Hello WSO Family!
Today would have been our Mahler #1 performance – this season’s Musicians’ Choice concert.
Of all the pieces we have performed over the last several years, Mahler #1 seems to describe the emotions of this difficult time better than the rest.
Mvt. 1 has a jovial main melody directly taken from one of Mahler’s songs, I Went This Morning Over the Field, that describes the heartache of a lonely wanderer who is ironically surrounded by the joy and beauty of the natural world. Like many of you, I have experienced a renewed appreciation for the wonder of nature, in spite of all the heartache around us.
Mvt. 2 portrays a heavy-footed peasant dance, followed by a retrospective waltz – music that reminds us of the enormous importance of community which we are sorely missing right now.
Mvt. 3: The threat of death presents itself by way of a funeral march parody on Frére Jacques in the minor key. The contrasting middle section, based on another of Mahler’s songs, The Two Blue Eyes of my Beloved, describes the struggles of finding the will to continue life after loss.
Mvt. 4: All the sentiments of love, heartache, death and confusion have built up so much tension that the only release can be through the drama of nature’s forces. The music shifts back and forth between darkness and light, storm and calm, violence and peace. The “dawning of day” motive from the very beginning of the 1st mvt. returns and transforms into a triumphant brass chorale with the horns literally standing up to play this magnificent fanfare. One might even suggest that the music reminds us that life triumphs over death in resounding victory.
I am thinking about all of you today and looking forward to performing this amazing piece, re-scheduled for next season. Until then stay safe, be well, cherish your loved ones and play music.
I am so honored to be the WSO music director.
Stravinsky is my favorite composer. We will be performing the music from Petrushka, one of three ballets he wrote for Serge Diaghilev and the Russian Ballet between 1910 and 1913. Petrushka is the iconic character of puppet theater in many countries – Punch in England; Pulcinella in Italy; Polichinelle in France; Kasperle in Austria/Germany.
The first music we hear describes the hustle and bustle of the Shrovetide Fair in St. Petersburg (Shrovetide, also known as Pre-Lenten season). One hears the joyful, energetic activities of organ grinders, hurdy-gurdies, dancers and street vendors. The music is mostly in major keys. Soon the puppet show draws everyone’s attention.
We meet the puppets, Petrushka, the Ballerina and the Blackamoor. When the puppet show is over, the real story of the characters unfolds behind stage. Petrushka is in love with the ballerina but she falls for the Blackamoor who bullies Petrushka. The dramatic, emotional, dissonant music describes puppets imbued with human emotions of rage, sadness, tenderness. Petrushka’s cries and screams are vividly portrayed through use of the famous Petrushka chord – C major plus F# major. This combination creates the dissonance of the tri-tone, an interval that, throughout music history, has been called the devil’s interval.
We open the program in splendid fashion with CHUCK ULLERY, bassoonist extraordinaire. I’ve known Chuck for many years – we sat in the same row of wind players during my years in the SPCO. We call this program, Clowning Around, because the bassoon is often referred to as the clown of the orchestra. Chuck will provide arguments for and against that title during his Bassoon 101 “TedTalk.” Then, he will impress us with his performance of Weber, Bassoon Concerto.
I hope you’ll be there to hear this amazing music!
Our concerts are free. Parking is free.
AND, we have wonderful treats to share at the meet n’ greet reception that follows.
See you there!
What do all these pieces have in common?
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue
Kurt Weill/Bertold Brecht: Threepenny Opera
Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein: Showboat
Copland: Symphony No. 1
1. All were written during a 10-year period of great cultural shift in America – between 1919 and 1929
2. All the composers were in their 20s
3. Each of these pieces broke the mold of what had come before
4. All will be performed on October 13 at Wayzata Community Church at 3 pm
Maria Jette, Bradley Greenwald and Daniel Chouinard – all vital threads in the fabric of Twin Cities culture – will sing, act, discuss, play the piano and accordion to illuminate this remarkable time of upheaval in America.
During this 10-year period, the 18th Amendment (prohibition of intoxicating liquors) and the 19th Amendment (right to vote for women) were passed. It was the dawn of radio and jazz was taking hold as America’s musical voice.
Please join us on October 13. You will leave smarter than when you arrived, you will be amazed by the creative artistry of our soloists and you will be telling your friends that the WSO is the finest community orchestra in Minnesota! I hope you will be there to take it all in.
Concert is free, parking is free, coffee and treats are free at our meet-and-greet reception.
See you there!