Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 3

October 6 – 8, 2023


BARBER Toccata Festiva for Organ and Orchestra

The Symphony No. 3 is unmistakably Rachmaninoff — with soaring melodies, shattering climaxes, and the dark rumblings of his signature Dies irae from the Mass for the Dead. But once the clouds have lifted, the Symphony ends in jubilant, life-affirming exclamations. Also on the program, Barber’s celebratory organ toccata (watch for some fancy footwork on the Lay Family Concert Organ) and a new work that honors JFK upon the 60th anniversary of his passing. Inspired by President Kennedy’s speech eulogizing poet Robert Frost at Amherst College in 1963, the DSO will be one of the first orchestras to perform this work following its world premiere this summer.

Join us for a special pre-concert talk with Assistant Conductor Maurice Cohn! The talks will take place from Horchow Hall starting at 6:30pm on Friday and Saturday and 2:00pm on Sunday.

Libretto — JFK: The Last Speech

The Libretto — JFK: The Last Speech
Neil Bicknell, Librettist

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go,
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.

Privilege is here, and with privilege goes responsibility…

There is inherited wealth in this country and also inherited poverty. And unless graduates…who are given a running start in life — unless they are willing to put back into our society those talents, the broad sympathy, the understanding, the compassion — unless they’re willing to put those qualities back into the service of the Great Republic, then obviously the presuppositions upon which our democracy are based are bound to be fallible…the need is endless, and I’m confident that you will respond.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Today this College and country honors a man whose contribution was not to our size but to our spirit, not to our political beliefs but to our insight, not to our self-esteem, but to our self-comprehension. …Our national strength matters, but the spirit which informs and controls our strength matters just as much. This was the special significance of Robert Frost…He held a deep faith in the spirit of man.

And God has taken a flower of gold
And broken it, and used therefrom
The mystic link to bind and hold
Spirit to matter till death come.

The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the nation’s greatness, but the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable, especially when that questioning is disinterested, for they determine whether we use power or power uses us…

It’s hardly an accident that Robert Frost coupled poetry and power, for he saw poetry as the means of saving power from itself. When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.

There is a call to life a little sterner…
It makes the prophet in us all presage
The glory of a next Augustan age…
A golden age of poetry and power
Of which this noonday’s the beginning hour.*

[Robert Frost] brought an unsparing instinct for reality to bear on the platitudes and pieties of society. His sense of the human tragedy fortified him against self-deception and easy consolation. “I have been,” he wrote, “one acquainted with the night.” And because he knew the midnight as well as the high noon, because he understood the ordeal as well as the triumph of the human spirit, he gave his age strength with which to overcome despair.

I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

The great artist is a solitary figure. He has, as Frost said, a lover’s quarrel with the world. … If sometimes our great artists have been the most critical of our society, it is because their sensitivity and their concern for justice which must motivate any true artist. … The nation which disdains the mission of art invites the fate of Robert Frost’s hired man, the fate of having nothing to look backward to with pride and nothing to look forward to with hope.

Poor Silas, so concerned for other folk,
And nothing to look backward to with pride,
And nothing to look forward to with hope,
So now and never any different.

If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth… [In] democratic society…the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may. In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation.

Anything more than the truth would have seemed too weak
To the earnest love that laid the swale in rows…
The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows.
My long scythe whispered and left the hay to make.

I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose. … I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft. … And I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well.

The woods are lovely dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Libretto Copyright © 2021 by Neil Bicknell, All Rights Reserved

* Excerpt from “Dedication” by Robert Frost from THE POETRY OF ROBERT FROST edited by Edward Connery Lathem.
Copyright © 1961 by Robert Frost, Copyright © 1989 by Alfred Edwards. Used by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All Rights Reserved.

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Peter Oundjian


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Quincy Roberts


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Janice Chandler-Eteme


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Bradley Hunter Welch

Resident Organist

Lay Family Chair

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