Empires & Everything Else: PSYWE Fall Concert cover

Empires & Everything Else: PSYWE Fall Concert

By ,

Fresh from their prize-winning participation in the 2017 Summa Cum Laude Youth Music Festival in Vienna, Austria, Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble (PSYWE) kicks off its 2017-18 season with music of the old world and the new! Revel in a wide-ranging program including works of William Byrd, Percy Grainger, John Phillip Sousa, Richard Wagner and more! The brilliant musicians of PSYWE, backed by the mighty William J. Gillespie Concert Organ, are sure to engage and inspire!
Admission is free, but tickets are required. Seating is general admission.
Learn more about PSYWE Music Director Dr. Gregory X. Whitmore here.
FERRAN: Consuelo Ciscar
WAGNER: Huldigungsmarsch
JACOB: William Byrd Suite
ALVAREZ: Suspiros de España
(Briseyda Zárate, soloist)
SOUSA: President Garfield's Inauguration March
GRAINGER: The Power of Rome in the Christian Heart
(Kristen Lawrence, organ)
WAGNER: Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral

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Empires & Everything Else: PSYWE Fall Concert




Richard Wagner (1813–1883)


Gordon Jacob (1895–1984)

William Byrd Suite

Mayden Song

The Bells

Ferrer Ferran (b. 1966)

Consuelo Císcar

Antonio Álvarez (1867–1903)

Edited by Charles A. Wiley

Suspiros de España

Briseyda Zárate, flamenco artist


John Philip Sousa (1854–1932)

The Inaugural March of President James A. Garfield

Percy Grainger (1882–1961)

The Power of Rome in the Christian Heart

Kristin Lawrence, organ

Richard Wagner (1813–1883)

Transcribed by Lucien Caillet

Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral

This afternoon’s performance has been generously sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Wallace, Dorothy Lazier and Mr. and Mrs. George Thagard III.

The music of Richard Wagner (1813-1883) hit mid-19th-century Europe like a force of nature, a tidal wave that one could either embrace with all one’s being or flee headlong. It was simply impossible to avoid. Described by many in terms of religious rapture, it was decried by others as manipulative, even subversive. The force of Wagner’s music was felt—and its merits contentiously debated—not only among musicians but in all intellectual circles throughout Europe.

Although Wagner was famous for composing operas, he wrote several non-operatic pieces. Among the most prominent is Huldigungsmarsch (“Homage march”). Wagner wrote the piece in honor of King Ludwig II’s 19th birthday on August 25, 1864; it was originally for wind band and later orchestrated.

A young king who had taken the throne of Bavaria only a few months before, Ludwig had been obsessed with Wagner since childhood and looked up to the composer as a cultural hero. An enlightened monarch more interested in music and culture than mundane affairs of government, Ludwig gave Wagner almost unlimited government support and saved him several times from financial ruin.

Huldigunsmarsch is very operatic in character and quite distinct from a typical march. Heroic, yet without even the slightest hint of a martial quality, it is the perfect tribute to an enlightened ruler who eschewed militarism in favor of art and philosophy.

Composed between 1845 and 1847 and first performed in 1850, the three-act opera Lohengrin represented a critical breakthrough in Wagner’s career. Like many of Wagner’s operas, Lohengrin deals with medieval Germanic mythology. This opera is based on the 12th century work Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach (c. 1170–c. 1220), and on its semi-anonymous sequel Lohengrin (written by a poet whose name is only known as “Nouhusius”).

The story takes place in Antwerp in the 10th century, and tells the story of Lohengrin, one of the knights of the Holy Grail. At the beginning of the opera, the Duke of Brebant has gone missing, and Telramund, the Duke’s guardian, accuses the Duke’s sister Elsa of murdering him in order to become Duchess. The king decides to settle the dispute in combat, placing Telramund against a fighter of Elsa’s choice.

At that moment, a mysterious knight appears on the river, riding in a boat drawn by a swan. The knight offers to fight Telramund, but only on the condition that no one ask who he is. He defeats Telramund, spares his life, and asks for Elsa’s hand in marriage. At this point, Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral is played, depicting Elsa’s wedding procession. After this, Telramund and his wife attempt to disrupt the marriage and ultimately seduce Elsa into asking the knight who he is.

Lohengrin postcard around 1900 by unknown artist

When she does, he reveals that he is Lohengrin, the Grail knight sent to defend an innocent woman, and that he cannot remain in human sight once his identity is revealed. It is revealed that the swan was actually the Duke, whom Telramund’s wife had enchanted. Lohengrin prays, the Duke is returned to his human form, a dove appears to replace the swan at the head of the boat, and Lohengrin is returned to the Grail Castle.

It is one of the great ironies of music history that Wagner, almost fanatically progressive in his approach to art, was in other ways a reactionary. A great many of his operas, including Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, take as their subject matter the mythical German past.

It is hardly a coincidence that this obsession with the past was intimately bound up with pan-German nationalism. In fact, this came at a time that culminated with the political unification of Germany under Bismark in 1871. Wagner’s music came to symbolize in artistic spheres the political and military rise of a newly empowered Germany. Moreover, his notorious anti-Semitism remains a highly unfortunate blot on the character of the otherwise consummate artist.

Born in London, Gordon Jacob (1895-1984) studied music with Ralph Vaughan Williams. After graduating, he taught at the Royal College of Music and authored several influential textbooks in addition to composing. Highly prolific, he composed over 400 compositions, including music for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

Jacob’s musical outlook was staunchly conservative. Firmly opposed to the avant-garde musical circles of Schoenberg and Stravinsky, he once remarked that “I personally feel that the day that melody is discarded, you may as well pack up music altogether.”

Jacob composed William Byrd Suite in 1923 and published it in 1924. The piece was written for the 300-year anniversary of the death of William Byrd (c. 1540 - 1623), one of the most significant composers of the English Renaissance. Like Jacob, Byrd was a Londoner; he wrote sacred and secular vocal works as well as instrumental pieces, particularly for the harpsichord.

William Byrd Suite is a loose arrangement of six pieces by Byrd that were originally included in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, a set of several hundred pieces for the harpsichord by various composers intended for domestic audiences. Jacob’s reinterpretation of these works speaks to his vision of a harmonious society firmly rooted in the national past.

Born in Valencia, Spain, Ferrer Ferran (1966-; born as Fernando Ferrer Martínez) studied accompanying and chamber music from an early age. Active as a pianist and percussionist, Ferran has conducted and taught in addition to composing. A professor for 20 years at the Conservatorio Superior de Música de Valencia, Ferran has also served as artistic director of the Provincial Symphony de Ciudad Real (Spain), lectured in Italy and directed the Simon Bolivar Orchestra (Venezuela).

Ferran composed Consuelo Císcar in 2002. The piece is a concert work based on the pasodoble (double-step), a Spanish dance in a fast 2/4 that originated as a turn-of-the-century royal infantry march.

Last corrida of bullfighter 'El Fundi' - oil on canvas by Hubertine Heijermans

Although inspired by the characteristics of this dance form, it was intended for the concert hall rather than to actually be danced to. Brilliantly orchestrated, the piece was inspired by Spanish harmonies and images of bull fights.

Born in Andalusia, in the south of Spain, Antonio Álvarez Alonso (1867-1903) was a Spanish pianist and composer. Orphaned from an early age, he studied music at the Escuela Nacional de Música deMadrid. After living much of his life in Andalusia, he spent his last six years in Cartagena, a city on the country’s Mediterranean coast. He often gave open air concerts there, sometimes with famed Spanish violinist Pablo de Sarasate, and composed much popular dance music.

Alonzo is today known almost exclusively for Suspiros de España (“Sighs of Spain”). The piece was composed in 1902 in Cartagena, and was inspired by music for the royal infantry that he heard after giving one of his outdoor concerts on the main street of the city.

A pasodoble, it has come to symbolize Spain itself, particularly among refugees from the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. It was used in the 1939 film of the same name, as well as for the 2005 Mediterranean Games. In 1938 the following text was added by Juan Antonio Álvarez Cantos (1897-1964) for the film version:

Quiso Dios, con su poder, fundir cuatro rayitos de sol y hacer con ellos una mujer.

God wished, with his power, to cast four rays from the sun and to make a woman with them.

Y al cumplir su voluntad, en un jardín de España nací como la flor en el rosal.

And when He fulfilled His desire in a garden of Spain I was born like the rose in its bush.

Tierra gloriosa de mi querer, tierra bendita de perfume y pasión: España, en toda flor a tus pies suspira un corazón.

Glorious land of my love, blessed land of perfume and passion, Spain, in every flower at your feet, my heart sighs.

¡Ay de mi! ¡Pena mortal! ¿Por qué me alejo, España, de ti? ¿Por qué me arrancan de mi rosal?

Oh poor me! Mortal pain! Why do I go away from you, Spain? Why do they uproot me from my rose bush?

Quiero yo volver a ser la luz de aquel rayito de sol hecho mujer por voluntad de Dios.

I want to return to the light of that little sun ray made woman by desire of God.

¡Ay, madre mía! ¡Ay! ¡Quién pudiera ser luz del día y al rayar la amanecida sobre España renacer!

Oh, my mother! Oh, who could be the light of day and at the point of dawn over Spain be reborn!

Mis pensamientos han revestido el firmamento de besos míos; y sobre España, como gotas de rocío, los dejó caer.

My thoughts have coated the firmament with my kisses and over Spain, like drops of dew, it let them fall.

En mi corazón, España, te miro, y el eco llevará de mi canción a España en un suspiro.

In my heart, Spain, I see you And the echo will carry from my heart to Spain in a sigh.

John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) remains to this day one of the most well-known names in music. Born in Washington, D.C., he is primarily known for the composition of marches for band. However, he also composed operettas, some of which have survived to the present day, and suites for orchestra, which have largely been forgotten.

Sousa spent most of his career conducting bands. In fact, in many ways he invented the concert band, having single-handedly done more to shape and revolutionize the ensemble than any other individual. Sousa was also extremely influential in the music publishing business. As late as several decades into the 20th century, well into the era of sound recording, Sousa earned extremely large royalties through the sale of printed music. Sousa’s wildly successful career propelled him to becoming the most famous musician in the United States and in Europe during his lifetime.

Sousa began his career conducting the United States Marine Band, leading the band from 1880 until 1892. Through his strong leadership and discipline, he transformed it into the best performing band in the country.

After leaving the military, he decided to form his own band, touring throughout the country and abroad. During World War I, at the age of 63, Sousa volunteered to return to military duty, conducting navy bands at the Great Lakes Training Center near Chicago. After the war he turned his attention to education, working with a number of high school and collegiate bands.

Sousa only dedicated two marches to presidents; both were for James Garfield. Inauguration March of James A. Garfield was written in 1881 for the inauguration of the 20th president of the United States. A member of the post-Civil War Republican party, Garfield strongly advocated for the civic rights of African Americans. Tragically, he was assassinated, serving only 200 days in office; his assassination prompted Sousa to write In Memoriam (President Garfield’s Funeral March).

Born in Australia, Percy Grainger (1882-1961) was perhaps one of the 20th century’s most idiosyncratic composers. After spending his youth in the city of Melbourne, he moved to Germany in 1895 to study at the conservatory in Frankfurt, then settled in London in 1901 where he lived until the outbreak of World War I.

Upon the onset of violence Grainger left Europe and settled in the United States, where he lived for the remainder of his life.

Grainger maintained a lifelong interest in folk music, particularly English and Scandinavian. During his decade in England, he maintained friendships with composers such as Delius and Grieg whose interest in folk music mirrored his own. He also spent a good deal of time collecting, recording, and transcribing folk songs, and participated in the English folk music revival of the early decades of the 20th century. Although he is best known today for his arrangement of the traditional English folk song “Country Gardens,” he also composed a good deal of original music, most of which was experimental and highly unusual.

The great majority of his works are of relatively short duration, and unlike many other classical composers he sought to achieve continuity and sameness in his works rather than contrast and form. Grainger spent the beginning of his career firmly establishing his reputation as a pianist and did not begin publishing his compositions until 1911.

The Power of Rome in the Christian Heart was commissioned in 1947 for the 25th anniversary of the founding of the League of Composers, as well as the 70th birthday of American composer Edwin Franko Goldman. Grainger’s magnum opus, the work draws on music he’d composed over the 25-year period ranging from 1918 to 1943. In the composer’s own words:

Just as the early Christians found themselves in conflict with the Power of Ancient Rome so, at all times and places, the Individual Conscience is apt to feel itself threatened or coerced by the Forces of Authority. And especially in war time. Men who hate killing are forced to become soldiers. And other men, though not unwilling to be soldiers, are horrified to find themselves called upon to fight in the ranks of their enemies.

The sight of young recruits doing bayonet practice in the World War I, gave the first impulse to this composition, which, however is not in any sense programme-music and does not portray the drama of actual events. It is merely the unfoldment of musical feelings that were started by thoughts of the eternal agony of the Individual Soul in conflict with The-Powers-That-Be.

Though a pacifist who moved to America to avoid World War I, Grainger ultimately enlisted, playing oboe and saxophone in the military marching band and then serving as band director.

Joshua Grayson, Ph.D., is an historical musicologist and graduate of the USC Thornton School of Music.

Learn more about PSYWE Music Director Dr. Gregory X. Whitmore here.