Birdies for Clinton Symphony

Enjoy the John Deere Classic? We have a great way FORE! you to support your favorite Symphony! Simply click through to the Birdies for Charity site to make your donation and guess at the number of Birdies. You’ll be entered for prizes, plus your guess at the number of birdies during the tournament could win the grand prize of a free 2 year lease on a Lexus RX 350! (Entries are due June 10 to be eligible for prizes.)

It is gratifying to know that 100% of every pledge collected goes directly to the Clinton Symphony Orchestra. The John Deere Foundation covers all administrative costs to make that possible. Plus, the tournament takes its profits each year and delivers a second check from between 5% and 10% of that charity’s final total to make the deal even sweeter. There is no more impactful way for you to help your favorite organization!

Or print and mail the form below. Please mark Clinton Symphony Orchestra as the charity, and Bird Number 1411 so the CSO will receive your donation and the match!

Clinton Symphony to conclude 68th season with A Grand Finale

7:30 p.m. — Saturday, April 30, 2022

Vernon Cook Theater – Clinton High School

Guest soloist for the evening is violinist Naha Greenholtz. She will perform Mozart’s Fourth Violin Concerto accompanied by the orchestra.

Greenholtz is concertmaster of the Quad City Symphony and Madison Symphony, and her past engagements include concertmaster appearances with the Oregon, Omaha, and Memphis symphonies, the San Francisco Ballet, the Calgary Philharmonic, and a 2-year residency with the National Ballet of Canada in Toronto.

Her 2018-2020 seasons have included regular guest concertmaster appearances with the Chicago Philharmonic, the Louisiana Philharmonic, and the Australian Ballet in Melbourne.

The concert is the sixth of the season. The orchestra is conducted by Brian Dollinger, now completing his 14th season in that position.

The orchestra will also perform the Fifth Symphony by Tchaikovsky. Written in 1888, it is a “cyclical symphony,” according to CSO’s program annotator and flutist Karin Anderson-Sweet. “The “fate theme” moves from a funereal, dark opening to a triumphant, dramatic close.”

Admission to the concert is by season ticket, or by individual adult concert tickets, available at the door or online for $20. All students are admitted free, and an adult with a student will be admitted for half price (please ask about this offer at the ticket table).


Program Notes:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756-1791.                   

   Likely the most renowned of all musical child prodigies, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed in nearly every major genre, leaving us music that serves as archetypes of the Classical period. Mozart wrote his first piece of music at the age of five, published his first composition by seven, and wrote his first opera by his twelfth birthday. One of the most prolific and influential composers of all time, he composed over 600 works in his short lifetime, almost single-handedly developing the piano concerto.

   Born to Leopold and Anna Maria Mozart in Salzburg, Austria, Wolfgang was the youngest of seven and one of only two siblings to survive birth. His father Leopold was one of Europe’s leading music teachers, Deputy Kapellmeister to the court orchestra of the Archbishop of Salzburg and a successful composer. Leopold gave up his career and became his son’s only teacher when his musical genius was discovered at the age of three. His older sister, Maria Anna was also musically talented, and Leopold traveled the two all over Europe to show off their precocious ability, allowing Wolfgang to meet and become familiar with many musicians and their music. 

   When the tours ended, Wolfgang was hired as court musician, performing and composing for Salzburg’s Prince. Popular and beloved in Salzburg he composed in many genres; symphonies, sonatas, string quartets, serenades and opera. Even these early works were already excellent enough to remain popularly performed today. Eventually growing discontented with his low salary and few opportunities to work on his favorite, the opera, he searched Germany and Paris for jobs, moving to Paris where he was unsuccessful. He grudgingly returned to Salzburg where his unhappiness continued, he felt unappreciated and was finally fired by the Prince.

   It was in Vienna where his career eventually took off, and he established himself as the finest pianist in the city. He was able to continue composing, writing a hugely successful opera, The Abduction from the Seraglio, which was performed throughout Europe. His reputation established, he was able to marry Constance Weber with whom he had six children, two of whom survived. He began studying the works of Bach and Handel and met Haydn, all of whom influenced his work. He and Haydn became friends, playing together in string quartets. In awe of Mozart’s talent, Haydn told Leopold, “Before God and as an honest man I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me…”

   Mozart put on a very popular concert series as the piano soloist in his own compositions and wrote three or four concertos each season. He and Constance became very wealthy and were able to live lavishly, which led to financial issues later.

Next he shifted back to opera, collaborating with famed librettist Lorenzo da Ponte with whom he premiered his Marriage of Figaro to acclaim in Vienna and Prague. Don Giovanni followed, considered among his most important works. Finally, by 1787 he obtained steady work under the aristocratic patronage of Emperor Joseph II who appointed him as his chamber composer. Unfortunately, Austria was at war a year later, which led to his career decline. He had to move his family to cheaper lodgings and was forced to borrow from his friends. He made long trips to improve his fortunes with little success. 1791 was his last year of great productivity, resulting in The Magic Flute, his final piano concertos, a clarinet concerto, his last great string quintets, the revision of his 40th symphony and his unfinished Requiem. His finances began to improve as new patrons began subsidizing him, but he fell ill in September and died in December 1791.

Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K218

   Although Mozart performed as one of the greatest pianists of his time, he played the violin as well. This piece is the fourth of five violin concertos he wrote in Salzburg in 1775. The first movement opens energetically with a trumpet fanfare and unison orchestra in military style. The second movement continues aria-like, an andante of tenderness and grace. The finale begins gently and then becomes an energetic, rustic dance. 

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 1840-1893

   The first Russian romantic composer to enjoy widespread international acclaim, Tchaikovsky remains the most popular and original Russian composer of all time, the emotional turmoil of his life reflected in his brooding music. His astounding output includes 7 symphonies, 11 operas, 4 cantatas, 3 ballets, 5 suites, 3 piano concertos, 11 overtures, 20 choral works, a violin concerto, 3 string quartets and over 100 songs and piano pieces. His most famous works, Swan Lake, Nutcracker, 1812 Overture, his symphonies and Eugene Onegin, all displayed his beautiful melodies, impressive harmonies and picturesque orchestration.

   Born in a small town in the Russian interior, Peter displayed his musical talents early, composing his first song at age 4. He began piano lessons at the age of 5 with a local tutor, although music education was not accessible in Russian schools at the time. High-strung and sensitive, he was steered in a more practical route by his parents who prepared him for a career in civil service, but he eventually became one of the first students in what would become the Moscow Conservatory of Music, studying harmony and counterpoint with Nikolai Zaremba and composition and instrumentation with Anton Rubinstein. He had also become influenced by Italian singing instructor Luigi Piccioli, developing his lifelong love of Italian music. The first public performance of one of his compositions occurred in 1865 when Johann Strauss conducted his Characteristic Dances at Pavlov’s.

   After graduating in 1865, Tchaikovsky moved to Moscow to teach music theory at the Moscow Conservatory and within 5 years produced his first symphony and his first opera. In 1868 he met a young Belgian mezzo-soprano, Desiree Artot, and first of several attempts at marriage which ended unhappily. In 1869 he completed Romeo and Juliet to mirror the drama of the Shakespearean play, which became the first of his compositions to enter the international classical repertoire. His first operas were harshly judged by critics, but his instrumental works began to earn him his reputation, and at the end of 1874 his Piano Concerto No.1 earned him acclaim along with his Symphony No.3.

   At the end of 1875, Tchaikovsky left Russia to travel Europe, where he was powerfully impressed by Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Earlier that year he had completed Swan Lake, the first of his three ballets, which premiered at the Bolshoi in Moscow to a lukewarm reception. Initially, dancers deemed it too difficult, and critics pronounced it “too noisy, too Wagnerian”. Yet this initial production survived for 6 years in 41 performances as audiences warmed to music so unlike 19th century ballet.

   In 1877 Tchaikovsky made a hasty decision to marry Antonina Milyukova, a naive student besotted with him, resulting in marital disaster. Within weeks of this marriage, he fled abroad, never to return to her. A much more successful and remarkable relationship developed with widow Nadezha Von Meck, a great admirer of his work, who became his patroness for the next 14 years, allowing him to devote himself to composition. The two agreed never to meet, instead embarking on a voluminous exchange of letters expounding on politics, psychology, creativity, religion and the very nature of love.

   This period proved very productive for Tchkovsky, producing some of his most famous works— the opera Eugene Onegin, the Symphony No. 4 and the Violin Concerto in D Minor. Over the next ten years he produced operas, symphonies, the Serenade for Strings in C Major, Capriccio Italian and the 1812 Overture. By 1887 he was conducting his own music to great acclaim and continuing to produce such works as the Sixth Symphony, Pathetique, and Sleeping Beauty. He was invited to tour the United States for the inauguration of Carnegie Hall and he conducted before enthusiastic audiences in New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia, confirming his triumphant world stature.

   Tchaikovsky became suddenly ill in October 1893 and died of cholera 4 days later.

Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, op. 64

   Tchaikovsky conducted this symphony’s premiere in 1888 in St. Petersburg, the same year he composed it. Although it has become one of his most popular works, it met with initial negative criticism. Tchaikovsky himself called it a “failure”. During a notable performance in 1941 during the Siege of Leningrad, the orchestra was ordered to continue playing as bombs dropped around the theater. A cyclical symphony with a recurring main theme, the “fate theme”, the piece moves from a funereal, dark opening to a triumphant, dramatic close. His Fifth Symphony reflects his music full of polarities — from deepest lows to soaring highs.

   The first Andante movement begins in the shadows with the haunting, darkly-veiled presence of the solo clarinet, establishing the tragic theme shrouded in the gloom of the low strings. A melody is built on simple, repeating phrases like a lamenting Russian folk song. After the slow introduction, the strings transform into a mysterious march as a restless and spirited melody takes shape. The full voice of the orchestra comes alive gradually in a rhythmic conflict like the swirling movement and grace of his ballets. It closes with the gloomy march themes fading into the distance.

   The second Andante cantabile movement also opens slowly with a low string choir and the famous horn solo, noble, sensuous and lamenting. Joined by other voices, the movement becomes soaring and passionate before being cut off by an outburst of brass fanfares and then ends serenely with the clarinet and strings.

   The third Allegro, a graceful, yet fleeting waltz, combines with a faster scherzo, ending with a return to the ominous theme.

   The Finale Andante returns in the gloomy key, but is transformed with a trumpet fanfare now in E major, launching into a furious first theme. A rising line from the bottom to the top of the strings leads to a thrilling, heroic statement of the brass. The momentum comes to a sudden halt with a shocking silence. Then the trumpet restates the theme, now in the major key, in a swelling celebratory march; a true journey from darkness to light.

       Compiled by Karin Anderson-Sweet

Meet 2022’s Young Artist!

Keegan Roddy is a senior at Sterling High School and first chair cellist in her High School Orchestra. Her parents, Stuart and Joselynne, are teachers at Sterling High School and she is the middle of five children in the family. She has participated in Illinois Music Educators All-District and All-State Orchestras. Her cello teachers have included Clinton Symphony Orchestra musicians Barbara Lauff, Erik Oberg, and Robert Whipple. Keegan’s future plans include a four year university with a major in Atmospheric Science or a related field. Keegan will receive a cash award from Clinton Symphony Orchestra. Join us on Saturday, February 19th at 2:00pm at Morrison High School to hear Keegan perform the Saint-Saens “Cello Concerto No 1” with the Symphony.

Clinton Symphony Orchestra’s annual Young Artist Auditions named an additional two area high school students for honorable mention. They will each receive award money from the Symphony. 

Anna Current, cello, a junior at Clinton High School.

Clara Ashdown, violin, a sophomore at Erie High School.

The Music of Friendships – Chamber Concert to be January 16.

Please make plans to join us for our annual Chamber Music concert on Sunday, January 16 at 2:00 p.m. The concert will take place at Zion Lutheran Church • 439 3rd Avenue South, Clinton.

Program:

Duet “With Two Eyeglasses Obligato” for Viola and Cello 

by Ludwig van Beethoven 

Paul Price-Brenner, viola <> Kevin Price-Brenner, cello 

– • – 

Terzetto, Op. 74 

for String Trio 

by Antonín Dvořak 

 Ann Duchow and Hana Velde, violins 

Natalie Delcorps, viola 

– • – 

Fantasy Pieces, Op. 88 

for Piano Trio 

by Robert Schumann 

Nadia Wirchnianski, piano 

Julie Marston, violin <> David Spaulding, violoncello


Program Notes:

Dvorak — Terzetto in C, Op. 74 for two violins and viola

     One of the best-known composers of all time, Antonin Dvorak contributed to the dissemination and appreciation of Czech music throughout the world. His portfolio includes around 200 works in all genres including 9 symphonies, 14 string quartets and 12 operas.

     Born September 8, 1841 in Bohemia, his early musical talent was recognized and nurtured; by the time he was 12, he moved in with an aunt and uncle and began his formal musical studies. As an adult, his fame spread quickly abroad, leading to successes in England, Russia and eventually the United States where he famously made his way to Iowa,  the inspiration for his New World Symphony.

     His Terzetto in C  is one of the best known works of this combination of instruments. Completed in only one week in January 1887, it was composed at the height of his creative career. Intended as Hausmusik to be performed informally by Dvorak himself and two friends, it proved too difficult for one of the violinists and he rewrote it in a simpler style for violin and piano, titled Romantic Pieces, as well as an easier work for the same instruments entitled Romantic Pieces. The first public performance of the Terzettl was in March 1887 in Prague by virtuoso violinists.

     The first of four movements, the Introduction begins with a sweetly lyrical theme, followed by a more energetic moment. The second movement, Larghetto, is slower and expressive with an agitated contrasting middle section.  The dance-like Scherzo is in his characteristically folk style. The concluding Tema con Variazioni in the darker key of C minor includes ten brief variations with numerous grand pauses and tempo changes.

     The fact that Dvorak spontaneously composed this small chamber piece at a time in his career when he was so incredibly busy touring and flooded with commissions speaks to a remarkable creative genius. 

Schumann – Fantasy Pieces for Piano, Violin, Cello, Op.88

     Robert Schumann, 1810-1856, known for his piano music, songs and orchestral pieces, was in many ways typical of the Romantic Age, his life filled with emotional extremes, passion, tragedy and creativity. 

     Encouraged in literary and musical interests as a child, Robert was allowed to study music under a famous piano teacher who was already intensely focused on training his own talented daughter, Clara. Although a distracted student with difficulty focusing, Schumann promptly fell in love with the much younger Clara, earning the disapproval of her father who was concerned about his instability. Legal battles ensued, but the pair were eventually married and Clara, a brilliant pianist, toured successfully as Robert found great difficulty in finding his own suitable career. Fortunately, this became one of his most fertile periods, and he wrote many of his piano pieces for his wife. He also returned to his neglected song compositions, producing nearly all the songs that solidified his reputation in only 11 months.

A number of unsuitable career opportunities left him to focus on his wife’s touring success, conscious of his own failures. Suffering from bad health and bouts of depression and suicide attempts, Schumann had himself committed to a mental asylum where he died a year later at only the age of 46.

     The Fantasy Pieces for Piano, Violin, Cello  represents Schumann well, expressive and intense. In 4 movements, the Fantasy begins with a Romanze centered on a=the simplicity of a melancholic folk melody. The Humoreske follows with a march theme continued from the first movement. A Duett for the two stringed instruments continues with a beautiful melody accompanied by the gentle, rippling piano. The piece concludes with the Finale which repeats the opening march, gradually dying away. A coda surprises with sudden energy.

Beethoven – With Two Eyeglasses Obligato, WoO 32

   Born in Bonn, Germany in 1770, Ludwig von Beethoven is widely regarded as one of the greatest masters of musical construction in the late classical/early romantic period. He innovated in almost every form of music he touched and composed in a great variety of genres including symphonies, concerti, piano and other instrument sonatas, string quartets, other chamber music, masses, lieder and one opera.

     Although there remains no clear origin for the odd name of the Obligato, it was probably written for Beethoven’s good friend and accomplished cello player Baron Nikolaus von Domanovecz.  Beethoven himself played viola, so the piece was likely meant for the two to play together. A lifelong friend, it was von Domanovecz who provided accommodations and supplies for Beethoven, even helping proof his editions. The playful title likely refers to the fact that both men had bad eyesight and wore eyeglasses.

     Although possibly incomplete, the obligato is composed of 3 movements; an Allegro, Minuetto and Trio.  The viola begins with an energetic theme, immediately followed by the cello. The two take turns as either theme or accompaniment. The Minuetto is a gentle movement with phrases played in chords and in a canon between the two instruments. Clearly, this was intended to be fun to play as a comfortable interlude between friends.

                                                   Compiled by Karin Anderson-Sweet

Holidays with the Clinton Symphony – Tchaikovsky

No Holiday concert would be complete without selections from the Nutcracker Suite! Join us this Saturday, Dec 11, 7:30pm at Clinton High School to enjoy all the pieces and composers we have been highlighting this past week.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 1840-1893

Tchaikovsky in his last years earned his greatest successes matched only by his growing depression. He was to die less than a year after The Nutcracker ballet debuted. Arguably the best known Russian composer of all time, his works include 7 symphonies, 11 operas, 3 ballets, 3 piano concertos, a violin concerto, 4 cantatas, 20 choral works and over 100 songs and piano pieces. Although his operas had limited success, he was able to transform ballet into staged musical drama, revolutionizing the genre. He took ballet very seriously, seeing it as an art equal to all others when detractors were writing it off.

Nutcracker is based on the romantic writer E.T.A. Hoffman’s tale of Clara and the nutcracker she gets for Christmas, which magically transforms into a handsome prince who sweeps her away to the Kingdom of Sweets. As a ballet, Tchaikovsky found the structure difficult and limiting and asked to be released from the project. Instead, he was given an extension and his brilliance was able to create a masterpiece, although he felt it never measured up to his Swan Lake. It has become a worldwide holiday favorite, written for children; appreciated by adults.

Marche. Full of fanfares and swirling strings, the joy of the holidays

Danse Chinoise. Steady bassoons and flute flourishes

Danse Arabe. Not actually Arabian, but a Georgian lullaby; slow, sinuous, exotic

Danse russe Trepak. The national Russian dance; begins fast, accelerates furiously

Program notes by Karin Anderson-Sweet

Holidays with the Symphony Program Notes – Chase and Humperdink

The next two highlights on our upcoming December 11th concert are arrangers Bruce Chase, and composer Engelbert Humperdinck. Please enjoy the following program notes, provided by Karen Anderson-Sweet.

Engelbert Humperdinck

Engelbert Humperdinck 1854-1921

Although some people of a certain age may recall the British pop singer who commandeered his name, the original Engelbert Humperdinck was a child prodigy and German composer known primarily for his opera Hansel and Gretel. Although he produced his first composition at the age of 7, his parents pushed him in the direction of architecture as a more lucrative profession. Instead, his talent earned him a scholarship to study music in Munich. Traveling through Italy, France and Spain, he collaborated with Richard Wagner and eventually became a music professor.

Hansel and Gretel began as a favor to his sister, who asked him for songs for her daughters’ puppet show. Using the Brothers Grimm gruesome fairy tale, he composed a singspiel of 16 songs, eventually working on a complete orchestration. His opera premiered as an instant success in 1893, the perfect amalgam of Wagnerian techniques and traditional German folk songs. He created dramatic, short melodies to represent the different characters. The Overture acts as a prelude based on the themes that will be heard later in the opera. The horns and bassoons introduce the peaceful spirit of his famous “Evening Prayer” in the Prelude, which will be sung later by the lost and hungry children in Act II.


Bruce Chase 1912-2001 (picture unavailable)

An American composer in our own backyard, Muscatine, Iowa, Chase was born into a family of well-known local musicians and by his early teens was also performing concerts. Making a living playing in dance bands, he discovered a real talent for making arrangements. He was eventually hired by NBC radio as a violinist and arranger, which led to a career as staff arranger and conductor for many popular radio shows. When live shows declined, he transitioned to making educational music albums, many still available today. After playing violin for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, he was recognized for his talent in music arrangement and frequently conducted the orchestra until well into his seventies.

His Around the World at Christmas Time includes the following traditional carols:

“O Tannenbaum” Germany

“Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” Poland

“What Child is This” England

“O Sanctissima” Sicily

“Where Comes the Rush of Wings” France

“Go Tell it on the Mountain” American spiritual

“Hanukkah Song” Jewish