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Cindy McTee (b. 1953)
Adagio
Composed in 2007

Program Notes are written by the composer Cindy McTee:

Adapted from my Agnus Dei for organ in the wake of events following the horror of September 11, 2001, the Adagio became the second movement of my Symphony No. 1: Ballet for Orchestra. It was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra – music director, Leonard Slatkin – and made possible by the John and June Hechinger Fund for New Orchestra Works.

The Adagio gradually exposes a hauntingly beautiful melody (Ab, G, F, C, Db, Eb, Db, C) from Krzysztof Penderecki’s Polish Requiem which appears in its entirety at about three-quarters of the way through my work. Most of the material in my piece consists of two or three-note fragments taken from this melody, especially a falling half-step and subsequent whole-step emphasizing the interval of the minor third. Reflecting my interest in using both atonal and tonal materials within the same piece of music, the work begins with some tension and anguish, then moves through several sections which are introspective and peaceful. Optimism and joy finally give way at the end to a sense of uncertainty and a reference to the opening.

All night have the roses heard
The flute, violin, bassoon;
All night has the casement jessamine stirr’d
To the dancers dancing in tune;
Till a silence fell with the waking bird,
And a hush with the setting moon.

~ Alfred Lord Tennyson, Maud, and Other Poems


Efrain Amaya (b.1959)
Angelica
Composed in 2000

Program Notes are written by the composer Efrain Amaya:

Angelica came about a year after I had written Malagigi the Sorcerer (for flute and piano). It is a little bit of a sequel. Malagigi the Sorcerer was written for flutist Alberto Almarza with the intention of exploring the colors and traditions of the flute, and it was based on a short story from the legends of Charlemagne. Angelica was written later and motivated by an enthusiastic request from violinist Sarah O’Boyle, Alberto’s wife at the time, who was to lead the premiere as concertmaster of the Sewickley BACHfest, who commissioned the work in 2000. It made sense to dwell on and be inspired by a continuation of the same theme.

The story is about love displaced in time. Angelica and Rinaldo (nephew and appointed knight of Charlemagne) meet amidst a celebration and a jousting tournament. She arrives with her brother and without good intentions. Her extraordinary beauty captivates everyone. Rinaldo falls in love but she pays no attention. There is then a chase through the Arden forest where their affections get reversed.

“Now in this forest there were two fountains, the one constructed by the sage Merlin, who designed it for Tristram and the fair Isoude;* for such was the virtue of this fountain, that a draught of its waters produced an oblivion of the love which the drinker might feel, and even produced aversion for the object formerly beloved. The other fountain was endowed with exactly opposite qualities, and a draught of it inspired love for the first living object that was seen after tasting it.”(1)

Exhausted from the chase, Rinaldo drinks from the first-mentioned fountain and falls asleep. Angelica comes across the other fountain and drinks from it. She then encounters the sleeping Rinaldo and falls instantly in love. So the story goes and of course, the chase is now reversed. Angelica will try anything to win the affection of Rinaldo who keeps running away from her.

Angelica has four main sections: A-B-C-A’. The A section depicts the jousting and the festivities through the syncopations and hemiolas of Latin American music, and the characteristic rhythms of dance forms such as salsa. The B section is a fugato, inspired by the use of counterpoint in Venezuelan folk music. It describes the chase for love through the forest. The C section is a slow and more introverted passage. A simple melody presented in the violins is then repeated with the cellos playing it canonically. The violins and cellos represent Angelica and Rinaldo in their out-of-sync love for each other. The last section is very much like the first one, but every time it repeats, a layer of complexity is added to it. As in love, it completes a cycle and expands into higher levels of intricacy.

2024-2025 Season

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