Songs in the Night

« 2016 - 2017 Ridgewood Concert Band Season

Friday, February 10, 2017
West Side Presbyterian Church
Ridgewood, New Jersey

Featured Soloist

Kristen Plumley - Soprano

Prelude Concert - 7:30PM

Bergenfield High School Honors Wind Ensemble

Kristen Plumley

Soprano with a sparkling voice to match her personality, Connecticut native Kristen Plumley brings her joy of being on stage to every role she performs. Lauded as "sensationally note-perfect" (St. Petersburg Times), "a roguish comedienne" (The Middletown, CT Press) and “Met-worthy” (The Dallas Morning News), Ms. Plumley has portrayed Adina (L'Elisir d'Amore) and Gilda (Rigoletto) with Greensboro Opera Company, Musetta (La bohème) with Amarillo Opera, Norina (Don Pasquale) and Zerlina (Don Giovanni) with Virginia Opera, Barbarina (Le Nozze di Figaro) with New York City Opera, Norina (Don Pasquale) and Zerlina (Don Giovanni) with Virginia Opera, Nannetta (Falstaff) and Amor (Orfeo ed Euridice) with Opera Festival of New Jersey, Sophie (Werther) with Chautauqua Opera, Adele (Die Fledermaus) with Boheme Opera (NJ) and Opera Theatre of Connecticut, Despina (Così fan Tutte) with Lyric Opera of Cleveland, the Sultan of Egypt (Glück’s Les Pelerins de la Mecque) with L’Opéra Français de New York, Yum-Yum (The Mikado) with Opera Memphis and Josephine (H.M.S. Pinafore) with Nevada Opera.

Other roles to her credit include Juliette (Roméo et Juliette), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), and Kathy (Student Prince), and musical theater favorites Maria (West Side Story), Carrie (Carousel), Fiona (Brigadoon) and Laurey (Oklahoma!).

On the concert stage, Kristen Plumley has performed a broad spectrum of works, including Mozart's Coronation Mass and Requiem, Haydn's Mass in Time of War with the New England Symphonic Ensemble at Carnegie Hall. Additionally, she has sung Mozart's Mass in C minor, Elgar’s For the Fallen, Bach’s Coffee Cantata and Respighi’s Laud to the Nativity, as well as Jack Everly's Sci-Fi Spectacular (music from science fiction movies and television shows) with the Cleveland, Indianapolis, Seattle and Baltimore Symphonies and An Evening of Gilbert and Sullivan with the symphony orchestras of St. Louis, Richmond, Memphis and Minnesota.

Enthusiastic about contemporary works, she has been active in many new operas at the prestigious Banff Centre for the Arts (Alberta, Canada) and in companies throughout New York City. In 2015 Kristen created the role of Ruth Draper in Icarus Rising, a new dance opera about the life of Lauro DeBosis, an Italian freedom fighter during World War II, with Verlezza Dance.

Ms. Plumley received an Artist Diploma in opera from the Hartt School of Music and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and music from Holy Cross College. Twice a winner in the Connecticut Opera Guild Scholarship Competition, she is also a recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant (Shoshana Foundation).

Program Highlights

Aurora Awakes - John Mackey (b. 1973)
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Aurora Awakes – was commissioned to write this band work by the Jeb Stuart High School Wind Ensemble of Falls Church, Virginia. The piece was premiered on May 8, 2009 and was the recipient of the 2009 American Bandmasters Association/Ostwald Award and the 2009 National Band Association's William D. Revelli Award. The piece harkens to the coming of light through Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn. In this composition, Mackey uses a bit of well-known musical material from popular culture. The opening is the ostinato guitar riff from U2’s Where the Streets Have No Name. Though the strains of the guitar have been metamorphosed into the insistent repetitions of keyboard percussion, the aesthetic is similar as a distant proclamation that grows steadily in fervor. The difference between U2’s presentation and Mackey’s, however, is that the guitar riff disappears for the majority of the song, while in Aurora Awakes, the motive persists for nearly the entirety of the remainder of the piece. The composer also borrows from a masterpiece of wind band literature as the final chord of the piece is identical to the closing chord of the Chaconne of Gustav Holst’s First Suite in E-flat, written exactly one century prior. Mackey adds an even brighter element by including instruments not in Holst’s original. The composer states, “That has always been one of my favorite chords because it's just so damn bright. In a piece that's about the awaking of the goddess of dawn, you need a damn bright ending, and there was no topping Holst.”

Program notes compiled by Marcie Phelan.

Internet Symphony "Eroica" - Tan Dun/Martin Learn more   ►

Tan Dun (b.1957) is a Chinese classical composer and conductor, most widely known for his scores for the movies Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero, as well as composing music for the medal ceremonies at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His works often incorporate audiovisual elements, use of instruments constructed from organic materials, such as paper, water, and stone, and are often inspired by traditional Chinese theatrical and ritual performance. In 2013, he was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. In 2008, Google and YouTube commissioned Tan Dun to compose a new work, Internet Symphony "Eroica" as part of the inaugural YouTube Symphony Orchestra project. Musicians from around the world were invited to audition by submitting videos of their interpretations of the Internet Symphony to be judged by members of leading international orchestras. There were more than 3,000 auditions from more than 70 countries. The project culminated in a performance at Carnegie Hall on April 15, 2009, that was webcast and is still available on YouTube. More than 22 million people from 200 countries on six continents have experienced Tan Dun's feeling of a global music community which is encapsulated in his Internet Symphony "Eroica."

Program notes compiled by Marcie Phelan.

Psalm for Band - Vincent Persichetti (1915-1987) Learn more   ►

There are few major American composers that made a more substantial contribution to the wind band repertoire in the latter half of the twentieth century than Vincent Persichetti. Persichetti was born in Philadelphia and started his musical training at age five on the piano. As a teenager, he was already having his compositions performed publically. By age twenty, Persichetti was head of the theory and composition departments at Combs College. Persichetti composed fourteen works for winds, and his dedication to this type of ensemble spanned his entire career. Much of Persichetti’s music bears religious overtones, and the title of Psalm references the nature of singing in meditation and celebration. Beginning with a plaintive chorale for solo clarinets, the work moves through three distinct sections that give other instruments highlighted moments and eventually arrives in what the composer describes as "a Paean culmination of the materials."

Program notes compiled by Marcie Phelan.

Overture to Judges of the Secret Court - Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) Learn more   ►

Hector Berlioz is considered one of the greatest and most famous composers within the Romantic Period. His marked contribution was his audacious and daring originality in orchestration and composition. His Overture: Judges of the Secret Court follows the form of the Italian overture as popularized by Rossini during the first part of the nineteenth century. Like the Italian pieces, this overture includes much thematic repetition, a looseness of structure, and frequent use of the famous “Rossini crescendo”. Dr. Mark Walker, in transcribing this piece maintained the beauty of the Berlioz original while incorporating his own unique orchestration techniques. The piece boasts several challenging solos for the band’s performers including an astonishing percussion solo introducing one of the famous crescendos that makes this piece a true crowd pleaser.

Program notes compiled by Marcie Phelan.

Meditation - Gunther Schuller (1925-2015) Learn more   ►

Gunther Schuller wrote this work as twelve-tone music, which is a compositional technique. This style of composition is most associated with a group of early 20th century composers whose figure head was Arnold Schoenberg. Twelve-tone compositional techniques and ideas however were influential for many great modern composers and are still being written today. Because of the atonal sound and the lack of analytical techniques, this art form remains not very well understood as a total musical phenomenon by composers, performers and listeners alike. Mr. Schuller was fascinated by the sonic possibilities presented by the instruments of the wind band and he exploited them in this work. He eschewed the notion about band writing that parts must be doubled. At one point, the clarinet section is divided into a twenty-eight-note chord with individual players playing the individual tones. Improvisation also comes into play. The listener will not hear a theme in this musical technique, but should listen for the main melodic carriers to reveal themselves through their higher dynamic levels or expressive markings.

Program notes compiled by Marcie Phelan.

Konzertstuck for 4 Solo Horns - Robert Schumann (1810-1856) Learn more   ►

Robert Schumann has been described as the most romantic of all the early 19th century romantic composers. The Konzertstuck for 4 Solo Horns was written immediately after the Adagio and Allegro for horn and piano in 1849. This was a particularly productive time in Schumann’s life while the composer was living in Dresden. The horn players of the Dresden orchestra were all using valve horns by 1849, which gave Schumann the independence to write the work in a brilliant virtuoso style. It has been said that this work was Schumann's favorite composition. Performances of this work until recent times were rare, probably because of the technical demands put upon all the soloists. More recently the standard of horn playing has so dramatically improved that the Konzertstuck is played much more frequently. William A. Schaefer has produced many arrangements of orchestral music for winds in order to make music of great composers accessible to young musicians. Mr. Schaefer always manages to score as the composer himself might have done if writing for wind ensemble, always giving the impression that the pieces are wind band originals.

Program notes compiled by Marcie Phelan.

Die Fledermaus “Laughing Song” - Johann Strauss Jr. (1825-1899) Learn more   ►

Johann Strauss Jr. was an Austrian composer commonly referred to as "The Waltz King," who was so successful with the waltz genre that it took considerable coaxing from French composer Jacques Offenbach and Strauss’s own wife to convince him to venture into operetta. Strauss had been unsuccessful in his previous attempts at musical theatre, but in Die Fledermaus, which premièred in Vienna in 1874, his efforts seemed to be charmed, as the operetta was a tremendous success. This comic operetta is full of disguises, mistaken identities, and late-night partying. In the operetta, a maid pretends to be an actress when she goes to a ball in disguise. She is introduced to her boss, who is confused by her striking resemblance to his maid. The 'actress' finds this very funny and in the "Laughing Song" she advises him to look at people more closely. Her hands and feet are far too dainty to be those of a maid, and her profile far too noble. Maybe he is in love with his maid, and seems to see her everywhere.

Program notes compiled by Marcie Phelan.

Du Bist Die Ruh - Franz Schubert (1797-1828) Learn more   ►

Franz Schubert established the German lied as an important art form and then set a standard of excellence no one since has quite matched. He created more than 600 songs in a prodigious outpouring that sometimes saw him composing five songs in a single day. However, it is not the sheer numbers that matter, but rather the songs' extraordinary quality and enormous emotional range. At the heart of his genius lay his unrivaled gift for melody. Written in 1823 to the verse of the great German poet Friedrich Rückert, Du bist die Ruh ("You are peace") matches words of selfless, devoted love to music of sublime simplicity and serenity. Twice in the second stanza, Schubert voices the longing of the singer for complete union with the beloved in a powerful ascending line.

Program notes compiled by Marcie Phelan.

Over The Rainbow - Harold Arlen (1905-1986) Learn more   ►

Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg (1896-1981) collaborated to produce this well-known ballad for the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz” and Judy Garland as the principal character, Dorothy Gayle. The song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and became Judy Garland’s signature lyric as well as one of the most enduring standards of the 20th century.

Program notes compiled by Marcie Phelan.