Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra Winter Concert
José Pablo Moncayo (1912-1958)
Born in Guadalajara, Moncayo studied composition with Carlos Chávez, played jazz piano in local cabarets, and eventually became the conductor of the Mexican National Symphony Orchestra. He was one of the “Group of Four” Mexican composers who were dedicated to promoting a national music. He and another member, Blas Galindo, once visited the town of Alvarado, in the state of Veracruz, to collect folk music. There they encountered a dance called the “huapango.” Depending on the source, “huapango” is a corruption of the word “fandango,” or a word from the Náhuatl language meaning “the site where the wood is placed,” namely, the wooden planks for dancing.
Moncayo used three of these huapangos in an orchestral work first performed on August 15, 1941, by the Mexico Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Carlos Chávez. It has become a second Mexican national anthem. A lyrical central section with solos for harp and winds is flanked by more rhythmic parts. In the last section, trumpet and trombone engage in a kind of musical duel.
Lowell Liebermann (b.1961)
Piccolo Concerto, Op. 50
Liebermann began studying piano at the age of eight. His first published work was a piano sonata, which he introduced at Carnegie Recital Hall just months after his sixteenth birthday. Later he studied composition with David Diamond and Vincent Persichetti at the Juilliard School. He has been composer-in-residence with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and the Pacific Music Festival. He joined the composition faculty of Mannes College in 2012, and the following year was appointed head of its composition department. He was the first recipient of the Virgil Thomson Award in 2014, and lives in Weehawken, New Jersey.
Liebermann has written over one hundred thirty works in all kinds of genres. He has written works for Paul Zukovsky, Paula Robison, Gerald Schwarz, Stephen Hough, Mstislav Rostropovich, and James Galway, among others, as well as an opera based on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. His music was used at the 2001 Van Cliburn Competition.
Liebermann has written concertos for cello, clarinet, flute, piano, trumpet, and violin. The Piccolo Concerto was commissioned by the National Flute Association and first performed on August 18th, 1996, at the National Flute Association Convention in New York City. The soloist was Jan Gippo (to whom the work is dedicated); Glenn Cortese conducted the New Jersey Symphony.
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
Candide Suite (Arr. Charlie Harmon)
Bernstein’s third Broadway musical, Candide, opened at New York’s Beck Theater on December 1, 1956. It lasted only 73 performances, but was revived in 1973 and was voted the best musical of 1974 by the New York Drama Critics Circle.
Described as “a comic operetta based on Voltaire’s satire,” Candide was staged by Tyrone Guthrie, with book by Lillian Hellman, and lyrics by John Latouche and Dorothy Parker. After its original opening night, Walter Kerr wrote: “Three of the most talented people our theater possesses–Lillian Hellman, Leonard Bernstein, Tyrone Guthrie–have joined hands to transform Voltaire’s Candide into a really spectacular disaster.”
Charlie Harmon was Bernstein’s assistant for four years and music editor for the Bernstein estate for ten years. He edited numerous works for performance and publication, including the present suite from Candide, which was introduced by Eiji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra on January 14, 1999. It contains the songs “You Were Dead You Know,” “Paris Waltz,” “Bon Voyage,” “Drowning Music,” “The King’s Barcarolle,” “Ballad of El Dorado,” “I Am Easily Assimilated,” “The Best of All Possible Worlds,” and the finale, “Make Our Garden Grow.”
José de La Paz
Avalon (Suite for Flamenco Guitar and Orchestra)
(Arr. Alex Conde)
Avalon is based on compositions by flamenco guitarist José Luis Rodriguez, who tells the story of “a voyager who leaves his home in search of Avalon, a place of fortune and happiness, only to discover that Avalon is no more than a place he has always carried within.”