Symphony concert brings the romance of France to Manchester

By Karen Greer
For the Journal Inquirer
January 30, 2014

MANCHESTER — On Saturday, Feb. 1, at Manchester High School, the Manchester Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Joseph Hodge, takes a musical journey across the Atlantic to the era of some of France’s most famous composers with a concert titled “A la France.”

In 19th-century Paris, music and the fine arts were not just a part of life — for many Parisians, they were life itself. The City of Light shone with the glow from churches with their fine organs, and from splendid theaters for ballets and operas.

The homes of well-to-do Parisians, including composer Ernest Chausson, were salons where literary and artistic figures from throughout Europe and beyond congregated. Chausson was well aware of the demands of his busy life when the Belgian violinist Eugene Ysaÿe asked Chausson to compose a violin concerto. Instead, he wrote “Poème,” a shorter work for violin and orchestra.

Neither Ysaÿe nor his audiences were disappointed. “Poème” is still a favorite of many violinists, including the soloist for this concert, Gary Capozziello. Capozziello has recently appeared as soloist with the New Haven Civic Orchestra, American Chamber Orchestra,

Hartt Symphony Orchestra, Hartt Wind Ensemble, Connecticut Valley Chamber Orchestra, and in numerous string and chamber music ensembles.

The music for the ballet Sylvia brought Leo Delibes, already well-known as a composer for the theater, widespread acclaim from the public and fellow composers, including Tchaikovsky.

Even after becoming a professor at the Paris Conservatoire, Delibes seemed to prefer the pleasures of Parisian society to more serious pursuits. According to one of his students, the violin virtuoso Fritz Kriesler, “Often when we were in the midst of a composition lesson some pretty young damsel would come along and suggest it was time to dejeuner (dine) or go for a stroll. ‘Allons danser!’ (Let’s go dancing!) was another favorite challenge of his girlfriends. Delibes could never resist such a call.”

César Franck was also on the faculty of the Paris Conservatoire. In contrast to Delibes, he was devoted to his music and to his students, who called him “Père (Father) Franck.”

Like Chausson, Franck wrote music for violinist Eugene Ysaÿe. Unlike Chausson, he was able to deliver an entire violin concerto as a wedding gift to the violinist. It remains popular, but the Symphony in D minor featured on this concert’s program is Franck’s most enduring instrumental work.

When Franck composed his only symphony in 1888, he was nearing the end of a long musical life. Yet, like the painters of the budding Impressionist movement, Franck was still adding new colors and textures to his harmonic palette.

“A la France” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. at Manchester High School’s Bailey Auditorium at 134 E. Middle Turnpike. A reception with the orchestra, conductor, and soloist follows the concert. Tickets can be purchased at the door. Prices are $18, $15 for seniors and students, and free for those younger than 18. For more information, call 860-646-0047, email musicsix [at], or visit the Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale on its Facebook page or at:


Note from Gary Capozzielo, February 1, 2014:

This beloved violin work is based on the novel Le Chant de l’amour Triomphant (‘The Song of Love Triumphant’) by Ivan Turgenev, one of the Chausson’s favorite authors and close friend. The narrative is the inspiration for this enigmatic and late French romantic work; it expresses an ardent labyrinth of mysticism, love, joy, death, heartbreak, and of course, triumph.

The Manchester Symphony is a charismatic, vibrant orchestra with thoughtful musicians who are dedicated in their performing as well as their teaching. They have recently brought on a brilliant young conductor whose accomplishments should certainly be watched closely, Joseph Hodge from the Hartt School!

Come join this MSO in their concert tonight at 7:30 pm, at Manchester High School’s attractive concert hall, for a program of well admired French repertoire. Included in tonight’s program is our collaboration of Ernest Chausson’s Poemé for Violin and Orchestra.

“Thank you again to the Manchester Symphony for inviting me to join you!”

Here is their website:

In addition, I find them highly likable! Please feel free to ‘like’ their FB page:

We all expect a healthy turnout tonight, and all are invited to come share inspiring evening of French repertoire!