Cape Community Orchestra Presents its Spring Concerts May 13 and 15
Cape Community Orchestra, under the direction of Nancy Torrente, will present its spring concerts on Friday, May 13, at 7 PM at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, 1130 Falmouth Road in Centerville and on Sunday, May 15, at 3:30 at the Yarmouth Senior Center, 528 Forest Road.
“We’re excited to be performing again,” said Paul Chatelain, vice-president of the orchestra, which has not held concerts since November 2019 due to the pandemic. “We have a great program that I think people will really enjoy, and we are looking forward to introducing our new conductor, Nany Torrente, whose inspiring leadership, technical expertise, and warm humor has made this concert possible.”
Ms. Torrente was named conductor and musical director of the orchestra in January of this year, succeeding John Hagon, who retired after leading the orchestra for 30 years. A professional cellist, Ms. Torrente conducted award-winning high school orchestras in Westchester County, New York, before moving to the Cape and continues to guest conduct at festivals and lead clinics on conducting and string pedagogy throughout the Northeast.
She has selected the theme of “Theater Music Through the Centuries” for this concert, choosing music that is associated with art, theater, film, and musical theater.
The mix of classical, popular, and jazz music includes “Try to Remember” from the long-running play, “The Fantasticks”; “Amadeus” (the first movement of Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G Minor) from the movie of the same name; Beethoven’s Egmont Overture for Johan Wolfgang von Goethe’s 1787 play about an heroic 16th-century Dutch nobleman, Lamoral, Count of Egmont, as well as Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.”
Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) wrote “Pictures at an Exhibition in 1874 to honor his close friend, artist, and architect Victor Hartmann, who had recently died at the age of 39. An exhibition of 400 of his drawings, paintings, and architectural sketches was held in St. Petersburg. In response to this moving exhibit, Mussorgsky wrote “Pictures” as a suite for piano solo in just 20 days.
It not played publicly until 1922, when French composer Maurice Ravel orchestrated the piece.
The work opens with a Promenade that suggests Mussorgsky’s own lumbering walk (he weighed over 300 pounds) from painting to painting, remembering his dear friend. Cape Community Orchestra will perform five of the ten movements in the original work, plus several promenades.
“Gnomus” is Hartmann’s caricature of a wooden nutcracker in the form of a gnome. The music depicts a grotesque and menacing little creature awkwardly running on crooked legs while uttering savage shrieks.
“Il Vecchio Castello” (“The Old Castle”) is based on an architectural watercolor of a medieval castle, a troubadour standing out front, who Mussorgsky imagined to be singing sadly to his beloved.
In “The Hut on Chicken Legs (Baba-Yaga),” Mussorgsky interprets Hartmann’s design for an elaborate bronze clock in the shape of Baba Yaga’s hut. In Russian folklore, Baba Yaga is a fearsome witch who flies through the skies searching for children to devour. The music is fierce and frightful.
The final movement is “The Knight’s Gate in the Old Capital, Kyiv (The Great Gate of Kyiv),” inspired by an architectural drawing that Hartmann did for a design contest to replace the monumental gate to the medieval city that had fallen into ruin. Hartman’s design was never built, but the music is powerful, combining a heroic view of old Russia with a Russian orthodox hymn and the sound of bells.
Admission is free, but donations will be accepted. For more information about Cape Community Orchestra, visit capecommunityorchestra.org.
Any former students or colleagues of cellist Sandy Spencer may be interested in knowing that many decades ago, she spent two years in France playing with a very unusual “folk-jazz” group called Mormos. Their recordings, including a previously unreleased “Live” album, can be heard here on Bandcamp: https://mormos.bandcamp.com