We are now on
Clear Lake Symphony
Conductor & Musical Director
Dr. Johnson provides an inside view of the music selection for each concert
and guest artists.
2009 - 2010 Season
2008 - 2009 Season
February 21, 2009
February's concert opens with Wagner’s Siegfried
Idyll. One of only two purely orchestral works by this composer, it
is a little gem. Written as a surprise birthday and Christmas gift to his
wife, Cosima, after the birth of his son, Siegfried, the work combines the
elements of a lullaby and simple folk melody with the love theme from his
opera, Siegfried, and a reference to the heroic Rhine
Journey, from the same opera.
The second work is Dietter’s delightful Concerto
for Two Bassoons. Here we feature two of our orchestra members,
Robyn Watson and Theresa Smith.
The concluding work is the Ravel orchestration of Mussorgsky’s
Pictures at an Exhibition. This highly popular piece is a musical
depiction of several works of art and architecture, including the
Ballet of the Chicks in their Shells, the Hut on Fowl’s Legs,
and The Great Gate of Kiev. One of the classics of
orchestration, it showcases all sections of the orchestra.
Our next concert will be a special collaboration with the Bay Area Chorus,
performing excerpts from famous operas. We will feature famous choruses by
Verdi, Mozart, Bernstein, Bizet and Donizetti, and orchestral exerpts by
Wagner, Prokofiev, Haydn and Rossini, and will present the first performance
of a suite from Puccini’s La Boheme. There will truly be something for
every classical music lover.
are particularly excited to have the opportunity to perform great literature
that, while familiar to audiences, rarely lends itself to inclusion on a
standard symphony concert. We hope our audience will also welcome this
change of pace and that we will be able to extend our relationship with the
Bay Area Chorus to enable us to further expand our repertoire in the future.
2007 - 2008 Season
May 10, 2008
For our final concert of the season we will present a program featuring
three English composers of the late 19th century.
Nearly everyone is familiar with Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance
March No. 1, which is routinely played at graduation exercises.
What few people know is that Elgar composed several more of these marches,
which are seldom played. We will present the second of these to open the
This will be followed by Brigg
Fair, by Frederick Delius, the most impressionistic of the English
composers. It is a tone picture of the landscape surrounding a county fair,
and its attendant activities.
The concert will conclude with The Planets, the massive work
by Gustav Holst. It is in seven movements, each depicting one of the
planets known to 19th century astronomers and the mystical
qualities associated with them: Mars, the Bringer of War; Venus, the
Bringer of Peace; Mercury, the Winged Messenger; Jupiter, the Bringer of
Jollity; Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age; Uranus, the Magician; and Neptune,
November 30 & December 1, 2007
(by Bob Wall)
Well, it is FALL!!! The leaves are turning colors, the air is cool and
crisp and we all are starting to bundle up for the weather! Well, at
least in part of the country that is the occasion. Here we have short
sleeve weather, air conditioning still on and grass turning brown
because of the heat!! Oh well, that is the Gulf Coast!
BUT - - it is time for the Clear Lake Symphony's annual "Christmas Pops"
concert. We will have two concerts again this year: Friday, November
30 and Saturday, December 1. The concerts will start at 7:30 PM at
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. Please note that there has been some
publications that state that we start at 8:00 PM, but that is
incorrect. We are joined be the Gloria Dei Festival Choir again this
year. Mary Voigt is the director of that group and she will conduct a
couple of pieces on the concert with the choir and orchestra.
We will be playing several of the favorite Christmas tunes plus two
songs arranged by Dr. Bradford Barlow,
past Associate Director of the Orchestra at Temple Square (Mormon
Tabernacle). We will also perform two waltzes from 'The Nutcracker" by
Tchaikovsky. Come early - - these concerts tend to sell out fast!
November 3, 2007
We take pleasure in occasionally presenting some of our outstanding
musicians as solo performers with the orchestra. This concert we feature
Bob Wall, our principal clarinetist and Associate Conductor, playing the
Mozart Clarinet Concerto. This is one of the earliest and still the
greatest concerto for clarinet, and Bob gives a very well thought-out and
Also on the program is the
ever-popular Egmont Overture by Beethoven, and Dvorak’s eighth Symphony.
The latter is one of Dvorak’s best known works, filled with wonderful
melodies from start to finish. We hope you will enjoy it.
2006 - 2007 Season
May 12, 2007
As part of the world-wide celebration year of the anniversary of Mozart’s
birth, we will feature two of his works on our May concert. We are pleased
to have Nancy Weems, University of Houston faculty artist, and Scott
Holshauser, pianist for the Houston Symphony, in a performance of the seldom
–heard Concerto for Two Pianos. Nancy is a long-time supporter of the
orchestra, and Scott has accompanied numerous contestants in our Youth
Concerto competition. We look forward to having them in the spotlight. This
is one of Mozart’s best works, and the opportunity to hear it performed live
should not be missed. The lively overture to the opera, The Impressario,
will begin the program.
The concluding work will be the Richard Strauss lively tone-poem, Till
Eulenspiegel. One of his greatest works, and probably the most popular,
it depicts the mischievous adventures of a medieval prankster.
The work opens with a 'Once upon a time' theme, then
suggests Till's laughter as he plots his next prank. The music follows Till
throughout the countryside, as he rides a horse through a market, upsetting
the goods and wares, pokes fun at the strict Teutonic clergy, flirts and
chases girls, and mocks the serious academics. Finally, Till has been
captured by the authorities, and is sentenced to hang for blasphemy. The
funeral march of the hangman begins a dialogue with the desperate Till, who
tries to wheedle and joke his way out of this predicament. Unfortunately, he
has no effect on the stony executioner, who pulls the lever. The clarinet
wails, signifying his death scream, and a
pizzicato by the strings represents the actual hanging and the swinging
of the body back and forth, gradually slowing and growing more infrequent
until reaching a stop. After a moment of silence, the 'once upon a time'
theme heard at the beginning returns, suggesting that something like Till
can never be destroyed, and the work ends with one last musical joke.
April 14, 2007
Every year the Clear Lake Symphony holds a competition
for Houston area Jr. and Sr. High School student musicians. There are
separate categories for Wind and String instruments and Piano. Winners are
invited to perform with the orchestra, a rare and valuable opportunity for
young performers. While not every talented youngster goes on to pursue a
career in music, many of our previous contestants have continued serious
study of their instruments and are now active professionals. I used to find
the quality of their performances surprisingly good, but over the years have
come to routinely expect the exceptional. I have no doubt that this year’s
winners will continue in this tradition.
This year’s winners are Matthew
Barker, playing the first movement of the Neruda Trumpet Concerto;
Anastasia Koinis, flute, playing Poem, by Griifes; Alice Wang,
playing the first movement of the Saint-Saens Second Piano Concerto;
Aidin Ashoori, playing Gershwin’s Piano Concerto; Nathan Haley,
playing the first movement of the first Cello Concerto by
Shostakovich; Lillian Pettitt, playing the first movement of Haydn’s
Cello Concerto in D, and Christoper Lee playing the last movement of
Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.
February 24, 2007
Our next program features our
principal flute, Melodie Cunningham, in a performance of Antal Dorati’s
Night Music. Remembered as one of the leading orchestra conductors
during the middle of the 20th century, Dorati has not received
sufficient recognition as a composer in his own right. As would be expected
from the title, his style shows the influences of his teachers, Bartok and
Kodaly, with Hungarian folk idioms clothed in more modern harmonies. He
describes the piece as a “flute concerto in disguise…a series of five
nocturnes referring to episodes from sunset to dawn.” The piece has been
recorded by myself and flutist Alison Young on Albany Records: Troy 308.
We will also be joined by organist Mary Horn for the Third Symphony by
Saint-Saens, the so-called ”organ symphony.” One of the most prodigious
child prodigies, Saint-Saens could read and write by the age of three,
started composing by age four, made his first public appearance playing the
piano part of a Beethoven violin sonata at age five, and had learned Latin
by the age of seven. At age ten, following his public debut as a soloist,
he offered to play as an encore any of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas from
memory. Liszt later declared him to be the greatest organist in the world.
In addition to his musical activities, he was a successful playwright and
poet, was a member of the Astromonical Society of France, wrote scholarly
articles and lectured on acoustics, Roman theatre decoration, and mirages.
He held discussions with leading scientists on mathematics, geology,
archeology, botany and lepidoptery, and his book on philosophy foreshadowed
Existentialism. A prolific composer, he was considered old-fashioned by
most of his contemporaries. He is remembered today chiefly for this work
and his Carnival of the Animals.
The opening work will be the Overture to Chabrier’s opera, Gwendoline.