- February 1, 2020
- 8:00 pm
- Marietta Performing Arts Center
America, Vol. 6 continues the Georgia Symphony's multi-year presentation exploring the wide diversity of American music.
Bernstein's comic operetta Candide captures Voltaire's depiction of society. Expressed through a journey of travels, trials, and disillusionment, it ends on a hopeful tone.
Libermann's virtuosic Concerto for Flute and Orchestra was commissioned for Sir James Galway. Ranging from melodious to rhapsodic, this powerhouse concerto will feature GSO Principal Flute Jeanne Carere.
The GSO collaborates with The Lyric Theatre to present Boyer’s Grammy nominated Ellis Island: The Dream of America. This work for actors, orchestra, and projections explores immigration through the interviews and stories of seven immigrants as found in the Ellis Island Oral History Project. Experience their journey, as they travel from far-away lands to seek opportunities on the shores of America. Projected images courtesy the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.
This performance also features a pre-concert performance in the lobby by Keltic Kudzu, and the KSU Museum of History and Holocaust Education's exhibit Refuge or Refusal: Turning Points in
U.S. Immigration History.
By Kathy Mittelman
Overture to Candide
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
Candide, an operetta based on Voltaire’s 1759 satire of the same name, might have been Leonard Bernstein’s most problematic work. He was first approached by playwright Lillian Hellman in the early 1950s to write incidental music for her conception of the novella as a play, but Bernstein convinced her to turn it into a comic opera. The libretto that resulted featured the work of Lillian Hellman and many others, including Bernstein himself, and opened on Broadway in 1956. At the box office, it was an abject failure. For the next three decades, almost until Bernstein’s death, Candide would undergo multiple re-writes and revisions in music, book, and scope. It was mounted in several versions during the 1950s and 60s, and picked up by Harold Prince in the 1970s. Hellman, who had been blacklisted during the height of the McCarthy era for presumed Communist sympathies and political activism, refused to allow her book to be used in Prince’s revivals. Hugh Wheeler was called upon to provide a new libretto that is more commonly used today. Shortly before Bernstein’s death, the composer worked up yet another rendition of Candide for the Scottish Opera.
Displaying Bernstein’s hallmark mixture of Classical music, modernism, and Broadway, Candide’s Overture is the only part of the score that Bernstein orchestrated himself. It is also one of the few pieces of Broadway literature that has crossed into the realm of standard orchestral repertoire. It opens with a bright fanfare interspersed with recognizable strains of “Battle Music,” “Oh, Happy We,” and the hugely popular “Glitter and Be Gay.” It also contains brand new motives, not heard in the show. Since its premiere in 1957 as a stand-alone piece, it has become one of the most frequently performed concert numbers by an American composer. At a memorial concert following Bernstein’s death in 1990, the New York Philharmonic performed it without a conductor, to honor their Laureate Conductor. The orchestra has continued that tradition since.
Gottlieb, Jack. (1964). Candide: Synopsis and Program Notes. Retrieved from https://leonardbernstein.com/works/view/75/overture-to-candide
Henken, John. (2020) Overture to Candide. Retrieved from https://www.laphil.com/musicdb/pieces/2603/overture-to-candide.
Keays, James. (2020). Candide Overture. Retrieved from https://www.redlandssymphony.com/pieces/candide-overture
New York Public Radio. (May 3, 2004). Bernstein’s Candide. Retrieved from https://www.wnyc.org/story/71112-bernsteins-emcandideem/.
Overture to Candide: About the Work. The Kennedy Center. Retrieved from https://www.kennedy-center.org/artist/composition/2261.
Wierzbicki, James. (May 15, 1994). Candide: Selected Writings. Retrieved from http://www.sondheimguide.com/Candide/writings12.html.
Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 39
Lowell Liebermann (b. 1961)
Lowell Liebermann is one of America’s most commonly performed and recorded living composers. His works span the genres of opera, ballet, and an array of instrumental pieces including four symphonies, numerous concerti, several pieces of chamber music, and a wealth of works for his primary instrument, piano.
A fan of Liebermann’s music, renown flutist Sir James Galway commissioned the Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Opus 39. It premiered with Galway on flute and Leonard Slatkin conducting the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra on November 6, 1992. The National Flute Society of the United States named it as the “best new work” for the instrument, joining two of Liebermann’s other works earning that same distinction.
The concerto is written in the standard three movements, though they are unconventional in form. The first movement (Moderato) may be reminiscent of Prokofiev, opening with a light march-like tempo accompanying a charming flute melody. Rather than employing the expected sonata allegro form, this movement develops using the harmonic progression of the main theme as a foundation for variations, providing a vehicle for flute showmanship. The second movement (Adagio) is both tender and Romantic in mood, with a slow overall crescendo that ends on a suspended 9th. The third movement (Presto) throws the flutist into dialogue with the brass section, revels in a lyrical melody with the strings, then winds into a flourish of virtuosic displays of technique and artistry.
Liebermann holds Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees in music from Julliard and teaches composition at the Mannes School of Music at the New School in New York City.
Libermann, Lowell. (January 22, 2019) Biography. Retrieved from https://www.lowellliebermann.com/biography
Lowell Lieberman. (n. d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved January 10, 2020 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lowell_Liebermann
Rose Music (n.d.) Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 39. Retrieved January 10, 2020 from https://www.flutesheetmusic.com/products/tp-416-41186
Stevenson, Joseph. (n.d.). “Lowell Liebermann Concerto for flute and orchestra, Op. 39.” Retrieved January 9, 2020 from https://www.allmusic.com/composition/concerto-for-flute-orchestra-op-39-mc0002489218
Ellis Island: The Dream of America
Peter Boyer (b. 1970)
Amidst dozens of orchestral pieces and a wealth of scores for film and television, Ellis Island: The Dream of America, is Peter Boyer’s best-known work. It premiered with Boyer conducting the London Philharmonia Orchestra in 2003, and later earned a Grammy nomination for Best Classical Contemporary Composition. With over 200 performances by more than 100 orchestras, it has become a staple of concert orchestra repertoire. In 2017, it was filmed live in concert for PBS’s Great Performances and is scheduled for telecasts through 2020.
An emotional multimedia production using orchestra, actors, and projected images from the Ellis Island archives, Ellis Island is a celebration of the American immigrant experience and the American dream. The spoken text relays stories of those who passed through Ellis Island in the early part of the 20th century, focusing on seven people who immigrated from seven different countries between 1910 and 1940. The sweeping musical score exhibits the story-telling ability of the orchestra in the opening few minutes, then uses the orchestra as a musical context for the spoken narrative, which comes directly from a collection of interviews with actual immigrants. The performance ends with the powerful words of The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus.
A native Rhode Islander, Peter Boyer grew up with little formal musical training but was inspired by his grandmother. Upon her death when he was a teenager, he composed his first piece—a requiem mass in her honor. He went on to pursue both a composing career and formal music study, earning a B.A. from Rhode Island College and an M.M. and D.M.A. from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford. He now resides in southern California and has become one of America’s busiest composers and conductors.
Bill Holab Music. (n.d.) Peter Boyer. Retrieved from https://www.billholabmusic.com/composers/peter-boyer/
Burlingame, Jon. (June 25, 2018) “L.A. Composer Looks East.” Retrieved from https://variety.com/2018/music/news/pbs-ellis-island-pbs-music-composer-score-great-performances-1202856264/
Ginell, Richard. (April 7, 2017). “Review: ‘Ellis Island: The Dream of America.’” Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-et-cm-boyer-ellis-island-review-20170407-story.html
Peter Boyer Propulsive Music. (n.d.). Ellis Island: The Dream of America. Retrieved January 12, 2020 from https://propulsivemusic.com/work/concert-music/ellis-island-the-dream-of-america/
Wikipedia. (January 2017). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellis_Island:_The_Dream_of_America