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Concert 2 - June 18, 2020, 7:00 p.m. Program Notes
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Nadia Boulanger: Élégie
Sabrina Laney Warren, soprano
Perry Mears, piano

Nadia Boulanger is well known for her immense contributions to classical music as a teacher of composition, but her own compositional career is often overlooked. She began composing at a young age, but her last compositions, a set of songs on poems of Mauclair, were published in 1922 when Boulanger was still only 35. Elegie is a poem written by Albert Samain, of the French Symbolist school. The nature of the poetry is reflected in Boulanger’s remote tonality and suspended dissonances. Boulanger’s pianistic skill is reflected in the virtuosic character of the accompaniment.--MIT OpenCourseware
Guillaume Connesson:
Trois Merveilles du Monde
texts by Victor Hugo
Paul Murray, bass
Brian Ray, piano

Guillaume Connesson (b. 1970) is currently one of the most widely performed French composers worldwide. Commissions are at the origin of most of his works (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre National de France., and the Chicago Symphony) Moreover, his music is regularly played by numerous orchestras (Brussels Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra). He is currently composer in association with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra; his music is played by American and English orchestras such as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Houston Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. From 2009 he has been composer in residence at the Orchestre de Pau, Pays de Béarn. His Trois merveilles du monde for baritone and piano uses texts by Victor Hugo and was written in 2008.
Margaret Bonds: Three Dream Portraits
The Negro Speaks of Rivers
Marcus King, baritone
Tingting Yao, piano

Margaret Bonds was born on March 3, 1913 in Chicago, Illinois. Margaret’s mother, Estella Bonds, was her first piano teacher and exposed her to great musicians like Florence B. Price and Will Marion Cook early in her life. This early contact led her to attend Northwestern University, where she earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in music in 1933 and 1934, respectively. From there she attended Juilliard to continue her studies in 1939. The song cycle Three Dream Portraits resulted from her collaboration with poet Langston Hughes, with whom she maintained an enduring friendship. Her setting of his poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers was written in 1942. During Bonds’ illustrious career, she taught at the American Theater Wing and performed with several orchestras. In 1967 she moved to Los Angeles to work at the Inner City Institute and Repertory Theater until her death on April 26, 1972.—African American Art Song Alliance
Jeffrey Hoover: The Alchemist
Craig Hultgren, cello

While the historic image of alchemists transforming lead into gold is widely thought of, the ultimate goal of alchemy was achieving the Magnum Opus (Great Work):  removal of impurities, joining of opposites, refinement of materials, and spiritual transformation and enlightenment. The architecture of the music mimics the four broad stages of alchemical processes for the Magnum Opus.  Each section is a characteristic entity, different from previous material, and is followed by either an expansion of that material, or further development of material from a previous section:  Introduction || A, A1 || B, B1 || C, A2 || D, A3 || Closing Section
The melodic and harmonic materials find their roots in both the 19th and 20th century:  modifications of late 19th -century chromatic structures and intervallic material of the 20th-century gives The Alchemist its sound and structure.  As with other compositions by Jeffrey Hoover, there is a interpretive painting The Alchemist, painted by the composer.  In this painting, the image of a cellist as an alchemist of music is presented.

Claude Debussy: Preludes, Book I
Brian Ray, piano
No. 2. Voiles
No. 3. Le vent dans la plaine
No. 4. Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir
No. 5. Les collines d'Anacapri

Claude Debussy's Préludes are 24 pieces for solo piano, divided into two books of 12 preludes each. Unlike some notable collections of preludes from prior times, such as Chopin's Op. 28, or the preludes from Johann Sebastian Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, Debussy's do not follow a strict pattern of key signatures. Each book was written in a matter of months, at an unusually fast pace for Debussy. Book I was written between December 1909 and February 1910, The titles of the preludes are highly significant, both in terms of their descriptive quality and in the way they were placed in the written score. The titles are written at the end of each work, allowing the performer to experience each individual sound world without being influenced by Debussy's titles beforehand. At least one of the titles is poetically vague: the exact meaning of Voiles, the title of the second prelude of the first book, is impossible to determine for certain. The title of the fourth prelude «Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir» represents a citation from Charles Baudelaire’s poem Harmonie du soir from his volume of poems Les Fleurs du mal.

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