For many of us, today is Thanksgiving. For Native Americans, it’s a day of mourning; mourning the genocide and loss of land they suffered. Let’s take a moment to remember their history and be thankful that there are Native Americans left to tell their story. At the Oakland Symphony we celebrate our Native American friends and neighbors.

~Michael Morgan

Excerpt from: Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate Lowak Shoppala’ – Fire and Light

 

Antonín Dvořák
Stabat Mater, Op.58 (B.71)

Hope Briggs, soprano
Lisa van der Ploeg, mezzo-soprano
Kalil Wilson, tenor
Craig Phillips, bass
Oakland Symphony Chorus
   Dr. Lynne Morrow, Chorus Director

Music Director Michael Morgan and Chorus Director Dr. Lynne Morrow introduce Antonín Dvořák’s Stabat Mater

Michael Morgan: Tonight’s rePAST is somewhat longer than usual. Antonín Dvořák’s setting of the Stabat Mater is a masterpiece dating from 1876 and 1877. As it is a great choral work, who better to tell us a little about it then Oakland Symphony Chorus Conductor, Dr. Lynne Morrow.  

Lynne Morrow: Antonín Dvořák was a generally cheerful person, but he wrote this Stabat Mater in the midst of sorrow. His three young children had died in the span of two years, two of them within a month of each other. As we are observing a nation of fellow citizens pass, or mourn the passing of loved ones, we can appreciate more acutely the vivid choral laments that Dvořák brought to this work that tells of a grieving mother.

Michael Morgan: Thank you, Dr. Morrow. Here is the Dvořák Stabat Mater with soloists Hope Briggs (soprano), Lisa van der Ploeg (mezzo-soprano), Kalil Wilson (tenor), Craig Phillips (bass) and the Oakland Symphony Chorus under the direction of Dr. Lynne Morrow from a performance from February 2006. Concert Program

 

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Silvestre Revueltas
Sensemayá
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, March 27, 2015

Samuel Barber
First Essay for Orchestra, Op. 12
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, February 9, 2018

Bryan Nies, conductor

Samuel Barber
Symphony No. 1
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, February 20, 2015

Bryan Nies, conductor

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, January 24, 2014

Tonight’s rePAST is a collection of shorter pieces. The first is Sensemayá by the Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas. It is one of the most famous orchestral pieces from Mexico. Based on a poem by Nicolas Guillen, and evoking Afro-Cuban religious gatherings, here is Sensemayá.

This next work is also American: The First Essay for Orchestra by Samuel Barber. Like a literary essay, it is an extended development of a central idea. In this case, the idea is given right at the beginning of the piece. The conductor Toscanini, a champion of Barber’s music, gave the first performance in 1938. This Oakland Symphony performance from 2018 is led by our Associate Conductor Bryan Nies. Here, then, is the Barber First Essay.

I’m pairing Barber’s First Essay with Barber’s First Symphony, also conducted by Associate Conductor Bryan Nies. It is a compact, one-movement work that has the four movements of a traditional symphony pressed into one. Barber’s overtly romantic music has always been a hit with conductors and audiences. Dedicated to his partner, Gian Carlo Menotti, here is Barber’s First Symphony, conducted by Bryan Nies.

The last of our four short works is the famous Fantasy-Overture to Romeo and Juliet by Tchaikovsky, a piece that was on my very first Oakland Symphony concert. This is not that performance, but one from 2014. Here is tonight’s finale: Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet.

Concert Program March 27 2015 
Concert Program February 9 2018

Concert Program February 20 2015  |  Concert Program January 24 2014

 

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Ernest Bloch
Schelomo, Hebraic Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, February 21, 2014

Matthew Linaman, cello
(Winner of 2013 Young Artist Competition Senior Division)

Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, March 28, 2014

Music Director Michael Morgan introduces Bloch’s Schelomo and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.

In 2014, the winner of our Young Artists Competition was the gifted cellist Matthew Linaman. The Reno, Nevada native came to us via the San Francisco Conservatory where he has also won their concerto competition playing Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo, the great Hebraic Rhapsody. Bloch, who was born in Switzerland, wrote Schelomo in 1916 before coming to America, a journey that eventually led to his being named Emeritus Professor at UC Berkeley even though he’d never taught full-time there. Schelomo is perhaps the greatest product of Bloch’s musical exploration of his Jewish heritage. Based on the words of King Solomon, it is a tone poem for cello and orchestra. Matthew Linaman is the cellist playing Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo.

Matthew Linaman playing Bloch’s Schelomo, which we’re pairing tonight with a symphony that needs no introduction. The Seventh Symphony of Beethoven is one of the cornerstones of the orchestral rep, and has been played many times by the Oakland Symphony. Here is Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.

Concert Program February 21 2014   |   Concert Program March 28 2014

 

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Sergei Rachmaninoff
Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Opus 27
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, November 18, 2005

Music Director Michael Morgan introduces Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2

Tonight we go back to a 2005 performance of a great masterpiece by a frequently underrated composer: The Second Symphony of Sergei Rachmaninoff. Always more renowned as a pianist during his life than as a composer, Rachmaninoff frequently lacked confidence in his own work, and even allowed people to make cuts in this symphony. Those cuts destroy the form and are not made in this performance. (In fact, I would never make them!) It’s a long piece and worth every minute. Some may recognize the third movement theme from its transformation into a pop ballad by Eric Carmen, but every movement is full of memorable themes that are brilliantly developed. Here is the monumentally romantic Second Symphony of Sergei Rachmaninoff. Concert Program

 

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Juhi Bansal
Where Shadow Chases Light
(New Visions/New Vistas Commissioning Project, supported by a grant from
The James Irvine Foundation
and the National Endowment for the Arts)
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, March 28, 2014

Jean Sibelius
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Opus 43
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, November 15, 2002

Music Director Michael Morgan introduces Juhi Bansal’s Where Shadow Chases Light
and Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2.

From our Notes from India concert, we commissioned a work from L.A. composer Juhi Bansal. The result is one of the most beautiful of the works we have premiered. Ms. Bansal’s mixing of Indian elements and the Western orchestra yields a piece full of color and expressiveness. We recognized immediately that this was a wonderful piece from an extremely talented composer, and it is a joy to hear it again here on rePAST. Here is Juhi Bansal’s When Shadow Chases Light.

That was Juhi Bansal’s When Shadow Chases Light. We are pairing it tonight with one of the most popular symphonies from the 20th Century – The Second Symphony of Jean Sibelius. The Symphony was a success with audiences right from its 1902 premiere. It’s grand, sweeping finale, having such a nationalistic character, that it was thought to be an expression of Finnish independence from the domination and suppression of Russia. Here now is the Second Symphony of Jean Sibelius.

Concert Program March 28 2014  |  Concert Program November 15 2002

 

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Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day

John Christopher Wineglass
Big Sur: The Night Sun
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, February 24, 2017

Emiliano Campobello, native flute
Marcie Chapa, world percussionist
Jayson Fann, world percussionist
Kanyon Sayers-Roods, Native American singer from the
Costanoan Ohlone and Chumash Tribes

Tonight on rePAST we celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day with a performance of Wineglass’ Big Sur: The Night Sun. The natural beauty of Big Sur is sacred to many. This feeling of sanctity was shared by Wineglass, who formed many of the themes of his tone poem Big Sur: The Night Sun while in residence on the grounds of the Glen Deven Ranch and other areas such as Pfeiffer Beach. The beautiful impressions and warm enlightenments that affected him while on the retreat became the root—and soul—of this magnificent work.

This mesmerizing work features the haunting voice of Kanyon Sayers-Roods, Native American singer from the indigenous California Costanoan Ohlone and Chumash Tribes.

Concert Program February 24 2017

 

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Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Opus 15
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, April 17, 2009

Sara Buechner, piano

Maurice Ravel
La Valse
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, May 20, 2016

Music Director Michael Morgan introduces Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Maurice Ravel’s La Valse.

Tonight on rePAST we go back to a 2009 performance that holds great sentimental value for us at the Oakland Symphony. This performance marked our first collaboration with the great Sara Davis Buechner, one of our favorite pianists and one who has returned to us several times since. On this occasion, she played the First Piano Concerto of Beethoven, and it is an association we have all come to enjoy. Here is Sara Davis Buechner playing the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1.

We end tonight’s presentation with the great poème chorégraphique La Valse by Maurice Ravel. The Frenchman Ravel wrote La Valse as a summing up and hommage to the Viennese Waltz. This brilliant and colorful work dates from 1920, and this Oakland Symphony performance was in 2016. Here is Maurice Ravel’s La Valse.

Concert Program April 17 2009   |    Concert Program May 20 2016

 

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Conrad Susa
The Blue Hour
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, January 24, 2014

Antonín Dvořák
Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Opus 70
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, February 21, 2014

Music Director Michael Morgan introduces Conrad Susa’s The Blue Hour and Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7

Tonight’s rePAST begins with the only orchestral work of the beloved opera composer and long-time San Francisco Conservatory Faculty member, the late Conrad Susa. His piece, The Blue Hour, is about the time when daylight is beginning to transition into night. The sounds one might hear mixing at – or near – the beach. From private radios to music from cafes. And as the day winds down, the sun moves away from California, and towards the faint sounds of China.

We’re pairing Conrad Susa’s Blue Hour with arguably the greatest of the Dvořák symphonies. The Seventh is full of the melodic Czech spirit one expects from Dvořák at the height of his creativity.

Concert Program January 24 2014  |  Concert Program February 21 2014

 

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Wilhelm Stenhammar
Symphony No. 2 in G minor, Op.34
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, April 21, 2006

Music Director Michael Morgan introduces Wilhelm Stenhammar’s Symphony No. 2

In April 2006, we played the first piece in what would become our “Lost Romantics” series. The Second Symphony of Wilhelm Stenhammar I first heard when I was in high school because it was in a bin at a record store (we had those back then) and it was a name I didn’t recognize. As you will hear, it is immediately attractive and it is surprising it is not heard more often outside Scandinavia. Stenhammar, who lived from 1871 to 1927, was a major composer in Sweden, influenced by, amongst others, Sibelius. He was also a conductor, and led the Orchestra in Gothenburg from 1906 to 1922. Interesting side note: from 1953 to 1960, the conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony was none other than the African-American conductor Dean Dixon. Here is the wonderful and unjustly neglected Second Symphony in G minor by Wilhelm Stenhammar. Concert Program

 

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Gustav Mahler
Rückert Lieder
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, October 14, 2016

Hadleigh Adams, baritone

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, November 17, 2017

Music Director Michael Morgan introduces Gustav Mahler’s Rückert Lieder and Mozart’s Symphony No. 40

Tonight’s rePAST begins with baritone Hadleigh Adams singing the Rückert Lieder by Gustav Mahler. The five songs on texts by Friedrich Rückert were not written as a cycle, but are often performed that way. I highly recommend you follow along with the poetry. Open the program note link below in a different window so you can follow the text as you listen. We do the songs in the following order:

Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft (I breathe a soft scent)
Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder! (Do not look for me in my songs)
Liebst du um Schönheit (If you love for beauty)
Um Mitternacht (At midnight)
And finally… Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen (I have become a stranger to the world)

We’re pairing the Mahler Rückert Lieder we just heard with Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. The famous G-minor Symphony hardly needs an introduction as it’s one of the most famous pieces in the orchestral repertoire. It exists in two orchestrations: one with and one without clarinets. This is the first version, without clarinets.

Concert Program October 14 2016  |  Concert Program November 17 2017

 

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Sergei Rachmaninoff 

Symphonic Dances, Op. 45
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, October 2, 2015

Music Director Michael Morgan introduces Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances

On this rePAST, we hear Sergei Rachmaninoff’s last major work, the Symphonic Dances. In three movements, they sum up the late compositional style of Rachmaninoff. In fact, in it he quotes several of his own earlier pieces. The work combines the rhythmic vitality you would expect in a piece called “Symphonic Dances” with the lush harmony and gift for melody one expects in Rachmaninoff. It is for large orchestra, and notable for its use of the alto saxophone as a solo wind instrument. A favorite of orchestras and conductors everywhere, here are the Symphonic Dances of Sergei Rachmaninoff.   Concert Program

 

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Martin Rokeach 
Concerto for Piccolo and Orchestra
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, March 18, 2016

Amy Likar, piccolo

George Gershwin
Rhapsody in Blue
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, February 22, 2019

Taylor Eigsti, piano

Music Director Michael Morgan introduces Martin Rokeach’s Concerto for Piccolo and Orchestra and George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue

Tonight’s rePAST begins with a new and unusual work for soloist and orchestra. When Oakland Symphony flute player Amy Likar approached me about a Piccolo Concerto she wanted to commission from composer Martin Rokeach, I thought the least we could do to encourage such enterprise was to play the resulting piece. Martin Rokeach’s Piccolo Concerto was so successful that we have another project with him in the works. It will be an oratorio on the great Flint, Michigan “sit down” strike of 1936-37, which was one of the most important events in the establishment of America’s trade unions. That piece, titled Bodies on the Line, which honors America’s labor movement, will debut two seasons from now. In the meantime, enjoy Martin Rokeach’s Piccolo Concerto with soloist Amy Likar.

Paired with the Rokeach Piccolo Concerto tonight is another dazzling soloist’s appearance. When we honored Dolores Huerta with a “Playlist” concert, she requested the Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue, which was played by Oakland Symphony favorite and jazz star Taylor Eigsti. This is one of my favorite performances of this piece because of the way Taylor uses the various solos as points of departure and improvises on them. I have no doubt Gershwin would completely approve. Here is a dazzling interpretation, in fact a re-imagining, of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with Taylor Eigsti.

Dolores Huerta comments: “I first heard Rhapsody in Blue when I was a teenager many, many years ago. And I loved it so much and I played it so much that I almost wore out my LP record.   But then during the grape boycott, we were in New York City, a lot of farm workers had gone to New York and we had to go picket the grapes at Hunters Point Market. This is where they have all the produce. So in order to do that, we had to get up at 3 in the morning and we had to drive over to the Bronx where Hunters Point Market was at. At New York City in those early morning hours, and every time we were going over to Hunter’s Point Market I would remember this song. And then when we were coming back from Hunters Point Market into Manhattan and the cars are honking and the whole bustle of the city it had those kinds of memories for me not only as a young child but on that great boycott.”

Concert Program March 18 2016  |  Concert Program February 22 2019

 

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Vân-Ánh (Vanessa) Võ 
Lullaby for a Country
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, February 12, 2016

Vân-Ánh Võ, Đàn Tranh (zither), Đàn Bầu (monochord), and Vocal 

Edward Kennedy (Duke) Ellington
Harlem
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, January 25, 2019

Music Director Michael Morgan introduces Vân-Ánh Võ’s Lullaby for a Country and Duke Ellington’s Harlem

Tonight’s rePAST is two works from what were at one time famously warring countries: Vietnam and the United States. Now they share both history and tourists. Lullaby for a Country was composed by Vân-Ánh Võ, who is also the soloist on the Đàn Tranh, which is the Vietnamese zither. She is recognized as one of the leading players of the instrument around the world, having toured widely. The work is in four sections, incorporates traditional Vietnamese lullabies, and was the featured work on our “Notes from Vietnam” concert.

Completely different from Vân-Ánh Võ’s Lullaby for a Country but equally evocative is Duke Ellington’s tone-poem Harlem, which is an American Masterpiece. Duke Ellington’s interest in larger forms that infused jazz into concert music was well known, but not so much encouraged during his time. That he left us such a wonder as Harlem is evidence of his place as one of the greatest composers of the last century. This was our second time performing Luther Henderson’s brilliant orchestration of this piece. There is much genius to be found in this depiction of the hustle and bustle of the famous New York neighborhood.

Concert Program February 12 2016   |   Concert Program January 25 2019

 

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Benjamin Britten
Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, Op. 31
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, February 9, 2018

Jonathan Blalock, tenor
Meredith Brown,
horn

Edward Elgar
In the South Overture, Op. 50
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, October 14, 2016

Music Director Michael Morgan introduces Britten’s “Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings” and Elgar’s “In the South”

Tonight’s rePAST begins with the Benjamin Britten “Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, ” which he wrote for his partner, tenor Peter Pears, the piece having been requested by the hornist Dennis Brain. It sets six poems by various poets, each a mediation on aspects of the night plus a prologue and an epilogue played on the natural horn, that is playing the horn without using the valves. You could call it a series of nocturnes. In this performance, from our “Notes from LGBTQ America” concert, the famously difficult horn part is taken by our Principal Horn Meredith Brown, and the tenor – with the perfect voice for Britten – is Jonathan Blalock.

Tonight we are pairing the Britten Serenade with Sir Edward Elgar’s overture, or tone poem, “In the South” written in 1903. By the “south,” Elgar means southern Europe and specifically the town of Alassio on the Italian Riviera. Elgar had vacationed there and was inspired by the scenery to remember the great battles that had been fought there in centuries past. It is a thrilling depiction of sun, sea and the land. Notable for its energy, and the viola solo in the middle section.

Concert Program February 9 2018 Concert Program October 14 2016

 

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Ludwig van Beethoven

Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, March 18, 2016

Music Director Michael Morgan introduces Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2

Beethoven Symphony No. 2. Most of the attention seems to go to the odd numbered Beethoven Symphonies. The Eroica, the Fifth, the Seventh, the Ninth. But there is such explosive excitement in the Second, one wonders how it could be overlooked so often. Many of the elements for which the later symphonies are justly known are already showing themselves, or at least their beginnings, in the Second Symphony. From a March 2016 Oakland Symphony concert, here is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2, which dates from 1802. Concert Program

“Beethoven’s Second Symphony, in a bluff, nicely vigorous rendition, brought the program to a more telling conclusion.” – Joshua Kosman (March 19, 2016)

 

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Florence Price
Symphony No. 3 in C minor
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, January 25, 2019

Music Director Michael Morgan introduces Florence Price Symphony No. 3

Florence Price Symphony No. 3.  Florence Price was an African-American composer who lived  from 1887 to 1953. Her First Symphony was the first work by an African-American woman to be played by a major American orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, in 1933.  She is now seeing a great rediscovery and for me her Third Symphony is her masterpiece.  It is in four movements – classical in form, but American in outlook – with the melodiousness of American folk music, and the extended harmonies we have come to associate with jazz, though she most definitely was not a jazz musician.  Written in 1940, here is Florence Price’s Third Symphony from a January 2019 performance of the Oakland Symphony. Concert Program

 

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Anton Bruckner
Te Deum

Hope Briggssoprano
Betany Coffland, mezzo-soprano
Amitai Patitenor
Anthony Reed, bass
Oakland Symphony Chorus, Dr. Lynne Morrow, director
Saint Mary’s College Chamber Singers & Glee Club, Dr. Julie Ford, director

Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, March 31, 2017

Music Director Michael Morgan introduces Anton Bruckner Te Deum

Anton Bruckner’s Te Deum, from a concert in March of 2017. Bruckner was an organist and devoted church musician, and Te Deum is from the incipit “Te Deum laudamus,” which can be translated “Thee, O God, we praise.” It is in five sections, performed without pause and features vocal soloists (led by a radiant Hope Briggs) and our Oakland Symphony Chorus, which is led by Dr. Lynne Morrow. On this occasion, our chorus is joined by the chorus of St. Mary’s College, with whom we were very happy to collaborate. The Oakland Symphony Chorus is an essential part of our Oakland Symphony family and we’re proud to present them in Bruckner’s Te Deum. Concert Program

 

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Victor Bendix 

Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 25
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, November 13, 2015

Music Director Michael Morgan introduces Victor Bendix Symphony No. 3

Victor Bendix, who lived from 1851 to 1926, was the first composer we played in our “Lost Romantics” Series. Pieces from the romantic era that have fallen out of the repertory for reasons that I couldn’t explain. Bendix was a Danish/Jewish composer, which could somewhat account for his music getting lost during the World War Two period. This Symphony is in three movements, full of melodic and harmonic inventiveness. I particularly call to your attention the second subject of the first movement about four minutes in. At that point, any doubts are cast aside and you are all in. Dating from 1895, here is the Third Symphony of Victor Bendix from a November 2015 performance by the Oakland Symphony. Concert Program

Oakland Symphony revives a forgotten gem. Concert review by Joshua Kosman (11/14/2015) 

 

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Louise Farrenc

Symphony No. 3 in G minor, Op. 36
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, March 22, 2019

Music Director Michael Morgan introduces Louise Farrenc Symphony No. 3

Louise Farrenc Symphony No. 3,  from a March 2019 performance of the Oakland Symphony.   Over the years, we’ve played a series of pieces we’ve called “Lost Romantics.”  These are pieces from the Romantic period –  in the case of Louise Farrenc, early Romantic period – that I believe have unjustly fallen out of the regular concert repertory.   I’ve heard Louise Farrenc described as “criminally underplayed” and I agree.  A revered teacher and performer at the Paris Conservatory, it is said that on the success of this symphony she demanded and finally got pay that was equal to her male colleagues.   Here is the excellent Symphony No. 3 by Louise Farrenc written in 1847. Concert Program

 

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Gustav Mahler
Symphony No. 4 in G major
Elena Galván, Soprano
Performed at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday, February 22, 2020

Music Director Michael Morgan introduces Mahler’s Fourth Symphony

“Mahler’s Symphony Number Four – the smallest of the Mahler symphonies in terms of orchestral forces and the shortest in length, it is also for many their favorite Mahler symphony. This concert was given in co-operation with the Violins of Hope, a collection of string instruments played in the concentration camps during the Holocaust, and now restored and touring the world as a collection. Several are being played in the orchestra, as well as one of the solo violins used in the second movement, the unusual sound of which is the result of a special higher tuning of the strings. The violin soloist is co-concertmaster Dawn Harms. The soprano soloist in the last movement, singing of the heavenly life with all its beauty and bounty, is Elena Galván. Here then is Mahler’s Symphony Number Four from a February 2020 concert by the Oakland Symphony.“ Concert Program

 

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