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Program Notes

Michael Stern, Conductor

Reid Messich, Oboe
Partners
: Dixon Gallery and Gardens and Memphis Garden Clubs

Strauss: Roses of the South
Wagner: Forest Murmurs
Francaix: L’horloge de flore (Flower Clock)

—-INTERMISSION—-

Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68

Like the concert hall, southern gardens are places of respite and inspiration. As befits an orchestra named for the state flower, IRIS takes this opportunity to celebrate the tradition of horticulture in and around the mid-South with a program that reflects the variety and wonder of the natural world. Johann Strauss’s powerful, introspective masterpiece, “Roses of the South,” contains some of his most quoted themes, including the interlude “Where the Wild Roses Are.” Wagner’s “Forest Murmurs” contains one of the most breathtakingly beautiful moments in the Ring cycle when Siegfried, lost in the woods’ mysterious darkness, hears the bird who will later lead him to Brunnhilde and lifts his reed flute to answer. Jean Françaix based L’horloge de flore on an idea of the 18th-century Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus to classify flowers based on the hour of the day they open, thus creating a “clock of flowers.” Oboe soloist Reid Messich, a longstanding member of IRIS, studied with Richard Woodhams, who had himself studied with John de Lancie, for whom the “Flower Clock” was written. The program closes with Beethoven’s “Pastoral” symphony, one of the most enduring musical expressions of the human experience of nature in the repertoire. The presence of programmatic elements (thunder, bird calls, flowing water) does not make this a programmatic piece. Beethoven himself wrote, “The whole will be understood even without a description, as it is more feeling than tone-painting.”

Like music-making at IRIS, gardening in the south is a shared and convivial passion. The garden club is a social institution woven into the fabric of the mid-South, where gardeners come together to exchange ideas, seeds, bulbs, flowers, and plants. 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the Memphis Botanic Garden under its current name, and the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens.

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