Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Adagio for Strings... Glorious simplicity we all love....

Adagio for Strings, Opus 11

Samuel Barber

Samuel Barber, a graduate of and later teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, was generally a conservative in regard to compositional styles of the 20th century. His passion was for the voice and his principal affinity was for vocal composition, which is apparent in the melodic lines of the Adagio for Strings. The elegiac work is the Molto adagio opening of the second movement of his String Quartet No. 1, written in 1936, and then arranged for full strings in 1937. By the end of World War II it was being performed everywhere, almost as a dirge for and tribute to the many young dead.

Barber’s gift for sweeping lyricism finds a graceful atmosphere through which a single meandering melody finds its way. With conjoining pitches of the scale, an accompaniment of chords, and a homogeneous tone quality, the melody is first heard in the violins. It then fades downward to the violas and cellos until each voice has had a share of the action. The reverie offers quiet spiritual reflection, with a searching quality as every upward movement is counteracted with a subsequent fall. In the center section, the double basses rest as the others create a shrill treble climax. When the basses return, the work reverses course and gently dies away.

~ Joy S. Perry

For information on how this piece changed the world visit the NPR link:

Next week please visit our new "Grace Notes" page, an interactive multimedia page with information on all songs performed on each OSFL concert.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chorus Notes as we prepare to start rehearsals tomorrow...

In looking ahead to our choral performance in December, it’s tempting to delve into the colorful story of the composer Francis Poulenc, whose “Gloria” the chorus will be singing. The “Gloria” is a late work of Poulenc’s, written just a few years before his death in 1963. But Poulenc’s story begins much earlier, during the era of the First World War, when in his young years he took up with some of Paris’s most notorious avant-garde musicians. One Parisian musician in particular captured the interest of young Poulenc and others like him: Erik Satie.

If you have heard anything at all about Erik Satie, you probably know that he was an eccentric figure par excellence. He was born in 1866 and grew up during the great decades of Paris’s rise to the height of fashion, the years of the Eiffel tower (1889) and the height of glittering café society. At the same time there was an undercurrent of artists, intellectuals and musicians who played themselves off against the high society, poking fun at their airs and attitudes, and spawning a colorful counter-culture that enjoyed a certain fame in its own rite. Satie led the musical wing of this counter-culture with his mock-serious compositions, mostly quirky and humorous, and sometimes having a surprising beauty that is quite unlike the serious music of the day – the fashionable and extravagant music of the opera, ballet and concert halls.

The First World War had a surprising effect on the world of the arts in Paris. Suddenly the economy was torn apart, and support for the classic arts dropped off drastically. The counter-culture artists, always bordering on penniless, found themselves sought after as a source of cheap but interesting art and music. Satie, now in his fifties, became a center of attention. To his own amazement, young musicians clustered around him as a source of inspiration for the new era. It was an era of post-war retrenchment, an era in which old cultural values were questioned, and new ones were yet to be forged.

Poulenc was one of these young musicians. Born in 1899, he came of age during the years of the First World War. He was a good pianist, having been taught by his mother. He started writing music for fun, before having any serious training in composition. He dabbled with tunes from the underworld – tunes from the cabaret halls and night clubs, scarcely the material of high art. He cobbled them together in songs and piano pieces that had a quirky non-classical logic and a comical charm, not unlike the music of Erik Satie.

It was only natural that in 1920, two years after the end of the War, Poulenc would find himself in the company of similarly minded young composers, all banding together as admirers of Satie and followers of his style. In that year, 1920, the French newspapers singled out a group of six young musicians at the core of Satie’s circle. They were Poulenc, Milhaud, Honegger, Auric, Durey and Tailleferre – of whom the first three are still well known today. The papers dubbed them “Les Six Français” – the “six french composers” in contrast to the famous group of “five Russian composers” of the previous generation (which included such names as Rimsky-Korsakov and Musorgsky). This forged a true comradeship amongst the six, who published a collective book of piano pieces and collaborated on a controversial ballet called "The Eiffel Tower Wedding." After the early 1920s the six young composers embarked upon more individual paths, but the name of the "Six" stuck and the group never really ceased to exist. Over the course of time, Poulenc went on to become the most prolific and arguably the most successful of the six. We will follow his footsteps further.

~ William Cowdery, Chorus Conductor

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Power of $27...

For the most part we created the OSFL Blog so that our patrons can read more about the artistic elements of our programming. As Executive Director I happily leave the artistic aspects to Toshi and contently focus on the administrative needs of all of CEMA's many programs. To me donations have a huge impact on what is artistically possible for our organization and, like all of you, I am excited to see what our new Music Director and Conductor will be able to bring to our stage. And we want to give him the stage as often as possible....

What is needed to gain our fifth concert back...

Often we think if we can only give a little are we really making a difference?" YES. Every gift is important. And often we forget the importance of how small gifts or just a little extra can really add up...

For Example, if everyone on our email list donated an extra $27, or an extra $2.50 a month, or an extra $1 every other week we could afford five concerts next season. If every season subscriber sent us an extra $1 every week we could add back our fifth concert. If every season subscriber brought 2 friends to an OSFL concert just once this season we could afford another concert.

I don't like to ask people to do things that I can not do. These things I could make work. I tell myself at least once a week I don't need that candy bar or cookie ($1). Think of the power of all those dollars added together.

Think of the power of loose change. Did you know that in the Unites States it is estimated that there is over $5 million dollars in loose change laying on the streets or stuffed in our couch cushions?

A friend of mine donates $50 every month to a charity. Each month she sits down and thinks about where her money could best help someone. Sometimes she gives to the same organization several times a year; sometime she gives to different organizations each month. If you can not afford $50, which I know is sometimes a stretch on my non-profit salary, could you afford $25? I could justify not eating out for lunch 3 times a month to help make a difference somewhere. And why not make a pledge and pay small amounts each month? If you felt dedicated to one organization (and I of course hope it is OSFL) and you donated $25 a month you could be a $300 donor in one year. $50 a month would show support at $600. Even $10 a month would have you at $120. Those amounts that seem small to each of us when we start can really add up to make a huge difference.

And again, if we each did it without any major notice to our pocket books our community could have the benefit of another OSFL concert.

JOIN the Movement! What does "JOIN the Movement" really mean? It is about being a part of something great. It is about taking action in an organization you believe in and cherish. It is about spreading the word and continuing to show your support. It is about knowing you are valued and an active participant, not just a passive listener.

Non-profit organizations exist not just because of financial support but also because of hard work and committed, active donors and patrons. Your involvement is what makes our organization special and possible. It is why we were able to attract an internationally renowned conductor, why we have so many committed musicians, how we can help so many students to play in their first orchestra, give so many educational experiences to the residents of our area, why so many people attend our concerts... You can help us not only by making a donation yourself but by telling your friends about our valued organization and encouraging them to become involved.

Your generosity helps deliver powerful and vibrant Orchestra programs and ensures an enduring tradition of artistic excellence on stage and off in our community.

We recognize and appreciate the many contributions made to The Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes each year.

Please feel free to contact The Orchestra Office at (607) 936-2873 or if you have questions about donations for The Orchestra, Youth Orchestra, Junior String Ensemble, Chorus, Musicians' Choice, or any of our other special programs.

Thank you in advance for your generous support!

Audrey J. Szychulski
Executive Director

Click here for more information about our annual fund.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Elements of Style at Galusha Gardens

Every year the Orchestra chooses a distinctive area home for the first- and we like to think- the best party of the season.

This year's party has it all: First there's the antique main house, brimming with charm and antiques. It's surrounded by the Galusha's justly famous gardens; more than five acres of lawns, flower beds, pond, tennis courts- the works. Brigid writes a weekly column called Garden Paths. Now you can see those paths that inspire her. Both Brigid and Neal team up to design, plant, and maintain the picturesque property.

The house started life in the early 1800's. A retired barge captain, who plied the nearby Chemung Canal between Watkins Glen and Elmira, bought the house and property in 1875 and enlarged the house, creating an Italianate country villa with impressive craftmanship throughout.

Everywhere You Look You'll Find Treasures
Original glass panels on the front door are etched and cut. The interior woodwork is all chestnut or black walnut with baseboards a foot high. In one room, the larger Langdon fireplace faces an impressive built-in china cabinet.

The Galushas have furnished this rambling home with 19th century family portraits, a period highboy, an heirloom petit point picture- even carved teak curtain rods, also from the Langdon house. A large up-to-date kitchen blends seamlessly into this venerable home.
A large deck, built around a large locust tree, overlooks the gardens, and is accsessible from the major ground floor rooms.

This is a property that's made for a party, and the Galushas offer all of us the warmest of welcomes.

Join your friends and come see this remarkable place!

For more information go to

~Neal O'Donnell