Montgomery Philharmonic 2015 – 2016 Concert Season
CELEBRATIONS – Anniversaries and Great Music
Our first concert celebrates the beginning of our 10th Anniversary Season, with music that celebrates mankind. Mozart wrote Il Re Pastore, the Shepherd King, as a commission to celebrate the arrival in Salzburg of the son of his patron, Empress Maria Theresa. Her subjects were very fond of her and Mozart was all too pleased to take the commission.
Schubert, on the other hand, didn’t want to take the commission for incidental music to the play, Rosamunde. As a result, he raided his manuscripts and put together one of the best-known overtures of the time, Die Zauberharfe. The publisher made a mistake and so we know it as the Overture to Rosamunde. The overture displays Schubert’s finest melodies and typical lyrical lilt and energy.
Beethoven wrote the Symphony No. 3 for the hero in all of us. Many feel that this symphony is Beethoven’s greatest display of the struggle that he endured as a result of losing his hearing. The large chords at the beginning of the first movement seem to shout to the heavens with anger, yet later in the symphony he displays a sense of humor with the teasing rhythms of the third movement and the weaving of fugues, village dances, and virtuoso solos in the final movement.
Our second concert is in two parts. The first half of the concert is all-French music, opening with Debussy’s beautiful Gigues from Images pour Orchestre. Debussy wrote Images between 1905 and 1912 as a piece for two pianos, but in early1906, he decided to also orchestrate the piece. Gigues was inspired by a trip to England that he had taken.
For the next piece, Poulenc’s Gloria, we will combine forces with the Central Maryland Chorale. This magical work was composed as a commission for the Koussevitsky Foundation in honor or Sergei Koussevitsky. Written for soprano solo, chorus, and orchestra, it expresses Poulenc’s faith in music that is joyful, contemplative, and serene.
For the second half of the concert, we will perform the Christmas section of Handel’s Messiah. It will be presented as a sing-along, so please bring your scores and enjoy a wonderful way to celebrate the season.
Our third concert features music from the Baroque period written by two of this period’s most popular composers, Bach and Telemann. The Baroque style period included music from 1600 to 1750 and saw the creation of tonality in music, lots of ornamentation, standardized notation, and the development of a much higher instrumental technique. In fact, instrumental music was expanded in many ways. Ranges on instruments were extended. The size of the orchestra was expanded. And, instrumental performance became much more complex. The style of this period brought forth several of the most popular composers ever and many musical terms and concepts from this period are still in use in performance today.
The winners of the Bernie Rappaport Young Musician Competition will be featured playing the first movement of Telemann’s Concerto in G Major for viola and strings. The concerto will be played tag-team style, so that each young violist will have the chance to show their wonderful playing abilities.
We will perform two of Bach’s famous Brandenburg Concerti. Bach wrote these concerti as a set of audition pieces for Kapellmeister Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg, whom he had met a couple of years before and felt might be interested in hiring him. Apparently, the letter containing his six pieces was never acknowledged by the Margrave, so Bach stayed in Cöthen. In 1723 he moved to Leipzig, where he remained for the rest of his life. Although these pieces were never played for the Margrave of Brandenburg’s court, the name Brandenburg Concerti stuck.
The Third Brandenburg Concerto in G major was written for three violins, three violas, three celli, brass, and harpsichord in a style that was a precursor to the larger orchestral works of the classic era. One may wonder why this piece is called a concerto when there were no true soloists? This is easily answered with the 18th century definition of concertare, meaning to come together or harmonize. All of the forces in this work come together as soloists.
The Fifth Brandenburg Concerto makes use of the concerto definition as we know it now. It has three solo instruments—the flute, violin, and harpsichord. These instruments function as soloists both alone and together while the string instruments accompany them. What is unique about this concerto is that Bach wrote what is now known as a cadenza. This cadenza passage shows the harpsichord in its most virtuosic light. One can hear its dazzling abilities, which Bach showcased by switching from playing the “middle of the harmony” on the viola to the harpsichord for this particular concerto. Bach scholars feel that, because of the advanced writing, the fifth concerto was actually written last.
At our fourth concert, we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Jean Sibelius’ birth. Sibelius was born on August 12, 1865, so musical organizations all over the world are taking the 2015–16 season to celebrate this jubilee year. The Montgomery Philharmonic will play three of Sibelius’ works that highlight his career as a composer. Our program will open with his most famous tone poem, Finlandia. This piece highlights his genius as an orchestrator, as we hear the colorful woodwinds, sweeping strings, and full power of the brass section. We complete the first half of the program with a little-played work, Night-Ride and Sunrise. This tone poem shows that Sibelius was the father of minimalist music, in that he was the first to take motivic cells and develop them into a beautiful work for the ears. Night-Ride and Sunrise musically depicts a nighttime sleigh ride speeding along in the Finnish snow when all of a sudden you feel the horn section singlehandedly bringing up the bright sun. We complete the concert with Sibelius’ Symphony No. 7. Sibelius manages to say everything in 23 minutes and doesn’t leave a thing out. Sibelius’ symphonies, unlike those by Mahler, got shorter and shorter. Like Mahler, however, Sibelius says everything that he needs to say musically in each symphony.
In May, we join the Central Maryland Chorale for a second time with a two-part program. The first half of the program is the beautiful Schubert Mass No. 5 in A-flat, D. 678. He started composing this beautiful mass in 1819 and completed it in 1822. Schubert then revised the mass in 1826. This mass is one of the “late masses,” in which he took more liberties with the text by adding and removing some of the text, because he felt that these text alterations deepened the meaning of the mass. The second half of this concert will feature music by women composers, chosen by Conductor Monica Otal. Members of the Montgomery Philharmonic will join the Central Maryland Chorale as instrumentalists to enhance these works.
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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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