Music Monday: Dvorak’s The Noon Witch - Monday, September 15, 2014



After his residence in the United States and the success of his Ninth Symphony, Antonín Dvorák returned to his homeland of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) and surprisingly changed the direction of his career. He abandoned the symphonic form that made him famous and instead focused on string quartets, opera and tone poems for orchestra.

Dvorák found inspiration for five tone poems from the nationalist folk poems of Karel Jaromír Erben, the second in the set being The Noon Witch, Op. 108. The music tells the story of a misbehaving boy, whose mother warns that if he continues to disobey the Noon Witch will come and take him away. Much to the mother’s surprise, the Noon Witch actually appears and demands to have the child. She chases them and disappears when the bells ring 12 times. Sadly, the child’s father comes home to find his wife collapsed, holding their dead son in her arms. The tone poem ends with the return of the witch’s music, symbolizing her triumph.

You can hear this piece performed by the world-renowned London Philharmonic in our season opening concert on Saturday, October 11, at 8pm.


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The World's Smallest (Playable) Violin - Friday, September 12, 2014



From Trujillo, Venezuela, it’s the world's smallest (playable) violin. It's the work of Baltazar Mónaca. In the video below, he plays Vivaldi's Concerto in A Minor on this tiny, little violin, controlling the notes with slight movements of his thumb.


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Jirí Belohlávek wins Antonín Dvorák Prize - Wednesday, September 10, 2014



Czech conductor Jirí Belohlávek has been honored with the Antonín Dvorák Prize for his work promoting Czech classical music and the music of Dvorák (1841–1904). The award will be given to Belohlávek at Carnegie Hall on Nov. 16, following a performance he will conduct by the Czech Philharmonic and Jean-Yves Thibaudet.

Orange County engagement
Prior to their Carnegie Hall engagement, Belohlávek will conduct the Czech Philharmonic and Thibaudet at our Renée & Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall on Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 8pm. The program includes Dvorák's beloved New World Symphony, along with Janácek's Taras Bulba and Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2 in A major. Tickets for this performance start at $35.

More on Belohlávek
Belohlávek, 68, has been chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic since 2012, and is also the president of The Dvorák Society for Czech and Slovak Music and of the Prague Spring International Music Festival. In April 2012, he was honored with the title Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to music.

Studying cello, Belohlávek graduated from the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. After graduating, he studied conducting with Sergiu Celibidache, formerly principal conductor for the Berlin Philharmonic. After winning the Czech National Conducting Competition in 1970, he served as an assistant conductor at the Czech Philharmonic, then became chief conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra and went on to serve as chief conductor at the BBC Symphony Orchestra, among others.

Belohlávek has made numerous recordings. This year, the first part of the complete symphonies and concertos of Dvorák (1841–1904) played by the Czech Philharmonic conducted by Belohlávek has been issued. The recordings of the second part have already concluded and will be published by Decca Classics in 2015.

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Music Monday: Back to School with Bach - Monday, September 08, 2014



With the transition from August to September comes the start of another school year. Kids, teens and adults alike are flooding back into classrooms, hitting the books and learning from respected teachers. For the classical musician, this is equivalent to entering the practice room and spending some quality time with Johann Sebastian Bach.

One of his most famous works, The Well-Tempered Clavier, is considered the “bread and butter” of classical music. The two volume work was composed for solo keyboard between 1722-1742 and contains preludes and fugues for every major and minor key. He wrote these pieces specifically for students to practice not only technique but phrasing, style and musicality. It’s the closest thing to a textbook in the musical world!

The Well-Tempered Clavier has influenced the compositions of major composers, such as Beethoven and Schumann, and continues to be studied and performed by musicians to this day. Below is a performance of the Prelude in C minor, BWV 847 by Glenn Gould. Enjoy!


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The Philharmonic Committees - Friday, September 05, 2014



"Fun, laughs, giggles, and stories to tell." These are a few of the things that await you as a member of the Committees of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County. The Committees are the Society's principal fund raising and volunteer force. 800 strong, these dynamic individuals pull together to implement an extensive array of youth music education programs in Orange County, reaching more than 150,000 schoolchildren each year.

In addition to volunteering at our youth programs, The Committees also present a wide variety of fundraising events, including the Philharmonic House of Design and the Huntington Harbour Cruise of Lights®, the proceeds of which support the Society's youth music education programs.

Share the Music, and Join a Committee! If you have a passion for music and want to share it with our young people, you are invited to become a member of The Committees of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County and support the Youth Music Education Programs in Orange County schools. We have 16 Committees and 5 groups, each with its own unique personality. Click here to find out more about each of our 16 Committees and 5 groups.


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FreeFall for the Arts - Wednesday, September 03, 2014



In celebration of National Arts & Humanities Month this October, Arts Orange County invites you to go out and try something new! Arts organizations throughout Orange County, including the Philharmonic Society, have offered complimentary tickets to upcoming events taking place October 1st through November 3rd. You have until September 14th to enter to win these tickets.

Bring a friend or a date and explore a new art form, new presenting organization, or new venue. Chances are you'll like it!! Sign up before September 14th at SparkOC.

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Bavouzet wins Gramophone Disc Award for Prokofiev recording! - Friday, August 29, 2014



This week, Gramophone magazine announced the winners for the 2014 Disc Awards, honoring excellence in recordings from all classical music genres. In the concerto category, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet emerged triumphant for his recording of Prokofiev’s Piano Concertos with the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Gianandrea Noseda.

Featuring Prokofiev’s complete canon of five concertos, “…Bavouzet displays a light touch and laudable levels of physical stamina, with a firm grasp of the very different personalities of each piece” (Rob Cowan for Gramophone).

We are excited to present Bavouzet in our Opening Night concert with the London Philharmonic performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 on Saturday, October 11, 8pm, at the Renée & Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall!

Prokofiev's Third Pianoc Concerto is a favorite of critics and audiences alike because of its vitality, lyricism and for pioneering the style of a partnership between the orchestra and the soloist. This is a performance you won't want to miss!

Artist CD Signing: Jean-Efflam Bavouzet will be signing CDs in the concert hall lobby after the performance.

Tickets and more info at (949) 553-2422, ext. 1, or at PhilharmonicSociety.org.

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Cameron Carpenter Releases New Album! - Wednesday, August 27, 2014



If You Could Read My Mind--Carpenter’s latest album release--is the debut recording for his International Touring Organ, a revolutionary design that takes the organ from a permanent installment to a mobile instrument. Featuring sounds from traditional cathedral organs as well as the cinematic sounds of a Wurlitzer organ, Carpenter uses its versatility to not only perform classical organ standards but also to bring a new dimension to orchestral works and mainstream hits. The album also comes with a DVD which includes performance footage and a documentary about the creation of his International Touring Organ.

Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times writes, "It is the first recording really to capture what an astonishingly original organist and artist Carpenter is."

Make sure to catch Carpenter’s unique musicality when he performs with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic on Sunday, November 23rd, 3pm, at the Renee & Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall!

Tickets and more info at (949) 553-2422, ext. 1, or at PhilharmonicSociety.org.


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Music Monday: Bernstein's Candide Overture - Monday, August 25, 2014



Today marks the 96th birthday of composer/conductor/musician Leonard Bernstein (d. 1990). We dedicate today's Music Monday to him with this video of Bernstein conducting his own Overture to Candide.

Bernstein's Candide was an operetta for which Hershy Kay orchestrated all of the music, except for the overture, which Bernstein did himself. The Overture had its first concert performance on January 26, 1957, by the New York Philharmonic with Bernstein conducting. the piece quickly became popular and within the next two years was performed by nearly 100 other orchestras!

Last season, we were treated to an exciting performance of the Overture to Candide by the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, conducted by Keith Lockhart. Today, you'll get to enjoy a video of Bernstein himself conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in this concert performance from 1989.


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Happy Birthday, Claude Debussy! - Friday, August 22, 2014



Today marks the 152nd birth anniversary of French composer Achille-Claude Debussy (aka Claude Debussy). He was among the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and along with Maurice Ravel, was one of the most prominent figures associated with Impressionist music (though he intensely disliked having the term attributed to his compositions).

Debussy's iconic Clair de Lune is the third and most famous movement of his Suite bergamasque. Clair de Lune, which means "moonlight" in French, takes its name from Paul Verlaine's poem of the same name.

Violinist Ray Chen will perform Debussy's Clair de Lune as part of his recital program this spring. Hear this gorgeous piece performed live on May 12, 2015, 8pm at the Renée & Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

Tickets for Ray Chen in recital start at $20, and are available by calling our Patron Services Department at (949) 553-2422, ext. 1.


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