Program Notes October 13

Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1861-1867)
Richard Wagner (1813-1883)

Throughout much of the 19th century, German music was dominated by a war of words between two opposing camps. On one side were the “neo-classicists” who championed formal clarity over emotional expression. On the other side was the so-called “New German School.” They felt that form must be subject to inspiration and favored an expansion of traditional harmonic language. By the 1860s, both camps had found their respective champions in Brahms and Wagner. It must be said that Brahms did little in the way of direct participation in the debate and in fact counted himself as an admirer of Wagner. It fell to the Viennese music critic Eduard Hanslick to become the most prominent voice of the neoclassical side of the debate. Wagner was more than willing to speak for himself, and in fact, he did so in a number of lengthy essays.

However, his best-known sally in the ongoing debate was certainly his music drama Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, first performed in 1868. Though billed as Wagner’s only comic opera (at least comic in a long-winded Wagnerian sense), Die Meistersinger can also be seen as an artistic manifesto. The plot concerns a song contest sponsored by the guild of Mastersingers in 16th century Nuremburg. The contest boils down to a struggle between two contestants, the newcomer Walther von Stolzing, and the narrow-minded Sextus Beckmesser. The latter’s song follows all the traditional rules laid down by the Mastersingers, and yet it is clearly inferior to Walter’s “Prize Song,” which boldly breaks them. It is almost universally assumed that the character Beckmesser is a thinly disguised caricature of Hanslick.

However, this assumption may be untrue or, at the least, wildly exaggerated. For one thing, Wagner had written a draft of the libretto as early as 1845 when Hanslick was unknown to him. For another, relations between the two men were friendly at first, before collapsing under the weight of their respective ideologies. The story may have been inadvertently begun by Wagner, who reported an incident at a reading of his libretto in 1862 while the opera was still in progress. By his account, Wagner believed that Hanslick was in some discomfort at the reading, and several of Wagner’s friends who were present got the impression that Hanslick saw the libretto as a personal attack. However, we have only Wagner’s word on this. The story has not been corroborated, even by Hanslick.

The Prelude to the opera was finished long before the opera itself and was first performed in 1862. In its broad outlines, the prelude resembles a traditional sonata form. The music begins with two themes associated with the Mastersinger’s guild. The first is a stately procession of the guildsmen, followed by the fanfare associated with the presentation of the guild’s banner. As the key changes, the violins present the third theme, a prototype version of Walther’s “Prize Song.” The development that follows includes a humorous passage in which the Mastersinger’s processional theme is presented by the winds in a mock-scholastic contrapuntal style, twice interrupted by the romantic Prize Song motive in the strings. Instead of a conventional recapitulation, in which the three main themes are played one after the other, Wagner does something totally new and presents all three themes simultaneously. The prelude concludes with a glorious affirmation of the Mastersinger themes.

Pavane, Op. 50 (1887)
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)

Though he was an important figure in the musical scene of late 19th-early 20th century France, Gabriel Fauré’s importance can be easy to overlook. The innovations of his contemporaries tended to emphasize more intense expression, longer forms, larger ensembles, ever more brilliant orchestral colors; qualities which are largely absent in Fauré’s music. His list of works consists mainly of chamber works and shorter pieces such as songs and piano music. He disliked flamboyant instrumental effects, considering them at best self-indulgent, or at worst a substitute for real musical invention. His masterpiece, the Requiem, distinguishes itself for its intimate expression, relative lack of drama, transparent orchestration, and above all its serenity, all hallmarks of Fauré’s mature style.

Despite his preference for smaller ensembles, Fauré did produce a number of orchestral works. One of his best-known is the Pavane, written in 1887 for a small orchestra consisting of woodwinds and horns in pairs, plus the usual strings. A Pavane is a slow, elegant and stately dance from the Renaissance era, originating in Italy but mainly associated with Spain. The work was originally written for a summer concert series of lighter works, but the premiere took place in November 1888.

At about the same time, Fauré began to frequent the salon of Élisabeth de Caraman Chimay, Countess Greffulhe, a leading Parisian patroness of the arts. The composer chose to dedicate the work to her. She raised the idea that the work be performed as a short ballet, but also suggested that a part for chorus be added. Fauré obliged her, adding a choral setting of a rather insipid text by the Countess’s nephew on top of the preexisting orchestral parts. The version with chorus and
dancers was first performed in 1991 at one of the Countess’s garden parties. The published score included the choral parts. However, since the chorus was simply overlaid onto an already complete composition, and contributed nothing essential, it is common to simply perform it with orchestra alone.

Fauré considered the Pavane “elegant but not particularly important;” still, it has become one of his most familiar compositions. The reasons for its appeal are obvious. The opening flute melody is haunting and easily memorable, but the simplicity of the texture is offset by Fauré’s genius for introducing unexpected harmonic twists, keeping the texture from being overly predictable. The choreographer Léonide Massine heard “haunting echoes of Spain’s Golden Age,” which brought to mind the formality and underlying melancholy he found in the paintings of Velázquez. Two decades later, nearly identical terms would be used to describe the Pavane for a Dead Princess by Maurice Ravel, Fauré’s most distinguished pupil.

Romanian Rhapsody No. 1, in A Major, Op. 11 (1901)
George Enescu (1881-1955)

Romanian violinist and composer, George Enescu was a child prodigy. He entered the Vienna Conservatory at age seven and graduated at age 12 with a silver medal. After further study in Paris, he began a career as a violinist and chamber musician in Europe. Later he began a second career as a conductor in the United States. He died in Paris in 1955. There are only 33 published works by Enescu. His busy career as a performer is often blamed, but his relentless perfectionism is probably the real reason. All of his published works were repeatedly revised before publication, and in many cases revision continued even after publication. Recent research suggests that there may be hundreds of compositions in manuscript that Enescu simply could not polish to the high standards of perfection he demanded for publication. Enescu reflected on his music, “People have been puzzled and annoyed because they have been unable to catalogue and classify me in the usual way. They could not decide exactly what type of music mine was. It was not French after the manner of Debussy; it was not exactly German … people are annoyed when they cannot readily classify one.” The fact that Enescu made use of Romanian folk idioms in his earlier works would tend to classify him as a nationalist; however, shortly after the publication of his two Romanian Rhapsodies, he began to move away from the overt use of folk materials. He disliked the limitations it placed on his creativity. He came to bitterly resent the popularity of the Rhapsodies and the way they dominated his reputation. The Rhapsodies, dominated by brilliant, virtuosic writing for the violin sections, remain as popular today as ever.

Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64 (1888)
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Creative people are often susceptible to periods of depression and self-doubt. Tchaikovsky struggled with such periods throughout his life, but the 1870s were an especially difficult. Spectacular successes were followed by equally spectacular failures, with some of the failures existing only in his mind. The decade also encompassed his disastrous marriage, stemming from a desperate attempt to deny his homosexuality, followed by a halfhearted suicide attempt. Professionally, however, 1878 was a banner year, with the completion of three of his greatest works, the Violin Concerto, Fourth Symphony, and the opera Eugene Onegin. But the emotional and professional upheavals of his life had taken a toll, and he entered a period of creative exhaustion. For several years, the flood of works from his pen slowed to a trickle.

The idea for a Fifth Symphony seems to have occurred in early 1888. Ten years had passed since had passed since the composition of his fourth symphony. Tchaikovsky’s letters reveal his fears that he was “dried up” and “written out,” but he was not ready to give up just yet. A letter to his brother, dated May 27, included the news that he was “hoping to collect, little by little, material for a symphony.” A few weeks later he wrote, “Now I shall work my hardest.I am exceedingly anxious to prove to myself, as to others, that I am not played out as a composer … The beginning was difficult, but now inspiration seems to have come.”

Once inspiration came, Tchaikovsky, as usual, was able to work very quickly. A sketch of the symphony was finished within six weeks, with the full score being completed quickly. Tchaikovsky was decidedly pleased with the effort: “I have not blundered, it has turned out well,” he wrote. Unfortunately, his reaction to the November premiere in St. Petersburg revealed that he had not overcome his tendency toward self-doubt. “I have come to the conclusion,” he wrote, “that it is a failure. There is something repellent, something superfluous, patchy and insecure, which the public instinctively recognizes. It was obvious to me that the ovations I received were prompted more by my earlier work, and that the Symphony itself did not really please the audience. This realization brings a sharp twinge of dissatisfaction with myself. Am I really played out, as they say?”

It took a performance in Hamburg the following year to finally bring him around. The orchestra was much better prepared than at the St. Petersburg performance, and the new symphony was enthusiastically received by both the audience and critics. Even Brahms, who loathed Tchaikovsky, was less critical than usual. “The Fifth Symphony was magnificently played,” Tchaikovsky reported, “and I like it far better now.” A striking feature of the symphony, and a unique one for Tchaikovsky, is the use of a “motto,” a theme which recurs in various transformations in every movement of the symphony. Tchaikovsky’s sketches include a marginal note that gives this theme a tantalizing significance: “Introduction. Complete resignation before Fate, or, which is the same, before the inscrutable predestination of Providence. Allegro. (1) Murmurs of doubt, complaints, reproaches against XXX. (2) Shall I throw myself in the embraces of faith??? A wonderful program, if only it can be carried out.”

This is the only apparent clue to a possible program for the symphony, but there is no indication that it was “carried out” any further. It seems reasonable to describe the recurring theme as a “Fate motive,” as almost all commentators do. It is heard at the beginning in a foreboding, apprehensive mood. It recurs in the second movement as a brutal interruption of a moment of heartfelt expression. We hear it again near the end of the third movement as a ghostly presence hovering around the edges of a waltz tune, and in the finale as the subject of a ceremonial march. Tchaikovsky left us a detailed program for the Fourth Symphony, revolving around man’s struggle with Fate, but with the Fifth we have nothing to go on. Perhaps it would be best to “Let him guess it who can,” as Tchaikovsky would suggest in connection with his next, and last, symphony.

The symphony begins with a slow introduction, including a single statement of the Fate theme by two clarinets in unison in their low register, simply accompanied by low strings. The mood is somber, gray and colorless. The first movement proper gets under way as the tempo quickens, and clarinet and bassoon introduce a theme which, while still somber, has an infectious rhythmic lilt. The theme builds to a rousing climax, and is followed by a complete contrast, one of those tender, yearning themes in the strings which Tchaikovsky does so well. The development section is extended and complex, described by Edward Downs as “a battlefield of rhythms and sonorities.” Both themes are heard, often in combination. A solo bassoon introduces the recapitulation, which is fairly straightforward, but is followed by a long coda which builds to a brilliant climax, only to sink away to an e-minor triad, unusually voiced in the lowest register of the orchestra.

The second movement again begins with somber, low chords, which suddenly give way to a gorgeous, romantic theme in the solo horn. Lovely as this theme is, it has a strange, unfinished quality to it. The theme it never really comes to a proper conclusion but always gives way to a secondary theme which turns out to be the more important of the two. This is a movement built around long buildups to ever larger climaxes, which tend to be wiped out by unexpected reappearances of the Fate motive, until the movement finally comes to an end in a mood of resigned contentment.

As an antidote to the intense heat of the second movement, something cooler, was needed. Tchaikovsky supplied with a Waltz in place of the traditional Scherzo. The principal theme is based on a tune he heard sung by a Florentine street urchin during a trip to Italy several years earlier. This is not music of deep emotion, but there is a sense of melancholy which is never entirely absent. After a lighter, almost Mendelssohn like trio, the principal theme returns, and the Fate motive makes a brief but unmistakable appearance just before the end.

The Finale is long, formally complex, and draining. Few symphonic movements are as exhausting, for both performer and listener as this. The Fate motive is heard at the outset, now in a major key and cast as a stately, triumphant processional. The main body of the movement gets underway with a sudden quickening of tempo and a return to the minor mode. What follows is a normal sonata form with two contrasting themes and a development section that treats both themes and the Fate motive. Despite the normality of its form, this is music of unrelenting momentum. Buildups are followed by bigger buildups, climaxes by greater climaxes, until a series of emphatic major triads is followed by a sudden silence. At this point a sizable portion of the audience begins applauding, being fooled into thinking the symphony is over. Tchaikovsky, however, has one more surprise. The Fate motive is heard a final time, now transformed into a grandiose march of triumph. A Presto coda follows, featuring several more long buildups, until the symphony finally ends with trumpets, quadruple fortissimo, recalling he principal theme of the first movement, bringing the symphony full circle.

History of Clapping

One of the first things many of us learn to do as babies is clap. As we age, we learn that clapping is an acceptable way to show appreciation and happiness. We clap at a sporting event when our team scores. We clap at a political rally when a speaker makes a point we appreciate. We clap at a popular music concert when our favorite artist plays a great song. But sometimes it can be confusing as to when clapping is appropriate.

History of Clapping

For instance, does one clap when Hamlet finishes his soliloquy in a modern Shakespearean performance? And at what point should one clap at the symphony? And where is the line between a small, polite clap and a roaring applause complete with hoots and hollers? Here at Carmel Symphony Orchestra (CSO), we understand these can be difficult distinctions and the worry of doing the wrong thing might deter our audience members from fully enjoying their experience. Today we’d like to take a moment to explore the history of applause, and help you better understand how and when to clap at one of our performances.

The exact beginning of applause is a little uncertain, but we know it was first documented in the third century B.C., with the works of Roman playwright Plautus ending with the word plaudite, a directive for the audience to applaud or clap. A performer would announce to the audience at the end that it was time to applaud. Applauding consisted of hand clapping and finger snapping.As time passed, the practice followed into politics. In first century A.D. and beyond, audience members would clap for politicians speaking in the theater. These politicians would gauge their popularity based on how much applause they and their opponent received.

Over time applause evolved from sedate hand clapping and finger snapping to include stomping, trilling, and chants of praise. It was not uncommon for a performer during Roman times to employ the service of a claque, a group of paid audience members who would cheer and clap, to motivate the rest of the audience to applaud. Think of the modern-day sitcom laugh track. These people would manipulate the general audience by their paid reactions. This practice went on to become a standard in French theater and opera in the seventeenth and eighteen centuries.

Later in the eighteenth century, artists such as Mozart expected people to be loud at his performances. Not only was applause and cheering encouraged and appreciated, but concerts were seen as a social gathering. Friends would chat and even eat while an artist performed. However, these performances were more intimate and often commissioned by the host as entertainment for their dinner party.

Over the next hundred years, orchestral concerts became more of what they are today, larger gatherings of the general public. With more people and louder sounds, some artists became frustrated and distracted by the cheers and applause. Others demanded no applause during performances as a way to discourage claques. Now that the masses were able to attend performances, the social elite began to stay quiet and reserved as a way to distinguish themselves from the lower classes in attendance.

When is clapping appropriate?

This reserved attitude became the standard for orchestral performances from that point into modern times. However, we at Carmel Symphony Orchestra believe music is a thing to be felt, loved, and enjoyed. A trip to the symphony does not need to be a stuffy experience. Just as you are no longer expected to wear frock coats or corsets (though, if that’s what makes you feel comfortable we have no problem with it!), you no longer should feel the need to stifle your appreciation. Let’s take a cue from the Romans. If you feel moved by the music, let us know!

Cheers, clapping, finger snapping, whatever you’d like! We encourage you to enjoy yourself and feel comfortable when you are at a Carmel Symphony Orchestra performance.

Want to know more before you head to a concert with the CSO? Explore our Symphony 101 blog.

Will We See You at Meet the Music?

Meet the Music with Us This Season

Did you know Wagner’s Die Meistersinger opera revolves around a singing contest? Or that Composer George Enescu was a child prodigy and began to compose at the age of 5?

Join fellow music enthusiasts in the Robert Adams Room for Meet the Music one hour prior to the start of our October 13, November 10, February 9, March 9 and April 27 concerts to go behind the scenes of each concert’s programming. Throughout the season, speakers will range from conductor Janna Hymes and guest artists, to orchestra musicians and Carmel Symphony staff.

Enjoy program insights, interesting commentary on the evening’s featured composers, stories behind the individual music selections and fascinating perspectives from guest artists will be included.

An interactive and fun way to learn more about the concert you are about to hear, we hope to see you for Meet the Music this season!


When: 6:30 p.m.

Where: Robert Adams Room

Have questions about the 2018-2019 season or our education and outreach programs? We’d love to hear from you. Let’s chat.

Curious what to wear or when to clap? Visit our Symphony 101 page and learn all you need to know to fully enjoy a Carmel Symphony Orchestra concert.

Listen to our full season playlist via Spotify.

Carmel Symphony Orchestra Announces 2018 Young Artist Competition Winner – Violinist Maya Kilburn

Meet 2018 Young Artist Competition Winner – Violinist Maya Kilburn

The Carmel Symphony Orchestra (CSO) proudly announces the winner of its 2018 and 38th Young Artists Competition. 15-year-old rising violinist from Muncie, Indiana, Maya Kilburn, took first place honors in this year’s competition. She also was the 2017 CSO Young Artists Competition runner-up.

“Honestly, I was pretty surprised when I was announced as first prize,” says Kilburn. “I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I’m playing my dream piece with the orchestra. I hope that I can make the performance so special that the audience connects to the music right away and loves the piece just as much as I do.”

Kilburn, who has played violin since age four, currently studies under Mimi Zweig at Indiana University Jacobs School String Academy, after first working with Anna Vayman and Chin Mi Kim during her early years. The daughter of a pianist and singer, she knew from the beginning that music would always be a big part of her life, and plans to have a career as a professional violin soloist and would love to study at The Juilliard School, The Curtis Institute of Music or one of the great music conservatories.

She has won numerous competitions, including the Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra’s National “Rising Star” Competition, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Young Artist Solo Concerto Competition – Junior Division, the Muncie Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition and the New World Youth Orchestra Young Artist Competition. Additionally, she was a second prize winner in the Louisville Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Concerto Competition, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Michael Ben and Illene Komisarow Maurer Young Musicians Contest, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Young Artist Solo Concerto Competition – Senior Division, a third prize winner in the MTNA Junior Strings Competition and a semi-finalist in the 2018 Johansen International Violin Competition. As a result, she has had many opportunities to perform as a soloist and tour the United States, Central American and Japan.

Kilburn has performed in master classes and lessons for internationally renowned violinists such as Pamela Frank, Vadim Gluzman, Noah Bendix-Balgley, Jinjoo Cho, Henryk Kowalski and Sarah Kapustin. She has been featured on both radio and television broadcasts, and performed with artists David Chan, Atar Arad and Joseph Swenson.  In 2017 and 2018, she was a featured guest at the Universidad National de Costa Rica and the La Castella Arts School in San Jose, Costa Rica, where she performed recitals and taught masterclasses.

“Maya brings a skilled presence to the stage and performs with a mature sound well beyond her years,” says Kimberly Dimond, executive director of the Carmel Symphony Orchestra. “We are proud to be part of her professional journey and can’t wait to see what lies ahead for Maya in the future.”

As the first place winner, Kilburn will perform with the CSO at the Side-by-Side Concert on November 18, 2018 at the Palladium. She also receives a scholarship award of $1000, made possible by the generous sponsorship from the Meridian Music.

Purchase concert tickets online here or by calling the Center’s Box Office at 317.843.3800. Discounts for students are also available: the $5 YouthPASS for High School and younger, and the $10 CollegePASS for College students.

The Carmel Symphony Orchestra Season Begins October 13

(Carmel, Ind. – September 24, 2018) The spotlight will shine brightly on the talents of the Carmel Symphony Orchestra (CSO) musicians as the season opens October 13 with “Orchestral Showcase” under the direction of Janna Hymes who serves as both music director and conductor. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts, with a pre-concert conversation, “Meet the Music,” led by Hymes beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Robert Adams Room.

This season is the first entirely programmed by Hymes, who launched her tenure with the CSO last season. “The opening concert for our 43rd season is a tour de force highlighting the orchestra with majestic pieces,” said Hymes. “We begin with The Prelude to Wagner’s Meistersinger – a brilliant statement, large in scope with lush, yearning melodies. Faure’s simple and melancholic Pavane comes next, followed by Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody, an exciting work from start to finish, and steeped in folk music which builds to a glorious climax. Closing the evening is the program’s main piece, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, rich in emotion, glorious melodies and great energy supported by intricate rhythms.”

New to the CSO family this year is Kimberly Dimond who became the organization’s executive director in July. Dimond will focus on outreach to ensure audience growth and participation in classical music. “There is a certain stigma about attending the symphony,” said Dimond. “People are worried about when to clap, what to wear, and that they won’t understand the music. We are going to work hard this year to enhance the symphony experience and dispel those myths to make attending a concert or a CSO event fun!”

Kicking off the season of special events is “Taste the Music,” exclusive evening of live music unique silent and live auction items held at Prime 47’s Clay Terrace location on October 11. Ticket information and details can be found at In addition, an “after party” at nearby restaurants (TBD) will follow the concerts this season, providing the audience an opportunity to mingle with CSO musicians as well as meet other audience members.

Single tickets as well as season subscriptions are now available for the CSO season that includes some of the world’s greatest symphonic music performed by renowned guest artists. Special performances include a November 18 “Side-by-Side” concert with Carmel High School Orchestra musicians featuring the winner of the CSO Young Artists Competition as well as two very special January “Pedcor & Friends” programs honoring veterans, active military and first responders (and those individuals receive a discounted ticket!). Families won’t want to miss the annual ‘IU Health Holiday Pops” December 8 or “Family FUN!” set for February 24.

Single tickets and Full and Flex subscriptions are now on sale through the Palladium Box Office at the Center for the Performing Arts (317.843.3800). Discounts for students are also available: the $5 YouthPASS for High School and younger, and the $10 CollegePASS.

About the Carmel Symphony Orchestra

Believing that music has the power to change lives, the Carmel Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is the resident orchestra at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Ind. Founded in 1975, the CSO is comprised of professional and passionate musicians. The orchestra performs concerts featuring an eclectic repertoire of some of the world’s greatest symphonic music. The CSO is committed to enhancing our community’s quality of life through creative, artistically excellent performances, and educational experiences for diverse audiences of all ages. Janna Hymes was appointed music director in July 2017. For more information, visit

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