Music in the Mountains Presents
Saturday, June 23, 2018
Dunham Estate, Grass Valley
Tickets: $125 includes dinner, dessert, and concert
Call (530) 265-6124 to buy tickets
This year’s SummerFest kicks off with our annual summer garden party at the sprawling Dunham Estate in Grass Valley. The evening features dinner, dessert and concert with Purcell’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Handel’s Water Music Suite in F, and Robin Mayforth performing Vivaldi’s Summer from the Four Seasons.
PURCELL’S FAIRY QUEEN AND A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Henry Purcell was born into a musical family, his father a singer at Chapel Royal. Purcell was a chorister and organist at Westminster Abbey as a result of his father’s influence. He also spent time as a court composer and as Keeper of the King’s Instruments!
Purcell’s Fairy Queen is known as semi-opera because it contains choruses, solos, and instrumental selections that alternate with a dialogue inspired by Shakespeare’s play. The dialogue was written by an anonymous adaptor who had no problem taking liberties with Shakespeare’s original text and plot line. In fact, no original line in Shakespeare’s play was kept intact for Purcell’s work. At its premiere in 1692, Fairy Queen used expensive and delightful stage props to enhance the performance. The semi-opera eventually disappeared and was not rediscovered until the 20th century. Today, it is often performed without the added spoken dialogue.
The first performance of the Water Music suites is recorded in the Daily Courant, a London newspaper. At about 8 p.m. on Wednesday, 17 July 1717, King George I and several aristocrats boarded a royal barge at Whitehall Palace for an excursion up the Thames toward Chelsea. The rising tide propelled the barge upstream without rowing. Another barge provided by the City of London contained about fifty musicians who performed Handel’s music. Many other Londoners also took to the river to hear the concert. According to the Courant, “the whole River in a manner was covered” with boats and barges. On arriving at Chelsea, the king left his barge, then returned to it at about 11 p.m. for the return trip. The king was so pleased with the Water Music that he ordered it to be repeated at least three times, both on the trip upstream to Chelsea and on the return until he landed again at Whitehall.
It was rumored that the reason for the spectacular performance of the Water Music was purposed to help King George steal some of the London spotlight back from the prince, who at the time was worried that his time to rule would be shortened due to his father’s long life and was throwing lavish parties and dinners to compensate for it. In a long-term, the Water Music’s first performance on the water was the King’s way of reminding London that he was still there and showing he could carry out gestures of even more grandeur than his son.
Vivaldi wrote so many concertos that, much like Haydn and his symphonies, he tended to resort to nicknames rather than numbers, for ease. Each concerto of his Four Seasons corresponds to a different season – so it’s easy to guess how he nicknamed this particular work.
The music is accompanied by beautiful Italian sonnets, possibly written by Vivaldi himself after he was inspired by painter Marco Ricci’s paintings of the seasons. It’s even customary in some concerts that a narrator reads the poems before the performance, to bring the musical story to life.
Robin Mayforth, violin
Ms. Mayforth, Symphony Silicon Valley’s concertmaster, has also served as concertmaster of the San Jose Symphony, Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley, Music in the Mountains Festival Chamber Orchestra in Grass Valley, California; as well as for the Colorado Music Festival, Utah Festival Opera, San Diego Opera, Performance Orchestra of Philadelphia, Queens Philharmonia in New York and the Delaware Repertory Orchestra.