Principal Conductor Guillermo Figueroa takes the podium for our annual Christmas Pops concert at The Lensic, led by Principal Conductor Guillermo Figueroa, and featuring a special side-by-side performance with The Santa Fe Youth Symphony!
|ANDERSON||A Christmas Festival|
|TCHAIKOVSKY||Selections from The Nutcracker|
|WILLIAMS||Fantasia on Greensleeves|
|SILVESTRI||Suite from the Polar Express|
|NORRIS / FAITH||Brazilian Sleigh Bells|
|STEPHENSON||A Holly and Jolly Sing-Along!|
Be sure to join us for a FREE preview talk one hour before the concert.
A Christmas Festival
Born June 29, 1908, Cambridge, MA
Died May 18, 1975, Westbury, CT
Audiences should resist the temptation to smile at the mention of Leroy Anderson’s name. At one level, he was a popular entertainer who wrote charming miniatures, music of wit and elegance, with terrifically catchy tunes. These include his many pieces of lighter music intended for pops concerts, like The Syncopated Clock, Fiddle-Faddle, The Typewriter, and Plink, Plank, Plunk!, which always leave audiences charmed and laughing. Behind the public persona of the popular entertainer, Anderson was a highly educated and interesting figure. He attended Harvard and studied music with such distinguished figures as Enesco and Piston. But Anderson did not set out on a musical career: His academic interests were German and Scandinavian languages (during World War II, Anderson was a translator for the army in Iceland), and he might well have made a career as a linguist and professor. However, Arthur Fiedler heard some of Anderson’s early arrangements and quickly hired him as arranger for the Boston Pops. Anderson conducted both the Harvard orchestra and the band, played double bass in the Boston Pops and was an organist, as well as a music administrator, serving on the boards of several American orchestras.
Brazilian Sleigh Bells
Born April 7, 1908, Toronto, Ontario
Died February 9, 1976, Encino, California
Percy Faith received his early training as a pianist in Canada and as a young man played the piano for silent films in movie houses. His career as a pianist came to an end at age 18 when his young sister accidentally set her dress on fire, and Faith’s hands were burned seriously as he rescued her. He then switched to a career as an arranger and composer, became an American citizen in 1945, and worked primarily in Hollywood, where he wrote film scores, recorded and made countless arrangements for a number of artists. While he is today remembered primarily as an arranger, Faith also composed; one of his most popular works is the jaunty Brazilian Sleigh Bells, which he wrote in 1950. Faith originally wrote this brief piece—which he instructs should be performed in a “Bright Samba” rhythm—for piano and orchestra, but it has been heard in countless arrangements.
Much of Anderson’s music has become so over-familiar that we’ve lost a sense of how witty and effective it is. Pieces like Bugler’s Holiday, Sleigh Ride and Blue Tango are beautifully written for their featured instruments, built on tunes that stick in the ear. Anderson was supremely self-critical, and he would work on (and re-work) his pieces for years until he had them exactly the way he wanted them. A skillful arranger, Anderson was able to isolate the essence of a work and recast it effectively: Many of the Boston Pops’ greatest successes are the result of Anderson’s work. Christmas Festival, a symphonic arrangement of favorite seasonal music that Anderson made in 1950, delivers exactly what its title promises.
Born January 29, 1862, Bradford
Died June 10, 1934, Grez-sur-Loing
The idea of a sleigh ride through a wintry landscape on the way to some warm and comforting destination seems to have a universal appeal. Such a journey shows up in many different kinds of music, ranging from popular culture (“Over the River and Through the Trees, To Grandmother’s House We Go”) to some of the greatest classical composers. These include Mozart (Sleigh Ride from Three German Dances), Tchaikovsky (The Journey through the Snow from The Nutcracker), Sibelius (Night Ride and Sunrise), as well as Prokofiev’s Troika from Lt. Kije Suite and the Leroy Anderson Sleigh Ride heard on this program. Part of the charm of these musical representations is that they often (but not always) include the sound of ringing sleigh bells.
English composer Frederick Delius originally composed the music that has come to be known as Sleigh Ride in 1887, while he was studying in Leipzig. In Leipzig, Delius–then still in his twenties–had become friends with Edvard Grieg, who encouraged him. Delius wrote a short work for piano that he called Norwegian Sleigh Ride and played this for Grieg, who admired it. Two years later, in 1889, Delius orchestrated the piece and included it as the second of his Three Small Tone Poems (the work is also sometimes known as Winter Night). Under whichever name it is known, this music continues to charm audiences.
It gets off to a steady start with the sound of ringing sleigh bells, and flutes quickly sound the perky main theme. This opening energy soon gives way to an evocative portrait of moonlit snowy landscapes. The opening music returns briefly, and Sleigh Ride vanishes into the moonlit forest.
One of the most versatile and respected musical artists of his generation—renowned as conductor, violinist, violist, and concertmaster—Guillermo Figueroa is the Principal Conductor of The Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra & Chorus. He also serves as the Music Director of the Music in the Mountains Festival in Colorado, Music Director of the Lynn Philharmonia in Florida, and is the founder of the highly acclaimed Figueroa Music and Arts Project in Albuquerque. Additionally, he was the Music Director of both the New Mexico Symphony and the Puerto Rico Symphony. With this last orchestra, he performed to critical acclaim at Carnegie Hall in 2003, the Kennedy Center in 2004, and Spain in 2005.