The Stockton Symphony is opening their 2017-2018 season on Saturday, September 23 with a great, and inclusive, program. In addition to Tchaikovsky Brahms, and Berlioz, conductor Peter Jaffe has chosen to include Rainbow (1990) by Thea Musgrave.
Musgrave, who will be celebrating her 90th birthday in May, 2018, was born in Scotland but has lived and worked in the United States since 1972. A student of Nadia Boulanger and Aaron Copland, she has written extensively for orchestra, as well as completed twelve operas. Her operatic works often feature a historical woman as the central character, including Mary, Queen of Scots (1977) and Harriet, the Woman Called Moses (1985). Her orchestral works demonstrate Musgrave’s interest in programmatic writing, as well as the inspiration she finds in the visual arts. The composer said this about Rainbow:
Rainbow is soundscape in both a literal and a figurative sense. In nature, of course, a rainbow heralds the end of a storm and the reappearance of the sun. Rainbow begins with a quiet expressive oboe solo accompanied by a sustained A major chord (representing the sun), soon to be overwhelmed by the approaching storm which erupts violently in a fast tumultuous section.
Eventually the storm dies away and the rainbow appears; a lyrical theme accompanied by three major chords (the three primary colours of the spectrum: red, yellow, blue). When the rainbow fades, the sun blazes out; the A major chord accompanying the initial oboe melody, now played by all the violins. The brass adds a chorale of thanksgiving, bringing a mood of calm confident fulfillment.