Dance in Motion
Clara: Hailey Black,
Tarantella: Danielle Tingley, Danica Rai, Olivia Anderson-Baier
Arabians: Mikayla Campbell, Anna Hossman, Alida Swanson, Kirsten Latray, Sierra Rai, Stella Andrews, Carrena Filleul
Chocolate (Spanish Soloist): Danielle Tingley,
Flowers: Alida Swanson, Mikayla Campbell, Anna Hossman, Stella Andrews, Kirsten Latray, Kiera Shepherd.
Lead Flower Soloist: Olivia Anderson-Baier,
Chinese: Madison Weins, Kaylee Engle, Savannah Hutton, Georgia McIntyre, Jada McIntyre, Madelyn Thorton, Vanessa Hsueh
Sugarplum Fairy: Danica Rai
Featuring in the Christmas Waltz, Alida Swanson
Nutcracker Suite – Tchaikovsky
After its 1892 premiere performance, critics called the Nutcracker everything from “astonishingly rich in inspiration” to “insipid”. History has validated the former opinion and the Nutcracker, in both its full ballet form and in the form of a suite of short excerpts, has remained popular worldwide. Tonight we feature the dances from the original suite drawn up by Tchaikovsly himself from Act II, and a few others from different parts of the ballet. Most of the famous suite concerns various gifts, flowers and delicacies that come to life and dance for the entertainment of the family, but its real purpose is to give the large cast of dancer a brilliant excuse to show off.
OVERTURE – What better way to start a concert, or a ballet, with something as delightful and deftly scored as Tchaikovsky’s Overture? It sparkles from beginning to end, and listen especially for his easy counterpoint – playing two or more melodies simultaneously!
Danses Caracteristiques – These are dances for each character to perform, with music to suit the personality of each:
CHILDREN’S GALOP – Light of step and rhythmically march-like, here is a dance for the children in the story. They are looking forward to Christmas, like kids everywhere. This dance is from Act I and not a part of the original suite, though it fits in very nicely.
TARANTELLA – Here is another number not originally chosen by the composer for his suite. It is a dance for the “Cavalier” of the Sugar Plum Fairy, for a solo male dancer.
ARABIAN DANCE – Subtitled “Coffee”, this is one of the delicacies that come to life. LIsten for the slow, insistent rhythm and the muted strings. A subtle and sinuous masterpiece!
SPANISH DANCE – Here is “Chocolate” magically alive in the form of a dance with a distinctive Spanish flavour, trumpets and castanets.
WALTZ OF THE FLOWERS – Everything is animated at Christmas, even the flowers! Harp and french horns help bring them to life!
CHINESE DANCE – “Tea” comes to life in this delightful selection, animated by the piccolo and noodling clarinets. Just how “Chinese” the music actually is, is less important than its delightful spirit.
DANCE OF THE SUGAR PLUM FAIRY – What could better express the lightness of a fairy than the bells of a celeste? Counterpointed against the clarinets it is a perfect magical expression for the ruler of the Land of Sweets.
FINALE – One by one, or group by group, the dancers take their bows to this music, and it ends with the children finally being carried to bed after an exciting and exhausting day.
Harp solo – Schubert’s Ave Maria was originally written as part of a set of songs to accompany a German version of “The Lady of the Lake” In that story it is a hymn to the Virgin Mary, making it natural for later people to replace Sir Walter Scott’s words with those from the Catholic liturgy. Whatever its origin, it is one of Schubert’s most beautiful melodies, which, when one considers how many beautiful melodies he wrote, is saying something!
What Sweeter Music – John Rutter is a living, British composer with many beautiful choral works to his credit. This one is particularly gentle and flowing, with words from the 17th century English poet, Robert Herrick: “What sweeter music can we bring than a carol for to sing the birth of this our heav’nly King?”
Twelve days of Christmas – So, is this an enumeration of the food or sport of each month of the year; or is it perhaps listing of Christian metaphors (a partridge in a pear tree = Jesus, Two turtle doves = the Old and New Testaments, etc)? Could it be an excuse for someone every year to work out the cost of all those gifts? Or does it have no meaning at all? You decide, and enjoy this favourite carol.
Christmas Watlz – by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne is a fine example of a modern composition that is well suited to become a classic (after all even our traditional Christmas carols were once new!) It has images of frosted window panes and candy canes, and speaks of the world falling in love. How better to express the season?
Sleigh Ride – Here is a modern composition that has become a classic. Leroy Anderson had the idea to write it during a heat wave in 1946, though he didn’t complete it until some months later. Let’s follow our lovers as they glide on through the snow.
Audience Sing along with the Chorus and Orchestra
O Holy Night – Another good example of a modern song that became a classic. In 1847, this carol was modern, brand new, written by Adolphe Adam to a poem by a friend who was a poet and wine merchant. Don’t dismiss the brand new, and keep on the watch for the next classic. This one certainly deserves its place in the repertoire, and it was even part of the world’s first AM radio broadcast in 1906.
White Christmas – This Christmas song by Irving Berlin is a great favourite, with its mix of nostalgia (…just like the ones I used to know…) and its comforting images of home. Its first broadcast, Christmas Day 1941, by Bing Crosby, struck a chord with war-weary listeners, and it went on, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, to be the best-selling single of all time.
We Wish You a Merry Christmas (arr. A. Harris) ~ Chorus and Orchestra
Program notes by Ron Hannah