Go Figaro!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Strauss Performing Arts Center

Omaha, NE



Gyorgy Ligeti, The Future of Music

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Marriage of Figaro Overture

Bernd Alois Zimmerman, King Ubu, Captain Bordure and Their Retinue

Ferruccio Busoni, Rondo Arlecchinesco

Igor Stravinsky, A Kiss of the Earth/The Augurs of Spring, Dance of the Young Girls

Bernd Alois Zimmerman, Pile, Cotice et l’Ours

Igor Stravinsky, Spring Rounds

Ludwig van Beethoven, Scherzo

Henry Cowell, Swaying (arr. Drew)

Bernd Alois Zimmermann, Pavane de Pissembock et Pissedoux

Giovanni Palestrina, Credo

Moondog, Westward Ho

Johann Sebastian Bach, Gigue

Arnold Schoenberg, A Faded Laundress

Bernd Alois Zimmerman, Marche du Decervellage

Igor Stravinsky, The Exalted Sacrifice/Ritual Action of the Ancestors

Modeste Mussorgsky, Prologue/Coronation Scene



mark Barnette, tuba

Greg Clinton, cello

Joe Drew, trumpet and conductor

Darci Gamerl, oboe

Maria Harding, flute

Rudolf Kamper, trumpet and piano

John Klinghammer, clarinet

Christine Mehser, bass

Anne Nagosky, violin

Amy Petersen-Stout, viola

Shannon Salyards-Burton, soprano

Amy Sims, violin

Adam Trussell, bassoon

Tomm Roland, percussion



Tell the truth, but tell it slant, instructed Emily Dickinson. In its raw form, history has a way of not being memorable. It’s sloppy, impossible to fully record, and is made by humans, flawed from top to bottom. To tell a history worth remembering, you have to tease it a little. Music history has no shortage of tall tales. There’s a dozen in every era, from the Renaissance to the Minimalists, that get repeated in standard texts and show no signs of disappearing. They help us remember how music evolved, but sometimes it’s helpful to retell the tale, with a ¬†little sobering hindsight, and a whole new slant.


In our story, the striving commoner is the Hero. Beaumarchais called him Figaro. So will we. In one way or another, he is at the root of many of the major innovations in music, those turning points in music history to which our textbooks point and say, “That’s when everything changed.” This program is a collection of such moments, a brief history of the future of music, if you will.


For instance, in the 16th century, a Catholic Church on its heels from the Reformation convened the Council of Trent. Its job was to staunch the flow of converts, and it diagnosed polyphony as one of the problems. Who can understand the words when all those people are singing so many notes at the same time? The council was just about to ban the practice in church music when Palestrina rode in on a white horse with his Missa Papae Marcelli to demonstrate that complex polyphony can not only sound divine but it also needn’t obscure the text. Palestrina’s innovative approach secured the future of polyphony based on its accessibility to the common man.


Instead of affirming this oft-repeated tale with an ‘Amen’, we take a diversion to the 20th century streets of Manhattan, where a blind vagrant named Moondog played for businessman in midtown. His simple canon “Westward Ho” evokes the particularly American belief in the joyful promise of the future. Inserted between the body of the Credo from Palestrina’s Mass and the Amen, Moondog’s piece echoes the declaration of belief, albeit in a distinctly different way.