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Spring Concert Dates 2015 – 2016 Season


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SBCO 37th Season Dear Friends, Thank you for being with us this evening. I would like to thank our subscribers, individual donors, and corporate and foundation partners for their continued support. It is because of you that we can keep the music playing. In addition to focusing on such composers as Mendelssohn and Schumann, this year we have added a musical conversation component as part of the season. We are pleased to welcome Alan Chapman from KUSC as our special guest April 5th at the new and highly anticipated Music-Dialogue! With the intimate setting of the University Club, this unique evening features a conversation with Maestro Ohyama, Alan Chapman, and the musicians alongside the performance. This spring, we are excited to welcome back Martin Beaver on violin and Alessio Bax on piano to our Lobero Series to delight our audience with thrilling and moving performances. Our board of directors and staff continue to work to ensure Santa Barbara has the very best chamber orchestra possible. In an effort to share the good work we are doing, we have published two quarterly newsletters called Ovation. If you haven’t received one, please let us know so we can add you to our mailing list. As we grow and implement new programing, we would love to know what you think. Thank you to those of you who have participated in one of our audience surveys. Your opinion matters and we are listening to you. Lastly, I am pleased to invite you to our 38th Season Preview Party on May 19th at the University Club. Come hear the exciting year we have planned for you in 2016-17! Sincerely, Kevin A. Marvin Executive Director

Contents Get information on SBCO’s entire 2015-2016 Season at

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SBCO Outreach Programs Heiichiro Ohyama March Program Martin Beaver March Program Notes April Program Alan Chapman

21 22 22 27 29 30 30

May Program Alessio Bax May Program Notes SBCO News and Notes SBCO Supporters SBCO Board of Directors SBCO Artistic & Administrative Staff

Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra’s programs are printed by 3

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Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra Outreach Programs Free Concert Seats for Families “Classical music is so much more fun and exciting when it’s live!” – Caroline, 10th grade The Free Concert Seats for Families program, now in its ninth season, provides students (ages 8 to 18) an opportunity to attend any of our four regular season concerts with a parent or guardian for FREE! This unique program offers young people the thrilling experience of attending a live classical performance with their family in a real concert-going atmosphere. Free Concert Seats for Families educates students about music and concert etiquette in a professional performance. Our goal is to keep the children of our community musically inspired through engaging and accessible concert opportunities. SBCO’s Free Concert Seats for Families is supported in part by:

Rotary Club of Montecito Foundation

Classical Connections The Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra is excited to introduce Classical Connections, a new outreach program that shares the therapeutic benefits of classical music with Santa Barbara elders. Working in collaboration with the Friendship Center and the Alzheimer’s Association, California Central Chapter, Classical Connections will extend the physical and emotional power of music to individuals suffering from various cognitive and neurological conditions. Look for more updates and information in the SBCO newsletter, Ovation.

For more information on outreach programs, contact the SBCO office at (805) 966-2441.

Five Ways to Give Our concert season and community outreach programs depend on the generosity of donors like you. Every gift, no matter its size, is an investment in the tradition of world-class classical music in Santa Barbara. You can contribute to the Chamber Orchestra in a variety of ways:


DONATE TO THE ANNUAL FUND Your individual donation supports exceptional performances and community outreach activities all season long. Have you asked your employer about matching gifts?


INCLUDE A GIFT IN YOUR ESTATE PLAN Leave a lasting and important legacy for the next generation of audiences. Consult an advisor for more information on planned giving, and contact the Chamber Orchestra office so we can acknowledge your generosity by providing you with appropriate donor benefits.


BECOME A CORPORATE PARTNER Help sustain the Chamber Orchestra while enjoying increased brand recognition and benefits for your business. The benefits of corporate partnerships include sponsorships, advertising, social media messages and a presence on the SBCO website.


CONTRIBUTE TO OUR LEGACY Ensure that the Chamber Orchestra can perform at the highest level of artistic excellence for years to come by contributing to our endowment. Your endowment gift provides a true financially sustainable future for the Orchestra.


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Heiichiro Ohyama Music Director and Conductor Born in Kyoto, Japan. Both of his parents were from Fukuoka on the Kyushu Island and his father moved to Kyoto after the war for the research of the historical aspect of the Rock-Garden (Sekitei) in Kyoto. Mr. Ohyama attended the Fukkatsu preschool and NotreDame primary school, both are Christian institutions. At the age of five, with the wish of his father, he started studying violin under the renowned Suzuki Method with Mr. Arai in Kyoto. As he entered the primary school, he studied violin with Sister Mary Paula. He also received Early Ear Training at “Music Class for Children” in Kyoto and later in Osaka. At the age of ten, he started to have lessons from Professors Togi and Sumi, both were very famous pedagogues. In junior high school, he started taking lessons in composition from Prof. Ikenouchi and in music theory from Prof. Nakahara. He entered the Toho Music High School in Tokyo where he studied violin under Prof. Eto who was a student of Efrem Zimbalist, and studied chamber music under Prof. Saito. After winning several awards, including All Japan Music Competition, he went abroad to study at the Guildhall Music and Drama in London in England and graduated in 1970. He studied violin under Prof. Y Neaman, chamber music under Prof. W Pleeth, and Renaissance and Baroque ensemble under Prof. T Dart. In 1970, with the recommendation of Prof. Tong Il Han, he entered Indiana University where he studied viola with William Primrose and violin with Josef Gingold, Ruggiero Ricci, Franco Gulli and chamber music with Janos Starker, Manaham Pressler. He later taught as a Visiting Lecturer at the Indiana University. As a student, in London, he won the BBC Beethoven Competition, British Council Music Scholarship, Carl Flesch International Violin Competition as well as both the violin and viola competitions at Indiana University. In 1972, with recommendation of Prof. W Primrose, he attended the Marlboro Music Festival for several summers and toured as a member of the “Music from Marlboro” for five times. In 1973, he was appointed as an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz and following year, he won the Young Concert Artists International Audition Award in New York. He became increasingly in demand as a violist and has performed throughout the United States as a chamber musician, including the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. In 1979 he was appointed as Principal Violist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Carlo Maria Giulini, a position he held for 13 years.

With encouragement of Myung-Whun Chung, in 1981, he began conducting the Youth String Orchestra of the Crossroads School for Sciences and Arts in Santa Monica. In the same year, he transferred his professorship with University of California to the Santa Barbara campus. In 1983, he was appointed to the positions of Music Director and Conductor of the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra. In 1987, Mr. Ohyama was appointed as Assistant Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic by Andre Previn. His experience also includes being the Principal Conductor of the Round Top Music Festival in Texas for 12 years beginning in 1982, the Music Director and Conductor of the Northwest Chamber Orchestra in Seattle from 198587, Founder and the Artistic Director of the La Jolla Chamber Music Society’s SummerFest La Jolla from 1986-97, Music Director and Conductor of the Asia America Symphony Orchestra in Los Angeles from 1990-2000, Artistic Director of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival from 1991-97, Music Director and Conductor of the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra in New York from 1993-98, the Principal Chief Conductor of Kyushu Symphony Orchestra in Fukuoka, Japan, from 1999-2004 and the Osaka Symphony Orchestra from 2004-2008. Founding Artistic Director of the Nagasaki Music Festival in Japan from 2007-2010. He was also Professor of Music at University of California from 1973 to 2003. He was a recipient of the 1991 Gruber Award for Excellence in Chamber Music Teaching in Los Angeles. In 2005, he received the “Fukuoka City Cultural Prize” and in 2008, “Outstanding Performance Award” by the Japanese Government. Mr. Ohyama has been heard frequently on radio and television and has recorded on the CBS, Evica (Japan), King (Japan), Nonesuch, Philips, RCA, Stereophiles and Telarc labels. Currently, Mr. Ohyama holds the position of the Music Director and Conductor of the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra (USA), Artistic Director of Chanel Pygmalion Chamber Music Series and is a member of The Chamber Music Musicians, who will perform February 9, 2016 at the Fleischmann Auditorium, at the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum. 7

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Inspiring... Tuesday, March 22, 2016 7:30 p.m., Lobero Theatre Heiichiro Ohyama, Conductor | Martin Beaver, Violin Mozart Overture: The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492 Mozart

Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550


Molto Allegro Andante Menuetto: Allegretto - Trio Allegro assai

INTERMISSION Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64

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Martin Beaver Violin Recognized as a soloist, chamber musician, and as first violinist of the renowned Tokyo String Quartet from 20022013, Martin Beaver is in demand all over the world. After a remarkable career, the quartet concluded their final season in the summer of 2013. Remaining one of Canada’s violin ambassadors to the international concert stages, Martin is an active musician for recital, concerto and chamber performances. Martin has been a concerto artist with orchestras around the world, including the San Francisco Symphony, the National Orchestra of Belgium, Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra, the Portuguese Radio Orchestra and all major orchestras of Canada. He has collaborated with many esteemed artists including violinist Pinchas Zukerman and eminent conductors such as Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Raymond Leppard, Leon Fleisher, and Charles Dutoit. In recital, Martin has enchanted audiences in cities across North America and Europe. He has also been invited to such festivals as the Ravinia Festival (Rising Stars Series), Concerts Under the Dome (Chicago), Seattle Chamber Music Festival, OstBelgien Festival (Belgium), Music in Blair Atholl (Scotland) and major Canadian festivals.

A recipient of many awards, Mr. Beaver was the first to be awarded the use of the 1729 `ex-Heath’ Guarneri del Gesù violin on loan from The Canada Council for the Arts-Musical Instrument Bank. He has also been the recipient of the Canada Council’s prestigious Virginia Parker Award, received top prizes at the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Belgium, the 1990 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, and the 1991 Montreal International Music Competition. A former pupil of Victor Danchenko, Josef Gingold and Henryk Szeryng, Martin Beaver has served on the faculties of The Royal Conservatory in Toronto, University of British Columbia, Peabody Conservatory of the John Hopkins University, the Steinhardt School at New York University and the Yale School of Music. Mr. Beaver has been appointed to the faculty at The Colburn School in Los Angeles. He acts as co-director of the chamber music program and maintains his own studio in the school’s Conservatory of Music.

March Program Notes by Linda Shaver-Gleason Tonight’s concert begins with the overture to one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s most successful works, The Marriage of Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro), K. 492. Composed in 1786, this opera buffa was the first of Mozart’s three collaborations with librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. The opera is based on a 1784 play by Pierre Beaumarchais, a sequel to his The Barber of Seville, following the same characters over the course of a single madcap day at the palace of Count Almaviva. Da Ponte transformed the play into an opera libretto in about six weeks, after which Mozart composed the music for a May 1 premiere in Vienna. The overture begins unusually quietly—the strings and bassoons conspire with a flurry of eighth notes, like the opera’s numerous schemes and secrets. Just as the characters’ plans inevitably lead to outrageous confrontations, before long the frenzied line runs directly into a huge statement from the entire orchestra. This manic energy carries over into the second theme, which starts in the first violins and quickly spreads like a rumor to the oboes and flutes, only to be cut off by an abrupt chord. Each time the violins attempt to start a new theme, a similar chord interjects; the bassoons, violas, cellos and basses, however, are able to complete their

phrases successfully. After a sweet line from the first violins and an unlikely display of lyricism by a bassoon, the unforgettable opening material returns. Though the melodies careen all over, the overture maintains high spirits throughout. Just two years after this great success, the summer of 1788 proved to be a difficult one for Mozart. Having moved his family to a new apartment in June, he faced financial ruin, begging a fellow Freemason for a loan to help him through the difficult time. Mozart had set up a series of subscription concerts featuring his latest string quintets, but it was canceled due to lack of interest. On top of his financial woes, he had to cope with the loss of his fourth child, Theresa, in June. Despite all this hardship, Mozart still managed to compose his final three symphonies; however, historians have not been able to determine exactly what prompted them. They are works of the highest quality, causing some to romanticize their genesis as Mozart being impelled purely by his own genius, writing his “appeal to eternity,” as musicologist Alfred Einstein put it. But this scenario is at odds with the way Mozart tended to work—he generally wrote with performance in mind, ideally as a way to get paid. Nevertheless, these symphonies have 11

captivated audiences and musicologists alike, particularly the penultimate one, the Symphony no. 40 in G minor, K. 550, completed on July 25. Of his forty-one symphonies, Mozart only wrote two in minor keys, and both of them are in G minor. Here he uses the key to dramatic effect as the Allegro molto opens with a wavering melody over agitated accompaniment. The nervous energy of the first theme is counterbalanced by a gentle second theme, its falling lines like genial bows. Mozart manages the movement with the deftness he honed as an opera composer; every event follows in a logical progression to either build tension or pay off on its release. The Andante builds layer upon layer, creating a graceful, gliding melody that gains dainty embellishments as it progresses. The stern Menuetto: Allegretto makes frequent use of a rhythmic technique called hemiola, in which the regular triple meter is obscured by rhythms that reach over the barline, giving the illusion that the meter is twice as slow as it actually is. This makes the melody feel ponderous, even while the accompaniment dutifully pushes forward. The contrasting Trio section comes back down in size for a charming dance before the massive Menuetto returns. The Allegro assai finale bustles with energy, building to a complex contrapuntal development section before the blunt conclusion. Although Felix Mendelssohn was himself a competent violinist, as conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, he built close associations with some of the finest musical talents of Europe. So, in 1838, when he had the idea to compose a violin concerto, he wrote to the orchstra’s concertmaster, Ferdinand David, saying, “I should like to write a violin concerto for you next winter. One in E minor runs through my head, the beginning of which gives me no peace.” David was a long-time friend of the composer—they had grown up together in Berlin, and they had even been born in the same house in Hamburg, albeit a year apart. Mendelssohn did not have the concerto ready for David that winter. Instead, it took

six years to write, with Mendelssohn consulting with his soloist throughout the process. The result was the Violin Concerto in E minor, op. 64, which David premiered with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra on March 13, 1845. Unfortunately, Mendelssohn was sick and unable to conduct the orchestra, those duties falling instead to his protégé, Neils Gade. The concerto has become a staple of violinists’ orchestral repertoire, appearing on concert programs consistently since its premiere. The Allegro molto appassionato begins with restless strings accompanying a pleading melody from the solo violin, which transforms into tempestuous runs. Though the second theme allows the violin to find some tranquility with the flute and clarinet, virtuosic runs reestablish the tumultuous character of the movement. Mendelssohn strays from classical conventions in his placement of the violin cadenza; traditionally, the cadenza had been at the end of the first movement to make a final statement. Mendelssohn instead moves the cadenza to the end of the development section, making it a structurally crucial element as it forms a transition to the recapitulation. After the main themes have been revisited, a bassoon holds onto its note, carrying over into the Andante. The winds and strings creep out slowly, like the sun after a storm, and the solo violin returns to lead the strings in a tender, simple song. The entire ensemble encourages the violin to reveal more of its power, and it obliges with a series of oscillating double stops. It returns to the simple song to close out the movement. The third movement begins with a Allegretto non troppo that seems to recapture the tragic character of the first movement, but it soon evaporates into an Allegro molto vivace of a completely different sort. A brief brass fanfare propels the violin into an effervescent rondo theme that recurs throughout the movement, interspersed with contrasting passages called episodes. These episodes are at times triumphant, at times dreamy, but overall bursting with energy to put a sparkling finish on this masterful concerto.

Remember Us in Your Estate Plan The Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra Legacy League honors those who have made a significant contribution to the Chamber Orchestra through a planned charitable gift. Your gift demonstrates your commitment to the cultural heritage of Santa Barbara and ensures that the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra will thrive for generations to come. You can make a current gift with appreciated securities, a deferred gift through a bequest, or a life income gift through a charitable gift annuity. We invite you to join the distinguished patrons who support the lasting success of the Chamber Orchestra. To learn more about the Legacy League and Planned Giving Opportunities, please contact Director of Development Leslie Velez at (805) 966-2441.


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MusicDialogue... Tuesday, April 5, 2016 7:30 p.m., University Club of Santa Barbara Heiichiro Ohyama, Violist | KUSC’s Alan Chapman, Guest Host

Mendelssohn String Quintet No. 2, Op. 87


Allegro vivace Andante scherzando Adagio e lento Allegro molto vivace

INTERMISSION Dialogue between Maestro Ohyama, Alan Chapman, and musicians followed by dessert and wine reception. Event underwritten by Chaucer’s Bookstore and the Santa Barbara Foundation. 15

Alan Chapman Guest Host Alan Chapman is a composer/lyricist, pianist, radio host (KUSC 91.5 FM) and educator. After receiving his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he earned a Ph.D. in music theory from Yale University. He is currently a member of the music theory faculty of the Colburn Conservatory. He was a longtime member of the music faculty at Occidental College and has also been a visiting professor at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara. Well known as a pre-concert lecturer, Dr. Chapman has been a regular speaker on the L.A. Philharmonic’s “Upbeat Live” series since its inception in 1984. He also works closely with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Pacific Symphony.

He has been heard globally as programmer and host of the inflight classical channels on United and Delta Airlines. Dr. Chapman is also active as a composer/lyricist. His songs have been performed and recorded by many artists around the world and have been honored by ASCAP, the Johnny Mercer Foundation, and the Manhattan Association of Cabarets. He is much in demand as a creator of original musical material for special events. He frequently appears in cabaret evenings with his wife, soprano Karen Benjamin. They made their Carnegie Hall debut in 2000 and performed at Lincoln Center in 2006. Their CD, Que Será, Será: The Songs of Livingston and Evans, features the late Ray Evans telling the stories behind such beloved songs as “Mona Lisa” and “Silver Bells.”


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Glorious... Tuesday, May 17, 2016 7:30 p.m., Lobero Theatre Heiichiro Ohyama, Conductor | Alessio Bax, Piano

Mendelssohn Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 107 “Reformation”


Andante— Allegro con fuoco Allegro vivace Andante Andante con moto


Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73 “Emperor”

I. Allegro II. Adagio un poco mosso III. Rondo: Allegro ma non troppo

Soloist underwritten by Jo Beth Van Gelderen & Karen Quinn *Changed from original announcement 21

Alessio Bax Piano Pianist Alessio Bax creates “a ravishing listening experience” (Gramophone) with his lyrical playing, insightful interpretations, and dazzling facility. First Prize winner at the Leeds and Hamamatsu international piano competitions— and a 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient—he has appeared as soloist with over 100 orchestras, including the London and Royal Philharmonic orchestras, the Dallas and Houston symphonies, the NHK Symphony in Japan, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic with Yuri Temirkanov, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with Sir Simon Rattle. After a whirlwind summer playing 14 festivals on three continents, including his Minnesota Orchestra debut under Andrew Litton and return to Bravo! Vail with the Dallas Symphony and Jaap van Zweden, Bax opened the Colorado Symphony’s 2015-16 season, and launched a South American recital tour, crowned by three concerts at the famed Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. With violinist Joshua Bell and Berlin Philharmonic Concertmaster Daishin Kashimoto, he embarks on separate tours of Asia, collaborates for the first time with the Emerson String Quartet, plays four-hand piano concerts with Lucille Chung in Canada, and returns to the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center for engagements in New York and on tour. Among his solo recitals this season, Bax performs in the Cliburn Concerts series in Fort Worth. On the Signum Classics label, he released a solo album of Mussorgsky and Scriabin, and Lullabies for Mila, a solo collection dedicated to his baby daughter. This summer he looks forward to performing at the Great Lakes Festival, Mimir Chamber Music Festival,

Wisconsin’s Beethoven Festival, Seattle Chamber Music Festival, Music@Menlo, Verbier Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, and Italy’s Incontri Terra Di Siena. Highlights of recent seasons include Beethoven and Rachmaninov in a UK tour with the Royal Philharmonic under Alexander Shelley, Rachmaninov and Mozart with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic under Temirkanov, Barber with the Dallas Symphony under van Zweden, Mozart with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra under Hans Graf, Rachmaninov with London’s Southbank Sinfonia led by Vladimir Ashkenazy, and Mozart with the same orchestra under Simon Over. Bax partnered with Joshua Bell for over thirty concerts in Europe and North and South America, and with Lucille Chung in the U.S., Canada, France, and Hong Kong. In 2013, he received the Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award and Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, which recognizes young artists of exceptional accomplishment. Bax’s acclaimed discography for Signum Classics includes Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” and “Moonlight” Sonatas (Gramophone “Editor’s Choice”), Bax & Chung (Stravinsky, Brahms, Piazzolla), Alessio Bax plays Mozart (Piano Concertos K. 491 and K. 595), Alessio Bax plays Brahms (Gramophone “Critic’s Choice”), Rachmaninov: Preludes and Melodies (American Record Guide “Critics’ Choice 2011”), and Bach Transcribed; and for Warner Classics, Baroque Reflections (Gramophone “Editor’s Choice”). At age 14, Bax graduated with top honors from the conservatory of his hometown, Bari, Italy, and after further studies in Europe moved to the United States in 1994. A Steinway artist, he resides in New York City with his wife, pianist Lucille Chung, and their daughter.

May Program Notes by Linda Shaver-Gleason The year 1830 marked the 300th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, a founding document of Lutheranism which contained 28 articles of faith and led to political recognition of German Protestantism. Twenty-one-year-old Felix Mendelssohn intended to write a symphony as part of the Berlin celebration to be held that June, but unfortunately he contracted the measles, which delayed his composing. Although he finished the Symphony no. 5 in D minor, op. 107, “Reformation” in May, it was too late to be part of the festivities. Mendelssohn attempted to have the symphony

premiered in Paris, but it was rejected, possibly because of all the overtly Protestant references throughout the work. Finally, the symphony had its premiere in Berlin in 1832, by which point Mendelssohn’s enthusiasm for the work had cooled. Ever the perfectionist, he eventually considered the work unpublishable and expressed wishes that the manuscript be burnt, calling it “juvenilia.” In the years following his death in 1848, audiences in England were overcome by “Mendelssohn Mania,” and publishers capitalized on their fanaticism by producing editions of the composer’s previously unpublished 22


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works. The symphony, published in 1868, was part of this posthumous proliferation, which is why it is numbered as his final symphony despite being chronologically the second one that he wrote. The symphony begins with a solemn Andante, building layer upon layer to create a thick texture reminiscent of a church organ. After a noble brass fanfare, the strings present a quiet figure that is crucial to the symphony—a six-note quotation from 18th-century Saxony liturgy called the “Dresden Amen.” The fanfare and amen repeat before Mendelssohn launches into the turbulent Allegro con fuoco, with vigorous strings and confrontational winds and brass. The Dresden Amen makes another appearance shortly before the end of the movement, but rather than preserving the otherworldly tranquility, the thematic material simmers ominously before the final chords erupt. The Allegro vivace is, by contrast, quite chipper; the woodwinds skip along, then entice the brass and strings to join them until the whole ensemble frolics together. The middle section presents a carefree dance with soaring melody and fluttering accompaniment. The third movement, Andante, primarily features the strings as the first violins unfurl a tragic melody. Woodwinds provide minimal commentary, including a short quotation from the first movement. The cellos and basses hold onto their last pitch as a solo flute begins the Andante con moto with the most famous music associated with Martin Luther: the chorale Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (“A Mighty Fortress is Our God”). Once again, Mendelssohn imitates the Lutheran organ with thick textures built up in layers, including a few technical fugues. Rather than sounding oppositional and chaotic as in the first movement, however, the overall mood is triumphant, befitting the grand celebration for which the symphony was originally intended. Although Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major is commonly known as the “Emperor” concerto, the nickname did not originate with the composer. In fact, the period in which Beethoven composed it seems a particularly inappropriate time to venerate any emperor. In the midst of the Napoleonic Wars, the Austrian Emperor Franz I was about to cede substantial territory to the French Emperor Napoleon. As French troops bombarded Vienna, the composer took shelter in his brother’s cellar, covering his ears with pillows in an attempt to preserve what was left of his hearing. In frustration, Beethoven wrote to his publisher,“… I have produced very little coherent work, at most a fragment here and there. The whole course of events has in my case affected both body and soul….What a destructive, disorderly life I see and hear around me, nothing but drums, cannons, and human misery in every form.” Yet in these deplorable conditions between 1809 and 1811, Beethoven wrote his most celebrated piano concerto.

The first movement, Allegro, begins with a decisive chord from the orchestra followed by a cadenza-like flourish from the piano. This occurs three times, with each piano statement more elaborate than the last; the piano firmly establishes its authority at the outset, then retreats to let the orchestra present the main themes of the movement. Given Beethoven’s circumstances, perhaps it is not surprising that these themes have martial connotations—the first theme, introduced by the first violins and then echoed by the entire ensemble, contains dotted rhythms and wide, consonant leaps associated with bugle calls; the second, contrasting theme is a subdued march. Beethoven musically depicts these militaristic elements in a heroic fashion, seemingly at odds with his apparent war weariness. The solo piano makes a triumphant entrance, initiating its long-awaited return with a sweeping chromatic run. Next, it transforms the boisterous first theme into a more contemplative chorale. Under the piano’s leadership, the orchestra is able to fully realize its march with requisite bombast. After a virtuosic campaign, the piano leaves the orchestra to its own devices for a bit, reemerging with another chromatic run to announce the development. In this harmonically unstable section, the soloist seems at odds with the ensemble, engaging in an antagonistic call and response. As hostilities subside, the piano retreats to its uppermost register, and the violas reassert the first few notes of the initial theme. This fragment catches on with the rest of the orchestra, setting up a grand restatement of the opening chords, with the piano’s mini-cadenzas more brilliant than ever. No longer at odds with each other, piano and orchestra revisit the themes together. The relatively short Adagio un poco mosso begins earnestly, with the strings in a chorale texture. The melody sounds simple and straightforward, but then it strives upward with an ambitious leap of a minor seventh. The leap occurs twice, falling back down each time, but the melody continues toward its goal with a slow, steady climb. Leonard Bernstein found the melody so captivating that he quoted portion of it in “Somewhere,” the yearning duet from West Side Story. Even after the soloist enters, the melody remains the focus of the movement as it passes between the strings and woodwinds; the piano’s part comes across as tasteful filigree, a complement to the noble simplicity of the melody. The piano only commands attention at the end of the movement, as its assertive chords hint at the theme of the next movement. Indeed, the final Allegro follows immediately; the piano bursts forth with the galloping rondo theme, which the orchestra echoes in kind. As is typical for a rondo, this boisterous melody recurs several times in alternation with contrasting passages that allow the piano more opportunities to show off before the orchestra brings the concerto to a satisfying conclusion. 25

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SBCO 2015-16 Spring Concert Program  

Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra 2015-16 Spring Concert Program

SBCO 2015-16 Spring Concert Program  

Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra 2015-16 Spring Concert Program