Sac Philharmonic closes season with Mozart, Mother Goose

By From page B4 | March 20, 2013

SACRAMENTO — Philharmonic and opera will join forces in the Sacramento Philharmonic’s season finale on April 6.

Music Director Michael Morgan  has chosen a popular short mass by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as a highlight of the final concert of the 2012-13 season. In addition to the highly regarded Sacramento Opera Chorus, the work features two opera soloists familiar to Sacramento audiences.

Soprano Carrie Hennessey recently appeared as Lauretta in Sacramento Opera’s production of Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi.” Baritone Zachary Gordin was recently heard with Sacramento Opera as Monterone in “Rigoletto,” Silvio in “Pagliacci” and as a featured artist in Opera in the Cathedral.

Making their Sacramento debuts are mezzo-soprano Betany Coffland, who has sung numerous roles with Opera San Jose, and tenor Brian Thorsett, who has been seen and heard in more than 80 diverse operatic roles, ranging from Monteverdi to Britten, including works composed especially for his talents.

The four soloists contrast with the larger forces of the choir, often as a quartet.

Disaster turns to triumph for young Mozart
In 1779 Mozart returned from a disastrous trip to Paris and, partly out of material necessity and also to please his father, he took up a position in the archbishop’s service in Salzburg. He was to provide the court and church with new compositions “of his creation.”  Of the sacred works that Mozart composed in Salzburg none is as well known or as popular as the Mass in C K. 317. He performed this new mass on Easter Day, April 4, 1779.  He was 23 years old.

As early as the 19th century the mass was popularly called the “Coronation Mass,” perhaps because it was performed during the coronation festivities in Prague, either in August 1791 for Leopold II, or for Leopold’s successor Francis I in August 1792. Mozart was held in very high regard in Prague; “The Marriage of Figaro” had been a smash hit there. Perhaps the most obvious reason for the mass’s popularity in Prague in 1791-92 was the uncanny similarity between the soprano solo Agnus Dei and the countess’ aria Dove sono from “The Marriage of Figaro,” which had been so successful there in the 1780s.

Timpanist scores
Also on the program is Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 103 in Eb Major (“Drum Roll”); it premiered in 1795. The drum roll of the title comes at the very beginning of the symphony, but percussion is prominent throughout the work.  Philharmonic principal percussionist Kumiko Ito is in her third season with the Philharmonic. She was born in Akita, Japan, received her BA from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and subsequently enrolled in Indiana University to earn a PD, MM and DM.  The “Drum Roll” Symphony, which was first performed on March 2, 1795, to an enthusiastic reception, today offers rewarding challenges to Ms. Ito.

Mother Goose Suite based on beloved fantasies
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) wrote Mother Goose (Ma Mère l’Oye) in 1910 as a duet for two young piano students, Mimi and Jean Godebski, children of his friends Cipa and Ida Godebski.

Unmarried and childless, Ravel adored children and wanted to write piano music that could be played by children, and that reflected the world of childhood. Subtitled “cinq pièces enfantines,” Mother Goose draws upon well-known fairy tales of the day. In 1911 Ravel orchestrated the work. Then, in 1912, he expanded it into a ballet, adding new movements and interludes. It was premiered on Jan. 29, 1912, at the Théâtre des Arts in Paris.

“Speaking of Music”
On April 6 at 6:15 p.m. ticket-holders are invited to a free on-stage “recital” featuring young musicians who are participating in the Philharmonic’s “String Fever” after-school music program. Following this presentation, at 6:45 p.m. Music Director Michael Morgan will introduce Robert Tannenbaum, the recently hired  general director for the newly merged Sacramento Opera and Sacramento Philharmonic. Tannenbaum will offer a very brief summary of his vision for the future of the two classical music organizations.

Ticket options
This concert will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 6, at the Sacramento Community Center Theater, 1301 L St.  Tickets are $21 to $70. Student tickets can be purchased at 50 percent off with student ID. Group rates are available by calling (916) 732-9045. To purchase single tickets call the Community Center Theater ticket office at (916) 808-5181. For more information visit sacphil.org.

Press Release


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