Friday, April 10, 2015

FRIDAY, APRIL 10, 2015

"All the sounds on the earth are like music."

AUTHOR: Oscar Hammerstein Jr.
"Music is all around us; the wind, ocean pulse, and
  from the birds that sing….if you only listen for it."

Words and Music by Scott Joplin


Overture No. 1
(Instrumental Version)
Rick Benjamin, Conductor
The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra

Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917
Overture No. 1
(Piano Version)
A Real Slow Drag No. 27
With Vocals
Rick Benjamin, Conductor
The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra and Singers

Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917
A Real Slow Drag No. 27
With Vocals
Gunther Schuller Arrangement
Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917
A Real Slow Drag No. 27
Piano Version
Frolic of the Bears No. 13
With Vocals
Rick Benjamin, Conductor
The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra and Singers
Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917
Frolic of the Bears No. 13
With Vocals
Gunther Schuller, Conductor
Gunther Schuller Arrangement
Houston Grand Opera Orchestra

Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917

Frolic of the Bears No. 13
With Piano Notation
The end of the 19th century saw the rise of
ragtime, a heavily syncopated music form
 that had its roots in African-American music.
 It was a time when new music was distributed
 through printed scores.Treemonisha
(1910/1972) is an opera opera in three acts
Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917
Act I: Morning
No. 1: Overture
No. 2: The Bag Of Luck
No. 3: The Corn Huskers
No. 4: We're Goin' Around
No. 5: The Wreath
No. 6: The Sacred Tree
No. 7: Surprised
No. 8: Treemonisha's Bringing Up
No. 9: Good Advice
No. 10: Confusion
Act II: Afternoon
No. 11: Superstition
No. 12: Treemonisha in Peril
No. 13: Frolic Of The Bears
No. 14: The Wasp-Nest
No. 15: The Rescue
No. 16: We Will Rest Awhile
No. 17: Going Home
No. 18: Aunt Dinah Has Blowed De Horn
Act III: Evening
No. 19: Prelude
No. 20: I Want To See My Child
No. 21: Treemonisha's Return
No. 22: Wrong Is Never Right (A Lecture)
No. 23: Abuse
No. 24: When Villains Ramble Far And Near (A Lecture)
No. 25: Conjurors Forgiven
No. 26: We Will Trust You As Our Leader
No. 27: A Real Slow Drag;id=17;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwebspace%2Ewebring
Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917
(named after the heroine) composed by the
famed African-American ragtime composer
Scott Joplin. Though there are jaunty ragtime
songs and dances, (the reason why
Treemonisha is incorrectly often referred to as
a "ragtime opera"), Joplin did not refer to it as
such. He intended it as a serious American
grand opera, like that of the European opera,
with an extensive overture.
Following the traditional rules of operatic writing,
in the overture Joplin patches together the main
themes of Treemonisha; each of them has a
symbolic meaning and/or is associated with a
character, an environment or an episode. Those
who ignore the opera libretto can therefore miss
out on the hidden meaning of the Overture: it
foreshadows the fight between good and evil,
between the light of reason and the darkness of
superstition, which is at the core of the opera.
There is are also instrumental preludes to the
second and third acts,
Rick Benjamin, Conductor
The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
along with various recitatives, choruses,
small elaborate ensemble pieces,
a ballet, and a few formal arias with
elements of black folk songs and dances,
including a kind of pre-blues music, alongside
elements (as in a scene involving a congregation
and preacher). Its polarity of thought, assimilated
black identity and the influence of classic European
opera of the Eighteenth century are distinctive.
With a libretto by Joplin, Treemonisha is a story
of the triumph of education and enlightenment
over superstition and ignorance among the
African American population of the Texarkana
region of Arkansas in the late 1800's. The story
is set in September 1884 on a remote former
slave plantation in Arkansas surrounded by an
isolated dense forest
Lake Jackson Plantation 1907
Abandoned Lake Jackson Plantation, Texas in 1907 (After the Civil War)
between Joplin's childhood
town Texarkana
A map of Texarkana around 1888
and the Red River in Arkansas.
The opera takes place in the south only one year
after the end of the Civil War (1861-1865) that
resulted in the abolition of slavery.
Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917
Monisha - Treemonisha's mother
Ned - Treemonisha's father
Remus - friend of Treemonisha
Lucy - friend of Treemonisha
Andy - friend of Treemonisha
Zodzetrick - a conjurer
Luddud - a conjurer
Cephus - a conjurer
Simon - a conjurer
Parson Alltalk - a preacher
Corn-huskers, conjurors,
cotton pickers, visitors, etc.
Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917Scott Joplin 1868-1917
It tells ofTreemonisha, an 18-year-old woman,
the adopted child of ex-slaves, Monisha
(mezzo-soprano) and Ned (bass) who finds a
baby under a tree. They adopt her and
decide to name her Treemonisha.
The child is sent away for an education and taught
to read by a white woman (in exchange for
Monisha washing and ironing clothes). When she
later comes home she returns to a community
riddled with superstition and witchcraft.
A band of conjurers tries to sell a "bag of luck" to
her gullible mother, Treemonisha intervenes and
banishes them. There are complications when the
conjurers, who are losing their hold on the
uneducated laborers of the plantation, capture
Treemonisha and threaten to throw her into a
wasp's nest. At the last minute, with the help of her
friend Remus (tenor), Treemonisha is rescued and
brought home.
The opera ends with Treemonisha
calling for the forgiveness of her captors. All the
villains of superstition are forgiven. Her proud
parents, Ned and Monisha, and the laborers on
the plantation celebrate Treemonisha as their
leader in a wistfully tender final ensemble and
dance, "A Real Slow Drag." The community
realizes the value of education and the liability of
their ignorance before choosing her as their
for modern civil rights causes and most notably
her character stresses the importance of literacy,
learning, hard work, and community solidarity as
the best formula for the advancement of the 
African-American population but the backers reneged.
Joplin became obsessed with Treemonisha at the end of
his life, desperately trying to convince publishers to
print it. His dream of staging Treemonisha eluded him,
and he died  having only seen a run-through with the
piano  accompaniment. The opera was not performed
in full until 1972.
Aside from a concert-style performance in 1915
of the ballet from Act II, Frolic of the Bears by the
 Martin-Smith Music School, the opera was forgotten.
Treemonisha was completed in 1910, twenty-five
years before the landmark black opera
George Gershwin
Joplin completed the opera in the vocal-piano
presentation (with notes about the orchestration,
1903, were lost) and paid for the score to be
published in 1911. At the time of the publication,
he sent a copy of the score to the
American Musician and Art Journal
 full-page review in their June issue. The review
 called it an "entirely new phase of musical art
and... a thoroughly American opera (style)," which
 fit in well with Joplin's desire to create a distinctive
form of African-American opera. Despite this
endorsement and was said to contain some of his
best music there was only one theater who agreed
to produce it, after viewing a concert performance
read-through with Joplin at the piano in 1915 at the
Lincoln Theater in Harlem, New York,
Lincoln Theatre, also located in New York City,
in Harlem, at 58 West 135th Street.
until 1970 when the piano score was rediscovered.
Also in the 1970's there was renewed interest in
ragtime after the hit movie "The Sting"

opened the world's ears to Scott Joplin's music
leading to Treemonisha being staged in its entirety
for the first time in 1972 using the orchestration by
T.J. Anderson.
Subsequent performances have been produced
using several versions of orchestrations created
by a variety of composers including
Gunther Schuller
and most recently, Rick Benjamin.
Rick Benjamin
Rick Benjamin’s Paragon Ragtime
Orchestra and Singers' Version
Gunther Schuller orchestrated
and conducted a production with
extreme care taken toward giving it an
authentic sound based on the instruments
and trends of its own day. But that version did
not sound right to Rick Benjamin, an expert in
late 19th and early 20th century music who
found it "too heavy." Benjamin spent much of the

last five years reconstructing the "Treemonisha"
score for a 12-piece theater pit orchestra of the
kind Joplin and his peers wrote for and
performed with.
The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, 2014 portrait
Treemonisha may have mirrored details from
Joplin's own life. In the opera, the title character
receives her education in a white woman's home.
Joplin taught himself music fundamentals on a
piano in the white home where his mother, a
domestic, (similar to the character of Monisha,
who agrees to wash and iron clothes for a white
family, if the lady of the house would give
Treemonisha an education) worked. News of
the little child Scott's amazing gifts filtered through
to the white Texarkana, Texas

community. A teacher (German-born music teacher
Julius Weiss) volunteered to teach him piano and
harmony. So important was this glimpse into
education that Scott Joplin would forever believe
that the black person's path to salvation lay in

Image: Treemonisha Title Page
Lottie Joplin (nee Lottie Stokes),
the composer's third wife,
saw a connection between the character
Treemonisha's wish to lead her people out of
ignorance and a similar desire in the composer. The
opera Treemonisha is based on this belief, and it
conveys this social message in a manner ahead of
its time, using an 18-year-old woman as its heroine.
It took 64 years before the work was given its first full
professional staging. In 1976, Joplin was
posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1974
Gen pulitzer.jpg
for "contributions to American music."