Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Grand Anniversary 1710 - 2010 Concert - Part I

It’s been some time since I updated this blog – mea culpa! Let’s go back a few weeks to get caught up. I’ll start with the Grand Anniversary 1710 – 2010 concert on May 16. It was Grand indeed! The music was presented by A Royal Consort with Caroline M. Bosley as musical director and the Annapolis Basin Community Band conducted by Jolene Buchholz. More on the people who made this wonderful concert happen in the next post. I will also add pictures in another post as this post is rather longer than usual.

Here is the program from the event at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Annapolis Royal –

A Grand Anniversary
1710 – 2010

The year 2010 marks three anniversaries which have significance for Annapolis Royal and for all of Canada.

The most obvious of these is that in 1710 what is now Annapolis Royal changed hands between England/Britain and France for the last time. It was then that the town received its present name, Annapolis Royal – the Royal City of Anne. It was not the first North American settlement to be named after Anne, Annapolis in Maryland enjoys that honour. However, Annapolis Maryland was named in 1694 while Anne was still just a Princess.

The establishment of a stable British presence in Annapolis Royal gave rise to another significant event. The Church of England set down the roots of what was to become the Anglican church in Canada. The services which were held in the military settlement led eventually to the formation of the Parish of Annapolis and thus to the building of the church in which these anniversaries are being celebrated.

Two hundred years after these events came the founding of the Royal Canadian Navy. While this can hardly be claimed as a Nova Scotia event there has been an abiding link between the Navy and Nova Scotia as each has shaped the other over the past century.

The music presented today is chosen to represent these themes. It is old and new, sacred and secular, light and serious. We hope you enjoy this music and that it brings to life the history of this place.

In a Consort of Voices Henry Purcell

Themes from Music for the Royal Fireworks
Overture George Frideric Handel

Magnificat Orlando Gibbons

Eternal Father Strong to Save - Naval Hymn
Common Praise: 567

Our Director Frederick E. Bigelow

Annapolis Royal Suite Ron MacKay
To the New Land
L'Ordre de Bon Temps
The Siege of Fort Anne 1744
Celebration 2005


Alleluja Henry Purcell

Birthday Ode for Queen Anne:
Eternal Source of Light Divine
George Frideric Handel

I. Eternal source of light divine
II. The day that gave great Anna birth
III. Let all the winger race with joy
Solo: Caroline Bosley
IV. Let flocks and herds
V. Let rolling streams
VI. Kind health descends
Duet: Caroline Bosley
Mary Lou Rockwell
VII. The day that gave great Anna birth
VIII. Let envy then conceal her head
IX. United Nations shall combine
Solo: Mary Lou Rockwell

Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
Purcell was an organist and composer of secular and sacred music who used Italian and French stylistic elements in his compositions but who defined a uniquely English form of Baroque music. Purcell showed musical talent early in life and despite an early death left us many operas, anthems and other works. He was favoured by Queen Mary, the elder sister of Queen Anne.

In a Consort of Voices is taken from the larger work Welcome to all the pleasures - Ode for St Cecilia's Day 1683. The extended work is a beautiful homage to Saint Cecilia – the patron saint of music. The work presented illustrates well Purcell's outstanding capabilities as a choral composer. The use of simple, repeated phrases in a fugue like form creates a delightful piece of music praising music.

Alleluja is a superb example of Purcell's polyphonic writing. Using just a single word “Alleluja” — from the Hebrew, “Praise God” — he creates a work in which each part is interesting in itself and the whole is sublime harmony. Truly, this praises God.

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Although born in Germany and given his musical finishing in Italy, Handel became English to the core and he is regarded as one of Britain's foremost composers and the musical successor to Purcell. His music was popular when it was first written and much of it has continued to be played and sung to this day.

Handel's first employer, in 1710, was George, Elector of Hanover, who became George I of Britain after the death of Queen Anne. In 1712, Handel moved to London where he soon received commissions and, in 1713, an annuity from Queen Anne. When George succeeded Anne, relations between Handel and the King were rather cool until Handel created the Water Music Suite for the King.

Thereafter success followed upon success. The variety of his works was considerable, comprising operas, oratorios, orchestral suites, concerti, anthems and other works. The sheer volume of output was overwhelming with many works being still widely known. Handel died a wealthy and highly regarded man. More than three thousand mourners attended his funeral, which was given full state honours, and he was buried in Westminster Abbey.

The music for the Royal Fireworks was composed in 1749 when Handel was at the height of his musical powers and popular appeal. He was a super star in his day as indicated by the fact that the first performance of the suite had an audience of 12,000 people.

The original version of the work was scored entirely for winds and percussion so it is most appropriate as a work for concert band. Because instruments have changed so much in the 250 years since the suite was written, the arrangement of the work is quite different from the original setting. Moreover, only part of the suite is presented. The full suite comprises five movements and several of the movements have more parts. Despite these differences, the character of the music is faithful to Handel’s intentions. Another difference which could not be avoided is the lack of fireworks.

The Birthday Ode for Queen Anne is a work by the young Handel. Composed in 1713 when he was only 27, it was a major success – especially financially. Not long after it was written Handel received a generous pension from Queen Anne.

The libretto, written by Ambrose Philips, is filled with historical allusions and not a few ironic comments. Above all, it is almost fawning in its gracious comments about Queen Anne. After all, she paid for it.

Queen Anne did not have an easy life and she reigned in a difficult time. The younger daughter of James II, the last Roman Catholic English monarch, both she and her sister Mary were raised as Protestants. Mary married William of Orange. Anne married Prince George of Denmark-Norway. In 1688, William invaded England, James fled to France and, in due course, Parliament made William and Mary joint monarchs. Mary died in 1694 and William ruled alone.

Throughout Anne's life, royal succession was a major issue. William and Mary had no children. Anne and her husband attempted to produce an heir but of her 17 known pregnancies, only one produced a child who lived past the age of two and he died at the age of 11.

By the time Anne assumed the throne in 1702, it was clear she was the last of her line. Anne inherited a war and a hostile political environment from her brother-in-law. By the time of her death in 1714, most of the problems had been put behind her. It is this which is reflected in the libretto.

I. Eternal source of light divine with double warmth thy beams display, and with distinguish'd glory shine, to add a lustre to this day.
II. The day that gave great Anna birth who fix'd a lasting peace on earth.
III. Let all the winged race with joy their wonted homage sweetly pay, whilst tow'ring in the azure sky they celebrate this happy day:
IV. Let flocks and herds their fear forget lions and wolves refuse their prey and all in friendly consort meet, made glad by this propitious day.
V. Let rolling streams their gladness show with gentle murmurs whilst they play, and in their wild meanders flow, rejoicing in this blessed day.
VI. Kind health descends on downy wings; angels conduct her on the way. T'our glorious Queen new life she brings,
and swells our joys upon this day.
VII. Repeat III.
VIII. Let envy then conceal her head, and blasted faction glide away. No more her hissing tongues we'll dread, secure in this auspicious day.
IX. United nations shall combine, to distant climes the sound convey that Anna's actions are divine, and this the most important day!

The recurring theme of “lasting peace” refers to the Treaty of Utrecht which concluded the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713. Britain did rather well in the war, helping to keep France and Spain from coming together under a single monarch and picking up a few French possessions in the process, notably Port-Royal. The banished “blasted factions” and “hissing tongues” in VIII refer to several Whigs who were a thorn in Anne's side for many years. The “United Nations” in IX refer to the 1707 Act of Union which combined England and Scotland into Great Britain so as to forestall French meddling in Scotland. Finally, the notion that “kind health descends” expressed in movement VI speaks more to hope than about Anne's true condition. That it also says “angels conduct her on her way” speaks with prescience to her imminent death.

Orlando Gibbons (1583 – 1625) was one of the most versatile English composers of his time. He wrote keyboard works, fantasias for viols, madrigals, and popular verse anthems. His choral music is distinguished by his mastery of counterpoint, combined with his wonderful gift for melody.

Most people now encounter Gibbons music through his hymn tunes which have interesting melodies with unexpected rhythmic elements. The harmony parts are charming to the listener and quite exciting to the singer. The text of the Magnificat is Luke 1:46-55.

Frederick E. Bigelow (1873-1929) was a professional pharmacist and amateur musician who spent his entire life in Massachusetts. He studied both the clarinet and saxophone but for most of his years in a band he played the saxophone.

He is noted for two marches. The NC-4 march honours the first airplane to cross the Atlantic. However, his best known march is Our Director.

Ron MacKay (1928-2008) received his formal music education at Canadian Forces School of Music, St. Xavier University and Dalhousie University. He made a great impact on music, both in Nova Scotia and throughout Canada, through teaching, playing, conducting, adjudicating, arranging and composing. In particular, he championed wind bands. He had a special attachment to the Annapolis Basin Community Band.

Ron’s contributions were widely recognized as he was honoured with life membership in the Nova Scotia Music Educators Association, the Nova Scotia Band Association, the Music Industry Association Nova Scotia. He was also an International Honorary member of the Band Masters Fraternity Phi Beta Mu. He received the highest award of the Canadian Band Association in 1997.

In 2005 the ABCB commissioned Ron to compose a work as part of the celebration of 400th anniversary of the founding of a European settlement in the Annapolis Basin. The work he produced was the Annapolis Royal Suite. It was premiered on 17 July 2005 in Fort Anne as part of the 2005 BandFest.

The Annapolis Royal Suite is a four-movement work for concert band. The composition reflects various events in history, from the Landing of the French through to the Celebrations of 2005.

To The New Land describes the voyage from France to Canada, in particular nova Scotia. The music reflects the excitement as the travelers leave France, cross the Atlantic, and reach the shores of the Bay of Fundy and Annapolis Basin. The movement culminates in the celebration of their arrival in the “New Land”.

Order of Good Cheer is a miniature suite within the suite. Each dance (Basse Dance, Rondeau Menuett and Dance “Bransle”) musically describes the events as they happened in this famous social club.

The Siege of Fort Anne relates an attack on Fort Anne in 1744. The music describes the peaceful beauty of the land surrounding Fort Anne, then the approach of the French Fifes and Drums with the order to attack, “Marches des Mousquetaires”, followed by a cannon shot, then “la Retraite”, the order to retreat, and finally the “Grenadiers’ Song”, indicating that the British had repelled the attack, and the tranquility of the land returns.

Celebration 2005 describes Annapolis Royal today: the hustle and bustle of this thriving community, and the beautiful Historic Gardens. The Historic Gardens theme provides a fitting finale for the Annapolis Royal Suite.