Sunday, January 23, 2011

From Pineapple Poll to Golden Bear: North Coast Wind Ensemble

At 8 PM on Sunday January 23 in Fulkerson Recital Hall, the North Coast Wind Ensemble returns for its third season with a concert featuring Pineapple Polly, a Golden Bear, sea songs, Elsa’ s Procession, a Children’s March and Noisy Wheels of Joy.

The Wind Ensemble is a North Coast community group organized in 2009 by Heather Benson and its first and current conductor, Kenneth Ayoob. Members include Eureka Symphony players, university and high school teachers and HSU Music graduates.

The program of band favorites on January 23 includes the buoyant Suite from Pineapple Poll (short for Polly), a show that adapts music by Arthur Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan fame.

The rollicking Sea Songs by Ralph Vaughn Williams combines three nautical melodies from the British isles. The sea was a theme that the prominent 20th century British composer returned to several times.

There’s a traditional British Isles feeling as well to Mannin Veen by another 20th century British composer, Haydn Wood. The title of this lilting tone poem refers to the Isle of Man in its ancient Manx language.

The soaring Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral is an instrumental piece from Richard Wagner’s epic opera Lohengrin. The raucous Noisy Wheels of Joy by contemporary American composer Eric Whitacre is a favorite with players and audiences.

No wind band concert is complete without marches and this program includes two--both by foreign-born composers who relocated to the U.S. The playful Children’s March, subtitled “Over the Hills and Far Away” is by 20th century composer Percy Grainger, who wrote and dedicated this piece to a childhood friend. Born in Australia, Grainger lived in various parts of the U.S.

The Golden Bear March is by Joseph John Richards, who first gained fame with his marches written for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus bands. Born in Wales and raised in Kansas, he became a well-known conductor and teacher in southern California.

North Coast Wind Ensemble performs on Sunday January 23 at 8 PM in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $5/$2 from HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Kenneth Ayoob, produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: Humboldt State Now, Arcata Eye, North Coast Journal

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Going Baroque for HSU Music Scholarships

A brand new ensemble of 27 North Coast community musicians is going Baroque for HSU student scholarships, in a benefit concert on Saturday January 22 in Fulkerson Recital Hall, at the special early time of 7 pm.

With its exuberance and its webs of harmony, music of the Baroque era has become a popular form of classical music. The ensemble conduced by Justin Sousa performs concertos by three of the best-known Baroque composers: Vivaldi, Telemann and two works by Bach.

Johann Sebastian Bach is often hailed as the greatest composer of all time as well as of the Baroque period, and his six Brandenburg Concertos are among the most acclaimed Baroque works. The ensemble performs the last of these. It features two violas, played by Sherry McHurd Hanson and Holly MacDonell.

In addition to this famous piece, the evening includes an unusual Bach double concerto for two keyboards and orchestra. This Concerto for Two Harpsichords is played instead with two pianos by soloists Annette Gurnee Hull and Nancy Correll.

Justin Sousa on bassoon and April Sousa on flute are the soloists for La Note (The Night), a concerto by Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi, composer of The Four Seasons. Holly MacDonell is the viola soloist for a concerto by the most prominent German composer of the Baroque era, Georg Phillip Telemann.

Other soloists during the evening include violinists Marilyn Page and Mary DeAndreis. The orchestra members are Karen Larkin, Kit Morris, Julie Fulkerson, Bill Swackhamer, Carson McHaney, Jet Glover, Janet Futrell, Don Morris, Penny Sohrakoff, Les Shiaman, Kira Weiss, Katy Hartridge, Charlotte Swackhamer, David Aldinger, Mie Matsumoto, Westin McHaney, Bear Winkle, Peter DeAndreis and Greg Granoff. Most of the musicians are HSU Music alumni.

Proceeds from the concert will benefit the HSU Music scholarship fund, including the Deborah Clasquin Memorial Scholarship.

The evening of Baroque concertos performed by North Coast musicians is Saturday January 22 at 7 PM in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. $8/$3 from HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. Justin Sousa, conductor.

Media: Humboldt State Now, Tri-City Weekly, Arcata Eye.
Baroque Concert Preview

The Bach Concerto for Two Harpsichords, BWV 1062 is an unusual concerto. It is a double concerto for two keyboards and orchestra. This piece is familiar as a double violin concerto, in d minor; but it’s believed that Bach also arranged it for two keyboards, in c minor. Originally played on harpsichords, this recital will present it with 2 pianos.

The soloists are Annette Gurnee Hull and Nancy Correll. These two duet partners played this concerto in France last summer, with an orchestra from the Conservatory of Blois. A thrilling experience, the two are now presenting it on home ground, with friends and colleagues.

Antonio Vivaldi’s concerto, La notte, depicts “The night,” tinged by supernatural fears, in seven short movements. In the guise of an overture the opening Largo is dominated by an obsessive dotted rhythm in the accompaniment and long disconcerting trills in the flute. Suddenly in the Presto, ghosts (Fantasmi), represented musically by rising triplets, make their appearance. A short Largo subsequently leads to a brief, calming Andante. In a Presto interruption the ghosts reappear and the mood of agitation once again asserts itself (string tremolos). Sleep (Il sonno) arrives and is depicted by long note values. Dissonances, however, betray an agitated soul. Dawn follows and with it awakening (Allegro). The dream has run its course but the nightmarish visions of the night persist. Justin and April Sousa are the soloists.

Georg Phillip Telemann was Germany’s most prolific, respected and sought-after composer, regarded on even higher terms than his contemporary, J.S. Bach. The viola concerto, with its stately opening march, brilliant energetic second movement, lyrical third movement, and exuberant fourth movement, is a staple of the viola repertory. Holly MacDonell is the viola soloist.

In the last of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, the lack of violins leads to an overall low pitch and sombre sonority, both traditionally associated with death. In lieu of the two viola da gamba parts, we decided to have a viola festival with Bach’s favorite instrument. In one sense, the work is a concerto for two violas and displays Bach's love of the instrument and its full range of expressive possibilities. Yet, it is their interplay, both with each other and with the cello and continuo, that characterizes each of the three movements. Bach considered the essence of a polyphonic composition to be a symbolic tonal discussion among instruments, each presenting arguments and counterpoints, variously talking and lapsing into silence to listen to the others. Sherry Hanson joins Holly in the solo parts.