The musical pieces in this concert are short excerpts from some of our favourite works for orchestra! Learn more about these pieces and share the “Little Program Notes” below with the VSO’s youngest audience members.
Aragonaise from Carmen
Georges Bizet (1838-1875)
This music opens Act IV of Bizet’s famous opera, Carmen, which uses Spanish rhythms and harmonies to create an atmosphere of flair and anticipation. While the opera was originally indifferently received, it has now become culturally iconic, especially the “Habanera” and “Toreador Song.”
Largo from Symphony No. 9 “From the New World”
Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
Dvořák landed in New York in 1892 and composed this symphony the following year. Dvořák had always been interested in folk music, and he incorporated the traditional melodies of Bohemia, his home country, into many of his previous compositions. In this piece, he was inspired by Native American music and African-American spirituals, which he believed should provide the foundation for the future of “American” music.
The Fog is Rising from Moderen (The Mother)
Carl Nielsen (1865-1931)
Nielsen is one of Denmark’s most famous composers, and he brought a love of traditional Danish folk songs to his music. This melody, originally for flute and harp, was composed for a scene in a play by Helge Rode, in which a mother says goodbye to her son as the fog lifts around them.
Jocelyn Morlock (b. 1969)
Vancouver composer Jocelyn Morlock wrote “Blue Sun” in 1998 for violin and viola while captivated by folk music. Though this piece doesn’t use folk melodies, its atmosphere permeates throughout, like a ghost sun lingering in a person’s vision after staring at the real one.
Troika from Lieutenant Kijé
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
This music depicting a brisk winter sleigh ride comes from a film called Lieutenant Kijé. As Prokofiev had never composed film music before, he was initially reluctant to accept the commission, but changed his mind to appeal to a larger audience. With its witty, melodious character, it was one of the best regarded film scores of the era.
The Swan from Carnival of the Animals
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
“The Swan” is a movement from Saint-Saëns’ Le carnaval des animaux (Carnival of the Animals). Originally featuring the cello, this was the only piece from the suite he allowed to be published in his lifetime, since he feared the rest of the movements would damage his reputation as a “serious” composer. It is now one of his best-loved works! If you would like to hear the VSO’s full performance of Carnival of the Animals, see the Origino Kids Concert here.
The Alphabet of Songs
Libby Donald, Guillaume Forbes, Claire Henry, Gillian Hunter-Gibbs, Yvanna Mycyk, Nadia Petriw, Angela Elster
The songs for letters C, F, K, R, and U come from the VSO School of Music’s new book, An Alphabet of Songs. Created for learners 0-6, this resource fosters playful musical learning, literacy and creativity, and each letter is accompanied by an original song and beautiful illustration! Recordings of all songs are available online. The book and associated colouring book can be purchased at: https://vsoschoolofmusic.ca/shop/.
An Alphabet of Songs was developed by the VSO School of Music with the generous support of the Ministry of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).
Little Program Notes
Aragonaise by Bizet
This piece comes from an opera called Carmen! An opera is a musical story performed by singers and orchestra. Everyone sings instead of talking! What type of person does the oboe sound like? Shy? Brave? Can you come up with actions that would go along with the music?
Largo by Dvořák
This comes from a symphony that is best known by its nickname: “New World.” That’s because Dvorak wrote it when he first moved to New York, and he was excited by the big city and all the new music he heard. Have you ever travelled somewhere that’s very different from your home?
The Fog is Rising by Nielsen
Nielsen is one of Denmark’s most famous composers. He loved traditional Danish music and lived in Copenhagen, which is next to the sea. Does the music sound like fog to you? What else does it remind you of?
Blue Sun by Morlock
This piece is written by a composer from Vancouver, who loves folk music! Do you have any favourite songs you love to sing? Do you make up your own songs?
Troika by Prokofiev
This piece depicts a musical sleigh ride, like Jingle Bells does! In this version, the triangle sounds like the sleigh bells. Can you find something at home that sounds like a triangle?
The Swan by Saint-Saëns
This comes from a funny piece of music called Carnival of the Animals. The smooth melody of the violin represents the graceful swan. Which instrument sounds like the rippling water?