What do you mean, “no clarinets?”

So we had the final spring concert with the orchestra. For the last time of the year, the parade of grey heads filed into the auditorium to listen to a bunch of folks that were wearing penguin getups sit back and play music of people who had died before the Boer war.

I didn’t bother to announce this one. Most folks don’t go to the orchestra stuff anyway. And this was a meatier concert that most. Rather than bore the heck out of folks, it’s better to let this one pass.

The “meatier” pieces were the opening and the closer. They were the Meistersinger Overture and Sibelius’ Symphony #5. We also played in the center pieces, Strauss’ “Four Songs” and Sibelius’ “Swan of Tuonela.”

For those of you curious if you might know these pieces, but not by name: In that collection of “best of” classical music you might buy off of Readers Digest records, Wagner’s Meistersinger Overture has a chance of being there. It’s a lot like most of his work. Big, full of pomp, drama, and brass. Think “What’s Opera Doc.”

Sibelius was a well known Finnish composer. His Symphony #5 is probably his best known work. That being said, most of you have probably never heard it. It’s rather dark and very introspective. Think of a dark and misty cave scene in a movie, and you’ll get the feel.

Strauss’ “Four Songs” was the last piece he wrote. A collection of four lyrical poems set to expressive music. We had Ms. Indra Thomas, world renown Soprano for the singing part. She’s recently added this piece to her repertoire and has been receiving accolades as the next great Verdi soprano. She did an incredible job.

The piece that really snagged my attention was the “Swan of Tuonela.” It is a very dark and mournful piece, featuring the english horn (The English horn is also Sasha the duck from “Peter and the Wolf”) as the lead voice and solo. The reason I was very surprised at this piece is it called for Bass Clarinet, but no soprano clarinets. My instrument, the Bass Clarinet, is only occasionally called for by composers. To do so without upper winds of any sort is unheard of. Indeed, the entire woodwind section for the piece was 1 oboe, 2 bassoons, 1 bass clarinet, and solo english horn. Very odd. And very dark and beautiful. It’s obvious that Sibelius wanted a specific tone color.

We dedicated the piece to Mr. Eastburn. He was one of the gents who founded the orchestra and who has recent passed on. Considering he did other little things like Chairing the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, he was probably the staple reason why the orchestra has such a strong foundation and quality.

Anyway, back to normal life.

One Response to “What do you mean, “no clarinets?””

  1. susandeer says:

    D’oe! I wish you’d told me about Swan beforehand! I would have excused myself from the reception setup for the few minutes to hear it. @:(

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