Chancellor’s Concert April 22

Stare, Aldrich conduct music of Haydn, Liszt, Corigliano and Vaughan Williams

The 2012 Chancellor’s Concert will feature more than 100 musicians from the Washington University Symphony Orchestra and the Washington University Choirs.

Ah, spring. The rains rain, the flowers bloom, and the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences presents its annual Chancellor’s Concert.

The performance — which will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 22, in the 560 Music Center’s E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall — is among the largest-scaled of the year, featuring more than 100 musicians from the Washington University Symphony Orchestra and the Washington University Choirs.

Ward Stare

It also marks the first Chancellor’s Concert for the ensembles’ respective directors: Ward Stare, resident conductor of the St. Louis Symphony, and Nicole Aldrich, director of choral activities. Both joined the music department last summer.

The 2012 program will open with Symphony No. 96 “Miracle,” one of Franz Joseph Haydn’s 12 “London” symphonies. Written in 1791, during the composer’s wildly successful London debut, the piece gained its subtitle thanks to a memorable event and a case of mistaken attribution.

According to Albert Dies, an early 19th-century biographer, the audience at the premiere leapt to its collective feet and crowded the stage in applause — thus narrowly avoiding a falling chandelier that crashed to the empty seats below. Though subsequent scholars have shown that the incident occurred in 1795, not 1791, Symphony No. 96 continues to be known as Haydn’s “Miracle.”

The Chancellor’s Concert will continue with Franz Liszt’s Symphonic Poem No. 2, Tasso: lamento e trionfo (“Tasso, Lament and Triumph”). Begun as rough sketches and initially completed by Liszt’s assistant, August Conradi, the piece debuted in 1849 as the overture to Torquato Tasso, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s drama about the 16th century Italian poet.

Nicole Aldrich

Liszt, however, revised and expanded the work several times over the next several years. The Chancellor’s Concert will feature Liszt’s final version from 1856. The lament in the subtitle, as the composer explained in the score’s preface, invokes not only Goethe’s play but also the poem Lament of Tasso by Lord Byron.

Next will be Fern Hill (1960), an early work by the contemporary American composer John Corigliano. Based on the poem by Dylan Thomas, it was originally scored for mezzo-soprano, chorus, harp and strings. The April 22 program will feature a version reorchestrated for chamber orchestra by the composer in 1999.

Concluding the Chancellor’s Concert will be Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Toward the Unknown Region (1905), a setting of Walt Whitman’s poem Darest Thou Now O Soul.

Conceived as part of an informal competition with fellow composer Gustav Holst (who set his own version of the same poem), Toward the Unknown Region premiered in 1907 and marked one of Vaughan Williams’ first major compositional successes.

The 560 Music Center is located at 560 Trinity Ave., at the intersection with Delmar Boulevard. For more information, call (314) 935-5566 or email