GREELEY CHAMBER ORCHESTRA

The third concert will feature a traditional Lakota Nation music and dance ensemble, and the Greeley Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Dan Frantz, with glorious music by the Native American Ancestors, Mozart and Beethoven.

 PROGRAM

Opening performance by traditional Lakota Music and Dance Ensemble

 

W.A. Mozart

Overture to Marriage of Figaro, K. 492

Ludwig van Beethoven

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 5 Emperor in E flat major, Op. 73, featuring Iris Zhang, piano

INTERMISSION

Hallelujah Chorus from Christ on the Mount of Olives, Op. 85

Fantasia for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra in C Minor (Choral Fantasy), Op. 80, featuring UNC Concert Choir, Greeley Chamber Choir, and Adam Zukiewicz, piano

PROGRAM NOTES

by

Hanguang Wang

 

W.A. Mozart

Overture to Marriage of Figaro, K. 492

Mozart composed his comic opera in 4 acts Marriage of Figaro in 1786. It was already a moderate success when it was premiere in Vienna in May 1786, but it became a major highlight at a performance in Prague later that same year. In a letter to a friend, Mozart proudly claimed that “Here nothing is talked about except Figaro; nothing is played, blown, sung, or whistled except Figaro; no opera draws the crowds like Figaro—it’s always Figaro. Certainly, it’s a great honor to me.”

 

As was typical for the time, the opera opens with an instrumental overture that, amazingly, Mozart composed just hours before the opera’s premiere. The 4-5 minutes overture is a self-contained work, which is not directly related to the plot of the opera but has a deep connection with the content of the opera in terms of general mood and style, which summarizes the character of the common people and sets the tone for the opera to come - fast paced, sneaky manner, and filled with intrigue. The opening bustles with notes like the whispers of gossip; a comic disorderly atmosphere fills the music without a break, providing the perfect introduction and preparation for this hilarious opera. It has always delighted audiences for centuries as a separate concert work.

 

Ludwig van Beethoven

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 5 Emperor in E flat major, Op. 73

  

Beethoven composed his Piano Concerto No. 5 ("Emperor Concerto") in 1809 in Vienna, the city then under siege by Napoleon's forces, followed by the subsequent French occupation which brought further material and economic dislocation. In addition to enduring the stress of living under attack, Beethoven's hearing had become severely impaired, suffering from the constant and painful assault on his ears. To his publisher, he wrote: “Since May 4 I have produced very little coherent work, at most a fragment here and there. The whole course of events has in my case affected both body and soul…What a destructive, disorderly life I see and hear around me: nothing but drums, cannons, and human misery in every form.” Just when Beethoven was experiencing turmoil and despair, he still overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles with tenacity to compose the most symphonic of his concertos to date, representing the culmination of Beethoven's “heroic decade (1802-1809)”.

 

At the beginning of this great work, Beethoven innovated by placing the cadenza after the opening orchestral chords. Originally composed from fragments of thematic material, the cadenza is a virtuosic passage full of scales, trills and improvisation, usually found at the end of the first movement of a concerto, giving the soloists a chance to show off their skills. However, such an unusual opening was only one aspect of Beethoven’s innovation in the composition of the concerto; beyond this, he expanded the proportions of the work to make it truly symphonic and also succeeded in establishing a new relationship between piano and orchestra, with the soloist clearly the protagonist.

 

 

Hallelujah Chorus from Christ on the Mount of Olives, Op. 85

 

In 1802, while resting in the countryside, Beethoven wrote the most famous letter in history which we call the Heiligenstadt Testament. In the letter, he expressed his pain and loneliness due to his increased deafness, as well as his desire to overcome his physical and emotional ailments to continue living for the sake of music. From then on, he opened the way to his most fruitful and heroic period of composition.

 

Shortly after writing the Testament, Beethoven began work on Christ on the Mount of Olives, which is Beethoven’s only oratorio and the earliest of his three major choral works, scored for a full symphony orchestra, SATB choir, and soprano, tenor and bass soloists. It is a dramatic retelling of the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane: After the Last Supper, Jesus retires to a quiet place, Gethsemane, accompanied by three of his disciples. While the disciples sleep, despite being asked to stay awake, Jesus prays in anguish, troubled by the knowledge of events soon to unfold. It is on this night that he is betrayed by Judas, which ultimately led to his Crucifixion.

 

The work is often considered a much more humanistic portrayal of the Christ passion than works by previous classical artists. Beethoven made some changes in the musical setting of this traditional theme, especially in comparison to Bach’s Passions, most notably in the role of Jesus assigned to a heroic tenor. In the other Passions, Jesus is a baritone, and the tenor's tone effectively highlights Christ's youthful, innocent and vulnerable qualities. As his resolution in this Testament, there is a similar sense of naive optimism at work in Christ on the Mount of Olives, which ends with a celebratory “Hallelujah” chorus.

 

Fantasia for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra in C Minor (Choral Fantasy), Opus 80

 

The Choral Fantasy premiered in a benefit concert at Vienna’s Theater an der Wein on December 22, 1808, as part of a program that also included the premieres of Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies and Piano Concerto No. 4. The work seemed more or less ill-fated, as Beethoven began writing it only a few weeks before the concert, barely in time to rehearse it; and the lack of rehearsal led to a few twists and turns during the performance.

The title might have been confusing to audiences of the time, who were used to "Fantasy" being a solo keyboard work. In fact, the work begins with an extended improvisation for solo piano played by Beethoven himself at the premiere. Then the orchestra quietly and gently joins, starting with low strings and gradually a dialogue forms between the orchestral and the piano, creating a concerto-like effect. The chorus then enters for the grand finale. The whole piece is full of spontaneity and jokey humor that you might associate with casual improvisation among friends.

Beyond that, Choral Fantasy is inextricably linked to the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, a work that Beethoven acknowledged as a study for setting the Ode to Joy. Although the texts embedded in the music are different, one from Christian Kuffner's text and one from Schiller's Ode to Joy, they exude the same optimism about the human condition that Beethoven always had.

About the Artists:

The Greeley Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1981, presenting its first concert on October 30, 1981. Through the years, the orchestra has grown from a very modest group of 17 musicians to its present size of over thirty-five. The orchestra has been allowed to perform all its concerts in the majestic sanctuary of the Trinity Episcopal Church, a setting that is acoustically perfect and visually stunning.

 

The music the orchestra performs during its five-concert season is exciting and unique. The Greeley Chamber Orchestra has presented not only a varied spectrum of works but has featured some of the finest talents of Northern Colorado, many of whom are faculty at the remarkable School of Music of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. The Orchestra is joined twice a year by the Greeley Chamber Choir to perform works for choir and orchestra.

 

The repertoire of the Greeley Chamber Orchestra certainly focuses on music of the Baroque (Bach, Boyce, Handel, Telemann, and Vivaldi) and Classical (Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart and Schubert) periods but has also featured the music of various late 19th century (Brahms, Debussy, Ravel, Tchaikovsky and Wagner) as well as 20th century composers (Argo, Ehle, Prokofiev, Puccini, Shostakovich and Sibelius,) The Greeley Chamber Orchestra is comprised of talented musicians from the northern Colorado and southern Wyoming area who take time from their busy schedules to collectively perform music. The musicians of the groups come from all walks of life and include accountants, computer engineers, homemakers, nurses, pharmacists, physicians, sales persons, teachers and students. This remarkable group of volunteers comes together every week to prepare the world’s finest music, driven by their passion for wonderful music

To purchase tickets, visit tickets.unco.edu, or by phone: (970) 351-4849 / at the door