Opening our Clinton Symphony “Music of the Holidays” concert (7:30 pm, Saturday December 8 at Clinton High School) will be the delightful Canzon per Sonar Septimi Toni a 8 by Giovanni Gabrieli played by the brass section. Later in the concert, we will hear an arrangement of traditional Christmas carols, A Canadian Brass Christmas. Please enjoy these program notes, and plan to join us on Saturday evening.
Giovanni Gabrieli (1557-1612) was born in Venice, one of five children. While not much is known about Giovanni’s early life, he studied with his uncle, composer Andrea Gabrieli, who considered Giovanni “little less than a son.” As a protégé to Andrea, Giovanni visited several of the major music centers of western Europe. In Munich, with the blessing of his uncle, he stayed to study with Orlando de Lassus until 1579. Lassus had a significant influence on Gabrieli’s musical development.
Returning to Venice in 1584, Gabrieli took up the position as principal organist at St. Mark’s Basilica in 1585, then, in the following year, he assumed the post of principal composer on his uncle’s death. Gabrieli continued to prosper when he took the post of organist at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, another post he retained for life. Much of his music was written specifically for the two churches at which he was organist.
San Marco had a long tradition of musical excellence and Gabrieli’s work there made him one of the most noted composers in Europe. The vogue that began with his influential volume Sacrae symphoniae (1597) was such that composers from all over Europe, especially from Germany, came to Venice to study.
After 1600, Gabrieli began to show signs of ill health, so much so, that other musicians were hired to perform the duties he could no longer do. He died in 1612 in Venice, of complications from a kidney stone.
Canzon per Sonar Septimi Toni a 8 by Giovanni Gabrieli was designed for use in San Marco during mass and vespers for important liturgical commemorations and occasions. Brass is the setting for our concert, however this work has been arranged for and performed by numerous and widely various instrumental and vocal groups.
Although a composer of original material, Calvin Custer (d. 1998) is best known for his rousing arrangements of other composers’ works. A graduate of Carnegie-Mellon and Syracuse Universities, Custer served as an all-purpose performer with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra (SSO) for twenty-four years.
Four years after joining the SSO as a keyboardist and horn and brass performer, in 1966 Custer was appointed Associate Conductor and Resident Conductor for the group. He was instrumental in the orchestra’s community outreach programs and performed regularly with the SSO Percussion Ensemble and the Syracuse Symphony Rock Ensemble.
A Canadian Brass Christmas Suite is a medley of six Christmas pieces based on arrangements for the popular Canadian Brass ensemble. The six carols referenced in the suite are Ding Dong! Merrily On High, I Saw Three Ships,The Huron Carol, and Here We Come A’Wassailing.
Program notes by William Driver