Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chabrier Times Two

Lincolnites will have two chances to hear works by Emmanuel Chabrier this Sunday, April 22nd. The Lincoln Youth Symphony will be performing Espana, while the Lincoln Civic Orchestra will perform Habanera.

The French composer, Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-1894), made his greatest contribution as a composer of piano music, but is remembered for a couple of orchestral pieces, including Espana. Chabrier, a pianist, always wanted to focus his life on music, but spent nearly 20 years as a civil servant in the French Department of the Interior, as his parents wanted. During those years Chabrier continued his musical activities as a sidelight, including playing piano in Parisian nightclubs. He resigned from his day job in 1880 in order to truly devote himself to music. He and his wife visited Spain in 1882. Inspiration from that trip led to both Espana and his Habanera.

Chabrier began the composition of Espana as a piano duet. But soon the sketches based on dance rhythms took on the life and color that only an orchestra can provide. Written in the first few months of 1883, the work was originally titled Jota, but was retitled in October 1883. It premiered to critical and public acclaim and has remained a favorite to this day. Mahler supposedly proclaimed Espana to be the beginnings of modern music. But Chabrier kept his perspective, calling it "a piece in F and nothing more." Modern listeners may hear in the work strains of "Hot Diggity," a popular song from 1956.

Chabrier's Habanera was written a couple of years later for piano. It became so popular that it was soon orchestrated. Habanera is a dance form of Cuban origin that had been brought back to Europe and popularized (somewhat like the tango). It was especially popular in Spain, and was danced in bars and taverns, among other places. Chabrier catches the feel and spirit of the dance, and incorporates the basic rhythmic patterns that define the dance.

The Lincoln Youth Symphony will present their concert at East High School, Sunday, April 22, 2012, at 7 p.m. They will also be performing Faure's Pelleas and Melisande, the Academic Festival Overture by Brahms, and the first movement of Lalo's Cello Concerto, with senior soloist Maddie Witters. The concert is free.

The Lincoln Civic Orchestra will be performing at O'Donnell Auditorium in the Rogers Center for Fine Arts on the Nebraska Wesleyan University campus, Sunday, April 22, 2012, at 4 p.m. Their program includes Rimsky-Korsakov's Procession of the Nobles, Lalo's Le Roi d'Ys Overture, Rossini's Overture to Cinderella (La Cenerentola), Finlandia by Jean Sibelius, and music from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, in addition to the Habanera. The concert is free.

And if you're in the mood for band music, instead of orchestra music on the 22nd, the Waverly Area Community Band will present their free concert at Waverly High School, at 7 p.m.

So many choices...

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