In these changing times, it’s nice to have fixed points in our lives such as timeless music and the triumph of seeing historic homes being preserved. Both of these pleasures come to us Tuesday with a program on Jacksonville’s Ten Oaks and a JSU/Community concert featuring Beethoven’s best-known symphony.
The guest speaker for the Calhoun County Historical Society’s meeting Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Public Library of Anniston-Calhoun County is Joseph M. Maloney, whose law offices are in Ten Oaks, a historic home at 805 Pelham Road in Jacksonville.
His presentation will be on the history and renovation of the house, with a focus on some of the interesting individuals who lived there, primarily merchant and banker Peyton Rowan and his descendents.
Architectural gems such as Ten Oaks, like gemstones, have many facets. And, like gemstones, Ten Oaks literally sparkles. It is bright against the trees’ shade during the day, and its whiteness glows at night as a spotlight shows off its tower, stained glass window and verandah.
The home’s history began in 1855. It was built by farmer and manufacturer James Crook of Alexandria. It is described as a villa in the Italianate style in "The Alabama Catalog: A Guide to the Early Architecture of the State" by Robert Gamble.
The care given to the 16-room house by the late Daisy Weller Smith, its fourth-generation owner, as well as renovations by Joy and Joseph Maloney have ensured that the house remains as one of this area’s strongest architectural beauties.
So many antebellum homes have disappeared, according to Calvin Wingo, a former Jacksonville State University history professor who gave tours of the mansion. Ten Oaks is one of the last of its kind, he said.
Everyone is invited to Tuesday’s program. There will be a hospitality mixer at 5 p.m. before the program at 5:30 p.m.
JSU/Community orchestra plays Tuesday
Musicians from JSU and the community at large will present the orchestra’s spring concert Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. at Anniston First United Methodist Church.
The selections include:
• "Die Meistersinger" prelude by Richard Wagner.
• Mozart’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 11 in F major, featuring pianist Wendy Freeland
• Symphony No. 5 in C minor by Beethoven.
Wagner, a German composer, wrote operas based on German myth and legend with characters that were larger than life. He revolutionized opera by shifting the focus from voice to orchestra; his music ultimately led to the new musical language of the 20th century.
Mozart, born in Austria, was a virtuoso pianist, and wrote piano concertos for his own public performances. This concerto was written between 1782-83. The previous year, he had married Constanze Weber and was living in Vienna, according to Freeland. "He was excited to show off his new bride to father Leopold and sister Nannerl in Salzburg.
"The opening theme shows suaveness and playfulness. The second movement is graceful and melodic, and the final movement is jovial and optimistic.
"One cannot help but find the three movements of this concerto to be a pleasant, comforting and enjoyable listening experience," Freeland said.
There is a plot to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which deals with the human struggle against destiny. Perhaps the composer had this battle in mind because of his constant conflict with landlords, debtors, his students and his deafness. Yet his symphony ends with victory for mankind.
According to Darryl Harris, director of the orchestra, each work on Tuesday’s concert represents a new chapter in 18th-century orchestral works.
"The most important aspect, however would be that Beethoven had contemplated suicide, responding to his significant hearing loss," Harris said. "But he determined that he had a gift so special, that he would not relinquish to the finality of suicide. Instead, he answered Fate knocking at the door.
"With this, we have probably the most famous piece of music in the history of music, the Symphony No. 5 in C minor."
The theme in the first movement is familiar: three short notes and one long note. Beethoven couldn’t have known that this symphony, written in 1808, would take on political significance during World War II. In Morse code, three short dots and one dash — equivalent to Beethoven’s theme — stand for "V," which came to be a symbol for victory.
The Beethoven theme was ultimately whistled, played and scrawled on walls as an expression of defiance to Nazi rule.
Jacksonville concert honors David Walters
The organ concert series entitled "When In Our Music God Is Glorified" continues at First Presbyterian Church of Jacksonville in celebration of the church’s newly refurbished Schlueter-Moller pipe organ.
On March 19 at 3 p.m., a concert will honor longtime member and choirmaster David L. Walters, who passed away in 2015.
At the church, he served as choirmaster and brought special music for worship services as well as other special music events.
Walters, along with Paul Vondracek, also designed the large cedar cross in the center of the church’s chancel.
The performance groups in the concert include a student brass ensemble from JSU and the Brass Choir directed by Casey Thomas. Walters taught brass students and was a brass player.
The concert will feature eight organists with connections to church music in this area and/or connections to JSU. Local organists include Edna Carr, Patricia Corbin, David Dempsey, Susie F. Dempsey, and James Woodward (all of Jacksonville), as well as Kenneth Bailey (LaGrange, Ga.), Chris Henley (Anniston) and Matt McMahan (Decatur, Ga.).
Walters’ reputation as one of the finest band directors in the nation is well known. He arrived in Jacksonville in 1961 to be the new band director for the JSU Marching Southerners. When he and wife and three children came to Jacksonville, they soon became members of the First Presbyterian Church.
According to church members, Walters became known as a fine Christian witness and one who cared for the community and its citizens, not only those he met in his teaching position at JSU but also colleagues in his profession across the state and nation.
The public is invited to attend this special event.
Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at email@example.com.