Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra Newsletter



Grace and Liz Rejoice! Rejoice! The holiday concert draws near. Our benevolent leader herewith provides insights into our musical endeavors... Enjoy!
Thank you, Fred!

Grace and Liz (Co-Presidents)

By Frederick Palmer

Here are the program notes for the December 5 MPRO concert. I hope they will give you a more complete picture of the music you will be playing.

William Boyce is considered the greatest native-born composer in 18th-century England. Although his musical vocabulary and compositional procedures are patterned after those of Handel, he cultivated a style that makes his music easily recognizable as his own. While Boyce occasionally experimented with the pre- Classical idiom in his later compositions, his eight symphonies, published in 1760, hark back to the High Baroque and do not belong to the same genre as the modern symphony being developed by Haydn and other composers of the period.

Guillaume de Machaut was a cleric, poet and musician and is considered the greatest French composer of the 14th century. The Ballade heard this afternoon is unusual in that it calls for four parts rather than three, which would have been customary for the time. Two poems, each with different but complimentary texts, are sung simultaneously by the upper voices while the two lower parts are without words and may have been played instrumentally. This is one of Machaut's most sophisticated and forward-looking secular compositions and employs a rhythmic texture and syncopations not heard again until the turn of the 20th century.

It is amazing that such an eloquent melody as Mayn rue plats can be found in an early 20th-century Yiddish love and sweatshop protest song. The lyrics gently contrast a befitting final resting place with that shared by 175 workers who died in an infamous industrial accident in 1911. What is even more amazing is that the music is that of an immigrant from Russian Poland who settled in the United States, worked in a sweatshop and is best known as a poet and social activist rather than a composer. Aside from potentially harsh working conditions, Ellis Island represents another aspect of the ordeals European immigrants faced. The fits and starts of the melody along with the modulation of the harmonies from minor to major and back to minor represent the uncertainty attached to staring a new life in a new country. Baigelach (Little Bagel) is a lively Russian folk song that embodies the amalgam of cultural influences found in the klezmer music of early 20th-century Yiddish theater.

At the age of twenty-one, Handel left his native Germany to study in Italy, which was then the musical center of Europe. Soon, the young, precocious German, virtually unknown when he arrived and coming from what would have been considered a musical hinterland, was producing compositions that rivaled the greatest Italian masters of the day. The Andante heard this afternoon is a reworking of the first movement of a violin concerto that Handel composed during his Italian stay. He also used variants of this movement in a trio sonata, anthem and oratorio. Given the expansive beauty and originality of the melodic material, it is little wonder that Handel included it in at least five of his compositions over a period of about thirty-five years. It also explains why Italian audiences when first hearing Handel's music would shout, "viva il caro Sassone!" ("long live the dear Saxon!").

Around 1610 the French violinist, Pierre Caroubel, gave the German composer, Michael Praetorius, a set of dance melodies that were popular at the court of Henri IV. Praetorius harmonized these melodies and published them in 1612 under the title Terpsichore. Of the over two hundred numbers found in this collection, the Passameze that has been chosen for this concert is one of the grandest and most impressive of the set and reflects the stately elegance of this processional court dance.

Heinrich Isaac was one of the most prominent and original Flemish composers of the Renaissance, and the setting of Isbruck, ich mus dich lassen heard this afternoon is probably his most famous work. In the late 16th-century the text was reworked to create the hymn, O Welt, ich muss dich lassen, and J.S. Bach incorporated this version in his St. John Passion. In 1896 Brahms composed two chorale preludes for organ based on the melody, and one of these has been arranged for recorders. Brahms' use of a renaissance melody set to a baroque keyboard form reflects his interest in early music and using it as a point of departure for his own compositions.

Of Bach's four orchestral suites, the third and fourth are modeled after the Sinfonies pour les soupers du Roi by Michel-Richard de Lalande (1657-1726). The Suite No. 4 ends with a movement entitled, Rejouissance, which roughly means, "having a good time." Although Bach intended this to serve as a lighthearted conclusion, the writing is just as rigorous as that found in his more serious works and includes intricate counterpoint, a profusion of ornaments and uneven divisions of the measure punctuated by syncopations.


Dear members of the Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra,

he orchestra's holiday concert will take place at Grace Lutheran Church, 3149 Waverley Street in Palo Alto on Saturday, December 5, at 2:00 P.M. All those planning on taking part in this performance are expected to attend the dress rehearsal at 7:30 P.M. on Monday, November 30, at Grace Lutheran Church. Listed below is the music for the dress rehearsal. Please note that great bass and contrabass recorders, krummhorns, dulcien and viola da gamba will be needed on November 30. Also, the MPRO holiday party will be taking place on Wednesday, December 9.

Monday November 30 MPRO Hoiday Concert Dress Rehearsal
Grace Lutheran Church, 7:30 PM

The First Noël; It Came Upon the Midnight Clear; Jingle Bells
Boyce: Allegro ma non troppo from the Symphony No. 5
Bach: Réjouissance
Handel: Andante from the Oboe Concerto in B Flat Major
Praetorius: Passameze
Machaut: Ballade
Isaac: Innsbruck, Ich muss dich lassen
Brahms: O Welt, Ich muss dich lassen
Rosenfeld: Mayn Rue Plats
Ellis Island
December 9 MPRO Holiday Party!
The home of Mary Ashley
3114 Cowper Street, Palo Alto

I look forward to seeing you at the dress rehearsal, concert and holiday party.

Fred Palmer

Save The Date

MPRO is having its only workshop this season in January. Directed by Ken Andresen, it's called SERIOUS FUN. The workshop will be held on Saturday, January 23, 2010, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto. Details and registration form will be in the next issue of UpBeat.

Message from the Treasurer

Hello Everyone

During these tight economic times, asking for donations is particularly difficult. MPRO has been self sustaining over the years relying on income from membership dues, workshop registration fees and donations. In preparing a budget for the current year, I noticed the projected numbers would require us to use approximately 40% of our General Fund (the cushion provided by a grant obtained years ago by Mary Carrigan and Diana Fischer, plus past donations). A 40% bite would represent a substantial loss. So, I encourage anyone thinking of making a tax deductible donation to please do so soon - we can certainly use it! If you do make a contribution, please note that checks should be made out to SFEMS, San Francisco Early Music Society (because we are an affiliate), and give it to me for processing.

Thank you
Leslie Pont

MPRO Presents A Holiday Concert

Saturday, December 5, 2:00 pm at the Grace Lutheran Church, 3149 Waverly, Palo Alto. Admission free.

NOTE: West Valley Music store has moved to 262 Castro Street (between Dana and Villa Streets).

MPRO Members Perform

Stevie White and George Greenwood performed with the Berkeley Recorder Orchestra last month in a concert of works by William Boyce, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, and Paul Leenhouts.