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Twin Cities Organ Concert Series
Wally Pollee Memorial Concert
Andrews University Early Music Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra, & Soloists
March 22, 2009

Handel: Organ Concerto No. 6 in B-flat | Krebs: Concerto in a minor for Two Keyboards | Mozart: Church Sonata No. 9 in F, K. 244 | Bassano: Deus, qui beatum Marcum |
Praetorius: Suite from Terpsichore and Three Evening Songs | Kraus: Pslam 121 "Ich hebe meine Augen | Pollee Tribute

Georger Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Organ Concerto No. 6 in B-flat Major

Andante allegro
Allegro moderato

Handel was known throughout his life as a virtuoso organist. He was also an innovator, two of his creations being the English oratorio and the organ concerto. The two forms actually complimented one another. Handel’s oratorios are very long, but should the audiences of the time have become bored by the seemingly endless streams of recitatives and arias, they could look forward to Mr. Handel’s improvisatory concerto movements interpolated into the performances. In all, some fifteen of his organ concertos were published. The Organ Concerto in B-flat, Op. 4, No. 6 was originally conceived as a harp concerto and was written to be performed in connection with the composer’s oratorio Alexander’s Feast or The Power of Music, a setting of Dryden’s Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day. The harp as solo instrument ostensibly evokes the image of an ancient musician playing on his lyre. The orchestral color is pastel with flutes, muted and pizzicato strings. The piece works equally well for solo harp or organ as the composer indicates.

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Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780)
Concerto in a minor for Two Keyboards


Bizet’s short life of thirty-six years was largely filled with disappointments. In the end he was not even to know that his opera Carmen would become one of the most popular operas of all time, as he died three months following its disastrous premiere. Following early studies with his parents, he was enrolled in the Paris Conservatoire. There he excelled, winning many prizes including the premiere composition prize, the Prix de Rome, at age 19. Bizet had not done much travel prior to the trip to Rome, therefore the journey through the landscapes of the south of France and Italy made a particularly strong impression on the young man. This experience proved fruitful when in 1872 Bizet was engaged to provide incidental music for the Théâtre Lyrique production of Daudet’s L’arlésienne (The Woman of Arles). The composer provided twenty-seven pieces for stage orchestra to accompany the action, much of it played under spoken dialogue. Daudet was thrilled with the music that so eloquently captured the essence of Provence and its people, but the whole enterprise was not well received by the Parisian audiences and theater critics. A few musicians, including Massenet, understood the quality of the music and encouraged the composer to recast the music for concert use. Bizet quickly arranged four pieces for full orchestra, and that group, Suite No. 1, proved a success in the concert hall from its first hearing in November of that same year. It wasn’t until after the composer’s death that his lifelong friend, Ernest Guiraud, arranged four more pieces (Pastorale, Intermezzo, Menuet, and Farandole) into the Suite No. 2 that we hear tonight. Some will recognize Guiraud’s arrangement of the second movement as being set for solo voice to the liturgical text Agnus Dei (Lamb of God). It is also interesting to note that the Faradole is one of three Provençal folk tunes utilized in the complete incidental music.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Church Sonata No. 9 in F, K. 244

Young Wolfgang was eight when his father wrote that every one, "thinks that his organ playing is much better than his clavier playing." As his prodigy days waned, the young Mozart was hired by the archibishop of Salzburg to be the concert master in teh cathedral orchestra. The new archbishop, Prince-Archbishop Hieronimus Franz von Paula, Count Colloredo gave Mozart a salaried post in 1796. In this position he was expected to cotribute music for the services. The archbishop demanded that cathedral services not be long (45 minutes, masimum) and required cheerful music to accompany the procession prior to the reading of teh gospel. Mozart wroted seventeen church sonatas for this purpose. The early sonatas treated the organ simply as a continuu instrument. Church Sonata No. 9 in F is the first one in which the organ part is fully written out.

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Giovanni Bassano (1550-1617)
Deus, qui beatum Marcum

Giovanni Bassano was a wind player and master of the wind players that served the doge and regularly provided music for festive occasions in the Cathedral of San Marco, Venice. The eight-part motet for two choirs Deus, qui beatum Marcum was clearly written for one of those festive services. Today we hear it in an arrangement for eight recorders.

O God, who blessed Mark, your Evangelist, with the grace of preaching the gospel:
grant us that we may follow his instructions and profit by his teaching
and be defended by his prayers. Alleluia.

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Michael Praetorius (1571-1621)
Suite from Terpsichore


In 1619 German organist, theorist, and composer Michael Praetorius wrote: “A consort is when several people with diverse instruments... come together in one company to play softly, gently and sweetly, all in accord, and tune their notes in graceful symphony.” Praetorius is best known for his theoretical work Syntagma musicum and his large number of choral works (primarily based on Protestant hymns) and other church music. His only published instrumental ensemble music, Terpsichore, is an important set of French dances. Published in 1612, this collection, evoking the spirit the spirit of Terpsichore (muse of the dance), consists of twelve dances. On this concert we feature five dances performed with four consorts: krumhorns, viols, recorders, and mixed consort.

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James Kraus (b.1959)
Psalm 121 "ich hebe meine Augen auf"
(World Premiere)
In honor of my Friend

Written especially for performance on today’s concert, the composer, James Kraus, has taken as his inspiration, Psalm 121 “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help” to honor the memory of his friend, Wally Pollee. The piece features the organ, which Wally loved. Kraus uses musical devices to represent Wally as not only a builder of buildings, particularly of churches, but also as a builder in the musical community. In the first section, when the organ and strings play together, the organ takes the melody first, the violins take it up playing it in canon, then the bass adds an augmented version. The scriptural illusion at this point is “My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” The composer envisions two main images in the music - God above us, below us, beside us and the idea of heaven and earth. The piece, with elements related to the sound of a German chorale (in fact there are illusions to three chorales), ends on a not of faith inspired by verses 4 & 8 of the psalm, “Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep;” “The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”

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Tribute to Wally Pollee

Walldemar Pollee was born October 29, 1924 in Essen, Germany. As a pre-schooler he would wander around the house saying, “All I want is a piano, all I want is a piano.” He then both took, and later gave piano lessons. His original career goal was to attend conservatory to study music. He qualified, but tuition was too expensive for his family, so he learned the masonry trade instead, pursuing music as an avocation. During World War II he was a navigator in the air force, but spent a lot of his time playing the piano in officers clubs. While he was still in Germany and after immigrating to the U.S. (1953), he played piano, zither, viola da gamba, and a variety of recorders in churches and with various musical groups. In 1953 he founded the Pollee Masonry Construction Company in Stevensville, and many local buildings–residential, commercial and churches–attest to his skill and good business sense.

Wally encouraged his family in a love of music and extended that love to the Michiana musical community through performing for such groups as Monday Musical and with the Twin Cities Symphony Orchestra (now Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra). In the mid 1960's Pollee fulfilled a long-held dream of owning his own harpsichord, acquiring a Bach model from the Neupert company in Germany. In time he became a dealer for Neupert and the music room in the Pollee home was filled–bursting with harpsichords, a clavichord, at times a Mozart fortepiano, an organ, many recorders, and shelves and shelves of music. It was into this room that many an early music aficionado would make a pilgrimage to play Wally’s instruments. In his later years he focused on playing the organ, for his own church and serving as a substitute in several of the local churches. He continued taking organ lessons until the age of 80. Wally had a special love of performing with others and helping various groups arrange to have harpsichords and get them “in shape” for performances. Innumerable individuals, groups, and educational organizations owe Wally Pollee a debt of gratitude for all the years he generously shared his music with our community.

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Program notes by Linda Mack. Copyright 2009.
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