Mercury Orchestra


Notes on the composers and the pieces

Ester Mägi

Ester Mägi: Bukoolika (Bucolic)

Ester Mägi (1922–2021) was born in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. She graduated from Tallinn Conservatory where she studied with Estonian composer and folk music specialist Mart Saar. (Later she taught music theory at the Conservatory.) From there, she moved on to the Moscow Conservatory for three years where she studied with the well known, classically oriented Vissarion Shebalin. Saar was probably the stronger influence, given that she became involved with Estonian folk music and went on field trips within Estonia organized by him. Estonian folk music expert and musicologist Urve Lippus noted that Mägi “…adopted the values of Saar…Her interest in folk music, her settings of Estonian poetry and other works are influenced [by] Estonian folk melodies.” Heather Garbes, a scholar of Baltic languages and conductor of the Mägi Ensemble, adds that Ester Mägi “believes that collecting these melodies was the key to understanding the intonation of the nationalistic genre and heritage of the tradition, and this was more valuable than duplicating exact melodies and forms.”

Bukoolika (Bucolic) suggests a portrait of a forest in varying moods. The opening series of folklike woodwind solos suggest bird calls and lead to the full orchestra. Early moderate tempos pick up as textures open, and energy increases. Choirlike chants in the trombones are answered by the strings, followed by more extended trombone chants as the forest comes alive, the morning light increases, and the music becomes more complex and haunting. The volume increases until the orchestra breaks off for a solo in the flute. The orchestra returns, and the works ends with a celesta solo.

—Roger Hecht

Roger Hecht plays trombone in the Mercury Orchestra. He is a former member of Bay Colony Brass (where he was also the Operations/Personnel Manager), the Syracuse Symphony, Lake George Opera, New Bedford Symphony, and Cape Ann Symphony, as well as trombonist and orchestra manager of Lowell House Opera, Commonwealth Opera, and MetroWest Opera. He is a regular reviewer for American Record Guide, contributed to Classical Music: Listener’s Companion, and has written articles on music for the Elgar Society Journal and Positive Feedback magazine. His fiction collection, The Audition and Other Stories, includes a novella about a trombonist preparing for and taking a major orchestra audition (English Hill Press, 2013).

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