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Phantoms & Shadows

With Guest Vocalist Elio Lleo

Sunday November 5, 3:00 pm
Lenape High School Auditorium

Program Notes

Contributed by Robert Bradshaw, Emma Gibbins, Rachel Smith & Aaron Wolf

 

Phantom of the Opera (Overture)

The Phantom of the Opera opened on Broadway in 1988 and won the Tony Award for Best Musical in its first year. It is now, by a large margin, the longest-running musical in Broadway history. With its mesmerizing staging effects and lush musical score, The Phantom of the Opera combines elements of musical theater and opera to create a truly unique experience. The opening of the story takes place in 1905, when the now derelict Paris Opera House is holding an auction of old props and miscellaneous items. As the overture begins, we are taken back in time to 1881 when the theatre was thriving.

 

Learn To Be Lonely

This piece was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Charles Hart, for the 2004 film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera. It was performed by actress Minnie Driver during the closing credits, and was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Original Song.”

 

Funeral March of a Marionette

This piece was orchestrated for chamber orchestra in 1879 by composer Charles Gounod. The concept is simple. A marionette has died in a duel and the funeral procession commences.

In 1927, a young Alfred Hitchcock heard the piece in a 1927 film entitled "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans." It had such a profound effect on him that he chose it for his 1955 television show, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," which gave the piece wide fame.

 

Night on Bald Mountain

Modest Mussorgsky composed what was then known as "Night on Bare Mountain" as a musical picture to depict a witch's sabbath occurring on St. John's Eve. Despite numerous attempts to have this work performed, Mussorgsky's mentor refused to allow it. The piece was never performed in any form during his lifetime. Five years after his death, fellow composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov arranged the piece as a "fantasy for orchestra," through which the piece developed lasting fame. It is most known to modern audiences as having appeared in Disney's 1940 film, Fantasia.

Love Theme from The Godfather

The “Love Theme” from The Godfather was composed by Nino Rota for the original 1972 film.  Rota was an Italian composer and wrote scores for over 150 cinematic productions. This theme is also known as the song “Speak Softly, Love”, which uses Rota’s melody paired with lyrics by Larry Kusik. While it was performed by many artists, the most popular version was recorded by the vocalist Andy Williams and reached number 34 on Billboard’s Top 100.


Toccata & Fugue in D Minor

Johann Sebastian Bach likely composed the Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, around 300 years ago while securing his reputation as a brilliant church organist. Although no autographed manuscript survived, Felix Mendelssohn became well acquainted with the composition by 1830, played an essential role in its publication, and gave the first notable performance in 1840 – 90 years after Bach’s death.  Since then the work has been glorified for its innovation and virtuosic flair as well as the familiar, shadowy octaves found in the opening Toccata section.

Empty Chairs at Empty Tables

"Les Miserables" depicts many facets of human struggle. Among other things, it deals with a young population's initially unsuccessful rise against power in the Paris Uprising of 1832. From the Broadway musical adaptation of the story comes this dreary song. Also known as "Cafe Song," this piece is the lament of Marius, a young member of the rebellion, over the tragically early death of all of his friends during the rebellion.

 

Theme from Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful is a British-American dramatic horror television series that ran on Showtime from 2014 to 2016. It evokes characters from 19th-century British fiction, such as Abraham Van Helsing, Dr. Jekyll, Victor Frankenstein and Dracula. The music is composed by Polish composer Abel Korzeniowski. Tonight’s orchestration, created exclusively for the South Jersey Pops Orchestra, uses the show’s main theme as a frame of reference to present several dark-themed works from Polish composers.

The Sound of Silence

This song was released by Simon and Garfunkel in 1964 and was a commercial failure, which led to the group parting ways. It gathered traction, however, throughout the following years and hit no. 1 on "Billboard Hot 100" in 1966. It was added to the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically important."

It was re-released by alternative metal band "Disturbed" in 2015.

Eleanor Rigby

The song was released on the 1966 Beatles album, "Revolver" and also as a 45 rpm single. With an arrangement for double string quartet by George Martin, this song helped transition the Beatles from a pop act to an experimental studio-based band. The sad lyrics depict two "lonely people" who finally meet when it is too late, at Eleanor's funeral.

 

Tragic Overture

In the summer of 1880, Johannes Brahms composed a set of two overtures for orchestra – the Academic Festival Op. 80 and Tragic Op. 81. While the first was intended to express his gratitude to the University of Breslau after learning he would receive an honorary doctorate in philosophy, the motivation behind the second was less clear. Brahms once said of the pair, “one laughs while the other cries,” but the Tragic Overture explores a broad spectrum of colors and textures, sometimes severely rebellious and then at other points majestically refined. With the successes of the first two symphonies and violin concerto still fresh, perhaps Brahms, who was known for being dissatisfied with many of his compositions, struggled to fully accept his place among the musical masters and sought to convey that internal tragedy through this work.