• 2006 PMEA All-State Performance

    The CR South Orchestra was honored as the only high school orchestra to be invited to the PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators Association) Annual Conference in Valley Forge, PA on March 31, 2006. This is the highest honor a high school orchestra can receive in Pennsylvania! Congratulations to the talented members of the Council Rock South Orchestra! Below is the program for the PMEA performance.



    Friday, March 31, 20069:15am


    Introductory Remarks………Mark J. Klein Esq., Superintendent, Council Rock School District



    Russian Sailor’s Dance……………………………...………………………….…..Reinhold Gliere

    from the ballet “The Red Poppy”


    Variations on a Hymn Tune …………………………………………………....….James Primosch

                (commissioned by the Council Rock North and South Orchestras)


    The Inferno …………………………………………………………….…………Robert W. Smith

                from “The Divine Comedy”


    Pictures at an Exhibition ……………………………...……..Modest Mussorgsky / Maurice Ravel


                Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks


                The Hut of Baba Yaga

                The Great Gate of Kiev

    Russian Sailor’s Dance from “The Red Poppy” by Reinhold Gliere (1875-1956)

    Reinhold Gliere was one of the most influential Russian composers during the transition from Czarist to Soviet Russia. He used the folk idioms of the Asiatic national group within the Soviet Union in a romantic, colorful style and later showed considerable regard for modern techniques in composition. He was extremely prolific, producing operas, ballets, symphonies, symphonic poems, overtures, chamber music, songs, and piano pieces. His ballet “The Red Poppy” was written in 1928, and deals with an uprising on board a Chinese ship and the successful intervention of Russian sailors. The Russian Sailors’ Dance is the best-known excerpt from the ballet, and is founded on the popular Russian folk tune entitled “Yablochka” (Little Angel). The dance takes the form of a series of variations on this striking song.



    Variations on a Hymn Tune by James Primosch


    James Primosch's instrumental, vocal, and electronic works have been performed throughout the United States and in Europe by such ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Collage, the Twentieth Century Consort, and Speculum Musicae. His Icons was played at the ISCM/League of Composers World Music Days in Hong Kong, and Dawn Upshaw included a song by Mr. Primosch in her Carnegie Hall recital debut. During the 2001-2002 season he enjoyed premieres by the Chicago Symphony, Speculum Musicae, and pianist Lambert Orkis. Since 1988 he has served on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, where he directs the Presser Electronic Music Studio.

    Concerning Variations on a Hymn Tune, Primosch writes, “Composed at the request of Council Rock School District, these variations are based on a 19th century hymn tune called ‘Ebenezer,’ written by Welsh composer Thomas J. Williams. I came to know the tune with the text ‘Through the Night of Doubt and Sorrow,’ but my music does not reflect that somewhat lugubrious title! After a short introduction, the hymn is heard in the violins. Variations 1 and 3 treat the tune contrapuntally, with the tune sometimes played at different speeds simultaneously. Variations 2 and 4 change the rhythm of the tune more dramatically. The extended ending of the 4th variation recalls some of the gestures of the introduction.”

    “I tried to write a piece that would include a variety of moods, would appeal to young players, and would give each orchestral section a chance to shine. I am grateful to the music program of Council Rock for a chance to work with their orchestras, and to offer my heartfelt thanks to the student musicians who have worked so hard to bring this music to life.”




    The Inferno from “The Divine Comedy” by Robert W. Smith

    “The Divine Comedy” is a four-movement work based on Dante Alighieri’s literary classic of the same name. The story of Dante’s trilogy is very basic: One day Dante finds himself lost in a dark wood. Virgil appears and rescues him. Virgil guides Dante to a contemplation of Hell and Purgatory. Dante, having confessed his faults, and with Beatrice as his guide, is led into Paradise and attains a glimpse of God.


    The Inferno is the first of four movements in “The Divine Comedy.” Dante’s vision of Hell consists of nine concentric circles divided into four categories of sin. The principal theme behind the literary work is the concept of symbolic retribution. In other words, man’s eternal damnation in Hell is directly correlated to the character and weight of his sin on earth.


    Like Dante’s Inferno, the movement is divided into four sections. The opening melodic statement in the oboe represents the sins of “incontinence.” Then, Dante is confronted with the Wall of Dis (the gate into Hell). The next section is structured around the sins of “violence,” with its incredibly intense storms and fiery sands. The composer used the sin of hypocrisy as visual imagery in the formation of the next section. Dante describes the hypocrites as they file endlessly in a circle tied to chains and clothed in coats of lead, which represent the weight of their hypocrisy on earth.


    The final section of “The Inferno” features the sins of “treacherous fraud.” As Dante enters this circle of Hell, he hears the dreadful blast of a bugle. Dante and Virgil are lowered into the last section of Hell by giants who are constantly pelted with bolts of thunder. As their journey nears the end, they are confronted with the sight of Dis (Lucifer), whose three mouths are eternally rending Judas, Brutus, and Cassius. Dante and Virgil climb down the flanks of Lucifer, exiting to the other hemisphere and leaving the fiery world of “The Inferno” behind.


    Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky

    When Mussorgsky's good friend and artist, Victor Hartmann, died, some four hundred of his drawings were exhibited as a memorial. Mussorgsky chose ten of them to describe musically in a suite for piano. Pictures at an Exhibition consists of those ten musical "pictures" interspersed with thematically recurring "promenades". The work is historically important because it marks the beginning of a new era in the progress of Russian music. Several composers have written orchestral arrangements of the work, but the most commonly heard one is the one by Ravel. The orchestra will perform three of the movements or "pictures," plus two of the promenades.

    Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks. The subject of this "picture" is a costume design for a ballet, Trilby, with choreography of Marius Petipa, produced in 1870 in St. Petersburg. In this scene, children dance as baby canaries trying to break out of their shells.

    Baba Yaga (The Witch's Hut on Fowl's Legs). In Russian folklore, Baba Yaga is a witch who lives in a hut that stands deep in the forest on hen's legs so that she can turn it in any direction. Hartman's drawing was a design for a clock in the form of Baba Yaga's hut. The witch rode cackling through the woods in a huge wooden mortar propelled by an equally large pestle, and the scene gives the impression that she is hungrily on the trail of naughty children to eat.

    The Great Gate of Kiev. On April 4, 1866, Czar Alexander II escaped an assassination attempt at Kiev. Three years later, there was a design competition for a massive gateway to commemorate the event. Hartman entered the competition, and it was his entry that inspired Mussorgsky. The design is fanciful and rich in Imperial symbols. Mussorgsky's favorite was this sketch, and he drew from it the inspiration of some of his most powerful music, a massive hymn of thanksgiving.