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“Escape to Enchantment” – Signature Concert No. 1
October 1 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm MDT
“Escape to Enchantment” with a concert celebrating cultural crossroads and the rhythms that make us dance.
To open the 2022-2023 Season, your Fort Collins Symphony presents two pieces written for the FCS: Lyric Fanfare for the National Anthem by Fort Collins native Ethan Boxley and Ostinato Fantastico by CSU professor James David.
Cesar Franck’s meditative Symphony in D Minor contrasts beautifully with living composer Samuel Zyman’s colorful and rhythmic Encuentros.
Spanish folk melodies provide the inspiration for Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s exuberant Capriccio Espagnole.
What’s interesting about this concert:
– The season opens with Lyric Fanfare for the National Anthem by Fort Collins’ own Ethan Boxley. This version of our National Anthem was written for the FCS in 2018.
– César Franck’s Symphony in D minor is one of the only symphonies written by a French composer. In it, he takes the listener on a meditative journey by combining the worlds of French sound and color with German form and architecture.
– Some of history’s most fantastic music is based on repeating rhythms. James David’s Ostinato Fantastico explores the “universally compelling and alluring force” of repeated rhythms to create a thrilling tour-de-force for the orchestra. Join us to be a part of the first performance of this piece: a world premiere! Scroll down to watch a short introduction to this piece.
– Mexican composer Samuel Zyman’s colorful and rhythmic Encuentros (“Encounters”) celebrates the cultural “encounters” and the crossroads of Mexico. It was written for the 1992 Expo in Seville, Spain: “The Age of Discovery.”
– The concert closes with Capriccio Espagnole by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. This exciting piece was inspired by Spanish dances and melodies (Alborada y Fandango asturiano) and features solos from many instruments in the orchestra. Korsakov and his students were a big influence on later composers like Claude Debussy and John Williams.
On this concert:
Ethan Boxley – Lyric Fanfare for the National Anthem
Cesar Franck – Symphony in D Minor
James David – Ostinato Fantastico (World Premiere)
Samuel Zyman – Encuentros (“Encounters”)
Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov – Capriccio Espagnole
James David introduces Ostinato Fantastico:
Click here to watch, listen to, or read the full interview with James David.
By Dr. K. Dawn Grapes
Ethan Boxley, Lyric Fanfare for the National Anthem
Date of Composition: 2018
Duration: 6 minutes
Ethan Boxley (b. 1996) is no stranger to the Fort Collins Symphony. As a 14-year-old freshman at Fossil Ridge High School he won the orchestra’s 2010 Young Composer’s Fanfare competition with a piece titled “Fanfare for Home.” Since that time, he has earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Composition from Northwestern University and is currently working towards a master’s degree at the New England Conservatory. In 2019, he released his debut album titled Années de Début. Boxley states his artistic mission is “to compose music which is beautiful and accessible.” An opportunity to embrace this goal came about in 2018, when Maestro Wes Kenney approached the young composer with a commission for the Lyric Fanfare for the National Anthem, which was subsequently first performed as part of traditional Fourth of July festivities in City Park.
César Franck, Symphony in D Minor
Date of Composition: 1886–1888
Duration: 40 minutes
Perhaps born in the wrong time or place, nineteenth-century composer César Franck (1822–1890) never quite fit into his musical world. Raised and educated in a Belgian homeland, his Germanic parents hoped their son would become the next child prodigy, placing high expectations upon his young shoulders. At age fourteen, Franck enrolled in the Paris Conservatoire. Having found a special aptitude for the organ, he remained in the city after completing his studies. He became known as an amazing improvisor and people traveled great distances to hear him play at Paris’s Basilica of Sainte-Clotilde, where the musician served as church organist for more than thirty years. When a Professor of Organ position became available at the Conservatoire in 1872, Franck topped the list of candidates. Unbeknownst to him or the committee, he was not a French citizen, a requirement for employment. His father had become naturalized in order to obtain his admission to the Conservatoire and Franck thought the process extended to him in perpetuity. According to French law, however, his status reverted at age twenty-one. Thus, once the situation was revealed, Franck applied to become a citizen of the nation in which he had already spent most of his life, some thirty-five years after he first arrived. Franck’s organ students at the acclaimed music school adored him, but his faculty colleagues were a bit less welcoming.
Although his catalogue is not extensive, Franck composed throughout his performance and teaching career, producing songs, piano and organ works, chamber and orchestral music, and opera. Critics were not always kind. His conservative style did not appeal to those looking forward to modernist trends. His orchestral music was not German enough for those who admired the Wagner-Liszt school and certainly not French enough for the tastes of his Conservatoire colleagues. Yet history has proven more kind to Franck. In the 1870s and 1880s, he wrote a number of symphonic poems, his first real foray into orchestral composition. But it was Franck’s Symphony in D minor, his only complete, multi-movement symphony, that assured his compositional legacy. The work premiered at the Conservatoire in 1889, the final first offering of his own music that Franck heard before his death the following year. In the twentieth-century, the symphony found its way into the standard orchestral literature, where it is still appreciated by performers and audiences alike.
James M. David, Ostinato Fantastico (World Premiere)
Date of Composition: 2019
Duration: 6 minutes
(Note: the recording above is a digital demo of Ostinato Fantastico)
James M. David (b. 1978), Professor of Composition at Colorado State University, is one of the most prolific American composers today. A specialist in wind music, he has written a plethora of works for large ensembles, solo instruments, and chamber groups. His compositions are in high demand for performance by top U.S. military, community, and collegiate bands, and he has amassed an impressive collection of awards from composition societies and other professional organizations.
Ostinato Fantastico is a wonderful example of David’s characteristic and skillful manipulation of overlapping rhythms, which he uses to propel his music forward, to create contrast, and to provide sonic excitement. The piece also highlights the composer’s capacity for orchestration, as he explores thoughtful combinations of instrumental timbres, from strings to winds to percussion. Regarding his composition, Dr. David writes:
Ostinato Fantastico for full orchestra is my personal exploration of the universally compelling and alluring force of a repeated rhythmic pattern. As a college student, I was honored to premiere a piece with the same title by renowned Colombian composer Blas Atehotúra while serving as trombonist with the American Wind Symphony Orchestra. Built from a single ever-evolving pattern and culminating in a violent finale, I had always hoped to write a work in a similar style for orchestral forces. My piece takes further inspiration from the many wonderful symphonic dances of the twentieth century, especially those by Ravel, Respighi, Stravinsky, de Falla, Ginastera, Bernstein, and Revueltas. The work, sponsored by Kay and Larry Edwards, was commissioned by the Fort Collins Symphony on the occasion of their 70th anniversary season and is dedicated to my colleague Maestro Wes Kenney.
A premiere of Ostinato Fantastico was planned for the 2019–2020 FCS season finale concert. When COVID-19 abruptly closed concert halls across the world, the performance at Fort Collins’s Lincoln Center was cancelled. Now, some 29 months later, this celebratory composition is revealed to the world.
Samuel Zyman, Encuentros (“Encounters”)
Date of Composition: 1992
Duration: 10 minutes
Mexican composer Samuel Zyman (b. 1956) grew up surrounded by music. In addition to the large collection of classical music albums played regularly in his house, his father brought home an accordion that provided some of his earliest performance experiences. Zyman began his formal music studies at the National Conservatory in Mexico City while simultaneously earning a degree in medicine. While he enjoyed his scientific studies, he ultimately chose to follow his passion for music and moved to New York to pursue graduate work in composition at the Julliard School. He now serves on the music theory faculty there. Zyman has composed over seventy compositions in a variety of genres, including concertos, orchestral and chamber works, pieces for wind band, solos for piano and guitar, and even a film score.
Encuentros was composed for use in the Mexican Pavilion at the 1992 Seville Expo. There it was broadcast in an exhibit called “Mexico Today.” To achieve a characteristic Mexican flavor, Zyman concentrated on percussive rhythmic patterns that channel the folk songs he heard as a child. He also relies heavily on instruments traditionally featured in mariachi bands—harp, trumpets, flute, and violin—to create an authentic sound that is both recognizably Mexican and accessible to a modern audience.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Capriccio Espagnol
Date of Composition: 1887
Duration: 16 minutes
The biography of Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908) reads a bit more unconventionally than many composer “greats.” Although he dabbled in music growing up, at age twelve he entered the Naval College, embarking on a military career that lasted many years. He was still drawn to music on the side. In the 1860s he began associating with a group of Russian composers labelled the “Mighty Five.” In addition to Rimsky-Korsakov, the group included Modest Mussorgsky, Alexander Borodin, César Cui, and Mily Balakirev. Together they discussed and advocated for music that embraced a Russian national aesthetic. In 1871, Rimsky-Korsakov was appointed as a composition professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory with a resume that today might not even gain him admission as a student. Yet what he lacked in training and experience he made up for in curiosity, tenacity, and drive, self-educating himself and eventually becoming one of the most admired orchestrators of his generation. Three of his best known and especially cherished compositions, Scheherazade, Russian Easter Festival, and Capriccio Espagnol, were all completed in the year of 1887, during the same period that Franck was working on his Symphony in D minor.
Capriccio Espagnol is a masterwork for orchestra. Through five movements, Rimsky-Korsakov captures the atmosphere surrounding Spanish dance. Although he never visited Spain, a volume of Spanish folk songs inspired his melodic design. In his autobiography, My Musical Life, Rimsky-Korsakov seizes upon the essence of the piece: “According to my plan the Capriccio was to glitter with dazzling orchestra colour and, manifestly, I had not been wrong.”The work first formed in the composer’s mind as a solo for violin with orchestra, but he soon pivoted to a full orchestral suite developed from his initial sketches. The violin still plays an important role and is featured multiple times, but other solo instruments take their turns as well. This is especially apparent in the fourth movement, when an opening brass fanfare is followed by a series of cadenzas for violin, flute, clarinet, and harp, the entire orchestra eventually joining in the main theme. At the initial rehearsal for the premiere, the Imperial Opera House orchestra spontaneously burst into applause after each movement. Rimsky-Korsakov dedicated the composition to them. The first audience concurred, insisting upon a reprise encore.
~ notes by Dr. K. Dawn Grapes
By Dr. William E. Runyan
César Franck, Symphony in D Minor
Franck, along with Saint-Saëns, must be considered the most important French musician in the second half of the nineteenth century. In this country concert halls have long been dominated by the hegemony of German-speaking composers, for a number of reasons. Berlioz, of course, is well known, but after that, a few compositions by Franck, Saint-Saëns, and others, such as d’Indy, constitute the common French symphonic repertoire in this country before the advent of the towering Debussy and Ravel. Franck was born in what is today’s Belgium, but later became a French citizen and spent most of his life in Paris, where he was a revered organist and teacher. He was perhaps the most important organist and composer for that instrument after J. S. Bach, and spent many years as the resident organist at the famed basilica church, Sainte-Clotilde, in Paris. Serving as professor at the Paris conservatory, he enjoyed the adulation of an important circle of pupils, most of whom went on to become a significant part of the music scene in late nineteenth-century France. Although he composed many songs, sacred choral works, and other compositions for the stage, on the whole they don’t measure up to the importance and quality of his keyboard compositions, chamber music, and symphonic works. There are exceptions, such as his evergreen Panis angelicus, but they are just that, exceptions. Success as a composer came rather late for him; his major works for orchestra were mostly written in the last decade of his life. Those compositions are the Symphonic Variations, a few tone poems, and, of course, his evergreen Symphony in D Minor.
During most of the nineteenth century opera ruled the stage in France, and the symphony genre more or less languished. When Franck’s Symphony in D Minor was premièred in 1889, the only major French symphonies high in the repertoire were Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique of almost sixty years earlier and Saint-Saëns “Organ” symphony, completed only three years earlier. Its reception in Paris was mixed—and world wide still is, to some degree—with the usual divisions between the audience and the critics. But, it nevertheless achieved a permanent place in the standard repertoire.
It is noteworthy for being in three movements, rather than the standard four, and its employment of cyclicism—that is, the use of the same or similar musical material in all of the movements. Written for the standard large instrumentation of the nineteenth-century orchestra, following longstanding French practice, it includes parts for two cornets in addition to two trumpets. But, more astounding to some contemporary snotty critics (Paris was reeking with conservative intellectuals in the arts at the time), Franck had the temerity to include a significant solo for the English horn! Thitherto, it was allowed only in the opera orchestra for Jewish and Arabic allusions. Finally, many found the somewhat dense chromatic language—owing much to the influence of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde–and Franck’s mastery of tight motivic manipulation and development a bit scholarly and overweening. Vincent d’Indy reported that the initial audience couldn’t make “head nor tail” of it. But that was then. Subsequent audiences have long found the composer’s only mature symphony an attractive, unique work.
The first movement opens slowly and ominously with the main theme heard immediately in the low strings. Shortly an allegro follows with the same material. But, soon Franck—almost operatically—returns to an elaboration of the slow beginning, before jumping back into the faster tempo. This whole elaboration of the opening material is literally oozing with Franck’s characteristic chromaticism. But, the happy secondary material in F major is easily to spot, and welcome in its straightforward diatonicism. In the ensuing development, Franck’s respect for Beethoven’s relentless economy of means and detailed manipulation of a few clear ideas is manifest. The lengthy and robust recap is heralded by a dignified, stentorian return to the very opening theme in the low brass. After working thoroughly through the familiar melodic material, a brief, tranquil section for solo woodwinds announces the short coda, ending almost abruptly with our familiar three-note opening theme.
The second movement, of course, is the famous one with the controversial English horn solo. Accompanied by pizzicato strings and a prominent harp, the English horn intones a melancholy tune, soon joined by a cantabile countermelody in the violas. A new tune in the violins leads to the subsequent first contrasting section, built over a string filigree. The whole orchestra gradually enters, with the filigree continuing. The third section consists of several short variations on the familiar main theme of the English horn followed by a second contrasting section. The movement proper closes with an extensive treatment of the main theme accompanied by the familiar, soft moto perpetuo in the strings. Finally, a substantial coda built upon much of what we’ve heard before finally takes us out.
The energetic third movement begins with a clear statement of the first theme in the bassoons and ‘cellos, soon followed by the second theme heard first in the brass. All easy to spot. But, soon, our old friend, the English horn solo from the second movement briefly appears, with the development right on its heels. Franck then, in his usual careful manner works his way through his material. It doesn’t take long before the theme from the opening blazes away at the beginning of the rather short recapitulation. The more substantial coda features a lyrical statement of the very first theme heard at the beginning of the first movement, accompanied by the harp. But back to business, and the main theme of this last movement forcefully returns and takes us to the end.
Samuel Zyman, Encuentros
Zyman has been a member of the faculty at the Juilliard School since 1987 (as well as at Vanderbilt University for the last three years) and the composer of works performed widely, internationally. His more than seventy published compositions include chamber music, sonatas, symphonies, many concertos, vocal music, and a film score. Their variety is impressive, from wind ensembles to trombone octets. A native of Mexico City, he was educated first in Mexico, and then received graduate degrees from the Juilliard School. His American teachers of composition include David Diamond and Roger Sessions. The recipient of numerous honors, they include the Mozart Medal and both the Mexican Most Outstanding Composer of the year (1992), and the Medal of Merit in the Arts (2014).
Many of his works are manifestly in a rhythmically complex and chromatically dense twentieth-century academic style—after all he was a student of Sessions and Diamond. But, he is equally master of an innate lyricism. To add to his flexibility of expression, he occasionally enjoys infusing his compositions with a clear reference to traditional Mexican musical style. And that is clearly what Encuentros is all about.
Commissioned by the Mexican TV network, Televisa, Encuentros was part of the music for the Mexican Pavilion at the Seville World Fair of 1992. The charge to Zyman was to compose a work that was clearly “Mexican” in its incorporation of traditional musical elements, but which was also—in the words of the composer—to convey a sense of “modernity, progress, and optimism.” But not to be an example of “modern” musical style! And so it is. Driven with Zyman’s characteristic rhythmic verve—but using traditional Mexican syncopated dance rhythms as ostinatos, the orchestration is replete with colorful allusions to Mexican musical traditions. Whether Mariachi trumpets, marimbas, harp, or flute and tuba features, the infectious tapestry of colors propels it. Underlying it all are the ubiquitous traditional native instruments of the percussion section, including claves, guiro, maracas, and more. The energetic opening and closing sections feature a parade of musical ideas, and bookend a central section that an apt example of the composer’s gift for contemplative lyricism. It’s all an entertaining delight and complete evidence of the stylistic flexibility of an outstanding composer.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34
Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s career stood in the very center of Russian musical life of the second half of the nineteenth century. His first career was in the Russian navy, but he soon garnered success in music. Known primarily for his fifteen operas, he was instrumental in the rising importance of that genre in Russia. In addition to his fame and influence as a composer, he was also head of the conservatory in St. Petersburg–his statue dominates the little park directly across the street from the conservatory and the famed Mariinsky Theatre. In the West, of course, we know him primarily for his symphonic overtures and the tone poem, Scheherazade. His ability as an orchestrator and teacher of orchestration is one of his many legacies–Igor Stravinsky was one of his students. In fact, much of the marvelous musical atmosphere that audiences adore in Stravinsky’s early ballets, the Rite of Spring, Firebird, and Petrouchka, stems directly from Rimsky-Korsakov and the orchestral style of his operas. And it is of no small interest that there are sections in Debussy’s La Mer and Ravel’s Daphnis et Cloé that seem lifted right out of Scheherazade. A fascination with the exotic, with non-Western subject matter, was a prime characteristic of Romanticism, and Russian music of the late nineteenth century is exemplary of this predilection.
Capriccio espagnol (1887) dates from the time of his ever-popular Scheherazade and Russian Easter Overture, and is just as infused with exotic and ethnic musical color as the latter works. While based upon indigenous Spanish themes, Capriccio espagnol is much more than a simple suite of orchestrated folk tunes. The composer was adamant about that, and the marvelous orchestral effects and completely integrated structure are clear evidence of the originality of the composer’s vision. There are five sections, beginning with Alborada, a dance celebrating the rising sun that features florid solos by the clarinet and violin. The horn section begins the second section, Variazioni, with a rather doleful melody, quickly taken up by the strings, followed by the English horn and more iterations thereafter. The third section is basically a reprise of the opening, but with a master of the orchestra like Rimsky-Korsakov at the helm, the colors are all redone. A Scena e canto Gitano (scene and Gypsy song) follows, featuring various sections of the orchestra, beginning with the trumpets, playing their own recitative-like passages. From time to time, the composer directs the strings to imitate the sounds of a guitar. An elegant dance leads without pause into the closing section, Fandango asturiano. The fandango is a vigorous dance, usually accompanied by guitars and castanets, and in this case, representative of the area of Asturias, located in northwest Spain, on the Bay of Biscay. A return to the music of the opening and a frenetic dash to the end tops off yet another masterpiece of Spanish music written by a non-Spaniard.
Join us for:
Join CSU professor Dr. K. Dawn Grapes on the Wednesday prior to most Signature concerts for an entertaining and informative lecture about the upcoming featured composers. Light refreshments. Sponsored by the Friends of the Symphony.
This Composer Talk with feature composer James David, whose Ostinato Fantastico will be premiered at the concert.
Wednesday, September 28
12 noon, at the Old Town Library
Learn firsthand what it takes for an orchestra to bring live music to the stage. Houselights remain on during this comfortable preview of each upcoming Signature concert. The rehearsal closes to the public at 8:30 p.m. intermission.
Thursday, September 29
7:00 PM, at the Lincoln Center
Prior to each Signature concert, join Maestro Wes Kenney for his musings on what you are about to hear.
Saturday, October 1
6:30 PM, at the Lincoln Center
Included with ticket purchase
“Escape to Enchantment” is presented in memory of Rosemary Whitaker and Charles Greer
Joseph and Jan Carroll
Paul and Kathie Dudzinski
Ann Yanagi and Scott Johnston
Center Stage Sponsor:
Dr. David and Alison Dennis
Dr. Ed Siegel
Dr. Peter Springberg and Janet Kowall
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