Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestra

CHARLES JONES EVANS, Conductor

The Dance Tradtion in Symphonic Music

April 3, 2011, 4:00 p.m., Pine Bluff Conventon Center Auditorium. Tickets will be available at the door.

Full program notes are below. You may click on the composer's name to see the appropriate composition notes or scroll down the page.

COPLAND
Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo

FALLA
Suite No. 1 from The Three-Cornered Hat

With the Tamburitzans:

DVORÁK

BRAHMS

BARTÓK
Rumanian Folk Dances, Sz. 68

KHACHATURIAN
Saber Dance from Gayne

GLIÈRE
Russian Sailors' Dance from The Red Poppy

Intermission

With ballroom dancers:

PIAZZOLLA
Summer from The Four Seasons

J. STRAUSS, JR.
Voices of Spring, Waltz, Op. 410 arr. EVANS

Arranged by MAESTRO EVANS
1950s Dance Medley

Rock Around the Clock (Myers & Freedman)

The Stroll (Benton)

The Twist (Ballard)

Shake, Rattle and Roll (Stone)

With ballet dancers:

TCHAIKOVSKY
Pas de Deux from The Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66



Program notes

Duquesne University Tamburitzans (Alumni)

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the Tamburitzans
The Tamburitzans

In 1937, the Tamburitzans was founded for the purpose of "preserving and perpetuating the cultural heritages of Eastern Europe and its neighbors through performance, while awarding scholarships to talented and deserving student performers." Seventy-two years later, this mission is steadfast.

The once "Slavonic Tamburitza Orchestra" evolved into the acclaimed Duquesne University Tamburitzans, also known as "Tammies," as they became a product of their namesake instrument – the tambura or tamburitza. Spellbound audiences capture the richness and diversity of customs, preserved as a part of a human legacy and handed down from generation to generation, through numerous performances across the United States and Canada.

An array of color dazzles the stage through a variety of traditional instruments, styles of dance, echoes of song, authentic costuming, and the magic of performance.

tamburitzan alumni
For this performance, four of the "Tammie" alumni will perform: (Back, from left): Juraj Adamik (2006), a native of Bratislava, Slovakia; Nicole Pernischová (2008), from Zlaté Moravce, Slovakia. (Front, from left): Beth Stafura (1998) from Pittsburgh, PA; Michael Stafura (2008), from Pittsburgh, PA.

 


 

Notes on the program by Dr. Richard E. Rodda

Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

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Aaron Coipland
Aarron Copland

drop cap the great success of Billy the Kid in the spring of 1938 prompted the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo to commission Aaron Copland (1900-1990) four years later to write a second ballet on a cowboy theme; Agnes de Mille was engaged to devise the scenario and the choreography. Copland worked quickly on the score for Rodeo, composing it between May and September while teaching at Tanglewood. The premiere in October was received enthusiastically ("We took an extraordinary number of curtain calls that night," the composer recalled), and Rodeo has remained among Copland's most popular scores.

The story of Rodeo is a simple one: a cowgirl, tough of hide but tender of heart, searches for — and finds — a man from the prairie whom she can invite to the Saturday night dance. Copland's music reflects the plot's folksiness and unaffected characters in its lean, uncluttered style, its quotations of American folk melodies, and its ebullient spirit.

buckaroo

Buckaroo Holiday, the first of the Four Episodes that Copland extracted from the ballet for concert performance, opens with a syncopated version of a descending scale punctuated by jazz-derived rhythms. Two folksongs, Sis Joe and If He'd Be a Buckaroo by Trade, provide the thematic material for the movement.

Corral Nocturne is a modest, expressive song suffused with the moonlit stillness of the prairie. Though Copland employed no folksongs in this movement, its themes are imbued with the manner and mood of many familiar vernacular melodies.

Saturday Night Waltz exudes an air of faded courtliness and manners-carefully-observed. The rhythm of the dance sways gently between 3/4 and 6/8, as though the participants were not quite sure about the proper pattern of the steps. For the Hoe-Down that closes the suite, Copland borrowed the traditional tunes Bonyparte and McLeod's Reel to portray the foot-stomping, country fiddling, and swaggering bravado of this rousing Western square dance.

Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)

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manuel defallo
Manuel de Falla

drop cap the Three-Cornered Hat (1919) by Manuel de Falla (1876-1946) concerns a village miller and his pretty wife. The Corregidor (mayor) is attracted to the miller's wife, and makes his advances. She tells her husband to watch as she spurns the old man's attempts at love. The Corregidor chases her, but becomes aware of the teasing intrigue between husband and wife, and departs.

That evening the village festivities are interrupted by the local constabulary, who have come to arrest the miller on a charge trumped up by the Corregidor to get him out of the way. The Corregidor appears as the miller is led away, but falls into the millstream as he is pursuing the girl.

She runs off in search of her husband while the Corregidor removes his sodden clothes, including his three-cornered hat — symbol of his office — hangs them on a chair outside the mill, and jumps into the absent girl's bed to ward off a chill. Meanwhile, the miller has escaped and returned home. He sees the Corregidor's discarded clothes, and believes himself betrayed by his wife.

driop vap vowing to get even, he exchanges his garments for those of the official, scribbles on the wall "The wife of the Corregidor is also very pretty," and runs off in search of his conquest. The Corregidor emerges to find only the miller's clothes. He puts them on just in time for the police, hunting their escaped prisoner, to arrest him by mistake.

The miller's wife returns, followed by the miller, and the two are happily reconciled. Falla derived two orchestral suites from the complete score for The Three-Cornered Hat. They parallel the action of the ballet, but omit some of the connecting tissue.

The Introduction to the First Suite, a brazen fanfare for drums and brass, was added just before the London premiere so that the audience would have time to admire Picasso's decor. Afternoon portrays the sultry midday heat through which passes the procession of the Corregidor (solo bassoon).

The Dance of the Miller's Wife accompanies the girl's fiery fandango, observed by the Corregidor. The Corregidor comments briefly (again solo bassoon), and the miller's wife replies with a few sweet strains before beginning the extended scene of The Grapes.

Antonín Dvorák (1841-1904)

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dvorak
Antonín Dvořák

drop vap the eight Slavonic Dances, Op. 46 were the first efflorescence of the Czech nationalism that was to become so closely associated with the music of Antonín Dvorák (1841-1904). On the advice of his mentor Johannes Brahms, he sent them to the noted publisher Fritz Simrock of Berlin in May 1878 and was paid 300 marks, the first substantial sum Dvorák had ever made from any of his works.

Though these pieces were originally intended for piano duet (a shrewd marketing strategy by Simrock — there were a lot more piano players than orchestras), Dvorák began the orchestrations even before the keyboard score for all eight dances was completed, and Simrock issued both versions simultaneously in August 1878.

Louis Ehlert, the influential critic of the Berliner Nationalzeitung, saw an early copy of the Slavonic Dances, and wrote admiringly of their "heavenly naturalness" and Dvorák's "real, naturally real talent." The public's interest was aroused, there was a run on the music shops, and Dvorák was suddenly famous (and Simrock was suddenly rich).

Eight years later, as part of a deal with Simrock to publish the Symphony No. 7, which the publisher contended would not sell well, Dvorák wrote a second series of Slavonic Dances (Op. 72). The fee was 3,000 marks, ten times the amount tendered for the earlier set. Though he did not quote actual folk melodies in this music, as had Brahms in his Hungarian Dances, Dvorák was so imbued with the spirit and style of indigenous Slavic music that he was able to create such superb, idealized examples of their genres as the Czech skocná (No. 7) and furiant (No. 8).

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

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Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms

drop cap the special affection that Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) retained throughout his life for Gypsy fiddlers and their music blossomed in such Gypsy-inspired compositions as the finale of the Violin Concerto, the closing movement of the G minor Piano Quartet (Op. 25), the Zigeunerlieder ("Gypsy Songs"), and, especially, the Hungarian Dances (1869). The themes of most of these Dances were not original with Brahms. He collected them, thinking — as did almost everyone else at that time — that the melodies were folk tunes, and he clearly stated that they were arrangements.

Such a precaution, however, did not exempt Brahms, one of the most honest and forthright of all the great composers, from being accused of plagiarism by the Hungarian violinist Ede Reményi, with whom he had toured early in his career. Reményi disingenuously claimed that Brahms had stolen the tunes from him, and when that tale was easily exploded, Reményi issued a list of the composers of the melodies in an interview printed in 1879 by the New York Herald, forcing Brahms' publisher, Simrock, to distribute a pamphlet defending Brahms on the basis of the Dances being arrangements for piano, four hands, that were never intended to be passed off as original work — Brahms did not even give them an opus number. (When Brahms sent the score to Simrock, he wrote, "I offer them as genuine Gypsy children which I did not beget, but merely brought up with bread and milk.")

Despite this petite scandale, the Hungarian Dances proved to be among the most popular of Brahms' works during his lifetime. The Dance No. 5 (G minor), arranged for orchestra by the conductor Albert Parlow (1822-1888), is a setting of the melody Bartfai-Emlek ("Remembrance of Bartfa") attributed to the German-Hungarian bandmaster and composer of light music Kéler-Béla.

Béla Bartók (1881-1945)

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Bela Bartok
Béla Bartók

drop capwhile the larger concert works by Béla Bartók (1881-1945) display the essence of Eastern European folk songs rather than quoting them directly, some of his smaller compositions are based faithfully on the models. Such is the case with invigorating Rumanian Folk Dances. They were first arranged for solo piano in 1915 and orchestrated three years later.

He collected the melodies for the seven brief movements between 1909 and 1914, and set them in an almost unaltered fashion, adding mainly the enriched but characteristic harmonic background. The tunes for the first and fourth sections he heard played by a Gypsy violinist; for movements five, six and seven, by a Rumanian peasant fiddler; and for two and three, by a peasant on a rustic flute.

The dances are mostly fast in tempo and fiery in nature, though the fourth dance, the centerpiece of the set, is slow and sinuous.

Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)

khachaturian
Aram Khachaturian

drop cap aram Khachaturian (1903-1978), as one of the leading musical voices of the Soviet Union, was an active member of the Defense Music Commission, selecting new compositions and giving performances of his own patriotic songs at military installations and hospitals.

When Hitler's forces began bombing Moscow in the summer of 1941, he did fire duty on the roof of the building housing the Union of Soviet Composers. Later that year, he was evacuated to Perm, where the Leningrad Kirov Opera and Ballet Theater were also based while giving hundreds of performances for troops along the northwestern front.

hammer and sickle

Inspired by the propinquity of such distinguished performers, Khachaturian put aside his songs and marches, and undertook a large new project, a ballet based on a subject glorifying Russian workers and their devotion to justice and country. In the story, Gayne, a model worker, lives on a collective farm in southern Armenia picking cotton. Her lazy husband, Giko, however, drinks and consorts with criminals, threatening the stability and productivity of the community.

When Gayne, unable to bear Giko's conduct any longer, denounces him to the workers, he ignites the bales of cotton stored in the village and seizes their child as a hostage. The arrival of the Red Army Border Patrol saves the situation. Giko is exiled, and Gayne falls in love with the commander of the Patrol. The ferocious Saber Dance occurs in the series of festive folk dances that close the ballet.

Reinhold Glière (1875-1956)

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Reinhold Gliere
Reinhold Glière

drop cap though the plot of the 1927 ballet The Red Poppy by Reinhold Gličre (1875-1956) was a thinly veiled propaganda tract for the then-fledging Soviet Union, Gličre's score contains a wealth of colorful and exciting music. The story, set in the 1920s, tells of the Captain of a Soviet ship being unloaded at a treaty port in China who expresses his thanks to the usually-abused coolies for helping his crew.

His kindness is noticed by the dancer Tai-Hoa, who always wears a red poppy, the symbol of liberty, when she performs at a waterfront bar. Captain and dancer are attracted to each other, and she gives him a bouquet of flowers; he passes a poppy on to one of the coolies. Li-Shan-Fu, Tai-Hoa's manager and already jealous of the Captain, has observed this encounter and hustles her away.

Act I concludes with a series of dances by sailors from the many nations represented in the port. In Act II, set in an opium den, Li-Shan-Fu plots to do away with the Captain with Sir Hips, the port commander who is wary of the Russian's unsettling influence on the coolies. When the Captain enters to watch Tai-Hoa dance, the conspirators try to seize him but he is rescued by his crew. All are driven off by the ruckus except Tai-Hoa, who indulges in a pipe of opium and drifts into an exotic dream of dragons, soldiers, goddesses and poppies.

red-poppy

In Act III, Sir Hips and Li-Shan-Fu invite the Captain to meet Tai-Hoa at a lavish dinner at which they plan to kill him with a glass of poisoned wine. Tai-Hoa learns of the plot and warns the Captain, but he refuses to leave. Li-Shan-Fu shoots at him with his revolver but misses. All disperse. The final scene shows the Captain and his ship sailing out of the harbor.

As Tai-Hoa waves to him in a final farewell, Li-Shan-Fu races in and plunges a dagger into her heart. With her dying gesture, she hands a group of children a red poppy and urges them to fight for freedom from oppression. The Russian Sailor's Dance from Act I is based on a folk-like tune that undergoes several variations in building to its rousing climax.

Astor Piazzolla, 1921 -1992

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Astor Piazzolla
Astor Piazzolla

drop cap the greatest master of the modern tango was Astor Piazzolla, born in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, a resort town south of Buenos Aires, in 1921 and raised in New York City, where he lived with his father from 1924 to 1937.

Before Astor was ten years old, his musical talents had been discovered by Carlos Gardel, then the most famous of all performers and composers of tangos and a cultural hero in Argentina. At Gardel's urging, the young Astor returned to Buenos Aires in 1937 and joined the popular tango orchestra of Anibal Troilo as arranger and bandoneón player.

tango-dancers
The tango

Piazzolla studied classical composition with Alberto Ginastera in Buenos Aires, and in 1954, he wrote a symphony for the Buenos Aires Philharmonic that earned him a scholarship to study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger.

When Piazzolla returned to Buenos Aires in 1956, he founded his own performing group, and began to create a modern style for the tango that combined elements of traditional tango, Argentinean folk music and contemporary classical, jazz and popular techniques into a "Nuevo Tango" that was as suitable for the concert hall as for the dance floor. Piazzolla toured widely, recorded frequently and composed incessantly until he suffered a stroke in Paris in August 1990.

He died in Buenos Aires on July 5, 1992. Among Piazzolla's most ambitious concert works is Las Quatro Estaciones Porteńas ("The Four Seasons"), published originally for piano solo in 1968 and later arranged for his own ensemble (he often used one of the movements to open his concerts) and for strings and piano. The four movements are not specifically pictorial, as are Vivaldi's well-known precedents, but are instead general evocations of the changing seasons in Piazzolla's native Argentina.

Johann Strauss Jr.
Johann
Strauss, Jr.

Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825-1899)

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drop cap voices of Spring by Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825-1899) was composed in 1883 as a virtuoso showpiece for the coloratura soprano Bianca Bianchi; the text was by Richard Genée. The work met with little acclaim when Bianchi premiered it at the Theater-an-der-Wien, the critics rating it as "mediocre, "not very melodious" and "top-heavy with coloratura." Voices of Spring proved popular on Strauss' tours abroad, however, and it enjoyed wide success in a piano transcription that the composer made for his friend Alfred Grünfeld.

Even the Viennese press came eventually to admire the work, allowing that Voices of Spring was "closer to Mozart and Schubert than to Lanner and Father Strauss" because of its elegance and sophistication.

Rock and Roll lives in the 1950s
Dance Medley, arranged by Maestro Evans.

rock around the clock record

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drop cap rock Around the Clock was written in late 1952 by James E. Myers and Max C. Freedman for Bill Haley & the Comets, who recorded it for Decca in 1954. Rock Around the Clock became a smash hit when it was used the following year in the soundtrack of the gritty Oscar-nominated urban drama Blackboard Jungle. (Editor's note: The film starred Glenn Ford and Anne Francis in leading roles).

The Stroll was a line dance popularized in the mid-1950s by the iconic Top-40 TV show American Bandstand. The hit song of that name, written by Brook Benton, rose to the top of the charts with the 1958 recording by The Diamonds.

The Twist was written and recorded in 1959 by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, but it was not until Chubby Checker used it for his appearance on American Bandstand the following year that the song and the dance swept the nation, shooting to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and selling over three million copies in its original Parkway Records release.

Jesse Stone wrote Shake, Rattle and Roll in 1954 for bluesman Big Joe Turner, and it became a hit later that year not only in Turner's original recording but also in a release by Bill Haley and the Comets. Elvis Presley chose Shake, Rattle and Roll for his first television appearance, in January 1956 on the Dorsey Brothers Stage Show.

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

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Tchaikovsky
Peter Ilyich
Tchaikovsky

drop cap the Prologue of The Sleeping Beauty (1890) by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) is set in the gilded palace of King Florestan XXIV, where a brilliant celebration is being held to mark the christening of the Princess Aurora the following day. Suddenly Carabosse, the wicked fairy, appears. Incensed that she has not been invited, she pronounces a curse upon the babe: Aurora is to grow ever more beautiful until, in the prime of her youth, she will prick her finger and die.

The Lilac Fairy, standing beside the cradle, promises that she will not die but will instead fall into a profound sleep from which she may be awakened only by a kiss from a king's son. Sixteen years later (Act I), Aurora's birthday is celebrated by the townspeople and by four foreign princes who have come to seek her hand in marriage.

Aurora dances with each of the princes, but then turns to an old woman who hands her a spindle wrapped with brightly colored twine. Aurora pricks her finger on it and falls lifeless. The old woman reveals herself as Carabosse before she vanishes in a burst of flame.

Sleeping beauty and the prince

The Lilac Fairy appears and fulfills her promise. An enchanted forest engulfs the castle and the sleeping Princess. A hundred years pass before Act II begins. Young Prince Charming enters the enchanted wood with a hunting party. The Lilac Fairy appears and conjures a vision of Aurora. The Prince begs the Lilac Fairy to lead him to Aurora. He kisses her, and she awakens. The wicked spell is broken.

For Act III, King Florestan and his entire court awaken from their trance to celebrate the wedding of Aurora and Prince Charming. As entertainment, several stories from Perrault's Mother Goose are presented, including Cinderella, Puss-in-Boots, The Bluebird and the Enchanted Princess and Little Red Riding Hood. Aurora and her Prince dance a final grand Pas de Deux, and the Lilac Fairy appears once again to bless the lovers.

©2011 Dr. Richard E. Rodda