Prodigy & Pops

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Great Scott N' The Wright Stuff
Poulenc n' Pipes
World Premiere Horn Concerto
Tale of Two Symphonies
The Planets
Prodigy & Pops
2009 Arabian Nights
From the New World

Prodigy & Pops


Saturday, November 15, 2008; 7:30 PM
at Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos -
Donation: $20 general, $15 senior/student, children 12 years and younger with adult FREE ·
Tickets available at door at 7:00 PM or from orchestra members in advance -
Tickets now available ONLINE.

Michael Paul Gibson, Conductor
Julian Brown, Concertmaster
Stephen Waarts, Violin Soloist
                     (12 years old)





Video and Audio of this Concert is available on our Recordings webpage.

Below are comments received from audience members.

  • Rave Reviews
  • Another Full House Audience
  • Standing Ovations
  • Super Success

“Blockbuster!! What a great performance last Night.” Paul Nyberg

“Really a very good concert. It confirms my opinion that you are a terrific director.” Keith Kreitman

“fine performance...very impressive on many levels. huge turnout” Peter Gelfand

“Thank you for such an incredible, fun, awesome concert.” Nat Collins

congratulate you on the high standard of performance...programing was first rate” John and Sophie Chang

absolutely terrific... just loved the "mini maestros" too! Carolyn McCoid


“Michael: What a great performance last night. Including your director training!

Keep it up. Loved the mix of classics and pops."

 Paul Nyberg
  Owner of the Los Altos Town Crier Newspaper

"Dear Michael Really a very good concert. It confirms my opinion that you are a terrific director.

Again, I repeat, it always surprises me how you are able to make a small orchestra sound like such a big one, but you're still doing it.

Of course I adore Stephen and have been like a surrogate grandfather to him since I first heard him at age 8 and have had him on my program three
times already. Personally, he a very modest and shy kid who does even look as if he has reached age 12, yet.

You have done wonders with that orchestra down there."

  Keith Kreitman
   Music Critic for San Mateo County Times and Host and Creator of "Inside Arts" on Peninsula cable TV channel 26

Hi Michael,

Congratulations on Saturday's fine performance by you and the Silicon Valley Symphony. Many thanks for having included me. I thoroughly enjoyed working with you and your fine orchestra.

The effort was very impressive on many levels. You have assembled a fine bunch of musicians who just happen to be lovely folks, as well. You appear to have developed a large and loyal following. It was most impressive to see the huge turnout for this concert. Are all of your concerts so well attended? The program was interesting, imaginative! In the meantime, please accept my heart-felt congratulations to you and your fine musicians for a wonderful concert. All best,”

 Peter Gelfand
  Principal Cello, Symphony Silicon Valley (and Silicon Valley Symphony)

"Michael- My congratulations to you for presenting such a good concert...especially the Tchaikovsky!? Stephen played superb & you did an excellent job conveying his tempos to the orchestra.? Conducting with a soloist is not an easy job.? In fact, it's more difficult in many ways.? Sure, you're not performing the actual solo, but as a conductor, you have to second guess tempos, rit., accel.,adjust balance, etc.”

 Doug Zuehlke

Dear Michael, The concert a week ago Saturday was absolutely terrific, and it confirmed for me the talent that is bursting around us. Your dedication to this almost all volunteer orchestra is also inspiring. I was impressed reading your bio, as you have certainly done the hard work and training to bring you to this place. Northwestern started you out, but then you have taken it from there. From what I heard others say, you have a marvelous music program at the church. I just loved the "mini maestros" too! I hope that young Stephen had a successful recital on Saturday in New York. He is a big talent, playing with confidence and artistry. Interesting too is how often the combination of math/music brilliance goes together. When I raved about the concert to friends last week, the response was, "Let me know when the next one is, so we can go." I know that comes in March, so I will look forward to that.”

  Carolyn McCoid
    Board Member of Farrington Historical Foundation

"Hi Michael,

Here's a quote about Stephen from one of my friends, a rock musician (drummer):

"Man, the kid could rip. It was crazy! And the program said he was shredding when he was 5!"

It's not quite as eloquent as these other comments you've listed, but it really made me laugh."

 Courtney Onodera

"Dear Michael,

I enjoyed all of the concert very much, including your program after the break. Stephen liked the program as well as he has been humming the tunes and trying some out on the piano on Sunday.

I put together a quick video based on my audio recorder nearby the orchestra and camera on the balcony. It came out very well. Orli already showed it to his teacher Lee Lin today in Stephen's lessson. Lee Lin could not make the concert due to a family conflict. He was extremely pleased with Stephen and had much praise for the Orchestra."

 Robert Waarts
   Stephen Waarts' father

"Hi Michael, it was a great concert! All my friends that came to see it were very impressed."

 Eriola Pengo

Thank you for such an incredible, fun, awesome concert. I took some pictures and posted them online. As you will see, that not just the audience, but the musicians had big smiles on their faces too. Thanks again, Nat"

 Nat Collins

"Dear Michael,

Again, the concert was a WOW! You never fail to come up with a winner. Everything was so wonderful, where do I start. Stephen is amazing. Such maturity for such a young man.

The children leading the orchestra was a
huge hit! Loved joining the last little boy by clapping to the beat of "his" baton. Of course, your orchestra always does such a wonderful job. Loved the trumpets - knocked me out of my chair.

You are certainly a master of the Arts!!!!”

 Loretta Faulkner
   Manager Menlo Park Chorus

Dear Michael, Thank you so much for notifying us of your Prodigy and Pops concert. My wife and I enjoyed it immensely and wanted to congratulate you on the high standard of performance you achieved. We both thought the programing was first rate and it was gratifying to see such a large audience, particularly when it was obvious that many were not regular concert goers. Keep up the good work and again, many thanks.”

  John and Sophie Chang

Festival Overture, Op. 96
by Dimitri Shostakovich

Written 1954

The Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich wrote his popular piece of music, the Festive Overture in A major, in 1954 for a concert held at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow to commemorate the 37th anniversary of the October Revolution (which took place in 1917).

The Bolshoi's conductor, Vassili Nebolsin, found himself without a suitable new work to open the concert, and contacted Shostakovich just days before. The composer set to work on the overture with great speed, completing it in three days. He apparently based it on Glinka's Russlan and Ludmilla overture (1842), and it features the same lively tempo and style of melody. Whilst the style reflects Shostakovich, the piece as a whole uses very conventional classical devices of form and harmony. Some commentators have suggested that the work secretly celebrates the death of Stalin the year before.

The overture featured in the 1980 Summer Olympics (Games of the XXII Olympiad) in Moscow.

Disneyland Resort Paris uses the Festive Overture during the special fireworks-display over Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant on Bastille Day.


Dimitri Shostakovich
1906 - 1975

The overture begins with a fanfare in the brass, followed by a fast melody in the wind. The strings (in the band version, brass and woodwinds) take up this melody and the piece reaches a climax with a four-note motif. Suddenly the music reaches a more lyrical melody in the horns and cellos (in the band version, brass), although the tempo remains the same. Shostakovich develops this material in his typical style, using both themes in counterpoint, before the fanfare returns and leads to a rousing coda.

Many orchestras — such as the Boston Pops Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra — have performed the Festive Overture. It has become a standard piece of the orchestral repertoire.

The work was used as the opener for the 1985 and 1986 Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle Corps, which included a famous sequence where the horn line marched through a fabric tunnel single file wearing green pants and exited wearing white ones, and as a closer for the 2001 Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps. In addition, the 2007 combined Blue Devils/Santa Clara Vanguard Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps used the opening fanfare section in one of the pieces they played ("Vanguardian Sketches")

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major, Op. 35
 by Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky

Written 1878

Stephen Waarts, Violin Soloist

  1. Allegro moderato (D major)
  2. Canzonetta: Andante (G minor)
  3. Finale: Allegro vivacissimo (D major) (*2nd & 3rd mvts. are both in the same MP3 file)

The Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky is one of the best known of all violin concertos. It is also considered to be among the most technically difficult works for violin.

The concerto is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in A and B-flat, 2 bassoons, 4 horns in F, 2 trumpets in D, timpani and strings. As with most concerti, the piece is in three movements, the first and last quick, the second slow. There is no break or pause between the second and third movements. Tchaikovsky wrote only one concerto for violin, but wrote three other concertos, all for piano (the first concerto being the best known).

The piece was written in 1878 in Clarens, a Swiss resort on the shores of Lake Geneva where Tchaikovsky had gone to recover from the depression brought on by his disastrous marriage to Antonina Miliukova.

Tchaikovsky was accompanied there by his composition pupil, the violinist Yosif Kotek, and the two played works for violin and piano together, which may have been the catalyst for the composition of the concerto. Tchaikovsky was not a violinist, and he sought the advice of Kotek on the completion of the solo part. Swift progress was made, and the work was completed within a month despite the middle movement getting a complete rewrite (a version of the original movement was preserved as the first of the three pieces for violin and piano, Souvenir d'un lieu cher).

Kotek did not have a strong enough reputation to premiere the work, so Tchaikovsky instead intended the first performance to be given by Leopold Auer, and accordingly dedicated the work to him. Auer refused, however, saying the work was unplayable (he did play the work later in his life, however), meaning that the planned premiere for March 1879 had to be cancelled and a new soloist found. The first performance was eventually given by Adolph Brodsky on December 4, 1881 in Vienna, under the baton of Hans Richter. Tchaikovsky changed the dedication to Brodsky. Critical reaction was mixed, and the piece was certainly not received as the masterpiece it is taken to be today. The influential critic Eduard Hanslick called it "long and pretentious" and said that it "brought us face to face with the revolting thought that music can exist which stinks to the ear". Hanslick also wrote that "the violin was not played but beaten black and blue", as well as labelling the last movement "odorously Russian".


P.I. Tchaikowsky
1840 - 1893


Stephen Waarts
b 1996 (12 years old)

The Moldau from Má Vlast
by Bedrich Smetana

Finished December 8, 1874

Bedrich Smetana (1824 -- 1884), "a composer with a genuine Czech heart" according to Franz Liszt, was one of the seminal figures in the music of his native country. He spent the five years after 1856 abroad, in Göteborg, Sweden as conductor of that city's Philharmonic Society. He returned to Bohemia in 1861 to join the fledgling school of composers that was seeking to establish a national identity for the country's music by incorporating into their works folk songs and dances, and by writing operas on Czech texts and subjects. In 1862, the National Theater was opened in Prague, and Smetana contributed to its repertory The Brandenburgers in Bohemia in 1863 and, three years later, The Bartered Bride, which was received with immense enthusiasm and quickly became the country's favorite opera. He served as conductor of the National Theater from 1866 until 1874, and wrote six additional operas for the company. The last years of his tenure, however, were marked by growing criticism, and he resigned in 1864. Three of his duties at the Theater, Smetana turned his attention from opera to the symphonic poem, and produced, during the following five years, the orchestral works for which he is best known.

Early in 1874, Smetana began to suffer from severe headaches. This symptom came and went, and he noted no other physical problems until October. "One night I listened with great pleasure to Leo Delibes' Le Roi l'a dit," he reported. "When I returned home after the last act, I sat at the piano and improvised for an hour on whatever came into my head. The following morning I was stoned death." The Smetana was terrified. He wrote to his friend J. Finch Thorne that a ceaseless rushing fills his head: "It is stronger when my brain is active and less noticeable when I am quiet. When I compose it is always in evidence." He tried many unguents, ointments and treatments during the ensuing months but they brought no relief -- Smetana did not hear a sound for the last decade of his life. He continued to compose, but withdrew more and more from the world as he realized he could not be cured, eventually losing his reason (in the margin of the score of the 1882 D minor Quartet he scrawled, "Composed in a state of disordered nerves -- the outcome of my deafness") and ending his days in a mental ward.


Bedrich Smetana
1824 - 1884

It is one of the great ironies of the 19th century music that Smetana conceived the first melody for Má Vlast (My Country), the splendid cycle of six tone poems inspired by the land and lore of his native Bohemia, at the same time that he lost his hearing. Had he not been able to look to the example of the deaf Beethoven, he might well have abandoned his work, but he pressed on, and completed Vysehrad by November 1874 and immediately began The Moldau, which was finished in less than three weeks, on December 8. The first complete performance of Má Vlast, on November 2, 1882 in Prague (the cycle is dedicated to the city of Prague), was the occasion for a patriotic rally, and like Sibelius' great national hymn Finlandia, this music has since become an emblem of his country's national pride. Má Vlast is the traditional music played every year on May 12, the anniversary of Smetana's death, to open the Prague Spring Festival.

At the POPS

Blue Tango
by Leroy Anderson

Written 1952

Bugler’s Holiday
by Leroy Anderson

  Written 1958


Leroy Anderson
1908 - 1975

Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Swedish parents, Leroy Anderson was given his first piano lessons by his mother, who was an organist. He continued studying piano with Henry Gideon at the New England Conservatory of Music, and he also took double bass lessons from Gaston Dufresne in Boston. In 1926 Anderson entered Harvard University, where he studied theory with Walter Spalding, counterpoint with Edward Ballantine, harmony with George Enescu and composition with Walter Piston. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1929 and Master of Arts in 1930.

He continued studying at Harvard, concentrating in German and Scandinavian languages, while also working as organist for the university, leading the choir and the Harvard University Band, and conducting and arranging for dance bands around Boston. His arranging work came to the attention of Arthur Fiedler in 1936 and Anderson was asked to show Fiedler any original compositions.[1] Anderson's first work was Jazz Pizzicato in 1938[2]. Fiedler suggested that a companion piece be written and thus Anderson wrote Jazz Legato in 1939. 

In 1951 Anderson wrote his first hit, "Blue Tango", earning a Golden Disc and the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts. His pieces and his recordings during the fifties conducting a studio orchestra were immense commercial successes. "Blue Tango" was the first instrumental recording ever to sell one million copies. His most famous pieces are probably "Sleigh Ride" and "The Syncopated Clock", both of which are instantly recognizable to millions of people.

Time for Yourng Musicians

Conducting Lesson

Maestro Gibson gives a ‘mini’ conducting lesson to members of the audience.

Young Conductors

Several children from the audience will be chosen to conduct the orchestra, playing excerpt from “Light Cavalry Overture”

Light Cavalry Overture
by Franz von Suppé

Written 1866

Leichte Kavallerie (Light Cavalry) is an operetta in three acts by Franz von Suppé, with a libretto by Hans Bodenstedt. It was first performed in Carlstheater, Vienna on 21st March 1866. While much of the operetta lies in relative obscurity, the overture is one of von Suppé's most well-known pieces. Many orchestral groups have the piece in their repertoire (including the Boston Pops Orchestra, which made a popular recording of it), and the main theme of the overture has been quoted numerous times by musicians, cartoons and other media.

Suppé was born in 1819 in Split, Dalmatia, descended from a Belgian family that probably emigrated there in the 18th century. A distant relative of Gaetano Donizetti, his original name was Francesco Ezechiele Ermenegildo Cavaliere Suppé Demelli. He simplified and Germanized his name when in Vienna, and changed "cavaliere" to "von". Outside Germanic circles his name may appear on programs as Francesco Suppé-Demelli.

He spent his childhood in Zadar, where he had his first music lessons and began to compose at an early age. As a teenager in Cremona, Suppé studied flute and harmony. His first extant composition is a Roman Catholic Mass, which premiered at a Franciscan church in Zadar in 1832. He moved to Padua to study law, a field of study not chosen by him, but continued to study music. Suppé was also a singer, making his debut in the role of Dulcamara in Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore at the Sopron Theater in 1842.

He was invited to Vienna by Franz Pokorny, the director of the Theater in der Josefstadt.


Franz von Suppé
1819 - 1895

In Vienna, after studying with Ignaz von Seyfried and Simon Sechter, he conducted in the theater, without pay at first, but with the opportunity to present his own operas there. Eventually, Suppé wrote music for over a hundred productions at the Theater in der Josefstadt as well as the Carltheater in Leopoldstadt, at the Theater an der Wien, and a theater at Baden. He also put on some landmark opera productions, such as the 1846 production of Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots with Jenny Lind. He died in Vienna in 1895. ·

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