works by SINGULAR composers / SINGULAR works by composers

Montgomery Philharmonic 2014 – 2015

The theme SINGULARITY conjures up thoughts of distinctiveness. What makes this season distinct is just that—we explore works by SINGULAR composers at three concerts and then explore SINGLE works by composers at two.

Our First Concert

Our first concert is entitled “Ludwig van Beethoven Changed the World.” Beethoven jolted his audiences out of their seats with music that was so different that everyone was talking about his music. For the first time in the symphonic world, Beethoven was very clear about his musical intentions. The articulations, dynamic marks, and phrasing are very detailed and tell the story. The distinction between the staccato mark and the extreme staccato mark—like an arrowhead—is very important. Additionally, Beethoven made use of both shaping dynamics and sudden dynamics. Finally, the tempos that Beethoven wrote in his score covered a much wider range than ever before and changed the way that musicians had to play. The excitement on stage was electrifying, and people felt then and still feel now that Beethoven’s music changed the world.

The concert, which will include the
Overture, The Creatures of Prometheus, Opus 43; Two Marches and Trio for Military Band, WoO 18 & 19; March for Military Band, WoO 24; and Symphony No. 2, Opus 36, will show the breadth of Beethoven’s works. He wrote one ballet—The Creatures of Prometheus. Beethoven also wrote five marches for military bands; we will play three of the five. In fact, one of his first pieces, written when he was only 11, was a set of variations on a military march for band. These marches were written for the evening ceremonies/musical function held by the German army. Beethoven’s Second Symphony was written during the most emotional time of his life—while he was trying to come to grips with his increasing deafness.

Our Second Concert

Our second concert continues to explore Beethoven and how he changed the world. Music was just never the same after Beethoven. The concert centers around two of his important choral music works—Choral Fantasy and Mass in C major. Both were premiered at the Akademie (an event held on December 22, 1808 from 6:30–10:30 p.m.) at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna. In addition to these two works, Beethoven premiered both his Fifth and Sixth Symphonies. Choral Fantasy had been written quickly because Beethoven needed a crowning finale to the long concert, but it had not been rehearsed sufficiently and the orchestra was tired by the end of the performance, so the work fell apart. Although they had to start over, the musicians prevailed. The work includes a sequence of variations, is much like a miniature piano concerto, shares the same harmonic sequence in key places that are later found in the finale of his Ninth Symphony, and has a choral ending. To date, no other composer has ever written anything like Choral Fantasy. Sections of the Mass in C major were also performed at the Akademie. Beethoven had premiered the work the previous year for Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, who found the work to be “unbearably ridiculous and detestable.” Again, Beethoven chose to write a piece of music in a way that had never been done before. The brightest technique he used was in the Kyrie and Sanctus sections. In the Kyrie, he opened with only the bass voices. In the Sanctus, he scored for voices and timpani only. This shocked the audience.

Our Third Concert

Our third concert celebrates local youth in a concert of pieces unique to several American composers. Each piece is SINGULAR in that the composer used a singular composition technique or form. The Montgomery Philharmonic will be joined on stage by members of the Watkins Mill Orchestra and Band, as well as the orchestras from Neelsville Middle School and Montgomery Village Middle School. This exciting concert will feature the combined string sections of all four orchestras for two special pieces. Additionally, we will feature the winners of the Bernie Rappaport Young Musicians competition in a special work composed for young trombonists and orchestra. The wind sections from both Watkins Mill High School and the Montgomery Philharmonic will join forces to play Felix Mendelssohn’s Overture in C major for Winds. This overture is quite special because it was written by Beethoven at the age of 15—the very age of many of the students playing on stage. The Montgomery Philharmonic will be joined by a select group of Watkins Mill High School’s top musicians to play George Gershwin’s An American in Paris, and the concert will finish with the Montgomery Philharmonic and all of the musicians from Watkins Mill High School playing Charles Ives’ Variations on “America.”

Our Fourth Concert

Our fourth concert studies Gustav Mahler and the relationships among his works. Mahler change the musical world and more specifically, he changed, forever, our perception of a symphony. Never again would a symphony have four movements. Never again would it be tonally centered, and never again would each movement use standard forms. Never again would using voices in a symphony merely be orchestra with chorus, and none of these symphony characteristics would ever return with composers who followed Mahler. He made the musical community sit up and listen.

We welcome baritone Matthew Woorman to the stage to sing
Songs of a Wayfarer, Mahler’s first work for voice and orchestra. Characteristics as well as melodic and harmonic content transferred from Songs of a Wayfarer to both Symphony No. 1 and Symphony No. 5 by Mahler. As we play Symphony No. 1, our audience will have the opportunity to compare and contrast Mahler’s compositional styles.

To Close the Season

The Montgomery Philharmonic will close its 9th season with an evening of chamber music. Again, we turn to pieces that are unique to each composer. Carl Nielsen wrote only one wind quintet and Maurice Ravel wrote only one string quartet. Malcolm Arnold wrote only one bass quintet and Louis Spohr wrote one Nonet for winds and strings. These unique pieces give members of the orchestra an opportunity to study great music over a long period of time in a setting that allows for artistic give and take. Although we might be familiar with large symphonic works and band pieces by these four composers, studying their chamber music gives us a special relationship with them.

Our website provides information about the music, including webnotes and video and audio recordings. Please enjoy taking advantage of the information on our website.

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Why should you join the Montgomery Philharmonic?

With its unique musical program, the Montgomery Philharmonic is re-inventing the community orchestra. Like no other community orchestra, our musical program includes great connections to the community with the Bernie Rappaport Young Artist Competition for middle school students, the Youth Chamber Music Festival, the side-by-side concert with Watkins Mill High School students, and our Summer Reading Sessions.

We offer a varied program of experiences for each musician in the orchestra. Our repertoire is extensive and spans many genres and time periods. Through our collaboration with the Central Maryland Chorale, Montgomery Philharmonic members have an opportunity to play oratorio. We offer a chamber music experience, which gives musicians the option to participate in an in-depth, year-long study of chamber music, leading to a concert at the end of the season. Section rehearsals provide musicians with extra help solving problems that are unique to their particular section.

Members of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra serve as our coaches for a series of Adult Education Master Classes that are open so that the public can observe our work. The Montgomery Philharmonic provides a unique experience for the serious community musician who desires the challenge of musical growth.

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