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Music is GREAT Britain

7:30PM, Saturday, March 8, 2014
TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre
35 - 22nd Street East, Saskatoon, SK S7K 0C8
$18 – $60
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Gyro Productions Masters Series

Presented by:

SaskPower - Powering the Future

Ticket prices

Masters Series Ticket Prices

Grand Circle  $60.00

Main Floor, Rows H–S & 2nd Balcony  $49.00

Main Floor, Rows A-G & T-Z  $39.00

Prices quoted INCLUDE TCU Place service charges and taxes.

Grand Circle  $60.00

Main Floor, Rows H–S & 2nd Balcony  $44.00

Main Floor, Rows A-G & T-Z $34.00

Prices quoted INCLUDE TCU Place service charges and taxes.

Grand Circle  $60.00

Main Floor, Rows H–S & 2nd Balcony  $28.00

Main Floor, Rows A-G & T-Z  $18.00

Prices quoted INCLUDE TCU Place service charges and taxes.

Grand Circle   $60.00

Main Floor, Rows H–S & 2nd Balcony  $10.00

Main Floor, Rows A-G & T-Z  $10.00

* Price for child under 15 accompanied by a paying adult. Limit of 2 children per adult. Not valid for Grand Circle. Prices quoted INCLUDE TCU Place service charges and taxes.

 

 

Maestro Victor Sawa conductor
Saskatoon Chamber Singers James Hawn, director
Saskatoon Greystone Singers and
University Chorus Dr. Gerald Langner, conductor
Monica Huisman soprano
Peter McGillivray baritone

Repertoire

Matthew David Becker Overture (new commissioned work)
Britten Four Sea Interludes, op. 33a
Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony

About the concert

A celebration of choral music and British composers, endorsed by the Consulate of Great Britain, featuring Benjamin Britten’s Four Seas Interludes, describing the moods of the sea in all its tranquility and brutality. Vaughan Williams’ epic choral work ‘A Sea Symphony,’ contains settings of Walt Whitman’s poems, encompassing their wild optimism and spirit of adventure. Plus, the premiere of a work from young composer Matthew Becker.

Concert notes

Close Me

Music and composers

Matthew David Becker (b. 1984)

Overture (new commissioned work)

Matthew David Becker (b. 1984 in London, ON, Canada) is a contemporary classical composer who started to show an interest in composing during his teen years, where he found a lot of inspiration from classical music, film music, and commercial music. In 2012, Becker completed his MMus in Composition at the University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, SK), under composer Gyula Csapó and, from 2009-2010, Malcolm Forsyth. He obtained his BMus from McMaster University (Hamilton, ON) in 2008 where he studied piano with Cécile Desrosiers. Scholarships from the University of Saskatchewan include the Murray Adaskin Composition Award (2010 and 2012) and the David L. Kaplan Music Scholarship (2011). He is also an active member of the Saskatoon Composers’ Performance Society, currently serving as vice-president. Recent performances of critical works have taken place in Saskatoon and Szombathely, Hungary. Becker is currently enrolled in the PhD program in composition at Western University in London, ON.

“Overture” is a gathering of melodic fragments which appear in correlation with others, thus creating a narrative. It opens with a clunky, almost oafish tuba solo, but it sets the stage for similar generating motifs, which then branch out to produce a larger narrative. This narrative then progresses into extended melodic passages among a few instruments at a time. Eventually, a combination of extended melodic components and fragmented motifs that we heard earlier come together to create one big dialogue.

Program note prepared by the composer.

Benjamin Britten (1913–1976)

Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, Op. 33A

George Crabbe’s poem The Borough (1810), about life in the fishing villages of England’s east coast, inspired Britten, who grew up in that area, to compose the opera Peter Grimes. Composed in 1944-1945, the opera tells the story of Grimes, who is accused by the townsfolk of murdering his apprentices. Britten portrays Grimes not as a sadistic man but rather as an outsider, a “tortured idealist” distrusted for his individuality and ruthlessness: a man at odds with the world. Britten wrote it was a subject “very close to my heart—the struggle of the individual against the masses” that had “ironic overtones for our own situation,” referring not only to Britten’s relationship with his lifelong lover Peter but also to the scorn they faced during WWII as pacifists and conscientious objectors. Ironically, composing music about the formidably beautiful English coast he had known as a child ignited Britten’s desire to end his self-imposed exile and return to his roots. The opera’s unexpected triumph at the premiere in June 1945 launched a revival in English opera, which had not seen such success since Henry Purcell 250 years before. It was also a turning point in Britten’s career.

The Four Sea Interludes, instrumental interludes which Britten extracted from the opera to be performed as a stand-alone work, evoke the coast and seascapes of Suffolk. In the opera, the sea plays a key role. These small tone poems serve to introduce the sea and its moods. The first interlude, “Dawn,” portrays a sea at peace but with undercurrents of danger. “Sunday Morning” is boisterous with church bells and evokes sun on the water. “Moonlight” is the peaceful counterpart to “Dawn.” In the final movement, “Storm,” the tempest-tossed sea lashes the coast.

Program notes prepared by Joan Savage, Violin Section, Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. © 2014


Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

A Sea Symphony

British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams’s A Sea Symphony (1910), his first large-scale work and the first symphony of the nine he would eventually compose, was his first major success. During the six years in which he developed it, its content and title changed several times. At last Vaughan Williams completed this expansive, exhilarating work for soloists, chorus, and orchestra.

A Sea Symphony was enthusiastically received at its premiere in 1910 at the Leeds Festival, with Vaughan Williams conducting on his 38th birthday. It helped solidify his reputation begun with the recent success of Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. These triumphs established a career that would span nearly fifty years and lead Vaughan Williams to be honoured, in his later life, as the unofficial composer laureate of England. A Sea Symphony’s success also garnered new support for 20th century English music.

Vaughan Williams travelled throughout England collecting and transcribing folk songs and many of these songs and sea shanties found their way into A Sea Symphony, though Vaughan Williams’s interest in folk music influences this composition perhaps less than some of his later compositions. Even his works that do not directly quote folk music seem to retain its influence and have a “national” feel about them.

This symphony was one of the first in which the chorus is integral to the entire work. Though the symphony is conventional in form, its use of chorus makes it almost a choral fantasy. Vaughan Williams treated the text as music. He wrote: “The plan of the work is symphonic rather than narrative or dramatic, and this may be held to justify the frequent repetition of important words and phrases which occur in the poem. The words as well as the music are thus treated symphonically.” In his program note he wrote, “It is also noticeable that the orchestra has an equal share with the chorus and soloists in carrying out the musical ideas.” Music critic Samuel Langford wrote, “It is the nearest approach we have to a real choral symphony, one in which the voices are used throughout just as freely as the orchestra.” This fluidity between music and text is especially evident in the third movement.

Vaughan Williams admired the poetry of Walt Whitman, especially the poems that transcended both metaphysical and humanist perspectives. For A Sea Symphony he used as his text some of Whitman’s lesser-known poems from Leaves of Grass: “Song of the Exposition” and “Song for all Seas, all Ships” (first movement), “On the Beach at Night Alone” (second movement), “After the Sea-ship” (third movement), and “Passage to India” (fourth movement). The poems contain references to sailors and the sea as metaphors for life’s journey. Ottaway and Frogley called the melding of Whitman and Vaughan Williams’s works: “…a triumph of instinct over environment. The tone is optimistic, Whitman’s emphasis on the unity of being and the brotherhood of man comes through strongly, and the vitality of the best things in it has proved enduring… there is no mistaking the physical exhilaration or the visionary rapture.”

The first movement “A Song for All Seas, All Ships” (baritone, soprano, and chorus) speaks, “Of ships sailing the seas, each with its special flag or ship-signal, Of unnamed heroes in the ships – of waves spreading and spreading far as the eye can reach, Of dashing spray, and the winds piping and blowing, And out of these a chant for the sailors of all nations, Fitful, like a surge…” It then becomes sorrowful as those lost at sea are mourned. The second movement, “On the Beach at Night, Alone” (baritone and chorus), sings, “On the beach at night alone, As the old mother sways her to and fro singing her husky song, As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the universes and of the future. A vast similitude interlocks all….” The third movement, “Scherzo: The Waves” (chorus), says, “After the sea-ship, after the whistling winds… a myriad, myriad waves hastening… Waves, undulating waves, liquid, uneven, emulous waves… Toward that whirling current, laughing and buoyant… flashing and frolicsome under the sun… with many a fleck of foam and many fragments… in the wake following.” The fourth movement, “The Explorers” (baritone, soprano, semi-chorus, and chorus), is a journey: “O we can wait no longer, We too take ship O soul, Joyous we too launch out on trackless seas, Fearless for unknown shores on waves of ecstasy to sail, Amid the wafting winds… Wandering, yearning, curious, with restless explorations… for the deep waters only. For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go….” The movement ends quietly, “O daring joy, but safe! are they not all the seas of God? O farther, farther, farther sail!”

Program notes prepared by Joan Savage, Violin Section, Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. © 2014

 
 

 

Ticket prices

Masters Series Ticket Prices

Grand Circle  $60.00

Main Floor, Rows H–S & 2nd Balcony  $49.00

Main Floor, Rows A-G & T-Z  $39.00

Prices quoted INCLUDE TCU Place service charges and taxes.

Grand Circle  $60.00

Main Floor, Rows H–S & 2nd Balcony  $44.00

Main Floor, Rows A-G & T-Z $34.00

Prices quoted INCLUDE TCU Place service charges and taxes.

Grand Circle  $60.00

Main Floor, Rows H–S & 2nd Balcony  $28.00

Main Floor, Rows A-G & T-Z  $18.00

Prices quoted INCLUDE TCU Place service charges and taxes.

Grand Circle   $60.00

Main Floor, Rows H–S & 2nd Balcony  $10.00

Main Floor, Rows A-G & T-Z  $10.00

* Price for child under 15 accompanied by a paying adult. Limit of 2 children per adult. Not valid for Grand Circle. Prices quoted INCLUDE TCU Place service charges and taxes.