|Prelude No. 1, BWV 846
|arr. Van Blaricum
|Gymnopédie No. 1
|arr. A. Winters
|Adagio for Strings
|Symphony No. 40, molto allegro
|Flight of the Bumblebee
|The Barber of Seville Overture
|Down in the River to Pray
|La Muerte del Angel
|Hide and Seek Mad World
|arr. Batesarr. A. Winters
|When I’m Sixty Four I Will Blackbird
|arr. Colemanarr. Van Blaricumarr. Runswick
|Africa Hotel California
|arr. Crenshawarr. Bates
|When You Say Nothing At All And So It Goes
|arr. Bates arr. Chilcott
This concert brought to you in part by a generous grant from the Martha Lee Cain Tranby Fund
The voice is a unique instrument; the only instrument that you carry with you at all times, whether you want to or not. It is also one of the most unpredictable and malleable instruments; no buttons to push, no spit valves to shake out, no strings to replace; you can’t buy a new one, can’t get it tuned, can’t get it rebuilt. What you have, you have. Luckily, the eight singers of Octarium have it. In spades. So it only makes sense to have these eight talented singers offer their voices to pieces that no one ever imagined as vocal pieces. There pieces on this concert that you may be expecting. But there are also pieces that may make you go “hmmm.” However, the concert as a whole should allow you to walk out the door after the final piece with a new respect for the voice and a new way of hearing every song on the radio, in the concert hall or in the background of a movie or T.V. show.
Krista Lang Blackwood – Artistic Director
Bach’s Prelude No. 1 BWV 846
A note from Jay Van Blaricum regarding Bach’s Prelude No. 1 BWV 846
The first and most well-known prelude from Book I of J.S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier simply jumped out of the book and requisitioned me to arrange it. The prelude asserted that, like much of Bach’s work, it is well-suited for and adaptable to any number of instrumental scenarios, from keyboards, harpstrings to Charles Gounod’s setting of Ave Maria. In light of this, the prelude demanded to know why Octarium had not yet graced its elegant arpeggios and rich harmonies with Octarium’s well-mannered presence., Shamed, I immediately went to work deconstructing the prelude into five parts, with this result.
Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1
The ever-eccentric Satie, who influenced Debussy and Stravinsky, is known for his comic and bizarre titles, such as “Three Pear-shaped pieces.” In 1887, during a show at the famous Parisian cabaret, Chat Noir; Satie was coerced to mention his profession and, lacking any recognizable professional occupation, presented himself as a “gymnopedist.” However, he was also known to refer to himself as a “phonometrician” yet no pieces have yet surfaced thus entitled.
Barber’s Agnus Dei
Barber’s Adagio for Strings originated as part of his String Quartet No. 1, Op. 11, composed in 1936. While it has been heard most as a piece for large orchestra, its origins as a piece for a smaller ensemble are obvious in the setting Barber completed in 1967 for 8-part choir. This piece infuses popular culture, from its appearance in the movie Platoon to its inclusion as a part of John F. Kennedy’s funeral.
Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, Mvt. 1, molto allegro
Mozart composed this symphony in 1788, without a commission, a rare occurrence in that era. The symphony may be one of the composer’s most creative works and has been cited as beginning of modern symphonic composition. Interesting that a totem of the modern, developed symphony would work so well for the voice. Hmmmm.
Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee
The Flight of the Bumblebee is a famous orchestral interlude written by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov for his opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan, composed in 1899. The piece follows a scene in which one character gives another instructions on how to change into an insect. This one may make you want to put on bug repellent.
Rossini’s Overture from The Barber of Seville
This famous overture, known in popular culture through Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry, was actually borrowed from a prior Rossini opera, Aureliano in Palmira. Why Rossini didn’t have his core of opera singers, for whom he composed the opera, just go ahead and sing the overture, we’ll never know. Union rules, perhaps?
After intermission, look forward to selections called from the stage and introduced by the singers.
introduced by Ashley Winters
Thank you. That was “Down to the River to Pray” arranged by Philip Lawson, popularized by Allison Krauss and recently heard on the soundtrack of the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou.
The rest of our program tonight is a bit of a departure if you are at all familiar with Octarium’s traditional programming. A few weeks ago, Krista asked us to help her write program notes. After struggling for a few days we realized that some of the stuff we wanted to say just didn’t make any sense in print so we asked if we could call the concert from stage. All of our pieces tonight were suggested by or even arranged by individual members of the group, some completed as recently as four days ago. Most of the pages we are reading from are manuscript and at least four of the arrangements are making their world premiere performance tonight. Some pieces you will recognize as old friends, while others, depending on in which decade you were addicted to listening to your favorite radio station, may seem to be off in left field.
What strikes me the most poignant about this concert is to have experienced how we eight individuals (nine including Krista), with very different tastes (who would have ever thought the guy who lives and breathes Beethoven would be clamoring to perform British Electronica pop music) could bring together an outrageously eclectic collection of pieces into a truly cohesive and downright fun program tonight. So fun, in fact that many of us have already started working on arrangements for “Should’ve Been Choral Part the Second” set to premiere in a future season.
So, to our next piece by the widely considered most important tango composer of the latter half of the twentieth century, the very famous and revered Argentinean bandoneon player, Astor Piazolla. Piazolla is most known for revolutionizing the traditional tango into a new style termed nuevo tango, incorporating elements of jazz and classical tradition including counterpoint, extended harmonies and dissonance. We’ll be singing a tango from his Angel Suite, the third movement “La Muerta del Angel,” which was originally scored for jazz ensemble including bandoneon (which is very similar to an accordion) electric organ, piano, flute, saxophone, violin and a small menagerie of percussion instruments.
introduced by Benjamin Winters
“Hide and Seek” was written and originally performed by the British singer-songwriter Imogen Heap off her second album entitled Speak for Yourself. It was originally recorded using her voice and a Vocoder, which is an apparatus by which the human voice is digitized and altered. The effect is rather otherworldly, hearkening to the experimental music of Laurie Anderson in the 1970’s. The text for the song is a bit esoteric, but broadly describes the feelings and emotions of a recently broken up with lover as she realizes her former significant other is in fact, not coming back. Specifically, the lyrics reference such visual memories as the “crop circles in the carpet” left by recently vacated furniture and “Oily marks on walls” where photographs of the lovers once hung. The original version of this song appeared on Network Primetime Television shows like FOX’s The O.C. and the CBS drama CSI: Miami. The song was arranged for such a choral ensemble as Octarium by the fine composer/arranger Joseph Bates out of North Carolina.
“Mad World” was written by Roland Orzabal, the co-founder of the British band Tears for Fears. Originally recorded by Tears for Fears in 1982, the song was reintroduced into the popular lexicon by the 2001 film Donnie Darko in a version covered by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules. This cover version inspired our very own Ashley Winters to arrange it for Octarium, citing its minimalist origins and haunting melody and lyrics.
introduced by Jay Van Blaricum
Now for something a little more upbeat: the obligatory Beatles section. Our next three selections were written in 1967 and 1968, years in which the Beatles produced some of their best work. “When I’m Sixty-Four” appeared on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, which was released 40 years ago this month. Paul McCartney wrote the song when he was only 15 years old; coincidentally, he is currently 64. Our own Andrea Coleman expertly arranged the piece for Octarium. From the so-called The White Album, “I Will” is a simple love song to someone the singer has yet to meet. This is one of my favorite pieces, and we will sing an arrangement I prepared. Finally, we will perform “Blackbird.” Also from The White Album, “Blackbird” is one of the most stark and beautiful anthems of the civil rights era. We will sing Daryl Runswick’s arrangement for the King’s Singers, here featuring Mr. Benjamin Winters on whistle.
introduced by Renee Stanley
It’s time to take a very brief tour through the 70s and 80s. “Hotel California” was a huge hit for the Eagles in 1977 off of its concept album of the same name. In 1983, “Africa” was a number one single for the totally underrated band Toto.
Both songs will feature Jay Van Blaricum on lead while the rest of us tool around as guitars and synthesizers.
introduced by Jaime Scherrer
Our next two songs are Ronan Keating’s “When You Say Nothing At All” and Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes.”
“When You Say Nothing At All” was written late one night by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz, who later said they were trying to find a new way to say nothing when the song came to them. It was first recorded by Keith Whitley in the 80’s and later made popular by Allison Krauss. In 1995 it won a CMA award for “Single of the Year.” Ronan Keating’s version of the song also appeared in the 1999 movie Notting Hill. Our arrangement will feature Renee Stanley singing the solo and Andrea Coleman and Jay Van Blaricum singing back-up. The rest of us will be doing our best impersonation of guitars and pianos.
The phrase “…so it goes…” was coined by Kurt Vonnegut in his book Slaughterhouse Five. He used this phrase 106 times in his book, using it to deal with death, mortality, and life transitions. It was used to lighten the mood after a particularly depressing or horrible event. Billy Joel used this phrase in his song “And So It Goes” at the end of his relationship with is wife, Elizabeth. Tonight we are singing an arrangement by Bob Chillcott, featuring Brady Shepherd.
introduced by Brady Shepherd
Our final selection of the evening is an arrangement of Leonard Bernstein’s “Somewhere,” from West Side Story, by Edgerton. Thank you for being such a responsive audience!