“A Gaelic Holiday”
Sunday, December 11th, 3:30
Lincoln High School
Performing Arts Center
- Symphony in E Minor, Op. 32, “Gaelic” …………… Amy Beach
- I. Allegro con fuoco
- II. Alla siciliana – allegro vivace
- III. Lento con molto espressione
- IV. Allegro di molto
- Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 …………… Paul O’Neill and Robert Kinkel (arr. Bob Phillips)
- A Rockin’ Christmas …………… arr. Chuck Sayre
- Christmas at the Movies …………… arr. Bob Krogstad
- Stille Nacht …………… Franz Gruber (arr. Chip Davis and Calvin Custer)
- A Charlie Brown Christmas …………… Vince Guaraldi and Lee Mendelson (arr. David Pugh)
- A Christmas Festival …………… Leroy Anderson
- Sleigh Ride …………… Leroy Anderson
We are delighted to welcome the children in our concert audience, as the love of music begins at a very early age. We ask parents to remain with their children and respect their limits of endurance by removing them to the lobby when they are no longer enjoying the performance and rejoining us if they are able. Please be respectful of our musicians who have worked hard to bring you this concert, and of your fellow audience members who have also come to enjoy the music. Our ushers may ask you to leave the auditorium if your children are consistently disturbing the concert. Thank you for your consideration.
Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra
Edwin Olson +
Cheryl Richison *
Timario Wilkins *
Erin Himrod *
Arthur Mooradian *
Celia van den Bogert
Krista Lenart *
Katie Book *
Linda Wagner *
Jeffrey Ash *
Dan Wagner *
Ian McCrystal *
** Assistant Principal
Symphony in E Minor, Op. 32, “Gaelic”
Amy Beach (1867-1944)
Born in New Hampshire in 1867, Amy Beach’s musical gifts were apparent from a very young age. As a toddler, she impressed those around her with her ability to sing tunes accurately in their original keys. She was even able to harmonize her mother’s lullabies as she was rocked to sleep. From age four, she could compose music in her head and remember it later to play on the piano. Beach had perfect pitch and synesthesia—for her, each key was represented by a different color. In her early years, Beach studied piano with her mother, but at age eight the family moved to Boston where she was able to study with two different prominent teachers. She also took a year-long course in harmony, the only formal composition training she would ever receive. At age sixteen she made her public piano performance debut, and by age seventeen had become well known in local circles.
Societal restrictions of the times made it difficult for a woman to have a career as a professional musician. Beach’s parents, having already turned down an opportunity for Beach to study in Europe, wanted her to marry and remain at home. At age eighteen, she was married to local doctor and amateur musician Dr. Henry Harris Aubrey Beach—a man 25 years her senior. After her marriage, Amy Beach turned her attention to composition, an endeavor which she undertook with great discipline as she taught herself counterpoint and fugue.
Despite sharing Beach’s parents’ old-fashioned beliefs regarding her performances, Henry was a strong supporter of Beach’s work as a composer. He took great interest in her work and encouraged her to embark upon larger musical forms such as her symphony. Said Beach, “Very often he and I would discuss works as I was preparing them. He might differ as to certain expressions and so would my mother, with the result that I had two critics before facing a professional critic.”1
Beach began composing her Gaelic Symphony in 1894. She was inspired by the nationalistic movement in American music, sparked by Dvorak during his time in New York. While Dvorak believed that the future of American music lay in Native American and African American folksongs, Beach believed that composers should draw on the music of their own ancestors for inspiration. She used tunes from a collection of Irish music she encountered in the magazine, “The Citizen,” and described how their “simple, rugged, and unpretentious beauty” inspired her to develop them into symphonic form.1
The first movement of Beach’s symphony is an Allegro con fuoco in sonata form. Beach borrowed themes from her earlier song, “Dark is the Night,” which describes a turbulent sea voyage. This intense and foreboding atmosphere is perfectly depicted in the symphony’s opening moments as the strings enter with fast, chromatic passages reminiscent of the rolling waves of the sea. Near the end of the exposition, we hear a snippet of a Gaelic tune that will reappear later, a dance tune called, “Connor O’Reilly of Clounish.” The opening themes from “Dark is the Night” are developed further in the development section, while the
Gaelic dance tune that was foreshadowed does not appear again until the recapitulation. Here it is stated in its entirety in a lighter moment before the music once again takes a bold and heroic turn.
The second movement of the symphony is a faster scherzo sandwiched between two slower trio sections—the inverse of how this form typically appears. The opening trio section, Alla Siciliana, consists of a single Irish folk tune titled, “The Little Field of Barley.” This plaintive melody is played by the oboe with a pulsing accompaniment from the clarinets and bassoons that gives the effect of bagpipes.1 The subsequent Allegro Vivace feels like a scherzo despite its duple meter. This section takes a light and playful turn with the tune, and features runs of sixteenth notes bouncing between the string sections. The second trio section brings back the opening melody with fuller orchestration, including the addition of strings and timpani. The movement ends with a brief return to the scherzo- a playful twist at the end.
The slow third movement—Lento con molto espressione—is written in two parts, each based on a different Gaelic tune. The first is a lullaby called, “The Lively Child.” The second is a lament, titled “Which Way Did She Go?” telling the story of a woman wandering in sorrow and grief. The development of both tunes features beautiful interplay between a solo cello, violin, and clarinet. This deeply emotive movement intertwines sorrowful and resolute melodies in a way that never becomes tiresome despite its length.
The last movement of the Gaelic Symphony is an Allegro di molto, again in sonata form. Its first theme is derived from the “Dark is the Night” material in movement one. Beach states that all subsequent themes use this opening theme as their inspiration, and that while not inherently Irish, her original themes are meant to sound Gaelic in nature. Her intent, she said, was to “express the rough, primitive character of the Celtic people, their sturdy daily life, their passions and battles.”1 Brass fanfares, fast fortissimo passages in the strings, and full chords in the woodwinds drive the work to an intense and dynamic finish.
The symphony was well received upon its premiere in 1896. It was performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Emil Paur, to whom the symphony was dedicated. Critics described the symphony as, “steadily high-reaching, dignified and virile,” and “A genuine symphony, a real, soulful masterpiece.”1 There were criticisms as well. Some critics viewed parts of her symphony as over-orchestrated, and some questioned whether the symphony in its entirety really read as “Gaelic.” However, most critics agreed that Beach had earned her place among New England’s elite musical circle. As the first American woman to have a symphony published and performed by a major orchestra, Beach had certainly earned her place in history as well.
1Adrienne Fried Block, Amy Beach, Passionate Victorian (Oxford University Press, 2000), 4-91.
Christmas Eve/ Sarajevo 12/24
Paul O’Neill and Robert Kinkel (arr. Bob Phillips)
“Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” was first released in 1995 by the 80’s heavy metal band Savatage, but it did not become popular until the following year when it was remade and released by the Savatage spin-off—the now famous Trans-Siberian Orchestra. In a 2003 interview with Christianity Today, Paul O’Neill—the group’s founder, producer, lyricist, and composer—explained the story behind the piece’s conception:
“We heard about this cello player born in Sarajevo many years ago who left when he was fairly young to go on to become a well-respected musician, playing with various symphonies throughout Europe. Many decades later, he returned to Sarajevo as an elderly man—at the height of the Bosnian War, only to find his city in complete ruins.
I think what most broke this man’s heart was that the destruction was not done by some outside invader or natural disaster—it was done by his own people. At that time, Serbs were shelling Sarajevo every night. Rather than head for the bomb shelters like his family and neighbors, this man went to the town square, climbed onto a pile of rubble that had once been the fountain, took out his cello, and played Mozart and Beethoven as the city was bombed.
He came every night and began playing Christmas carols from that same spot. It was just such a powerful image—a white-haired man silhouetted against the cannon fire, playing timeless melodies to both sides of the conflict amid the rubble and devastation of the city he loves. Some time later, a reporter traced him down to ask why he did this insanely stupid thing. The old man said that it was his way of proving that despite all evidence to the contrary, the spirit of humanity was still alive in that place.
The song basically wrapped itself around him. We used some of the oldest Christmas melodies we could find, like “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Carol of the Bells” (which is from the Ukraine, near that region). The orchestra represents one side, the rock band the other, and the single cello represents that single individual, that spark of hope.”1
The piece you will hear today is an arrangement of this iconic Trans-Siberian Orchestra favorite, arranged for orchestra by Bob Phillips.
1Breimeier, Russ. “A Christmas Story.” ChristianityToday.com. Accessed December 2, 2022. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/decemberweb-only/tso-1203.html.
A Rockin’ Christmas
This fun medley is comprised of several popular holiday tunes including “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree,” and “Jingle-Bell Rock.” Chuck Sayre’s orchestral arrangement of the tunes features upbeat rock rhythms and an easy swing.
Christmas at the Movies
This orchestral arrangement by Bob Krogstad includes memorable tunes from several different holiday classics. In order, you will hear “Miracle on 34th Street,” “The Polar Express,” “Somewhere in my Memory” (from Home Alone), “Making Christmas” (from The Nightmare before Christmas), and “Where are you Christmas?” (from How the Grinch Stole Christmas).
Franz Gruber (arr. Chip Davis and Calvin Custer)
“Stille Nacht”, or “Silent Night,” was first performed on Christmas Eve in 1818. The lyrics were written by Joseph Mohr—an Austrian priest—and the music was composed by his friend, the organist Franz Gruber. After the performance, one of the churchgoers took a copy of the song back to his home village. There it was adopted by two different families of traveling singers who spread the tune across Europe. It is now sung throughout the world in over 300 languages. It was even sung on the battlefield during World War 1, during a temporary truce on Christmas Eve.
This orchestral version of “Stille Nacht” is based on the 1984 arrangement of the tune by Mannheim Steamroller, a group famous for their modern versions of Christmas classics. It opens with a solo cellist playing a beautifully moving rendition of the melody. This melody is later passed to the violin section, playing delicately in their upper register, along with a lightly orchestrated harmony.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Vince Guaraldi and Lee Mendelson (arr. David Pugh)
A Charlie Brown Christmas, the first Peanuts tv special based on the famous comic strips, debuted in December of 1965. It featured a highly successful jazz soundtrack by pianist Vince Guaraldi that has since sold over 5 million copies in the U.S. In this medley, the classic Peanuts songs “Christmas is Coming,” “Christmas Time is Here,” “Skating,” and “Linus and Lucy” have been arranged for full orchestra by David Pugh.
A Christmas Festival
Leroy Anderson (1908-1975)
In 1950, Arthur Fiedler—the conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra—asked Leroy Anderson to compose a concert piece for a special holiday recording. Anderson composed this collection of Christmas carols and songs to open the concert, stating specifically that the piece was composed as an overture, and not just a medley of holiday tunes. It has remained popular ever since, and exists as arrangements for orchestra, band, and SATB choirs.
Listen for familiar tunes within this classic holiday arrangement, including, “Joy to the World,” “Deck the Halls,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Good King Wenceslas,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “Silent Night,” “Jingle Bells,” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”
The piece was originally composed to be recorded on 78 rpm records, which meant that the orchestra would have had to stop in the middle of the piece, after about 3-4 minutes, to record on the other side. Anderson planned for this split when he composed the piece, and in a 1960’s radio interview issued this challenge: “If I may brag a bit, I defy anybody to find out the exact spot where that occurred.”1
1Leroy Anderson Foundation, “‘A Christmas Festival’ for Orchestra by Leroy Anderson,” http://www.leroyanderson.com/a-christmas-festival.php (2021), accessed 17 November 2021.
Leroy Anderson (1908-1975)
Inspired by his imagination of wintertime long ago, Anderson ironically began composing this piece in the middle of a July heatwave in 1946. Anderson did not intend for the piece to be associated with Christmas, as his goal was to paint a picture of the winter season as a whole. Despite Anderson’s intentions, “Sleigh Ride” quickly became an icon of Christmas. Today it is ranked as one of the top ten Christmas pieces in the world.
Throughout the piece we hear the clip clop of horses’ hooves and the cracking of the whip illustrated by the percussion section. Light, airy melodies and the jingle of bells give the listener the impression of being pulled through the snow in a horse-drawn sleigh. As the journey comes to an end, listen for the whinny of the horse played by the trumpet!
Program notes by Alyssa McNally
Edwin Olson, Concertmaster
Edwin Olson joined the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra in 2011 and has served as concertmaster since 2013. Prior to that, he was concertmaster of the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra in Massachusetts and played with the MIT Symphony Orchestra. In addition to orchestral work, he can occasionally be seen performing chamber music. Mr. Olson began playing at age five and has played continuously ever since. He plays a violin by Ann Arbor maker Joseph Curtin.
Mr. Olson earned a PhD in computer science and electrical engineering from MIT in 2008 for his work on building large maps using robots. He joined the computer science department at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2008 and is a member of UM’s robotics department. With his students, his lab has studied and published in many areas of robotics, including mapping, planning, machine perception, and human interfaces. He has worked extensively on autonomous cars, first at MIT during the DARPA Urban Challenge, followed by U-M, Ford, and Toyota Research Institute.
In 2017, Mr. Olson founded May Mobility, an Ann Arbor self-driving car startup where he serves as the chief executive officer. May Mobility’s vision is to make cities more beautiful, accessible, and equitable by creating new transit options that reduce the need for personal car ownership.
Mr. Olson lives in Ann Arbor with his wife, son, and daughter– all violinists.
Harris Andersen, Assistant Conductor
Harris Andersen currently serves as the Assistant Conductor of the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra and Assistant Conductor of the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra. He held the position of Assistant Conductor and Repetiteur for the inaugural installation of the 2022 Ithaca College Opera Studio, leading productions of scenes from Mozart’s Così fan tutte and Die Zauberflöte.
A recent graduate of the Ithaca College School of Music, Harris studied piano with Charis Dimaras, violin with Calvin Wiersma, and conducting with Grant Cooper. While in Ithaca, Harris maintained a busy schedule accompanying colleagues in lessons, recitals, and masterclass throughout the string, wind, and voice areas on campus and across the hill at Cornell University. He has been hailed for his collaborative sensitivity and musical spirit whether directing early baroque ensembles from the harpsichord or working on brand-new contemporary scores. Harris won the 2022 Mary Hayes North Competition for senior piano majors and the 2020 Ithaca College Concerto Competition with the finale from Rachmaninov’s celebrated Second Piano Concerto.
This past summer, Harris was featured as an International Baroque Soloist at the 25th Bach and Beyond Festival at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House under Maestro Grant Cooper. He was also named a 2022 Conducting Fellow at the Eastern Music Festival where he studied closely with Maestro Gerard Schwarz. At the festival, he led the Eastern Festival Orchestra in a performance of Dvorak’s Carnival Overture, played auxiliary keyboard parts for the student orchestras, navigated major symphonies from the piano for the lab orchestra reading sessions, and performed at the harpsichord on an all-Bach program consisting of the Brandenburg Concerti and other instrumental concerti.
As an instrumentalist and conductor, Harris has been invited to participate in well-renowned music festivals such as the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Bowdoin International Music Festival, the International Keyboard Institute and Festival, and the Conductor’s Institute of South Carolina and has worked with famous artists including Sergei Babayan, Peter Serkin, and Jeremy Denk. His orchestra credits include playing keyboard with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra in performances of the Nutcracker, as rotating concertmaster of the Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra, and Principal Second of the Opera Orchestra. He is a proud alum of the Greater New Haven Youth Orchestra and Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestra.
Throughout the off-stage months of the pandemic, Harris took initiative in finding new ways of performing, for example hosting pop-up lawn concerts for his neighborhood recording and editing a video performance of the complete Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with a virtual orchestra of friends.
Adam C. Riccinto, Founder and Music Director
Adam C. Riccinto is the founding music director of the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra and is an active conductor, performer, and clinician throughout southeastern Michigan. As an arts coach, Mr. Riccinto works with musicians and performers of all ages and disciplines to help them to advance their craft.
Alongside the YSO, Mr. Riccinto also serves as the Director of Worship Arts at St. Michael Lutheran Church of Canton, MI where among other duties he conducts the Adult Choir, Bell Choir, and leads the contemporary worship band. He also served as Director of Choral Activities and Arts Advisor at Ypsilanti Community Schools from 2014 – 2016. Other teaching credits include strings and general music at Fortis Academy in Ypsilanti, Michigan from 2004 – 2008 and Elementary vocal music for the Taylor School District. He is also a frequent guest clinician with regional High School and Middle School choirs and orchestras.
Prior to founding the YSO, Mr. Riccinto served as music director of the Tecumseh Pops Orchestra from 1996-1999. He has also held posts as Director of Music at Orchard United Methodist Church in Farmington Hills, MI, Interim Worship Pastor at First Baptist Church in Ypsilanti, Director of Music at Rosedale Gardens Presbyterian Church in Livonia, Michigan from 2000-2001 and the First United Methodist Church in Howell, Michigan from 1998-2000. Musical theater credits include vocal direction for the Ann Arbor Civic Theater, and musical direction for the Chelsea Area Players.
As a guest conductor, Mr. Riccinto has appeared with Spectrum Orchestra, the Royal Oak Symphony Orchestra, Chelsea Symphony of Manhattan, the Adrian Symphony Orchestra, the Warren Symphony Orchestra, Measure for Measure: A Men’s Choral Society, and Eastern Michigan University’s Collegium Musicum and Chamber Choir and other regional and school ensembles.
As a performer, Mr. Riccinto appears professionally throughout Metro Detroit as a pianist, vocalist, cellist, and guest conductor. Outside of music, Adam is an entrepreneur and sales/organizational development coach. He resides in Ypsilanti with his wife of twenty-three years, two sons, and labrador retriever, “Maestro.”
Note from the Director
Welcome back to the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra! Over the past two decades we’ve grown closer as artists and as a community of musicians and listeners. After a fantastic return last season, we’re so grateful and excited to be back making music with you. We’re counting our blessings, grateful for health, and more energetic than ever to fulfill our mission of bringing great music to our audience and community.
This year, we’re excited to have Assistant Conductor, Harris Andersen, join us on the artistic team. He is a fine conductor, pianist, and violinist, and has added a breadth of technical experience to the organization as well.
Over the years we’ve had the joy of performing with countless incredible soloists and guest ensembles. We’ve worked with incredible partners like Lincoln Consolidated Schools, Washtenaw Community College, Eastern Michigan University, the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, The Sphinx Organization, The Henry Ford, Measure for Measure, the Boychoir of Ann Arbor, the Detroit Handbell Ensemble, Fortis Academy, the Ypsilanti District Library, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, Opera on Tap, the Ypsi Community Choir, and countless others. We’re incredibly grateful.
In December, February, and April, we’ll be right here at the Lincoln Performing Arts Center with special guests and a variety of programming from traditional music to holiday pops, to music from your favorite films and more. In May, we’ll return to Riverside Park for our annual Pops in the Park, a Memorial Day weekend tradition for over a decade! Please join us online at www.ypsilantisymphony.org and follow us on Facebook to stay connected, get news, and learn about our musicians or inquire about playing in the orchestra.
It takes a village to keep the arts alive and flourishing. We could never do it alone. We need every one of our artistic collaborators, donors, advertisers, volunteers, musicians and of course, YOU, our loyal audience members to continue making music. I urge and ask you to consider a tax-deductible financial gift to the YSO so we can continue to bring you great programming. If you can squeeze out a few hours a month, we are in constant need of volunteers. But mostly, I thank you for being with us today to hear us play.
Without you, our joy of playing orchestral music would go unshared. Thank you for coming. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for supporting the arts.
Welcome back, and welcome home.
–Adam C. Riccinto, Founder and Music Director