We enjoy nature’s display of the yellows, reds and oranges of fall. Soon we’ll see the familiar greens and reds of Christmas.
There’s color in music, too. Music-color connections are based on how the melodies make us feel. Jaunty, fast-paced music brings to mind bright hues such as red, while more somber melodies connect with darker shades of gray or blue.
This will be displayed in two concerts Tuesday evening as the Jacksonville State University Community Orchestra and the Oxford Community Chorus give voice to the compositions of famous masters and contemporary composers. As you’ll see, the range of emotional-color connections is wide.
JSU/Community Orchestra concert
The orchestra’s fall concert is at Anniston’s First United Methodist Church at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, directed by Darryl Harris. A highlight is Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5, known as the “Reformation Symphony.” The orchestra will play the fourth movement.
This program highlight especially interests retired JSU professor Dennis Zuelke. He appreciates hearing this symphony because the fourth movement weaves Martin Luther’s anthem “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” into the music. Luther is considered the father of the 16th-century efforts to reform the medieval church, according to texts.
In observance of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, Zuelke has recently portrayed Martin Luther for programs several times in the community and in Minnesota, where he has a summer retirement home.
“The orchestra’s performance of the fourth movement is important to me because it highlights a most significant era in world history,” Zuelke said. “Mendelssohn wrote the entire symphony in 1830 as part of the European observance of the 300th anniversary of the presentation of the Augsburg Confession, the founding document of the Lutheran Church, to Emperor Charles V by German princes in 1530.”
Flutes take the lead in this movement as the sound increases in power. In the closing measures, the melody of Luther’s anthem reappears with tremendous effect in full orchestra.
Also on the program, we’ll hear:
“Christmas Concerto” by Italian composer Arcangelo Corelli, featuring the Gadsden Symphony String Quartet. The concerto, performed in 1690, bears the inscription “Made for the night of Christmas.” Corelli was known as one of the finest violinists of the Baroque era and is largely appreciated today by musicians for his inventive melodic and harmonic ideas. His “Christmas Concerto,” pleasant and relaxing to listen to, makes a strong case for Corelli’s high place in musical history.
The entrance aria from Mozart’s comic opera “The Marriage of Figaro,” featuring David Wooten, JSU student recently seen in Jacksonville Opera Theatre’s “Phantom of the Opera” and “Hansel and Gretel.” Many letters written by Mozart indicate that, of all the music he wrote, he loved writing operas the most dearly. These operas for singers and orchestras called for every facet of his genius. His characters (Figaro, Count Almaviva’s personal servant and Susanna, a maid and his betrothed in this case) are memorable and real because he drew from his own human nature to create them.
Symphony No. 8 in G Major by Antonin Dvorak. A monumental work, according to Harris. Dvorak is known for his elegant simplicity and complex drama, with high-spirited drama at times and a profound, gentle touch in other compositions.
“This concert is replete with catchy and familiar melodies,” Harris said. “If you do not know them at first, just give yourself a few moments and you will recognize them.”
Oxford Community Chorus concert
Presented by the Oxford Arts Council and the City of Oxford, the chorus’ Holiday Concert will be at the Oxford Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. Tuesday. It is directed by Susan McCall. The accompanist is Susan Lee.
Soprano Jean Corlett is excited about her part in the concert. “I think this is our best yet,” she said. “Because of the song choices — light and heavy songs, the harmonies and the degree of difficulties in some that challenged us — this concert is what good musicians want to hear, and for all an entertaining evening.”
On the program:
“What Sweeter Music” by John Rutter. In this song, a winter night becomes as balmy as May because the Savior is born. The work is joyful in a reverent and meditative way. Church choir members are familiar with the music of Rutter, a British composer, born in 1945, who wrote choral anthems and hymns. His larger choral works have been performed many times in England, North America and a growing number of other countries.
“Frozen: The Choral Suite,” arranged by Roger Emerson. The music heard in the Disney film “Frozen.”
“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Johann S. Bach, a melody often heard at weddings and other celebrations. As an organist in the churches in which Bach worked, his primary concern was not the amount of his salary but the improvement of church music. “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” comes from one of his cantatas, which he wrote for a Sunday worship service for a full choir and violin accompaniment.
“Good News, the Chariot’s Comin’,” arranged by Moses Hogan. A lively, traditional spiritual.
“The Hallelujah Chorus” by George Frederic Handel. This work, majestic and vigorous, is one of the world’s most famous choral pieces. It expresses joyful praise to God as an everlasting ruler. In this chorus, which ends Part II of Handel’s “Messiah,” the man behind the music shows his ability to evoke a lasting mood of rejoicing. Phrases are repeated over and over, a common practice in choruses for several centuries at that time. The text is from the book of John in the Bible.
The Oxford Community Chorus is nearly 60 vocalists strong, but there’s room for more, according to McCall. Those interested in joining the chorus (ages 16 and up) are welcome. Rehearsals will resume on Jan. 9 at OPAC.
Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at email@example.com.