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Tuesday, October 25th, 2022
Valhalla High School Theater

Valhalla Beginning Orchestra

The Salley Gardens

Benjamin Britten/Robert Longfield

Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.
In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.
     -William Butler Yeats

Based on the poem by William Butler Yeats, The Salley Gardens is a simple and yearningly beautiful Irish folk melody originally titled The Maids of Mourne Shore.  In 1943, while in New York, English composer Benjamin Britten was suffering a bout of homesickness and decided to pen this arrangement.  This became the first, and best loved, in a long list of folksong arrangements that Britten put out right up until his death in 1976.  Robert Longfield created this very moving adaptation of this Benjamin Britten arrangement - The Salley Gardens.

Andantino and March
Edward Elgar/Dabczynski

In 1892, nine years before he would write one of the most well-known marches - Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, which has come to be colloquially known as "The Graduation March," Edward Elgar penned six Very Easy Melodious exercises in the first position for Violin with Pianoforte accompaniment.  In 2007, Andrew Dabczynski coupled the 4th and 6th exercises into a setting titled Andantino and March and arranged it for String Orchestra.

Gustav Holst/Deborah Baker Monday

Gustav Holst composed his magnum opus during a four year period from 1914-1917.  The Planets is a seven-movement orchestral suite with a movement for each planet of the solar system, save Earth and the "you're in - you're out" Pluto, as Pluto wasn't discovered until 1930.  In Roman mythology, Jupiter is the god of sky and thunder, and the king of all other gods.  He is also known as Jove.  We get our word, "jovial" from the word "Jove," which is why Jupiter is also the god of jolly and optimism.  Holst does a splendid job of musically depicting the jolly of Jupiter, yet it is the middle section of Jupiter the Deborah Baker Monday chose to focus on in her arrangement.  This portion of Jupiter perfectly captures the grandeur of both the king of all Roman gods and the largest planet in our solar system.

British Grenadiers

While you may not know this piece by name, there's a good chance you'll recognize it.  British Grenadiers is a traditional marching song whose melody dates back to the 17th century.  Introduced to Britain under the rein of William III the melody was adopted to commemorate an assault in 1695 by 700 British Grenadiers on the French held fortress of Namur during the Nine-Years War.  The tune became popular in Britain and North America during the 18th and 19th century and remains popular as it's used during the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony on Horse Guards Parade in Central London.

Valhalla Advanced Orchestra

Cherry Ripe
Frank Bridge

Frank Bridge considered himself a British composer solely by virtue of his birth, rather than any nationalistic musical ideology.  Like his contemporaries, Bridge enjoyed taking traditional English folk songs and turning them into orchestral art music.  However, unlike his peers, he adopted the tunes as his own and elaborated and embellished them in a manner far different than that of Vaughan Williams or Holst.  Cherry Ripe is a technical tour-de-force with a busting opening and contrapuntal lines that weave in and out of the sustained phrases of the traditional melody.  Created in 1916 for string quartet, Bridge immediately added a double bass part making it suitable for string orchestra.

Five Variants Of "Dives And Lazarus"
R. Vaughan Williams

Five Variants Of 'Dives And Lazarus' was commissioned by the British Council in 1939 to be played at the World's Fair in New York City that year.  It was premiered in Carnegie Hall by the New York Philharmonic on June 10th, 1939, under the baton of Sir Adrain Boult.  Dives and Lazarus is a music depiction of the New Testament story of the rich man and the beggar found in Luke 16:19-31.  Vaughan Williams describes the variations as follows:  "These variants are not exact replicas of traditional tunes but rather reminiscences of various versions in my own collection and those of other."

San Diego State University Chamber Orchestra

Symphony 100
Joseph Haydn

What is Joseph Haydn, an Austrian composer, doing in a concert full of British composers?  Well, between 1791 and 1795 Haydn visited London twice and the Father of Symphonies wrote 12 symphonies during that time that have become known as "The London Symphonies."  That's what he's doing here.  Completed sometime between 1793 and 1794, Symphony 100 in G major has become known as the "Military Symphony," due to Haydn's use of percussion effect and trumpet fanfares.  The "Military Symphony" was composed for Haydn's second London visit and served as his response to the expectations created from his first visit where he unveiled the "Surprise Symphony."  Haydn himself premiered the symphony on March 31st, 1794 at the Hanover Square Rooms in London.  He led the orchestra from the pianoforte and was accompanied by a battery of Janissary, or Turkish, percussion instruments such as triangle, cymbals, and bass drum.

The Banks of Green Willow
George Butterworth

The BBC calls George Butterworth "the most well-known of (British) composers who never returned from the killing fields of Flanders."  His reputation rests on a strikingly small body of works, most of them songs.  In 1911, Butterworth set six poems from Alfred Edward Housman's A Shropshire Lad to music and a year later, he set five more.  In that same year he wrote a Rhapsody for Orchestra originally called "The Cherry Tree," from the first line of one of Houseman's poems.  The outbreak of World War I put an end to Butterworth's composing, but seemed to give the young composer a new sense of purpose in life.  He enlisted in the Durham Light Infantry and was killed in a raid during the Battle of Somme.  He never received a proper interment in England, but was buried in the trenches in France.  Butterworth wrote his "The Banks of Green Willow" before World War I even started, but it is often seen as emblematic of the "lost generation" from that war, and is often played to commemorate it.

Combined Orchestras

Brook Green Suite
Gustav Holst

In 1933 Gustav Holst found himself staying at a local clinic where he was diagnosed with a duodenal ulcer.  While staying there, he composed Brook Green Suite for his pupils in the junior orchestra at St. Paul's Girls School.  He wanted to write a piece in a contemporary and mature style that was easy enough for his students to perform.  With his legacy secured by the resounding success of The Planets, and his passing on the horizon, this gift to his students proved to be both poignant and sincere.  This three-movement work perfectly showcases Holst's ability to develop and explore folk melodies with a rich and lyrical treatment that creates a truly enriching experience. 

Edward Elgar

One day in 1899 Edward Elgar came home from a long and grueling day of teaching and sat at his piano and began improvising a melody.  His wife Alice was struck by the tune and as the evening continued he began improvising variations to go with the melody.  In his exhaustion and playfulness with Alice he began including characteristics of several of his friends and colleagues in the variations.  And thus, the Enigma Variations were born, and theme and variation celebrating fourteen people and a dog.  Variation IX, Nimrod, was dedicated to his friend and publisher A.J. Jaeger - Jaeger being the German word for "Hunter" and Nimrod being the great hunger of the bible.  Elgar was the dominant English composer of his time, having been knighted, awarded the Order of Merit, and made Master of the King's Musick.  Nimrod went on to become popular in its own right, often being used at British funerals, memorial services, and other solemn occasions.  Nimrod was performed in Westminster Abbey on June 2nd immediately before Queen Elizabeth II's coronation service and at the Royal Albert Hall by the Philadelphia Orchestra a mere hours after her death.


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