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Holiday Concert: A Mercyhurst Christmas

Mary D'Angelo Performing Arts Center

Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 - 4p.m.

Mercyhurst Civic Orchestra and Mercyhurst Concert Choir
Directed by Jonathan Moser and Thomas Brooks
Featuring guest soloist James Bobick – baritone
 
Program:
Prokofiev, Lieutenant Kije Suite for Orchestra and baritone
Vivaldi, Gloria in D Major RV589 for Chous, Soloists, and Orchestra
Christmas Carol Sing-a-long

The story of Lieutenant Kije first appeared as an anecdote in Vladimir Dahl's "Stories of the time of Paul I" in 1870, but it had existed for many decades already. In this original version, a clerk miswrites an order promoting several ensigns to second lieutenants, in the process creating the nonexistent Kije. The Emperor Paul decides to promote Kije to first lieutenant; he quickly rises through the ranks to staff captain and full captain, and when he is promoted to colonel, the emperor commands that Kije appear before him. Of course, no Kije can be found; the military bureaucrats go through the paper trail and discover the original mistake, but they decide to tell the emperor that Kije has died. "What a pity," the emperor says, "he was a good officer." Prokofiev wrote the score to a film adaptation of this story and while the film has become lost with time, the orchestral suite that Prokofiev pulled from the score has become one of his most beloved orchestral works. And while it is not truly a Christmas piece, Prokofiev uses many sounds we associate with this time of year such as sleigh bells.

The Gloria text is the second part of the Ordinary of the Latin Mass of the Roman Catholic Church traditionally sung by a choir. It is used in many other Christian denominations as well. The text of the song begins with the words sung by the angels as part of the announcement of the birth of Jesus to the shepherds in Luke 2:14. Originally in Greek, it was likely written in the first century. Vivaldi wrote three settings of the Gloria, although only two survive. Written during his first tenure as music teacher at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice 1713-1719, it certainly indicates the excellent musical abilities of the girls at this orphanage. This was a unique place of care for illegitimate children. They were usually left anonymously at this public social institute – all were welcome without question, and many were children of Venetian noblemen and their mistresses. Boys and girls were educated at the Pièta until age ten when they learned a trade, the boys elsewhere and the girls at the Pièta itself. During Vivaldi’s time, some girls were chosen to be musicians and their popular concerts earned money for the functioning of the Pièta. This setting, RV589, has become hugely popular – its sunny disposition and the variety of musical ideas and moods created by the different movements are astonishingly beautiful and powerful.

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