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St. Matthew’s Music Guild Launches its 2012-2013 Seeason on October 12, 2012


The concert will feature The Chamber Orchestra at St. Matthew’s, Thomas Neenan, Music Director and Conductor, and the orchestra’s principal wind players in Frank Martin’s Concerto for Seven Winds, Timpani, Percussion and Strings. The orchestra will also present Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and Frederick Delius’s pastoral tone poem, The Walk to the Paradise Garden.

The professional Chamber Orchestra has been in residence at St. Matthew’s Church since 1985. During that time, the Music Guild has commissioned and premiered more than twenty-five orchestral works by composers such as David Newman, Bruce Broughton, Christopher Tin, Ola Gjeilo, Paul Chihara, Roger Bourland, Alan Chan, Dwayne S. Milburn and others. The orchestra has received critical acclaim for its work.

St. Matthew’s Music Guild boasts more than 120 subscribing households annually. In the last two years, the Music Guild received grants from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the MacTon Foundation, the Edwin W. Pauley Foundation and numerous family foundations to support its mission of outreach to area schools and to commission new music.

During the 2010 – 2012 seasons new works were commissioned and premiered by Alan Chan, Ola Gjeilo and Christopher Tin. For 2012 – 2013 the Guild has commissioned a new work from Los Angeles composer and Elvis Schoenberg personality Ross Wright. Wright’s new work will be premiered at the Music Guild’s June 2013 concert and with a new 2012 – 2014 grant from the LA County Arts Commission, an additional work, to be announced, will be commissioned and premiered in 2014.

In June the Chamber Orchestra will produce a recording of five works commissioned and premiered by St. Matthew’s Music Guild, including works by Wright, Gjeilo, Tin and Dwayne S. Milburn.

The centerpiece of the opening Music Guild concert is Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. Beethoven is said to have favored his Seventh Symphony above all his previous symphonic works. Full of dance rhythms and tuneful melodies, commentator Anton Hopkins describes it as “true spontaneity; the notes seem to fly off the page as we are borne along on a floodtide of inspired invention.†Wagner called the symphony as a whole, “the Apotheosis of the Dance.†The Allegretto was so popular during the 19th century that it was frequently presented in concert as a solo work.

Composed in Bern, Switzerland, in the aftermath of World War II, Frank Martin’s Concerto reflects Martin’s eclectic approach to composition. Throughout the course of the work, echoes of composers as diverse as Britten, Bartok, Debussy and Shostakovich are to be heard. Martin was occasionally faulted by critics for having failed to develop a distinctive voice, but like the great late-century Russian, Alfred Schnittke, Martin’s compositional voice is multi-lingual.

The second movement is based on a repeated figure (technically known as an ostinato – or obstinate bass) in the lower strings and low woodwinds. It unfolds as a sort of lullaby in which a wispy and elusive melody first in the violins but then in the solo winds carries on over the steady pulse of the lower parts.

The last movement is a fast waltz, or scherzo. The wind parts are virtuosic in the extreme and in the middle, Martin presents us with a reminder of the war recently ended in the form of a brief, energetic and highly effective alla marcia.

Program annotator Laurie Shulman describes Frederic Delius as a “one man melting pot. [His] parents were German, he spent crucial formative years in the United States, was encouraged by the Norwegian composers Edvard Grieg and Christian Sinding and lived most of his adult life in France. Ye he is one of the most quintessential composers of the rich renaissance that English music underwent in the last century, somehow distilling the rich panoply of British expression through his colorful musical scores.â€

The Walk to the Paradise Garden serves as an interlude in Delius’s opera A Village Romeo and Juliet which premiered in 1907 under the baton of Beecham. The referenced Paradise Garden is a decrepit pub with a beer garden suffering from years of neglect. The two lovers, after being taunted at a village fair, flee to the beer garden to escape the nasty crowd and steal some quality time alone.

In 1918 Delius began to suffer the effects of syphilis and eventually became paralyzed and blind. He nevertheless completed several compositions with the aid of his companion and assistant Eric Fenby. He died in 1934 in Grez. According to his wishes he was “buried in some country churchyard in the south of England, where people could place wild flowers†(St. Peter’s, Limpsfield, Surrey). Delius was a devote atheist and perhaps intending that the ceremony would not be covered by the press, he directed that it should place at midnight. However, the Sunday Dispatch was alerted to the proceedings and ran a story the next day headlined, “Sixty People Under Flickering Lamps In A Surrey Churchyard.â€

For more information: MusicGuildOnline.org

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