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High School Orchestras Present Fall Concert


Mary Ladd
Public Information Coordinator
Ponca City Public Schools

The Ponca City High School Chamber Strings and Symphony Strings Orchestras will take to the stage to present their Fall Concert Thursday night, October 27. The program will begin at 7:00 in the High School Howell Auditorium.  Director of Orchestras at the high school is Dan P. Larson.  He is assisted by Paula Cochran and Katie Rolf.

The 35-piece Chamber Strings Orchestra, consisting of primarily 9th grade students, will open the concert with Vanguard Overture by Richard Stephan.  This selection is a majestic composition displaying a wealth of tone colors.  It opens with an energetic fanfare and is followed by four distinct sections.  The sections are marked mysterious, happily, calmly, and then there is a recapitulation to the opening themes, done in reverse order, to bring the work to a close.  Their portion of the concert will conclude with Creepy Classics, arranged by Roy Phillippe.  This work includes music from Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens and In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edward Grieg.

The 61-piece Symphony Strings Orchestra, made of 10th through 12th grade string musicians, will take the stage next.  They will open with Introduction and Allegro by Joseph Bodin De Boismortier (1689-1755), as arranged by Robert McCashin.  Boismortier was a French baroque composer of instrumental music, cantatas, opera ballets, and vocal music. He was purely a composer by trade and one of the first to have no patrons: he made his living simply by writing new works of music. This Introduction and Allegro was originally written for five treble instruments.  The opening section has a full-bodied sound with the second part written in concerto grosso fashion.

Up next, will be The Odyssey (Journey of Odysseus) by Soon Hee Newbold.  This work tells the story of the hero and legend of the Trojan War, Odysseus as he sails back home to Ithaca along with his crew.  It takes him many years to return to his beloved wife and son due to many obstacles along the way.  This work will be followed by the finale from Symphony No. 8 in G Major by Antonin Dvorak, as arranged for string orchestra by Sandra Dackow.  This selection is one of Dvorak’s most popular works.  The finale movement, a combination theme and variations and sonata form, offers a wide variety of moods and colors.

To complete the first half of the concert, is part of the last movement of Symphony No. 45 (“Farewell”) in F sharp minor by Joseph Haydn (1732-1809).  By many accounts, Haydn was one of the most likeable composers ever.  He was responsible for the musicians employed by Prince Esterhazy who affectionately called him “Papa.”  On one occasion the Prince prolonged the stay of the musicians at his summer palace, delaying their return home to their families.  Haydn composed this particular symphony as a musical protest for the orchestra.  During the 4th movement the musicians, one by one, picked up their music and instruments and left the room.  The Prince took the hint and the musicians got their deserved vacation.

The second half of the concert will be rather Halloween-like, with five selections and many costumed musicians.  The group will open with Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, arranged for string orchestra by Jeffrey E. Turner.  This arrangement presents the opening of a longer work by Strauss.  This music was used in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.  

The next two musical selections are based on a story by American author Washington Irving (1783-1859). His short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is set at the end of the 18th century in a small Dutch settlement in New York.  Ichabod Crane is a nervous and lanky schoolteacher who is trying to woo a wealthy farmer’s daughter to marry him.  Returning home one cold autumn night, Ichabod becomes frightened by the rustling noises and strange shapes in the dark forest.  Suddenly, his deepest fears become reality when the infamous headless horseman appears, his head strapped to his saddle.  The horseman is rumored to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper slain in the Revolutionary War.  The headless horseman chases the terrified man through the woods until he reaches a bridge that he cannot cross.  As a parting gesture, the ghostly horseman throws his head, knocking the hapless schoolteacher off his horse.  In the morning, it is revealed that the head was actually a pumpkin.  Ichabod Crane disappears from the town forever, and nobody really knows whether he fled in fear or fell prey to the headless horseman.  The first musical selection is Two Scenes from the Hollow by Kirt Mosier.  The two scenes depicted are Ichabod’s Walk and Hessian’s Ride.  The other selection will be Legend of Sleepy Hollow, composed by Richard Meyer.  It is a 7 minute tone poem depicting the famous Irving short story.   Andrew Orr will be the narrator for both of these selections.

We move to the cinema for the next selection entitled Transylvanian Lullaby by John Morris and arranged by Douglas Wagner.  This piece is the heart-rending main theme from the movie Young Frankenstein, by the creative mind of Mel Brooks, and starring Gene Wilder.  Jenna Wynes will be the violin soloist on this work.  The concert will come to a close with Night on Bald Mountain by Modeste Mussorgsky, arranged for string orchestra by Eric Segnitz. This tone poem is a series of compositions by Mussorgsky that were inspired by Russian literary works and legend.  The story is based on spirits coming out to play on the Bald Mountain during St. John’s Eve.  This work obtained some of its greatest exposure through the Walt Disney animated film Fantasia. 

There is no admission charge and the public is cordially invited to the Fall Orchestra Concert.  This will be the third performance by the Symphony Strings Orchestra this year.  They performed at the Oklahoma State School Board Association Convention on August 27 and did their annual joint concert with the Stillwater High School Orchestra on September 22.   They are also preparing for the OSSAA State String Orchestra Contest on Wednesday, November 16, at Edmond Santa Fe High School.  The next concert for the two orchestras will be a Holiday Concert with the High School Concert Band on Tuesday, December 13, in the High School Howell Auditorium at 7:00 p.m.