A Feast of French Music!
A feast of French music, prepared by Maestro Victor Vener!
Featuring guest artist, Broadway star Randal Keith, Philip Smith, Anne Martinez, and the California Philharmonic Chorale. Featuring the world-famous Walt Disney organ.
Excerpts from the mega-hit musical, performed by Broadway star Randal Keith and Anne Martinez, accompanied by the glorious Cal Phil Chorale. (Randal Keith was selected by Le Miz producer Cameron Mackintosh to star as Jean Valjean on Broadway to bring home the musical’s record-breaking 16-year run.)
“Symphony No. 3 in C minor (Organ)”
A child prodigy, Camille Saint-Saens gave his first piano recital at the age of five and made his formal debut as a concert pianist at 11. By the time he was 22, he was organist at the Madeleine (probably the most prestigious music job in all of France). In 1886, the Royal Philharmonic Society commissioned his third symphony; it was received with wild applause and entered the canon of musical masterpieces. The beautiful theme of the finale has even shown up in popular culture: you can hear it in the 1995 movie “Babe” and also at Disney World’s Epcot Center.
A real treat for everyone at this event is the world-famous instrument that will play the starring role in this symphony - the 6,134-pipe Walt Disney Concert Hall Organ that towers above the rear of the stage, designed by architect Frank Gehry.
In 1827, the 23-year-old Hector Berlioz saw Hamlet performed in Paris, with Irish actress Harriet Smithson as Ophelia. She was at the pinnacle of her career and from the moment he saw her, the man was completely obsessed, bombarding her with impassioned letters. “Symphonie Fantastique” is his amazing attempt to attract Harriet's attention - a tale told in music of an artist driven to madness by his vision of the perfect woman.
Harriet finally gave in and they were married in 1833 but it didn’t last (are you surprised?). Even after their divorce, Berlioz continued to take care of her and she was eventually buried with Berlioz (and his second wife!) in a cemetery in Paris. (The French do things differently.) A master orchestrator, Berlioz included in this masterpiece an instrument as mad as the artist in the story - a “bass ophicleide.” Berlioz needed a very ugly sound at one point and this bizarre horn was the perfect way to get it. “Ophicleide” literally means “serpent with keys,” which is a pretty good description. Extinct and almost totally forgotten, the ophicleide part in this great Romantic symphony is played by the tuba.