Orchid Isle Orchestra: Ho! Ho! Hoedown

Sunday, December 1, 2019 - 4:00pm

Orchid Isle Orchestra will present its annual holiday concert on Sunday, December 1, 4 PM, at the Kahua ‘Elua Theater (upstairs black-box theater) of the East Hawaii Cultural Center in Hilo. Artistic Director Cathy Young and Assistant Walter Greenwood will team with Guest Conductor David MacKenzie in presenting Ho! Ho! Hoedown!, a concert celebrating the immigrant experience and diversity of our musical heritages.

The orchestra will play a foot-tapping version of some holiday favorites: Silent Night, Joy to the World, and Deck the Halls mixed in with Aaron Copland’s Hoedown, some of it written in “Tempo di Cowboy.” The piece is called Hoedown at the Holidays, arranged by Chris M. Bernotas. An arrangement by Renata Bratt combines Rock with Baroque melodies from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Winter movements – in a Baroque ‘n’ Roll piece called Winterfest.

Cowboy music borrows from Mexican ballads. OIO will perform Cielito Lindo (Little Slice of Heaven), a popular Mexican love song composed by Quirino Mendoza y Cortés, arranged for string orchestra. Many people recognize it as the “Ay, ay, ay, ay. .” song. The lyrics following “ay, ay, ay, ay” translate to: “Sing, don't cry. Singing makes us happy."

More happiness/liveliness will ensue with Merle Isaac’s arrangement of Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s Hopak (a Ukranian folk dance, often called Ukraine’s National Dance), written in 1866. The word “hopak” is derived from Ukranian words that mean “to jump” and “hop.” 

American born composer Leonard Bernstein was the son of Ukrainian parents. He worked with lyricist Stephen Sondheim to produce the music of West Side Story. The Broadway musical premiered in 1957; the movie in 1961. America is a duet from the musical. One voice sings the praises of life in America and disparages Puerto Rico, while the other responds with criticism of America and American racial prejudice. OIO will perform an instrumental-only arrangement of America by Stephen Bulla.

On November 23, 1963, Leonard Bernstein conducted the New York Philharmonic and a chorus in a nationally-televised memorial service for just-assassinated President John F. Kennedy. The music was the first airing of a complete symphony written by Gustav Mahler; it was his second, the Resurrection Symphony. Since the tribute to JFK, Mahler symphonies have become standard repertoire for national mourning. On June 8, 1969, Bernstein conducted the Adagietto from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony during the funeral Mass for Robert F. Kennedy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. OIO will perform an arrangement of the Adagietto, Mahler’s most-frequently performed music, written in 1901-2. 

Johann Sebastian Bach played an important role in Mahler's musical life at the time Mahler composed his Fifth Symphony. Mahler subscribed to the edition of Bach's collected works that was being published just then. He later conducted and arranged works by Bach for concerts. To round out the program, OIO will also perform two famous works by J.S. Bach: the Air (often played at weddings) and the first movement of the Double Violin Concerto. 

OIO violinists Kevin Li and Taarini Godbole will solo, accompanied by the orchestra. Both violinists attend Waiakea High School and Young Music Studio. Kevin is a junior; Taarini is a freshman. The concert starts with performances by string students: a Swedish Folk Song, music by Robert Schumann, Antonin Dvorak, and Friedrich Seitz.

The concert is free. Donations will benefit Orchid Isle Orchestra, East Hawaii Cultural Center, and more string music education. For additional information, call Cathy Young at 982-9307. 

Pictured are 14 of the 26 performers for OIO’s December 1 concert at EHCC, left to right, front cello row first: Josef La Bolle, Meg Saunders, Perry Armor, Walter Greenwood, Vimala Mahapatra, Beatrice Kim-Lee, Erin Moncada, Taarini Godbole, Kevin Li, Susan McGovern, Marya Szaur, Cathy Young, Mary Ann Smiles, and Kathleen Paik.

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