Around the World in 80 Minutes
Spring 2010 Concert NotesTina Johns Heidrich, Conductor
Joseph Jacovino, Jr., Accompanist
Connecticut Master Chorale Orchestra
Our May concert will be a musical journey through 16 countries that begins and ends in America. Many pieces will be performed in the native languages.
Our selections from around the world:
- From Sea to Shining Sea - arr. Maurice Whitney (United States)
From Sea to Shining Sea is a fantasy based on “America The Beautiful”, which has often been called the national hymn of the United States. This majestic choral version, paraphrased by Maurice C. Whitney (1909-1984), is a grand way to begin our journey around the world. Of particular interest to us here in New England is the fact that the lyrics were written by Katherine Lee Bates (1859-1929), a native of Falmouth, Massachusetts, who was a Professor of English Literature at Wellesley College. Inspired by the view from Pike’s Peak during an extended trip across the country, she wrote the text down as soon as she returned to her hotel. Her poem was first published in 1895 and was sung to several other melodies before finally being published again in 1910 set to the New Jersey composer Samuel A. Ward’s (1848-1903) hymn “Materna”.
- Sine Nomine (For All the Saints) - Ralph Vaughan Williams (England)
The Anglican Bishop William Walsham How (1823-1897) wrote “For All the Saints” as a processional hymn and it was sung to another tune for at least 40 years. Regarded by many as Britain’s greatest composer, the prolific Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) wrote Sine Nomine as a new setting for the text to be used in the English Hymnal of 1906, which he edited. The title literally means “without name”.
- How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place (German Requiem) - Johannes
A German Requiem was inspired by the death of his mother and was Johannes Brahms’ (1833-1897) first major success. This tranquilly beautiful movement for choir is regarded by many as the most spiritually uplifting point in the Requiem with its focus on the joy and bliss of heaven. It is a wonderful example of the genius of the composer in his ability to express emotion within the discipline of structure.
- Svjati Boze (Holy God) - Lisa Simikic (Serbia)
This profoundly moving work in Serbian and English was composed following the bombing of Belgrade and Kosovo in 1999. Ms. Simikić, (b. 1961) whose family was directly affected by the destruction, was inspired to write this a cappella piece reflecting the pain and sorrow felt for the innocent victims.
- Wana Baraka - (They Have Blessings) - arr. Shawn Kirchner (Kenya)
A traditional Kenyan religious song in the Swahili language, Wana Baraka was taught to the arranger (b. 1970) by a delegation of Kenyans who participated in an agricultural mission in Ghana in 1994.
- Dravidian Dithyramb (Hymn of Praise) - Victor Paranjoti (India)
This work is an expression of uninhibited festivity based on the ragas and rhythms of South India by the composer, (1906-1967) who had a profound knowledge of Indian and Western classical music as well as folk music. Written in 1962, it embodies traces of ragas from the Carnatic music of South India, and also bears a resemblance to the tarana, a form of Hindustani classical music which uses Persian and Arabic phonemes as nonsense syllables. Dravidian refers to the languages and races of South India and the word dithyramb is a Greek term for a wild, passionate hymn.
- Home and the Heartland (Riverdance) - Bill Whelan (Ireland)
In 1994, already well-known for his work with Irish traditional music and musicians, Whelan (b. 1950) was invited to compose a short piece of music for the interval act of the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest which was being held in Ireland. He called it “Riverdance” and the public response was phenomenal. Home and the Heartland, his contemplative reflection on Ireland, is one of the compositions he wrote for the expanded work Riverdance: The Show, which has successfully gone on to be seen and enjoyed by millions of people around the world.
- Finlandia - Jean Sibelius (Finland)
In America, Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) has long been recognized as a great composer, but in his native Finland he is a national hero, the voice of the country. He visited Connecticut in 1914 to participate in the Norfolk Festival of Music and directed a concert of his own music which included the premiere of a tone poem written for the occasion. The music of Sibelius was always an expression of his deepest emotions and his profound love of nature and his country. Finlandia, the most famous of his national works, was written for a patriotic rally to raise funds in the struggle for Finland’s independence. It was then part of a larger work, but it was revised, separated, renamed, and first appeared on a program as we know it in 1900. It remains today the eloquent voice of the land and people of Finland.
- Ale Brider (We Are All Brothers) - arr. Nick Page (Israel)
In the Yiddish language, this spirited folksong originated in Eastern Europe. The theme of this joyous music is at the heart of the very idea of Israel as a place where all Jewish traditions can come together and be united as one.
- Cielito Lindo - arr. Barbara Harlow (Mexico)
Mariachi music originated in the southern part of the state of Jalisco sometime in the 19th century and has become part of the iconic culture of Mexico. This popular song is commonly played by mariachi bands and has come to be widely known as a theme song for Mexicans around the world.
- Hall of the Mountain King (Peer Gynt) - Edvard Grieg (Norway)
Known as Norway’s greatest composer, Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) was an accomplished pianist as well as composer. He was asked by the playwright Henrik Ibsen to provide music for his play Peer Gynt. The immortal music that he created was an immediate success and made Grieg into a national figure overnight.
- Barcarolle (Tales of Hoffman) - Jacob Offenbach (France)
One of the inventors of the operetta form, this German-born Frenchman became one of the most influential composers of the 19th century. The last three years of his life were spent on “Tales of Hoffman”, his only grand opera. “Barcarolle”, the most famous number in the opera, was actually written much earlier. When Offenbach (1819-1880) died with his opera unfinished, Ernest Guiraud completed it and inserted this excerpt from a long-forgotten Offenbach work into the new opera. A barcarolle is a folk song sung by Venetian gondoliers.
- Tum Balalayka - arr. Marjan Helms (Russia)
The balalayka is a triangular Russian stringed instrument, believed to be of Tatar origins, and remains an important folk instrument there today. This traditional Russian Yiddish folk tune is an amusing love song about a young man looking for a clever wife. He has questions to ask her as a test, but she has a riddle for him in return.
- Kyrie (Caribbean Mass) - Glenn McClure
A composer whose main compositional interest lies in the mixing of classical music with ethnic music traditions, Glenn McClure (b. 1965) is experienced in dealing with the ethno-musicological concerns involved in writing works that include traditional musicians. “Kyrie” comes from his best-known work, A Caribbean Mass: St. Francis in the Americas, which set several of the writings of St. Francis of Assisi into languages and musical styles of the New World.
- Arirang - arr. Ken Berg (Korea)
As in the case of most folk songs, it is not really known exactly where and when Arirang originated, but this is a song that every Korean knows and loves. It is sung at sports competitions and anywhere in the world that Koreans gather together, and is a song that is beloved in North and South Korea as well. The South Korean government designated this song as the official march of the U. S. Army 7th Division in appreciation of the division’s heroic exploits in Korea, although the version that was used was arranged in an American-style march.
- African Dance (Aladdin Suite) - Carl Nielsen (Denmark)
Carl Nielson (1865-1931) was a composer, conductor and violinist from Denmark, who quickly established himself as Denmark’s leading composer, although it was only in the 1950s that his talent was recognized internationally. The incidental music for orchestra and chorus that he wrote for the verse drama Aladdin by Adam Oehlenschlager is dramatic, powerful, and filled with character.
- Star Spangled Banner - arr. David Clydesdale
John Stafford Smith was a composer, organist, and early musicologist who was one of the first serious collectors of Bach manuscripts. He wrote the music for “The Anacreontic Song”, which became our national anthem. Most of us know the story of Francis Scott Key, the attorney and poet who witnessed the relentless bombing of Ft. McHenry by the British during the War of 1812. In the morning, he was delighted to see the American flag still flying over the fort and began to write his poetic account to commemorate the occasion. David Clydesdale’s spectacular arrangement makes use of an additional text by Claire Cloninger, who was commissioned by the National Statue of Liberty Centennial Committee to write a new second verse, and becomes the perfect and glorious end to our 80 minute tour of the globe.