If you’re looking for classical music concerts near you and you live in the South Denver Metro area (Parker, Lone Tree, Centennial, Aurora, Englewood, Littleton), check out what the Parker Symphony has to offer!
We’ve announced our 2017-2018 season presented by Parker Arts and it’s full of amazing classical music you won’t want to miss.
Parker Symphony Orchestra 2017-2018 Season
Sounds Of The Deep: On October 27, the darker side of classical music creeps to the PACE Center. You’ll experience a wonderfully horrific combination of the strange and spacey, the heavy and the dissonant, and music so haunting it’s sure to keep you awake at night. Pieces include songs from Phantom of the Opera, Dvorak’s “The Water Goblin”, and Debussy’s “La Cathedrale Engloutie” (The Submerged Cathedral).
A Classic Parker Holiday: Performing along with the Parker Chorale, the PSO treats you to an evening of traditional carols, familiar songs, and some surprises to help you get into the spirit of the holidays. December 1, 2, and 3.
Gone too soon: Composers who died at a young age: A celebration of the genius of musical prodigies like Mozart, Gershwin, and Bizet who left the world far too soon. February 23, 2018
Tickets are available now at the PACE Center online box office (https://parkerarts.ticketforce.com/), by phone at 303-805-6800 or in person at the PACE Center. Ticket prices range from $24-$29 per ticket.
If you’ve attended orchestral performances or listened to classical music for any length of time, you’ve probably seen the terms “philharmonic”, “symphony”, and “chamber” in the names of various organizations. “Pops” is another common term (as in the Boston Pops or the Denver Pops Orchestra). The first three are used to denote different sized groups. A chamber orchestra is the smallest while “symphony” and “philharmonic” typically refer to groups large enough to play the great symphonies. “Philharmonic” is also a proper name used to distinguish orchestras in the same city.
“Pops” is another story. It refers to the type of music played by the group.
What is a pops orchestra?
Simply put, it is an orchestra that plays popular music as well as well-known classical works. They are groups that perform lighter classics, American favorites, popular music, show tunes, and film music. Many feel they are an alternative to the “highbrow” orchestras since they aren’t afraid to let their hair down a little. Of course, we here at the Parker Symphony aren’t afraid to let our hair down at times even though we don’t have the “pops” moniker.
On the classical side, you may hear Strauss waltzes and polkas, overtures from composers like Rossini, Mozart, and von Suppé, and a movement or two from a famous Beethoven or Mozart symphony. On the popular side, you might hear the music of an iconic band like The Beatles, the music from a hit Broadway show like Hamilton, and movie themes from composers like John Williams, James Horner, Hans Zimmer, and Thomas Newman.
Pops Orchestras vs. Pops Concerts
Interestingly, critics of pops orchestras suggest that the fact that they are separate organizations has removed some of these more famous classics from traditional symphony orchestras’ repertoire which has hurt attendance. They tend to “remove some music whose principal reason for existence is pure entertainment”.
To answer this, traditional orchestras have been putting on more programs in the style of pops orchestras. Philharmonic orchestras and symphony orchestras have always occasionally played a pops concert here or there, but more recently, these organizations have found success in themed concerts and even playing a film score alongside the movie.
Even we here at the Parker Symphony perform pops concerts to help draw in new and different audiences. For example, our 2016 “PSO Goes To The Movies” concert included single movements from symphonies and short classics featured in films.
The Future Of Pops
Pops orchestras and concerts will probably always have a place. After all, to quote the New York Philharmonic’s vice president of artistic planning, “Not every subscription concert, week in and week out, should be so deadly serious.” Whether pops plays more or less of a role in the future is hard to say. For now, those who want to hear serious performances, there are always programs available featuring masterful concertos, full symphonies, and choral works. For those who are looking for lighter entertainment, check out the various pops orchestras and concerts in your area.
Challenge yourself (or pass the time) with our classical music crossword puzzle.
2. J.S. ____
4. Richard or Johann
6. French for “study”
9. Yo-Yo Ma’s instrument
11. Percussion with keys arranged like a piano
15. 18th century ballroom dance in 3
16. Itzhak _______
17. Pizzicato abbreviation
18. “The Planets” composer
21. Liszt’s nationality
23. Lowest string instrument
26. Many woodwinds need 1 or 2
27. “The Trout ____” – Schubert
31. City where Mozart is buried
32. Device that supports strings
33. Moderately slow tempo
34. All together
1. Beethoven’s 6th Symphony Nickname
3. Composer of 106 symphonies
5. Flared part of many brass instruments
7. Toccata & _____
8. Mozart’s and Verdi’s are famous
9. Dvorak’s nationality
10. Opening to opera, ballet, etc.
12. Appalachian Spring composer
13. Chopin composed primarily for the…
14. A conductor’s stick
19. Musical era from 1600-1750
20. Also called Kettle Drums
22. Composition inspired by night
24. A lullaby often in 6/8 time
25. Famous Italian violin maker
28. Brass instrument with a slide
29. In The Hall Of The Mountain ____
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If you’ve ever listened to baroque music (think Vivaldi, Corelli, Handel, etc.), you’ve probably seen the term Concerto Grosso and wondered, “What is that?” Well, as you can probably guess, it does not mean the concerto is gross.
Concerto grosso (or the plural concerti grossi) is Italian for “big concerto”. Unlike a solo concerto where a single solo instrument plays the melody line and is accompanied by the orchestra, in a concerto grosso, a small group of soloists passes the melody between themselves and the orchestra or a small ensemble.
The group of soloists (or soli, concertino, or principale) was often made up of two violins, a bass melody instrument such as a cello, and a harmony instrument such as a harpsichord. Wind instruments were also common. The orchestra (or tutti or ripieno) was usually a string orchestra or a small ensemble of strings, often with a few woodwinds or brass added.
Concerti grossi were very common in the Baroque era (1600-1750). Right around 1750 (just after Handel composed his Concerti Grossi, Op. 6 with 12 different concerti), the solo concerto became the more popular musical form and the concerto grosso all but disappeared. Interestingly, a few 20th century composers like Igor Stravinsky, Philip Glass, and Henry Cowell have revived the form.
Listen to Corelli’s Concerto Grosso op. 6 no. 8 below and see if you can spot the concertino vs. the ripieno.
We’ve all heard it. The jokes about classical music putting people to sleep. Sure, some pieces are great for studying, meditation, weddings, and solemn events, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this genre. If all classical music were soft, quiet, and relaxing, orchestra life would be pretty boring especially for the percussion and brass sections. Forte would be a rare dynamic. Fortissimo an impossibility. And audiences would be very hard to come by – unless, of course, they were trying to catch some zzz’s.
So why do people say that about classical music? Maybe it’s because they just haven’t heard the more rousing pieces. Maybe they only remember the softer side of classical because that’s all they hear at weddings. Regardless of the reason, here’s a list of badass classical music that shatters the stereotype.
Orff – Carmina Burana / “O Fortuna”
Holst – The Planets, Mars
Verdi – Requiem “Dies Irae”
Wagner – Ride of the Valkyries
Vivaldi – The Four Seasons: Summer Mvt. 3 Presto
Bizet – Carmen Overture / Les Toreadors
Mussorgsky – Night on Bald Mountain
Verdi – Il Trovatore / “Anvil Chorus”
Khachaturian – Sabre Dance
Strauss – Also Sprach Zarathustra, Prelude
Honorable Mentions (in case you want to check out more):
Tchaikovsky – 1812 Overture
Shostakovich – Symphony No 5, Mvt 4
Bruckner – Symphony No 1, Mvt 3
Grieg – In The Hall Of The Mountain King
Dvorak – Symphony No 9, Mvt 4
Mozart – Requiem in D minor, Dies Irae
Bizet – L’Arlésienne Suite No 2, Mvt 4 (Farandole)
Do any small amount of searching in Google for phrases like “why join an orchestra” and you’ll start to notice that most articles cover reasons to play with a school music group. But what about reasons to join your local community orchestra?
Here are just 10 of the many compelling reasons to join a local symphony orchestra.
Meet New People: Whether you’re new to an area or a longtime resident, you’re bound to meet new people when you join your community orchestra and the best part is that these people share a common interest – a love for playing music. Some may be music professionals like performers and educators. Others may be amateurs with non-music day jobs. But all come together to practice and perform the thing that they love. You’ll not only be able to socialize with others who can relate to your love of classical music, but you may form new friendships and find new contacts who can help you in other areas of your life (career, for example).
Build Up Confidence: If you haven’t been an active performer in a while, but still have the dedication and talent, playing in an orchestra can help give you that confidence to perform again – especially if you play in a section with others. Maybe you can still play the pieces you know well, but your sight-reading skills are a little rusty. Or perhaps you are used to playing as a soloist so you aren’t sure of your ability to follow a conductor or listen and adjust to other players. No matter the reason, a community orchestra offers a venue for you to re-establish yourself as a group performer.
Express Yourself!: This almost goes without saying. Music in any genre is a form of self-expression. Community orchestras are an excellent creative outlet for adults.
Escape the Day-to-Day: Life is full of daily stresses. Work, family, bills, and other responsibilities can take their toll. Playing in an orchestra, on the other hand, requires a great deal of focus. For that reason, rehearsals and concerts can be a great way to divert your attention away from day-to-day troubles, stress, and to-do lists.
Challenge Yourself!: Just because members of community orchestras aren’t paid doesn’t mean they play easy pieces. Sure, we’ve all played our fair share of parts that require little to no practice, but for each of those, there are many Beethoven pieces or John Williams scores that we spend hours on. And don’t forget about the occasional solo you may encounter.
Maintain (or increase) Coordination: As we age, our motor skills tend to decline. Playing an instrument can help maintain or even increase coordination including fine motor skills.
Inspire Others: Symphony orchestra concerts are a source of inspiration for the surrounding community. Audiences range from children to seniors and from young to young-at-heart. Students who attend may be inspired to pick up an instrument and join their school band or orchestra. Other adults may decide to audition for your group or listen to more classical music. Some orchestras also put on special programs like free children’s concerts specifically designed to educate and inspire.
Improve Your Résumé: Are you looking to advance your career? Are you early in your career path and looking to beef up your résumé? Listing that you perform with a community orchestra can not only catch employers’ eyes, but also gives you something to point to when asked about teamwork, dedication, working well with others, and self-improvement.
Keep Your Mind Active: In addition to helping with coordination, playing music with an orchestra can help keep your mind active. Not only are you perhaps learning new things, you are literally giving your brain a workout. Performing with an orchestra is an intellectually demanding exercise and the proof of that is how mentally exhausted, but satisfied you feel after a good rehearsal.
Have Fun!: Last, but definitely not least, joining a community orchestra is a great way to have fun. Unlike professional groups that are highly competitive (for a good reason), local community symphonies are often made up of people who simply want to have fun doing something they love.
Are you looking for a fun community orchestra to join in the Denver metro area? Check out the Parker Symphony. We hold typically hold auditions in August and ad hoc throughout the rest of the year. See our Auditions page for more information.
Vltava, better known by its German name, Die Moldau (or The Moldau), is a symphonic poem that is patriotic in every sense of the word. It is one of six movements of a larger work called Má vlast which means “My Homeland” or “My Country”. In it, Czech composer Smetana combined nationalistic melodies with musical depictions of the Bohemian countryside, history, and legends. When performed, you can hear the land come alive as the music paints the scene of a proud and culturally-rich region of Europe.
The Moldau specifically was intended to evoke the sounds of one of Bohemia’s great rivers – the Vltava river. The “Moldau” name comes from the German name for the source of the river in the Bohemian mountains. In Smetana’s own words:
The composition describes the course of the Vltava, starting from the two small springs, the Cold and Warm Vltava, to the unification of both streams into a single current, the course of the Vltava through woods and meadows, through landscapes where a farmer’s wedding is celebrated, the round dance of the mermaids in the night’s moonshine: on the nearby rocks loom proud castles, palaces and ruins aloft. The Vltava swirls into the St John’s Rapids; then it widens and flows toward Prague, past the Vyšehrad, and then majestically vanishes into the distance, ending at the Labe.
The piece begins with the flutes playing a flowing tune reminiscent of two rippling springs. Violin pizzicato evokes raindrops. Soon, clarinets begin to play and continue the theme. Then one of Smetana’s most famous melodies emerges. It is an adaptation of a piece called La Mantovana and is arguably one of the most strikingly beautiful parts of the entire work. In fact, it has inspired other pieces, most notably the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah. Later on, a horn melody representing jubilant hunters and a polka rhythm that depicts a wedding scene can be heard before the famous melody returns. The piece ends with a regal hymn that fades away until the final two loud notes.
The Moldau was written in the 1870’s, a time when Bohemians had a renewed interest in freedom from German culture. They embraced it and the rest of Má vlast as a sort of patriotic symphonic national anthem. Research suggests this was Smetana’s intent as well. Today, it has achieved the most success of all of the six movements.
The Parker Symphony Orchestra joins the Plein Air Painters of America in “Notes From Nature: A Journey of Sights and Sounds”. Presented by Parker Arts, the concert and art show pay homage to our planet with a performance of nature-inspired music alongside breathtaking paintings. The event will be held on Friday May 5 at 7:30 PM at the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker.
The program includes melodic pieces like Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” and Smetana’s “The Moldau” as well as rousing works like the “Thunder and Lightning Polka”. An hour prior to the concert portion of the evening, an opening reception for the art exhibit will take place. Art on display will be for sale with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the PACE Center and the Plein Air Painters of America. Light hors d’oeuvres will be available, and our in-house cash bar will be open through the reception and the following concert.
Tickets are available now at the PACE Center online box office (https://parkerarts.ticketforce.com/), by phone at 303-805-6800 or in person at the PACE Center. Ticket prices range from $22-$27 per ticket.
Established in 1994, the mission of the Parker Symphony Orchestra is to perform orchestral music that will educate, entertain, and inspire the people of Parker, Colorado and the surrounding communities. Under the direction of René Knetsch, the PSO is an all-volunteer orchestra, seventy five members strong, dedicated to continual excellence and growth. They perform with the goal of offering interesting and entertaining performances to tempt everyone’s musical palate.
The Plein-Air Painters of America is a fellowship of professional artists dedicated to the historic tradition of painting directly from life. Through this approach of firsthand observation, our members strive to more fully explore and respond to the timeless beauty that surrounds us all. We promote a heightened visual appreciation of the world by sharing with the public our combined knowledge and experience through workshops and exhibitions of the highest caliber.
When thinking of nature-inspired classical music, pieces inspired by flowers, rivers, trees, birds, seasons, and beautiful scenery definitely fit the bill. You may think of everything from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral”. But how about a piece about a cave?
Yes, there is at least one classical piece about a cave and it’s a mysterious, dramatic, and beautifully melodic work. It’s everything you’d expect from a piece about a stunning yet lonely cave surrounded by the ocean. It’s Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture and you can hear it performed by the Parker Symphony Orchestra live on May 5.
Learn more about this fascinating overture. Here are 9 interesting facts you should know about The Hebrides.
1. It has had several titles. When Mendelssohn completed the work in 1830, it was originally titled Die einsame Insel or The Lonely Island. He revised the score 2 years later and, at that time, renamed the work Die Hebriden (The Hebrides). It was published in 1833 with the “Hebrides” title on various orchestral parts and Fingal’s Cave on the score.
2. It was inspired by a trip to the real cave. Mendelssohn visited England in 1829 and after touring the country, proceeded to Scotland. He and his friend, Karl Klingemann, traveled to the Hebrides Island off the west coast of Scotland and later to Fingal’s Cave, a real cave on the island of Staffa. The sea cave is known for its natural acoustics which project the rumbling of the waves inside for miles. Mendelssohn tried to capture the phenomenon in his overture. The cave is also known for its hexagonal basalt columns similar to those you can find at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
3. It is not a traditional overture. Many overtures serve as the opening to an opera or ballet, but The Hebrides represents a new type of overture called the “concert overture”, intended to stand as a complete work. Also, unlike some pieces, it does not tell a story, but rather depicts a mood and “sets a scene”. That also makes it an early example of a musical tone poem.
4. Mendelssohn was seasick on his trip to Fingal’s Cave. The composer and his friend took a skiff to Staffa to view the cave and sat at the mouth of the awe-inspiring formation. Mendelssohn was terribly seasick during the trip, but enjoyed it nonetheless. His friend, Klingemann, wrote that he got “along better with the sea as an artist than as a human being with a stomach.”
5. The overture didn’t come easily. Mendelssohn apparently came up with the opening phrase of the overture while on his tour of Scotland. He sent it home on a postcard with a note to his sister Fanny that read, “In order to make you understand how extraordinarily the Hebrides affected me, I send you the following, which came into my head there.” Unfortunately, despite this stroke of genius, he completed at least 2 versions of the piece and wrote to his sister that he was still wrestling with it in 1832 because it did not savor enough of “oil and seagulls and dead fish”.
6. It was dedicated to King Frederick William IV of Prussia. He was the Crown Prince of Prussia at the time and Mendelssohn’s patron.
7. The final autograph manuscript still exists. It is held at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Its 34 pages are full of deletions and revisions in a fine calligraphy that was characteristic of Mendelssohn.
8. It consists of two distinct themes. The opening notes state the theme Mendelssohn conceived while visiting the cave and is played by violas, cellos, and bassoons. It sets an initial scene of haunting solitude until the violins take over and the lower voices begin a pattern of sixteenth notes that represent the ebb and flow of the sea. The second theme is a soaring melody meant to convey the drama of the scene. It was once called “the greatest melody Mendelssohn ever wrote” by musicologist Sir Donald Francis Tovey. There are also recognizable crescendos and crashes that represent the often stormy tides of the area.
9. A theory claims that first draft was completed on a very important cave-related date. Scottish writer Iain Thornber pointed out that the initial draft of The Hebrides was completed on the only day of the year the cave is illuminated by the sun. The cave is only fully illuminated when the sun lies 5.6 degrees above the horizon which is generally on or about December 16. Mendelssohn completed the draft on December 16, 1830. Either this was on purpose or it’s a big coincidence.
Impressionism is a term most familiar to fans of late 19th century painters such as Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, and Degas among other notable names. In fact, the term derives from Monet’s Impression, Sunrise. In general, impressionist painters focused on using visual brush strokes to paint overall visual effects and capture light and its changing qualities rather than focusing on details. They also tended to paint en plein air rather than in the studio.
Impressionist paintings depict experiences, moods, and movement. Similarly, Impressionist music also conveys moods, scenes, and emotions rather than detailed stories. This style of classical music was written around the same time (late 19th century) and uses “color” or timbre through different textures, harmonics, and orchestrations to arouse feelings and create atmosphere.
Notable Impressionist composers include:
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Interestingly, while he is often referred to as Impressionist, Debussy rejected the label. Even Ravel was uncomfortable with the name saying it could not be accurately applied to music.
Impressionist music often has an evocative title. For example, Debussy’s Clair de lune or “Moonlight”. While it is actually the third movement of a larger work known as Suite bergamasque, the piece is more famous on its own performed in its original form by solo piano or adapted for orchestra. And when you hear its lush melodies and dramatic ebbs and flows, it’s not hard to see why it is a great example of French Impressionism in music.
Other Impressionist music titles include Debussy’s La Mer and Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, Sibelius’ The Swan of Tuonela, and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé.