South of the Border
Sunday, May 3, 2009, 3:00 PM
McAfee Center, Saratoga
Dr. Edward C. Harris, conductor
Manuel Romero, guest vocalist
Symphonic Dance No. 3 (“Fiesta”)
Clifton Williams (1923-1976)
James Clifton Williams, Jr., was born in Arkansas and studied piano, mellophone and French horn in school. In 1942 he joined the Army Air Corps as a bandsman, serving as drum major and composing works at every opportunity. He attended Louisiana State University and the Eastman School of Music. Williams taught at the University of Texas at Austin for seventeen years. He also served as chairman of the department of theory and composition at the University of Miami, where he was influenced by, and became a close friend of, Frederick Fennell.
“Fiesta” was originally one of Williams’ Five Symphonic Dances, commissioned by the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra to celebrate their 25th anniversary in 1964. In the original suite, each of the five dances represented the spirit of a different time and place relating to San Antonio, Texas. “Fiesta” evokes the excitement and color of the city’s many Mexican celebrations. The modal characteristics, rhythms and finely woven melodies depict what Williams called “the pageantry of Latin-American celebration—street bands, bull fights, bright costumes, the colorful legacy of a proud people.” The introduction features a brass fanfare that generates a dark yet majestic atmosphere that is filled with the tension of the upcoming events. The tolling of bells in syncopated rhythms herald an approaching festival. Solo trumpet phrases and light flirtatious woodwind parts provide a side interest as the festival grows in force as it approaches the arena. The brass herald the arrival of the matador to the bullring and the ultimate, solemn moment of truth. The finale provides a joyous climax to the festivities.
Camargo Guarnieri (1907-1993), arranged by Charles Brandebury
Brazilian composer Camargo Guarnieri was registered at birth as Mozart Guarnieri, but when he started his musical career, he decided his first name was too pretentious. He later adopted his mother’s maiden name Camargo as a middle name, and thenceforth signed himself M. Camargo Guarnieri. His brothers were named Verdi and Rossine (a Portuguese spelling of Rossini). Guarnieri studied piano and composition at the São Paulo Conservatório. Some of his compositions received important prizes in the United States in the 1940s, giving Guarnieri the opportunity to conduct them in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago. He served as conductor of the São Paulo Orchestra and was a member of the Academia Brasileira de Música. He also served as Director of the São Paulo Conservatório, where he taught composition and conducting. His works include symphonies, concertos, cantatas, two operas, chamber music, many piano pieces and over fifty canções. (A cançõe is a Portuguese song form—similar to Frech chansons, Italian canzoni or German lieder.)
Franz Schubert (1797-1828), arranged by Paul Erwin
The son of a schoolmaster who had settled in Vienna, Franz Schubert was educated as a chorister of the imperial court chapel and later qualified as a schoolteacher. He spent much of his life in Vienna but never held any position in the musical establishment or attracted the kind of patronage that Beethoven had twenty years earlier. His final years were clouded by illness, and he died in 1828, leaving much music unfinished. His gifts had been most notably expressed in song, but his talent for melody was always evident in his other compositions, as well. Schubert is known for spontaneous, lyrical, charming melodic invention. His melodies include some of the most famous in all Western music and often express tremendous joy, but they can also convey dark mood swings and deep despair.
Ave Maria was composed in about 1825, when Schubert was twenty-eight years old. It was written for voice and piano. The words most commonly used with Schubert’s music are not the words that the composer originally set to music. Schubert actually wrote the music for an excerpt from the poem The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), which was translated into German by Adam Storck. Schubert called his piece Ellens dritter Gesang (“Ellen’s third song”). In this particular excerpt from the poem the heroine, Ellen, is in hiding and prays to the Virgin Mary. Schubert wrote “My new songs from Scott’s Lady of the Lake especially had much success. They also wondered greatly at my piety, which I expressed in a hymn to the Holy Virgin and which, it appears, grips every soul and turns it to devotion.”
Cesar Franck (1822-1890)
Cesar Franck was born in Liège, Belgium. His father had ambitions for him to become a concert pianist, and he studied at the conservatoire in Liège before going to the Paris Conservatoire in 1837. Upon leaving in 1842, he briefly returned to Belgium but went back to Paris in 1844 and remained there for the rest of his life. Franck was a fine pianist and made concert tours in his early years, but he made his living at the organ, becoming organist of Sainte-Clotilde in 1858, a position he held for life. From 1872 to his death he was organ professor at the Paris Conservatoire. As an organist he was particularly noted for his skill in improvisation, and it is on the basis of only twelve major organ works that Franck is considered by many the greatest organ composer after J. S. Bach.
Panis Angelicus was written in 1872 for tenor voice, organ, harp, cello and double bass. Music was an act of faith for Franck, and this piece is a reserved religious meditation.
Jaime Texidor (1885-1957)
Jaime Texidor Dalmau was a composer, conductor and publisher, who lived most of his life in Baracaldo, a city in northern Spain. He was born in Barcelona, and it is said that he played saxophone in a military band for several years. In 1927 he became the conductor of the Baracaldo municipal band, a position he held until 1936. Over this period, he composed so much band music that he established his own publishing company. Many of his compositions were in the paso doble genre, including Amparito Roca, which is one of the best known of its kind in the North American band repertoire.
There is some mystery attached to Amparito Roca. Although Texidor’s name is on this edition, the music may have been written by British bandmaster Reginald Ridewood. Texidor arranged the piece for publication by Musica Moderna in Madrid in 1936, but the original score by Ridewood (under another name) was performed in England before the copyright date. It is believed that Ridewood wrote the music but failed to apply for a copyright, and Texidor rearranged the piece for Spanish bands and reissued it under copyright as his composition. Amparito Roca is a thrilling paso doble or “double step.” This lively style of dance music is in duple meter and is a kind of fast and dramatic march, modeled after the drama of the bull ring.
El Relicario, Paso Doble
José Padilla (1889-1960), transcribed for band by Philip J. Lang
José Padilla was born in Almeria, Spain. He attended the Madrid Conservatory and soon became involved in the production of zarzuelas, principally as a conductor. The Spanish zarzuela is a form roughly comparable to the comic opera or Broadway musical and is perhaps best identified as a happy marriage of these two popular musical genres. Another of Padilla’s most popular songs, “Valencia,” was, in fact, adapted from a chorus in one of these zarzuelas, “La Bien Amada.”
Following his early success in Spain, Padilla traveled to France, where he gained further fame in Paris as a songwriter, composing songs for such internationally renowned artists as Josephine Baker and Maurice Chevalier. The years immediately preceding the Spanish Civil War were spent by Padilla in Italy, but he returned to Spain shortly after the Civil War broke out and remained there until the end of World War II, at which time he returned to Paris, where he premiered a major orchestral work, his “Portuguese” Symphony. Padilla wrote several hundred songs and produced some sixty stage works, as well. He eventually returned to Spain, where he died at age 71 in the fall of 1960. His many songs remain perennial favorites with Spanish-speaking people everywhere—not just in his native land.
El Relicario is in the paso doble form, a Spanish dance very popular in the 1920s (and since), which is a kind of one-step—even though paso doble actually means “two-step”—usually set in 6/8 meter, but also sometimes, as here, in triple meter.
Adapted by Ritchie Valens (1941-1959), arranged by Calvin Custer
Richard Steven Valenzuela was an American singer, songwriter and guitarist. His recording career lasted only eight months. During this time, however, he scored several hits, most notably La Bamba, which was originally a Mexican folk song that Valens transformed with a rock rhythm and beat. La Bamba became a hit in 1958, making Valens a pioneer of the Spanish-speaking rock-and-roll movement.
On February 3, 1959, on what has become known as “The Day the Music Died,” Valens was killed in a small-plane crash in Iowa, an event that also claimed the lives of fellow musicians Buddy Holly and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.
Manuel Romero and his father wrote Yo Volaría in memory of Manuel’s grandmother, who passed away when his father was a very young boy. Romero sings: “I would fly like the wind and with the clouds would build a road that would take me to you in heaven.”
Zacatecas Mexican March
Genaro Codina (1852-1901)
Genaro Codina played several instruments as a child and preferred the folk harp. As an adult, he was known for his musical ability, as well as for his talent as a manufacturer of balloons and fireworks, which were in great demand at folk festivals. He was imprisoned in Mexico several times for unknown reasons under the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, during which time he played his harp and learned many folk songs. Zacatecas won a march composition contest in 1891 and has become “Mexico’s second national anthem.”
Quirino Mendoza y Cortés (1859-1957), arranged by Fernandez
Cielito Lindo is a popular traditional song of Mexico, written in 1882. “Cielito Lindo,” translated literally, means “pretty little sky,” but here it is used as a term of endearment, comparable to “sweetheart.”
Program notes are edited by Karen Berry and excerpted from the composers’ notes, Band Notes by Norm Smith, The Pepper Music Catalog and:
Foothill College Symphonic Wind Ensemble
Keystone Concert Band (Amparito Roca)
The Oak Ridge Civic Music Association (Amparito Roca)
The Symphony: An Interactive Guide
The Capital Region Wind Ensemble