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Music for Spring '21

Happy New Year to all! Sinan and I are looking forward to seeing you when

Strings Together starts again on January 12th . We really hope that you are

keeping well.

When choosing music for this term, thoughts of us all coping with the

restrictions in our lives caused by the current situation were not far from our

minds. We wanted to select music which helped to lift the spirits, to keep our

fingers and bows moving, and to literally help us to “play” our way through this


Enter Bizet’s “Carmen”, an opera described by the composer himself as “a

work that is all clarity and vivacity, full of colour and melody”. It’s certainly true

that Bizet knew how to write a good melody - not just one, but a whole string

of absolute showstoppers!

It’s a story of passion and intrigue, considered shocking at the time of its Paris

premiere of 1875. Until then opera had portrayed uncontroversial, purely

romantic stories, but the libretto for Carmen, with its more challenging subject

matter, helped to move opera on to a post-Romantic era, with stories based

more on the realism of what was happening in people’s lives.

Some years later, two orchestral suites were put together, highlighting some of

the most well-loved melodies from the opera. The pieces which we’ll be

playing this term are taken from these suites. From Suite 1 we’ll be playing

“Les Dragons d’Alcala”, an instrumental interlude originally placed between

Acts 1 and 2 of the opera, and “Les Toreadors”, a passionate, exciting piece of

music which describes the dramatic arrival of the bullfighters. From Suite 2

comes the famous “Habanera”, sung in the opera by Carmen when she first

enters. It’s a provocative song on the untameable nature of love.

As for the other piece we’ll be playing this term, it’s a complete contrast in

style and period. It also happens to be very relevant for the January- March

time of year. You may like to take a guess, but I think that further details of

that can be kept as a surprise!

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