Monday, March 4, 2024

Numerica Performing Arts Center Presents Toast of the Town April 22


The year is 1969, thirteen years before the first CD and nearly thirty years before the MP3 player. Packing for a trip to the moon, you are only allowed one carry-on…small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. With one extended-play cassette in hand, what music would you bring to accompany the world’s first lunar landing?

Commander Neil Armstrong packed a recording of the New World Symphony, an appropriate choice considering the mission and destination of the Apollo 11 crew.

In 1893, Dvořák was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to write Symphony No. 9, From the New World. Premiered to tumultuous applause, “without question this was one of the greatest triumphs of all that Dvořák experienced in his life. (John Clapham).  Better known as the New World Symphony, Symphony No. 9 is today one of the most popular symphonic works ever composed.

Also on the program is Camille Saint-Saëns Concertante for Violin, Cello and Orchestra, La Muse et le Poète (1910). A “concertante” is a composition “affording opportunity to display brilliancy in a solo part in an instrumental composition.”In his blog “Musical Musings”, Alan Beggerow writes:

In 1907, Mme. J-Henri Caruette, an admirer, wanted to present a statue of Saint-Saëns to the town of Dieppe, but an actual law forbade a statue being erected to a living person. Mme Caruette worked some political magic, circumventing the law, and when she died in 1909, Saint-Saëns wrote a one-movement piano trio, dedicating it to her.  The composer’s publisher entitled the work The Muse and The Poet and Saint-Saëns orchestrated it. The music begins in a somber tone with the orchestra, but when the violin enters, the mood brightens. The cello enters and things get gloomy again, but the violin keeps going and convinces the cello to brighten its mood too.

Playing the story on April 22nd are two brilliant soloists, Vanessa Moss (violin) and Brooke Scholl (cello).

Quinn Mason (b. 1996) is one of the most sought-after young composers in the country. A multiple prize winner in composition whose mission “is to compose music for various mediums based in traditional western art music and reflecting the times in which we currently live.” (Mason) Toast of the Town is a festive and fun overture in the style of Gilbert & Sullivan or Offenbach…to an operetta that doesn’t exist! It is an instantly celebratory work, with march-like motives against fluttering, soaring melodies in the upper voices. Filled with plenty of character, Toast of the Town provides us with 8 minutes of sheer, foot-tapping delight. 



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