The Pink Panther.” It  reached the Top 10 on the US Billboard adult contemporary chart and won three Grammys as a single. Needless to say, the popularity and familiarity of this song have endured for nthe 60 years that have passed since its initial composition.

In the Bleak Midwinter (for flute, clarinet, and alto saxophone) by Gustav Holst, arr. David Bussick

Originally published as a poem by English poet Christina Rossetti entitled “A Christmas Carol” in 1872, In the Bleak Midwinter is a commonly sung Christmas Carol and Hymnal.  

Theme (from Symphony No. 1) by Johannes Brahms, arr. Kenneth Henderson 

Johannes Brahms claimed to have spent 21 years composing his first Symphony. This primary theme appears in the final movement of the work, and was cited in Brahms’ time as having been reminiscent of Beethoven’s famous “Ode to Joy” melody in his ninth symphony.

WIND

Waltz No. 2 by Dmitri Shostakovich, arr. Michael Brown

In recent concerts for GCTYO, I’ve programmed music from movies that have been released more recently. For this concert, I wanted to give students a taste of “old school” and have them work on relatable music by an esteemed composer. This Waltz No. 2 by Shostakovich gained recognition due to its presence in a famous Russian film entitled “The First Echelon.”

SAXOPHONE

The Easy Winners by Scott Joplin, arr. Ken Abeling

This Scott Joplin composition, published in 1901, is a ragtime two-step. The title The Easy Winners is a reference to professional athletes who, because of their extraordinary skill, are expected to win their event easily.

Princess Mononoke by Joe Hisaishi, arr. Jim Clark

The 1997 Japanese animated film epic “Princess Mononoke” was scored by Joe Hisaichi. This beautiful excerpt was written for the main character in the film.

Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder, arr. Jim Clark

Stevie Wonder is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Sir Duke is from his 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life. The title is a reference and tribute to the great jazz composer and pianist Duke Ellington.

JAZZ I

Bernie’s Tune, Words & Music by Bernie Miller, arr. Dave Wolpe

Bernie Miller’s composition Bernie’s Tune was popularized by baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan. This performance is dedicated to the arranger Dave Wolpe, who passed away near the end of October 2022.

Angel Eyes by Earl Brent and Matt Dennis, arr. Dave Wolpe

This gorgeous ballad, another arrangement by Dave Wolpe, is a perennial favorite, and we feature our lead tenor sax player Noah Lafond.

Told Ya So by Gordon Goodwin

Gordon Goodwin is one of the most exciting and original composers and band leaders to arrive on the scene for a while. Based in Los Angeles, the Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band is a lesson in exciting hipness.

But Not For Me, Music & Lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, arr. Scott Ragsdale

George and Ira Gershwin gave the world a library of music which is unsurpassed. Arranger Scott Ragsdale has given us a new take on this classic.

I’ll Take Les by John Scofield, arr. Mike Kamuf

John Scofield is one of the most powerful and original guitarists at the forefront of jazz fusion. One of very few guitarists to play with Miles Davis, Scofield’s bold and creative compositions are staples of “modern” jazz.  Mike Kamuf’s arrangement makes our talented young musicians pay their dues! 

JAZZ II

Go Ask Your Mother by Paul Clark

“Go Ask Your Mother if she needs help folding laundry” – or washing the dishes. This piece is a great blues song that gives everyone an opportunity to improvise in the key of B flat. It has challenging chromatic licks in the saxophone parts and a very catchy melody.

How High the Moon by Morgan Lewis, arr. John Berry

This is a jazz standard that came from a musical revue in 1940. It is a great song for the students to learn. It is arranged here for jazz combo. The horn players either have a melodic role or a harmonic role throughout, and we have some featured solos as well.

PERCUSSION

Rally Round the Flag, Traditional, arr. George Ripperger

This piece is part of the traditional rudimental drumming repertoire. This particular arrangement comes from a book of music put together by The Company of Fifers and Drummers whose goal is to perpetuate the performance of early American martial music.

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Read about some of the pieces from the Jack Lawrence Fall 2022 concerts.

PRINCIPAL

Beyond the Sea by Jack Lawrence

“Beyond the Sea” is the English-language version of the French song “La Mer” by Charles Trenet, popularized by Bobby Darin in 1959. While the French original was an ode to the sea, Jack Lawrence – who composed the English lyrics – turned it into a love song.

Beethoven’s 5th Symphony

Arguably among the most famous and frequently played pieces in all classical music, Beethoven’s 5th Symphony is often considered a testament to his frustration and depression over his increasing hearing loss. Written between the years 1804 and 1808 it was premiered in Vienna in 1808. Beethoven was already completely deaf when he started working on the 5th Symphony. In an 1802 in a letter to his brothers called the “Heiligenstadt Testament”., he expressed that his sadness over his worsening hearing had even led him to contemplate taking his own life only overshadowed by his desire to overcome it and achieve his “artistic destiny.”  Remarkably Beethoven would go on to write many other pieces including 4 more complete symphonies, the last two piano concertos (he wrote 5 total), an opera, and a violin concerto. The 5th Symphony is sometimes called the “fate” symphony not only because it was a turning point in the artist’s life but that the iconic opening notes seem to drum out the message “this is my fate.” 

There Will Be Dancing by Rex Cadwallader

Born from the evolutionary relationship between teacher and student into friends and colleagues, There Will Be Dancing was created by GCTYO Jazz Director Dr. Rex Cadwallader in collaboration with his former student, noted jazz pianist Christian Sands. The pair first met in 1996 when Sands was just seven years old seeking to take lessons in jazz piano with Cadwallader at the Neighborhood Music School in New Haven. Over the next decade the pair worked together weekly, with the young Sands quickly mastering the impresario’s teachings.  Lessons [with Christian’ were the bright spot in my week, and I felt lucky that fate had led him to me,” says Cadwallader.                                                                                                                                                                          

There Will be Dancing is a musical project for jazz piano specifically conceived for the GCTYO Principal Orchestra and written by Cadwallader. Like other pieces written by Cadwallader for GCTYO – “A Bridgeport Fantasy” in 2010, “Citizen” in 2017 – “There Will Be Dancing” travels through a variety of musical style exploring jazz’s versatility as an amalgam of music from many different cultures. The piece features blues, Latin, fusion, contemporary jazz, and a ballad, allowing Sands and his trio opportunities to put their unique stamps on the musical envelope. The whimsical title of the piece comes from the idea that, according to Cadwallader, “When Christian plays “There WILL be dancing!”.

PHILHARMONIC

Artsakh by Ara Gevorkian

In antiquity, Arsakh was a province of the Kingdom of Armenia. A region that dates back nearly three thousand years, it became an important Christian center after the adoption of that religion in the fourth century of the current era.  A land beleaguered by religious warfare and shifting national borders,  it was absorbed into Soviet Russia, when the name was forcibly changed to Nagorno-Karabakh. Territorial disputes with neighboring Azerbaijan have continued since 1990, resulting in displacement of and war crimes against indigenous populations.

 “Artsakh,” written in 1997 by Armenian composer Ara Gevorkian, has become a symbol of resistance and heroism, a musical emblem of the enduring spirit of the Armenian people. In the original version, the main melody is played by duduk, an ancient Armenian double reed instrument, in interpretation of the world-renowned Jivan Gasparian. The epic character of “Artsakh” made it one of the most popular music in figure skating internationally but, most importantly, beloved by Armenian diaspora world-wide.

Featuring rhythmic base line with roots in Armenian folk that imitates the tradition of dhol (drum) that provides the pulsation in the soldiers’ dance called Yarkhushta. The main line is melodic, soft, and lyrical and delivers a balance to the spartan military-style backbeat.

Performed for the first time in Connecticut, this arrangement of “Artsakh” was arranged by the composer himself for use with violin and orchestra.

Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26,

Vorspiel; Allegro moderato by Max Bruch

German composer Max Bruch’s first violin concerto is admired for its lyrical melodies, which span nearly the entire range of the instrument.  Written in the home key of G-minor, today’s performance of the first movement includes a cadenza—a solo performance while the orchestra pauses—as the ending to round out and complete the performance.

Antonín Dvořák, Symphony No. 8, First Movement, Allegro Con Brio   

Dvořák’s eighth symphony is regarded by many as the greatest of the nine symphonies written by the composer. At the time of the composition, Dvořák said that he wanted “to write a work different from my other symphonies, with individual ideas worked out in a new manner” and he was clearly successful in that intent. The work follows the classical pattern and has obvious influences from Beethoven in the second and fourth movements, however the use of harmony and melody departs from earlier models, to create a work of great originality. Most notably Dvořák makes use of simple folklike melodies, in the musical character of his native Czechoslovakia woven subtly and coherently into the larger piece.

 VIRTUOSI

Simple Symphony, I. Boisterous Bourrée by Benjamin Britten

Simple Symphony was written in 1934 during Benjamin Britten’s last year at the Royal College of Music. Using movements from the old Baroque dance suite as inspiration, Britten used material he composed between the ages of nine and twelve and rescored them for strings in this piece. The first movement, “Boisterous Bourrée” uses themes from Britten’s Suite No. 1 for piano. The movement starts with loud unison chords and immediately moves at a relentless pace, having the strings pass short passages back and forth. There are short moments of rest while violins sing a swaying melody, only to be brought back to the fast-paced movement once again. This all closes with what sounds like a dance party with the melody in the second violins and violas, but not without a return of the opening relentless idea at a much quieter dynamic.

March in G minor by Franz Schubert, arr. Philip Wilkinson

Franz Schubert wrote this march as part of his Six Grandes Marches, op. 40 for piano four hands, published in 1825. The opening march theme is defined by strong accents on every measure that are contrasted by a repeated soft response. These goes on throughout the march, ending with an explosive chromatic closing section emphasized by imitative entrances by the low brass and low strings against the rest of the orchestra. The Trio moves to G Major and presents a more playful theme in the strings that grows in dynamic and range as more instruments are added. The piece finished with a repeat of the March for a strong ending. 

Suite from Video Games Live by Various, arr. Ralph Ford

Video Games Live is an award-winning immersive concert series created by Tommy Tallarico that brings the music of beloved video games to the concert stage. This suite gives young musicians an opportunity to play some of that music. Featured themes include those from the Halo, Civilization IV, Bounty Hunter, and Kingdom Hearts video games scores. With masterful arrangement by Ralph Ford, this suite presents each theme in a way that every orchestral voice is highlighted and well-orchestrated.

SINFONIA

Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 First Movement (Abridged) by J. S. Bach, Arr. by Vernon F. Leidig

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote Six Brandenburg concertos. They were presented as a gift to the Margrave of Brandenburg. These concertos display a great variety of instrumentation., techniques, forms, styles and contained many re-working or expansion of earlier pieces. The set may have been compiled as a sampling of his creative abilities, with hope to get an appointment to the King’s Court. However, the gift went largely unnoticed and was placed in the Margraves wast Library., where it remained, forgotten until 1849. For more than a century, no one heard the richness and the elegance of these concertos. But today, 300 years later, the Brandenburg Concertos are the delight of the music lovers worldwide. They are among the greatest achievements of the Baroque era.

Serenade No. 9 “Posthorn” – Finale by W. A. Mozart, arr. by Sandra Dackow

The Posthorn Serenade K. 320, dates from 1779 during Mozart’s Salzburg years. This serenade is a multi-movement work in a less serious vein that a symphony, and was commissioned as “finalmusik”, a piece used to celebrate the conclusion of examination and classes at the University. The title of the serenade is derived from the use of a posthorn, a sort of bugle used to signal the Arrival of the mail coach, in the second trio of the minuets.

Humoresque by A. Dvorak, arr. by Robert Longfield

This famous melody of Dvorak’s has been a favorite for generations!  It’s an instantly recognizable tune from the classical repertoire that has been played by orchestras and soloists alike. The light-hearted and catchy dotted 8th and 16th note tune is contrasted by two other themes, one major and one minor. In all, a good choice for both its teaching points and its crowd appeal!

Music from FROZEN by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, arr. by Robert Longfield

The music from this Disney animated sensation has received critical acclaim and hit status from a worldwide audience. This medley for strings includes three of the memorable songs combined into a terrific showcase for the concert stage: Do You Want to Build a Snowman? Let It Go and For the First Time in Forever.

STRING

Turbulence by William Owens In its simplest definition, turbulence is a state of commotion or agitation, a departure from a smooth flow. By way of brisk tempo and progressive dissonances, Turbulence suggests an atmosphere on unyielding tension and unrest. The introduction lashes out with driving rhythms and a stalwart melodic statement. The music then calms into a somber, flowing middle section and soon resumes the original driving nature to a brazen conclusion. 

WOODWINDS

Gymnopedie #1 by Erik Satie,  arr. David Marlatt

“Gymnopedie” was originally written in a set of three compositions for solo piano by French composer Erik Satie. The saxophones take the primary melody in this arrangement, supported by a melancholic accompaniment in the flutes and clarinets.

Let’s Go Band! by Andrew Balent

This festive tune was based on “Let’s Go Blue!” by Albert Ahronheim and Joseph Carl. Students have focused on the importance of dynamics, articulation, and performing in cut time through their study of this piece.

WIND ORCH

Spider-Man: No Way Home Main Theme by Michael Giacchino, arr. Johnnie Vinson

The only thing potentially more famous than the superheroes themselves, are their theme music. Since Spider-Man’s reemergence to the big screen, his theme has been reimagined by Michael Giacchino, one of most prolific film score composers of our time. In this arrangement by Johnnie Vinson, he begins with a classic solemn iteration of the theme and then transitions to a light and playful rendition that will have you humming the tune for days. The arrangement comes to an end with a triumphant finish led by the bold brass and flourishing winds!

SAXOPHONE

America from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein, arr. Jim Clark

One of the most recognizable tunes in In Bernstein’s score for the musical West Side Story, the direction to the conductor is “Tempo di Huapango”. Huapango is a style of Mexican folk music which mixes duple and triple meters. America is not a huapango per se, but it is the inspiration for structure of the piece creating a fast-paced and energetic rhythm that challenges the musicians and delights listeners.

Anitra’s Dance from Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 Op. 46 by Edvard Grieg, arr. Jim Clark

Edvard Grieg wrote the incidental music for the Henrik Ibsen play Peer Gynt, about a Norwegian man who travels from the mountains of his own country to the North African deserts and back. It premiered in 1876. Grieg created two suites of music from his original score. Our selection, Anitra’s Dance is found in the first suite. In the play, Anitra is the daughter of a Bedouin Chief and Anitra’s Dance is performed in a scene that takes place in Morocco.

The Pink Panther Theme by Henry Mancini, arr. Jim Clark

Henry Mancini composed the Pink Panther Theme, which was featured in all five of Blake Edwards’ Pink Panther movies as well as the Pink Panther cartoon series. For saxophonists, this is a “must learn” piece. Many are surprised to learn the original is written in the key of E minor.

JAZZ 2

Watermelon Man by Herbie Hancock, arr. Geoffrey Brookes

By studying “Watermelon Man,” the Jazz 2 Orchestra is learning how jazz musicians take a song and arrange it for their ensemble.  All players studied the melody of the piece to learn learned how to improvise over the chord progression.  Harmonies were added as well as a really challenging “Soli section,” where different musicians take solos, to round out the arrangement. 

Straight Up by Jim Cifelli

This great piece has an excellent swing groove and challenges the front row to make a big reed-section sound in the “head” and the “soli.”  This piece was chosen by Conductor TK to push the woodwind players and get their fingers moving and coax swing style and big band sound out of the group.

STEEL PAN FUTURE

Kosa Soca by Jim Royle

Created in Trinidad from East Indian and West African rhythms of the nation’s two largest populations, soca is an upbeat musical style that demonstrates the beauty of this multi-racial culture.

STEEL PAN JUNIOR

Trini Time by Brad Shores

Created for beginning pan players, this easy-going bossa nova rhythm calls to mind the relaxed outlook of people in the country of Trinidad & Tobago where steel pan was invented. There, the fluid attitude about watching the clock is often colloquially referred to as ‘Trini Time.”

STEEL PAN ALL STARS

Soca Pressure by Mighty Sparrow

Soca is a music genre created in the Caribbean twin-island nation of Trinidad & Tobago featuring the mixed melodies and rhythms of the West African and East Indian cultures that have come together to comprise the bulk of the country’s population. Soca Pressure is a hit song by Might Sparrow, one of Trinidad’s most famous calypso singers.

PERCUSSION

No Drums Allowed by John R. Hearnes

No Drums Allowed is a piece that utilizes combination of claps, stomps, snaps, brush sounds in a form called “Body Percussion.” Performers are encouraged to ham it up whenever possible, bringing up the musical energy and audience excitement.

Me Tarzan by Chris Crockarell

Me Tarzan is a classic Row-Loff percussion work for body percussion by Chris Crockarell. The players are seated and playing body percussion in the fashion of floor tom solo as popularized by famed jazz drummer Gene Krupa. Solos are traded among the players throughout the work.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

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Read about some of the pieces GCTYO performed at the Spring 2022 concerts.

 

BRASS ORCHESTRA

The Incredibles

Michael Giacchino, arr. Paul Murtha

At GCTYO, conductors try to balance repertoire that the students recognize with music that will challenge them and help them grow as young artists. The iconic score of the animated film The Incredibles marries these goals with an expanded range in the brass and meter changes. This piece is as fun as it is demanding!

WOODWINDS ORCHESTRA

Canzon Per Sonare No. 4    

Giovanni Gabrieli, arr. D. Marlatt

Giovanni Gabrieli was a composer and organist who lived between the renaissance and baroque periods. I programmed this work not only to give the students a chance to showcase their hard work this year, but also because they voted as a team to play it as their final piece. Canzon Per Sonare No. 4 requires each student to hold down their own part against their colleagues who only occasionally match them rhythmically. Within the piece, each player states a theme and then continues to play their own individual line while another group enters with the theme. It finally comes together in the end with passing 16th notes to the final big chord.

STRING ORCHESTRA

Jump in the Line

Harry Belafonte, arr. by Robert Longfield

Made famous by Jamaican-American singer and actor Harry Belafonte’s recording in 1961, Jump In the Line is a much-covered 1946 calypso by Trinidadian Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts)

Jump In the Line was later covered in 1955 by fellow Trinidadian Calypsonian Lord Invader (Rupert Westmore Grant) who is most noted for penning the popular song Rum & Coca Cola, later covered by the American Andrews Sisters. Jump In the Line was again recorded in the 1950s by Lord Flea, a Jamaican mento singer– the version that influenced Belafonte’s recording. Mento is a Jamaican musical genre very similar to Calypso.  

American-born Belafonte’s rendition of Jump In the Line is credited with bringing the spirit of Calypso to American listeners. Critics note that it was Belafonte’s “easy to understand” American accent versus the original artists’ strong Trinidadian cadence that allowed it to gain popularity on U.S. charts. Today, Jump In the Line is regularly used in movie and television productions, the most famous of which is “Beetlejuice

FLUTE CHOIR

All That Jazz

Kander/Ebb, arr. M. Orriss

All That Jazz, from the Tony Award winning and movie adapted musical Chicago, is the first song performed after the overture by the main protagonist, vaudevillian singer Velma Kelly. Set in the roaring 20s, Chicago is based on a play of the same name by Maurine Dallas Watkins who worked for a time as a crime reporter. Chicago is based on crimes and criminals on which she actually reported. This particular arrangement for flute choir challenges the students to rise to the difficulty of navigating multiple, complicated key changes.

VIRTUOSI ORCHESTRA

Closure

Aaron R. Alcine

The piece, using modal harmonies and masterful orchestration, tells the story of enduring pain, reflection, introspection, and regaining strength. The development of pain to strength is displayed through a melancholic melody first played in solo woodwind instruments that is later taken over by the strings and full orchestra with a large, triumphant sound. We are excited to be premiering this piece by composer and producer, Aaron Alcine, a practicing brass and percussion musician and educator.

New England Holiday

Robert Washburn

Commissioned by the New England Music Camp for its 50th anniversary in 1992, New England Holiday is a festive piece that celebrates the landscape and sounds of the region that all the GCTYO students are a part of. Reminiscent of Aaron Copland in some sections, Washburn uses open sonority and Americana idioms to sonically paint an image of what Connecticut and the rest of New England has to offer. With its complex rhythms, fast writing, and strong but lyrical melodies, Conductor Britney Alcine   says the students “have truly connected with this piece.”

Variations On a Theme by Haydn

Johannes Brahms, arr. V. Leidig

Written in 1873, Variations on A Theme by Haydn was based on the “St. Anthony Chorale ” that Brahms saw in one of Haydn’s short wind pieces. This arrangement includes the memorable theme and four of the variations that Brahms wrote for this piece.

SAXOPHONE ORCHESTRA

Washington Post March

John Philip Sousa

When Adolphe Sax patented his saxophone in 1846, he imagined it best suited to replace oboes, bassoons, and French horns in military bands. The ensemble’s first piece in today’s concert fits right in with that intended use. The Washington Post March was written for the newspaper by John Philip Sousa for an award presentation at the first Washington PostAmateur Author’s Association in 1889. The association was formed to encourage a love of writing in young students.

Eleanor Rigby

John Lennon & Paul McCartney, arr. Jim Clark

Eleanor Rigby, by the Beatles, would likely flabbergast saxophone creator, Adolphe Sax, who could have had no idea how music would evolve in the centuries to follow. Our version is based on the double string quartet arrangement by George Martin. Martin credits being influenced by the great film composer Bernard Herrmann.

I Got Rhythm Changes

Jim Clark

Ira and George Gershwin’s composition, I Got Rhythm (1930), has become a jazz standard. The chord changes to I Got Rhythm have been used as the basis for so many jazz songs that the chord changes themselves have a name – “rhythm changes.” Our final selection today is a medley of jazz standards based on rhythm changes and the influence for the song title.

FLUTE CHOIR

Umoja

Valerie Coleman

Valerie Coleman is a sought-after composer whose works have been premiered by premier ensembles such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and the American Composers Orchestra. Coleman originally wrote Umoja for the woodwind quintet, Imani Winds, of which she is a founding member.

Swahili for “unity,” Umoja is one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, a weeklong celebration of African and African-American culture started and cultivated by Mualana Karenga in the 60s in response to the Watts Riots in Los Angeles. The riots were a response to allegations of police abuse of community members after a traffic stop in which White officers detained two Black brothers. “Umoja” has been rearranged for multiple ensembles including orchestra. This iteration, for flutes and bass flute, allowed the GCTYO flute choir to not only explore the chamber music capabilities of their instruments but also of auxiliary instruments.

Clog Dance

Ferdinand Herold, arr. M. Orriss

Clog Dance is a scene from the comedic ballet ‘La fille mal gardée,’ a story about love conquering all despite imposed family responsibility to marry for financial reasons. In this scene, the protagonist, Lise, entices her mother during the harvest celebration to dance a traditional clog dance sur la pointe (on pointed toes). You will notice that, in lieu of clog dancers, the choir themselves will stomp at various points to imitate the sound of clogs stamping.

All That Jazz

John Kander & Fred Ebb, arr. M. Orriss

All That Jazz, from the Tony Award winning and movie adapted musical “Chicago,” is the first song performed after the overture by the main protagonist, Velma Kelly and vaudevillian singer and performer who travels the country, touring with her husband and sister. Set in the roaring 20s, it is based on a play of the same name by Maurine Dallas Watkins. Watkins, a playwright, worked for a time as a court journalist, and her play of the same name is based on crimes and criminals on which she actually reported. This particular arrangement for flute choir is in vaudeville style and aesthetic and required the students to rise to the challenge of navigating multiple, complicated key changes.

JAZZ II ORCHESTRA

Choose the Blues

Matt Morey

In every rehearsal cycle, students spend time working on improvisation skills–a key tool in the jazz performer’s toolkit. Not only is Choose the Blues a great piece for developing jazz style, it presents an excellent opportunity for student musicians to improvise over the blues!

Cut to the Chase

Larry Barton

Jazz II has not played a funk/rock style piece yet this year, so this is their moment. This fun song sounds awesome when the whole band digs into the groove, although Conductor Geoff Brookes     calls it “a bit of torture for the ensemble’s one-man trumpet section with its non-stop sixteenth notes!”

PERCUSSION ORCHESTRA

In Ershia

Brian Ente

In Ershia was a piece originally written for the Jim Royle Drum Studio A Ensemble to be performed for their Chinese concert tour in 2011. This piece brings together steel pan and the more traditional percussion ensemble while allowing each part to demonstrate the beauty of the sound it can produce.

Peter and the Wolf

Sergei Prokofiev, arr. C. Brooks

Conductor Brian Ente   has loved this work since he first heard it in school. “As I was looking through repertoire for the ensemble to perform,” he said, ”I felt that the combination of playful and serious themes within the work would be wonderful to share with both ensemble and audience.”

JAZZ I ORCHESTRA

Chameleon

Herbie Hancock, arr. V. Lopez

Composed in 1973 by Herbie Hancock with multi-reedist Bernie Maupin, electric bassist Paul Jackson and jazz drummer Harvey Mason, Herbie Hancock’s electric jazz melody features a funk beat. A shorter version of the nearly 10-minute track was recorded by Canadian trumpeter Maynard Fergussio and quickly became a real classic of 80s fusion.

Thrivin’ On A Riff

David Berger

This original by David Berger is a modern portrayal of a classic “riff” tune from the early days of the traveling big bands. A riff is a repeated refrain in music. It is a pattern, or melody, often played by the rhythm section instruments or solo instrument that forms the basis or accompaniment of a musical composition.

On Green Dolphin Street

Bronislau Kaper, arr. F. Mantooth

On Green Dolphin Street is an example of an arrangement that moves between Latin and swing tempos and tunes.

The Chicken

Alfred James Ellis, arr. K. Berg

Originally written by saxophonist Pee Wee Willis in 1959, the most popular version of The Chicken was made famous by bassist Jaco Pastorius and continues to delight students and audiences alike.

PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA

Melody

Myroslav Skoryk, arr. D. Caldarella

Myroslav Skoryk, 1938–2020, was a Ukrainian composer and teacher. Melody was originally written for violin and piano. Frost School of Music composer and vocalist David Caldarella created this beautiful arrangement specifically for Philharmonic Orchestra.

Cowboy & I Don’t Need Anyone

Noelle Tannen, Composer & Vocals

Cowboy and I Don’t Need Anyone are intended to be part of a larger song cycle that marries the human voice with orchestral composition. The two songs are part of the same movement of a larger work. Cowboy was inspired both lyrically and compositionally by the archetypal character “rugged” horseman portrayed in old western movies. I Don’t Need Anyone is an expression of relationship power dynamics, dissonance, and the yearning for resolution.  

Symphony No. 2, Mvt. 1

Alexander Borodin

Alexander Borodin (1833-1887) was a chemist and a composer as well as a human-rights activist. A doctor and chemist by profession and training, Borodin made important early contributions to organic chemistry. Although he is presently known better as a composer, he regarded medicine and science as his primary occupations, only practicing music and composition in his spare time or when he was ill. Borodin was a promoter of education in Russia and founded the School of Medicine for Women in Saint Petersburg, where he taught until 1885.

PRINCIPAL ORCHESTRA

Danse Negre, Op. 35, No. 4

Samuel Coleridge-Taylo

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was a noted Afro-English composer at the turn of the 20th century. Born and raised near London, he was educated at the Royal College of Music.

“Danse Negre” is the final movement of the larger African Suite, a series of short movements inspired by the writings of African-American poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar. Scored for full orchestra, it was published in 1898. It resembles a short but festive overture in its mood, returning to the second half of its opening material following a somewhat gentler middle section.

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Read about some of the pieces GCTYO performed at the Winter 2022 concerts.

 

Concert 1

Saxophone Orchestra

The saxophone is among the most integral instruments in the canon of jazz music. Today’s selections for the ensemble include recognized classics of both jazz and its predecessor, ragtime, beginning with the well-known tune, The Entertainer, originally written for piano by Texarkana-born African-American pianist and composer Scott Joplin—known in his life as “The King of Ragtime.” A medley of George Gershwin favorites including The Man I Love and Fascinating Rhythm bring the listener into the 1930 and 40s era of Big Band Jazz, while the rendition of blockbuster pop song Despacito by modern songwriter Luis Fonsi rounds out this exploration of the versatility of the beloved wind instrument.

Sinfonia Orchestra

This traditional lineup features some of the greatest and most renowned European composers across three centuries of symphonic music. Beginning with 17th century composer Johann Sebastian Bach’s well-known Brandenburg Concerto No 3, followed by a short homage to Mozart, and punctuated by Three Slavonic Dances—lively, upbeat melodies evoking folk music style, the ensemble wraps up with the 20th century Brazilian composer Zequinha de Abreu’s Tico Tico. Tico Tico is a Brazilian choro—a traditional musical style that features upbeat, fast-paced rhythms.  Written in 1917, Tico Tico has been recorded and re-recorded by artists over the last one hundred years by musicians as diverse as The Andrews Sisters, Ray Conniff, and Carmen Miranda and, most recently, by the Japanese Band, The Ali Project in 2015.

Philharmonic Orchestra

Edward Grieg Piano Concerto

Written in 1868 when Edward Grieg was only 24 years old, the Piano Concerto is widely considered among the most well-known and beloved piano concerti. In addition to the piano soloist, the concerto is recognizable for the timpani roll in its first movement. The piece also features two each of the following instruments: flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets, trombones, tuba, timpani and strings (violins, violas, cellos and double basses). He later added 2 horns and changed the tuba to a third trombone. Evident in the concerto is the composer’s love for Norwegian folk music. 

GCTYO is honored to host piano virtuoso Konstantin Soukhovetski as the soloist for this piece. Educated at the Julliard School in New York, Mr. Soukhovetski is an award-winning pianist  who has performed worldwide, most recently with Brooklyn Chamber Orchestra, at New York’s Alice Tully Hall and touring in Spain with appearances in St. Sebastian and Canary Islands.  In May 2022, Soukhovetski will return to New York’s Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall with Pegasus: The Orchestra, and in April 2022 Konstantin will premiere ballet Encounters by Polina Nazaykinskaya for MorDance Company at Symphony Space, NYC. The pianist is also an accomplished actor who has appeared in theater and film, most recently as Juror 12 in the AlphaNYC virtual production of 12 Incompetent Jurors. Konstantin was also the narrator with Miami Symphony’s Musimelange performance of Stravinsky’s Soldiers TaleForbidden Juilliard as multiple characters at The Juilliard School and more. Born in Moscow to a family of artists, Konstanin studied at the Moscow Central Special Music School, where he double-majored in piano and composition.

Concert 2 

Jazz II Orchestra

Developed from African-American musical experiences, both Jazz and the Blues are uniquely American musical styles that encompass wide ranges of musicality. Melancholy and subdued in nature, the Blues was born out of the Black experience in the American Deep South with origins in work songs of enslavement as well as spirituals. Also born of African-American culture, Jazz’s origins are specifically credited to the city of New Orleans with roots in both the Blues and Ragtime, a late 19th/early 20th-century upbeat musical style. Like the Blues, Jazz has evolved over time with regional variations not just in America but around the world. Today’s program features both classics of the Jazz and Blues canons as well as a Latin Jazz variation. First we explore traditional blues rhythms, with legendary jazz pianist, composer and band leader Count Basie’s Blues in Hoss Flat before going on to Harlem Nocturne, a beloved standard by Earle Hagen. 

Conductor Geoffrey Brookes says of the piece, “We have great musicians in our saxophone section who know how to put a lot of sizzle in this song. For a slower jazz song, Harlem Nocturne has a lot of attitude, and the band loved playing it the moment we sight-read the piece.”                                                                                                                                               

Doug Beach’s Empanada Caliente, contrasts nicely with both of the preceding songs in the repertoire with up tempo Latin jazz style to get the audience’s fingers snapping and toes tapping.

 

Virtuosi Orchestra

William Grant Still is a composer who has recently come back into the forefront of classical music. A composer of the 20th century, Still was celebrated for his pieces that use jazz idioms, reference the spiritual, and emulate the avant garde. Danzas de Panama For String Orchestra was chosen to expose the musicians to the style and harmonies of Still’s music along with the styles and rhythms popular to Latin American music that will be both moving and familiar to many in the audience.

The piece is followed by the whirlwind Youth Overture written by American composer Emma Lou Deimer for California’s Young People’s Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1936 and the oldest youth orchestra in the nation.

Virtuosi concludes with Mendelssohn‘s Symphony No. 5. “Reformation,” which was first performed two decades after the German composer’s death. Although infrequently performed today, Conductor Britey Alcine chose the piece because of the opportunity it offers to highlight the woodwind players’ sound and abilities. 

Principal Orchestra

Once More We Saw the Stars (Symphony No. 6) – World Premiere!

by Armando Bayolo

Instrumentation

Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, English Horn, 2 Clarinets, Bass clarinet, 2 Bassoons, Contrabassoon, 4 Horns, 3 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, Bass Trombone, Tuba, Timpani, 3 Percussionists

1. Marimba, Suspended cymbal, Ratchet, Chimes, Whip, Woodblock (med)

2. Glockenspiel, Bass drum, 2 bongos, 4 tom-toms, Conga (low), Snare drum

3. Vibraphone, Xylophone, Tam-tam, Brake drum

Harp, Piano (doubles celesta), Strings

Written in the summer of 2021 in St. Louis, Missouri and Laurel, Maryland.

Duration: ca. 22 minutes

Co-commissioned by the Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras, Christopher Hisey, Music Director; the Three Rivers Young People’s Orchestra, Brian Worsdale, Music Director; and the Orquesta Nacional de Venezuela, Alfonso López Chollet, Artistic Director.

Program Notes written by Armando Bayolo

My guide and I came on that hidden road

to make our way back into the bright world;

and with no care for any rest, we climbed–

he first, I following– until I saw,

through a round opening, some of those things

of beauty Heaven bears. It was from there

that we emerged, to see–once more–the stars

Dante, Inferno, XXXIV.133-139

(trans. Allen Mandelbaum)

 

The last lines of Dante’s Inferno have always struck me as a wonderfully hopeful postlude to a literally infernal book. Dante, of course, is setting up the next two volumes of his Commedia, but I have often taken these lines as inspiration. They represent, to me, the optimistic knowledge that light always follows darkness.

The year 2020 was a very difficult one for the entire world. Challenges piled on top of challenges. This symphony, Once More We Saw the Stars, is an ode to the knowledge that this, too, shall pass as well as a tribute to the young generation whose resilience and determination represent the best hope of mankind. All of my symphonies are commentary. Besides its poetic inspiration, Once More We Saw the Stars invokes the rarer tradition of single movement symphonies. Its single, 22 minute movement, is divided into five sections each faster than the last before turning around back to the initial adagio tempo. The initial, mournful adagio, which, in turn, gives way to a restless section full of repetitions invoking cabin fever and then a highly energetic fugue, does not, however, return at the end. Instead, the symphony’s final, tonal goal of G major brings us to a hopeful apotheosis.

Once More We Saw the Stars was written in the summer of 2021 in Laurel, Maryland and St. Louis, Missouri. It is dedicated to Maestro Christopher Hisey, old college classmate and friend, who so kindly suggested the work.

–Armando Bayolo

Laurel, MD

9.14.2021

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Read about some of the pieces GCTYO performed on the Jack Lawrence Fall 2021 concerts.

Steel Pan

The steel pan is the only musical instrument invented in the twentieth century. The instrument was created in the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in the 1930’s, but its roots can be traced back to the aesthetic practices of enslaved Africans on the island (whose presence dates back to the 1700s). The impetus for the emergence of steel pan came in 1877, when the ruling British colonial government issued a ban on playing drums by formerly enslaved Africans. To circumvent this ordinance, communities inventively turned to alternative music-making objects, the most central of which were the metal scraps and containers that ultimately developed into the steel pan that we know today.

Steel Pan AM

Iko Iko (first released as “Jok-a-Mo” by James ‘Sugar Boy’ Crawford and his Cane Cutters band in 1953) is based on a Mardi Gras ritual that harkens back to historical partnerships and solidarity between African Americans (free and enslaved) and First Peoples, particularly in Louisiana. In Iko Iko, Crawford tells the story of a “spy boy” of one tribe squaring off with the “flag boy” of another tribe, at which point the spy boy threatens to “set the [flag boy’s] flag on fire.”

String Orchestra 

Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643), composer of Toccata, was one of the earliest composers in the White European musical tradition to write music specifically for keyboard instruments.  Until his time, formally composed music in Europe was largely vocal with instrumental accompaniment, and mostly of a religious nature.  Keyboard music for its own sake, as pure entertainment and as an opportunity for virtuoso performers to display their technical skills, was a radical new direction, helped by technological innovations that were turning the harpsichord into an expressive instrument in the hands of a master performer.  Frescobaldi’s profound influence on European keyboard music continued long after his death; Johann Sebastian Bach, who lived a century later (1685-1750), owned several copies of works by Frescobaldi. 

John Beeman has arranged Frescobaldi’s elegant keyboard Toccata for string orchestra.

 

Tum Balalaika is a popular folk song of the Jewish people of Eastern Europe, a minority ethnic group with its own distinct language, culture, and religious traditions. Jews had been living since about the 12th century in the region that today is roughly the countries of Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine, where they often formed a sizeable proportion of the population. These lands were taken over by the Russian Empire in the 18th century, making their inhabitants subjects of the Russian tsar

The song Tum Balalaika, sung in Yiddish, the native language of the Eastern European Jews, tells of a young lad asking a maiden a series of philosophical riddle questions, which she then answers.  The verses are separated by the essentially meaningless refrain “tum balalaika” – a rhythmic vocalization not unlike “shooby-doo.” 

Steven H. Brook’s orchestral arrangement combines the song’s haunting melody with rich, lush harmonies to encourage and inspire listeners and performers.

 

William Owens, composer of Carpathia, is a Black composer, conductor, and music educator. Born in 1963 in Gary, Indiana, he has spent a large part of his professional career in Texas. A graduate of the VanderCook College of Music and winner of many awards and grants, he has published hundreds of works for band and orchestra, with a special emphasis on music for youth ensembles. Now retired, he devotes his spare time to reading presidential biographies and his love of Chevrolet Corvettes.

Owens’s daring work Carpathia is a musical retelling of the dramatic rescue of 706 passengers from the doomed RMS Titanic by the only ship that was near enough to respond to its distress call – the RMS Carpathia. Owens uses the orchestra to powerfully recreate the sounds of the ship’s rattling hull and overheating boilers as it frantically races full-steam to the rescue, followed by a solemn and mournful section as the enormity of the tragedy unfolds, ending with a triumphant return to the main theme as the ship carries the survivors off to safety. Curiously, one of the crewmen aboard the RMS Carpathia at the time of the rescue was actually named William Owens!

 

Brass Orchestra

Freddie Mercury (1946-1991), composer of Bohemian Rhapsody, was a composer, singer, and pianist with the English art rock band Queen. He was one of the world’s most famous South Asian musicians and one of the best-known LGBTQ musicians as well.  Sadly, one of the many tragedies of his short life was that he probably would have felt extremely uncomfortable with either description as he spent a great deal of effort denying and concealing who he really was.

Freddie Mercury’s given name at birth was Farrokh Bulsara. He was born in Zanzibar to a family of immigrants from India who belonged to the Parsee ethnic group, whose ancestors had fled religious persecution in Iran following its conquest by the Muslims in the 7th century because of their Zoroastrian faith. The young boy displayed early musical talent, but even as a pre-teen he was already also showing signs of his lifelong discomfort with his identity. Rejecting the rich musical traditions of his own culture, he listened to and performed music exclusively from the alien colonial White anglophone pop tradition instead. In his high-school years he also adopted the “westernized” name, “Freddie.”

The family fled Zanzibar’s bloody, ethnically-driven revolution in 1964 and settled in England, where the self-conscious Farrokh legally changed his “foreign” sounding name to “Freddie Mercury” and co-founded a band he named Queen, for both its regal and LGBTQ connotations. Throughout the period of Queen’s popularity, from the mid-1970s until his death in 1991, Freddie Mercury was an instantly recognizable figure worldwide. He had a vocal range of over three octaves, and onstage was an outrageous and flamboyant showman obviously reveling in the adulation of millions. At the same time, he was an intensely shy and private person who almost never gave interviews and was painfully embarrassed by his protruding front teeth, his sexuality, and his ethnicity. Many of his millions of fans had no idea he was South Asian and assumed he was White, since he wore makeup in public to cover up his natural Brown skin tone.

For much of his life, Mercury denied to himself and others that he was a gay man, and even carried on a serious relationship with a woman which lasted many years. When asked point-blank about his sexuality in 1974, he only admitted to a bit of schoolboy experimentation. As public attitudes toward LGBTQ people slowly liberalized, Mercury became slightly more open about who he was, going so far as to acknowledge to himself that he might be bisexual, but he never fully came out in the open, was almost never seen together in public with his long-time partner, and never took on LGBTQ political causes. He died of complications of AIDS at the age of 45.

 

Sinfonia Orchestra 

A prolific composer and arranger, Soon Hee Newbold is known for creating engaging yet accessible pieces for youth orchestras of all ages. Her work is played by school-aged musicians across the world. Herself an accomplished violinist, violist, and pianist who began to train at age five, Newbold has performed worldwide. As a composer and arranger, her music spans historical, legendary, and natural themes. In addition to composing, Newbold conducts and works in the film industry as an actor, producer, and director. She makes her home in southern California.

Le Froid de L’Hiver or “The Cold of Winter” is one of Newbold’s nature-themed pieces. In it she uses a melodic through line carried by violins to suggest a snow scene in the French countryside that crescendos as the flurry of snow, represented by the pizzicato or plucking technique, becomes more intense, before fading away on a single note.

 

Steel Pan PM

Calypso is an Afro-Caribbean musical genre that originated in Trinidad in the 19th century. It features call-and-response elements and syncopated rhythms. Although “Calypso Jim” doesn’t include this particular characteristic because it’s written exclusively for steel pan, the genre of calypso is also known for its socio-political lyrics. Calypso grew out of West African Kaiso, which enslaved Africans brought to the Caribbean Islands,  and canboulay music; it served as an important medium through which enslaved people (and later, people under colonial rule) voiced their discontent. They used calypso to express the daily struggles of living in Trinidad, critique racial and economic inequalities, and express opinions on social order.

Calypso Jim was written by GCTYO’s very own Jim Royle, who conducts the Steel Pan Orchestra. Mr. Royle is an expert steel pan performer and educator who also runs a percussion studio in Bridgeport. 

One of the world’s most recognized reggae songs, Bob Marley’s One Love was composed in 1977 for his band, The Wailers. It was the group’s first song to employ ska, a precursor to reggae which combines American jazz and R&B with Jamaican mento and Trinidad calypso–folk music traditions which meld African and European rhythms as storytelling commentary on social issues of the day.       

Marley wrote One Love about political upheaval in this native Jamaica during the 1970s. At the time of this unrest, Marley was immensely popular and had more political influence than even the Prime Minister. Yet, he tried to remain neutral, encouraging his countrymen to end conflict for the good of the nation. The song appeals to his people to find “one love.” Bob Marley was the son of a White English plantation overseer and an Afro-Jamaican mother. He followed the Rastafarian religion, an Afrocentric religion built on Biblical Old Testament beliefs as created by the Ethiopian king Haile Saleisse. One Love’s lyrics demonstrate his faith with references to judgment day and giving praise to the Lord. “One Love” is now a common phrase among Caribbean people that is used in greeting and solidarity.

 

Made famous by Jamaican-American singer and actor Harry Belafonte’s recording in 1961, Jump In the Line is a much-covered calypso song by Trinidadian Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Robets), who won a Carnival competition called the “Road March” with the tune in 1946.

Jump In the Line was later covered in 1955 by fellow Trinidadian Calypsonian Lord Invader (Rupert Westmore Grant) who is most noted for penning the popular song Rum & Coca Cola,later covered by the American Andrews Sisters. Jump In the Line was again recorded in the 1950s by Lord Flea, a Jamaican mento singer. This was the version that influenced Belafonte’s recording. Mento is a Jamaican musical genre very similar to Calypso.

American-born Belafonte’s rendition of Jump In the Line is credited with bringing the spirit of Calypso to American listeners. Critics note that it was Belafonte’s “easy to understand” American accent versus the original artists’ strong Trinidadian cadence that allowed it to gain popularity on U.S. charts. Today, Jump In the Line is regularly used in movie and television productions, the most famous of which is “Beetlejuice.”

 

Jazz II Orchestra

John Coltrane’s Blue Train was released in 1958 with the debut of his studio album of the same name. It was developed during his residency at the Five Spot Café, where he performed as a member of the Thelonius Monk quartet. At this point in his career, Coltrane was known for conventional diatonic harmonies, but he set them in unconventional ways. Incorporating this method into his musicianship firmly set the trajectory for his career. Widely considered one of his best works as a leader, Coltrane composed seven of the eight tracks on the studio album, with the song Blue Train, viewed as a preeminent piece, characterized by harmonic solos and unique timing. 

Born in North Carolina, Coltrane was exposed to music in the gospel tradition through the church where his father preached. Around the age of twelve when his father passed away, he set a path for a musical foundation, starting with the clarinet. After a move with his family to Philadelphia, he took an interest in the local music scene, eventually transitioning to the saxophone. Soon after a tour in the U.S. Navy in the closing days of WWII, he used the G.I. Bill to take music classes, and dedicated himself to the profession. Post WWII, Philadelphia had a vibrant African-American community that included a burgeoning live music scene of various styles. Coltrane inserted himself into the community where he started as journeyman musician. Known for his compulsion to practice incessantly, Coltrane worked his way through the ranks, and while playing with the likes of Mile Davis and Thelonius Monk over the years, developed his signature style.

Carl Strommen’s contributions to band, orchestra, jazz band and vocal music make him one of the most performed composer/arrangers, nationally and internationally. His music is heard regularly in concert settings, television, and film. Mr. Strommen is in constant demand as a clinician and commission writer. He is known as a renowned composer of instrumental and vocal music. He also is known to train young musicians. He became professor for orchestration, composition, and arrangement at C.W. Post College in Long Island, New York. He is a teacher and conducts workshops for winds orchestra and is also a guest conductor. He has also composed pieces for Riverdance. Strommen has successfully written for many different settings, including jazz band, pop choral music, “easy” jazz band, wind band and string writing. 

 

Virtuosi Orchestra 

Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity from The Planets, Opus 32

The most well-known part of Holst’s The Planets, the work on Jupiter generally follows as the fourth entity in a procession of the eight non-Earth planets in our Solar System. While on a vacation in 1913, Holst developed an interest in astrology, thinking deeply about each planet’s character. As he was writing music while working at the St. Paul’s Girls’ School, Holst decided to start writing a suite based on the planets – a piece-by-piece suite would be easier than a massive all-in-one symphony. He began writing the suite with “Mars, Bringer of Wars” in 1914, and gradually followed with Venus and Mercury. Jupiter followed these three, while Saturn, Uranus and Neptune came later. He did not write a suite for Pluto upon its discovery in 1930.

Jupiter begins with a bang – the strings rush onto the scene and open the curtains to the mighty brass, which give the piece’s opening motif. In this arrangement, the orchestra remains loud and bombastic before entering an orderly (but still loud) section, giving a secondary melody. After this, and a quick return to a fiercer rendition of the first theme, the orchestra enters a slow, melancholy theme. This section may be the most famous part of the piece, and Holst acknowledged this by adapting it into a vocal arrangement, “I Vow to Thee, My Country.” Following this section, the orchestra returns an orderly section, before closing out the piece with the brass. Jupiter, and The Planets as a whole, have remained Holst’s most recognizable works, having been performed by various orchestras. Ironically, the one person who disliked the popularity that came upon the suite was Holst himself, who despised the large shadow that The Planets cast over his other works. 

Philharmonic Orchestra

Best known as the composer of the beloved opera Carmen, George Bizet did not receive uniform accolades during his lifetime. Enamored of experimental musical styles such as an opera without words and incorporating folk music into the more “refined” form of classic music, Bizet only achieved middling success and was even lampooned in French magazines and newspapers of the day. Carmen was particularly panned because of Bizet’s depiction of the lead as a seductive woman rather than a virtuous one.

The overture and Carillon movements of L’Arlesienne were originally written to accompany a play of the same name which translates to “The Girl from Arles.” The theatrical production was not a commercial or social success and is rarely performed today. Bizet’s score was panned along with it and even now it is almost never performed in totality. The first and last movements of the piece, Overture and Carillon, have taken on a life of their own and have remained popular through the decades as the last remnant of the otherwise ill-fated L’Arlesienne. Carillon are stationary bells that are played with a small hammer. In the piece they represent the peal of church bells.

 

Principal Orchestra

Overture to The Magic Flute K. 620

Known in its native German by the title Die Zauberflöte, The Magic Flute is an opera written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791). A native of the Archduchy of Austria, then within the Holy Roman Empire, Mozart composed the opera in the year 1791. It was the final opera and one of the last works that the renowned composer was able to write before his untimely death. The opera has a dark theme to it, centered on the character of Tamino, a prince. Early on in the opera, Tamino is lost in a land far away from home, and he is being chased by an enormous monster. The prince’s luck takes a turn when three women kill the monster. They proceed to give Tamino a picture of Pamina, the daughter of the Queen of the Night, and they tell him that Pamina is being held captive by the evil Sarastro. Tamino instantly falls in love with Pamina, and vows to rescue her. He is assisted by Papageno, a bird catcher, and two gifts – magic bells and the titular magic flute. After finding Pamina, Tamino learns that Sarastro has simply been helping Pamina, and the true villain is the Queen of the Night! Sarastro then gives Tamino a series of trials to overcome, and Tamino leans in on the magic flute for help. He succeeds, Pamina returns his love, and Sarastro develops respect for the young man. The Queen of the Night then arrives and attempts to destroy Sarastro’s temple, but Sarastro manages to defeat the Queen and her servants. Once the Queen is in retreat, Tamino and Pamina are permitted to live happily ever after.

The overture begins with a few grand E-flat chords before progressing into a faster theme that incorporates bits of the piece’s famous aria, the Queen of the Night. The fast section eventually breaks for more chords that echo the beginning of the overture before the fast melody picks up again, although in a more somber key. The more triumphal E-flat major key is restored as the overture approaches the end, reflecting the flow of the opera. The overture ends much as it began – triumphal E-flat chords are played by the orchestra

Mozart is believed to have written the overture with freemasonry in mind; this is reflected by how the key of E-flat major incorporates three flats (E-flat, B-flat, and A-flat). The number 3 is strongly associated with freemasons (a Masonic initiation ceremony begins with the candidate knocking at a door three times to seek admission). The libretto for the opera was written by Emanuel Shickaneder (1751 – 1812), a freemason. 

The opera is a satirical piece poking fun at the Austrian power establishment. Mozart’s villainess, The Queen of the Night, was a representation of Empress Maria Teresa. These operas were the equivalent of Colbert, Jon Stewart, or even Saturday Night Live. Many were satirical and challenged the establishment. That is exactly what Mozart was doing with The Magic Flute, and in fact, with all of his operas. 

 

Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

Unlike many other composers and his contemporaries, Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) had a bit of a tumultuous relationship with his Symphony No. 1 in C-minor, Op. 68. A native of what was then known as the Free Imperial City of Hamburg within the German Confederation, Brahms was known to his music teachers as a good instrumentalist, but composition proved to be his true calling. He formed a strong friendship with the titanic musical couple, Robert and Clara Schumann – this friendship would prove to be so strong that Brahms would get his way on the publication of Robert Schumann’s 4th Symphony, with Brahms’s preferred version being published in addition to the one Clara liked. After Robert Schumann died from pneumonia, Brahms was a close friend of Clara Schumann until her death in 1896. Some believe that he was in love with her and this is why he never married.

Brahms began work on his Symphony No. 1 in 1855 with great encouragement from Clara. Despite this, it would take more than 20 years until he felt that the work was worth publishing. The initial version of the work was in D-minor, but this would be heavily restructured into his 1st Piano Concerto instead. Like many of his contemporaries, Brahms was highly self-critical, and destroyed several early iterations of the work, before finally settling on what would become his 1st Symphony in 1868. It was in this year that Brahms sent a sketch of the main tune to Clara Schumann, who approved of it. Despite this encouragement, it would take another 8 years before the symphony was finally ready for its premiere.

The symphony’s first movement begins slowly before going into a faster allegro, in a theme that calls back to Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 (also in C-minor). The allegro gives way to a development section in B-major, before coming to a recapitulation and coda, ending in the key of C-major. The second movement begins in a slow andante sostenuto in E-flat Major. The main theme changes hands between winds and strings. The third movement is faster but graceful, presenting first with an A-flat allegretto. This section gives way to a trio part written in B-major, before returning to the allegretto and ending in a more tranquil coda. The fourth and final movement begins with a very slow adagio, and then comes to an allegro. This allegro section has been observed to be similar to a part of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Eventually, after a development and recapitulation, the movement comes to a faster coda which brings the piece to the finish, on a powerful C-major chord.

Sinfonia Concertante in E-Flat for Violin & Viola, K. 364

One of W.A. Mozart’s most celebrated solo works, the Sinfonia Concertante features two solo instruments – a violin and a viola. Mozart, aged 23, wrote this piece in 1779 while touring Europe. By using two instruments, Mozart experimented with this new style of solo music. Although the piece and the new style ran afoul with his employer, the Archbishop Colloredo of Salzburg, it became a turning point in the young composer’s life – Mozart was able to combine his many strengths in this work, and used the experience to continue composing after he left Salzburg following his dismissal from the archbishop.

The first movement of the piece, the Allegro Maestoso, is a moderately fast movement, where the orchestra gives a long introduction that foreshadows the piece. The soloists make their way to the scene before demonstrating their techniques, often using a call-and-response with each other. The orchestra provides support throughout the movement, which culminates in a cadenza, where the soloists completely control the stage. After this, the Andante – a slow second movement – begins. The orchestra gives another introduction, before the soloists take over in another call-and-response format, bouncing melodies off each other. Another cadenza comes right before this movement ends.

The third movement, the Presto, rushes in as the fastest part of the piece. The orchestra gives a final introduction before almost completely vanishing behind the soloists, occasionally resurfacing as the soloists transition between styles. Once again, the soloists synchronously travel through various melodies with each other’s support. There is no cadenza, but there is no need for one – the grand finale comes as each soloist pushes their skills to the limits, climbing to the highest notes their instruments can produce. A truly masterful work, many prominent violinists and violists have recorded the piece, including Hilary Hahn, Itzhak Perlman, Rachel Barton Pine, Pinchas Zukerman, William Primrose, and Yuri Bashmet.