New Music Friday: Symphony Op. 11, No. 2: II. Andante & III. Presto

This arrangement of Symphony Op. 11, No. 2 includes movements II (Andante) and III (Presto). The two movements are to be performed attacca, with no pause in between. This music was originally used as part of the overture to Bologne’s only surviving opera, L’Amant Anonyme (The Anonymous Lover). The Andante movement features a lyrical melody first heard in the violins and then echoed by the violas, cellos, and basses. The Presto movement sparkles with energy and has exciting contrast between the major and minor sections.

The Guadeloupean Creole composer, Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745 – 1799), led a remarkable life as not only a prolific composer but also a virtuoso violinist, music director, and conductor of a prominent Parisian symphony orchestra, military officer, and fencing champion.

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About Symphony Op. 11, No. 2

This piece offers a challenge for a string orchestra with confident players throughout all sections. Students will enjoy the contrasts in character between both movements and between the major and minor sections of the Presto movement. The low-string parts are active and exciting to play in both movements. As a low-string player myself, I find that low-string parts in slow movements can often be uninteresting. However, in this slow movement, the low strings consistently echo the violin melody, which guarantees that all students will have the opportunity to be musically expressive on a lyrical melody within a slow tempo.

This piece offers students numerous learning opportunities, such as experiencing how to perform in the Classical-Era style, 2/4 versus 6/8 meters, D-Major and D-minor, at-the-frog and off-the-string bowings, hooked-bowings, bow lifts, up-bows at the frog, and more. Both movements should use tapered phrasing and light, clean, off-the-string bow strokes. In moments with frequent string-crossings in the Presto, staying in the lower half of the bow for control and clarity is recommended.

The violin I part requires shifting as high as III position and fingering suggestions are included. The violin II part is active and requires strong players; however, there is no shifting involved. The viola and cello parts do not require shifting. The cello part includes several viola cues that could be helpful if there is a smaller viola section in the ensemble. If members of the viola section are looking for an extra challenge, they are encouraged to play the included violin II cues. The bass part requires shifting as high as III position, and fingering suggestions are included along with position indications. Some optional divisi is also provided for bass players to use as needed.

About Jennifer Meckler

Jennifer Meckler is a music educator, conductor, and violist. Growing up near Hershey, Pennsylvania, Meckler discovered her passion for all-things-string under the baton of Dr. Sandra Dackow in the Hershey Festival Strings Youth Orchestra. Since then, Meckler has earned a BM in Music Education from Ithaca College and an MM in Music Education from William Paterson University, where she had the opportunity to study orchestral conducting and arranging for school orchestras with Dr. Dackow. Meckler’s thesis research, advised by Dr. Dackow, explored arranging for school string and full orchestras. Meckler has also studied conducting with Harold Farberman at the Bard College Conductor’s Institute.

Currently, Jennifer Meckler is the director of both the West Morris Central High School Orchestra in Chester, New Jersey, and the West Morris Mendham High School Orchestra in Mendham, New Jersey. She founded and is the current director of the West Morris Regional High School District Symphony, an auditioned high school full orchestra ensemble. Previously, Meckler taught elementary and middle school string orchestra, middle school full orchestra, and middle school general music, in the Canton Public Schools outside of Boston, MA.

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