Once again, Symphony North of Houston is delighted to invite you to enjoy with us music performed in the marvelous acoustics of Salem Lutheran Church in Tomball on Sunday, April 3, 2022, at 4:00 p.m., for our Early Spring Concert and Symphony Gala. Admission to our concerts is by donation.
The Early Spring Concert will feature one of our annual fundraisers, the Gala. Before the concert and during intermission, there will be a silent auction as well as raffles for numerous items of interest. Raffle winners will be selected during the second half of the concert, and winning auction bidders will be able to collect their items after the concert.
When you join us, you will have the opportunity to hear some great music that does not receive the attention it deserves, by Felix Mendelssohn, Hector Berlioz, Aaron Copland, and William Walton. Of these wonderful pieces, only Copland’s An Outdoor Overture received wide acceptance in the composer’s lifetime.
Concerto for Violin and Piano
Our soloists at this concert, Rodica Gonzalez and Ilgin Aka, have a delight in store for you. Felix Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin and Piano was published not in his 19th century lifetime, but in ours, with a critical edition published just over twenty years ago. By age 17, Mendelssohn had developed his style enough that his Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream is from the same Puckish cloth as the incidental music for that play that he wrote sixteen years later. At age fourteen, however, although his style had not yet developed, his musical growth was already clear, with this concerto from that year as evidence. The work abounds with melody, and the interaction of the two solo instruments is as sophisticated as that of any other major duo concerto. If there is any part of this concerto that shows a hint of the composer’s youth, it might be the first movement, which follows the classical sonata-allegro form. The second-movement adagio is pure Mendelssohn melody and wait till you hear the fireworks in the last movement.
Our intermission will also command your attention. There will be a Silent Auction for numerous items of value, as well as raffles for many other items. We trust that the Mendelssohn Concerto will send you into the foyer with the competitive enthusiasm to secure a reward for yourself by means of suitably high bids for your favorite items.
Beatrice and Benedict Overture
Hector Berlioz was smitten in his youth by an English Shakespearean actress and developed a life-long fascination with the bard. His obsession with the actress inspired the macabre passions of his Symphonie Fantastique and a tempestuous and short-lived marriage. His love of Shakespeare simmered longer and culminated in a comic opera, Beatrice and Benedict, which places the pair of witty secondary characters in Much Ado About Nothing at the forefront. The overture which you shall hear reflects the drollery of the play with the light stamp of a Berlioz scherzo, characterized by the lyrics of the aria from which the halting opening melody is taken:
“Love is a torch … Love is a flame … today the truce is signed; we will become enemies again tomorrow!”
An Outdoor Overture
Aaron Copland wrote an overture entitled Signature as a commission for the High School of Music and Art in New York in 1938, and rearranged it as An Outdoor Overture in 1941, during the heart of the period in which he produced most of the works for which he is most renowned. This piece shows off the characteristic rhythmic and melodic invention Copland had recently demonstrated with El Salon Mexico and Billy the Kid to establish himself as a distinctly American composer. The overture opens with a Coplend-characteristic fanfare that makes effective use of rapid rhythms trailing into long-held tones, anticipating his later Fanfare for the Common Man. The fanfare devolves into a Rodeo-like dance whose theme will later return as a march. A brief pastorale theme intervenes, and the dance and march compete to bring the work to its conclusion in the initial fanfare.
March for A History of the English-Speaking Peoples
William Walton became so used to being written off by music critics that his response to favorable reviews late in his life was that “there must be something wrong when the worms turn on some praise.” Nonetheless, he was well enough appreciated that when the BBC decided to create a television series for Winston Churchill’s A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, William Walton was commissioned to write music for the opening and closing credits. The March for A History of the English-Speaking Peoples was the result. The march was recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra and published, but the television project that might have popularized it was never completed and broadcast, so the work has languished largely unplayed. The composition is a march rondo with an allegro first theme and a maestoso second theme utterly fitting to the national pride of its subject matter.
Musings: a little-known secret
By thinking of the second half of this concert as a symphony in three movements, with an allegretto first movement scherzo, a maestoso second movement, and a triumphant allegro march finale, you would be right in line with our philosophy. That is, for every one of the works Symphony North of Houston performs on this concert the current one being performed is our favorite.