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World Premiere

Monday, March 27, 2017

 
Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 97, “Rhenish”
Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856)
 
I. Lebhaft
II. Scherzo, Sehr mässig
III. Nichts schnell
IV. Feirlich
V. Lebhaft


INTERMISSION
 

Beyond the Years, World Premiere
Sarah Horick
 
I. Quietly
II. With energy
III. Reflectively
IV. Emphatically
V. Gently, but with conviction
 
The Masterworks Choir, vocals

 


Program Notes

Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 97, “Rhenish”
Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856)

The Rhenish symphony was composed in 1850, and is thus Schumann’s last, despite being labeled the third out of the four symphonies that he composed. At the time of this composition, Schumann and his wife, Clara, had recently settled in the Rhineland, Germany. The main inspiration for the work was a sailing trip down the Rhine River to Cologne, Germany that the two of them had made in September of the previous year, where they attended a service in the magnificent Gothic cathedral. The solemn splendor of this occasion is captured in the symphony’s fourth movement.

From start to finish, the entire symphony was completed in just one month, and the impetuous energy that gripped the composer during those four weeks is evident in much of the work, particularly in the first movement.
 
The second movement is begun by the cellos with an easy-going melody in measured ländler rhythm and features some imaginative writing for the four horns. This is followed by a brief and charmingly scored intermezzo.
 
Then comes the cathedral movement, a liturgical chant in which the three trombones, until now silent, dominate from the outset in solemn E-flat minor counterpoint, with their soft majestic tones giving the effect of walking into the dark cathedral illuminated only by sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows.
 
In the finale, we are outside again in sunlit Rhineland with, towards the end, a reminiscence of the cathedral music, but now in the brighter key of E-flat major.
 

Schumann’s mental health disintegrated fairly rapidly after 1850. Never again did he achieve the relaxed happiness and appealing uncomplicated directness that is evident in so much of this symphony.

 

Beyond the Years
Sarah Horick

Beyond the Years was commissioned by the Florence Symphony Orchestra in response to the horrific shooting on June 17, 2015 at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. The piece attempts to speak to the tragedy through the lens of a larger social and historical context. The five-movement arch form alternates slow and fast movements, and the texts are drawn from several sources with varying proximity to the Emanuel AME parish.

Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “Beyond the Years” provides the main framework for the piece. Dunbar, the son of a former slave writer at the turn of the twentieth century, expresses a powerful combination of sorrow, pain, and hope in this three-part poem that is set in the first, third, and fifth movements of the piece. The repetition of the phrase “Beyond the years” recalls the ongoing effort to grapple with recurring issues in a complicated history. Between these movements, two additional text sources draw more direct connections to the Emanuel AME community and the specific events of that summer.

The second and fourth movements act as contrasting interludes in the overall arch structure and weave individual perspectives into the larger narrative. The second movement adapts phrases from Richard Harvey Cain’s 1868 speech addressing issues of land rights at the South Carolina Constitutional Convention. Cain, one of the first pastors of Emanuel AME in Charleston, a delegate to the South Carolina Constitutional Convention in 1868, and a representative from South Carolina in the 43rd and 45th Congresses, addresses many of the conflicts, assumptions, and fears that have been part of our continuing national conversation for well over a century.

The fourth movement similarly paraphrases fragments from another speech, this time taking as its source material President Barack Obama’s eulogy for Clementa Pinckney in the immediate wake of the tragic 2015 shooting. As a whole, the piece strives to honor the nine victims of this specific event while acknowledging that many of the dynamics at play in this particular tragedy have been part of our complex national identity for many years and continue to challenge us today.

 

- Sarah Horick, composer

 

 

Beyond the Years 
Lyrics
 
I. Quietly
 
Beyond the years the answer lies,
Beyond where brood the grieving skies
And Night drops tears.
Where Faith rod-chastened smiles to rise
And doff its fears,
And carping Sorrow pines and dies—
Beyond the years.
 
Text Source: Poem, “Beyond the Years” by Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1913.
 
II. With energy
 
I have lost long that hateful idea.
I have lost long any unpleasant feelings.
I have lost the ignorance of the people.
I have lost any difference.
I have lost.
I have.
I lost.
I long.
 
Text Source: Speech at the South Carolina Constitutional Convention by Richard Harvey Cain, 1868.
 
III. Reflectively
 
Beyond the years the prayer for rest
Shall beat no more within the breast;
The darkness clears,
And Morn perched on the mountain’s crest
Her form uprears—
The day that is to come is best,
Beyond the years.
 
Text Source: Poem, “Beyond the Years” by Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1913.
 
IV. Emphatically
 
For too long, we have feared each other.
For too long, we were blind to the pain.
For too long, a hostile world.
For too long, we have lost our way.
We have lost our way in a hostile world.
We have feared each other.
We were blind.
For we search our hearts,
For we break the cycle,
For we find, for we break,
For we find that grace, O grace.
 
Text Source: Eulogy for Reverend Clementa Carlos Pinckney by former President of the United States, Barack Obama, 2015.
 
V. Quietly
 
Beyond the years the soul shall find
That endless peace for which it pined,
For light appears,
And to the eyes that still were blind
With blood and tears,
Their sight shall come all unconfined
Beyond the years.
 
Text Source: Poem, “Beyond the Years” by Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1913.

 

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