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Special Series

A VSO Christmas Story

December 19, 2020 2:00 PM

Christopher Gaze, narrator

Andrew Crust, Associate Conductor

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Join Christopher Gaze and the VSO in a performance of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Our gift to you, this concert will be available for free streaming to the whole community throughout the holiday season.

Community Engagement Partner:

NEWMONT

Community Engagement Supporter:

THE CONNOR, CLARK & LUNN FOUNDATION

THE VSO'S TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CONCERTS HAVE BEEN ENDOWED BY A GENEROUS GIFT FROM

SHEAHAN AND GERALD McGAVIN, C.M., O.B.C.

CHRISTOPHER GAZE Narrator

Christopher Gaze is best known as the Founding Artistic Director of Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, which celebrates its thirty-first season in 2020. He hosts the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s popular Tea & Trumpets series and also their annual Traditional Christmas concerts.

Christopher plays a leading role in British Columbia as an advocate for the arts in general, and his passionate dedication to Bard on the Beach has fuelled its growth into one of the largest professional theatre companies in Canada, drawing close to two million patrons since he founded it in 1990.

His many honours include Canada’s Meritorious Service Medal, Honorary Doctorates from UBC & SFU, the Mayor’s Arts Award for Theatre and the Order of British Columbia.

ANDREW CRUST Associate Conductor

Andrew Crust has developed a versatile international career as a conductor of orchestral, opera, ballet and pops programs. Currently serving as the Associate Conductor of the Vancouver Symphony in Canada, Andrew conducts a large number of subscription, pops, educational and contemporary concerts with the VSO each season. Andrew is the newly-appointed Music Director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra beginning in the 20/21, where he programs and conducts the Grand Classics, Pops and Educational series, featuring such soloists as Awadagin Pratt, Amit Peled and Kathrine Jolly.

In the current and upcoming seasons Andrew will debut with the Arkansas and Vermont Symphonies as Music Director finalist, and with the San Diego Symphony and Calgary Philharmonic as a guest conductor. Other recent engagements include performances with the Winnipeg Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Bozeman Symphony and l’Orchestre de la Francophonie in Québec.

Andrew is a 2020 winner of the Solti Foundation US Career Assistance Award. In 2017 he was awarded first prize at the Accademia Chigiana by Daniele Gatti, receiving a scholarship and an invitation to guest conduct the Orchestra di Sanremo in Italy. He was a semi-finalist for the Nestlé/Salzburg Festival’s Young Conductors Award competition, and was selected by members of the Vienna Philharmonic as a winner of the Ansbacher Fellowship, with full access to all rehearsals and performances of the Salzburg Festival.

Andrew is equally at ease in the pit, having conducted ballet with Ballet Memphis and the New Ballet Ensemble, and opera with Opera McGill, College Light Opera Company, Boulder Opera Company, and others. As a Pops conductor, Andrew has collaborated with such artists as Rufus Wainwright, Steven Page, Michael Bolton, Cirque de la Symphonie, and the United States Jazz Ambassadors. Andrew has also established himself as a conductor of films with orchestra.

Andrew served as Assistant Conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra from 2017-2019 where he conducted around forty concerts each season. He stepped in last minute for a successful subscription performance featuring Bernstein’s Serenade with violinist Charles Yang. Andrew also served as Conductor of the Memphis Youth Symphony Program. As the Assistant Conductor of the Portland Symphony Orchestra in Maine from 2016-2018, he conducted a variety of concert series, helped coordinate the orchestra’s extensive educational programs, and helped lead a program for concertgoers under 40 called “Symphony and Spirits”.

Crust was the Assistant Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of the USA (NYO-USA) in the summers of 2017 and 2018, assisting Michael Tilson Thomas on an Asian tour, as well as Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop and James Ross at Carnegie Hall and in a side-by-side performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He has also served as Cover Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, San Diego Symphony and Nashville Symphony, Assistant/Cover Conductor of the Boulder Philharmonic and Assistant Conductor of Opera McGill.

Abroad, he has led concerts with the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana in Italy, Hamburger Symphoniker at the Mendelssohn Festival in Germany, the Moravian Philharmonic in the Czech Republic and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile in Santiago.

As an arranger/orchestrator, Andrew is currently working with Schirmer to make orchestrations of a set of Florence Price’s art songs, has orchestrated works by Alma Mahler and Prokofiev, as well as many pops and educational selections.

Andrew is dedicated to exploring new ways of bringing the classical music experience into the 21st century through innovative programming and marketing, creating community-oriented and socially-sensitive concert experiences, and utilizing social media and unique venues. Andrew is a firm believer in meaningful music education, having produced and written a number of original educational programs with orchestras.

VANCOUVER SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

Founded in 1919, the Grammy and Juno-award winning Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is the third largest orchestra in Canada, the largest arts organization in Western Canada, and one of the few orchestras in the world to have its own music school.

Led by Music Director Otto Tausk since 2018, the VSO performs more than 150 concerts each year, throughout Vancouver and the province of British Columbia, reaching over 270,000 people annually.  Our extensive education and community engagement programs reach tens of thousands more. On tour the VSO has performed in the United States, China, Korea, Japan and across Canada.

The orchestra presents passionate, high-quality performances of classical, popular and culturally diverse music, creating meaningful engagement with audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Recent guest artists include Daniil Trifonov, Dawn Upshaw, James Ehnes, Adrianne Pieczonka, Gidon Kremer, Renée Fleming, Yefim Bronfman, Itzhak Perlman, Bernadette Peters, Tan Dun, and more.

For the 2020-21 season the VSO has created the innovative streaming service TheConcertHall.ca, a virtual home for a virtual season, where more than forty performances will be released throughout the year.

CHARLES DICKENS

Charles Dickens’ much-loved Christmas story first appeared on this very day, on December 19th of 1843. Written in just six weeks, the novella was published in a run of 6000 copies, and sold out within seven days. Dickens was hoping for a financial windfall, but the initial cost of publication consumed a large portion of his projected profit. Fortunately, it proved to be an evergreen, and through renewed publication, dramatizations and readings, became perhaps his most widely-appreciated work.

The title page reads as follows:

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

in prose.

being

A Ghost Story of Christmas

by CHARLES DICKENS

with illustrations by John Leech.

Dickens had first established himself first as a reporter, and then as a successful author, but he knew all too well the plight of the less fortunate. Earlier that year he had read a parliamentary report on child labour, about the dangerous conditions, long hours and low wages that many faced. He had been sent to a workhouse himself at the age of twelve, when his father, a clerk in the navy’s pay office, was relegated to a debtors’ prison. Think of Scrooge’s sarcastic rejoinder to the question of how best to address poverty: “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”

He started to prepare a pamphlet titled An Appeal to the People of England on behalf of the Poor Man’s Child, but set the idea aside for something that, in his words, would have “twenty-thousand times the force.” While visiting the industrial city of Manchester in October of 1843 Dickens gave a lecture on the importance of providing education to every level of society, both rich and poor. He soon hit upon the central theme of A Christmas Carol, that many of the challenges faced by the poorest members of society could be lessened through the generosity of the most fortunate.

Dickens would go on to adapt his own work, with the first public reading of A Christmas Carol held in 1853 for a charity. But such was his fame that Dickens also gave paid readings; between 1853 and 1870 he offered 127 performances of A Christmas Carol, both at home and abroad, especially in the United States where his appearances were immensely popular.

Do you remember what it was like to have a story read to you? The VSO helps to recreate that feeling with this performance as a gift to our community. Christopher Gaze, Artistic Director of Bard on the Beach, reads from the classic story A Christmas Carol, in front of a fireplace at the Vancouver Club. Interspersed between the passages, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performs some atmospheric selections that help to bring the story to life.

The VSO's Assistant Conductor Andrew Crust leads the orchestra. Among the works heard are excerpts from Handel's Messiah, the Fantasia on Greensleeves by Ralph Vaughan Williams, musical depictions of a sleighride by Mozart and by Prokofiev, a series of dances drawn from Peter Warlock's Capriol Suite, Variations on The Huron Carol by the Canadian composer Kelly-Marie Murphy, and a harp solo on the carols Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabelle, and Good Christian Men, Rejoice.

PETER WARLOCK

(b. October 30, 1894  / London, UK)

(d. December 17, 1930 London, UK)

CAPRIOL SUITE

A sixteenth century treatise on French dance forms was the inspiration for Peter Warlock’s best-known work, the Capriol Suite. Peter Warlock was the pseudonym adopted by Philip Heseltine, a modestly successful composer and music critic. Warlock’s pacifism, interest in the occult and fascination for Elizabethan music made him an odd man out in mainstream musical circles in London in the early 20th century. He was an early exponent of the scholarly study of music from the Renaissance, writing, ”music is neither old nor modern: it is either good or bad music, and the date at which it was written has no significance whatever. Dates and periods are of interest only to the student of musical history. All old music was modern once, and much more of the music of yesterday already sounds more old-fashioned than works which were written three centuries ago. All good music, whatever its date, is ageless - as alive and significant today as it was when it was written.”

In 1925, Warlock contributed the musical transcriptions for a book on French dances from Arbeau's Orchésographie (1588). Warlock also provided the preface on the tunes and dance styles of the period, many of which he went on to adapt for his own work Capriol Suite. The “Capriol” of the title refers to one of the principal characters in Arbeau’s dance treatise. And so we are presented with the gliding steps of the Basse Danse, a stately Pavane, an energetic Tordion, a lively country round dance known as a Bransle, the relaxed Pieds-en l’air and the noisy clash of a sword dance in Mattachins.

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART

b. Salzburg, Austria / January 27, 1756

d. Vienna, Austria / December 5, 1791

GERMAN DANCE, K. 605 No. 3 “Sleigh-Ride”

Following the death of Gluck, Emperor Joseph II appointed Mozart as Vienna’s Imperial Chamber Composer. One of his primary obligations was to write music for entertaining at the court dances and balls at the Imperial Palace in Vienna. Although some might view this task as unworthy of such a genius as Mozart, the composer was wholly suited to it. He was an avid dancer himself, and the speed and volume with which he could produce works made the appointment a good fit. His set of Three German Dances, K.605, were written in the final year of his life, alongside such masterpieces as the Symphony No. 40 & 41 and the opera Così fan tutte.

The third dance of the set carries the nickname “Schlittenfahrt” – German for Sleigh Ride, clearly signalled by the jingle of sleigh bells in the accompaniment and the hunting sounds of a posthorn.

GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL

(b. March 5, 1685 / Halle, Germany)

(d. April 14, 1759, London, UK)

MESSIAH: SINFONIA & PIFA

Messiah is Handel’s English-language oratorio that has come to dominate the Christmas season in much of the choral community. Its popularity knows few bounds and has been the subject of countless re-interpretations and adaptations - rather like Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Composed in 1741, it was first performed in Dublin on 13 April 1742 and received its London premiere nearly a year later. Aside from the glorious recitatives, arias and choral selections that make up a complete performance, two purely instrumental works from the oratorio have become part of the contemporary Christmas soundtrack. The somewhat ominous opening Sinfonia is delivered in the style of a French overture, while the Pifa presents a pastoral interlude at the mid-point of Part I, preceding the Annunciation to the Shepherds.

RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS

(b. October 12, 1872 / Down Ampney, UK)

(d. August 26, 1958 / Hanover Terrace, London, UK)

FANTASIA ON GREENSLEEVES

One of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ great contributions to music was his love of folksongs. Beside his songs, operas, ballets, choral works and nine symphonies, Vaughan Williams was also dedicated to the preservation of English folksongs for the future. He spent a great deal of time in the countryside, listening to performances and transcribing songs that had been passed down through generations, amassing a collection more than 800 folksongs and their variants.

The Fantasia on Greensleeves is based on two such tunes: the familiar “Greensleeves” plus another song from his collection, “Lovely Joan.” The term Fantasia describes a musical form that does not follow any set form or pattern, a bit of a flight of fancy. The tune Greensleeves has long been associated with Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, but likely dates to Elizabethan and Shakepearean times. Its association with the Christmas season stems from after the American Civil War, when William Chatterton Dix wrote the words for his Christmas carol, “What Child is This?” to the Greensleeves tune.

KELLY-MARIE MURPHY

(b. September 4, 1964 / Sardegna, Italy)

HURON CAROL INTERLUDE

Kelly-Marie Murphy was born on a NATO base in Sardegna, Italy, and grew up on Canadian Armed Forces bases all across Canada. She began her studies in composition at the University of Calgary with William Jordan and Allan Bell, and later received a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Leeds, England, where she studied with Philip Wilby. After living and working for many years in the Washington D.C. area where she was designated "an alien of extraordinary ability" by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, she is now based in Ottawa. Her Huron Carol Interlude has been described as an ethereal, icy arrangement of the Canadian Christmas carol. It was originally set in 1998 for string quartet and premiered by the Quatour Arthur Leblanc, and has subsequently been arranged for string orchestra.

SERGEI PROKOFIEV

(b. April 27, 1891 / Sontsovka, Russia)

(d. March 5, 1953 / Moscow, USSR)

TROIKA

The world of pop music has a long history of lifting inspiration from the classics. Whether it’s a Tchaikovsky redux for Sinatra, Borodin adapted to Broadway by Alfred Drake, or Prokofiev making a cameo appearance in a Christmas hit by Greg Lake (of Emerson Lake and Palmer fame), imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! Prokofiev penned the tune Troika in 1933, as part of the score for the film Lieutenant Kijé. He had been living in Paris for much of the 1920s, but was beginning to reconnect with his Russian roots. The advent of “talkies” and recorded film scores provided a perfect opportunity for the composer to share his music with a broad audience. The satirical plot of the film centres around one Lieutenant Kijé, a person in name only, who appears on the Tsar’s list of officers through the errant stroke of a pen, and whose escapades are alternately celebrated and demoted by the bureaucracy. Following a statement of Kijé’s theme, we are take on a swift ride across a snowy landscape in a Troika, a Russian sleigh that is pulled by three horses.

LANI KRANTZ

(arranger)

BRING A TORCH, JEANNETTE, ISABELLA / GOOD CHRISTIAN MEN, REJOICE

Harp soloist Lani Krantz performs regularly with the VSO, Victoria Symphony, Vancouver Film Orchestra and is Principal Harp of the Vancouver Island Symphony. She teaches at the VSO School of Music and with her own studio. She is also active in the seasonal ensemble presentations of Winter Harp. Here she has contributed her own arrangement of two familiar carols. Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle ("Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella") is a Christmas carol from the Provence region of France, dating from the 17th century.

Jeannette and Isabelle are two female farmhands who have found the infamt Jesus and his mother in a stable. Excited by this discovery, they run to a nearby village to tell the inhabitants, who rush to see the new arrivals. Visitors to the stable are urged to keep their voices quiet, so the newborn can enjoy his dreams. To this day, on Christmas Eve in the Provence region, children dressed as shepherds and milkmaids carry torches and candles while singing the carol, on their way to Midnight Mass. In dulci jubilo ("In sweet rejoicing") is also a traditional Christmas carol, but dating further back to the Middle Ages. Its mixture of Medieval German and Latin lyrics are thought to have been written by the German mystic Heinrich Seuse. The common English translation was made by J. M. Neale as "Good Christian Men, Rejoice."

Notes: Matthew Baird

Series Performances

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A VSO Christmas Story
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Vivaldi's Four Seasons
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The Show Must Go On: Stories of Resilience
More series performances to be announced.
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Subscribe now to make sure you have access to complete performances as they are released
Subscribe Now
Subscribe now to make sure you have access to complete performances as they are released

Special Series

A VSO Christmas Story

December 19, 2020 2:00 PM

Christopher Gaze, narrator

Andrew Crust, Associate Conductor

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Join Christopher Gaze and the VSO in a performance of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Our gift to you, this concert will be available for free streaming to the whole community throughout the holiday season.

Community Engagement Partner:

NEWMONT

Community Engagement Supporter:

THE CONNOR, CLARK & LUNN FOUNDATION

THE VSO'S TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CONCERTS HAVE BEEN ENDOWED BY A GENEROUS GIFT FROM

SHEAHAN AND GERALD McGAVIN, C.M., O.B.C.

CHRISTOPHER GAZE Narrator

Christopher Gaze is best known as the Founding Artistic Director of Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, which celebrates its thirty-first season in 2020. He hosts the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s popular Tea & Trumpets series and also their annual Traditional Christmas concerts.

Christopher plays a leading role in British Columbia as an advocate for the arts in general, and his passionate dedication to Bard on the Beach has fuelled its growth into one of the largest professional theatre companies in Canada, drawing close to two million patrons since he founded it in 1990.

His many honours include Canada’s Meritorious Service Medal, Honorary Doctorates from UBC & SFU, the Mayor’s Arts Award for Theatre and the Order of British Columbia.

ANDREW CRUST Associate Conductor

Andrew Crust has developed a versatile international career as a conductor of orchestral, opera, ballet and pops programs. Currently serving as the Associate Conductor of the Vancouver Symphony in Canada, Andrew conducts a large number of subscription, pops, educational and contemporary concerts with the VSO each season. Andrew is the newly-appointed Music Director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra beginning in the 20/21, where he programs and conducts the Grand Classics, Pops and Educational series, featuring such soloists as Awadagin Pratt, Amit Peled and Kathrine Jolly.

In the current and upcoming seasons Andrew will debut with the Arkansas and Vermont Symphonies as Music Director finalist, and with the San Diego Symphony and Calgary Philharmonic as a guest conductor. Other recent engagements include performances with the Winnipeg Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Bozeman Symphony and l’Orchestre de la Francophonie in Québec.

Andrew is a 2020 winner of the Solti Foundation US Career Assistance Award. In 2017 he was awarded first prize at the Accademia Chigiana by Daniele Gatti, receiving a scholarship and an invitation to guest conduct the Orchestra di Sanremo in Italy. He was a semi-finalist for the Nestlé/Salzburg Festival’s Young Conductors Award competition, and was selected by members of the Vienna Philharmonic as a winner of the Ansbacher Fellowship, with full access to all rehearsals and performances of the Salzburg Festival.

Andrew is equally at ease in the pit, having conducted ballet with Ballet Memphis and the New Ballet Ensemble, and opera with Opera McGill, College Light Opera Company, Boulder Opera Company, and others. As a Pops conductor, Andrew has collaborated with such artists as Rufus Wainwright, Steven Page, Michael Bolton, Cirque de la Symphonie, and the United States Jazz Ambassadors. Andrew has also established himself as a conductor of films with orchestra.

Andrew served as Assistant Conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra from 2017-2019 where he conducted around forty concerts each season. He stepped in last minute for a successful subscription performance featuring Bernstein’s Serenade with violinist Charles Yang. Andrew also served as Conductor of the Memphis Youth Symphony Program. As the Assistant Conductor of the Portland Symphony Orchestra in Maine from 2016-2018, he conducted a variety of concert series, helped coordinate the orchestra’s extensive educational programs, and helped lead a program for concertgoers under 40 called “Symphony and Spirits”.

Crust was the Assistant Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of the USA (NYO-USA) in the summers of 2017 and 2018, assisting Michael Tilson Thomas on an Asian tour, as well as Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop and James Ross at Carnegie Hall and in a side-by-side performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He has also served as Cover Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, San Diego Symphony and Nashville Symphony, Assistant/Cover Conductor of the Boulder Philharmonic and Assistant Conductor of Opera McGill.

Abroad, he has led concerts with the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana in Italy, Hamburger Symphoniker at the Mendelssohn Festival in Germany, the Moravian Philharmonic in the Czech Republic and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile in Santiago.

As an arranger/orchestrator, Andrew is currently working with Schirmer to make orchestrations of a set of Florence Price’s art songs, has orchestrated works by Alma Mahler and Prokofiev, as well as many pops and educational selections.

Andrew is dedicated to exploring new ways of bringing the classical music experience into the 21st century through innovative programming and marketing, creating community-oriented and socially-sensitive concert experiences, and utilizing social media and unique venues. Andrew is a firm believer in meaningful music education, having produced and written a number of original educational programs with orchestras.

VANCOUVER SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

Founded in 1919, the Grammy and Juno-award winning Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is the third largest orchestra in Canada, the largest arts organization in Western Canada, and one of the few orchestras in the world to have its own music school.

Led by Music Director Otto Tausk since 2018, the VSO performs more than 150 concerts each year, throughout Vancouver and the province of British Columbia, reaching over 270,000 people annually.  Our extensive education and community engagement programs reach tens of thousands more. On tour the VSO has performed in the United States, China, Korea, Japan and across Canada.

The orchestra presents passionate, high-quality performances of classical, popular and culturally diverse music, creating meaningful engagement with audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Recent guest artists include Daniil Trifonov, Dawn Upshaw, James Ehnes, Adrianne Pieczonka, Gidon Kremer, Renée Fleming, Yefim Bronfman, Itzhak Perlman, Bernadette Peters, Tan Dun, and more.

For the 2020-21 season the VSO has created the innovative streaming service TheConcertHall.ca, a virtual home for a virtual season, where more than forty performances will be released throughout the year.

CHARLES DICKENS

Charles Dickens’ much-loved Christmas story first appeared on this very day, on December 19th of 1843. Written in just six weeks, the novella was published in a run of 6000 copies, and sold out within seven days. Dickens was hoping for a financial windfall, but the initial cost of publication consumed a large portion of his projected profit. Fortunately, it proved to be an evergreen, and through renewed publication, dramatizations and readings, became perhaps his most widely-appreciated work.

The title page reads as follows:

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

in prose.

being

A Ghost Story of Christmas

by CHARLES DICKENS

with illustrations by John Leech.

Dickens had first established himself first as a reporter, and then as a successful author, but he knew all too well the plight of the less fortunate. Earlier that year he had read a parliamentary report on child labour, about the dangerous conditions, long hours and low wages that many faced. He had been sent to a workhouse himself at the age of twelve, when his father, a clerk in the navy’s pay office, was relegated to a debtors’ prison. Think of Scrooge’s sarcastic rejoinder to the question of how best to address poverty: “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”

He started to prepare a pamphlet titled An Appeal to the People of England on behalf of the Poor Man’s Child, but set the idea aside for something that, in his words, would have “twenty-thousand times the force.” While visiting the industrial city of Manchester in October of 1843 Dickens gave a lecture on the importance of providing education to every level of society, both rich and poor. He soon hit upon the central theme of A Christmas Carol, that many of the challenges faced by the poorest members of society could be lessened through the generosity of the most fortunate.

Dickens would go on to adapt his own work, with the first public reading of A Christmas Carol held in 1853 for a charity. But such was his fame that Dickens also gave paid readings; between 1853 and 1870 he offered 127 performances of A Christmas Carol, both at home and abroad, especially in the United States where his appearances were immensely popular.

Do you remember what it was like to have a story read to you? The VSO helps to recreate that feeling with this performance as a gift to our community. Christopher Gaze, Artistic Director of Bard on the Beach, reads from the classic story A Christmas Carol, in front of a fireplace at the Vancouver Club. Interspersed between the passages, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performs some atmospheric selections that help to bring the story to life.

The VSO's Assistant Conductor Andrew Crust leads the orchestra. Among the works heard are excerpts from Handel's Messiah, the Fantasia on Greensleeves by Ralph Vaughan Williams, musical depictions of a sleighride by Mozart and by Prokofiev, a series of dances drawn from Peter Warlock's Capriol Suite, Variations on The Huron Carol by the Canadian composer Kelly-Marie Murphy, and a harp solo on the carols Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabelle, and Good Christian Men, Rejoice.

PETER WARLOCK

(b. October 30, 1894  / London, UK)

(d. December 17, 1930 London, UK)

CAPRIOL SUITE

A sixteenth century treatise on French dance forms was the inspiration for Peter Warlock’s best-known work, the Capriol Suite. Peter Warlock was the pseudonym adopted by Philip Heseltine, a modestly successful composer and music critic. Warlock’s pacifism, interest in the occult and fascination for Elizabethan music made him an odd man out in mainstream musical circles in London in the early 20th century. He was an early exponent of the scholarly study of music from the Renaissance, writing, ”music is neither old nor modern: it is either good or bad music, and the date at which it was written has no significance whatever. Dates and periods are of interest only to the student of musical history. All old music was modern once, and much more of the music of yesterday already sounds more old-fashioned than works which were written three centuries ago. All good music, whatever its date, is ageless - as alive and significant today as it was when it was written.”

In 1925, Warlock contributed the musical transcriptions for a book on French dances from Arbeau's Orchésographie (1588). Warlock also provided the preface on the tunes and dance styles of the period, many of which he went on to adapt for his own work Capriol Suite. The “Capriol” of the title refers to one of the principal characters in Arbeau’s dance treatise. And so we are presented with the gliding steps of the Basse Danse, a stately Pavane, an energetic Tordion, a lively country round dance known as a Bransle, the relaxed Pieds-en l’air and the noisy clash of a sword dance in Mattachins.

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART

b. Salzburg, Austria / January 27, 1756

d. Vienna, Austria / December 5, 1791

GERMAN DANCE, K. 605 No. 3 “Sleigh-Ride”

Following the death of Gluck, Emperor Joseph II appointed Mozart as Vienna’s Imperial Chamber Composer. One of his primary obligations was to write music for entertaining at the court dances and balls at the Imperial Palace in Vienna. Although some might view this task as unworthy of such a genius as Mozart, the composer was wholly suited to it. He was an avid dancer himself, and the speed and volume with which he could produce works made the appointment a good fit. His set of Three German Dances, K.605, were written in the final year of his life, alongside such masterpieces as the Symphony No. 40 & 41 and the opera Così fan tutte.

The third dance of the set carries the nickname “Schlittenfahrt” – German for Sleigh Ride, clearly signalled by the jingle of sleigh bells in the accompaniment and the hunting sounds of a posthorn.

GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL

(b. March 5, 1685 / Halle, Germany)

(d. April 14, 1759, London, UK)

MESSIAH: SINFONIA & PIFA

Messiah is Handel’s English-language oratorio that has come to dominate the Christmas season in much of the choral community. Its popularity knows few bounds and has been the subject of countless re-interpretations and adaptations - rather like Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Composed in 1741, it was first performed in Dublin on 13 April 1742 and received its London premiere nearly a year later. Aside from the glorious recitatives, arias and choral selections that make up a complete performance, two purely instrumental works from the oratorio have become part of the contemporary Christmas soundtrack. The somewhat ominous opening Sinfonia is delivered in the style of a French overture, while the Pifa presents a pastoral interlude at the mid-point of Part I, preceding the Annunciation to the Shepherds.

RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS

(b. October 12, 1872 / Down Ampney, UK)

(d. August 26, 1958 / Hanover Terrace, London, UK)

FANTASIA ON GREENSLEEVES

One of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ great contributions to music was his love of folksongs. Beside his songs, operas, ballets, choral works and nine symphonies, Vaughan Williams was also dedicated to the preservation of English folksongs for the future. He spent a great deal of time in the countryside, listening to performances and transcribing songs that had been passed down through generations, amassing a collection more than 800 folksongs and their variants.

The Fantasia on Greensleeves is based on two such tunes: the familiar “Greensleeves” plus another song from his collection, “Lovely Joan.” The term Fantasia describes a musical form that does not follow any set form or pattern, a bit of a flight of fancy. The tune Greensleeves has long been associated with Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, but likely dates to Elizabethan and Shakepearean times. Its association with the Christmas season stems from after the American Civil War, when William Chatterton Dix wrote the words for his Christmas carol, “What Child is This?” to the Greensleeves tune.

KELLY-MARIE MURPHY

(b. September 4, 1964 / Sardegna, Italy)

HURON CAROL INTERLUDE

Kelly-Marie Murphy was born on a NATO base in Sardegna, Italy, and grew up on Canadian Armed Forces bases all across Canada. She began her studies in composition at the University of Calgary with William Jordan and Allan Bell, and later received a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Leeds, England, where she studied with Philip Wilby. After living and working for many years in the Washington D.C. area where she was designated "an alien of extraordinary ability" by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, she is now based in Ottawa. Her Huron Carol Interlude has been described as an ethereal, icy arrangement of the Canadian Christmas carol. It was originally set in 1998 for string quartet and premiered by the Quatour Arthur Leblanc, and has subsequently been arranged for string orchestra.

SERGEI PROKOFIEV

(b. April 27, 1891 / Sontsovka, Russia)

(d. March 5, 1953 / Moscow, USSR)

TROIKA

The world of pop music has a long history of lifting inspiration from the classics. Whether it’s a Tchaikovsky redux for Sinatra, Borodin adapted to Broadway by Alfred Drake, or Prokofiev making a cameo appearance in a Christmas hit by Greg Lake (of Emerson Lake and Palmer fame), imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! Prokofiev penned the tune Troika in 1933, as part of the score for the film Lieutenant Kijé. He had been living in Paris for much of the 1920s, but was beginning to reconnect with his Russian roots. The advent of “talkies” and recorded film scores provided a perfect opportunity for the composer to share his music with a broad audience. The satirical plot of the film centres around one Lieutenant Kijé, a person in name only, who appears on the Tsar’s list of officers through the errant stroke of a pen, and whose escapades are alternately celebrated and demoted by the bureaucracy. Following a statement of Kijé’s theme, we are take on a swift ride across a snowy landscape in a Troika, a Russian sleigh that is pulled by three horses.

LANI KRANTZ

(arranger)

BRING A TORCH, JEANNETTE, ISABELLA / GOOD CHRISTIAN MEN, REJOICE

Harp soloist Lani Krantz performs regularly with the VSO, Victoria Symphony, Vancouver Film Orchestra and is Principal Harp of the Vancouver Island Symphony. She teaches at the VSO School of Music and with her own studio. She is also active in the seasonal ensemble presentations of Winter Harp. Here she has contributed her own arrangement of two familiar carols. Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle ("Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella") is a Christmas carol from the Provence region of France, dating from the 17th century.

Jeannette and Isabelle are two female farmhands who have found the infamt Jesus and his mother in a stable. Excited by this discovery, they run to a nearby village to tell the inhabitants, who rush to see the new arrivals. Visitors to the stable are urged to keep their voices quiet, so the newborn can enjoy his dreams. To this day, on Christmas Eve in the Provence region, children dressed as shepherds and milkmaids carry torches and candles while singing the carol, on their way to Midnight Mass. In dulci jubilo ("In sweet rejoicing") is also a traditional Christmas carol, but dating further back to the Middle Ages. Its mixture of Medieval German and Latin lyrics are thought to have been written by the German mystic Heinrich Seuse. The common English translation was made by J. M. Neale as "Good Christian Men, Rejoice."

Notes: Matthew Baird

Series Performances

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A VSO Christmas Story
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Vivaldi's Four Seasons
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The Show Must Go On: Stories of Resilience
More series performances to be announced.
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