Friday, October 16, 2015

Kiss Me, Kate Opens October 16

Is it real or is it Shakespeare—or is it both? High-spirited singing, dancing and a classic Broadway-sized orchestra take you back to a 1948 theatre stage, where couples behave badly but love conquers all in Cole Porter’s most applauded musical comedy, Kiss Me, Kate. 

The HSU production of  Kiss Me, Kate is performed in the Van Duzer Theatre on Friday and Saturday October 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday Oct. 22-24 at 7:30 with one matinee on Sunday Oct. 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15, $10 seniors, students and children from the HSU Box Office (826-3928.) Kiss Me, Kate is a co-production of the HSU Music department and the HSU Theatre, Film & Dance department. More information in the posts below, and at HSU Stage & Screen.
“It’s a big musical the way big musicals used to be,” said director Susan Abbey. “It’s not the spectacle-based musical of today—it’s driven by a great story that’s fun and funny, celebrating the magic of theatre and the power of love.”

Adding excitement for audiences is an orchestra of 20 community and HSU musicians, playing the original arrangements as they were performed on Broadway—an increasingly rare event. Though this music was meant for a full orchestra, “often it’s watered down to a combo or a few synthesizers and a drum machine,” said Paul Cummings, musical co-director and conductor of the orchestra.

Lilli (played by Anna Duchi) is a fading and angry movie star, Fred (Gino Bloomberg) is her recent ex-husband, an egotistical actor-producer with a roving eye. 

From Shakespeae's sunny Padua to the Baltimore backstage of a 1948 production of The Taming of the Shrew (Modernized), they are fuming and fighting-- as are the characters they play (Kate and Petruchio)-- and it gets harder for everybody to tell the difference.

Plot twists involve Shrew actors Lois (Tossa Hayward) and Bill (Christopher Moreno), Lilli's new beau General Howell (Matthew Atkins), and a couple of sometimes comic gangsters (Ivan Gamboa and Mickey Thompson.) Many songs and dances ensue while lessons are learned so that true love can triumph.

The original Kiss Me, Kate opened in 1948 and won multiple Tony Awards including Best Musical while setting box office records. It is generally considered to be the best musical of Cole Porter’s long and legendary career.

 “People know these Cole Porter tunes,” said musical director Elisabeth Harrington, “even if they don’t know they are from this show.”

Kiss Me, Kate: Our Cast and Production

Our Cast

Lilli/Kate: Anna Duchi
Fred/Petriuchio: Gino Bloomberg
Lois/Bianca: Tossa Hayward
 Bill/Lucentio: Christopher Moreno
 General Harrison Howell: Matthew Atkins
 Gangsters: Ivan Gamboa, Mickey Thompson
Harry/Baptista: Bob Service
Sadie/Priest: Janet Waddell

 The following members of the cast play multiple roles and/or are members of the Company: Makenna Baker, Joshua Banuelos, Justine Bivans, Camille Borrowdale, Ambar Cuevas, Tyler Ewell, William English III, Ethan Frank, Erin Henry, Christopher Joe, Stephanie Lemon, Magdelinda Leyra-Garcia, Luz Meja, John Pettion, Fuafiva Pulu, Carolina Rios, Elio Robles, Samantha Kolby, Noah Sims, Ayanna Wilson, Jonathan Wisan, Britney Wright.

Our Production

 Director: Susan Abbey
Musical Directors: Elisabeth Harrington, Paul Cummings
 Choreographer and Dance Director: Sharon Butcher
Scenographer/Scenic Designer: Derek Lane
Lighting Designer: Santiago Menjiver
 Costume Design: Alexander Sterns, Izzy Ceja, Veronica Brooks
 Props Designer: Brynn Allen
 Stage Manager: Heidi Voelker
Asst. Director: Chelly Purnell
Asst. Music Director: Jessie Rawson
 Asst. Orchestra: Starsong Brittain
 Asst. Scenic Designer: Maggie Luc
Asst. Stage Manager: Sarina Rodriguez

Publicity photos by Kellie Brown
Publicity/site text & design by Bill Kowinski

Kiss Me, Kate: The Voices

Anna Duchi as Lilli Vanessi
Kiss Me, Kate is often called a classic musical comedy. It’s from the American musical’s golden age, and it has stood the test of time in entertaining audiences and thrilling them with its songs. But in terms of the music itself, it also means a closer relationship to classical forms.

 “This is classic musical theatre,” said Elisabeth Harrington, musical co-director of the HSU production. “Voices are used in their full range—vocally and emotionally. There’s a lot of sustained singing and high singing. There are classical demands that today’s students may not be used to, so it’s a continuing challenge.”

 “At the same time, our students are totally digging the upbeat quality of the music, the jazz chords, the sexiness of songs like ‘Too Darn Hot.’ They love the comedy. They’re enjoying all the colors in Cole Porter that make his songs so unique. It helps them understand and embrace the difficulty of the vocal techniques involved, and that’s really neat to see.”

 The two leads—Anna Duchi as Lilli and Shakespeare’s Kate, Gino Bloomberg as Fred and Petruchio—are experienced singers as well as actors. “Anna Duchi has sung in the Mad River Transit jazz choir. She comes from a musical theatre family—her mother owns and operates a musical theatre in the Bay Area, so she has grown up with all kinds of music. Gino Bloomberg has been in tons of musical theatre locally. He’s studied voice for a long time, he’s grown up doing that.”

 But the show also features a fair amount of ensemble singing, which includes those who are primarily actors or dancers. “When I saw the scope of this—it’s a ton of music and it’s hard—I decided to approach this in a different way than I had before. I started with the whole group together learning the ensemble songs, rather than with the leads. Sometimes it’s a stretch for them but they’re really embracing it.”

 For some this includes joining voice classes. Nine members of the cast took private lessons from Harrington.

 Apart from operatic high notes, there are tempo changes, “tricky harmonies that are very tight, with syncopated rhythms,” and those famous Cole Porter lyrics, which include words and phrases in German and Italian.

 But experiencing the artistry of it is part of the excitement, for singers and the audience. “The songs are expertly crafted, and that shows through, regardless of the singers’ level of experience. That will be great for audiences, too, because they’re going to recognize the skill of the material itself.”

 “People know these tunes—even if they don’t know they are from this show. They’re going to love the production—the students are coming at it with such energy and enthusiasm.”

 “I’ve never actually been involved in a production of Kiss Me, Kate before," Harrington said. "I’ve sung songs from it and taught songs from it, but never got to go through every bar of music. It’s a real joy to be able to do it. It’s a beautiful score.”

Kiss Me, Kate: The Orchestra

Two nights before the first ever public performance of Kiss Me, Kate, the company had a complete run-through of the show, including songs and dances, but without costumes, scenery or the orchestra. The music was played by a rehearsal pianist.

 The show’s producers had several notables observing from the darkened auditorium, in order to get their reactions. Eminent playwright and director Moss Hart thought it was a disaster. So did eminent choreographer Agnes de Mille. So did others.  The cast knew nothing of this, but nevertheless some also had their doubts about the show.

 The first performances were in Philadelphia, a tryout before Broadway. From the first night, the show was a major hit with critics and audiences. After being held over for three weeks in Philadelphia, the same response was repeated on Broadway: immediate success, and eventually one of the longest running shows in Broadway history to that point.

 What was the difference? Writes Cole Porter biographer William McBrien, quoting the female lead of the show, “Pat Morison recalled that only in Philadelphia, when the cast heard the orchestrations of Robert Russell Bennett for the first time, did they realize what a brilliant show Kate was.”

Robert Russell Bennett
 “We’re going to fill up that pit in the Van Duzer Theatre with players,” said Paul Cummings, Kiss Me Kate musical co-director for the HSU production, and its orchestra conductor. “We’re using the original full Broadway orchestration. The show was revised in 1999 and it’s difficult to know just what changes were made. But by and large I think we’re dealing with the 1948 orchestration by Robert Russell Bennett.”

 “Bennett did most of the major Broadway orchestrations from 1945 to 1965. He was the go-to guy, an absolutely brilliant orchestrator.”

 “ Bennett often doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his creative contribution because he’s listed as an arranger or orchestrator. But a Broadway orchestrator was more than a guy who transcribed notes to instruments—he actually did some composing. In fact he is responsible more than anyone else for the sounds that live in our memory from many famous Broadway shows in that 20 year period, including Kiss Me, Kate.”

 “It’s very difficult music. There are many uptempo dance numbers with the notes just flying across the page. There’s lots of great lyricism in this score, lots of great tunes. The ballads are beautiful, lovely vehicles for the lead singers.”

 Twenty community and HSU student players will be in the pit, but the range of instruments will be even greater than that number. “Not only is the music freakishly difficult, many will be playing it on five or six different instruments. So as soon as you’ve finished 25 measures on tenor sax, you switch to an English horn, then to an oboe, and then to a soprano saxophone.”

“So it’s very challenging, but we’re happy to be doing the original orchestration. Often these shows are watered down to a combo or a few synthesizers and a drum machine. If you go to a New York show now you’re likely to see four or five instruments in the pit, two of which are synthesizers, one a drum machine and maybe a bass and guitar. You’re not likely to see any woodwind or brass instruments.”

 “That probably is an economic issue more than anything, but in a university setting we do try to do things as the original calls for. It’s especially rewarding to be doing Bennett’s original orchestration because it’s great writing. It fits the instruments, and players can tell.”

 “So nobody whines or complains, or says why am I switching to oboe when this could have been done on clarinet. The music fits the instrument it is written for. That’s true in his own compositions as well. He has total command of what each instrument is capable of. That’s the genius of Robert Russell Bennett.”

Kiss Me, Kate: The Composer

“In a way no other songs of the period quite did,” wrote journalist Walter Clemons, “Porter’s created a world.”

 But the man who personified continental elegance and Manhattan sophistication grew up in a small Indiana town on the banks of the Wabash River. Its only distinguishing feature was as the winter home for a circus, and it was watching circus acts rehearse for the next season that young Cole got his first taste of show business.

 His maternal grandfather made a fortune, starting with a dry goods business supplying miners during the California Gold Rush. His mother, Katie Cole, was born in Brandy City in Sierra County, now a ghost town.

His grandfather was determined that Cole would be a businessman, but his mother supported his artistic expressions. Cole went to Yale where he wrote over 100 songs and was the center of most musical and theatrical activity. His grandfather insisted he go on to law school, but after Porter’s disastrous first semester, the Dean of the Harvard law school himself suggested Cole pursue songwriting, and sent him over to the Harvard School of Music.

 He continued his musical studies in Paris, where he met and married another American, Linda Lee (a descendant of Robert E. Lee.) Though Cole Porter was actively gay and this marriage was in part a cover in an intolerant time, he and Linda remained devoted to each other until her death. He relied on her judgment for every song. Said Saint Subber, producer of Kiss Me, Kate, “Linda was the air that made his sails move.”

 They were in Paris in the 1920s, among notable American expatriates in the unique artistic ferment of this time and place. One summer the Porters rented a seaside chateau at Cap d’Antibes, an unheard of place to spend the hot months.

 They invited Porter’s Yale friend Gerald Murphy and his wife to join them for two weeks. The Murphys loved the area, and returned for many summers afterwards, bringing with them such friends as Picasso, Stravinsky, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Eric Satie. The Murphys (celebrated in Calvin Tomkins’ book, Living Well Is The Best Revenge) essentially created the Riviera. But Cole Porter had discovered it.

 In 1923 Murphy and Porter collaborated on an American ballet to be performed as a curtain-raiser for La Creation du Monde, a ballet by French composer Darius Milhaud. Porter wrote the score, a “witty parody of the piano music played in silent-movie theaters” (according to Calvin Tomkins) while Murphy wrote the story and painted “a striking backdrop, which was a parody of the Hearst newspapers of the day.”

 Murphy also helped Porter’s musical education. He arranged with Jimmy Durante’s drummer to send him the latest American jazz records every month, and he knew and sang still obscure American folk songs and spirituals.

Murphys and Coles Venice 1923
 Throughout his life Porter loved to travel around the world. He absorbed the local music wherever he went, and made use of it in his songs. In this era, if you wanted the world’s music, you mostly had to go and find it.

 Porter’s ballet score and his songs for various theatrical events won the enthusiasm of the artistic community and wealthy sophisticates in Paris and New York, but they were not mainstream enough for Broadway in the 1920s.

 Then popular tastes caught up to him in a big way in the 30s. He got his first Broadway revues thanks to recommendations by Irving Berlin, and a string of hit shows followed, notably the enduring classic Anything Goes.

 He transitioned to Hollywood with the star of one of his Broadway shows, Fred Astaire. Porter alternated between Broadway and Hollywood, often doing one show and one movie a year. His movie work continued into the 1950s.

A performer friend described him as “kind, gentle, very elegant.” A journalist called him “The Indiana lad with the Buddha gaze.” He lived in luxury in a huge apartment in Manhattan’s Waldorf Towers with his two cats, Anything and Goes.

 But in the mid 1940s he’d hit a dry spell. Though it had been nearly 10 years since a riding accident crushed his legs, he was still in near constant pain. He saw that musical theatre was changing, and he wondered if he could change with it.

 Then he was presented with an idea for a Broadway musical based on, of all things, a play by Shakespeare. Kiss Me, Kate became his biggest hit and as a complete show, his most enduring success.

Kiss Me, Kate: The Songs

“People know these Cole Porter tunes,” said Elisabeth Harrington, music director of the HSU production of Kiss Me, Kate, “even if they don’t know they are from this show.”

 Songs from this show like “Another Op’nin', Another Show,” “From This Moment On,” “Too Darn Hot” and others have had lives of their own, but one notable feature of Cole Porter tunes is that they nearly all were introduced in Broadway shows or Hollywood movies, sung by Fred Astaire, Ethel Merman, Jimmy Durante, Mary Martin, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly, among others.

 But these tunes (including “Don’t Fence Me In,” “I Love Paris,” “Night and Day,” “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “True Love” as well as “Night and Day,” “Begin the Beguine,” “Let’s Do It,” “Anything Goes” and “You’re the Top”) were kept alive through recording and reinterpretations by several generations of singers: from Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald through Elvis Presley, George Harrison, Natalie Cole, Elton John, Carly Simon and Celine Dion to U2, Annie Lennox, Elvis Costello, K.D. Laing, Alanis Morisette, Sheryl Crow and Diana Krall. Lady Gaga has recorded several Porter songs, and calls him one of her favorite composers.

 Another notable feature of Cole Porter’s songs was that he wrote both lyrics and music. Along with Irving Berlin (Porter’s lifelong friend and supporter, who got him his first Broadway assignments), Cole Porter is exceptional among songwriters of his era in this regard.

 So while his lyrics are legendary, his music is strong enough to be recorded on its own, by big bands and jazz instrumentalists including Artie Shaw (who plucked “Begin the Beguine” out of a forgotten show and made it famous), Benny Goodman, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley and Charlie Parker.

 Though Porter wrote songs or parts of songs and kept them “in the drawer” for possible future use, he tended to write pretty much to order for specific shows. This was especially true for Kiss Me, Kate, since it was his first show to integrate the songs so completely with the story.

He could write quickly, as the four day weekend when he wrote three of the songs in this show, including “Another Op’nin’, Another Show.” But there was some trial and error involved.

 When the choreographer complained about one particular song, he dropped it and substituted “Too Darn Hot,” which the choreographer immediately loved because he could see it as a dance. Harold Lang, who played Bill/Lucentio in the original production, complained that his part wasn’t big enough and he didn’t even have a song. Porter wrote “Bianca” for him, pretty much on the spot, with cast members shouting out rhymes for "Bianca."

 Cole Porter wrote 23 to 25 songs for the show. Some were cut in rehearsals, but 17 remained. Kiss Me, Kate was so successful in its Philadelphia tryouts that no further songs were cut. In fact, a couple of choruses of “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” that had been dropped were added back.

Ann Miller in 1953 movie version
It was common for songwriters to lift songs from other shows (especially those that didn’t do so well) but Kiss Me, Kate had a unique variation of this. The play itself had finished its run after two years, and a Hollywood film version was being prepared. At the same time, Porter had written songs for another Broadway show that had personnel problems, with the director being replaced. The new director threw out one of Porter’s songs, so it was never heard.

 But when the Kiss Me, Kate film producers asked Porter for another song, he gave them this rejected one. It was “From This Moment On,” now one of Porter’s all-time classics. This song was then included in the 1999 Broadway stage revival, and it’s been in Kiss Me, Kate ever since.

 Cole Porter and Shakespeare

Two of the songs in Kiss Me, Kate include lyrics by Shakespeare as well as Cole Porter: "I’ve Come to Wive It Wealthily in Padua” and “I Am Ashamed Women Are So Simple.” And despite the show’s title—Kiss Me, Kate—sounding like a snappy modernization, Petruchio actually speaks those words several times in The Taming of the Shrew.

 Even though Porter had his doubts that a musical built around a Shakespeare play would attract Broadway theatregoers (something that potential backers also doubted), he seems to have found a kindred spirit in one aspect of the Bard’s comic writing: his use of wordplay, especially double entendres with sexual innuendo.

 Cole Porter was a past master of this himself, and it’s evident in this show in “Too Darn Hot” and “Always True to You in My Fashion,” for example. But Porter made the connection explicit in “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” when he playfully turned titles of Shakespeare’s plays into sexual banter.

 More Lore 

There are stories about many of the songs, and they may even be true.

 “Wunderbar”: When Kiss Me, Kate was in early stages of preparation, the leading candidate to play the lead role of Lilli/Kate was opera star Jarmila Novotna. She was a social friend of Porter’s and one evening she brought a pianist with her to his apartment, who specialized in playing Viennese waltzes. When he finished she kept crying “Wunderbar! Wunderbar!” (“Wonderful!") The song by that title in the show is also a waltz.

“I Hate Men”: Several cast members told Patricia Morison, who ended up playing Lilli/Kate (see Kiss Me, Kate Meets Cinderella) that this song would embarrass her. It wasn’t going over in rehearsals. She mentioned her own misgivings to Porter, who remembered an operetta he’d seen in which the singer had emphasized a line by pounding his fist on a table. He suggested that she slam the metal tankard she was carrying. The effect worked so well that it was further emphasized by having her bang the tankard down on a couple of metal trays to make more noise. The song became a show-stopper.

 “Always True to You in My Fashion:” Cole Porter had that phrase of the title in his head but he couldn’t remember the source. The show’s writers, Bella and Sam Spewack, told him it was from a poem by Ernest Dowson, a late 19th century English poet who also contributed the phrase, “the days of wine and roses.” Porter’s song doesn’t bear much resemblance to this poem except for that repeated line of the title.

 “Brush Up Your Shakespeare:” Bella and Sam Spewack, who had worked with Porter before, were writing the script (“the book”) of Kiss Me, Kate. But at some point in creating this story about a couple having conflicts that bleed into the conflicts of the couple they are playing on stage, Bella and Sam themselves split up when Sam ran off with a ballerina.

 They’d split before, and would get back together again this time as well, but for awhile, Bella didn’t want to have anything to do with Sam. Sam’s major contribution to the story was the gangster subplot, and Bella was determined that it remain a small subplot, without a song involved.

 Unfortunately, Cole Porter came up with “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” for the two comic gangsters. When Bella recognized its quality—and guessed correctly that it would also be a show-stopper—she dropped her objections.

 “So In Love:” A song that Cole Porter said he’d intended for a movie musical, but was persuaded to use in Kiss Me, Kate. It was subsequently became a top 20 hit for Patti Page, Gordon McRae, Dinah Shore and Bing Crosby—all in the same year of 1949. More recently it’s been recorded by K.D. Laing.

 “We Shall Never Be Younger:” This song was one of those cut from Kiss Me, Kate (because, according to Porter biographer William McBrien, “it reduced the audience to tears,” presumably at the wrong time.) It never made it into another show, nor was it published in Porter’s lifetime. But it, too, has had a life since, included in Porter songbooks and recorded by Bobby Short.

Kiss Me, Kate Meets Cinderella

What would a hit musical be without a Cinderella story? In this case it wasn’t in the plot but in the original production.

Cole Porter often wrote songs with the vocal range of the actor/singer in mind. But he started writing for Kiss Me, Kate before all the roles were cast, especially the female lead, the characters of  Lilli and Kate.  In the early stages, opera star Jarmilla Novotna was the likely choice.  But eventually she couldn't commit to the show.

Cole Porter offered the role to another operatic singer and actor, Lily Pons, and considered yet another opera singer, Dorothy Kirsten.  Pons couldn't do it, and Kirsten wasn't interested.  So Porter found himself without a leading lady.

The show’s director suggested an unknown: Patricia Morison, not an opera singer or a professional singer of any kind.  She was a working movie actress in supporting roles, from B pictures (Queen of the Amazons) to a cut above that. She has the distinction of performing in the last film of three popular series: the Thin Man, the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan and the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes.

 Though she sang for soldiers on USO tours and at the Hollywood Canteen during World War II, she hadn’t sung a note in the movies. Cole Porter invited her to sing for him at his house in Hollywood. Her agent told her it wasn’t for any particular role, and she did it just for the contact and the experience. But according to Porter, as soon as she walked in he knew she was the one—if she could sing.

He accompanied her on piano, and discovered, yes, she could.

 After she’d taken lessons to strengthen her voice, worked on some of the show's songs and brushed up her Shakespeare, Porter was even more convinced. He believed that overnight she might become “a great new star.”

 But the producers were still considering other possibilities, and the writers had to be consulted. Unfortunately they were all in New York, and Patricia couldn’t afford the plane fare to go meet them. Then out of the blue she was invited to sing at a Bob Hope USO reunion concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The producers and writer Bella Sprewack were in the audience, and they all were enthusiastic.

Patricia Morison got the role as Lilli Vanessi. She was an immediate success. At the opening night party, after the rave reviews came in, she told everyone that she felt Cole Porter “has just lifted me out of my pumpkin coach.”

It was a Cinderella story for real. After 1,077 performances on Broadway, Patricia Morison starred in the London production for another 400 performances.

In the backstory she created for Lilli, Morison used her own life--disillusioned with Hollywood, seeking redemption through a hit stage play.

 Morison had another success in the original production of The King and I, both on Broadway and on its national tour. She subsequently sang in many touring musicals, and performed her starring role in Kiss Me, Kate many times, including in a television movie in 1964, onstage in Seattle in 1965 and for the last time, in Birmingham, England in 1978—30 years after her Broadway opening.

Patricia Morison turned 100 earlier this year, and is the last surviving member of the original cast of Kiss Me, Kate. She lives in southern California.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Jazz Orchestra's Five Kinds of Blues, Symphonic Band's Mother Earth Energy 

HSU Jazz Orchestra plays five kinds of blues and the Symphonic Band exudes Mother Earth energy in their shared concert on Saturday October 10 at Fulkerson Recital Hall. 

 “The 12-bar blues chord progression is the most commonly used in American music,” said Jazz Orchestra director Dan Aldag. “ Jazz musicians have come up with many different variations on the basic framework. We’ll play five of those.”

 Oliver Nelson’s “Hoedown” is from his classic album “The Blues and the Abstract Truth.” Jazz Orchestra member Ryan Woempner contributes “Colie’s Blues,” an original soul-jazz variation, while bandmate Kyle McInnis arranges a Miles Davis standard. 

 Latin jazz pioneer Mario Bauza and Afro-Cuban music composer Michael Phillip Mossman provide another variation on the blues theme, while Phil Wilson’s tune for the Buddy Rich band returns to the traditional form in the aptly titled “Basically Blues.”

 In its half of the program, the HSU Symphonic Band begins with the high energy “Mother Earth: A Fanfare” by contemporary American composer David Maslanka, inspired by words from St. Francis of Assisi. 

 “Nitro” by prominent band composer Frank Ticheli celebrates nitrogen, “the most abundant component of the Earth’s atmosphere” that is present in every living thing. “It’s bright, festive, fast and exciting,” said Symphonic Band director Paul Cummings, “but it’s also full of rapid time changes.”

 “Sheltering Sky” by John Mackey is a slower contemplative piece with evocative hints of folk song melodies. Also on the program are the Earl of Oxford March by 16th century British composer William Byrd, and “Don Ricardo” by Gabriel Musella, based on traditional Spanish dance rhythms. 

 HSU Jazz Orchestra and Symphonic Band perform on Saturday October 10 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: Times-Standard Urge, Mad River Union 

Concert Notes: Jazz Orchestra

Notes by Jazz Orchestra Director Dan Aldag

 The 12-bar blues chord progression is the most commonly used chord progresssion in American music. It's used again and again in blues, R&B, rock and roll, country and jazz. Musicians, particularly jazz musicians, have come up with many different variations on the basic framework. We'll play five different takes on the blues.

Two come from band members - Ryan Woempner's original composition "Colie's Blues", which recalls the feeling of the funky, soul-jazz tunes of the late '50s and early '60s, and Kyle McInnis's arrangement of the Miles Davis standard "All Blues." Miles' original is in a meter of six, and Kyle's arrangement preserves that while exploring the 3 against 2 polyrhythm so important in music of the African diaspora.

Oliver Nelson's "Hoedown" was first recorded on his classic album The Blues and the Abstract Truth, which explored blues as a form and a sensibility through a variety of different musical approaches. The version we're playing was later arranged for big band by Nelson for his album Full Nelson.

"Canto Lucumi" explores the same 3:2 polyrhythm as it is used in Afro-Cuban music. Michael Phillip Mossman wrote "Canto Lucumi" for Latin Jazz pioneer Mario Bauzá's band and named it for the Lucumi people, the originators of the Santería religion. While the 12-bar blues is not normally associated with Afro-Cuban music, Mossman successfully integrated it into this piece.

The most conventional blues tune on the concert is Phil Wilson's "Basically Blues", written for Buddy Rich's band in the 1960s.

2015 is the centennial of Billy Strayhorn's birth, and the Jazz Orchestra will be playing all Strayhorn music on our December concert. As a teaser for that, we're playing two of those pieces on this concert, "Take The 'A' Train" and "Isfahan."

Strayhorn spent virtually his entire career working for Duke Ellington, and "Take The 'A' Train" was the Ellington band's theme song. "Isfahan" comes from Ellington and Strayhorn's Far East Suite, which, despite its name, is mostly a musical depiction of places the Ellington band visited on the 1963 State Department-sponsored tour of the Middle East and India. Isfahan is a very old and beautiful city in Iran.

Concert Notes: Symphonic Band

Edited from an interview with Symphonic Band Director Paul Cummings

Mother Earth: A Fanfare by David Maslanka 

The composer quotes St. Francis of Assisi: "Praised be you my Lord for our Sister/Mother Earth, who nourishes us and teaches us, bringing forth all kinds of fruits and colored flowers and herbs."

This is a very exciting, high energy piece but very challenging because of the fast tempo and the unrelenting forward momentum. If you get lost in the music as a player you get left in the dust.  It was commissioned by the South Dearborn High School Band of Aurora, Indiana.  They must be a very good group, because it's definitely college level material.  It's a good fanfare that gets everybody playing, with lots of brass.

Don Ricardo by Gabriel Musella

This has the traditional musical mannerisms that would accompany a Spanish pasodoble dance. It's very much like a march in its construction--an opening section that's very consistent in tempo, followed by a trio halfway through with a change of key, and a very different, more lyrical and songlike section that takes us to the end.

 It's really authentic Spanish music, rather than being stylized.  It's got a lot of the rhythmic and lyrical elements of the pasodoble--you can picture Spanish dancers enjoying this music as it's being played.  There's a lot of variety: full band passages with just about everybody involved, and in the trio it is very thinly textured, more like chamber music.

Earl of Oxford March from the William Byrd Suite

William Byrd was an early English composer who was active in the sixteenth century.  He lived during the time England was torn between its allegiance to Roman Catholicism and the nascent Anglican church. So loyalties were very much divided, political strife was everywhere, especially during the reign of Henry VIII. Byrd was a devoted Catholic who increasingly ran into trouble because of the Reformation and the Anglican church wanting to do away with everything from the Vatican, including the Latin Mass and the sacraments.

Gordon Jacob, an early 20th century British composer who was very interested in musicology and history, found a collection of music by Elizabethan composers called the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.  It collected not only Byrd but a lot of his contemporaries, with music mostly written for the English virginal, a smaller version of the harpsichord.  This is the primary manuscript source for English music of the period.

Jacob extracted pieces by Byrd and collected them in the six movements of the William Byrd Suite.  We're playing the first movement, the Earl of Oxford March. It's a good example of a slow British march, the antithesis of an American, John Phillip Sousa style march.  It's rather subdued, doesn't have a fast tempo and it's very lyrical, with a lot of different instruments involved in the melodic and thematic presentation.  Whereas in a Sousa march you have certain instrument groups that are always playing afterbeats, like French horns, and other instrument groups are always playing the melody, and other instrument groups always playing the baseline, so the roles are pretty strictly defined.  But there's tremendous variety in the Earl of Oxford March.  It's almost the anti-march.

NITRO for Concert Band by Frank Ticheli

Frank Ticheli is one of the most prominent contemporary composers for wind band in America--he's acquired an international renown at this point in his career.  This is a fairly recent piece—2006—super high energy, only 3 minutes long, commissioned by the North Shore Concert Band of Chicago to celebrate its 50th season.  It may be the most famous band in America.

Ticheli writes: “Nitrgogen is the most abundant component of the Earth's atmosphere—78% by volume—and is present in every living thing. The sheer prevalence of nitrogen in all of nature, and the infinite range of compounds it is part of,  all appeal to me and serve as the inspiration for my music. The main musical idea for Nitro is a powerful angular theme first announced by trombones and horns and then imitated in the trumpets, trumpet fanfare call, and a busy and relentless chattering of the woodwinds enhance the bright festive mood."

So it's bright festive, fast, exciting-- and short. It's also full of meter changes—in one passage, consecutive measures go from 4/4 to 8/8 to 3/4/ to 8/8/ back to 3/4 and later 5/8, 4/4 and so on. In this piece Ticheli seems to defy listeners impulse to tap their feet. The downbeat is constantly changing.

 I like Ticheli's writing in part because he understands the characteristics of wind instruments so well—he understands what they're capable of doing, especially from a technical standpoint, and the players enjoy that type of idiomatic writing—music that just fits the instrument.

Sheltering Sky by John Mackey

This is a very slow, expressive piece that also employs changing meter. In this context, with the slow tempo the meter changes are very disguised—it's hard to tell when they happen.

Mackey some exotic sounds and timbres, for example at the beginning there's a marimba solo along with a single clarinet that sets the stage for an alto sax solo.

It's a very quiet opening, but the piece builds to a big climax, as is typical of Mackey's music. He’s a very melodically-oriented composer—there's always some lyrical line to follow,  and one of the challenges in playing his music is to make sure that line is not obscured. He employs a lot of counterpoint, which is lovely and adds great complexity and variety to the music, but it's risky from the standpoint that it can obscure the main musical line at any given moment.

So it is a simple, slow piece—but simple only in technical terms. The challenges are more aesthetic, and involve careful listening among the players. After that big climax in the middle, it unwinds to a very soft peaceful ending similar to the beginning.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Musical Welcome

Music Faculty and Staff - the 2015/16 Edition: Back Row l to r: Michael Kibbe, Dan Aldag, Greg Granoff, Robin Miller, Laurel Pick, Brian Post, Gill Cline Middle Row: Fred Tempas, Brian Schwarzberg, Nick Lambson, Cindy Moyer, Howie Kaufman, Eugene Novotney, Kelly Mathson, Rachel Samet, Levi Walls, Daniela Mineva Front Row: Annika Bäckstrom, Elisabeth Harrington, Larry Pitts, Karen Davy, Tom Lopes, Paul Cummings Missing: Joel Cohen, Elizabeth Medina-Gray, Laura Snodrass. John Chernoff.

Faculty Performers in A Musical Welcome

 HSU Music Department presents its 2015 fall semester Faculty Welcome Concert on Saturday, September 12 at 5 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall. A reception follows for all who attend. 

 The Welcome Concert has become a traditional event at the beginning of each semester. It is an opportunity for Music faculty and staff to collaborate in performance, while welcoming students back to campus. It is also an opportunity for students and members of the public to hear many faculty musicians performing in the same event. 

 This program includes two duets, both pairing a well-known faculty performer with a newcomer to the HSU Music Department.

 Pianist Daniela Mineva plays “The Serpent’s Kiss (Rag for two pianos)” by contemporary American composer William Bolcom, with a new department accompanist, Jina Silva.

 Elisabeth Harrington sings early Baroque Italian composer Giacomo Carissimi's “Duet for Two Soprano” with Annika Bäckström, who will teach voice this year. Robin Miller accompanies on piano. 

 Cindy Moyer (violin), Karen Davy (violin), Sherry Hanson (viola) and Daniela Mineva (piano) perform “Spanish Garland” by contemporary composer Jose Evangelista. They are joined by Kira Weiss on cello for a piano quintet by Dmitri Shostakovich.

 Also on the program is an Afro-Cuban sextet led by percussion faculty Eugene Novotney and Howard Kaufman, an aria from Puccini’s La Boheme sung by Elisabeth Harrington, and a song by 20th century French composer Gustave Charpentier sung by Annika Bäckström. 

 The Faculty Welcome Concert is performed on Saturday September 12 at 5 p.m. 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, Times Standard Urge, Humboldt State Now

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Alums of Four Decades Sing for Harley

How to honor retiring professor Harley Muilenburg after 32 years of teaching Humboldt State students to sing? More than 20 of his former students who were members of his Mad River Transit jazz singers from the 1980s through 2015 will return to Fulkerson Recital Hall from all over California. They join HSU Music department faculty performers including pianist Daniela Mineva and violinist Cindy Moyer in a celebratory retirement concert on Saturday June 27 at 7 p.m.  Everyone is invited and admission is free. Program information is the post below.

 Born in North Dakota and a graduate of North Dakota State, Harley Muilenburg taught first at the high school level and then at couple of junior colleges. He was looking for a position at a four-year institution when choral music professor Lee Barlow was retiring from HSU. “The stars lined up,” he says now. He was hired to begin teaching at Humboldt State in 1983.

 As he prepared to head to the North Coast that summer he spoke with Barlow on the phone and asked about the Arcata weather. “Lee chuckled a little and said it’s really nice in the summer, although just about every evening you’re probably going to need a sweater if you’re outside,” he recalled. Muilenburg was still at his current teaching job in Loredo, Texas, where it was so hot and humid it was hard to breathe. “I didn’t really believe him until I got here.” 

 Over the years Muilenburg transformed the small HSU chamber choir into the large concert choir now called the University Singers. He started Mad River Transit as a smaller adjunct to the existing jazz ensemble, eventually combining the two in today’s slightly larger MRT. 

 HSU is one of only a few universities to have a Madrigal choir specializing in Renaissance music. But another was North Dakota State, and as an undergraduate Muilenburg had sung in its madrigal group. “Lee Barlow started the Madrigal Singers here in the 50s,” he said. “I added the Madrigal Dinner every December, based on the Elizabethan tradition of singing and feasting at Christmastime.” 

 In his 32 years, Muilenburg saw the Music department faculty grow and shrink back. “It’s kind of a bell curve in terms of numbers. But the number of majors has remained the same. The quality, the expertise, the care and concern, the excellence of the faculty have helped make this a great place to teach. In a lot of ways, the Music department at HSU has been a well-kept secret. Students find out about it when they come here, or when one of our groups tours in their community. But I’ve had distinguished, top-notch colleagues in the department here.” 

 Though he has been honored with teaching awards and published scholarly articles and vocal arrangements, Muilenburg talks less about his own accomplishments than those of his HSU Music faculty colleagues, and especially his students. He mentions such distinguished alums as internationally known blues singer Earl Thomas (whose entry in the Blues Encyclopedia notes his “powerful classically trained voice”) and jazz singer Juanita Harris, a mainstay in Mad River Transit during her years at HSU. She went on to Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music and a professional career based in the Bay Area. 

But he is equally pleased by his many alums who became music teachers, or who participate in community ensembles where they live. (They’ve kept in touch, he notes, even before the advent of email and social media.) “They carry on the legacy of music and keep it alive,” he said. “I’m really proud of that.” 

 One of those alums was Grant McKee, now a retail store manager in Santa Barbara. “He was my student in the 90s,” Muilenburg recalled. “He loved Humboldt, loved the Music department and he loved singing. He decided at least five or six years ago that when I retire, there’s going to be a concert for me. I smiled and thought it’s a great idea but it’s not going to happen.” 

But after Muilenburg’s retirement was announced, McKee got on Facebook to contact other MRT alums. Music department chair Cindy Moyer got involved, and the concert was scheduled. “There are probably 22 students who are going to trek from all parts of California, and this alumni group of jazz singers from the 80s right up until the past year. They’ll perform the second half of the concert,” Muilenburg said. “I couldn’t feel more excited and happy and blessed and proud.”

Among those making the trip to HSU to sing for Harley is Juanita Harris.

 Muilenburg’s retirement has been in the works for awhile. “Five years ago I had a student whose parents had been my students in the 80s. So I felt it was definitely time for me to retire.” 

He is currently busy preparing to move in July, to be near family in southern California. “I know I’m going to miss the students,” he admits. “August is going to come and I won’t have a choir. I’ll miss the rehearsal process, contact with students and my academic colleagues. I’ll probably sneak back here and drop in sometime, and see how things are going.” 

Pianist Daniela Mineva, violinist Cindy Moyer and other HSU faculty will open the Harley Muilenburg retirement concert on Saturday June 27 at 7 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU. Admission is free. Concert is produced by HSU Music department. 

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

Concert for Harley: The Program

Highlights of the planned program, but there may be surprises!

Two movements from Suite No. 1 by  Sergei Rachmaninoff
 Daniela Mineva, piano
 John Chernoff, piano

 “This is the Moment” from Jekyll and Hyde by  Frank Wildhorn
 John Schutt, tenor
 John Chernoff, piano

“Tomorrow” from Annie  by Charles Strouse
 Alexis Provencal, soprano  

Blues in the Night by  Harold Arlen, Arrangement by Harley Muilenburg
 Catherine Rippetoe, soprano
 Lorena Tamayo, soprano
 Jessie Rawson, alto
 John Chernoff, piano

 Sonata in G Major, Op. 78  by Johannes Brahms
 Vivace ma non troppo  
Cindy Moyer, violin
 Daniela Mineva, piano

Mad River Transit Students and Alumni
 Harley Muilenburg, conductor

 Selections to be chosen from: Sweet in the Mornin’ by Bobby McFerrin,  Loves Me Like a Rock by Paul Simon, After the Gold Rush by Neil Young, And So it Goes by  Billy Joel, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square by Manning Sherwin, Blackbird by  John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Chile Con Carne by Anders Edenroth, You Are the New Day by  John David, 23rd Psalm by  Bobby McFerrin.

Solos to include: One for my Baby (And One More for the Road) by Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen
 Grant McKee, tenor

 In My Life by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Marcie Tatman, soprano

 Haven’t We Met by Kenny Rankin and Ruth Batchelor
Juanita Harris, alto

 Medley of Carl Anderson Favorites:  Sophisticated Lady  by Duke Ellington, My Funny Valentine by  Richard Rogers, Who Can I Turn To? by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley
Daniel Olson, bass

Participating Singers:
 Laura Arrington, Emily Beal, Shannon Dowling, Christina Fitts,   Katrina Eads Haeger,  Juanita Harris,  Heather Hutton, Grant McKee, Steve Nobles, Daniel Olson,  Steve Olson,  Chris Parreira,  Ellen Rosebaugh Petitjean,  Jessie Nicole Rawson, Catherine Rippetoe, Kevin Schieberl,  Molly Severdia,  Lorena Tamayo, Marcie Tatman,  Seanna Willett.

Instrumental accompaniment by John Chernoff (piano),  Ryan Woempner (bass),   Kevin Amos (drums), Ed Pierce (drums.)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Student Composer Wins DeLodder Prize

 HSU student Michael Donovan was awarded the $1000 prize in the John W. DeLodder music composition competition on May 4 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

 Donovan’s winning entry was a composition entitled “Walled City.” “The piece is a ten-minute work written for a string quartet,” said composition professor Brian Post, “reminiscent of music composed in the early 20th century.”

 Humboldt resident John DeLodder created the competition in conjunction with the HSU Music Department. “It is designed to give budding composers a chance to spend more time writing music,” Post explained. “Mr. DeLodder plays a brass instrument himself and has had a great appreciation for music because of its positive influence on members of his family.”

 DeLodder presented the award to Donovan at the HSU composers read-through recital. “The recital is a chance for students to have their works performed, to help them determine how to refine the pieces for future performances, as well as the fall competition,” Post said. Although this spring’s winner is a music composition student, the every-semester competition is open to all HSU students.

Media: Mad River Union, Times-Standard "Urge" Magazine, Humboldt State Now.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

University Singers soloists include Raul Yepez, Olivia Bright, Mark Berman, Lorena Tamayo, Catherine Rippetoe, Chris Parreira and Jessie Rawson.
Carmina Burana and Into the Woods with University Singers & Humboldt Chorale

 Humboldt State University Singers perform selections from the popular cantata Carmina Burana, and the Humboldt Chorale sings music by Purcell, Mozart and Sondheim in their joint concert on Sunday evening May 10 in Fulkerson Recital Hall. 

 Carmina Burana, an audience favorite that has influenced popular music from Star Wars to hip hop, is a cantata by 20th century German composer and educator Carl Orff. Recorded more often than Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, it is based on a set of irreverent songs and poems by medieval minstrels and monks. The New York Times described it as “accessible and fun.” 

 Directed by Harley Muilenburg, the University Singers perform selections from Carmina Burana featuring soloists Mark Berman, Matthew Nelson, Meagan Blachly, Raul Yepez, Olivia Bright, Chris Parreria, Catherine Rippetoe and Jessie Rawson. The group also sings “City Called Heaven” a traditional song arranged by contemporary educator Josephine Poelinitz, featuring soloist Lorena Tamayo.

 Humboldt Chorale, a community choral group directed by Elisabeth Harrington, performs sacred music by 17th century Baroque composer Henry Purcell, and Mozart’s sunny Regina Coeli. “She’s Like the Swallow” is a Newfoundland folk song about love, adapted by contemporary American composer Luigi Zaninelli.

 The Chorale also performs two songs by Stephen Sondheim from the musical Into the Woods: “No One is Alone” and “Children Will Listen.”

 The Humboldt Chorale and University Singers perform on Sunday May 10 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall. Tickets from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door: $8 general, $5 seniors and children, HSU students with ID admitted free.  Produced by HSU Music department.

Media: Times-Standard Urge Magazine, Mad River Union, Humboldt State Now, Lumberjack.

University Singers: Program and Notes

2015 University Singers: (not in order pictured; click photo to enlarge) Brynn Allen, McKinlee Burkhardt, Meagan Blachly,  Berenice Ceja, Olivia Bright,    Michelle Hy,  Ana Ceja, Emily Hilkere, Ana Cruz, Hannah Kelly, Stevy Marquez,  Joselyne Loaiza,Jessie Rawson, Nawlah Madu-Powell, Cora Rickert, Allie Merten, Julia Gotico, Krishel Moura, Katherine Nunes-Siciliani, Catherine Rippetoe, Lorena Tamayo, Kenneth Bridges, Alex Albin, Fidel Cortez, Mark Berman,Victor Guerrero, Carey Dakin,Bryant Kellison , Stefan Flores, Luis Landin, Michael Levan, David Paden, Carter Long, Joseph Mayer, Matthew Nelson, Raul Yepez, John Pettlon, Christopher Parreira, Ryan Woempner.

Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
 Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi (Fortune, Empress of the World)
 1. O Fortuna
 Mark Berman, Speaker
 2. Fortune plango vulnera
 Mark Berman, Speaker
 I. Primo vere (In Springtime)
 3. Veris leta facies
 Mark Berman, Speaker
 4. Omnia sol temperat
 Mark Berman, Speaker; Matthew Nelson, Baritone
 5. Ecce gratum
 Mark Berman, Speaker
 Uf dem anger (On the Lawn)
 10. Were diu werlt alle min 
 Mark Berman, Speaker
 15. Amor volat undique
 Mark Berman, Speaker; Meagan Blachly, Soprano
 16. Dies, nox et omina
Mark Berman, Speaker; Raul Yepez, Tenor
 17. Stetit puella
 Mark Berman, Speaker; Olivia Bright, Soprano
 18. Circa mea pectora 
Mark Berman, Speaker; Matthew Nelson, Baritone
 20. Veni, veni, venias
Mark Berman, Speaker
 21. In truitina
 Mark Berman, Speaker; Catherine Rippetoe, Alto
 22. Tempus est iocundum
 Mark Berman, Speaker; Christopher Parreira, Bass
 Jessie Rawson, Soprano
 23. Dulcissime 
 Jessie Rawson, Soprano
 24. Ave formosissima 
 25. O Fortuna (Fortune, Empress of the World)

City Called Heaven by Josephine Poelintz
 Lorena Tamayo, Mezzo-Soprano

Carmina Burana by Carl Orff

"Carmina Burana provides music that Carl Orff  hoped would cut across social, educational, and temporal boundaries to engage audiences in a powerful expression of music. For his text, Orff turned to a collection of irreverent medieval songs and poems discovered in 1803 at the Bavarian monastery of Benediktbeuren. Hence, Carmina Burana, or "Songs of Beuren." In these profane lyrics of minstrels and monks long dead, Orff heard clearly the voice of the human condition, with its indestructible hunger for the sensual pleasures of the world persisting through the capricious turns of Fortune's wheel. Setting this text to music of primitive force rivaled in our time only by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, Orff combined the medieval and the modern in a timeless vision of humanity's vitality and endurance.

Carl Orff (1895-1982) was a German composer and educator. After studying at the Academy of Music at Munich, he helped to found the Günter School there in 1924. As a composer Orff wished to simplify music, to return to its primitive components. He attempted to adapt old monodic forms to modern tastes, employing dissonant counterpoint and vigorous rhythms. In 1960 he became head of the Orff School for Music in Munich. His work in music education has attracted a considerable following in the United States."
--from Harley Muilenburg

"Carl Orff is among the most misunderstood and thereby underestimated composers of the last century – which is odd when you consider that one work, Carmina Burana, is among the most popular pieces of music ever written. There is at least one performance of it somewhere in the world every single day of the year, and that has been going on for the last 30 years. And with over 300 different recordings extant in the catalogue today, it easily outranks even Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony."
--Tony Palmer classical

"One of music's most resilient creatures is on the loose again, making tracks across the landscape of mainstream entertainment. It leaves traces on the vaguely medieval choruses of John Williams's score to ''Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace,'' and a heavier imprint on ''Hate Me Now,'' the creepingly catchy hip-hop hit by Nas. Its rhythmic echoes even resound behind a recent promotion for the ''South Park'' film.

What is that blasted music, ever present on soundtracks and in television commercials, surfacing everywhere from the video arcade to the ice skating rink? It is ''Carmina Burana,'' a cantata composed in the 1930's by the German music educator Carl Orff around a group of 13th-century ballads by wandering monks.

As the most likely musical background for jousting nobles or scary monsters, used in films from ''Excalibur'' to ''Natural Born Killers,'' Orff''s work defines the sound of the pop Gothic... Charlotte Church, the 13-year-old Welsh soprano sensation, sings from it on her album, ''Voice of an Angel,'' as did Barbra Streisand before her. Nancy Kerrigan and Torvil and Dean have skated to it, video game players annihilate enemies to it, and the German industrial rock group Einsturzende Neubauten and the teen-pop heartthrobs 98 Degrees have used it to herald the opening of their shows.

The piece's ubiquity is more pronounced in the classical world, where it is a staple for choruses, orchestras, opera companies and ballet corps. ''The audience turns out for it,'' said Julie Rushbrook, the outgoing president of the Grace Choral Society of Brooklyn. ''That's the bottom line for a community choral society. It really helps pay the bills.''

...It may not make for a sound legal argument, but the idea that ''Carmina Burana'' somehow belongs to everyone instinctively rings true. Its tenacious hold on the public imagination suggests a power that transcends most critics' dismissals of the piece as naive and overwrought. ''Carmina Burana'' exists between the high and the low, the modern and the traditional, reminding listeners just how seductive such border crossings can be..... Even its defenders value ''Carmina Burana'' particularly because it is accessible and fun...

 "The shadow of Nazism stains Orff's legacy. It is the main reason the cantata was not performed in the United States until 20 years after its debut... Orff never joined the Nazi Party, although he cooperated with it to survive."
--Ann Powers in New York Times June 14, 1999

City Called Heaven by Josephine Poelintz

"Poelinitz’s City Called Heaven expresses the deep longing a person feels during their pilgrimage through life. While the choir “trudges” toward the goal, the pleading, improvisatory-like solo lines evoke yearning for the heavenly home."
-- from Harley Muilenburg

"Josephine Poelinitz is an Elementary Music Specialist in the Chicago Public Schools. Her arrangement of City Called Heaven, a “sorrow song” performed in the style of “surge-singing,” has become a favorite of choirs of all ages."
--Dordt College 

Humboldt Chorale: Program and Notes

O Sing Unto the Lord (Psalm 96:1) by Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
 edited and arranged by Norman Greyson

 Magnificat: My Soul doth Magnify the Lord  by Henry Purcell
 edited and transcribed by Harold Aks

 Regina Coeli by W. A. Mozart (1756-1791)

 She’s Like the Swallow (Newfoundland Folk Song) adapted and arranged by Luigi Zaninelli 

 From Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim:
  “Children Will Listen”
“No one is Alone” arranged by Mark Brymer

Regina Coeli by Mozart

"The sunny C-major Regina Coeli, K. 276, is the last of three settings Mozart made of this antiphon in praise of the Virgin. Its autograph score is lost so its date of composition is conjectural. Scholars believe that its stylistic similarities to the precisely dated Dominican Vespers place it as a work from 1779. Among its many felicities is the thrice-repeated "Alleluia" whose rhythm immediately recalls in the listener a somewhat familiar chorus by Handel, though it is thought unlikely that Mozart knew Messiah in 1779."
-- Copyright (c) 1997 by John W. Ehrlich

She's Like the Swallow
"She’s Like the Swallow is a distinctive Newfoundland folk song about the yearning for and remembrance of love... The setting performed tonight... is by Luigi Zaninelli (b. 1932). A native of New Jersey, Zaninelli was discovered at an early age by Gian-Carlo Menotti who brought him to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia to pursue studies. His studies at Curtis culminated in his appointment to the faculty there. Since then, Zaninelli has been the conductor and arranger for Metropolitan Opera soprano Anna Moffo, composer-in-residence at the University of Calgary, Banff School of Fine Arts and, since 1973, the composer-in-residence at the University of Southern Mississippi."
--Dr. Robert Duff

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Party On Endor with HSU Jazz Orchestra 

HSU Jazz Orchestra plays new tunes by Arcata’s recording artist Nathan Parker Smith and band grad Dan Fair as well as student originals and jazz classics of several eras on Saturday May 9 in Fulkerson Recital Hall. 

Now based in New York, Nathan Parker Smith grew up in Arcata. The Jazz Orchestra performs “Rhetoric Machine” from Not Dark Yet, an album by the Nathan Parker Smith Large Ensemble released in October.

 Also highlighting the Jazz Orchestra spring concert is a new tune by HSU grad Dan Fair called “Amazonia,” as well as his arrangement of “Summer Song” by steelband composer Cliff Alexis.

Current Jazz Orchestra members contribute two tunes to the program: “Party on Endor” by alto sax player Kyle McInnis, and “Fire Crayon Drawing” by bassist Ryan Woempner. Baritone saxophonist Lauren Strella steps to the microphone to sing on her arrangement of Herbie Hancock’s “Butterfly.”

 Jazz classics are not neglected when the band performs a 1960s arrangement of the Duke Ellington standard “Perdido.” Miles Davis is represented by a tune he played in the 60s (“Joshua”) and another from the 80s (“Tutu.”) Saxophonist Kyle McInnis is featured on “Roman Notes” by contemporary big band jazz artist John LaBarbera. 

HSU Jazz Orchestra performs on Saturday May 9 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall. 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: Times-Standard Urge Magazine, Mad River Union, Humboldt State Now.

Jazz Orchestra: Program Notes

"The Jazz Orchestra program on Saturday, May 9 will include a number of pieces composed or arranged by current and former HSU students and a native of Arcata.

 Current Jazz Orchestra members Kyle McInnis (alto sax) and Ryan Woempner (bass) composed "Party On Endor" and "Fire Crayon Drawing," respectively. The band's baritone saxophonist Lauren Strella arranged Herbie Hancock's "Butterfly" and will sing on it. Recent HSU grad Dan Fair has two pieces on the concert, his composition "Amazonia" and his arrangement of "Summer Song," composed by Cliff Alexis for steelband.

"Rhetoric Machine" was composed by Arcata-born-and-raised Nathan Parker Smith, who now leads his own band (the Nathan Parker Smith Large Ensemble) in New York City. "Rhetoric Machine" comes from Smith's first album, Not Dark Yet, released last fall.

 The rest of the program consists of "Roman Notes" by John LaBarbera, a feature for alto saxophonist McInnis, two tunes associated with different periods of Miles Davis's career, "Joshua" (from the early 60s) and "Tutu" (from the mid-80s). The former was composed by Victor Feldman and arranged by Mark Taylor, and the latter composed by Marcus Miller and arranged by Michael Philip Mossman. Mossman also wrote the new arrangement of Sonny Rollins' classic calypso tune, "St. Thomas."

Valve trombonist Juan Tizol composed "Perdido" for Duke Ellington, and Ellington wrote the first arrangement of it. In the early 1960s, Ellington asked Gerald Wilson to write a new arrangement of the tune, and that is the version we will play."
--Dan Aldag