Muncie Symphony Orchestra

Program Notes test

WOW! With Guest Artist, Joe Deninzon


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Candide Overture

Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990)

Bernstein always wanted to write the “Great American Opera,” and Candide is probably the closest he came to achieving that goal. Though Candide itself received a lukewarm initial reception on Broadway, its Overture was well-received from the outset and quickly established itself as a popular curtain raiser. Bernstein based Candide on Voltaire’s 1759 satirical novella of the same name, which tells of the misadventures of Candide, a naïve and pure-hearted young man, and his more tough-minded sweetheart, Cunégonde. Opening on Broadway on December 1, 1959, the show closed after just 73 performances at the Martin Beck Theatre – long enough to prove respectable in some measure, but not long enough to be considered a true Broadway success. However, with each revival, Candide won bigger audiences. The Overture was first performed with the operetta. Unlike the operetta, the Overture was a hit from the start. Brilliantly written and scored, the Overture possesses a certain type of vitality that is not easily matched. The Overture draws principally on two vocal melodies that are prominent in the stage work: a lyrical and tender tune that later resurfaces as Candide and Cunégonde’s love duet, “O Happy We” and wacky, up-tempo music from Cunégonde’s coloratura-soprano aria, “Glitter and Be Gay.” — Program notes by Ana -Laura Diaz

Dream Diary: Concerto for 7-String Electric Violin and Orchestra

Joe Deninzon (b. 1974 )

Growing up as a classically trained violinist, I fell in love with rock and jazz at the age of 12, and my musical tree sprung new branches. While continuing my violin studies, I took up guitar and electric bass. In the late ’80s/early ’90s, the guitar hero reigned supreme in the rock world. Virtuosos such as Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Nuno Bettencourt, and Eric Johnson were highly revered. Every band had a guitarist who could “shred” and for one of the rare times in history, instrumental rock albums were on the Billboard charts. These guitar virtuosos influenced the way I approach the violin and were one of the reasons I started playing the electric violin. Dreams were a recurring theme in their music; Joe Satriani had a popular instrumental rock album titled “Flying in a Blue Dream, and Steve Vai’s “Passion and Warfare” was a huge influence. In interviews, I read that Steve Vai kept a dream diary, writing down his dreams while they were still vivid when he woke up. He allowed those dreams to influence his compositions. Through my observations as a composer and songwriter, the best and easiest creations have come to me in my sleep or during a daydream, times when I was not fully conscious, as if someone or something was channeling them through me. I started a musical “dream diary” to write down melodies and themes that spontaneously came to me. The DREAM DIARY concerto has a great deal of surreal imagery and is very dream-like. I researched the cycles of sleep, and thought it would be interesting to write a musical composition that loosely follows these different cycles. When you first fall asleep, you experience vivid sensations known as hypnagogic hallucinations. You are straddling the line between the real world and the dream world. There are sudden jerks of wakefulness followed by sensations of falling and/or flying. Hence the first movement is titled “Falling and Flying.” This movement is truly a tribute to the rock guitar albums of my youth. The second movement, “Delta Waves,” represents a deeper stage of sleep where you are less likely to respond to outside noises and stimuli. The third is titled “Rapid Eye Movement,” the stage where most dreams occur, and the fourth is “Waking Dream,” when you are having the most vivid dreams, the ones that stay in your memory after you wake up. Although the music is loosely programatic, I leave the interpretation of the dreams being represented to the listener. There have been some amazing concertos written for the electric violin, but I wanted to feature different effects and sonic textures I developed over the years while performing with my band, Stratospheerius, and show the rich palette of colors this instrument is capable of. I do this by incorporating distortion pedals, way, delay, loops, synths, whammies, and covering the range of the 7-string violin, who’s lowest note is a whole tone below cello range. The soloist plays in bass, alto, and treble clef. Let me add that the opportunity to write and perform this concerto is a dream come true for me, and I hope you enjoy it! — Program notes by joe Deninzon

Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893)

Symphony No. 4 is a turbulent work that reflects the personal turmoil Tchaikovsky was going through during its creation. He composed his Fourth Symphony in 1877, and the work was premiered on February 10, 1878, at a concert of the Russian Musical Society in Moscow. Tchaikovsky began composing his Fourth Symphony in early 1877. The piece is strongly influenced by the events that happened in his life over the next year, particularly his relationship with two women. The first, Mme. Nadezhda von Meck, was his patron and a woman with whom Tchaikovsky had a prolonged correspondence with, though they never met in person. The score bears a dedication “to my best friend,” by which Tchaikovsky meant Mme. von Meck. The second woman to enter Tchaikovsky’s life was Antonina Milyukova, a former student who declared she was madly in love with him. Tchaikovsky, desiring to conceal his homosexuality, hoped marriage would quiet the rumors about his sexual preference; the couple hastily married on July 6. Instead, the union was short-lived. Tchaikovsky was so distraught he had a nervous breakdown and attempted suicide. Afterwards, his brother took him to Switzerland and Italy to recuperate. Tchaikovsky resumed work on the Fourth Symphony towards the end of the year, completing it in January 1878. The symphony opens with a harsh, brass fanfare-like theme, which recurs as the movement unfolds. “This is fate,” Tchaikovsky wrote to Mme. von Meck, “the power which hinders one in the pursuit of happiness from gaining the goal.” The two main themes of the first movement are a restless main theme, which never quite resolves, and a waltz for solo clarinet. The second movement reveals another phase of sadness. It opens with a plaintive melody on the oboe accompanied by pizzicato strings. The pace picks up as Tchaikovsky adds a dance-like melody until the gentle theme returns in the violins. The third movement is a playful diversion – a typical scherzo and trio – and the most balletic movement of all. The movement begins with a fleet pizzicato opening and includes a tangy peasant dance at its center. The final movement is the most “Russian” of the movements. While one hears subtle references to the first movement’s musical ideas in the second and third movements, Tchaikovsky unifies the ideas in the Symphony’s Finale. — Program notes by Ana -Laura Diaz