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New Hall, New Music, New Era

MOZART: Overture to The Magic Flute
CAMPION:* Concerto for String Quartet, Orchestra and Electronics, The Last Internal Combustion Engine (World Premiere)
MAHLER: Symphony No.1, Titan

Discovery Open Rehearsal - Saturday, October 6, 2012 - 2pm
Saturday, October 6, 2012 – 8 pm
Sunday, October 7, 2012 – 3 pm
Monday, October 8, 2012 – 8 pm

Our Green Music Center era opens with the magic of Mozart. A new performance hall and a new composition bring a new appreciation of what music can be with a world premiere by our composer-in-residence Edmund Campion. His concerto, created especially for the orchestra and the renowned Kronos Quartet, combines electronics and extraordinary musicians in a dynamic musical conversation. Mahler's imaginative First Symphony redefined the meaning of "symphony" and established him as a composer of vision and daring.

*In collaboration with The Center for New Music and Audio Technologies at UC Berkeley and with the generous support of the Clarence E. Heller Foundation.

Performances at:
Weill Concert Hall, Green Music Center
Corner of Petaluma Hill Road and Rohnert Park Expressway
1801 East Cotati Ave
Rohnert Park, CA 94928

Program Notes
by: Steven Ledbetter

Overture to Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), K.620
Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgang Gottlieb Mozart, who began to call himself Wolfgang Amadeo about 1770 and Wolfgang Amadè in 1777, was born in Salzburg, Austria, on January 27, 1756, and died in Vienna on December 5, 1791. He composed Die Zauberflöte in the summer of 1791, completing the score in September; the overture, composed last, was written on the 28th. The opera received its first performance at the Theater auf der Wieden on September 30. The score calls for flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, and trumpets in pairs, three trombones, timpani, and strings. Duration is about 7 minutes.

In The Magic Flute, Mozart creates a musical world unlike any other. This is a world in which an evil queen expresses her foul intentions through the most elaborate coloratura, a child of nature covered with bird feathers sings in the accents of popular song, a prince and princess undergo trials to elevate them above the mere external rank of aristocracy to the higher rank of “Mensch” (human being) in song of elevated simplicity, and a fatherly priest-like figure sings what Bernard Shaw once described as the only music ever written by a human being fit for the mouth of God.

The theme of man’s higher and lower natures (symbolized by day and night, with the powerfully inevitable musical triumph of day at the end of the opera) made the work itself a totem for a whole world view. Beethoven regarded The Magic Flute as one of the marvels of the age. The least symbol minded viewer cannot miss the fact that the opera is about much more than its surface pretends to tell.

It is widely known that Mozart, like many artists and intellectuals of his day, was an active Freemason at a time when that secret organization stood for liberalizing influences of the Enlightenment in a Vienna that was still largely under an oppressive control of the State hand in glove with the Church. The Magic Flute is filled with the symbols of Masonic rite, one of the most prominent of which is the number three: there are three Ladies, three Boys, three knocks at the doors of the temple, and three musical instruments (pipes, flute, and bells) onstage. Mozart puts the entire opera into a “three-key” of E-flat, which has three flats in the signature. And because the opera ends in that key, Mozart’s inevitable practice is that the overture must also be in the same key.

The overture begins with a slow introduction consisting of three harmonies, scored for the full orchestra, introducing a searching Adagio. This is followed by a lively Allegro with a quasi-fugal development. Early listeners may have been confused by this abrupt shift from the churchly to the farcical, but those who know the opera can appreciate how Mozart foreshadows in these first measures the extraordinary range of the musical language that will follow. His overture hints at a single internal musical reference from the opera (the threefold chord sounded as Tamino seeks admission to the initiation). Beyond that he works out his musical ideas in a straightforward way, only slightly colored in the coda by a threatening turn figure, fortissimo, which yields to the warm sunshine of the final E-flat major.


The Last Internal Combustion Engine, Concerto Gross for Full Orchestra, String Quartet and Electronics (World Premiere)
Edmund J. Campion was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1957 and lives in Berkeley, California. He composed The Last Internal Combustion Engine for the Santa Rosa Symphony, the Kronos Quartet, and Maestro Bruno Ferrandis to help inaugurate the new Green Music Center and as part of his role as Composer in Residence with the SRS for 2012-13. The Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) at UC Berkeley has collaborated with the Santa Rosa Symphony on the production of the electronics and the use of the loudspeaker newly developed by CNMAT and Meyer Sound Laboratories in Berkeley.  These are the first performances. The score calls for full orchestra with woodwinds and brass in threes, multiple percussion, harp, string quartet, orchestral strings and electronics. Duration is about 20 minutes.

Until the 20th century, all music was produced with acoustic instruments, those that created sound by making something—a string, a column of air, a stretched membrane—vibrate. It was only with the arrival of electricity that new forms of electronic sound production could be developed and used in musical compositions. At first, this happened with instruments like the theremin or the ondes martenot, which generated sound electronically but had to be played by a live musician, just as a cello or an oboe, or a violin did. Then came the manipulation of “concrete” (real world) sounds captured on magnetic tape and manipulated into musical works that were “performed” by a tape recorder, without needing a live musician. For several decades, it seemed that acoustic and electronic means of performance existed in totally different worlds—the former flexible and changing from one performance to another, the latter always identical. And when they were combined—synthesized tape with live musicians, it was the unchanging tape that really ran the show.
Technology has changed in many ways since that Jurassic period of acoustic/electronic music making. At that time, it was almost always totally obvious whether a given sound was coming from a live player’s instrument or an electronic device; the nature of the sounds was so different that one could hardly confuse them.

Composers who liked working in the electronic medium wanted to enrich the possibilities available to them; happily, computer developments allowed for the creation (and manipulation) of far more complex sounds—more like real-world sounds in the complexity of their vibrations, but unlike anything that can be produced acoustically. Some composers worked in a solely electronic environment (or shifted back and forth between electronic and acoustic), but others took on the challenge of making them work together, which offered greater possibilities once computer technology also allowed the electronic parts of the score to be more flexible than the old tape-based works.

Edmund Campion has worked in both acoustic and electronic media. He completed his doctorate in composition at Columbia University (which developed, with Princeton, one of the pioneering synthesizers used by composers for concert music). From 1989 to 1991 he attended the National Conservatory in Paris. After being a composition fellow at Tanglewood in the summer of 1992, he was invited to work at the IRCAM computer music center in Paris. He now teaches at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) of the University of California at Berkeley, where he composed The Last Internal Combustion Engine.

This is a work in which the composer blends the acoustic and synthesized sonorities in such a way that they are almost indistinguishable and create a new fusion of sonorities that sounds as one, rather than as the old bald competition between acoustic and electronic. As the composer explains, “My goal has always been to find a musical space that intersects the most adventurous and emerging technologies with acoustic musicians who have spent their lives training to play and be expressive on their instruments. It is a fusion of sorts, a search for a hybrid music that does not disregard the past.”

Regarding this new piece, the composer writes:

The Last Internal Combustion Engine is not really a tone-poem, but the movements do take inspiration from the history of the internal combustion engine, cars, and the effect engines have had on us as a people, particularly Baby Boomers.  I was born in 1957. My life and the story of cars are entwined. In my boyhood home, a 1929 Model A Ford lived in my garage. The old Model A was passed on to each of the four sons in the family, with me being the last. By 1975 I had dismantled and assembled several such engines. I boasted ownership of a red 1968 Camaro convertible, a Black 1957 Chevy Belair outfitted with four on the floor, and a Beige 1959 Ford Fairlane Skyliner. For many in my generation our lives were formed in cars. We ran away and hid in our cars, drove to the far reaches of cities, met our futures in the ceaseless motion of an engine.  The music on the radio was made to go with the cars, to beat in time with the engines.  Even though today’s car engines are nearly impossible for a novice to repair or understand, we still run on the basic four stroke invention of the 19th century. 

One of the reasons I love the sound of the symphony orchestra is that it is truly spatial, the location of sounds constantly shifting within a large multi-dimensional image. With the addition of the amplified Kronos String Quartet and the special electronic elements the excitement increases, as do the challenges. My desire to integrate all these distinct sound worlds is assisted by a newly designed loudspeaker from CNMAT. The speaker is a result of years of research conducted by CNMAT in association with Meyer Sound Laboratories in Berkeley. The multi-source loudspeaker promises to radiate sound in ways that mirror traditional instruments. The speaker serves as a bridging element between all the various forces in the piece.

The Last Internal Combustion Engine
is divided into three large sections/movements played without pause. At times the string quartet is employed as in a traditional concerto, but it is equally used as an integrated force in the overall total sound. In that sense the piece is a true Concerto Grosso or maybe a “Concerto Grotesco.” The opening large section is inspired by the invention of the internal combustion engine and the horrible role that engines played in the first two World Wars. The second large section, beginning with the dark and strident bassoon duo, concerns the post-World War love affair that my generation had with cars and engines. The final large section is inspired by the present day situation with the engine. It comes with the understanding that the age of the internal combustion engine is coming to an end. We are on the horizon of the digital and biological age, something that will finally overrun the old engine just as the old engine ran over the horse at the beginning of the 20th century. The nostalgic feeling of freedom in motion was real for a 16-year-old in the 1970s, but with our current comprehension of the damage that these engines are having on the environment there is a loss of innocence. We can no longer love internal combustion engines the way we once did.  About 20 years ago, I started dreaming that I might live long enough to see the last internal combustion engine leave the road.



Symphony No. 1 in D major, Titan
Gustav Mahler was born at Kalische (Kalište) near the Moravian border of Bohemia on July 7, 1860, and died in Vienna on May 18, 1911. He did most of the work on this symphony in February and March 1888, using some older material. He revised the score extensively on several occasions; the second, and last, edition published during Mahler’s lifetime was dated 1906. Mahler himself conducted the first performance of the work, then in five movements and called “Symphonic Poem in Two Parts,” with the Budapest Philharmonic on November 20, 1889. He eliminated the original second movement (“Blumine”) after a June 1894 performance in Weimar. The symphony is scored for four flutes (three of them doubling piccolo), four oboes (one doubling English horn), four clarinets (one doubling bass clarinet, two doubling high clarinet in E-flat), three bassoons (one doubling contrabassoon), seven horns, five trumpets, four trombones, bass tuba, timpani (two players), bass drum, cymbals, triangle, tam-tam, harp, and strings. Duration is about 53 minutes.

Mahler took an unusually long time bringing to final form his first contribution to the genre of the symphony, which he was to dominate and change drastically. He may have begun active composition on the First Symphony as early as 1884; it was premiered in 1889, but still not finished. Much of the concentrated work of shaping the score’s first version took place under the impetus of a troubling involvement with a married woman, Marion Mathilda von Weber, the wife of a German soldier, Captain Carl von Weber, who was the grandson of the composer of Der Freischütz. Mahler had met the Weber family late in 1886, when the Leipzig Opera revived a number of Weber’s works for the centennial of the composer’s birth. He continued in close contact with the Webers, and it was at their house that he conceived and first heard the opening sonority of the First Symphony, the extraordinary sound of the dominant note, A, repeated in seven octaves. Mahler took a place at the Webers’ piano while they sat on either side of him, playing the notes in the octaves his hands were unable to reach. Before he knew it, he found himself in love with Marion, and she with him. They planned to run away together, but in the end, Mahler did not show up at the appointed rendezvous.

He poured his emotional energies into completing the work we now call the First Symphony and writing the first movement of what we call the Second Symphony, though Mahler himself was thinking of them as symphonic poems—that is, program music with some kind of story to tell. At the premiere in Budapest in 1889, Mahler listed the work in the program like this:

Mahler. “Symphonic Poem” in two parts.
Part I: 1. Introduction and Allegro comodo. 2. Andante. 3. Scherzo.
Part II: 4. A la pompes funèbres; attacca. 5. Molto appassionato.

Despite the title “symphonic poem,” he gave no hint as to its subject matter, and the music struck listeners as ironic in a way they could not understand. The title of the fourth movement signals that it is some kind of funeral march; but in fact, Mahler produced a parody of a funeral march, with no explanation. One critic recognized Mahler’s “genuine musical gifts,” but found the work to overstep “artistic moderation” and to “lack a unifying underlying note.”
The first version of the work is now lost; for a second version, performed in 1893, Mahler offered more guidance. In fact, he went overboard with programmatic description. Now the work itself had a title (“Titan,” which Mahler derived from the title of a massive four-volume novel by the German romantic author Jean Paul—the pen name of Johann Paul Friedrich Richter [1763-1825]), as did each of the two parts and five movements, while the fourth movement was treated to a virtual essay. Then, when Mahler performed the work in Berlin in 1896, he gave it a form substantially like that in which we know it. No longer is it a tone poem, but a “Symphony in D for large orchestra.” He deleted the division into two parts, removed the original second movement, and deleted the programmatic titles. As he wrote to a friend in 1896, he had learned from unhappy experience how misleading programmatic titles were, as each listener interprets in a different way.

So for all practical purposes we have a traditional symphony that is very untraditional in its content and expressive quality. The introduction takes its cue from Beethoven, growing gradually from almost nothing (“like a sound of nature,” Mahler says of the opening bars, containing that single A spread over seven octaves), followed by fragments of melody—bird calls, fanfares, a horn melody. The “cuckoo call” that appears so frequently is a descending fourth, an interval that forms one of the most constant musical ideas of the symphony. Hints of human intrusion in the form of distant fanfares gradually grow more assertive. Suddenly we are presented with a melody familiar from the Songs of a Wayfarer, “Ging heut’ morgen übers Feld,” which becomes the principal material of the first movement.

The A major scherzo, a comfortable Austrian Ländler liked at once by even the first audiences, conjures up the vigor of a peasant dance, with reference to Mahler’s own song Hans und Grete, composed in 1880. The Trio, in F, is by contrast far more nostalgic and delicate.
The third movement unsettled most early listeners, who found Mahler’s ironic treatment of death disturbing. Timpani softly play a march beat, reiterating the descending fourths that are so frequent a motif in this symphony; over the rhythmic pattern, a solo double bass eerily intones the melody we have all sung as Frère Jacques but in the minor key! The hushed stillness, the muffled drums, and the use of a children’s tune in this context all contribute to the uncanny mood of the movement. By contrast a strain of what listeners today may well recognize as “klezmer music” overlays the march with an unexplained mood of parody. A turn to a consoling passage in G major (the closing strains of the Wayfarer songs, representing a gentle acceptance of death) does not last; the opening materials return to emphasize death as a fearsome specter.

Mahler once described the finale as “the cry of a wounded heart,” a description that is particularly suitable for the opening gesture. This finale aims to move from doubt and tragedy to triumph, through a violent struggle to regain the home key of the symphony, D major, not heard since the first movement. Mahler does this with an extraordinary theatrical stroke: a violent, gear-wrenching shift from C minor directly to D major in the full orchestra, triple-forte. But this “triumph” has been dishonestly won; it is completely unmotivated, harmonically jarring. So this passage ends in a return to the inchoate music of the symphony’s very opening, this time building gradually to the jubilant conclusion, for which Mahler requests that all the horns, playing the “chorale resounding over everything,” stand up so that the melody may make its proper effect and, if possible, drown out everything else with the song of joyous triumph.

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