November 5, 2017: Ravel, Barber, Kraft and Debussy

Ravel, Barber, Kraft and Debussy

Athenaeum 200th Anniversary Celebration

Sunday, November 5, 2017, 3PM

2 PM pre-concert discussion

The Music Hall, Portsmouth, NH Tickets »

John Page, music director


Ravel · Mother Goose Suite
Kraft · Kennedy Portrait with Jerome Meadows, narrator
Barber · Essay No. 2
Debussy · La Mer

The Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra begins its 21st season with a celebration and concert presented in collaboration with the Portsmouth Athenaeum to celebrate its 200th anniversary! The program contains some of the 20th and 21st century's most important and beloved repertoire to kick off the season.

Ravel's Ma mère l'Oye or Mother Goose Suite, opens the concert with a musical representation of childhood fairy tales that capture the imagination and point to Ravel's own attachment to childhood. Though a bit of a misnomer, (only two sections actually reflect tales written by Charles Perrault), the piece was originally a four-hand piano suite dedicated to the children of his friend and sculptor Cyprian Godebski. The master orchestrator expanded the suite for full orchestra in 1911 and has since become a mainstay of the orchestral repertoire.

From "Once upon a time" to a time not long ago, William Kraft's Kennedy Portrait sets the narrated words of President Kennedy and the composer himself to instill a sense of exhilaration and hope in the listener. Unique among our program this year, the work is representative of music by a living composer that helps to instill the sense of realism the topic portrays. Jerome Meadows joins the orchestra as the narrator for a work that will surely inspire you. The Athenaeum has secured Jerome Meadows, visionary artist and designer of the African Burying Ground Memorial in Portsmouth, to perform the narration of A Kennedy Portrait.

Staying with contemporary American composers, we will present the commission initially written for the centennial of the New York Philharmonic. Samuel Barber's Second Essay for Orchestra, was his foray into the compositional developments of the 20th century which he unabashedly eschewed. Barber weaves a few basic themes with structural brevity to produce a powerful yet concise modern musical marvel.

Finally, we set sail with Debussy's La Mer. Another cornerstone of the modern repertoire, La Mer bridges the gap between absolute and programmatic music through musical onomatopoeia. Debussy paints a vivid, captivating and ethereal picture of the beauties of the natural landscape he was forever entranced by.

The PSO is also excited to introduce this year's artist-in-residence, Randy Armstrong, World Fusion music pioneer, who will be joining the orchestra to present a unique work that reflects the theme of each concert throughout the season.

Join us for the musical celebration on November 5th at 3 p.m. in The Music Hall. Pre-concert talk at 2 p.m. from music director John Page.


General: $25
Senior: $22 (65 and over)
Student: $12 (college and under)

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