A musical journey to Europe

Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale to close season with ‘Passport to Europe’ Pops concert

By Karen Greer
For the Journal Inquirer
June 5, 2014

MANCHESTER — Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale is planning a musical grand tour for its Pops concert on Saturday, June 7. Instead of a sightseeing trip, MSOC’s Passport to Europe concert will visit the continent’s most famous sounds.

Highlights include orchestral favorites such as Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” and Mozart’s overture to “Marriage of Figaro.” The chorale will perform folk and popular songs, and join the orchestra to provide the voices of the mountain trolls in Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King.”

MSOC’s music directors Joseph Hodge and Kevin Mack will share the podium for this final concert of the 54th season.

Wagner’s heroic “Ride of the Valkyries” depicts the Valkyries of Norse mythology, who bring fallen warriors to their reward in Valhalla. This excerpt from Wagner’s epic “Ring Cycle” operas is often used during battle scenes in television and film, as in the 1979 movie “Apocalypse Now.”

The overture to Mozart’s opera “Marriage of Figaro” is every bit as popular now as at its 1786 premiere in Vienna. The audiences were so enthusiastic that the number of encores almost doubled the length of the first few performances, and the emperor himself felt it necessary to declare a limit.

MSOC’s Passport to Europe concert is an especially appropriate part of Manchester’s 2014 Pride and Heritage week. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Homeland Day, a celebration of the history and culture of the various European countries from which many of Manchester’s residents originated.

The Manchester Historical Society’s website (www.manchesterhistory.org) includes the front page of a special edition of the Manchester Herald describing the grand event in 1914. The Homeland Day festivities began with a parade of lavishly decorated floats, many depicting the nations’ cultural contributions. Musical performances lasted throughout the afternoon and well into the evening.

The chorale will carry on that tradition by performing folk songs arranged by great composers. As immigrants brought their beloved songs and dances to the New World, composers of the 18th and 19th century traveled the European countryside to collect and preserve their traditions.

On the program is an arrangement of four Slovak songs by Béla Bartók. Bartók and his friend and fellow composer Zoltán Kodály used the primitive recording equipment of the day to capture the musical traditions found in their native Hungary.

The chorale will also perform a setting by Gustav Hoist of a haunting ballad from Cornwall, “I Love my Love,” and songs from France and Italy.

Passport to Europe will be performed on Saturday, June 7, at 7:30 p.m., at East Catholic High School, 115 New State Road. Tickets are $18; $15 for seniors and students, and free for children younger than 18. For more information, call 860-646-0047, email MusicSix [at] cox.net, visit the Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale Facebook page, or visit the MSOC website at: