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Treats in Store with A Holiday Cornucopia

Guest Conductor Paul Sherman
from Chapman University

By Michael Buss, 2011-11-17
The Orange County Wind Symphony will launch us into the holiday season with A Holiday Cornucopia on November 20th.

I was immediately excited when I saw the program, and can hardly wait for the date to arrive. A few weeks ago I was driving home listening to KUSC (classical music) when I was totally entranced by one of the most beautiful pieces of choral music I had heard in many years. Desperately hoping to catch the title when the music ended I got enough to track it down on the internet and immediately buy it: O Magnum Mysterium, by Morten Lauridsen. The rich polyphonic music rises and falls, squeezing through moments of delicious discord and resolution until, over six minutes later, you feel as though you just heard angels sing! If you've never heard this before, I envy your opportunity for a first impression.

Of course, we will hear an instrumental version of this work – but I thoroughly recommend you listen to the choral version before coming. I think Kings College does a very good job on YouTube.

The evening will open with the magnificent Fanfare für die Wiener Philarmoniker, written in 1924, by Richard Strauss.

It’s a short and celebratory piece with no discernible sections, scored for 6 trumpets, 8 horns, 6 trombones, 2 tubas and 2 sets of timpani. A trumpet opens and its call is replied by other instruments. The texture builds up to a chorale-like passage. The antiphonal calls of the opening return, and after a brief and more subdued passage comes the ending which closely resembles the beginning, says Hector Bellman. He knows more than I do about these things!

The ever popular Mozart will take us to the intermission with his Serenade in E-flat No. 11, K. 375. You should expect some scintillating finger work. I suggest you sit near the front to see the action at close quarters.

And then there’s Carmina Burana! Most people with be familiar with the rousing opening "O Fortuna", but the rest of this work is nothing other than a mind-blowing variety of styles and melodies, with most unusual rhythms and intervals. I sang the full choral version in England back in the early 1990s. It grows on you the more you hear it. I emailed the Executive Director of the Symphony saying How come I didn’t get to sing in the Carmina Burana? Because, she gently replied, this is the wind symphony instrumental version!

The evening will close out with Leroy Anderson, who made his name as an arranger for the Boston Pops Orchestra, building on that recognition with many original "light-orchestra" novelty pieces, including "The Typewriter", "The Syncopated Clock", and "Bugler's Holiday". But almost anyone who knows the name Leroy Anderson is likely most familiar with his "Sleigh Ride", one of the more evocative pop-orchestra creations--and singers know it well too, as words were added shortly after the work's Boston premiere.

Anderson’s Suite of Carols will bring all the resonance of traditional American Christmas at its best to send us on out way wishing that with climate change it might even snow in Anaheim. On Christmas Eve.

A special welcome is due to the evening’s guest conductor, Paul Sherman, DMA, from Chapman University where he conducts their Wind Symphony, and coaches in chamber music. His specialty is the oboe. Read his bio here.

The full evening actually starts at 6:30pm with a Silent Auction. So come in good time to see what goodies you could pick up - all to help the OC Symphony to continue bringing us such superbe live music.



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