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UMS Concert Program, January 26, 1988: Empire Brass --

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Season: 109th
Concert: Twenty-eighth
Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Empire Brass
Tuesday Evening, January 26, 1988, at 8:00 Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Suite from The Water Music ...................... George Frideric Handel
Overture (1685-1759)
Allegro moderato
Alia Hornpipe
Toccata in F major (Organ solo)...................Johann Sebastian Bach
Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsingen schritten..................... Bach
(from Cantata B.W.V. 78)
Sheep May Safely Graze ............................................ Bach
(from Cantata B.W.V. 208)
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God ...................................... Bach
(from Cantata B.W.V. 80)
Sleepers, Wake!.................................................... Bach
(from Cantata B.W.V. 140)
My Spirit, Be Joyful ............................................... Bach
(from Cantata B.W.V. 146)
The University Musical Society wishes to thank Ford Motor Company Fund for its generosity in underwriting the production and printing costs of this program.
Cameras and recording devices are not allowed in the auditorium. Halls Cough Tablets, courtesy of Warner-Lambert Company, arc available in the lobby.
Twenty-eighth Concert of the 109th Season Seventeenth Annual Choice Series
Symphony, from The Fairy Queen ......................... Henry Purcell
Simple Gifts, from Appalachian Spring..................... Aaron Copland
(b. 1900)
Oriental, from Cantos de Espana, Op. 232.....................Isaac Albeniz
Orgia, from Danzas fantdstkas, Op. 22 .....................Joaqui'n Turina
Finale, from Organ Symphony No. 1 (Organ solo) ............ Louis Vierne
Suite from The Royal Fireworks.................................... Handel
Overture Minuet March Minuet
AngelEMI, Telarc, and CBS Records.
All arrangements performed during this concert are the property of and have been written by the members of the Empire Brass.
This performance is made possible in pan by a grant through the Music Program of the National Endowment for the Arts in support of American performing artists.
PROGRAM NOTES by Allan Kozinn
Each musical instrument has a certain blend of tonal range and timbral quality that makes it ideal for music of a specific kind. Of course, combinations of widely differing instruments make the matter a bit more complex, just as mixtures of colors on a painter's palette yield hues that can be cither more subtle or, in some cases, brighter and more arresting, than the primary tones mixed to produce them. The bright, festive sound of brass, blended with the stateliness and grandeur of the large organ, results in a marriage of textures and timbres that seems perfectly suited to the selections from Bach's music that are included in this program.
The works of Bach that the Empire Brass and Douglas Major perform together arc modern arrangements, undertaken by the Empire Brass players. Brass quintet, as we know it, did not exist as such in Bach's day. In fact, the instruments that make up the ensemble had not yet taken their current form or had not yet been invented. Would Bach have objected to this timbral translation of his music Probably not. In his day, transcription was common. Bach himself made organ arrangements of chamber works by Vivaldi, Couperin, Tclemann, and others among his contemporaries; and like virtually every practical composer of his day, he recast his own music in many guises. Naturally, Bach's propensity for self-revision has stood as justification for transcriptions of all kinds over the years, including Stokowski's expansions for full orchestra, arrangements for guitar by Segovia and others, and even various interpretations by rock bands and percussion ensembles.
Members of the Empire Brass have opted to take a conservative line in approaching their transcriptions, and their guiding principle has been to transfer Bach's timbres to their own without disturbing the distribution of lines, registers, balances, and chord voicings one finds in the Bach originals. In practice, this means that the Empire Brass's trumpets always have the lines Bach wrote for Baroque trumpet or singers or the treble instruments (violins, flutes, or oboes), while the French horn has the alto (or viola) lines, the trombones have the tenor (or cello and bassoon) parts, and the tuba plays the bass line. In some cases, the quintet serves as Bach's choir, while the organ provides the part that was originally the orchestral accompaniment, thus preserving the distinct textures of the vocal and instrumental groups. In some cases, the Empire Brass altered its own instrumentation in order to come closer to what the players felt was the spirit of the original. For instance, they use a flugelhom in Sheep May Safely Graze and Sleepers, Wake!, in order to give the chorale line a darker, richer sound. They also use quite a few varieties of trumpet, including a piccolo trumpet in A, and trumpets in C, B-flat, and E-flat.
Bach wrote an enormous number of cantatas, most of them composed as part of his normal duties as the musical master of St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. His cantatas (and his larger oratorios) are elaborate creations. Usually, they begin with a chorus, although this is sometimes preceded by a rousing sinfonia. The main part of the work, however, treats the part of the Gospel germane to the service for which Bach was writing on any given week, and is presented almost as a miniature opera, with recitatives and arias. The cantata closes as it begins -with a choral movement. This finale, though, would usually be less elaborate than the opening movement, generally a chorale setting based on an appropriate Lutheran hymn. It is, of course, the choral movements that best lend themselves to brass and organ settings.
Chorales, it should be noted, were common denominators of music in Bach's day. Because they were sung in church every Sunday, they were known to all, and they made excellent teaching pieces for young organists. When the great composer's son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, published a collection of his father's chorales in 1765, he affixed a preface wherein the reader is advised to "contemplate with appropriate attention the quite special arrangement of the harmony and the natural flow of the inner voices and the bass," for these, he says, are "above all, what distinguish these chorales." Today, over two centuries later, those same qualities continue to shine through.
The Frieze Memorial Organ
The Frieze Memorial Organ in Hill Auditorium had its origins at the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago from May through October of 1893, a celebration marking the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. At the conclusion of the Exposition, the organ built especially for music programs of the celebration was purchased by the University Musical Society and brought to Ann Arbor in 1894. It was installed in the auditorium of University Hall, a building in the center of campus where concerts and musical events were held. (The building was razed in 1951.)
After its acquisition, the Columbian organ was renamed the Frieze Memorial Organ in tribute to Henry Simmons Frieze, for forty years a professor of Latin Language and Literature at The University of Michigan and a prime figure in the founding of the Choral Union and the Musical Society in 1879. He served as the first president of the University Musical Society and twice as acting president of the University. He died in 1889.
The organ was rebuilt in 1913 when it was moved to the newly completed Hill Auditorium, was rebuilt again in 1928 by Ernest M. Skinner, and still again in 1955 by Aeolian-Skinner. It has recently gone through another overhaul, including a renovation of the mechanism and a restoration of the appearance of the pipes (no longer used) adorning the back of the stage. Through careful research, meticulous paint scrapings, and modern craftsmanship, the gilding and stenciling of the pipes now closely resemble that of the original 1893 organ.
The organ currently has 125 ranks of pipes, thirteen of which are from the original organ. There are a total of 7,360 pipes, ranging in height from three-quarters of an inch to thirty-five feet.
About the Artists
The Empire Brass enjoys an international reputation as one of North America's finest brass quintets. The first brass ensemble to win the prestigious Naumburg Chamber Music Award, the Empire Brass has given a command performance for Queen Elizabeth II, performed at a Presidential Inaugural concert, participated in the opening concerts of the newly renovated Carnegie Hall, and toured extensively in North and South America, Europe, and the Far East. Its repertoire of over 300 works -ranging from Bach and Gabrieli to more than fifty commissioned works and popular arrangements -is unparalleled in its diversity and quality. Such leading composers as Leonard Bernstein, Peter Maxwell Davics, Michael Torke, Earl Kim, Daniel Pinkham, Gunther Schuller, Stanley Silverman, and Ira Taxin have been commissioned to create works especially for the Empire Brass.
Also the recipient of a Harvard Music Association Award, the Empire Brass performs regularly in such cities as Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Oslo, Zurich, Caracas, Tokyo, New York, Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Orchestras with which the Empire Brass has performed include the Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, and Minnesota Orchestra. A popular attraction at summer musical festivals, the Empire Brass has visited Ravinia, Saratoga, Chautauqua, and Tanglcwood, where it continues to lead the Empire Brass seminar at the Boston University Tanglcwood Institute.
This season the Empire Brass performs over 100 concerts, including a return to Carnegie Hall. Touring highlights include visits to the Soviet Union and Venezuela. In Europe, the quintet embarks on a twenty-concert tour featuring a Wigmore Hall recital in London and an appearance with the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich.
Since the 1976 CBS release of The American Brass Band Journal, the Empire Brass has recorded over twenty albums. The recently released A Bach Festival for Brass and Organ with Douglas Major for AngelEMI has been praised for its "brilliant sound and breathtaking performances." The Empire Brass's recent three-week tour of Japan has been released on video by Sony and on compact disc by CBSSony. The ensemble's activities on television include numerous appearances on the "Today" show.
In its twelfth consecutive year as faculty quintct-in-residence at Boston University, the Empire Brass also promotes the teaching of brass and quintet studies through the establishment of schol?arships, fellowships, clinics, and symposia in the United States and abroad. The quintet has a continuing relationship with the musicians of the Orquesta dc Simon Bolivar in Caracas, a superb ensemble of young developing musicians, involving several sessions of teaching, joint performances, and master classes each season.
Another aspect of the quintet's involvement in education has been its program of school visits. An extension of this program was the quintet's appearance in 1984 on "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood," the acclaimed PBS children's educational television series. The quintet also leads an annual series of twenty-five college clinics sponsored by the Selmer Company, maker of all instruments for the Empire Brass.
A founding member of the Empire Brass, Rolf Smedvig has served as principal trumpet of the Boston Symphony and as a member of the Boston Pops and the Boston Symphony Chamber Players. Born in Seattle, he made his debut with the Seattle Symphony before traveling east to attend Boston University. After performing at Tanglcwood, Mr. Smedvig was engaged by Leonard Bernstein to perform as soloist for the world premiere of his Mass at the opening of the Kennedy Center.
Mr. Smedvig also appears as soloist and conductor in some thirty engagements per year. With the Cambridge Chamber Orchestra, he recorded two albums on which he is featured in this dual capacity. He currently serves on the faculties of Boston University and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.
A native of Easton, Pennsylvania, Jeffrey Curnow studied trumpet at Temple University with Seymour Rosenblatt. His extensive chamber music experience includes membership in the New York Trumpet Ensemble, Eastern Brass Quintet, and Wichita Brass Quintet. A former member of the Wichita Symphony and New Haven Symphony, Mr. Curnow served as associate professor at Wichita University.
Educated at the University of Houston, Martin Hackleman began his study of the French horn at age sixteen; only three years later, he was named principal horn of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. He also served as principal horn of the Vancouver Symphony and then of the CBC Vancouver Radio Orchestra, playing in that ensemble's brass and woodwind quintets. Before joining the Empire Brass, Martin Hackleman played, and recorded for CBS, with the Canadian Brass.
Mr. Hackleman has performed as featured soloist with several prominent Canadian and Japanese orchestras. He has taught French horn at several colleges, including the University of British Columbia and the Tohogauken School of Music in Japan, and served as music director of Virginia's Tidewater Music Festival.
Scott A. Hartman has played with such noted orchestras as the Rochester Philharmonic, the Phoenix Symphony, and the Eastman Philharmonic. He has performed at the Heidelberg Opera Festival in Germany, the Chautauqua Festival, and the Spoleto Festivals in Italy and Charleston, South Carolina. A native New Yorker, he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at the Eastman School of Music. Mr. Hartman is on the faculties of Boston University and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.
In 1967, Samuel Pilafian won the Concerto Competition at the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan, becoming only the second tuba soloist in fifty years ever to do so. He was awarded fellowships from Dartmouth College in 1969, and from the Tanglewood Music Center in 1970 and 1971.
Mr. Pilafian has performed and recorded with the Boston Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra, com?poser Philip Glass, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and Pink Floyd. He has also recorded for every major label and television network in the United States. A founding member of the Empire Brass, Mr. Pilafian was heard in performance at Tanglcwood by Leonard Bernstein, who engaged him as soloist for the world premiere of Mass at the opening of the Kennedy Center. Mr. Pilafian serves on the faculties of Boston University and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.
Douglas Major joined the music staff of the National Cathedral of Washington, D.C. in 1974 and was named to his present position of associate organistchoirmaster in 1979. In addition to playing for over 250 musical services each year in the Cathedral, his responsibilities also include the recruitment and training of the Cathedral choirboys.
Mr. Major has performed in recital throughout the United States, England, and Ireland to much international critical acclaim. Prior to his appointment in Washington, he was associate organist and choirmaster of Christ Church Cathedral in Saint Louis. His other musical commitments include active participation in the work of the Diocese of Washington's choral festivals, held annually. In 1984, he founded the American Vocal Ensemble, a professional choral group of sixteen voices specializing in sixteenthand seventeenth-century music as well as contemporary American choral works.
Pre-concert Presentations
Complement your concertgoing with these presentations designed to enhance your musical experience via the expertise of the following speakers. The place is the Rackham Building at 7:00 p. m., open to the public at S3, tickets at the door; complimentary admission for Encore and Cheers! members and faculty and students with valid I.D. For further information, call 764-8489.
Thursday, Feb. 4, preceding "The Barber of Seville," N. Y.C. Opera National Company Rossini in Seville Jay Lcsenger, Stage Director, U-M Opera Theater
Saturday, Mar. 12, preceding Hubbard Street Dance Company-The Dance of Theater and Cinema: Making Entertainment Art Peter Sparling, Associate Professor of Dance, U-M
Saturday, Apr. 2, preceding Andre Watts -Being Critical: Observations on the Role of the Music Critic Paul Boylan, ProfessorDean, U-M School of Music
Burton Memorial Tower, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1270 Telephone: (313) 764-2538

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