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Classical 101

Classical Showcase Presents Howard Hanson’s Opera “Merry Mount”

Friday evening at 7 on Classical 101, Classical Showcase presents another performance from the Spring for Music Festival from Carnegie Hall in New York with a concert performance of American composer Howard Hanson’s 1933 opera, Merry Mount.  The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra will be led by Michael Christie with soloists, the Eastman-Rochester Chorus and the Bach Children’s Chorus of Nazareth College.

Merry Mount is loosely based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Maypole of Merry Mount,” a short story that takes place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 17th century.  The citizens there dance around a maypole during a marriage celebration and are described as resembling forest creatures.  With the arrival of John Endicott and his Puritan followers, they crack down on the festivities and impose their Puritan lifestyle in a story where, “jollity and gloom were contending for an empire.”

The opera premiered in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1933 with the composer conducting.  The following year, it was performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and broadcast nationally as part of its weekly radio series with Milton Cross announcing.  Merry Mount generated a lot of interest and discussion and then just as quickly faded away.  It received eight more performances and was then dropped from the Met’s roster.

We usually hear just the short orchestral suite the composer prepared from the opera, but Friday evening you can hear the entire work here on Classical 101 beginning at 7 pm on Classical Showcase.