Imagine: My Concert Season

May 3, 2018, 8:14 AM · Imagine you are the orchestral director and can choose any pieces for a concert.

maestro conductor

This fun exercise was turned into an assignment for my conducting class (which I mentioned in my last post in April with sketches). As promised then, here is a sampling of a few of my favorite concerts I included! Enjoy!

Musically Ever After: A Children's Concert

Children of all ages will enjoy a concert full of fairy tales and adventure stories, all which they can enjoy experiencing through the music with a narrator helping them out.

GRIEG Peer Gynt Guite No. 1 (1888)
RAVEL Ma Mére l'Oye (suite) (1911)
PROKOFIEV: Peter and the Wolf, op. 67
HISAISHI: TONARI NO TOTORO, Orchestra Stories (2002)

(I loved including Hisaishi, the composer of the Ni No Kuni games I'm loving so much!)

The Natural World

Take a tour through the land and sea, through the seasons and in different parts of the world. All of this music carries a zen-like feel to which one can enjoy in the same vein of taking a walk.

VAUGHAN-WILLIAMS: The Lark Ascending (1914, 1920)
FINZI: Prelude for String Orchestra in F (1925)
VIVALDI: "Autumn" and "Winter" from The Four Seasons (1721)
RAVEL: Une Barque sur L'Ocean
GROFÉ: Grand Canyon Suite (1931)

Music of Many Colors

The great orchestrators were full of bubbling colors in their music, and all three of these pieces have a distinct flavor to them, coming from France, Spain, and Brazil, that allow a taste from these three countries.

RAVEL: Shéhérazade ouverture de féerie
DE FALLA: Nights in the Gardens of Spain
HEITOR VILLA-LOBOS: Symphony No. 2 ("Ascensão")

Ancient Greek Mythology

Stravinsky takes us back to 17th century France, showing his interest in Apollo, the god of music. Diamond's hauntingly stark Elegy celebrates the wonderful Maurice Ravel, whose music has been celebrated all season. Thus, the season comes to a close with Ravel's greatest masterpiece, full of gorgeous colors that help shape Ravel's retelling of a classic romance.

STRAVINSKY: Apollo (1927-28)
DIAMOND: Elegy in Memory of Maurice Ravel (1937)
RAVEL: Daphnis et Chloe (1912)

This last concert is very personal to me, and I'm so happy I found that elegy as a personal note: a celebration of the piece to which I first discovered my favorite composer, and also my favorite piece of music of all-time.

I hope you enjoyed a sampling of my concerts for this assignment! What programs would you choose?

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May 4, 2018 at 09:36 AM · I really like the idea of a 'children's concert'. Getting classical to the next generation and what not.

May 4, 2018 at 10:09 AM · I love this post! I'm not a conductor, but I've often thought about what I'd like to program, especially because I enjoy discovering lesser-known pieces and composers. I'll come back and post more later, but for now, here's one I've had in mind for a long time. For this program, I'm going to assume a semi-professional orchestra like the one I currently play in.

"For the Love of Music"

Many members of our orchestra play for the love of music, and tonight we proudly present the works of four composers who used music as a creative outlet while pursuing demanding non-musical careers. Physician-scientists Bearer and Borodin take us on musical journeys to Pacific Northwest forests and Eurasian steppes; industrialist Berwald and engineer Atterberg paint their own fantastic musical landscapes.

ELAINE BEARER: Ah-Toosh-Mit: Overture for Orchestra (1990) (12 min)
FRANZ BERWALD: Piano Concerto (1855) (21 min)
ALEXANDER BORODIN: Overture to "Prince Igor" (1887) (10 min)
KURT ATTERBERG: Symphony No. 2 (1913) (31 min)

May 6, 2018 at 05:55 PM · So cool! I love how everyone's personal musical experiences can come together as to what repertoire they would pick. I'll be excited to listen to some of your suggestions. :)

May 7, 2018 at 02:39 AM · I like your programs, though just something to keep in the back of your head: If you were a conductor choosing programs, you would need to keep in mind the preparation burden on players, as well as stamina for the works in general.

Your nature concert, for instance, would normally have the Lark Ascending played by the concertmaster; it'd be less common to bring in a soloist for that. Since there two rather than four Seasons in that program, the concertmaster might be the logical choice there, too, though that's perhaps a place where one might ask the principal 2nd to play. And then the Grofe has a significant concertmaster's solo as well.

May 9, 2018 at 07:34 AM · Here's my attempt at an entire 5-concert season (again matching my orchestra), with an overarching "Musical Passports" theme. I'm going to leave out intro blurbs, but each concert except the first features one country or region through music inspired by it or composed by its natives.

As risky as this programming seems, it's actually much more conservative than our real 2018-19 season!


RICHARD WAGNER: Siegfried's Rhine Journey (1876) (12 mins)
GEORGE GERSHWIN: An American in Paris (1928) (13 mins)
HECTOR BERLIOZ: Harold in Italy (1834) (44 mins)

Celtic Visions

ARNOLD BAX: Tintagel (1919) (14 mins)
ALEXANDER CAMPBELL MACKENZIE: Pibroch Suite for violin and orchestra (1889) (24 mins)
AMY BEACH: Gaelic Symphony (1894) (40 mins)

Istanbul and Constantinople

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART: Overture to "Abduction from the Seraglio" (1782) (6 mins)
LJUBICA MARIC: Byzantine Concerto for piano and orchestra (1959) (25 mins)
FAZIL SAY: Istanbul Symphony (2010) (43 mins)

Rising Sun

KOSUKE YAMADA: Inno Meiji (1921) (18 mins)
YASUSHI AKUTAGAWA: Trinita Sinfonica (1948) (22 mins)
AKIRA IFUKUBE: Symphony Concertante for piano and orchestra (1941) (37 mins)

¡Viva México!

CARLOS CHAVEZ: Sinfonia India (1936) (13 mins)
RICARDO CASTRO: Cello Concerto (1895) (24 mins)
JOSE PABLO MONCAYO: Sinfonia (1942) (28 mins)

May 9, 2018 at 09:13 AM · This is fun! Here's another full season, more conventional and including the first concert program idea I posted:

For the Love of Music

ELAINE BEARER: Ah-Toosh-Mit: Overture for Orchestra (1990) (12 min)
FRANZ BERWALD: Piano Concerto (1855) (21 min)
ALEXANDER BORODIN: Overture to "Prince Igor" (1887) (10 min)
KURT ATTERBERG: Symphony No. 2 (1913) (31 min)

Taking Flight

GIOACHINO ROSSINI: Overture to "La gazza ladra" (1817) (10 mins)
RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: The Lark Ascending (1920) (15 mins)
WILLIAM WALTON: Spitfire Prelude and Fugue (1942) (8 mins)
JEAN SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 5 (1919) (35 mins)

Timeless Romance

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN: Leonore Overture No. 2 (1806) (14 mins)
HE ZHANHAO & CHEN GANG: Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto (1959) (27 mins)
SERGEI PROKOFIEV: Romeo & Juliet Suite No. 2 (1936) (31 mins)

Four Seasons Through the Ages

FELIX MENDELSSOHN: Overture to "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1826) (12 mins)
ALEXANDER GLAZUNOV: Autumn from "The Seasons" (1900) (12 mins)
ANTONIO VIVALDI: Winter from "The Four Seasons" (1721) (8 mins)
ROBERT SCHUMANN: Symphony No. 1 "Spring" (1841) (34 mins)

Summer Excursions

HUGO ALFVEN: Swedish Rhapsody No. 1 "Midsommarvaka" (1903) (14 mins)
ASTOR PIAZZOLLA: Suite Punta del Este (1982) (19 mins)
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 6 "Pastorale" (1808) (42 mins)

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