SUNDAY, MARCH 19, 2017 4:00PM
Pre-concert conversation 3:00pm
Howard Performing Arts Center, Berrien Springs
Two thematically-related short pieces by renowned Canadian composer John Estacio will be showcased as the backdrop to spectacular video depicting the origin and formation of the awe-inspiring light display we call the aurora borealis. Salgado’s film features NASA’s latest cutting-edge images of the sun, astronaut photography of the auroras as well as the filmmaker’s photography shot on location in Yellowknife, Canada.
The Lake Michigan Youth Orchestra joins the SMSO in a performance of Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture.
Mendelssohn, Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave)
Side-by-side with LMYO
John Estacio, Aurora Diptych: Solaris and Borealis
Film by José Francisco Salgado, PhD
Brahms, Symphony No. 2 in D Major
Join us for a Post-Concert Dinner at TABOR HILL WINERY & RESTAURANT
1850 Mount Tabor Rd, Buchanan
SUNDAY, MARCH 19, 2017
6:00pm: Meet & Mingle ~ 6:30pm: Dinner / Cash Bar
A selection of handmade chocolates provided by Kilwin’s
$45 per person ($25 tax deductible)
For questions or reservations contact Mary Ann O’Neill at
269-927-2546 or firstname.lastname@example.org
BRAHMS, SYMPHONY NO. 2
Energized by has accomplishment in finally completing the First Symphony after twenty-one years of struggle, Brahms was able to complete its successor over a single summer holiday in 1877. Happily ensconced in the idyllic surroundings of Pörtschach am Wörthersee, a Austrian lakeside village where “the melodies flow so free that one must be careful not to trample them,” he set to work capturing the local sunshine and shadows, in music of transcendent beauty.
The work begins disarmingly with a quiet series of bucolic horn calls in D major almost in the manner of a serenade. These lead to a radiant theme for the violins with a contrasting second section in F# minor based on his famous lullaby „Guten Abend, gute Nacht" ("Good evening, good night"). Following an extended development, mostly based on the first theme, and a recapitulation, the tranquil coda is ushered in with a famously beautiful solo for French horn
The symphony’s gravitational center is a darkly passionate slow movement in B, beginning with an extended solo for the cello section. This is set against a more grazioso 2nd theme in 12/8 time, and then developed through continuous variation through to a recapitulation and coda.
The third movement is much lighter in character, with a lilting G major minuet theme for solo oboe contrasting with presto trios, the first in 2/4 the second in 3/8 time. The movement is a miracle of compositional technique, particularly the musical trompe d’oeils through which the transitions back to the first theme are accomplished, and also the cleverness with which the underlying unity of all the themes is disguised.
The finale begins sotto voce, but this turns out to be merely the set up for a surprise, a sudden burst of sound leading into a con spirito romp so exuberant that one can easily fail to notice its thematic relationship to the symphony’s opening bars.
The world première in December 1877, with the Vienna Philharmonic led by Hans Richter, was such a resounding success that the 3rd movement had to be repeated. Since then the work has taken its place among the staples of the symphonic repertoire.
MENDELSSOHN, HEBRIDES OVERTURE (FINGAL’S CAVE)
Mendelssohn was much struck by the beauty and mystery of the Scottish landscape. Travelling to the isle of Staffa on his first tour of the British Isles in the summer of 1829, he found himself so inspired by its famous cave that he immediately wrote a sketch for the opening of the present overture in a letter to his sister Fanny.
In the music’s two main themes, Mendelssohn attempted to capture the principal impressions made by the trip. The first is a brooding melody for low strings and bassoons intended to convey the feeling within the cave itself, and the second appears to depict the rolling motion of a boat upon the waves.
ESTACIO, SOLARIS (notes by the composer, John Estacio)
Solaris was written as an overture to begin a concert that could feature Holst’s The Planets. Just as Holst fashioned a suite based on the characteristics of the Gods and Goddess associated with the planets, Solaris attempts to capture the essence of the Sun.
The piece is divided into three sections. The first section depicts the inhospitable nature of the Sun, a behemoth of burning gas with gigantic flares leaping off of the surface. The music is fervid and aggressive with continuous rhythmic passages for the strings and winds, and dramatic swells from the percussion and brass.
The energy abates in the second section and the mood becomes much more peaceful. This section suggests the lonely vacuum of space and the huge distance the Sun’s energy must travel to reach the corners of our universe. Hushed strings and wisps of woodwind filigree set a mysterious mood, followed by melancholic solos for the bassoon, violin and cello, French horn, and the oboe. Gradually, as the Sun rises on our tiny planet, the delicate melody previously introduced by the oboe transforms into a noble fanfare for the full brass — a celebration of the Sun’s life-giving energy.
The piece concludes with a recapitulation of music from the first section, and an energetic flurry for the brass and strings.
ESTACIO, BOREALIS (notes by the composer, John Estacio)
The first time ever I experienced the glorious spectacle of the Aurora Borealis was a few short years ago when I arrived in Edmonton. Up until that moment I had to settle for textbook explanations and a geography teacher's descriptions. I had no idea what I was seeing when I first noticed the majestic curtains of swirling green light in the sky one crisp October evening until a friend confirmed that it was indeed the Northern Lights. I was completely captivated and awestruck by the magical sight of dancing light; how could I not be inspired to compose a piece of music?! Having recently completed two serious compositions, it was the right time to revisit a style for unabashed lyrical melodies and joyous bright orchestral colors that Borealis would require.
The composition was originally written as one of a pair of movements, the second being Wondrous Light. The first movement (Borealis) is meant to be awe-invoking and attempts to capture the ethereal atmosphere of the lights of the northern skies; wide streams of bending, curving light that abruptly disappear and reappear. The ephemeral nature of these celestial happenings is represented by the sudden colorful outbursts followed by movements of near silence. The movement begins with the strings playing a major chord and then gradually glissing (bending the pitch) until they all arrive at a different chord; for me, this musical gesture captures the essence of bending curtains of light and serves as a recurring motive throughout this movement. A solo flute introduces fragments of a melody; this melody is not heard in its entirety until later in the piece when it is performed by a solo bassoon and then an English horn. The strings perform the melody and the composition swells to its climax featuring the brass and the sound splashes provided by the percussion. The movement concludes with a unique auditory effect in the percussion section that again attempts to convey the enchanting and magical quality of the borealis.