The Cape Community Orchestra, under the direction of John P. Hagon, presents its spring concerts on Friday, May 11, at 7:30 PM at the Brewster Baptist Church, 1848 Main St. (Route 6A) and Sunday, May 13, at 3 PM at the Yarmouth Senior Center, 528 Forest Road in South Yarmouth.
The program includes a variety of classical and popular music, and celebrates Maestro Hagon’s 60th year as a conductor with a performance of Aaron Copland’s “An Outdoor Overture.”
“I first played the overture under the direction of the composer and in May of 1958 had the opportunity to conduct the overture myself,” said Hagon. “It was the first piece I conducted as a student member of the string bass section of the University of Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra.”
Written in 1938 at the request of Alexander Richter, the orchestra director at the High School of Music and Art in New York for their “American Music for American Youth” program, “An Outdoor Overture” was intended to interest and inspire the near-professional-level musicians at the school. The work is said to contain “some of [Copland’s] finest and most personal music.” Grand, optimistic, lyrical, and energetic, the piece evokes the wide-open spaces of the American West, and set the stage for many of his more famous works.
Another energetic piece on the program is the “1812 Overture,” written in 1880 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to celebrate Russia’s defense against Napoleon’s invading Grande Armée in 1812. Best known for its volley of cannon fire, ringing chimes, and brass fanfare finale, the piece is frequently played on Independence Day, often to the accompaniment of fireworks.
Women are central themes in four selections: Georges Bizet’s “L’Arlesienne,” Claude Debussy’s “The Girl with the Flaxen Hair,” Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov’s “Themes from Scheherazade,” and Styne and Merrill’s “Funny Girl.”
Bizet composed “L’Arlesienne” in 1872 as incidental music to Alphonse Daudet’s play of the same name. The play, about a young man’s love for “the girl from Arles,” a town in Provence, was not successful, but the music, arranged into two suites, continues to be popular. The orchestra will perform two movements from the second suite: Intermezzo and Farandole.
“The Girl with the Flaxen Hair,” from Debussy’s first book of Preludes (1909), was named after a poem by Leconte de Lisle and is one of Debussy’s most recorded works. The delicate melody suggests the poet’s love for a beautiful, golden-haired young woman in a summer meadow.
Based on “One Thousand and One Nights” (“Arabian Nights”), “Scheherazade” puts to music four stories that the Sultana Scheherazade told the Sultan Schariar in order to save her own life. The piece combines Russian and Eastern musical themes that conjure a sense of fairy tale adventures.
“Funny Girl,” based on the life of Broadway star, film actress, and comedian Fanny Brice, opened on Broadway in 1964 with Barbra Streisand in the title role. The orchestra will play a medley of favorites from the show, including “People” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”
Also on the program are “Swedish Rhapsody” by Hugo Alfvén, a fantasy on several Swedish folk melodies, and “Rosen aus dem Süden” (“Southern Roses”) by Johan Strauss, considered one of his greatest waltzes.
Admission is free. Donations will be accepted. A non-profit organization, Cape Community Orchestra Inc. is supported by private contributions and grants from local and regional institutions including the Cape Cod Melody Tent.