Friday, December 05, 2014

Symphonic Band Rides the Range with John Williams

The HSU Symphonic Band rides the range with John Williams’ movie music for The Cowboys, plus music based on English and Korean folk melodies, and three works featuring some unusual percussion, on Friday December 5. 

 The Cowboys was a 1972 film starring John Wayne. Although written early in Williams' film career and overshadowed by his better-known scores such as Star Wars, the American Film Institute considers it one of his ten best.

 This arrangement by Jim Curnow preserves the variety of the film score that accompanied scenes of riding and roping, of cowboys around the campfire and the vastness of the open range. “It’s very exciting music,” said Symphonic Band conductor Paul Cummings. “It’s very tuneful, as is all of John Williams’ film music.” 

 Earlier in the evening the Band performs the entire Second Suite for Military Band by Gustav Holst. “Holst’s First Suite is often described as being a folk music suite but it isn’t based on any actual folk songs,” Cummings commented.

 “The second suite is based on folk songs like 'Greensleeves' and others that would have been familiar to Holst’s first audiences in 1911. So we’re going to present a small group of singers performing several of those songs before we play the suite, to give the audience a sense of what inspired the composer.” 

 The band moves from English folk music to Asia with Variations on a Korean Folk Song by contemporary American composer John Barnes Chance. The composer uses unusual percussion instruments such as the temple block as well as different rhythms to explore the song “Arirang.” “This is really a masterwork,” Cummings said, "and enjoyable to listen to, because it’s got that unifying element of the folk song.” 

 Two other pieces by contemporary American composers also prominently employ unusual percussion instruments to create a variety of musical effects: Shadow Rituals by Robert Markowski and Night Dances by Bruce Yurko. In its faster section the Yurko piece also features brass instruments. “We have a terrific brass section this semester,” Cummings said, “so it’s fun for them to really show what they can do.” 

 HSU Symphonic Band performs on Friday December 5 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU in Arcata. Tickets are $8 general, $5 seniors and children, free to HSU students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. Conducted by Paul Cummings, produced by HSU Music Department.

Symphonic Band:Conductor's Notes

Edited from interviews with conductor Paul Cummings

The Cowboys (1972) by John Williams

John Williams is a great film composer, as exemplified in this piece.  This is music for a movie called The Cowboys with John Wayne, arranged for band by Jim Curnow.  It's a very good arrangement, very challenging, probably the hardest piece we'll be playing, and the longest.

The music gives you a sense of the film's story--life on the ranch, the wide open plains, horses galloping, the cattle drive.  There are a couple of reflective passages that suggest night, with the cowboys sitting around the fire.  Mostly it's very exciting and very tuneful, as is all of John Williams' film music.

Second Suite for Military Band op 28 no. 2 by Gustav Holst 
 1. March: Morris Dance, Swansea Town, Claudy Banks
 2. Song Without Words: "I'll Love My Love"
 3. Song of the Blacksmith
4. Fantasia on the Dargason

We did part of this in our first concert this semester--now we're doing the entire suite. A unique feature of this performance is that we are going to include a small group of singers performing five or six of the folk songs that Holst used in composing the suite.  The idea is to give the audience a sense of what inspired him in writing this suite.

His First Suite for Military Band is sometimes referred to as a folk song type of suite but in fact it is not based on any real folk songs.  But in this Second Suite he used pre-existing sources: established folk songs familiar to everyone in 1911, when he wrote this piece.

This is considered one of the greatest band pieces ever. It’s also one of the earliest written expressly for wind band.

Variations on a Korean Folk Song (1965) by John Barnes Chance

This classic work is based on a very well-known Korean folk song, "Arirang."  John Barnes Chance didn't live long enough to write very much music, but he wrote several pieces that made significant contributions to the wind band repertoire: Incantations and Dance, Elegy and these variations.

This piece has several unique qualities.  Chance makes extensive use of percussion, and uses unusual percussion instruments, particularly the temple blocks.  They are prominently featured.  Even though the temple blocks do not have definite pitches, Chance treats the instrument like a melodic instrument.

These variations cast the original folk song in many different guises, sort of like a character being dressed up in several different costumes in the same play.  So we think we understand the tune when we hear the slow version of it played in the extreme low register by the clarinets at the beginning.  But we find it has a whole different character when lots of brass and percussion are involved, and the tempo gets very fast.  It's really a masterwork, and enjoyable to listen to because it has that unifying element of the folk song.

Shadow Rituals (2006) by Robert Markowski

This is a very exciting piece, and another one that uses an array of percussion.  This piece includes tam tam, suspended cymbals, slapstick, tambourines, bongos, glockenspiel, sleigh bells, cabasa, tom-tom, wind chimes, as well as snare drum and bass drum.  So he's really striving for lots of different colors and textures.

This is a prize-winning composition--it took first place in the Frank Ticheli Composition Contest.  Markowski is a very young composer, and surprisingly does not have a composition degree, does not even have a music degree, but he’s very facile writer, he understands how to write for the instruments.  He writes about this piece: "Shadow Rituals is rhythmic, energetic and challenges the performer to constantly stay engaged in the music.  This piece is a dark and mystical dance, a reflection of something primitive or ancient."

Night Dances (1995) by Bruce Yurko

This piece has a mysterious quality.  It eventually gets very fast and spirited--there's a marking used several times, con spirito, used for the fast-accented passages--but there are also some very reflective sections.  One of these is at the very beginning.  The music seems to grow out of nowhere, with only the percussion playing.  There are two tympani, tenor and bass drums and other, mostly mallet percussion that play this very mysterious kind of melody.  Then the woodwinds come in very softly, echoing the same melody initiated by the mallet instruments.

Then suddenly it's con spirito, very exciting passages featuring the brass.  We have a terrific brass section this semester, so it's fun for them to really show what they can do.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

                Bobolink: Tyler Martin, Alex Espe, Aaron Katz, Bret Johnson.

  Jazz Combos Accent Originals

 The accent is on originality as four Jazz Combos perform at HSU on Sunday November 16, but jazz classics aren’t neglected.

 All four members of the 12:00 Quartet—Trevor Kumec (guitar), Alan Spencer (tenor sax), Ryan Woempner (bass) and Eric Tolfa (drummer)-- contribute an original composition to their set.

 The quartet called Bobolink plays two originals along with “Seattle” by Avishai Cohen and a jazz rendition of the Beatles tune, “Because.” Tyler Martin plays alto sax, Alex Espe piano, Bret Johnson bass and Aaron Katz drums.

 Business Casual is the largest combo, with two saxophones, flute, violin, piano, guitar, bass, drums and percussion. They play originals by alto sax player Kyle McInnis, guitarist Kenneth Bozanich and violinist Michael Donovan, as well as “Mambo Inn” by famed Latin jazz trumpeter Mario Bauza.

 The 1:00 Quintet performs a classic Duke Ellington tune as well as “Kite” from the band Snarky Puppy and “The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers” by Steve Kuhn. Lauren Strella and Olivia Bright handle vocals. Strella also plays sax and clarinet, and Bright plays piano. Thatcher Holvick-Norton plays bass and Courtney Abajian drums.

 HSU Jazz Combos perform on Sunday November 16 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door: $8 general, $5 seniors and children, HSU students with ID admitted free. Directed by Dan Aldag, produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: Humboldt State Now

Jazz Combos: The Program

The 12:00 Quartet 

Bumpas Hell by Trevor Kumec
Thoughts of Tomorrow by Alan Spencer
El Guapo by Ryan Woempner
11 1/2 by Eric Tolfa

 Business Casual

Party on Endor by Kyle McKinnis
Ain't Never Too Late by Kenneth Bozanich
Boogy Time by Michael Donovan
Mambo Inn by Mario Bauza for Machito and His Afro-Cubans

 The 1:00 Quintet

Kite by the band Snarky Puppy
Heaven by Duke Ellington from his Second Sacred Concert
The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers by Steven Kuhn


Seattle by Avishai Cohen
Because by Lennon-McCartney
two untitled originals by Alex Espe and Tyler Martin

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sail Away with Humboldt Bay Brass Band

 Sail away with the Humboldt Bay Brass Band in its 10th anniversary concert on November 15, featuring music with a watery theme, and a Veterans Day segment that includes an unusual version of the Star Spangled Banner. A good maritime is guaranteed for all! 

 The concert begins with three works featured in the very first HBBB performance in 2004: the British symphonic overture “Prelude for an Occasion” by Edward Gregson, and two watery-themed pieces, the lush “Moon River” and the lively “Fantasy on British Sea Songs.” 

 The band then performs one of its unique numbers: “Sunken Rock,” a lost 1865 piano composition commemorating the sinking of the coastal steamer Brother Jonathan off the coast of Crescent City, in HBBB director Gil Cline’s band arrangement. “It features the singing voice of our solo cornetist, Molly Harvis,” Cline said, “accompanied by a small brass band of the sort that would have been heard in that era.” 

 Along with Irish and British melodies, the concert includes several characteristically American works, some with a military theme to commemorate Veteran’s Day, highlighted by an unusual but historically based rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Using the original introduction and transition by composer John Stafford Smith, the band presents three seldom-heard verses by Francis Scott Key.

 Humboldt Bay Brass Band players are HSU advanced music students plus recent graduates, community musicians and music teachers. It is northwest California’s only all-brass band in the traditional British format. “One of our slogans is ‘25 brass plus three percussion equal sustained intensity,’” said director Cline. “And that equals ecstasy!” This is the band’s only HSU concert until next fall. 

The Humboldt Bay Brass Band performs on Saturday November 15 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door: $8 general, $5 seniors and children, HSU students with ID admitted free. Directed by Gilbert Cline, produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: Mad River Union, North Coast Journal The Setlist, Humboldt State Now, Times-Standard Urge

HBBB: Program and Notes

Humboldt Bay Brass Band musicians in Fall 2014 (not in order pictured; click on photo to enlarge): on Cornet: Molly Harvis, Ari Davie, Ryan Brown, Matt Scott, Jesse Burns, Monica Dekat, Leon Hamilton, Melissa Gussin, Tom Cover, & Gary Ross; Flügelhorn: Lauren Strella; Tenor Horn: Matt Morgan, Anwyn Halliday, & Hannah Lambrecht; Baritone Horn: Toshi Noguchi & Chris Joe; Trombone: George Epperson, Matthew Brown, & Corey Tamondong; Euphonium: Phil Sams & Bret Johnson; Basses (Tubas): Audrey McCombs, Jerry Carter, Ryan Egan, & Charles Hollowell; Percussion: Grace Kerr, Nev Mattinson, Kevin Amos, & Niamh Mercer. Music Director & Conductor: Dr. Gilbert Cline; Assistant Conductor: Audrey McCombs.

with notes by Gilbert Cline

 HBBB repeats the very first three concert works from our very first concert, of April 2, 2004. (and we thought it wouldn’t last!) Those three are:

 1- Prelude for an Occasion (1972) by Edward Gregson
 This is a British symphonic overture, with cornets and trombones sounding as if they were in the Chicago Symphony. The tones are 20th century vertical harmonies, including pyramids and polychords. After an classic overture-type slow beginning, the music really takes off -- even the basses getting to saw away at fast-moving 16th notes; timpani and the other percussion brighten the total effect.

 2- Moon River (1961) by Henry Mancini
 We’ve always enjoyed this arrangement of the film score, and the music is extremely tender and expressive. First heard in the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” the theme and underlying chords are so very American -- for HBBB’s director, his earliest and most impressionable sounds of major- seven chords and flatted-fifths -- all under a completely gorgeous melody.

 3- Fantasy on British Sea Songs:traditional arranged by Gordon Langford
 This one begins as if on a genuine tall ship like a British Man ‘o War, with truly heroic sounds. The tunes in this music, essentially a medley, are classic, and even partly comical; the trombones shine in a distinctive interpretation of “Who’s Afraid of a Drunken Sailor?” (! not our trombonists!)

4- Sunken Rock (1865) by E. Russell / P. R. Nicholls, arranged by Gil Cline.    Here is a rarity, and “proprietary” so far to HBBB. Recorded on our 2005 CD, this arrangement is based on piano sheet music published in San Francisco composed to commemorate the tragic loss of life resulting from the sinking of the large coastal steamer Brother Jonathan which struck the sunken rocks of St. George Reef off the coast of Crescent City.

  The HBBB arrangement of the music, somewhat Gilbert & Sullivan in nature, features the singing voice of Miss Molly Harvis (HBBB’s solo cornetist), accompanied by a small brass band of the sort which would have been hear in San Francisco during that year, and includes an historic circa 1865 E-flat rotary valve cornet of the very type in use then. We also use an 1895 tuba (the “Bayside Bombardon”) once owned by Leonard Yocum, Humboldt County bandsman, County Supervisor, and one of the founders of HSU.

 5- O.R.B. (contest march) by Charles Anderson
 O.R.B. stands for Oldham Rifles Brigade, which existed in Manchester, England from the 1860s to perhaps the 1930s. A civilian band, they served local volunteer military units, regiments and battalions; the sense of national defense in a small island nation is strong beyond the belief of those in the United States. Anderson was one of the original directors of the band and is best known for this particular march, serving to this day as a required test piece contest march in the UK. Musically it is distinctive for the flurry of chromatic 16th notes heard at the very beginning, followed by a serious sounding melody in minor. We use the proper British stride-tempo of 112 beats per minute. Assistant conductor Audrey McCombs takes the baton for this one.

 6- Gaelforce (2000) by Peter Graham Quite popular with bands in Great Britain these days, this music uses folk tunes of the Irish type -- with a lilting, almost Riverdance effect. Included are “The Rocky Road to Dublin”, then “The Minstrel Boy,” and as a finale “Tossing the Feathers.” Featured along the way are the cornets as a section, and a very sweet trombone solo, a virtuoso euphonium solo -- along with force-of- a-Gale percussion.

7- Post Horn Galop (1928) by Koening
 In the band world, these are at “Quick Step” tempo--160 beats per minute! This  march is “The Post Horn Gallop,” the first time HBBB has performed this famous work. Genius in simplicity and concept (even Mozart wrote a “Posthorn Serenade”), the instrument intended is the straight, short, 30-inch posthorn. For this performance, Gil Cline has the privilege of playing “the Genuine Article,” on loan directly from London and trumpet-maker David Edwards, former trumpeter and soloist with the Queen’s Life Guard Band.

 8- Shenandoah (ca. 1870)  arranged by Matthew Morgan
 One of the great songs in Americana, the various lyrics and usages reference a variety of settings including not only the Shenandoah Valley but also the Missouri River, river boatmen, clipper ship sailors, westward-bound settlers, and even escaped slaves. In this arrangement, the melody is taken not only by tenor horn, but also by the combined HBBB bass and baritone elements.

The next works pertain to the Veterans Day and in recognition of those among us, as well as family members and others before us, who have served in the various branches of military service.

 9- Images for Brass (2001)by Stephen Bulla
 Excellent brass band writing is not confined to the UK only. American composer Stephen Bulla for almost 30 years has served as Chief Arranger for “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band and White House Orchestra. This particular work was written upon the 50th Anniversary of the very important, and deadly, World War II battle of Iwo Jima, a seaborne landing invasion of an island crucial to ending the war in the Pacific against Japan. According to the composer's notes, the four movements depict “the quiet anticipation before conflict, the arduous journey into the scene of the battle, a time of introspection and prayer (the hymn tune “Melita” is featured), and finally the hostile confrontation.”

 Taps (1864)
In recent years of research and performance on natural trumpet (baroque and renaissance trumpets), Professor Cline has come to the conclusion that what we term “bugle” is actually a natural trumpet which gradually became shorter and shorter for various reasons. Each year, an example from his personal, modest collection is employed for the playing of Taps; this year it’s an unmarked low F trumpet/bugle of the sort favored by cavalry units of the 1880s and also by John Philip Sousa.

 11- The Star Spangled Banner (1814 / 2014)
This presentation is the result of some research and some creative activity here at HSU. We know the words, so famously penned by Francis Scott Key; fewer know that the music is by John Stafford Smith. But how many people these days know, or have ever heard, all FOUR verses?! HBBB’s Director first saw them on a statue in Golden Gate Park. After some research at a band music archive in Minnesota and some further digging at the Smithsonian, it was decided to present the singing of three verses (in reverse order) so seldom heard, and based on the original 1814 published music.

 12- U.S. Service Songs. Arranged by Gilbert Cline.
We offer our custom arrangement of US Service Songs, with not only Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force, but also Coast Guard --and-- the forgotten personnel in harms way, the U.S. Merchant Marine. We invite audience members to elect the option to stand at the appropriate time (for the music of that particular branch of service) if you are a veteran, or if you are family, or even relative in any generation. We do this out of respect to the considerable sacrifices made in service.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Guitar Ensemble Goes South of the Border

Tunes from Cuba, Mexico and the Andes, accompanied by bass, conga and flute highlight the HSU Guitar Ensemble performance of Central and South American music on Friday November 14, with guest appearance by soprano Elisabeth Harrington.

 “Each piece on the program is coming from a different place,” said Guitar Ensemble director Nicholas Lambson. “Some are directly based on folk melodies, some are complex modern works. Some are aligned with Western European styles and some are improvisatory. Many combine these elements into unique pieces of music that represent a complex and intimate relationship with the guitar.”

 Guitar Ensemble performers are Kenneth Bozanich, Tyler Burkhart, Michael Carrasco, Sandee Castaneda, Nick Hart, Andrew Heavelin, Bryant Kellison, Jason Keyes, Erin Laetz, Leo Plummer and Ryan Woempner. 

 Elisabeth Harrington joins Heavelin on a selection by famed Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos.  Composers of other tunes on the program include Manuel Ponce (Mexico), Agustin Barrios Mangore (Paraguay), Guido Santorsola (Uruguay) and Leo Brouwer (Cuba.) 

 The HSU Guitar Ensemble performs on Friday November 14 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door: $8 general, $5 seniors and children, HSU students with ID admitted free.  Directed by Nicholas Lambson, produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: Humboldt State Now

Guitar Ensemble Program & Notes

Performers (not in order pictured; click photo to enlarge): Kenneth Bozanich, Tyler Burkhart, Michael Carrasco, Sandee Castaneda, Nick Hart, Andrew Heavelin, Bryant Kellison, Jason Keyes, Erin Laetz, Leo Plummer, Ryan Woempner.  Special Guest: Elisabeth Harrington.


 Arrulladora mexicana by Manuel Ponce
 Danza Paraguaya – Agustin Barrios Mangore
 Two Andean Folk Songs – arranged by Jeremy Sparks
 Bachianas Brazilieras No.5 – Heitor Villa-Lobos
 Micropiezas – Leo Brouwer
 I Suite All’Antica – Guido Santorsola Minuetto
 Arietta Zapateado Caribe – Agustin Barrios
 Mangore Mambo Inn – Mario Bauza, Edgar Sampson, Bobby Woodlen
 Agua de Beber - Antonio Carlos Jobim

Notes by Nicholas Lambson

The HSU Guitar Ensemble will perform music from Central and South America on this concert, represented through works from Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, and Brazil. The program will include collaborations with students on bass, congas, and flute, and we are also excited to also be joined by Elisabeth Harrington, HSU professor of voice.

 Although most of the pieces on the program were written within the past few decades, versions of the guitar have been a major component of musical life there for hundreds of years. Much of this music does not survive, partly because a lot of it was improvised - guitarists tend to do a lot of that now also, so I guess not much has changed!

Heitor Villa-Lobos
The famous Brazilian composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos, frequently “jammed” with Brazilian street groups, called Choro bands. Paraguayan composer, Barrios Mangore, was also steeped in the improvisatory folk music of his country, and he would even perform in full traditional Guarini tribal dress. Luckily, they left us with fully composed music as well, which has the advantages of being able to clearly communicate what they intended, the works can often be more complex, and the pieces are generally repeatable.

 Each piece on the program is coming from a different place here: some are directly based on folk melodies, some are aligned with Western European styles, some are complex modern works, some are “improvisatory,” and many combine these into unique pieces of music that represent a complex and intimate relationship with the guitar.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Violinist Cindy Moyer Plays and Talks Bach 

 Violinist Cindy Moyer plays and talks about a Bach composition called “one of the greatest pieces of music ever written,” the Chaconne for solo violin, on Sunday November 9 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU.

 “I'll play the Chaconne, then talk about the historical background of the piece, the way the piece is constructed, and some of the performance decisions that I've made,” Moyer said, “and then I'll play it again.” 

 “The goal is to have the audience understand the piece better and thus to have them listen differently the second time. In addition, the piece is complex enough that a second time helps the listener grasp more of what is going on.” 

 The Chaconne is the final movement of the Partita in D minor for solo violin by J.S. Bach. “It is recognized as one of the monumental masterpieces of the violin repertoire,” Moyer said. “It’s profound, interesting in its construction, and very difficult to play.”

 “The setting for this concert will be unusually intimate,” Moyer notes. The audience will sit on the Fulkerson stage along with the performer.

 Cindy Moyer performs this lecture-recital on Sunday November 9 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall. Tickets are $10/$5 students and seniors, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door.  A Faculty Artist Series concert produced by HSU Music Department.

Bach's Chaconne: Quotes

Violinist Joshua Bell describes the Chaconne as "not just one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, but one of the greatest achievements of any man in history. It's a spiritually powerful piece - emotionally powerful, structurally perfect."

Composer Johannes Brahms said of the piece: "The Chaconne is one of the most wonderful, incomprehensible pieces of music. On a single staff, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and the most powerful feelings. If I were to imagine how I might have made, conceived the piece, I know for certain that the overwhelming excitement and awe would have driven me mad."

According to violinist Yehudi Menuhin, the Chaconne is "the greatest structure for solo violin that exists."

Friday, November 07, 2014

Humorous and Heartfelt: Opera Workshop Does Musical Theatre

HSU Opera Workshop presents humorous and heartfelt solos, duets and group scenes from musical theatre for two performances, Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, November 7 and 8 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 “This semester’s Opera Workshop class has focused on the basic stagecraft skills involved in musical theater and opera—using voice and movement to create effective storytelling, ” said Elisabeth Harrington, director of the Workshop and HSU professor of music. 

 Workshop students present scenes and tunes from Les Miserables, South Pacific, Miss Saigon, Annie Get Your Gun and other classic and contemporary musicals. 

 There will also be scenes for and about children, including several from the children’s musical Annabelle Broom—the Unhappy Witch. In December the Opera Workshop will perform that complete show for elementary school students in Humboldt County. 

 Performers are Makenna Baker, Ana Ceja, Paige Crownover, Sean Laughlin, Stephanie Lemon, Cora Rickert, Alberto Rodriguez, Jessie Rawson and Kimberly Sarmiento. John Chernoff is the pianist. Catherine Brown designed costumes and Christopher Joe designed the lighting.

 HSU Opera Workshop performs Friday November 7 at 8 p.m. and Saturday November 8 at 4 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door: $8 general, $5 seniors and children, HSU students with ID admitted free.  Directed by Elisabeth Harrington, produced by HSU Music Department.

Opera Workshop: Notes and Program

 This semester’s Opera Workshop class has focused on the basic stagecraft skills involved in musical theater and opera: using voice and movement to create effective storytelling. The repertoire we present this evening features twelve different stories, ranging from solo scenes to full ensembles, and from the heartfelt to the petty, to the comic. We have included several scenes for and about children.

 In mid-November, the members of the Opera Workshop will travel to Oakland to present portions of our show for middle and high school students. And, in December, we will present performances of Annabelle Broom-The Unhappy Witch for elementary school students in Humboldt County.

 Please join us again in spring of 2015, when the Opera Workshop class will partner with HSU Symphony instrumentalists to present Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas in Gist Hall, conducted by Paul Cummings.

Singers: Makenna Baker, Ana Ceja, Paige Crownover, Sean Laughlin ,Stephanie Lemon, Cora Rickert,  Alberto Rodriguez, Jessie Rawson, Kimberly Sarmiento.

Director: Elisabeth Harrington
Pianist: John Chernoff
Costumes: Catherine Brown
Lighting: Christopher Joe

The Program

 “I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right Out-a My Hair” from South Pacific (Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein): All women singers

 “Pulled” from The Addams Family (Andrew Lippa): Makenna

 “Plant a Radish” from The Fantasticks (Tom Schmidt and Harvey Jones): Alberto and Sean

 “Turning Turning” from Les Miserables (Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil): All women

 “Kindergarten Love Song” (Drew Gasparini): Jessie

 “The Last Night of the World” from Miss Saigon (Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil): Kimberly and Sean

 “What is this Feeling?” from Wicked (Stephen Schwartz): Makenna and Stephanie

 “Who Will Love me as I Am?” from Side Show (Henry Krieger and Bill Russell): Cora and Jessie

“Anything You Can Do” from Annie Get Your Gun (Irving Berlin): Paige and Alberto

 “Swamps of Home” from Once Upon a Mattress (Mary Rodgers and Marshall Barer): All Women, with special appearance as “Dauntless” by Sean.

 Scenes from Annabelle Broom-The Unhappy Witch (Eleanor and Ray Harder): Jessie and Alberto

 “Racing with the Clock” from The Pajama Game (Richard Adler and Jerry Ross): Full Company

Saturday, November 01, 2014

String Along with the Humboldt Symphony (and Guests)

 String along with the Humboldt Symphony string section and the Eureka High School String Orchestra in their shared concert with a combined finale on Saturday November 1 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 After the Eureka High players perform the first half of the concert, the Humboldt Symphony offers excerpts from three pieces for string orchestra. “Featuring our string section only is very unusual for us,” notes conductor Paul Cummings.

 “From Holberg’s Time” by 19th century Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg “is a famous work,” Cumming said. “In typical Grieg style, there is always something melodic happening. Melody really drives his music.”

 Grieg wrote this suite for strings to commemorate the bicentennial of Ludvig Holberg, a writer credited with pioneering modern Norwegian and Danish literature in the early 18th century.

 The Symphony also performs several movements of the best-known work for strings by Italian Baroque composer Archangelo Corelli, and a distinctly modern work by Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Karel Husa. 

 “We’ll play the first movement of the Husa, which is a set of highly contrasting variations,” Cummings said. “Some are very tonal, very singable and others are abstract, so you may be surprised that the same composer could have written all of them. It’s really good music by a good composer.” 

 The combined concert ends with a collaboration by both string ensembles.

 The Humboldt Symphony and Eureka High School String Orchestra perform on Saturday November 1 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU in Arcata. Tickets are $8 general, $5 seniors and children, and free to HSU students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. Concert produced by HSU Music Department.

Humboldt Symphony November 1 Concert: Director's Notes

Excerpted from an interview with Paul Cummings

"We are we are collaborating with the Eureka High School String Orchestra. The high school students will perform the first part of the concert, we’ll do the second with Humboldt Symphony strings only, then some music combined with both groups.

 Featuring just the string section only is very unusual for us. In our portion of the concert we’ll perform excerpts from three pieces for string orchestra. Then in December we’ll play the complete works."

 Archangelo Corelli: Concerto Grosso #8

"Corelli is one of the great mid-Baroque period composers at the end of the 17th century. He was mainly active in Rome. This piece is probably his best- known work for strings. It might sound familiar from parts of it heard during the holiday season.

 Corelli wrote quite a few pieces in this form of the concerto grosso, which features two main groups: the concertino group, which is a group of soloists, and the ripeno, which is everybody else. In most cases the concertino group is two violins and one cello.

 The concerto grosso is an historical form that was very important in the Baroque period. Most composers of the time wrote music in this form. It was the earliest form of what later became known simply as the concerto, with one soloist accompanied by the orchestra.

 In this piece the concertino group plays for awhile, then the ripeno comes in. Sometimes they play together, sometimes separately. We’ll be playing this piece with harpsichord and strings. It’s a chance to feature the stronger players as part of the concertino group. We’re going to feature three different soloists in each concert in November and December, so more of our students get the opportunity to experience the solo role without the music being really long, as in a nineteenth century concerto, or really really difficult."

 Karel Husa: Four Little Pieces (Vier kleine Stucke) 1955 

" From mid-Baroque we jump over 250 years to a contemporary piece. Karel Husa was born in 1921 in Czechoslovakia. He emigrated to the United States and began teaching at Cornell University in 1954. He published this work the next year.

This work is about as far removed from Archangelo Corelli as one can imagine. Husa uses modern harmonic language including atonal passages. There are two movements in this work that are atonal, meaning that there is no key center to the music.

 In this concert we’ll be playing the first movement, which is a set of variations. They are highly contrasted—some are very tonal, very singable, and others are harsh and abstract, so you find yourself surprised that the same composer could have written all of them. It’s really good music by a good composer."

 Edvard Grieg: From Holberg’s Time, Suite for Strings op. 40 #168 

 "This is a very famous work. In typical Grieg style, there is always something melodic happening. In the same vein as Franz Schubert, melody really drives his music. That’s very apparent in this piece, where there’s always melodic material that’s the basis of the development of the music.

 Grieg is considered Norway’s greatest composer. He wrote this in 1884 to honor Ludvig Holberg, a writer of the early 18th century who is considered the founder of modern Norwegian and Danish literature. He was called “the Moliere of Scandanavia.” So Grieg is capturing the spirit embodied in his literature and that earlier time. We’ll do two or three of the five movements this time, and the complete suite in December."

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Jazz Orchestra and Symphonic Band Share A Homecoming Concert 

HSU Jazz Orchestra pays tribute to legendary composer and pianist Horace Silver, and the Symphonic Band plays lesser-known gems by classic 20th century composers in their shared concert on Saturday October 4 in Fulkerson Recital Hall. 

 Horace Silver, says Jazz Orchestra director Dan Aldag, “is one of the most influential composers in jazz history.” Many of his tunes are jazz standards, and the orchestra is playing seven of them.

 Silver’s status as a hard-bop pioneer is represented by “Sister Sadie,” “Filthy McNasty” and other tunes. “Nutville” and “Nica’s Dream” showcase his Latin rhythms. Silver also wrote beautiful ballads, particularly one on this program: “Peace.” 

 Silver’s very detailed works for small ensembles are easily adaptable to big band, Aldag said. “Fans of Silver’s original recordings will hear much that is familiar in the arrangements we’re playing.” 

 In their half of this shared concert, the HSU Symphonic Band performs shorter works by 20th century composers George Gershwin, R. Vaughan Williams and Alberto Ginastera, as well as Gustav Holst’s complete Second Suite for Military Band.

 George Gershwin’s second prelude has his characteristic jazz-inflected style, said Symphonic Band director Paul Cummings. “If listeners find it similar to Rhapsody in Blue, it’s no mistake.”

 “Sea Songs” is a march in the slower British style by Vaughan Williams, part of his English Folk Song Suite, which is “probably his best known work for wind band. It’s very tuneful music and fun to play.” 

“Danza Final” by Alberto Ginasera by contrast is very rhythmic and energetic. “It’s a rousing, exciting number.”

Holst’s second suite is also partly based on folk melodies. The most famous of the four movements is the rhythmic “Song of the Blacksmith.” “This is one of the earliest works written for wind band,” Cummings noted, “and it is considered one of the best band pieces ever.” 

HSU Jazz Orchestra and Symphonic Band perform on Saturday October 4 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus. Tickets are $8, $5 seniors and children, free to HSU students with ID, from HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. Produced by HSU Music department.

Media: Eureka Times-Standard Urge, HSU Now

Jazz Orchestra: Director's Notes

The Jazz Orchestra is paying tribute to the legendary composer and pianist Horace Silver on our half of the October 4 concert. Silver passed away in June at the age of 85. He is one of the most influential composers in jazz history, having written a number of tunes that have become jazz standards, including the seven we will be playing: "Sister Sadie", "Nutville", "Song For My Father", "Filthy McNasty", "The Jody Grind", "Nica's Dream" and "Peace."

Silver was one of the originators of the hard bop style of jazz, which was distinguished in part by an earthiness that came from blues and gospel influences. This side of Silver's personality will be represented by "Sister Sadie", "Filthy McNasty", and "The Jody Grind."

Silver also made frequent use of Latin rhythms, particularly bossa nova, and this is heard in "Nutville", "Song For My Father", and "Nica's Dream". While not as well-known for it, Silver also wrote beautiful ballads, and "Peace" is probably the best-known of those.

 While Silver wrote almost exclusively for quintet or sextet, his compositions are filled with the kinds of details usually encountered in compositions for much bigger ensembles, so they're easily adaptable for big band, and fans of Silver's original recordings will hear much that's familiar in the arrangements were playing, which include the work of Cecil Bridgewater, John LaBarbera, John Clayton, David Berger, Ian McDougall, Dave Eshelman and Frank Mantooth.

--Dan Aldag

Symphonic Band: Director's Notes

From an interview with Symphonic Band director Paul Cummings

The pieces we are doing aren’t the best or the best known by these composers. Their best work is in forms other than for wind band. Still, this music is of high artistic merit. Some of these pieces are very short, but there is an art to composing a well-crafted piece that only last three minutes, and we have a couple of those.

 Sea Songs by R. Vaughan Williams

This was the second movement of Williams’ English Folk Song Suite for wind ensemble from 1923, probably his best-known work for wind. But these days this is usually performed as a self-contained composition. It’s a simple march setting in the British style, with a tempo that’s slower than American marches.

 The folk songs that Williams quotes drive the melodic interest. Some of the songs are “Admiral Benboe,” “Princess Royal” and “Portsmouth.” It’s fun to play and very tuneful music to hear.

Second Prelude by George Gershwin. Arranged by John Krance. 

 This is the second of his three piano preludes, arranged for wind band by John Krance, one of the better known arrangers. He did a good job with this piece—it translates pretty well to wind band. As far as I know this is the only one of the three that has been arranged for band.

 This is the slow movement with a very strong blues feel to it. It certainly has the Gershwin style, the jazz-inflected writing of the 1920s and 30s. If listeners find it similar to Rhapsody in Blue, it’s no mistake. It’s a three minute piece with trumpet and alto sax solos.

 Second Suite for Military Band op 28 no. 2 by Gustav Holst 
 1. March: Morris Dance, Swansea Town, Claudy Banks
 2. Song Without Words: "I'll Love My Love"
 3. Song of the Blacksmith
4. Fantasia on the Dargason

 This is considered one of the greatest band pieces ever. It’s also one of the earliest written expressly for wind band, in 1911. It’s very similar in style to his first suite of 1909: four movements—a march, then the Song Without Words which is based on a shepherd’s mournful song, played on clarinet.

 The Song of the Blacksmith is the famous movement. It evokes the blacksmith’s shop with sudden, sharp striking blows of the hammer on the anvil—a very rhythmic piece. There’s a melody but the emphasis is on the very pronounced rhythm.

 The fourth movement uses the melody of the English folk song “Greensleeves” in combination with other melodies. It demonstrates Holst’s craftsmanship as a young composer, in his ability to combine different thematic material.

Danza Final (Estancia) by Alberto Ginastera Arranged by David John 

 This is the last movement of a suite of dances that Ginastera pulled from his ballet, Estancia. Originally composed for orchestra, it’s been transcribed for band. Estancia is set in the open plains of Argentina, where the gauchos live on rancherias. The ballet has a love story. This final movement is a frenetic dance with a delirious quality—they are dancing so fast and so long that it’s intoxicating. This is part of the ritual of this Argentine gaucho lifestyle. We might think of it as an Argentine version of an American barn dance of 1880s Pennsylvania.

 There’s a very simple structure, very repetitive. It’s all about the dancing and the energy. It’s because of the unrelenting repetition and the very fast tempo that it is very difficult to play. But it’s a rousing, exciting number, and that’s our closer.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pianist Jeremy Samolesky in Guest Concert

 Pianist Jeremy Samolesky performs a Prokofiev sonata and works by Bach and Chopin in a Guest Artist concert at Humboldt State University on Saturday September 27.

 Dr. Samolesky was featured in a Canadian television documentary on 20th century Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. Among his many solo and chamber pianist performances in North America, Europe and Asia was a recital at the Kennedy Center in Washington, broadcast nationally on American Public Radio’s Performance Today program.  His debut solo CD will be released this fall.

 Originally from Canada, Dr. Samolesky holds two doctoral degrees from the Eastman School of Music, and is currently a professor of piano at Auburn University. He performs as a concerto soloist with orchestras throughout the U.S. and Canada, and is noted for working with living composers to present new works. 

 His program at HSU is scheduled to feature the sonata in A major by Prokofiev, also known as Piano Sonata No. 6, the first of Prokofiev’s three “war sonatas” composed in the 1940s. Other scheduled selections are an aria from Cantata No. 127 by Johann Sebastian Bach, a piano piece by Canadian composer Denis Gougeon, and two pieces by Frederic Chopin: Fantasie in F minor and Etude in B minor. 

 Pianist Jeremy Samolesky performs on Saturday September 27 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $10 general/$5 seniors, children and students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. This Guest Artist Series concert is produced by the HSU Music Department. 

Media: Times-Standard Urge, HSU Now, Mad River Union

Guest Artist Jeremy Samolesky: The Program

Die Seele ruht in Jesu Händen  from Cantata No. 127 by J.S. Bach/Harold Bauer

Piano-Soleil” from Six Thèmes Solaires (1992) by  Denis Gougeon

 Fantasie in F minor, Op. 49 by Frederic Chopin
 Etude in B minor, Op. 25 no. 10 by Frederic Chopin


Sonata in A major, Op. 82 by Sergei Prokofiev
 I Allegro moderato
 II Allegretto
 III Tempo di valzer lentissimo
 IV Vivace

Guest Artist Biography: Jeremy Samolesky

Jeremy Samolesky, a native of Manitoba, Canada, currently serves as Associate Professor of Piano at Auburn University, where he teaches piano performance majors and serves as Piano Area Coordinator.

Known for his passion for both solo and collaborative performances, Samolesky has appeared in concert as a soloist and chamber pianist throughout the U.S., Canada, Italy, Austria, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Singapore, and Serbia, including a full recital at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., which was broadcast nationally on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today.”

 As a concerto soloist, Samolesky performs regularly with orchestras throughout the U.S. and Canada, with concertos by Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Brahms, and Rachmaninov. Festival appearances include the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Orford Arts Centre (Quebec), the Agassiz Music Festival (Winnipeg), the Courtenay Music Festival (B.C.), the Methow Music Festival (WA), the Adriatic Chamber Music Festival (Bonefro, Italy), and the Chigiana Music Academy in Siena. Broadcasts of his performances have been heard on Seattle’s KING FM, Canada’s CBC, CJOB, WDAZ (ND), and Troy Public Radio (AL). Dr. Samolesky was also featured in a documentary on the piano music of Sergei Prokofiev, produced by the Manitoba Television Network.

Samolesky enjoys maintaining a rigorous performance schedule, with recent concert tours of China and Hong Kong, along with over 75 recitals and masterclasses at universities spanning 15 different states throughout the U.S over the past five years. In the summer of 2013, he was featured as a lecturer and soloist at the World Piano Conference in Novi Sad, Serbia, and also made his third annual residency in Malaysia, sponsored by the Perak Society of Performing Arts.

 Dedicated to the promotion of new music, Samolesky often works directly with living composers in preparing performances of their works, having given recent premieres by composers such as David Maslanka David Plylar, and Carl Vollrath.
Samolesky’s debut solo CD will be released on the Centaur label in the fall of 2014.

 Dr. Samolesky achieved the rare distinction of graduating with two doctoral degrees from the Eastman School of Music: Piano Performance and Literature under the direction of Barry Snyder, and Accompanying and Chamber Music with Jean Barr. Eastman has permitted this double-doctorate just once before in the school’s history.

 In his four years at Eastman, Samolesky garnered many top honors, including the Barr Award, the Barbara M. King Scholarship, the Brooks Smith Scholarship, the “Excellence in Accompanying” award for three years in a row, 1st place in the Kneisel Lieder Competition, and was awarded the Performer’s Certificate for distinguished artistry in performance. He also holds the Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from the University of Washington and the Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Manitoba.

As a teacher, Dr. Samolesky’s students are frequent competition winners and regularly receive prestigious scholarships and assistantships at renowned graduate music programs throughout the U.S. For his achievements, he was awarded the 2012 “Excellence in Teaching” award from Auburn University. Samolesky currently serves on the executive board of the Alabama Music Teachers’ Association and would like to thank the Manitoba Arts Council for their continued support throughout his career.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

A Musical Welcome to the New School Year

HSU Music faculty members perform in their annual Welcome Concert to celebrate the new school year on Saturday September 6 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 The planned program includes jazz, percussion, original compositions and a tango ballet as well as pieces by Bach, Brahms and Dvorak. This late afternoon event is followed by a reception in the Music Lobby. 

 This concert also welcomes two new Music faculty members: Daniel Colson (bass) and Joel Cohen (cello.) 

 “The opportunity to collaborate is particularly appealing for the performers,” said music professor Elisabeth Harrington. These collaborations begin with Howard Kaufman, Eugene Novotney and David Penalosa combining on a percussion trio by Penalosa. They include an unusual duo of Dan Aldag (trombone) and Gil Cline (trumpet) on the jazz piece “For Dancers Only” by Sy Oliver.

 Quintet in G Major by Antonin Dvorak is performed by Cindy Moyer and Karen Davy on violin, Sherry Hanson on viola, Kira Weiss on cello and Daniel Colson on bass. These five performers also combine on “Tango Ballet” by famed Argentine composer Astor Piazolla. 

 Virginia Ryder (clarinet) and Robin Miller (piano) join Cindy Moyer for a suite by Darius Milhaud. Joel Cohen (cello) and Elena Casanova (piano) perform music by J.S. Bach and Johannes Brahms.

 Vocalist Elisabeth Harrington and pianist John Chernoff combine on two parts of “Reflections in Time,” a composition by HSU Music professor Brian Post that incorporates poems by HSU faculty. Chernoff also plays two other pieces by Post. 

 The 2014 Welcome concert begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday September 6 in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus. Tickets are $10 general/$5 seniors, children and students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. This Faculty Artist Series concert is produced by the HSU Music Department. 

Media: Mad River Union, Eureka Times Standard Urge, HSU Now.

Welcome Concert: The Program

These are the pieces scheduled to be played at the 2014 Welcome Concert on September 6, though not necessarily in performance order.  

Off/On 1 by David Peñalosa

 Howard Kaufman, Quinto, Tumba, and Bell
 Eugene Novotney, Timbales and Percussion
 David Peñalosa, Quinto and Conga

 “In Gratitude” by Brian Post
 John Chernoff, piano

Movements from “Reflections in Time” by  Brian Post
 The Way things work
 Elisabeth Harrington, soprano John Chernoff, piano

Quintet in G Major, Op. 77  by Antonin Dvorak
 Scherzo: Allegro vivace

Tango Ballet by Astor Piazolla (arr. by Jose Bragato)
 Tempo di Tango 
 La Calle Encuentro - Olvido

Cindy Moyer, violin
Karen Davy, violin
Sherry Hanson, viola
Kira Weiss, cello
Daniel Colson, bass

Suite for clarinet, violin, and piano, Op. 157b by Darius Milhaud
 Introduction et Final 

Virginia Ryder, clarinet
Cindy Moyer, violin
Robin Miller, piano

Allemande from Suite # 6 in D by J.S. Bach
Sonata in D major op 76 by Johannes Brahms
Vivace ma non troppo

Joel Cohen, cello
Elena Casanova, piano

"For Dancers Only" by Sy Oliver

 Dan Aldag, trombone
 Gil Cline, trumpet

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Welcome To 2014-15!

As students return to the Humboldt State campus, so does the music!

Check the column to the right for the September schedule, and watch this space for more information soon!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Trails! Humboldt Chorale & U Singers in Last Concert of the School Year 

 The Humboldt Chorale ends the final concert of this school year by singing cowboy songs, most with a Humboldt County connection, in their shared concert with HSU University Singers beginning at 8 p.m. on Sunday May 11.

 “We’re starting with ‘Home on the Range’ and ending with ‘Happy Trails,’” said Chorale director Carol Ryder. For her, it’s “happy trails” in more ways than one. “Since it is my last semester at HSU, I thought it would be a great time to celebrate Humboldt County and my own roots in music.”

 "Happy Trails" is of course the tune by Dale Evans Rogers that she sang with cowboy singer, movie and TV star Roy Rogers. But most of the Chorale’s set features cowboy songs with music composed by HSU professor emeritus Jim Standard and current staff pianist John Chernoff. The lyrics are by Gwen Peterson, rancher and cowboy poet. “Gwen is a friend of Jim’s in Montana,” said Ryder,” and a pretty funny woman.”

 In addition to the songs, Humboldt County rancher, designer and HSU professor emeritus Gerald Beck reads from his autobiographical book, To Be A Horseman.

 In their half of the concert, the HSU University Singers perform Gabriel Faure’s complete Requiem. “The singers would like to dedicate the performance of the Requiem to the memory of the young people who tragically lost their lives in a traffic accident in April,” said director Harley Muilenburg.

 The University Singers will also perform 20th century American composer Randall Thompson’s setting of a Robert Frost poem, “Choose Something Like A Star.” Muilenburg dedicates the performance to Carol Ryder, in recognition of her retirement from HSU.

 The University Singers and Humboldt Chorale perform on Sunday May 11 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets are $8/$5, free to HSU students with ID, from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door.  Produced by HSU Music Department.

2014 University Singers: (not in order pictured; click image to enlarge) Ana Ceja, Berenice Ceja, Hope Botelho, Cat Clark, Emily Cornelus, Kinara Erickson, Alia Fix, Linnea Hillo, Katie Jumper, Stevy Marquez, Danielle Murray, Gabriela Pelayo, Jessie Rawson, Kallie Sorenson, Jessica Golden, Greata Goshorn, Michelle Green, Erica Luna, Katherine McCall, Skyler McCormick, Eve Ellen Mejla, Andrea Ortiz, Eiko Ujifusa, Steven Flores, Nicholas Hart, Victor Guerrero, Bryant Kellison, Kyle McInnis, David Paden, John Pettlon, Leonardo Simmons, Raul Yepez, Alex Albin, Neil Bost, Cliff Bruhn, Braxton Corbin, Charles Hollowell, Kristofer Lang, Joseph Mayer, Alberto Rodriguez, Justin Santos, Eric Taite, Chris Werner, Clayton Willis.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

From the Duke to Britney with the Jazz Orchestra

 HSU Jazz Orchestra plays a Duke Ellington classic, a brand new arrangement of Horace Silver’s “Peace,” and a Britney Spears tango in Spanish. Sort of. It all happens on Saturday May 10 in Fulkerson Recital Hall. 

Duke Ellington’s Harlem was performed by the Jazz Orchestra in collaboration with the Humboldt Symphony in March, under the direction of Dan Aldag. “This time it’s just the band,” Aldag said, “with the version Ellington originally wrote for his own band.” 

Jazz pianist Horace Silver originally recorded his classic ballad “Peace” with a quartet. David Berger, arranger and conductor of his own jazz orchestra, did a band version. In March, Dan Aldag heard it played by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. “I liked it so much that I immediately contacted Berger and purchased.” The HSU Jazz Orchestra plays it for this concert. 

 Also on the bill is Chick Corea’s “Blue Miles” (arranged by Bob Washut) and “the rhythmically intricate” Alan Ferber track from his Grammy-nominated album March Sublime, called “Kopi Luwak.” 

“The second half of the concert features works by current and former students,” Aldag said. Current trumpeter McKenna Smith sings her original tune, “Be Like Ella,” with the band. She also contributes a spoken word piece to “Pink,” a tune first recorded by the Bobby Sanabria Big Band.

 But the big collaboration revolves around the 2004 global pop hit “Toxic” as recorded by Britney Spears. “Dan Fair, who graduated last year, wrote an arrangement which turns it into a tango,” Aldag said. “One of the band's trombonists, Spanish major Bret Johnson, translated the lyrics into Spanish, and the band's baritone saxophonist, Lauren Strella, sings them.” You'll just have to be there.

 HSU Jazz Orchestra performs on Saturday May 10 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets are $8/$5, free to HSU students with ID, from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Dan Aldag, produced by HSU Music Department.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Humboldt Symphony Features Concerto Competition Winner

 Humboldt Symphony performs Alexander Borodin’s most popular symphony, plus Grieg’s piano concerto and a festive work by Spanish composer Joaquin Turina in two concerts at HSU, Friday evening May 9 and Sunday afternoon May 11 in Fulkerson Recital Hall. 

 Nineteenth century Russian composer Alexander Borodin’s romantic and melodic works influenced later classical and stage musical composers. Humboldt Symphony performs his Symphony No. 2, which became his most popular “because of its vividly rugged harmonies, deft orchestration, and a seemingly inexhaustible fund of energetic, passionate, and above all, Russian themes,” according to former Washington Post classical music critic Andrew Lindemann Malone. 

 The Piano Concerto in A minor by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg begins with what has been called one of the most familiar openings in the concerto repertoire. Like Borodin, he employs folk themes from his native country. The Humboldt Symphony features piano soloist Ryan McGaughey, winner of this year’s Concerto Competition.

 La Procession du Rocio by 20th century Spanish composer Joaquin Turina celebrates a fiesta and ceremonial march. Compared favorably to similar works by Ravel and Debussy, it was so well received by its first audience in 1913 that Turina—who was also conducting it—had to immediately lead the orchestra in playing it again.

 Humboldt Symphony performs on Friday May 9 at 8 p.m. and again on Sunday May 11 at 3 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets are $8/$5, free to HSU students with ID, from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door.  Conducted by Kenneth Ayoob, produced by HSU Music Department.

Humboldt Symphony Additional Notes

Alexander Borodin Symphony No. 2
Notes by Andrew Lindemann Malone

"Symphony No. 2 in B minor took a long while to compose, as Borodin fit it in between labors on other works and his efforts as a scientist to ensure that women had access to chemistry courses. It was begun in 1869, but the piano score was not complete until 1875, and the orchestral version was not performed until 1877.

That version was revised in 1879 after a poorly received premiere. Yet posterity has made the Symphony No. 2 not only Borodin's most popular symphony, but the most popular symphony written by any member of the nationalist Mighty Handful (Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, Mili Balakirev, and Borodin), because of its vividly rugged harmonies, deft orchestration, and a seemingly inexhaustible fund of energetic, passionate, and, above all, Russian themes.

 A program for all but the second movement of the symphony has survived, as Borodin told it to critic Vladimir Stassov. The sonata-form first movement depicts a gathering of Russian knights; it opens with a strong, noble theme played on unison strings, as brasses and winds provide dark color and essay a chivalric-sounding contrasting theme. After a few repetitions of the opening music, a second theme enters, based on motifs from the folk songs "The Terrible Tsar" and "The Nightingale" and distinguished by its easy lyricism.

The development section introduces a gallop rhythm that affects fragments of the themes and lends a knightly feel to the proceedings, leading into a recapitulation whose longer notes and thicker orchestration make it even more emphatic than the exposition. The Prestissimo scherzo that follows uses a sustained brass chord to modulate from B minor to F major (a remote key), and then launches into a succession of quick, bright, lightly scored melodies.

The Trio takes a graceful, winding theme (also derived from the abovementioned folk songs) and runs it through various keys. The Andante third-movement portrays a legendary minstrel named Bayan, and evokes the sound of his zither in the opening bars with harp and pizzicato strings. At first, a warm horn melody dominates, but soon a struggle develops between a nervous, minor-mode motive introduced on the woodwinds and the opening melody.

Finally, the opening melody enters triumphantly in the strings, and leads into a coda that brings back the minstrel evocation; this in turn leads directly into the Allegro finale. This finale depicts a jubilant crowd, using an appropriately buoyant main theme (decorated with generous percussion) and a second theme that begins as a quiet lyric, but soon expands into a celebration itself. A new development theme recalls the symphony's opening music, but this soon yields to a supremely joyous, unstoppable elaboration of the two main themes, whose momentum propels the music through the recapitulation and the coda. Borodin's Symphony No. 2 deserves its exalted position in the annals of the Mighty Handful's orchestral music."

Edvard Grieg Piano Concerto in A Minor First Movement
Note by Don Anderson © Copyright 2014 Toronto Symphony Orchestra

"The first movement boasts one of the most familiar openings in the entire concerto repertoire. Much of its memorability springs from its very simplicity. The movement proper wears a rather melancholy expression, although warmth is amply present as well. A long, taxing solo cadenza near the end says about all there is to say, so Grieg follows it with only the briefest of summings-up. Grieg tapped into the rich heritage of the folk song for much of his music and helped chart a path of Norwegian nationalism and a moving away from Germanic models."

Joaquin Turina – La Procession du Rocio
Note by Joseph Stevenson 

 "This was the first orchestral work by Joaquin Turina. At its premiere in Madrid under the baton of in March 1913, it proved so popular that it had to be repeated on the spot. It is an exotic and colorful portrait of a fiesta in the composer's native Seville, equal in brilliance and orchestral magic to similar works by Ravel or Debussy. The first movement quickly shows scenes from the festival, opening with a seguidilla, then a coplas (oboe) and soleares (viola), before closing with a rather tipsy fandango. The other movement is the religious procession itself, a ceremonial march with interruptions for religious hymns. At the end, church bells peal out and trumpets play the Spanish royal anthem."

Thursday, May 08, 2014

AM Jazz Band Gets Bluesy

 AM Jazz Band gets bluesy for their concert on Thursday May 8 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 On the blue side is “All Blues” by Miles Davis, as well as “Blues in the Closet” by jazz bassist and composer Oscar Pettiford, and “Blue Bossa” by trumpeter and composer Kenny Dorham. Dorham’s jazz standard was first recorded by Joe Henderson. 

 Also on the program are jazz standards by Sonny Rollins (“Doxy”) and hard bop trumpeter Lee Morgan (“The Sidewinder.”) “A Child Is Born” is the most famous tune by jazz trumpeter Thad Jones, known for his Count Basie Band arrangements as well as his own jazz orchestra. 

 The AM Jazz Band performs on Thursday May 8 at 8:30 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Tickets are $8/$5, free to HSU students with ID, from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Dan Aldag, produced by HSU Music Department.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Madrigal and MRT Singers: From Dowland to a cappella Jazz

 Madrigal Singers highlight songs of John Dowland and Mad River Transit adds a cappella jazz to its offerings in a shared spring concert on Sunday May 4 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 John Dowland is perhaps the most famous of the madrigal era composers, especially after Sting recorded an album of his songs. The Madrigal Singers perform solo selections accompanied by HSU alumnus Jason Hall on guitar. “Jason’s superb guitar playing will provide an insight into the Elizabethan Madrigal style of music,” said director Harley Muilenburg.

 In various combinations, the Madrigal Singers perform other Renaissance era songs, including Peter Warlock’s “Pretty Ring Time” and settings by Henry Purcell, Gabriel Faure and Benjamin Britten, with John Chernoff accompanying on keyboards.

 The Mad River Transit singers perform their program of ballads, blues and swing accompanied by a three-piece rhythm section, ranging from Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen to James Taylor and Theolonius Monk. New this year is a student-led a cappella group called Syncopations, which performs two songs recorded by Take Six: “Gold Mine"and "Get Away Jordan.”

The MRT rhythm section is John Chernoff (piano), Ian Taylor (bass) and Thatcher Holvick-Norton (drums.)
Madrigal Singers and Mad River Transit perform on Sunday May 4 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $8/$5, free to HSU students with ID, from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Harley Muilenburg, produced by HSU Music Department.