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Carmina Burana — Grand Music!

Almost everyone has heard at least portions of Carl Orff’s magnificent “Carmina Burana” but may not know that was what they were hearing. On Saturday, March 22, they will say, “Aha! So THAT’S ‘Carmina Burana’!” The Salisbury Symphony and almost 100 singers invite you to be one of those people!

The concert will be presented in Keppel Auditorium at Catawba College, beginning at 7:30 p.m. There is general seating, but tickets are selling quickly. It is such a grand piece with so many voices and instruments, it is not often performed in our area. To hear it in person would be a lifetime memory.

The choirs and choruses participating in this production include Catawba College Singers (Phillip Burgess, Director), Livingstone College Concert Choir (DaVaughn I. Miller, Director), Concert Choir of Salisbury and Salisbury-Rowan Choral Society (Matthew Newton, Director), Wake Forest University Concert Choir (Brian Gorelick, Director), and Winston-Salem Youth Chorus (Barbara Beattie, Director).

Three phenomenal singers are the soloists: Megan Cleaveland, soprano, Leonard Rowe, baritone, and Joshua Moyer, tenor.

David Hagy, Music Director, has designed a dramatic beginning with a short piece by Claudio Monteverdi— the Toccata and Prologue from Orfeo—in front of the curtain. The trumpet and drum fanfare is followed by a calm “Prologue,” sung by Ms. Cleaveland as the character La Musica. The curtain then opens to display the chorus and the rest of the orchestra. There will be a short 10-minute intermission.

The “notion of the capricious nature of fate is reflected strongly in a thirteenth-century collection of secular poetry…This collection was given the title Carmina Burana, or ‘Songs of Beuren.’ German composer Carl Orff selected excerpts from the medieval poetry to serve as the text for his Carmina Burana. This composition, premiered in Frankfurt in 1937, became one of the most famous choral works of the past century.” (Dr. Renee McCachren)

Complete program notes by Dr. McCachren are available at salisburysymphony.org. Translations of the Latin and German will be available at the concert.

Tickets are $22 for adults, $6 for students, and $4 for children ages 8 and younger. Concert tickets are available at Rowan County Visitors Bureau, Sidewalk Deli, Green Goat Gallery (Spencer), Crescent Pharmacy (Rockwell), and Corriher Springs Florist (China Grove). Tickets may be purchased also through www.salisburysymphony.org or 704-637-4314. The box office will open at 6:30 p.m. the evening of the performance.

WHAT: Salisbury Symphony and seven local choirs perform “Carmina Burana”.

WHEN:7:30 p.m. Saturday March 22:

WHERE: Keppel Auditorium, Catawba College

HOW MUCH: $22 adults, $6 students, $4 children 8 and younger.

704-637-4314 salisburysymphony.org

Program notes on Carmina Burana

Carl Orff (1895-1982)

Philosophers say that Fortune is insane and blind and stupid…she is blind for this reason: that she does not see where she’s heading…insane, because she is cruel, flaky and unstable; stupid, because she can’t distinguish between the worthy and the unworthy…

This quotation from the Roman tragedian Pacuvius (Scaenicae Romanorum Poesis Fragmenta) captures the essence of a concept frequently portrayed as the Wheel of Fortune in art and literature—that Fortune, or Fate, is inconstant, fickle, and unpredictable. The idea of the Wheel of Fortune, which dates to antiquity, refers to the Roman goddess Fortuna spinning her Wheel at random, which could lead equally, and without apparent cause, to great windfall or terrible disaster.

This notion of the capricious nature of fate is reflected strongly in a thirteenth-century collection of secular poetry discovered at the monastery of Benediktbeuren near Munich in 1803. This collection was given the title Carmina Burana, or “Songs of Beuren.” The texts, recorded in Latin, German, or medieval French, date back to the twelfth century, and were composed by scholar-poets known as Goliards.

The illustration of the Wheel of Fortune reproduced above appeared on the first page of the collection found at Benediktbweuren. Fortuna herself sits in the center, spinning the fates of mortals. The four human figures depicted on the outer rim of the wheel are accompanied by Latin captions, clockwise from the left: Regnabo, Regno, Regnavi, Sum sine regno (I shall reign, I reign, I reigned, I am without a realm).

German composer Carl Orff selected excerpts from the medieval poetry to serve as the text for his Carmina Burana. This composition, premiered in Frankfurt in 1937, became one of the most famous choral works of the past century. In its initial conception, the work exemplifies Orff’s dramatic integration of various art forms, including music, speech, dance, poetry, design and theatrical gesture, a notion similar to the ideas of Gesamtkunstwerk (universal art work) developed by nineteenth-century German composer Richard Wagner. Though Orff originally intended Carmina Burana to include dance, visual design, and additional stage movement, it is most frequently performed as a choral work, or cantata.

Despite the fact that the poetry dates to medieval times, the selections chosen by Orff reflect such universal subjects as love, gambling, intoxication, and the uncertainty of fate. The broad variety of topics addressed range from tender and innocent love to bawdy humor and hedonistic pleasure. The widely contrasting character of the music reflects the many moods of the poems. A strong rhythmic drive recurs throughout the work. For Orff, as for Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, rhythm was a powerful elemental force; and this propulsive energy reinforces many of the selections. Vigorous choruses contrast with more reflective solos. Even the instruments themselves contribute to the strength of the setting, for Orff creates a rich tapestry of sonority through his use of a very large orchestra and colorful percussion instruments.

Carmina Burana contains three main sections entitled “Spring,” “In the Tavern,” and “The Court of Love.” Within each of these scenes of everyday life the Wheel of Fortune turns, changing joy to anguish, hope to despair. Framing these three scenes at the beginning and end of the complete work stands the monumental and imposing chorus “O Fortuna,” Fortune, Empress of the World, the blind, insane, and stupid goddess who cannot distinguish between the worthy and the unworthy.


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