This concert is sponsored in part by Char & Larry Burgess
and the Will J. Reid Foundation

Flight of the Bumblebee

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Born in 1844 in Tikhvin, Russia. Died in 1908 in Lyubensk, Russia.

Composed in 1899 | 2 minute
Scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, timpani, percussion, strings

Carnival of the Animals

featuring Deb Prutsman, narrator

Camille Saint-Saëns

Born in 1835 in Paris, France. Died in 1921 in Algiers, France.

Composed in 1886| 21 minutes
14 movements: Introduction & Royal March of the Lion; Hens & Roosters; Wild Donkeys—Fleet Animals; Tortoises; Elephant; Kangaroos; Aquarium; People with Long Ears; Cuckoo in the Depths of the Woods; Aviary; Pianists; Fossils; The Swan; Finale
Scored for 2 solo pianos, 1 flute doubling piccolo, 1 clarinet, 2 percussionists, strings, narrator

The Lark Ascending

featuring Sam Fischer, violin

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Born in 1872 in Gloucestershire, England; Died in 1958 in London, England.

Composed between 1914 and 1920 | 13 minutes
Scored for solo violin, 2 flutes, 1 oboe, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, percussion, and strings

Peter and the Wolf

featuring Deb Prutsman, narrator

Sergei Prokofiev

Born in 1891 in what is now Donetsk, Ukraine; Died in 1953 in Moscow, Russia.

Composed in 1953 | 25 minutes
Scored for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, 3 horns, trumpet, trombone, timpani, percussion, strings, narrator

Program Notes: Orchestral Menagerie

FLIGHT OF THE BUMBLEBEE

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" stands as one of the most recognizable and beloved orchestral interludes in the classical repertoire. Originally composed as part of his opera "The Tale of Tsar Saltan," this brief yet intricate orchestral piece has transcended its operatic origins to become a standalone concert favorite.

"Flight of the Bumblebee" is a musical portrayal of the incessant buzzing and darting flight of a bumblebee, characterized by its rapid tempo and virtuosic passages. Rimsky-Korsakov masterfully captures the agility and energy of the insect through the use of rapid chromatic runs and fluttering melodies, which dart and weave through the orchestral texture with remarkable agility.

While the piece is often performed as a standalone orchestral excerpt, its original context within "The Tale of Tsar Saltan" is worth noting. In the opera, the "Flight of the Bumblebee" serves as an entr'acte between scenes, depicting the transformation of the Tsar's son into a bumblebee to escape from a treacherous situation. This context adds an extra layer of whimsy and theatricality to the music, enriching the listener's experience.

Despite its brevity—typically lasting just over a minute—Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" is a dazzling showcase of orchestral virtuosity and storytelling prowess. Its enduring popularity speaks to its timeless charm and the universal fascination with the natural world captured in music. As the orchestra brings this miniature marvel to life, audiences are transported on a thrilling journey through the buzzing world of the bumblebee.

CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS

Composed in 1886, this whimsical suite of fourteen movements captures the composer's playful imagination and keen sense of humor. Originally intended as a private amusement for friends, Saint-Saëns prohibited the public performance of "Carnival of the Animals" during his lifetime, fearing it would overshadow his more serious works. However, since its posthumous premiere in 1922, it has become one of his most beloved compositions, enchanting audiences of all ages with its charming melodies and clever musical depictions of various animals.

Each movement of "Carnival of the Animals" portrays a different creature, from the graceful swan to the lumbering elephant, the skittering tortoise to the majestic lion. Through a colorful array of orchestral textures and witty musical gestures, Saint-Saëns brings these animals to life with humor and imagination. Despite its light-hearted tone, "Carnival of the Animals" also showcases Saint-Saëns' remarkable craftsmanship and melodic invention. The work abounds with memorable themes and intricate counterpoint, demonstrating the composer's mastery of form and structure.

While "Carnival of the Animals" is often performed in its entirety, certain movements have achieved particular popularity as standalone pieces, such as "The Swan," a serene cello solo, and "The Aquarium," a shimmering depiction of underwater tranquility. Through "Carnival of the Animals," Saint-Saëns invites listeners into a whimsical world where music paints vivid portraits of the animal kingdom. With its infectious melodies and delightful imagery, this beloved suite continues to captivate audiences with its timeless charm and imaginative spirit.

THE LARK ASCENDING

"The Lark Ascending" by Ralph Vaughan Williams stands as a quintessential gem in the British classical repertoire, capturing the essence of pastoral beauty and serenity. Composed in 1914 and revised in 1920, this exquisite work for solo violin and orchestra transports listeners to the idyllic English countryside, evoking a sense of tranquility and reverie.

Inspired by George Meredith's poem of the same name, "The Lark Ascending" paints a vivid musical portrait of a skylark ascending into the heavens, its flight depicted through the soaring melodies of the violin against a backdrop of lush orchestral textures. Vaughan Williams' music unfolds with a sense of timelessness, as if suspended in a pastoral dreamscape where the beauty of nature reigns supreme.

The opening bars of the piece immediately establish a serene atmosphere, with gentle harmonies and delicate orchestration setting the stage for the solo violin to enter with its lyrical and expansive theme. As the music unfolds, the listener is transported on a journey of tranquil introspection, guided by the evocative melodies and rich harmonic colors.

Throughout "The Lark Ascending," Vaughan Williams showcases his mastery of orchestration and his deep connection to the English landscape. The music ebbs and flows like gentle waves, with moments of breathtaking beauty and introspective introspection.

Despite its serene character, "The Lark Ascending" is not without moments of drama and intensity, particularly in the central section where the music builds to a passionate climax before receding once again into tranquility. "The Lark Ascending" stands as a testament to Vaughan Williams' ability to capture the ineffable beauty of the natural world in music. With its sublime melodies and evocative imagery, it remains a beloved masterpiece that continues to enchant audiences with its timeless allure.

PETER AND THE WOLF

Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" is a timeless musical fairy tale that has enchanted audiences of all ages since its premiere in 1936. This delightful work, intended to introduce children to the instruments of the orchestra and the concept of musical storytelling, has become a beloved classic in the realm of both music and children's literature.

The narrative of "Peter and the Wolf" unfolds through a series of musical themes, each representing a different character or element of the story. From the spirited and adventurous theme of Peter on the strings to the mischievous clarinet motif of the cat, Prokofiev's score vividly brings the characters to life, inviting listeners to embark on a captivating journey through the Russian countryside.

At the heart of the story is the courageous Peter, who ventures into the forest to capture the menacing wolf that threatens his village. Along the way, he encounters a cast of characters including his grandfather, the bird, the duck, and the cat, each portrayed by a distinct instrument or group of instruments.

One of the unique features of "Peter and the Wolf" is its educational value, as it provides an opportunity for young listeners to learn about the instruments of the orchestra and how they can be used to convey different characters and emotions. Prokofiev's masterful orchestration ensures that each character is easily identifiable through its musical motif, making the story accessible even to those unfamiliar with classical music.

Despite its intended audience of children, "Peter and the Wolf" has also captivated adults with its charming melodies, whimsical storytelling, and ingenious use of orchestral color. The work's enduring popularity is a testament to its universal appeal and the timeless magic of Prokofiev's music. As the tale of "Peter and the Wolf" unfolds, audiences of all ages are transported to a world of imagination and wonder, where music and storytelling combine to create a truly enchanting experience.

Meet Deb Prutsman

Debbie is a much sought-after vocalist and actor throughout Southern California and on the East Coast. She has performed at virtually all major SoCal theatres and been privileged to sing with countless orchestras and bands. Redlands audiences may remember her as Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly, the centennial musical at The Redlands Bowl, as Ursula in the Bowl’s Little Mermaid or as a soloist with the Redlands Symphony for both concerts and holiday musicals.

Favorite theatrical roles include Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd (Musical Theatre West, Performance Riverside, Candlelight Pavilion, Broadway at the Gardens), Mother Superior in Sister Act (5-Star Theatricals, Candlelight Pavilion), Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly (Moonlight Amphitheatre and twice at Performance Riverside), Mother/Blaire Daniels in Sunday in the Park (CCAE Theatricals), Grizabella in Cats (San Diego Musical Theatre, Moonlight Amphitheatre, Candlelight Pavilion, Broadway at the Gardens), Ursula in The Little Mermaid (5-Star Theatricals, Sound Stage Live, LA, Performance Riverside) and The Witch in Into the Woods (Actors’ Co-op, Moonlight Amphitheatre, Performance Riverside). 

A Yucaipa native, Debbie, her older brother Stephen, and baby sis Becka grew up spending most of their non-school hours in music and dance lessons in Redlands. After touring for several years in her late teens and early twenties, Debbie returned to the I.E. and made Redlands her home. She received her Bachelors of Science degree and teaching credential from UC Riverside, and her Masters in Educational Leadership from Concordia University, Irvine.

Debbie just retired from a 34-year teaching career, 23 years of which were with Redlands Unified. She received countless awards including Teacher of the Year for her work bringing the joys of art and literature to kids. She started both the theatre and choral music programs at Citrus Valley High School, started the choral music program at Beattie Middle School, and created a developmental music enrichment program for kindergarteners district-wide.

Meet Sam Fischer

Sam Fischer, violinist, enjoys a versatile career as a performer, recording artist, and educator. Mr. Fischer appears regularly as soloist with orchestras throughout his native Los Angeles, including the Desert Symphony, Riverside County Philharmonic, Los Angeles Doctors Symphony, Golden State Pops Orchestra, Orchestra Santa Monica, and the Caltech-Occidental Chamber Orchestra.

As concertmaster of the Riverside County Philharmonic, Mr. Fischer performed the premiere of Victoria Bond’s Soul of a Nation: a Portrait of Thomas Jefferson for Violin, Narrator, and String Orchestra. He is also concertmaster of the Desert Symphony and acting concertmaster of Opera Santa Barbara. He has performed regularly with orchestras including the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the LA Opera Orchestra, Pacific Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, and Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra.

He has played on the soundtracks of hundreds of projects including major motion pictures, television shows, record albums, and video games by many of Hollywood’s top composers and artists. Mr. Fischer gives frequent chamber music performances and has collaborated with Martin Beaver, Anne Akiko Meyers, Joseph Silverstein, and the Jupiter String Quartet. He has performed at the Sundays Live series at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Idyllwild Distinguished Artists Chamber Music Series, Lake George Music Festival, Austin Chamber Music Festival, and Yellow Barn Festival.

Mr. Fischer has been on the faculty of the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts since 2002, and also teaches at the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, Montecito International Music Festival, the Young Musician’s Foundation Chamber Music Series, and Junior Chamber Music.

Mr. Fischer holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Southern California and a Master degree from the The Juilliard School. His principal teachers include Robert Lipsett, Dorothy DeLay, Masao Kawasaki, and Emanuel Borok. He is a member of the Music Advisory Boards of the Young Musician’s Foundation and the Los Angeles Doctors Symphony.

Mr. Fischer plays on a violin by Joseph Rocca, made circa 1850 in Turin. He lives in Studio City with his wife, violinist Jennifer Choi Fischer, their son Elijah, and their dog Quincy.

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