HARRISON — The Encore/Coda Chamber Orchestra concert on Monday, July 13, at Deertrees Theater offers an evening of music and a chance to laugh at a great composer’s “big joke.”
“You don’t see many symphonies where the orchestra walks off,” said conductor Don Dregalla. “It’s a little quirky and fairly unique.”
The unifying theme of the concert is the year 1809, when the world lost one great composer and gained another. Felix Mendelssohn was born Feb. 3, 1809, and Joseph Haydn died May 31, 1809.
“So we’re celebrating those 200th anniversaries with three great pieces of music,” said Dregalla, who chairs the music department at Milton Academy in Massachusetts.
The orchestra includes professional musicians from Camp Encore/Coda’s faculty and staff, as well as talented young performers. The annual concert benefits the Lakes Environmental Association, a private, nonprofit organization that protects the water quality and watersheds of the Sebago-Long Lake Region.
The program includes Haydn’s Symphony No. 45, known as the “Farewell” Symphony. It was written for Haydn’s patron, Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, and performed – somewhat reluctantly – at his summer palace in 1772. Haydn and his musicians were exhausted, missing their families and looking forward to going home; but Esterhazy suddenly decided they must stay at the palace for two more months. Haydn, who was known for his sense of humor, decided on a musical protest.
During the final adagio, the musicians began to snuff out the candles on their music stands and walk out. Finally, only Haydn and the concert master were left on stage. Prince Esterhazy got the joke and the point, reportedly saying, “Haydn, I understand you; the gentlemen may leave tomorrow.”
Modern orchestras usually follow a similar scenario, sometimes to the surprise of the audience.
“When the first person goes off, I think a lot of people don’t know what’s going on,” Dregalla said. “They think the person got sick or something. Then you see, little by little, people going out. When the conductor leaves, right before the end, people start to giggle and laugh. And then you’re left with only two people on the stage, the violin and the viola, playing this little tiny melody.”
Also on the program is Haydn’s Symphony #101, called the Clock Symphony “because the second movement has a kind of a tick-tock, rhythmic figure, pervasive almost through the entire movement,” Dregalla said.
The third piece is Mendelssohn’s Symphony #4, known as the Italian symphony because it was inspired by a trip to Italy. As he was composing the piece, Mendelssohn wrote a letter describing it as “the jolliest piece I have ever done, especially the last movement.”
“It’s just beautiful music,” Dregalla said. “It’s really very easy to listen to and it’s a fun piece to play – a hard piece to play – but very enjoyable.
Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for children. They are available at Deertrees, the Cool Moose and the LEA office at 230 Main St., Bridgton. For more information, call Deertrees at 583-6747 or LEA at 647-8580.

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