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Marimba!

March 14, 2020

Dr. Lucas Bernier, marimba
For the first time ever, the BMSO presents a concerto for Marimba! Our own Dr. Lucas Bernier is featured in Sejourné’s Concerto for Marimba and Strings, and the BMSO plays Ravel’s Boléro and Poulenc’s The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant.

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Program

Orpheus in the Underworld: Overture.......Jaques Offenbach (1819-1880)
The Story of Babar the Little Elephant..........Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)
 
     I. Berceuse
      II. Valse
      III. March
      IV. Polka
      V. Nocturne 
                                 Pat Finken, Narrator 
 
INTERMISSION
Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra......Emmanuele Séjourné (b. 1961)

               I. Tempo souple
             II. Rythmique Energique
                                 Dr. Lucas Bernier, marimba

Boléro.........................Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

 

Program Notes

Jacques Offenbach Overture to Orpheus in the Underworld:  Music critic Jules Janin described Offenbach's operetta as "a profanation of holy and glorious antiquity in a spirit of irreverence that bordered on blasphemy."  A scandalous review which of course drew the Parisians to the then fledgling theater in droves.  Offenbach, who was the conductor of the Theater Français, had begun composing one-act musical farces that satirized the social scene of Paris.  Orpheus in the Underworld led to accusations of "desecrating classical antiquity, Gluck, the Emperor and the whole Government."  The version of the overture that is commonly performed is not entirely by Offenbach.  It was compiled by Carl Bruder, a minor Austrian composer, for the first performance of the operetta in Vienna.  Bruder started with the original overture Offenbach wrote, but added the famous violin solo from Act I and the famous Can-Can from the end of Act IV.  

Francis Poulenc The Story of Babar the Little Elephant:  Poulenc completed hi Story of Babar the Little Elephant for narrator and piano in 1945.  The music, later orchestrated by Jean Français in 1963, was composed after the famous French children's book written and illustrated by Jean de Brunhoff in 1930. Poulenc began sketching the work in 1940 for the children of his cousins.  The themes of the story are those of loss, refuge, and hope.  Combined with some of the most beautiful music of Poulenc's compositions, the piece creates a poignancy and stirring of the heart.  

Emmanuele Séjourné  Concerto for Marimba and Strings.  French composer and percussionist Emmanuele Séjourné serves as head of percussion at the Convervatoire de Strasbourg.  His Concerto for Marimba and Strings was commissioned by Bogdan Bacanu and written in 2005.  His music features influence of Western classical music as well as popular genres such as rock and jazz.  Performers and critics have described the concerto as "gorgeously composed" and "romantic."  

Ravel Bolero:  Composed on a commission from Mme Ida Rubinstein for her ballet troupe, Ravel composed his 1928 showpiece Bolero in 1928.  In it, he takes the aesthetic value of repetition to the extreme, propelled by a snare drum ostinato and unending crescendo.  In the composer's own words:  I am particularly anxious that there should be no misunderstanding as to my Boléro. It is an experiment in a very special and limited direction, and it should not be suspected of aiming at achieving anything different from, or anything more than, it actually does achieve. Before the first performance, I issued a warning to the effect that what I had written was a piece . . . consisting wholly of orchestral texture without music—of one long, very gradual crescendo. There are no contrasts, and there is practically no invention except in the plan and the manner of the execution. The themes are impersonal—folk tunes of the usual Spanish-Arabian kind. Whatever may have been said to the contrary, the orchestral treatment is simple and straightforward throughout, without the slightest attempt at virtuosity. . . . I have done exactly what I have set out to do, and it is for listeners to take it or leave it.