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Special thanks to the Wallace Foundation for its generous support, which allows us to offer a free concert at the Auckland Town Hall.
Helensville War Memorial Hall Saturday 19 June, 7.30pm Orewa Arts & Events Centre Sunday 20 June, 4pm Howick - All Saints Anglican Church Thursday 24 June 7.30pm Auckland Town Hall Friday 25 June 8pm
Prokofiev Romeo & Juliet Suites No. 1 & 2 (selected movements) INTERVAL Verdi/Bassi Fantaisie Brillante on themes from Verdi's ‘Rigoletto’ Soloist: Kiara Kong, clarinet Bernstein West Side Story
MUSIC DIRECTOR Antun Poljanich Born in Croatia, Antun studied piano and theory at Dubrovnik School for Musical Education then studied conducting at the University of Ljubljana. Following post-graduate studies in Austria, he won a scholarship which took him to Leningrad for a three-year Master Course in Conducting at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory. He has since worked with the Leningrad State Symphony Orchestra, the Veneto Philharmonia, the Slovene and Croatian National Orchestras and other prominent orchestras in Russia and Europe.
SOLOIST Kiara Kong, Clarinet A young accomplished clarinettist, pianist and composer, Kiara is in her fourth and final year at The University of Auckland, majoring in music composition. She studies clarinet and piano under Rowan Meade and Bryan Sayer respectively. She has studied composition with Dr David Chisholm, Dr Leonie Holmes, Dr Eve de Castro-Robinson and Dr John Coulter. Kiara was with winner of AYO’s annual Soloist Competition in 2020, playing the work she is performing with the orchestra in this concert series. She was awarded the Junior Bishop Music Prize and the First in Course Award for composition at the University of Auckland in 2018. In 2017 she won the Nadine Levitt Scholarship as well as her school music competition (piano section) as a soloist. She was a scholar of the Pettman National Junior Academy of Music in 2016 and 2017 and was one of the regional finalists.
PROGRAMME NOTES Romeo and Juliet Ballet Suite No. 2. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Montagues and Capulets, Dance of the Knights Juliet as a young girl Romeo at Friar Laurence’s Dance of the five couples Romeo at Juliet’s before parting Romeo at the grave of Juliet
With the onset of the great depression Prokofiev, who had enjoyed remarkable success as an iconoclastic avant-garde composer in 1920s Paris, with four ballets commissioned by Diaghilev, found that the financial constraints and the new conservatism in the West, meant that performances of his music were rapidly diminishing. All composers need to have their music performed and he had never cut his links with his homeland, registering himself as a Soviet citizen with the French authorities. After a concert tour of Russia in 1927, where he was welcomed back as a celebrity and accorded VIP status, he received his first Soviet commission: a request to write music for the film Lieutenant Kije, followed immediately by a commission from the Moscow Radio Orchestra to arrange the music from the film into an orchestral suite. The huge success of this project must have been behind his decision to return permanently to the Soviet Union in 1936. By then he had also been approached by the director of the Leningrad Film Studios, Adrian Pietrovsky, to develop a synopsis for a projected ballet on the subject of Romeo and Juliet for the prestigious Kirov Ballet Company, and he began work on this project in 1935. His rather touching suggestion that the ballet should have a happy ending was unsurprisingly rejected. At first all went well, but there were troubling signs of things to come. Before the ballet could be produced an editorial in Pravda appeared, criticising Pietrovsky and Shostakovich for degenerate modernism, following the production of the ballet The Limpid Stream on which they had collaborated. Pietrovsky was arrested, and later shot. The ballet Romeo and Juliet therefore was not performed until 1940, in a revised version for the Bolshoi Ballet. Prokofiev was subsequently awarded the Stalin Prize, worth 100,000 roubles. It was probably the high point of his career. Only eight years later in the infamous Zhanov Decree, he was denounced by the Soviet Politburo along with Shostakovich, Myaskovsky and Khachaturian for formalism, defined as “a renunciation of the basic principles of classical music in favour of muddled, nerve-racking sounds that turned music into cacophony.” His music ceased to be performed, and he was soon reduced to desperate financial straits. His last attempt to rehabilitate himself by entering his 7 th Symphony for the Stalin Prize was a failure. He died impoverished and bitterly disillusioned in 1953, ironically on the same day as Stalin himself. The leading Soviet music periodical announced Prokofiev’s death in a brief paragraph on page 116, the previous 115 pages being devoted to Joseph Stalin. Prokofiev arranged three orchestral suites of music from the ballet. The second being the most often performed, perhaps because it encapsulates so well the essence of the story.
1, Montagues and Capulets: In the opening, the Prince of Verona declares “anyone disturbing the peace of Verona from now on shall be sentenced to death”. The movement continues with the dance of feuding knights, interrupted by a beautiful, lyrical episode representing Juliet dancing with Paris. 2, Juliet as a young girl: Capricious, charming young Juliet refuses a forced marriage with Paris. 3, Romeo at Friar Laurence’s; The Introduction suggests a chorus sung by friars. The main theme, played by the bassoons and tuba, evokes the solemn, gentle figure of Friar Laurence. 4. Dance: This movement is a synthesis of two dance episodes from the ballet, “Dance of Five Couples” and “The People Continue to Make Merry”. It is a lively celebratory dance on the streets of Verona. 5. Romeo at Juliet’s before parting: This movement starts with the theme that was used for the young couple’s secret marriage, played several times by the flute. It continues with the three major themes of the ballet: the theme of parting, the last embrace theme (solo viola) and the theme of love, evoked by the magnificent tutti section. The movement ends with a fearful clock ticking, representing death (played by the tuba and double basses). Juliet fearfully swallows the pill. 6. Romeo at the grave of Juliet: The death theme is heard again, from the strings several times, culminating with the powerful brass section. Juliet’s theme appears together with the theme of the last embrace shortly before the death theme is heard for a final time. Translucent music at the end in C major represents the disappearing illusion of Juliet in the mind of the dying Romeo. These notes provided by Antun Poljanich © 2021 Fantaisie Brillante on themes from Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’
Luigi Bassi (1833-1871)
Virtuosity has always been cultivated by the most skilled of musical performers from the earliest times and it was what often distinguished the professional musician from those who simply played for their own pleasure. Towards the end of the eighteenth century and throughout the nineteenth, with the development of public concerts for the middle classes, the cultivation of technical display reached unprecedented heights. Even today, the legend of Paganini and his rumoured pact with devil remains, to remind us of the astonishing effect his playing must have had on the audiences of the time. It was the usual practice for famous travelling virtuosi to compose their own music, displaying of course those aspects of their playing which would show them to their best advantage. Paganini, for example, never played music by anyone else, memorably declining to play the work for viola, Harold in Italy, which he had commissioned from Berlioz, commenting that there was not enough for him to do, and it was not difficult enough to show him at his best. Most of this music for virtuosic display is little played today, its musical value being too superficial to survive the passage of time and be of interest to a modern audience. The Fantaisie Brillante, though, is an interesting example of one of these display pieces so popular at the time. Bassi wrote 27 works for the clarinet, 15 of them operatic fantasies based on themes from operas he had performed as principal clarinet at La Scala Milan. The Fantaisie Brillante, based on themes from Verdi’s Rigoletto is the most famous of them. Performing this work is still immensely challenging, needing not only a brilliant finger technique but also incredible breath control and endurance.
West Side Story Symphonic Dances 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
Prologue - The growing rivalry between two teenage gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. Somewhere - In a visionary dream ballet the two gangs are united in friendship. Scherzo - In the same dream, the gangs break away from the city walls suddenly finding themselves in a world of air and sun. Mambo - In the real world, the competitive dance at the gym between the gangs. Cha-cha - Meeting scene. Music accompanies the first meeting of Maria and Tony. Cool Fugue - An elaborate dance sequence in which Riff leads the Jets in harnessing their impulsive hostility. Rumble - Climactic gang battle in which the two gang leaders, Riff and Bernardo, are killed. Finale - Maria’s song, I have a Love, develops into a procession, which recalls the vision of Somewhere.
Leonard Bernstein was without doubt the most versatile and multi-talented American musician of his generation. He achieved international fame at an early age not only as a conductor and pianist, but also as a composer, and it was as a composer that he wished to be remembered. His style moved between that of European traditions and American jazz, and covered a whole range of genres from symphonic works to music intended for popular consumption, and it was in his contribution to American musical theatre that he achieved his greatest success. His musicals On the Town, and West Side Story were both Broadway hits and his film score for On the Waterfront was another example of his ability to write popular music which in this case perfectly reflected the dramatic atmosphere of the film. The genesis of West Side Story was a long and protracted one. It was in 1947 that Jerome Robbins first approached Leonard Bernstein and Arthur Laurents with the idea of writing a contemporary musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. The original conception based the story on the conflict between an Irish catholic family and a Jewish refugee family on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It was to be titled East Side Story. This initial idea came to nothing and it was not until five years later that it was revisited, this time with the setting changed to the West Side and the conflict between juvenile gangs of Puerto Rican immigrants, the Sharks, and self-styled Americans, the Jets. Bernstein started working on the music for West Side Story concurrently with that of his opera, Candide, and some of the music he wrote for the opera was transferred to the musical. For example, the touching wedding number One Hand, One Heart, and the music for Gee, Officer Krupke. Because of the pressure he was under, writing two major theatrical works at the same time, much of the orchestration of the musical was undertaken by his assistants Sid Ramin and Irvan Kostal, though Bernstein kept the final editing for himself. It is an indication of the high estimation he had of Ramin’s skill that he dedicated the orchestral suite they arranged from the musical to his colleague with these words: “To Sid Ramin, in friendship.” The radical nature of West Side Story meant it quickly ran into production difficulties. In Bernstein’s own words: “Everyone told us that West Side Story was an
impossible project.… They said the score was too rangy for pop music….Besides, who wanted to see a show in which the first-act curtain comes down on two dead bodies lying on the stage?.… And then we had the really tough problem of casting it, because the characters had to be able not only to sing, but dance, and to be taken for teenagers…. Some were wonderful singers but couldn’t dance very well, or vice versa-and if they could do both, they couldn’t act.” The casting alone took six months and the ‘backers’ audition’ failed to obtain anyone prepared to put up the money. It looked for a time as if the show would never be staged, until Stephen Sondheim, who had been brought into the team to write the lyrics, managed to persuade his friend Harold Prince to back it. Two months before the rehearsals were about to begin the director Cheryl Crawford pulled out, describing the musical as “a show full of hatefulness and ugliness.” Jerome Robbins, who was choreographing all the brilliant dance sequences, took over as director as well. When the production opened in September 1957 its engrossing vitality took Broadway by storm. The book, the music, the lyrics and the dancing were all united in a spectacular demonstration of American music theatre at its finest. The film, which appeared in 1961, received 10 Academy Awards including best picture, and was the highest grossing film that year. The Symphonic Dances were compiled and arranged in 1961 at the height of this world-wide success. It is largely based on the dance numbers from the show, reorchestrated from the smaller theatre orchestra version to one for full symphony orchestra. There are over 34 different percussion instruments used in the score, generating an incredible array of colourful effects and exciting rhythms. Programme notes by Alexander Cowdell © 2021
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Special thanks to Franco Viganoni who generously gives his time and professional expertise in digitally recording our concerts using state-of-the-art electronics and a unique system of microphones. www.viganoni.com The ongoing support of the following organisations is acknowledged with thanks:
AYO MEMBERS Governance Dame Catherine Tizard ONZ GCMG GCVO DBE QSO DStJ, Patron Michael McLellan, FTCL LRSM, President Alastair Clement, Vice-President
Executive Committee Alexander Cowdell Anne-Marie Forsyth Mary Lin Helen Lewis
Chairman Secretary Manager Treasurer
Antun Poljanich Rachael Brand Bryan Lin
Music Director Communications Assistant Manager
Player Representatives: James Brady, Tavite Tonga
Administration Alison Dunlop and Louise Roe Librarians
Honorary Members Alastair Clement Michael McLellan Anne Draffin
Cameron Stuart Lynn Pettit
Barrie Ross Lois Westwood
Subscribing Members Philippa Black Rachael Brand Alexander Cowdell Ian Cunningham Anne-Marie Forsyth Julie Goodyer
Judith Gust Mark Hall Helen Lewis Acer & Tina Lin Mary Lin
Tom Morton Grant Reay Kevin & Jan Sutton And 1 Anonymous Subscriber
AYO PLAYERS Violin I ‡ Jim Wu Zosia Herlihy-O’Brien Kauri May Sheena Lin Martin Qiang Darren Breeze Wenjia Li Tabitha Yates Bethany Yates Chisato Aida Daisy Chen Alan Qin Reuben Chung Hazuki Katsukawa
Violin II #Bryan Lin Athena Shiu Santiago Romano Annabel O’Rourke Michael Tran Justin Chan Kelly Siew Ailis Su Joey Lee Theo McIntosh Sebastian Romano Nathan Choi Zac Turner Maggie Yang
Viola # Jessie Anderson Jasper Lin Irene Kim Tony Zhang Nicholas Newman Elena Bloksberg Hazel Watson-Smith Elisa Wu
Cello #Damon Herlihy-O’Brien Eva Wu Claire Xu Ben Lin Phoebe Qiu Max Wen Masha Pavlenko Wooyoung Wang Cindy Huang Eric Liang Season Kan Double Bass # Oliver Spalter Alicia Kidd Zazi Ndebele Flute # Anna Kexin Zhang Claire Huang Alina Chen (piccolo) Oboe # Akari Ouchi Matilda Hur (Cor Anglais) Emily Grant Clarinet # Matthew Donnelly Jack Sloan Alex Vincent (Eb Clarinet) Bass Clarinet Marlon Sullivan Bassoon Monica Dunn (Guest) Sue Lynn Leong Venice Qin Saxophone Tessa Frazer
French Horn # Henry Close Max Glazier Evan Metcalfe Fergus Dunlop Ella Riley Steven Yu Trumpet # Jake Krishnamurti James Brady James Liston Hamish Butterworth-Snell Trombone # Daniel Nihotte Amy Laithwaite Tavite Tonga Tuba # Lachlan Grant Timpani # Camryn Nel Percussion #Michael Cai Naomi Kelly Annabel Yu Jason Wong Geoff Hill Harp Harrison Chau Piano Daniel Huang
Legend ‡ Concertmaster # Principal
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Beverley Alison Simmons Janetta McStay Moya Rea Norman W (Chip) Stevens
1995 1988 1987 1976
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© Photo by Dave Simpson Photography
Cover Art by Mary Lin © 2021 Cover Photography by Kenny Li © 2021 Auckland Youth Orchestra | Here Plays the Future ayo.org.nz