The Nashua Chamber Orchestra, www.nco-music.org, under the baton of Maestro David Feltner, will present a pair of concerts featuring classical guitarist Zaira Meneses, on Saturday, June 5, 8:00 PM at theNashua Senior Center, 70 Temple St., and Sunday, June 6, 7:00 PM at Milford Town Hall on the Oval. The program features works by Mendelssohn, Feigenbaum, Ponce and Beethoven. Tickets are priced at $15 adult, $13 senior and $8 student. Children 12 and under are free. Tickets may be purchased at the door, or in advance at Darrell’s Music Hall in Nashua and the Toadstool Bookstore in Milford’s Lorden Plaza.
Felix Mendelssohn (1809—1847) transforms the absurd into the sublime with his concert overture, The Fair Melusine (1834). Mendelssohn perfected this genre, which was intended as an individual concert piece unrelated to a theatrical production. The European legend of the fair Melusine dates back to the late 13th century. [illustration from Wikipedia, “Melusine” entry] Depicted in literature and art, Melusine was a spirit of fresh waters and sacred springs who took the form of a mermaid every Saturday. The lyrical, flowing water theme can be heard throughout the piece as it traverses a variety of moods and orchestral colors. Contending that musical expression is far more accessible than words, Mendelssohn wrote: “These [words] seem to me so ambiguous, so vague, so easily misunderstood in comparison to genuine music, which fills the soul with a thousand things better than words.”
By contrast, Stephen Feigenbaum’s Speak, Sing, Whale for Orchestra and Whale Sounds (2008), incorporates excerpts from recorded whale song along with orchestral colors in order to “evoke that washy, water-like sound” that is a whale’s environment. This 21-year-old award-winning composer from Winchester, Massachusetts composed Speak by playing piano along with recordings of whales. “I wasn’t really imitating the whale sounds. It was more seeing what kinds of material seemed to sound good with the whale songs.” The piece was commissioned by the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, and premiered at the Hatch Shell in 2008. Fascinated by the remarkable qualities of whale song and by people’s varied reactions to his piece, Mr. Feigenbaum insists that “the meaning is something people end up getting for themselves.”
Ludwig van Beethoven’s (1770-1827) “Pastoral” Symphony No. 6 (1808) is an exultant hymn to the beauty and restorative powers of Nature. Beethoven himself conferred its title, and descriptive subtitles for each of the five movements: 1) the awakening of joy upon arriving in the country; 2) scene at the brook; 3) jolly gathering of country folk; 4) thunderstorm; 5) shepherds’ song: happy, grateful feelings after the storm. One of his few programmatic works, the Pastoral conveys to our senses more vividly than any words, serene woods and green meadows, warbling birds, babbling brooks, lively country folk and the sudden intrusion of a thunderstorm. Beethoven sought solace in the woods surrounding Vienna, where scenes of Nature recreated in his inner ear the sounds he could no longer hear, engendering musical inspiration and renewal of spirit as universal for today’s listener as they were to the composer.
Manuel Maria Ponce (1882—1948) Mexican composer, music educator and scholar, has the distinction of elevating the tradition of Mexican popular song and folklore to the venue of the concert hall. A child prodigy, Ponce pursued his musical studies at home and abroad in Italy and Germany. The Concierto del sur (1940) is dedicated to his long-time friend and guitar virtuoso, Andres Segovia. A colorful piece replete with the appealing modalities and rhythms of Mexican folk music, it draws upon the harmonies and idiom of traditional songs. Acclaimed guitarist Zaira Meneses has charmed audiences on three continents with her electrifying performances, often teaming up with guitarist Eliot Fisk (her husband). A versatile performer, her artistry is enhanced by her beautiful singing voice and graceful dancing, frequently featured as encores to her solo appearances. Ms. Meneses lives in Boston, where she enlivens the cultural life of the city through her numerous outreach activities while maintaining her demanding touring schedule in the Americas and Europe.