Carnival Overture: Antonin Dvorak
Ballet Suite: from The Incredible Flutist Walter Piston
Symphony in E Minor “Gaelic”: Amy Beach
Opening Night features a celebration of life, a busy marketplace, and the first successful symphony written by a woman.
The vivacious, colorful, and somewhat mysterious Carnival Overture (1891) opens the concert in a festive setting that Brahms called “merry.” Dvorak’s music was written for the second piece of a trilogy of overtures titled Nature, Life, Othello. The Bohemian composer gives special notice to a single tambourine which plays a large role at the end of the piece.
Piston’s Ballet Suite (1938) follows complete with dances, the arrival of a circus, a flutist who charms snakes – and women, and a polka finale set in a marketplace teeming with activity. The music is colorful, tuneful, and engaging. Be sure to listen for the dog!
Beach’s Symphony (1896), influenced by the melodies of Boston’s large Irish immigrant population at the time, closes the concert. Beach was responding to Dvorak’s invitation to American composers to write a distinctly American sound possibly including Native American and African American elements. But Beach, writing the first symphony by an American woman to gain public attention, was attracted to what she called the “simple, rugged, and unpretentious beauty” of Irish music.