May 7, 2024

“Fanfare for the Common Man” by Aaron Copland

“The Erlking” by Franz Schubert

“The Listener” by Kaitlyn Raitz

“Sur le Fil” by Yann Tiersen

“Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini” by Sergei Rachmaninoff

“O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff

“Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin


     1     "Fanfare for the Common Man" by Aaron Copland

          Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" stands as a timeless testament to the resilience and spirit of the American people. Composed in 1942 during the height of World War II, Copland's fanfare was commissioned by conductor Eugene Goossens and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as a musical tribute to the ordinary citizens who were courageously contributing to the war effort on the home front.

          Drawing inspiration from the egalitarian ideals espoused by then-Vice President Henry Wallace, Copland crafted a majestic brass fanfare that celebrates the dignity and nobility of the common man. With its bold, declarative gestures and stirring harmonies, the fanfare captures the essence of American democracy, embodying the belief that every individual, regardless of background or circumstance, has the potential to rise to greatness.

          Despite its monumental stature, Copland's fanfare exudes a sense of simplicity and directness, reflecting the democratic ethos it celebrates. By elevating the everyday experiences of ordinary people to the realm of art, Copland invites listeners to find beauty and meaning in the seemingly mundane, echoing the sentiment expressed by Walt Whitman in his poem "Song of Myself": "I celebrate myself, and sing myself, / And what I assume you shall assume, / For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you."

     2     "The Erlking" by Franz Schubert

          Franz Schubert's "The Erlking" (Erlkönig) is a chilling musical narrative that delves into the realm of the supernatural, drawing listeners into a world of darkness and danger. Set to a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the song recounts the harrowing journey of a father and his young son as they ride through the night, pursued by the malevolent Erlking, a spectral figure from German folklore.

          Schubert's masterful setting captures the escalating tension and mounting terror of the narrative, with the piano evoking the galloping hooves of the horse and the chilling whispers of the Erlking. Through his use of shifting vocal textures and dramatic contrasts, Schubert creates a sense of urgency and foreboding, leaving listeners on the edge of their seats as they are swept along on the father's desperate quest to save his child from the clutches of death.

          At its core, "The Erlking" is a meditation on the fragility of life and the inexorable march of time, reminding us of the fleeting nature of existence and the ever-present specter of mortality. As the father's cries of desperation echo into the night, we are confronted with the stark reality of human vulnerability, underscoring the timeless relevance of Schubert's haunting masterpiece.

     3     "The Listener" by Kaitlyn Raitz

          "The Listener" by Kaitlyn Raitz is a modern-day musical meditation on the art of empathy and active listening in an increasingly noisy and fragmented world. As both a cellist and composer, Raitz draws upon her diverse musical influences to create a multi-layered sonic tapestry that invites listeners to pause, reflect, and engage with the music on a deeper level.

          Through her expressive cello writing and innovative use of loop pedals and electronic effects, Raitz constructs a musical landscape that is at once intimate and expansive, weaving together elements of classical, folk, and improvisational music with a keen ear for melody and texture. The result is a deeply immersive listening experience that encourages listeners to attune their ears to the subtleties of sound and the nuances of emotion.

          "The Listener" serves as a timely reminder of the transformative power of music to foster connection and understanding across boundaries of language, culture, and experience. In a world where communication often feels superficial and fleeting, Raitz's music offers a sanctuary of stillness and presence, inviting listeners to lean in, listen deeply, and find solace in the shared experience of sound.

     4     "Sur le Fil" by Yann Tiersen

          Yann Tiersen's "Sur le Fil" (On the Wire) is a mesmerizing musical journey that transports listeners to the bustling streets of Paris, where the rhythms of life pulse with an infectious energy and vitality. Featured prominently in the soundtrack of the iconic French film "Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain" ("Amélie"), "Sur le Fil" captures the whimsy and wonder of everyday life with its playful melodies and evocative harmonies.

          Rooted in Tiersen's distinctive blend of French folk music, classical minimalism, and experimental rock, "Sur le Fil" exudes a sense of improvisation and spontaneity, as if the music were being composed in real-time before our very ears. With its driving accordion riffs and propulsive rhythms, the piece evokes the thrill of exploration and the joy of discovery, inviting listeners to lose themselves in the kaleidoscopic tapestry of sound.

          At its heart, "Sur le Fil" is a celebration of the beauty and chaos of urban life, where every street corner holds the promise of adventure and every encounter sparks the imagination. As Tiersen's music dances and swirls around us, we are reminded of the power of music to awaken our senses, expand our horizons, and illuminate the hidden wonders of the world around us.


"Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini" by Sergei Rachmaninoff     

          Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini" is a virtuosic tour de force that showcases the composer's extraordinary gifts as both a pianist and a composer. Based on Niccolò Paganini's famous Caprice No. 24 for solo violin, Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody is a dazzling display of technical prowess and emotional depth, exploring a wide range of moods and emotions with consummate skill and artistry.

          Composed in 1934, Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody is structured as a set of variations on Paganini's theme, with each variation offering a fresh perspective on the original melody. From the tender lyricism of the 18th variation to the thunderous bravura of the finale, Rachmaninoff weaves a spellbinding musical tapestry that captivates the listener from start to finish.

          Yet beneath the surface brilliance of Rachmaninoff's piano writing lies a profound sense of introspection and longing, as if the composer were grappling with the eternal mysteries of love, loss, and redemption. In the hushed intimacy of the slow movements and the soaring exuberance of the climactic passages, we hear echoes of Rachmaninoff's own inner struggles and triumphs, reminding us of the enduring power of music to transcend the limitations of language and touch the depths of the human soul.

     6     "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff

          "O Fortuna" is the thunderous opening movement of Carl Orff's monumental cantata "Carmina Burana," a sprawling musical tableau that brings to life the vibrant tapestry of medieval life with its exuberant rhythms, vivid orchestrations, and stirring choral writing. Composed in 1936 and based on a collection of medieval poems of the same name, "Carmina Burana" explores themes of love, fate, and the human condition with both reverence and irreverence, drawing listeners into a world of passion, longing, and desire.

          At its heart, "O Fortuna" is a primal invocation of fate, sung in Latin with a sense of urgency and awe that commands the listener's attention from the very first note. With its pounding percussion, soaring vocal lines, and majestic choral harmonies, the movement evokes the capriciousness of Fortune and the inexorable march of time, reminding us of the fragility and transience of human existence.

          As the voices rise and fall in a powerful crescendo of sound, we are swept away on a tidal wave of emotion, carried along by the sheer force of Orff's music. In the sweeping melodies and thunderous climaxes of "O Fortuna," we hear echoes of our own hopes and fears, our dreams and desires, our triumphs and tribulations, reminding us of the enduring power of music to move us, inspire us, and unite us in common purpose.

     7     "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin

          "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin is a sprawling rock epic that takes listeners on a transcendent journey through the exotic landscapes of the imagination. Featured on the band's 1975 album "Physical Graffiti," "Kashmir" stands as a towering monument to the creative genius of guitarist Jimmy Page, whose hypnotic riff serves as the song's driving force and primary motif.

          With its hypnotic rhythms, soaring melodies, and evocative lyrics, "Kashmir" evokes a sense of wanderlust and adventure, inviting listeners to embark on a mystical quest through the deserts of the mind. As singer Robert Plant's ethereal vocals weave a tapestry of imagery and emotion, we are transported to a world of ancient mysteries and timeless truths, where the boundaries between reality and fantasy blur and fade away.

          Yet beneath the surface grandeur of "Kashmir" lies a profound sense of longing and yearning, as if the song were searching for something just beyond the reach of comprehension. In the shimmering guitar lines and pulsating rhythms, we hear echoes of the eternal quest for meaning and purpose, reminding us of the boundless possibilities that lie beyond the horizon of our imagination.

          As "Kashmir" reaches its climactic crescendo, we are swept away on a tidal wave of sound and emotion, carried along by the sheer force of Led Zeppelin's musical vision. In the swirling maelstrom of guitars and drums, we find ourselves caught up in a whirlwind of passion and ecstasy, lost in the timeless embrace of rock 'n' roll.

Thank you for attending the Austin Cello Choir Spring 2024 Concert!

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