The College Community Orchestra--a little French, a little Italian

by John Cataldo,

Posted in on Thursday, May 20


This musical performance was supposed to spark interest in French and Italian style music. In this performance the audience experienced songs by the orchestra, chorus and special guests, Annamaria Guerriero and Amedeo Aurilio. The addition of these guests gave the audience a real feel for what Italian-style music can offer.

Artist, Pianist and synesthetic, Annamaria Guerriero is a graduate of the Conservatory N. Piccinni in Bari, Italy where she studied with Maestro Pierluigi Camicia. She furthered her musical studies with Guido Agosti, M. Marvulli, S. Cafaro and F. Rossi, while receiving degrees in painting and graphic design at the Academy of Fine Arts of Bari. Professor Guerriero has also studied synesthetic perception. Synesthetic perception is the phenomena in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of color. She developed her own synesthetic skills while collaborating on experimental projects and writing on the topic at the University of Chieti. She has given courses and lectures on synesthesia, in particular on the synergies between music and painting, at the University of Bari, and Internationally. Professor Guerriero has won first prize at the National Piano Competition of Pescara, first prize in "Trio Formation" at the IX Martina Franca Festival of the Itria Valley, and first prize in Painting-Graphic Design Section, at Foggia. She currently teaches Chamber Music at the Conservatory of music "B. Marcello" in Venice. She has toured not only Italy but Canada, Germany, Israel, Latvia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Turkey and Kuwait.

The other pianist was Amedeo Francesco Aurilio from Battipaglia, Italy. He has performed with the major orchestras in Italy and Europe and received high praise from critics throughout Europe for his interpretations of piano music from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. A graduate of the Conservatorio di Musica di Salerno, he has served as a jury member on many important international piano competitions and is the author of various publications dealing with music theory, solfeggio and piano pedagogy. A list of his performances would fill many pages but highlights include engagements in Rome, the Vatican, Naples, Cava, Amalfi Cathedral and many other Italian cities as well as concerts in the United States, Germany, Japan and Venezuela. Today he teaches at the D. Cimarosa Conservatory of Music of Avellino.

There were four pieces played at this concert, Soirees Musicales Op. 9, Pavane Op. 50, Concerto for Two Pianos and Roman Carnival Overture Op. 9. The piece Soirees Musicales Op. 9 was orchestrated by Benjamin Britten. Britten was set on being a composer since his teenage years. He was employed in 1935 by a movie company which asked him to write the background music for their movies, he did this with great accomplishment. He was then asked to write music for a documentary called "Men of the Alps", which he chose to orchestrate five piano pieces by Gioacchino Rossini. He later adapted the pieces into the present suite in 1938 and they were used in the singular ballet, Soiree Musicale. The instruments used in the orchestration of these pieces are 2 each of flutes, oboes, clarinets, and bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, xylophone, snare drum, suspended cymbal, crash cymbals, bass drum, glockenspiel, triangle, castenets, tympani, harp or piano, and strings. This score is broken into 5 different sections; March, Canzonetta, Tirolese, Bolero and Tarantella.

The second piece played was Pavane, Op. 50 by Gabriel Faure. This piece is written in 1887 in F-sharp minor, which is meant for an orchestra and optionally a chorus. This is slow piece which is meant to flow and give you a somewhat haunting chill. It has harmonic and melodic climaxes throughout the piece. This piece is only scored for a modest orchestra consisting of strings and one pair of each flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons and horns. This score quickly became a favorite in the music society; it was played at many important concerts and recitals such as, a concert of the Societe Nationale de Musique. This song was so popular that it was played at events decades after Faure's death, like the 1998 World Cup.

The third score that was played was Concerto for Two Pianos by Francis Poulenc. Poulenc was taught to play the piano by his mother who was an amateur pianist. Poulenc was a member of Les Six, a loose-knit group of young French and Swiss composers. He embraced the Dada movement's techniques, creating melodies that would have challenged what was considered appropriate for Parisian music halls. Poulenc was a featured recording pianist and one of the pieces that gave him that recognition was Concerto for Two Pianos. This score was written in D minor and described in three parts. These parts were the Allegro ma non troppo, Larghetto and Finale.

The final score played was the Roman Carnival Overture Op. 9 by Hector Berlioz. This piece was Composed in 1843 and first performed at the Salle Herz, Paris on 3 February 1844. A stand-alone overture intended for concert performance, made up of material and themes from Berlioz's opera Benvenuto Cellini, including some music from the opera's carnival scene, hence the overture's title. It is scored for large orchestra, is in the key of A major, and features a prominent and famous solo for the cor anglais. Cor Anglais, also known as the English horn, is a double reed woodwind instrument in the oboe family.

All of these pieces are famous worldwide and have been around for almost a century. People at this day in age still enjoy the great musical genre that dates as old as their parents or grandparents. Watching the College Community Orchestra perform these pieces of music were quite exceptional themselves but the addition of the two pianists is what made the concert truly memorable for me.

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