A very warm welcome to this summer’s Orchestral Concert as part of Live at No. 40, showcasing the Orchestra of Scottish Opera in a programme drawing from the American classical music tradition.
We are delighted that Andrew Gourlay, fresh from conducting the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain at the BBC Proms 2022, makes his Company debut conducting The Orchestra of Scottish Opera tonight.
It is a pleasure to be able to perform for you today in the midst of the Company’s performances of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide – another classic of the American repertoire – which we hope you can catch at one of its remaining performances if you have not seen already.
Our evening starts with Samuel Barber’s haunting and well-loved Adagio for Strings. Mezzo-soprano and Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Lea Shaw joins us for the faith and fun of Aaron Copland’s orchestral Old American Songs before the Orchestra turns to the romance and innovation of his wonderful Appalachian Spring.
We conclude our concert with Dvořák’s rousing Symphony No. 9 ‘From the New World’, which the Czech composer wrote while working as the Director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City.
We would like to extend a special thank you to all of our supporters, in particular those in the Music Director’s Circle.
Enjoy the concert!
Adagio for Strings, Op. 56
Selections from Old American Songs, books 1 and 2
- ‘Simple Gifts’
- ‘Zion’s Walls’
- ‘At the River’
- ‘I Bought Me a Cat’
Adagio for Strings
Famous for use in films such as Platoon, video games such as Homeworld, and adverts such as Warburtons, Samuel Barber (1910-1981) initially wrote Adagio for Strings as the second movement of a string quartet before he adapted it into its final standalone form in 1936. He also made a version for unaccompanied choir, using the words of the Agnus Dei. This soul-searching piece has become an unofficial song of mourning, famously broadcast in memory of US Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy (who named Adagio for Strings as his favourite piece of music) and played live at the funeral of Albert Einstein. Leonard Bernstein, composer of Candide and friend of the Kennedys, was a noted interpreter; he led the New York Philharmonic in four performances of the piece after Barber’s death in 1981.
Old American Songs
‘Old’ and ‘American' can seem a mismatch, but in two sets of arrangements for voice and piano, Aaron Copland (1900-1990) selects ten songs from many rich cultures, traditions, and histories that made up 19th century American culture as people from all over the world came to the United States by choice, force, or chance. His inspiration comes from Christian revivalists, spiritual movements such as the Shakers, secular Anglo-American folk songs, political ditties, and the African-American diaspora. His topics span the universal: politics, religion, children, love, loss, and death are familiar across genres and continents.
English composer Benjamin Britten commissioned the first ‘book’ of songs from Copland; he and his partner, the tenor Peter Pears, premiered these five songs at Aldeburgh in 1950. At the premiere of the second book in 1958, Copland played the piano alongside the bass-baritone William Warfield. Copland himself later orchestrated the accompaniments of all ten songs, and it’s these orchestral version we hear tonight.
Three songs performed today – ‘Simple Gifts’, ‘Zion’s Walls’, and ‘At the River’ – explore different aspects of faith. The fourth, ‘I bought me a cat’, is a playful children’s tune. All are captivating mini-stories – smaller versions of opera’s familiar narratives and dramas.
See the next section for lyrics.
After Copland created a ballet for Martha Graham in 1944, he adapted his original 13-instrument score for full orchestra; it became one of his most popular works in this form. The ballet tells the story of a preacher, a young couple, and an older woman surviving on the American frontier. Listeners will find a familiar melody in the seventh section of Appalachian Spring: the Shaker hymn ‘Simple Gifts’, also found in Old American Songs, underscores the newlyweds’ life on a farm. Keep an ear out for the large and varied percussion section. Even without words, Copland creates drama and movement that captures the excitement, uncertainty, and beauty of forging a new life.
Symphony No. 9, ‘From the New World’
Czech composer Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) wrote his famous symphony in 1893 while working as Director of the National Conservatory of Music of America. It represents a bridge between European and American music traditions at the turn of the 20th century, drawing American melodies – notably African-American spirituals – into the European symphonic framework. One of the piece’s most recognisable segments is the second movement, Largo, centred around a plaintive cor anglais solo. Dvořák’s student Williams Arms Fisher later gave this melody lyrics, creating a new song ‘Goin’ Home’ in the American spiritual tradition. The inspiration clearly went both ways.
Old American Songs - Lyrics
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be.
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight
‘Till by turning, turning we come round right.
Come fathers and mothers,
Come sisters and brothers,
Come join us in singing the praises of Zion.
O fathers don’t you feel determined to meet within the walls of Zion,
We’ll shout and go round the walls of Zion.
At the River
Shall we gather by the river,
Where bright angels’ feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God.
Yes we’ll gather by the river, the beautiful river,
Gather with the saints by the river
That flows by the throne of God.
Soon we’ll reach the shining river,
Soon our pilgrimage will cease,
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace.
I Bought Me a Cat
I bought me a cat, my cat pleased me.
I fed my cat under yonder tree.
My cat says ‘fiddle eye fee.’
I bought me a duck, my duck pleased me,
I fed my duck under yonder tree.
My duck says ‘Quaa, quaa’…
I bought me a goose, my goose pleased me.
I fed my goose under yonder tree.
My goose says ‘Quaw, quaw’…
I bought me a hen, my hen pleased me.
I fed my hen under yonder tree.
My hen says ‘Shimmy shack, shimmy shack’…
I bought me a pig, my pig pleased me.
I fed my pig under yonder tree.
My pig says ‘Griffey, griffey’…
I bought me a cow, my cow pleased me.
I fed my cow under yonder tree.
My cow says ‘Baw, baw’…
I bought me a horse, my horse pleased me.
I fed my horse under yonder tree.
My horse says ‘Neigh, neigh’…
I bought me a wife, my wife pleased me.
I fed my wife under yonder tree.
My wife says ‘Honey, honey,’
My horse says ‘Neigh, neigh,’
My cow says ‘Baw, baw,’
My pig says ‘Griffey, griffey,’
My hen says ‘Shimmy shack, shimmy shack,’
My goose says ‘Quaw, quaw,’
My duck says ‘Quaa, quaa,’
My cat says ‘fiddle eye fee.’
A trombonist and pianist by training, Andrew Gourlay studied conducting at the Royal College of Music, where he prepared Bruckner symphonies for Bernard Haitink and Mozart symphonies for Sir Roger Norrington. Gourlay won First Prize at the 2010 Cadaques International Conducting Competition, securing concerts with 29 orchestras around the world. For the next two years he was Assistant Conductor to Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra. In 2015 Gourlay became Music Director of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León. Recent engagements include conducting the Philharmonia, London Philharmonic, RLPO, Hallé, CBSO, Opera North, RTÉ Symphony, Ulster Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Antwerp Symphony, Bremen Philharmonic, Stavanger Symphony, Norrköpping Symphony, Tampere Philharmonic, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, Orquesta Sinfonica de Chile, Australian Youth Orchestra, London Sinfonietta (BBC Proms), San Diego Symphony Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia (Enescu Festival), BBC NOW, BBC Scottish Symphony, London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta, Belgian National Orchestra, and Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra. He returned to the Proms in 2018 and 2022.
Operatic engagements include: Quartett (Royal Opera House); Rusalka, La Tragédie de Carmen (English Touring Opera); The Marriage of Figaro (Benjamin Britten International Opera School); The Ice Break (Birmingham Opera Company / CBSO). In the Locked Room (Britten Sinfonia at Wigmore Hall); Violet (Aldeburgh Festival).
Born in the Borders, Anthony Moffat trained at London’s Royal Academy of Music with the Armenian soloist and leader Manoug Parikian. As a member of the Da Vinci Trio, he has toured Scotland and appeared on BBC Radio 3. His career as orchestra leader began when he became co-leader of the Hallé, and he took up the post of Leader of The Orchestra of Scottish Opera in 2000. He has appeared as guest leader at Opera North, and with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera. He has also been invited to guest lead the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He plays on a fine Italian violin made in 1695 by Giovanni Grancino.
Lea Shaw is an award-winning Black+BIPOC mezzo-soprano from Colorado, USA. She now lives and works in Scotland and is an alumnus of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where she received her BMus with Distinction of the First Class, a Masters of Music, and a Masters of Opera from the Alexander Gibson Opera School. She was supported through her education by Help Musicians UK, The Musicians Company, the Dewar Awards, and the Drake Calleja Trust.
Scottish Opera appearances: Paquette in Candide, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Neighbour in Mavra, Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, cover Kalyba in Utopia, Limited, cover Tessa in The Gondoliers, Opera Highlights Autumn 2021, Chorus in The Fiery Angel.
Operatic engagements include: Second Witch in Dido and Aeneas, Bianca in The Rape of Lucretia, Polly Peachum in Die Dreigroschenoper, Mère Jéanne in Les Dialogues des Carmélites, Sesto in Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Minskwoman in Flight, L’Enfant in L’enfant et les Sortilèges (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). As a chorus member, Lea’s repertoire includes Hansel and Gretel (St. Magnus International Festival); Sir John in Love, The Rake’s Progress, Die Fledermaus, Street Scene, Dido and Aeneas, Elektra, Salome, Götterdämmerung (Edinburgh International Festival).
The Orchestra of Scottish Opera
Frances Pryce – Visiting Tutor to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Katie Hull – Assistant Leader and Visiting Tutor to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Gemma O Keeffe
Sharon Haslam – Visiting Tutor to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Andrew Long – Guest Section Principal
Helena Zambrano Quispe
Lev Atlas – Section Principal and Visiting Tutor to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Daniel Bull – Guest Section Principal
Peter Fry – Section Principal
Flutes / Piccolos
Eilidh Gillespie – Guest Section Principal
Amy Turner – Section Principal and Visiting Tutor to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Lewis Graham – Guest Section Principal
Lawrence Gill – Visiting Tutor to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Luis Eisen – Guest Section Principal
Sue Baxendale – Section Principal and Visiting Tutor to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Paul Bosworth – Section Principal
Simon Bird – Visiting Tutor to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Cillian Ó Ceallacháin – Section Principal
Craig Anderson – Guest Section Principal
Ruari Donaldson – Section Principal and Visiting Tutor to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Jo McDowell – Guest Section Principal
Saida de Lyon
Orchestra & Concerts Director
Orchestra Technical Coordinator