Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Music Presents Carmina Burana
Nearly 60 years after Stokowski and BU led the East Coast Premiere,
BU Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Chorus bring this historic piece back to Symphony Hall — November 19
Boston, MA – On November 19, the School of Music at the College of Fine Arts (CFA) at Boston University will bring nearly 60 years of history to Symphony Hall for a memorable evening of startling and unpredictable music.
Celebrating the 1954 East Coast premiere of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, performed by BU Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Chorus and led by renowned composer, Leopold Stokowski, School of Music Professor, David Hoose, will conduct the first of two annual concerts at Symphony Hall. On Monday, November 19, BU will perform Carl Orff’s acclaimed piece, as well as Edgard Varèse’s Hyperprism, and the Boston premiere of Percy Grainger’s The Warriors.
BU Symphony Orchestra & Symphonic Chorus Concert at Symphony Hall
Monday, November 19, 8pm
Conducted by David Hoose
Edgard Varèse: Hyperprism
Percy Grainger: The Warriors (Boston Premiere)
Carl Orff: Carmina Burana
Lynn Eustis, soprano
Christopher MacRae, tenor
James Demler, baritone
Boston Children’s Chorus
$25 General Admission; Student Rush: $10, available at the door, day of performance; One free ticket with BU ID at the door, day of performance, 10am–6pm.
Purchase at bostonsymphonyhall.org or 617-262-1200
The concert will be webcast live on the School of Music website and will be rebroadcast on the School of Music’s Virtual Concert Hall: bu.edu/cfa/music/virtual-concert-hall.
Inspired by a 1884 translation of 13th century poems discovered in a south Bavarian monastery, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana is twenty-four movements grouped into five grand scenes. Two larger sections form the frame for three central sections that, in turn, focus on Spring, the Tavern, and Love. The introductory section, O Fortuna, evokes the ever-fickle nature of fate — shifts from joy to anger, from optimism to despair — that blithely twists the meditations on nature, drinking, and lust. The final section comes full circle, caught in the ever rotating clock of life.
“Out of a desire to develop a world of ‘total theater,’ one unifying words, music, and movement, Orff created something in Carmina Burana that is ancient and quite bold,” says David Hoose, conductor. “The rhythmic tension and fluidity that drive Stavinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Les Noces two works that greatly affected Orff’s thinking, are absent. In its place is pure architecture, a radical simplicity. That music can pack such a wallop is startling.”
On November 19, 1954, at Symphony Hall, Stokowski led the first East Coast performance, and second U.S. performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. The orchestra was Boston University Orchestra, and the chorus, the Boston University Chorus. After the performance, the musicians traveled overnight to New York City, where they performed the music for the first time at Carnegie Hall.
“The Carmina Burana performance was the high point of my four years at Boston University,” remembers Joan Cavicchi (CFA ’56) who sang in the 1954 performance. “It was the most thrilling and inspiring experience of my youth, and since that time, I have been honored to continue to sing at Carnegie Hall twice a year with the St. Cecilia Chorus of New York City.”
Fifty-eight years later to the day, CFA relives its history, bringing this one-of-a-kind musical composition back to Symphony Hall for a historic night. BU Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Chorus will also perform Varèse’s Hyperprism.
Composed between 1923 and 1924, Hyperprism is one of Varèse’s most startling works. Violence dominates its brief span, especially in the percussion outbursts and the extreme registers of the wind instruments. Piccolo and little clarinet screeches pit against the trombone growls and percussion convulsions before suddenly, everything quiets, and ominous percussion thumps suggest that what has come before was simply introductory, and that the piece is just about to truly begin.
“When I was a freshman at music school, I got drafted into the orchestra to play ninth horn in a performance of Varèse’s Arcana,” says David Hoose, conductor. “It didn’t breath like any music I knew. It convulsed and exploded like shards of crystals. This wild music struck me as an utterly fresh way of thinking about music, and today, Varèse’s voice still sounds as fresh as anything I’ve ever heard.”
As succinct as Varèse’s catalogue is, Percy Grainger’s is voluminous. On this historic night, BU Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Chorus will perform the Boston Premiere of Grainger’s
A twenty-minute score, The Warriors is surrounded by mystery. Many contend the music was Grainger’s response to the First World War. “Thrilling and unpredictable, the music jumps freely from the goofy to the touching,” says David Hoose, conductor. “It is occasionally violent, and often giddily chaotic.”
The score’s daunting instrumentations makes it no surprise that this spectacular music is rarely performed. The score requires piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, English horn, bass oboe, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, contrabassoon, six horns, four trumpets, three trombones, tuba, as well as an off-stage band that includes two trumpets, two horns, two trombones, and a full string section. To that already large ensemble is added two harps, celesta, and a large selection of pitched percussion instruments including timpani, xylophone, glockenspiel, steel marimba, wooden marimba, bells, chimes, snare drum, tambourine, cymbals, bass drum, gong, castanets, and woodblock. To top it off, The Warriors, calls for three pianos (although the composer suggests six or nine pianos.)
Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized private research university with more than 30,000 students participating in undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. BU consists of 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school’s research and teaching mission. The Boston University College of Fine Arts was created in 1954 to bring together the School of Music, the School of Theatre, and the School of Visual Arts. The University’s vision was to create a community of artists in a conservatory-style school offering professional training in the arts to both undergraduate and graduate students, complemented by a liberal arts curriculum for undergraduate students. Since those early days, education at the College of Fine Arts has begun on the BU campus and extended into the city of Boston, a rich center of cultural, artistic and intellectual activity.
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