Magazine of the Vancouver Symphony
April 30 to June 13, 2016 Volume 21, Issue 5
Dale Barltrop VSO Concertmaster
Maestro Bramwell Tovey conducts Mahlerâ€™s Sixth Symphony
Broadway Rocks with conductor Steven Reineke
James Ehnes GrammyÂŽ-winning violinist in recital
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra BRAMWELL TOVEY MUSIC DIRECTOR KAZUYOSHI AKIYAMA CONDUCTOR LAUREATE GORDON GERRARD ASSOCIATE CONDUCTOR Marsha & George Taylor Chair
Dale Barltrop, Concertmaster Nicholas Wright, Acting Associate Concertmaster Jennie Press, Acting Assistant Concertmaster Rebecca Whitling, Acting Second Assistant Concertmaster Mary Sokol Brown Mrs. Cheng Koon Lee Chair
Jenny Essers Akira Nagai, Associate Concertmaster Emeritus Xue Feng Wei Yi Zhou
Jason Ho, Principal Karen Gerbrecht, Associate Principal
Professors Mr. & Mrs. Ngou Kang Chair
Ariel Barnes, Principal Nezhat and Hassan Khosrowshahi Chair
Janet Steinberg, Associate Principal Zoltan Rozsnyai, Assistant Principal Olivia Blander
Jeanette Bernal-Singh, Assistant Principal Adrian Shu-On Chui Byron Hitchcock Daniel Norton Ann Okagaito Ashley Plaut
Neil Miskey, Principal Andrew Brown, Acting Principal Emilie Grimes, Acting Associate Principal Dr. Malcolm Hayes and Lester Soo Chair
Stephen Wilkes, Assistant Principal Lawrence Blackman
Estelle & Michael Jacobson Chair
Beth Orson, Assistant Principal Karin Walsh
Matthew Crozier, Principal Gregory A. Cox, Acting Principal
Paul Moritz Chair
Chair in Memory of John S. Hodge
Jeanette Jonquil, Principal Alexander Morris, Assistant Principal Gerhard and Ariane Bruendl Chair David Lemelin Natasha Boyko E-flat Clarinet Mary & Gordon Christopher Chair David Lemelin Charles Inkman Bass Clarinet Luke Wook-Young Kim Alexander Morris Cristian Markos Dylan Palmer, Principal Evan Hulbert, Associate Principal Noah Reitman, Assistant Principal David Brown J. Warren Long Frederick Schipizky §
Jim and Edith le Nobel Chair
JOCELYN MORLOCK COMPOSER-IN-RESIDENCE* MARCUS GODDARD COMPOSER-IN-ASSOCIATION
Christie Reside, Principal Ron & Ardelle Cliff Chair
Nadia Kyne, Assistant Principal Rosanne Wieringa
Julia Lockhart, Principal Sophie Dansereau, Assistant Principal Gwen Seaton
Oliver de Clercq, Principal Benjamin Kinsman §
Werner & Helga Höing Chair
David Haskins, Associate Principal Andrew Mee
W. Neil Harcourt in memory of Frank N. Harcourt Chair
Andrew Poirier, Acting Bass Trombone
Arthur H. Willms Family Chair
Peder MacLellan, Principal
Aaron McDonald, Principal
Vern Griffiths, Principal Martha Lou Henley Chair
Elizabeth Volpé Bligh, Principal
Linda Lee Thomas, Principal Carter (Family) Deux Mille Foundation Chair
Orchestra Personnel Manager DeAnne Eisch
Music Librarian Minella F. Lacson
Head Carpenter Paul McManus
Winslow & Betsy Bennett Chair
Richard Mingus, Assistant Principal
Hermann & Erika Stölting Chair
Michael & Estelle Jacobson Chair
Roger Cole, Principal
Wayne & Leslie Ann Ingram Chair
The Stage Crew of the Orpheum Theatre are members of Local 118 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
Larry Knopp, Principal Marcus Goddard, Associate Principal The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is a proud member of
*Supported by The Canada Council for the Arts § Leave of Absence
allegro Magazine of the Vancouver Symphony
April 30 to June 13, 2016 Volume 21, Issue 5
In this Issue
25 James Ehnes
The Orchestra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Allegro Staff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Government Support . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Message from the Chairman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 and the President Patronsâ€™ Circle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Advertise in Allegro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Vancouver Symphony Foundation . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 VSO Concertmaster Dale Barltrop . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 VSO Friends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 VSO School of Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 VSO 2016/2017 Season . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 VSO Stradivarius Legacy Circle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Corporate Partners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 At the Concert / VSO Staff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Board of Directors / Volunteer Council . . . . . . . . . 71 VSO Car Lottery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
A Special Tribute to Concertmaster Dale Barltrop
We welcome your comments on this magazine. Please forward them to: Vancouver Symphony, 500â€“833 Seymour Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 0G4. Allegro contact and advertising enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org / customer service: 604.876.3434 / VSO office: 604.684.9100 / website: vancouversymphony.ca / Allegro staff: published by The Vancouver Symphony Society / editor publisher: Anna Gove / contributors: Don Anderson / orchestra photo credit: Johnathon Vaughn / art direction, design & production: bay6 creative inc. Printed in Canada by Web Impressions Ltd. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written consent is prohibited. Contents copyrighted by the Vancouver Symphony, with the exception of material written by contributors.
Allegro Magazine has been endowed by a generous gift from Adera Development Corporation.
@VSOrchestra 4 allegro
Concerts APRIL 30, MAY 1, 2 / Goldcorp Masterworks Gold / . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Rogers Group Financial Symphony Sundays / Kazuyoshi Akiyama conductor, Isabelle Faust violin MAY 5 / Tea & Trumpets / Classics of Dance / Gordon Gerrard conductor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Christopher Gaze series host, Goh Ballet MAY 6, 7 / London Drugs VSO Pops / Broadway Rocks / Steven Reineke conductor . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 LaKisha Jones vocalist, Christiane Noll vocalist, Rob Evan vocalist, UBC Opera Ensemble MAY 8 / OriginO Kidsâ€™ Koncerts / Al Simmons: Symphonic Shenanigans / . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Gordon Gerrard conductor, Al Simmons entertainer MAY 9 / Specials / James Ehnes in Recital / James Ehnes violin, Andrew Armstrong piano . . . . . . 25 MAY 14, 15, 16 / Air Canada Masterworks Diamond / Surrey Nights / . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Joshua Weilerstein conductor, Joyce Yang piano MAY 20, 21 / Classical Traditions / Dale Barltrop leader/violin, Nicola Benedetti violin . . . . . . . . . . 37 MAY 22 / Vancouver Sun Symphony at the Annex / The Elusive, Imaginary Future / . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Gordon Gerrard conductor MAY 24, 26, 29 / VSO Chamber Players / . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Christie Reside flute, Nicholas Wright violin, Matthew Davies viola, Jennie Press violin, Karen Gerbrecht violin, Terence Dawson piano, Zoltan Rozsnyai cello MAY 25 / Specials / Last Night of the Proms / . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Bramwell Tovey conductor, David Childs euphonium, Vancouver Bach Choir MAY 28, 30 / Mardon Group Insurance Musically Speaking / North Shore Classics / . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Bramwell Tovey conductor, Johannes Moser cello JUNE 4, 6 / Goldcorp Masterworks Gold / Bramwell Tovey conductor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 JUNE 11, 12, 13 / Air Canada Masterworks Diamond / . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Rogers Group Financial Symphony Sundays / Bramwell Tovey conductor, Chad Hoopes violin 5allegro allegro5
The Vancouver Symphony Society is grateful to the Government of Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts, Province of British Columbia and the BC Arts Council, and the City of Vancouver for their ongoing support. The combined investment in the VSO by the three levels of government annually funds over 28% of the cost of the orchestra’s extensive programs and activities. This vital investment enables the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra to present over 150 life-enriching concerts in 16 diverse venues throughout the Lower Mainland and Whistler, attract some of the world’s best musicians to live and work in our community, produce Grammy® and Juno® award-winning recordings, tour domestically and internationally, and, through our renowned educational programs, touch the lives of over 50,000 children annually.
Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
Christy Clark, Premier of British Columbia
Gregor Robertson, Mayor of Vancouver
FRED G. WITHERS
the VSO Chairman and President
Our 97th Season is coming to a close, but not before we are treated to more wonderful performances by Maestro Tovey, our Orchestra and renowned guest artists.
As we enter the final months of our subscription season, I am exceedingly grateful to all who make symphonic music a part of our community. The VSO has a dedicated team of staff, volunteers, board, and musicians that make the art of producing music both joyful and meaningful. But we also have an entire team of corporate partners that believe having music in our lives is a priority and invest accordingly. You can see our proud partners listed on page 68.
By all accounts, we are enjoying another season of outstanding artistic and operational success. Underpinning this success, is a solid financial foundation — thanks in part to our loyal subscribers, single-ticket buyers and Friends and Patron donors. An important group of supporters of the VSO are members of our Stradivarius Legacy Circle — individuals who have made a gift, or planned a gift, to our Vancouver Symphony Foundation. This year, gifts to the Vancouver Symphony Foundation total $1.3 million and I am delighted to report that we received confirmation that these gifts would be matched 100% by the Federal Government Matching Gift Program. To all of you, we express our sincerest appreciation and thanks. The end of our Season will also see the departure of two VSO Family members — individuals who have made tremendous contributions to our community as musicians, both on and off stage. Gordon Gerard, our Associate Conductor, won the Music Director role with the Regina Symphony Orchestra, and will leave the VSO after 4 years. Conductor for our school concert programs, Tea & Trumpets program, summer concerts and many others, Gordon has been a terrific ambassador for the VSO. Dale Barltrop, our Concertmaster, leaves the VSO after 7 years to take up the prestigious First Violin position with the renowned Australian String Quartet. As well as a terrific musician and performer, Dale has been a tireless supporter and advocate of the many initiatives of the VSO in our communities. We are very proud of Gordon and Dale and wish them well in these next phases of their music careers. Our 2016/17 Season is just around the corner and we invite you to make your plans for another wonderful season of music by the VSO. At the same time, planning is underway for our 2017/18 Season which will celebrate Maestro Tovey’s 18th and final season with the VSO. If you have a favourite memory of Maestro Tovey’s tenure, we would love to hear from you as our plans progress. The VSO is a cultural institution of which we can all be proud. We are the cornerstone of the performing arts scene in our city and region — and are pleased to be a part of the very rich cultural fabric that makes up our community. Thank you for your support!
Fred G. Withers Chair, Board of Directors
In addition to corporate support, the VSO is also supported by all levels of government. Performing in the Orpheum and providing youth engagement programs are in part possible through the support we receive from the City of Vancouver’s Cultural grants that were recently approved by the Mayor and City Council. We serve many communities in the Lower Mainland with a wide variety of concerts and in-school curriculum thanks to the unrestricted support of the BC Arts Council and we were all excited to hear how the federal budget will invest in arts and culture with $1.9 billion over the next five years to create valuable resources to attract the next generation of music lovers that have grown up with digital and creative platforms. But our purpose is best expressed through the art of making music and summer is a great time to do so. The VSO and the VSO Institute at Whistler will be mentoring at least 120 of the best young musicians from around the world from June 26–July 5 at one of our region’s most breathtaking places with free concerts and music programs. Our free Deer Lake concert will take place on July 10 and we will be back at Bard on the Beach with two concerts on July 11 and 18. Finally, with the belief that fun and music can happen simultaneously — the VSO will be the first orchestra in Canada to present the film Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone In Concert on July 22 and 23. The VSO will be presenting all eight Harry Potter films in a live orchestra setting over a three year period. So in that regard, I say thank you for a great season and to quote Albus Dumbledore, “Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here!”
Kelly Tweeddale President allegro 7
Concert Program G OL D C ORP M ASTE RWO R KS G O LD OR P H EU M T H EATR E , 8 P M
Saturday & Monday, April 30 & May 2 ROG ERS G ROU P FIN AN C IAL S Y M P H ON Y S U N D AY S OR P H EU M T H EATR E , 2 P M
Kazuyoshi Akiyama conductor Isabelle Faust violin
Sunday, May 1
MOZART Don Giovanni, K. 527: Overture BARTÓK Violin Concerto No. 2
I. Allegro non troppo II. Andante tranquillo III. Allegro molto
DVORˇÁK Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70
I. II. III. IV.
Allegro maestoso Poco adagio Scherzo: Vivace Finale: Allegro
PRE-CONCERT TALKS ISABELLE FAUST
Free to ticketholders, April 30 & May 2, 7:05pm to 7:30pm, in the auditorium.
VISIT THE SYMPHONY GIFT SHOP FOR CD SELECTIONS MASTERWORKS GOLD SERIES SPONSOR
MASTERWORKS GOLD RADIO SPONSOR
SYMPHONY SUNDAYS SERIES SPONSOR
MAY 1 SYMPHONY SUNDAYS CONCERT SPONSOR
conductor Born in 1941, Kazuyoshi Akiyama studied conducting under Hideo Saito at the Toho Gakuen School of Music. Akiyama has held prestigious posts such as Music Director of the American Symphony Orchestra (1973–1978) and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (1972–1985). During this time, Akiyama’s reputation spread to Europe and throughout North America, where he has been invited to conduct the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the NDR Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and many others. He is the recipient of numerous highly prestigious honors in Japan including the Person of Cultural Merit (2014) for his outstanding cultural contributions. Akiyama currently holds the title of Conductor Laureate at the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, the Kyushu Symphony Orchestra and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, as well as other positions with several Japanese orchestras. He has also been acting as Permanent Conductor and Music Director of the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra since 1998. In 2014, he celebrated the 50th anniversary of his conducting career.
Isabelle Faust violin Isabelle Faust captivates her listeners through her insightful and faithful interpretations, based on a thorough knowledge of the historical context of the works as well as her attention to current scholarship. At an early age, Isabelle won the prestigious Leopold Mozart and Paganini competitions and was soon invited to appear with the world's leading orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo. She continues to be one of the most sought-after violinists in the world.
Over the course of her career, Isabelle has regularly performed or recorded with world-renowned conductors. During recent years she developed a close relationship with the late Claudio Abbado and performed and recorded under his baton. Their recording of Beethoven's and Berg's violin concertos with the Orchestra Mozart received a "Diapason d'Or" (France), "Echo Klassik" (Germany), "Gramophone Award 2012" (UK) as well as a "Record Academy Award" (Japan). Isabelle Faust plays the 'Sleeping Beauty' Stradivarius (1704), kindly on loan by the L-Bank Baden-Württemberg.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart b. Salzburg, Austria / January 27, 1756 d. Vienna, Austria / December 5, 1791
Don Giovanni, K. 527: Overture The callous Spanish libertine Don Juan made the transition from figure out of folklore to crystallized dramatic character in the early seventeenth century. His ribald escapades have been the subject of numerous treatments. When Mozart visited Prague in 1787 to enjoy the city’s production of his opera The Marriage of Figaro, he received a commission for a new opera. He answered it with Don Giovanni. This masterful seriocomic opera premièred in Prague in 1788. The overture ingeniously places the opera’s dark and light qualities side-by-side. It opens in chilling starkness with the music for the ‘stone guest’ whom Don Giovanni murders in the opening scene of the opera, and who will return in ghostly form to lead him to his punishment in hell at the climax of the final act. A brisk, charming allegro follows, depicting the Don’s many amorous escapades.
Béla Viktor János Bartók b. Nagyszentmiklós, Hungary / March 25, 1881 d. New York, New York, USA / September 26, 1945
Violin Concerto No. 2 The inspiration for this vibrant concerto came from Zoltán Székely, a renowned Hungarian violinist who had been Bartók’s friend and chamber music partner since the mid-1920s. allegro 11
In August 1936, he approached Bartók with a commission. The composer suggested a onemovement work in variation form, but Székely balked. He eventually persuaded Bartók to create the type of multi-movement virtuoso concerto he was looking for. He performed the solo part at the première, which took place in Amsterdam on April 23, 1939, with Willem Mengelberg conducting the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Both concerto and soloist won great acclaim. Due to a previous commitment, Bartók was unable to attend. It was only four years later, in New York, that he heard the concerto in performance. “I am most happy that there is nothing wrong with the scoring,” he wrote. “Nothing needs to be changed, even though orchestral ‘accompaniment’ of the violin is a very delicate business.” Bartók must have smiled secretly to himself, too. He had not only written Székely his virtuoso concerto, he had also satisfied his own wish to compose variations. Not only is the slow second movement set in that form, but since the first and last movements share thematic materials and treatment to a great degree, the third may be considered a ‘variation’ of the first. The themes bear the flavours and rhythms of Bartók’s beloved Hungarian folk music. Although the entire piece is clearly structured, Bartók also infuses it with an air of improvisation, another characteristic of Hungarian folk culture. The opening and closing movements balance strong, thrusting energy with nostalgic, occasionally bittersweet lyricism. The accompanying orchestra is large. Bartók brings its full power tellingly into play at appropriately dramatic moments. He also uses it, the light percussion instruments in particular, to brighten the mood, especially in the otherwise rather serious, nocturnal second movement.
Antonín Dvorˇák b. Nelahozeves, Bohemia / September 8, 1841 d. Prague, Bohemia / May 1, 1904
Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70 For Dvorˇák, music’s primary function was to praise the many aspects of life which gave him joy. As he put it in a letter he wrote to a
friend during the composition of his Seventh Symphony, “Today I have just finished the second movement of my new symphony, and am again as happy and contented in my work as I always have been and, God grant, may always be, for my slogan is and always shall be: God, love and country! And that alone can lead to a happy goal.” By the mid-1880s, the Slavonic Dances and other works inspired by the folk music of his native country had won him a substantial following throughout Europe. A token of this renown came in June 1884, when the Philharmonic Society of London bestowed an honorary membership upon him. In return, he agreed to write them a new symphony. He decided to take the opportunity to satisfy a goal which had been occupying his thoughts for some time: a desire to expand his creative range. This wish sprang from his realization that the folk-based style he had been cultivating had its limitations. In order to win recognition as a great composer, regardless of origin, he knew he would have to write music which, like the works of his friend and mentor, Johannes Brahms, communicated universal sentiments through international musical language. He completed Symphony No. 7 on March 17, 1885. He traveled to London to conduct the first performance, and to accept his Philharmonic membership. Emotionally powerful and richly scored, the symphony is a work of which any composer might be proud. The folk-like elements which play such an important role in much of his output are here displayed less prominently. After the emotional tempests of the opening movement, the second begins in a mood of tranquil reverie. Solace proves elusive, however. Troubling emotions intrude upon this idyll at regular intervals. The scherzo-like third movement is driven by bracing dance rhythms, but here it wears what is for Dvorˇák an unusually stern expression. The dark mood in which the finale opens recalls the first movement. After much dramatic energy is expended, it eventually ends on a note of triumph, one snatched at the last possible moment from the jaws of defeat. ■ Program Notes © 2016 Don Anderson
T EA & T RU M P ETS ORP H EU M , 2P M
Thursday, May 5 Classics of Dance Gordon Gerrard conductor Christopher Gaze host Goh Ballet ROSSINI L’Italiani in Algeri: Overture STRAUSS Egyptian March, Op. 335 BORODIN Prince Igor: Polovtsian Dances BRAHMS Hungarian Dances RIMSKY-KORSAKOV The Snow Maiden:
Dance of the Buffoons
LEHÁR Gold and Silver Waltz TCHAIKOVSKY Eugene Onegin: Polonaise TCHAIKOVSKY Eugene Onegin: Waltz TEA & COOKIES served in the lobby one hour before each concert. Tea compliments of Tetley Tea.
Gordon Gerrard conductor
Gordon Gerrard is a respected figure in the new generation of Canadian musicians. His passion and his dedication to producing thrilling musical experiences have endeared him to his fellow musicians and the public alike.
After two successful seasons as Assistant Conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Gordon has been promoted to the newly created post of Associate Conductor. He has been appointed as Music Director of the Regina Symphony Orchestra effective July 2016. This season, Gordon will lead the VSO in concerts on the Masterworks, Tea & Trumpets, and Kids’ Koncerts series. GOH BALLET
VISIT THE SYMPHONY GIFT SHOP FOR CD SELECTIONS 14 allegro
This season Gordon returned to Calgary Opera to lead their production of Lakmé in November, and he made his debut with The National Ballet of Canada in their production of The Nutcracker. Guest appearances this season include two Masterworks concerts for the Regina Symphony Orchestra as well as debuts with the Victoria Symphony and the Sudbury Symphony.
Christopher Gaze host Christopher is best known as the Founding Artistic Director of Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival. He hosts the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra's ever popular Tea & Trumpets series and has hosted their annual traditional Christmas concerts for over 20 years. His many honours include Canada’s Meritorious Service Medal, Honorary Doctorates from UBC & SFU, the Mayor’s Arts Award for Theatre and the Order of British Columbia. Last summer, he directed the world première of C.C. Humphreys’ Shakespeare's Rebel, part of Bard's 26th season. Christopher plays a leading role in British Columbia as an advocate for the arts in general, and his passionate dedication to Bard on the Beach has fuelled its growth into one of the largest professional theatre companies in Canada, drawing more than 1.5 million patrons since its inception.
Goh Ballet Since 1978, Vancouver, Canada has been home to Goh Ballet, a vibrant, innovative and diverse dance organization. Following the vision of its founders while expanding on current artistic aspirations, Goh Ballet pursues technical and artistic excellence while raising cultural awareness in our communities through dance instruction and performance productions. The Goh Ballet is synonymous with excellence, training talent and fostering the presentation of classical ballet. It provides extraordinary opportunities for dancers to reach their full potential, while contributing to the artistic well-being of our city and country. Goh Ballet is always at the forefront of the arts community. With a wide-ranging and ever-expanding repertoire that encompasses classical and contemporary ballet, jazz, character, and national dance, the Goh Ballet’s reach extends internationally. The achievements of their students at international competitions, and the visibility of their graduates who fill the ranks of world renowned companies, continue to prove Goh Ballet is a justly celebrated cultural ambassador on world stages. ■
Concert Program L ON D ON D RU G S V SO P O P S OR P H EU M , 8P M
Friday & Saturday, May 6 & 7 Broadway Rocks! Steven Reineke conductor LaKisha Jones vocalist Christiane Noll vocalist Rob Evan vocalist UBC Opera Ensemble ARR. FLEISCHER Rocks Overture SMALLS Everybody Rejoice from The Wiz WILDHORN/BRICUSSE This Is The Moment from Jekyll and Hyde SHAIMAN Good Morning Baltimore from Hairspray GAUDIO/CREWE Jersey Boys Medley STEINMAN Total Eclipse from Dance of the Vampires SIR ELTON JOHN Circle of Life from Lion King FOGERTY Proud Mary ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER Jesus Christ Superstar Overture LARSEN Seasons of Love from Rent SHAIMAN You Can’t Stop the Beat from Hairspray
VISIT THE SYMPHONY GIFT SHOP FOR CD SELECTIONS VSO POPS SERIES SPONSOR
VSO POPS RADIO SPONSOR
MAY 6 CONCERT SPONSOR
MAY 7 CONCERT SPONSOR
DEYOUNG Come Sail Away PARTON I Will Always Love You ANDERSSON/ULVAEUS Anthem from Chess GAYNOR I Will Survive SCHWARTZ Defying Gravity from Wicked ANDERSSON/ULVAEUS Mama Mia Medley KRIEGER And I Am Tellin’ You from Dreamgirls ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER Phantom of the Opera from Phantom of the Opera ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera allegro 17
showstopper And I Am Telling You and later the Broadway stage in the Oprah Winfrey produced, Tony Award-winning musical, The Color Purple.
Steven Reineke conductor Steven Reineke’s boundless enthusiasm and exceptional artistry have made him one of the nation’s most sought-after pops conductors, composers and arrangers. Mr. Reineke is the Music Director of The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, Principal Pops Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Principal Pops Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Principal Pops Conductor Designate of the Houston Symphony. He previously held the posts of Principal Pops Conductor of the Long Beach and Modesto Symphony Orchestras and Associate Conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. As the creator of more than one hundred orchestral arrangements for the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Mr. Reineke’s work has been performed worldwide, and can be heard on numerous Cincinnati Pops Orchestra recordings on the Telarc label. A native of Ohio, Mr. Reineke is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio, where he earned bachelor of music degrees with honors in both trumpet performance and music composition. He currently resides in New York City with his husband Eric Gabbard.
LaKisha Jones vocalist Best known to millions of TV viewers as a top four finalist during the 2007 season of American Idol, LaKisha Jones is ready to reclaim center stage in music, theatre and television. Her last album, So Glad I’m Me was full of Jones’ expressive, full-bodied and arresting vocals, the same voice that electrified American Idol viewers with the Dreamgirls
She auditioned for American Idol once before in 2003 but didn’t make the cut. Jones drove to New York to audition again for Idol and made it to the 2007 season where she became the fourth finalist. She segued from Idol to the Broadway stage for The Color Purple where she played two roles: that of a “church lady” and of the pivotal character “Sophia.” The latter role she alternated with R&B icon Chaka Khan, who became her mentor.
Christiane Noll vocalist Christiane Noll, a New York born, New Jersey raised actress was nominated for both the 2010 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award and won a Helen Hayes Award for her portrayal of Mother on Broadway in the Kennedy Center Revival of Ragtime. She made her Broadway debut starring in Jekyll & Hyde, creating the role of Emma. Ms. Noll has been living up to her reputation as being "one of the most versatile actresses in the American Musical Theatre" with a varied repertoire in Broadway, Opera, Operetta and Jazz. She has released four solo CDs, Christiane Noll – A Broadway Love Story and The Ira Gershwin Album, both on Fynsworth Alley, Live at the West Bank Cafe on 2Die4 Records, and My Personal Property on Jay Records. She supplied the singing voice of Anna in the Warner Borthers animated feature The King & I, and starred on Broadway in It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues. Christiane is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and is a Founding Member of Midtown Direct Rep. Theater Company.
Rob Evan vocalist During the span of his diverse career, Rob Evan has performed in seven leading roles on the New York stage including the original Broadway cast of Jekyll & Hyde, playing the title roles for three years and over 1,000 performances worldwide. He also appeared on Broadway as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, Kerchak in Disney’s Tarzan, "The Dentist" in Little Shop of Horrors, and Count von Krolock in Jim Steinman’s Dance of the Vampires.
As a vocalist and recording artist, Rob is a member of the multi-platinum-selling rock band, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Rob has toured Europe and the US with TSO as Beethoven in their Rock Opera, Beethoven's Last Night. In concert, Rob has been a featured soloist for many leading symphonies. He conceived, co-created (with Maestro Randall C. Fleischer) and stars in ROCKTOPIA, a new Classical/Classic Rock fusion concert event that is currently touring worldwide.
UBC Opera Ensemble The University of British Columbia Opera Ensemble was founded by Canadian lyric coloratura Nancy Hermiston in 1995. Beginning with a core of seven performers, Miss Hermiston has built the program to a 90-member company, performing three main productions at UBC every season, seven Opera Tea Concerts, and several engagements with local community partners. The Ensemble’s mission is to educate young, gifted opera singers, preparing them for international careers.
UBC OPERA ENSEMBLE
The 2015/2016 Season included Manon, Eine Nacht in Venedig and will conclude in June with Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer's Night Dream. In celebration of UBC’s Centennial, The Ensemble has presented concerts in China, the Czech Republic and Germany. They will also be travelling to the Czech Republic this summer performing Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with the European Music Academy. The Ensemble has had an extensive collaboration with the Vancouver Symphony and appreciate the opportunity to perform again with this wonderful orchestra, its guest conductors and of course, its very own maestro, Bramwell Tovey. ■
Concert Program OR IG IN O K ID S ’ KO N C E RTS OR P H EU M T H EATR E , 2 P M
Sunday, May 8 Al Simmons: Symphonic Shenanigans Gordon Gerrard conductor Al Simmons entertainer
JUNO® Award-winner Al Simmons is a creative genius whose highly original performances of profound wackiness and of off-the-wall inventions have taken the arts of music and comedy to unparalleled heights of hilarity. Al’s humour touches a responsive chord in people of every age — join Al and the VSO for a high-energy show that’s fun for the whole family!
Gordon Gerrard conductor For a biography of Gordon Gerrard, please refer to page 14.
Al Simmons entertainer AL SIMMONS
Al Simmons’ one-man, multi-prop, music-filled, off the wall performances have elevated audiences world-wide to collective giggles and all-out guffaws. At once childlike in its simplicity and sophisticated in its execution, Al’s humour touches a responsive chord in people of every age.
PREMIER EDUCATION PARTNER PREMIER EDUCATION PARTNER KIDS' KONCERTS SERIES SPONSOR
MAY 8 CONCERT SPONSOR
THE VSO’S KIDS’ KONCERTS HAVE BEEN ENDOWED BY A GENEROUS GIFT FROM THE WILLIAM & IRENE MCEWEN FUND.
In the entertainment business since 1970, the popular Manitoba-based children’s performer is likely Canada’s most versatile comedian. He puts on the funniest show, full of bizarre gadgets, wild costumes, unique songs, crazy vaudeville-inspired routines and of course, bad puns. Al and his wife Barbara live in the small Manitoba town of Anola. Their 15-acre yard is flowered with zip lines, Tarzan ropes, slides and swings. A Creative Genius with the Soul of a Vaudevillian — Al Simmons is a one-man cast of thousands! A modern day comedy chameleon! A wizard of one-liners! ■ allegro 23
S P EC IA L S OR P H EU M T H EATR E , 8 P M
Monday, May 9 James Ehnes in Recital ANDREW ARMSTRONG
James Ehnes violin Andrew Armstrong piano HANDEL Sonata in D Major, HWV 371
VISIT THE SYMPHONY GIFT SHOP FOR CD SELECTIONS
I. Adagio II. Allegro III. Larghetto IV. Allegro
BEETHOVEN Sonata in F Major, Op. 24, Spring
I. Allegro II. Adagio molto espressivo III. Scherzo. Allegro molto â€“ Trio IV. Rondo. Allegro ma non troppo
BRAMWELL TOVEY Stream of Limelight
James Ehnes violin Known for his virtuosity and probing musicianship, violinist James Ehnes has performed in over 30 countries on five continents, appearing regularly in the world’s great concert halls and with many of the most celebrated orchestras and conductors. James was born in 1976 in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. He began violin studies at the age of four, and at age nine became a protégé of the noted Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin. He studies with Sally Thomas at the Meadowmount School of Music and from 1993–1997 at The Juilliard School, winning the Perter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music upon his graduation. James is a Member of the Order of Canada, and in 2013 he was named an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, limited to a select group of 300 living distinguished musicians. James Ehnes plays the “Marsick” stradivarius of 1715. He currently lives in Bradenton, Florida with his family.
Andrew Armstrong piano Praised by critics for his passionate expression and dazzling technique, pianist Andrew Armstrong has delighted audiences around the world. He has appeared in solo recitals and with orchestras in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States and in chamber music with violinist James Ehnes, cellist Robert deMaine, the Elias, Alexander, American and Manhattan String Quartets, as a member of the Caramoor Virtuosi, the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players, and Amelia Piano Trio. His solo recordings feature works by Rachmaninov, Mussorgsky, Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, and the world première recording of Bielawa's Wait for Piano & Drone (Cordelia Records). He has also released several award-winning recordings with his longtime recital partner James Ehnes including works by Bartók, Prokofiev, Tartini, Leclair, Franck, and Strauss. Andrew is devoted to outreach 26 allegro
programs and playing for children. In addition to his many concerts, his performances are heard regularly on National Public Radio and WQXR, New York City's premier classical music station.
Program Notes The idea of a coast-to-coast recital tour of Canada has been percolating in my mind for many years. I have been very lucky to have traveled extensively through this great country of my birth, and am privileged to know the large cities well from repeated visits, but I often miss the days of my early career when I had more chances to visit smaller centres, to interact with people in more remote places, and, perhaps most importantly, to travel by the roads and railways, to get a sense of the massive scale of this nation. I am proud and honoured to have the opportunity to perform on this tour in every Province and Territory, and to share what I consider to be some of the very greatest music from 300 years of history in combination with wonderful music of today, including a work written specially for this tour by my great friend and mentor, Bramwell Tovey. I am also extremely grateful to have the opportunity to express through music my gratitude to Canada and Canadian music lovers for all the support I have received throughout my career.
George Frideric Handel b. Halle, Germany / February 23, 1685 d. London, England / April 14, 1759
Sonata in D Major, HWV 371 Remembered today primarily for such beloved works as Messiah, Water Music, and Music for the Royal Fireworks, the prolific George Frideric Handel also composed a substantial amount of music for small ensembles, of which this sonata is arguably his finest and best known. Its four movements alternate slow and fast, and between somewhat operatic music of great drama and beauty, and virtuoso displays for both the violin and keyboard.
As was typical for music of this type and time, only the bass line (the left hand part) of the keyboard part was written out, including numerical figures that specified the harmonies upon which the keyboard player would improvise. The version that Andrew Armstrong and I perform is one that we have adapted from various performing editions and amended with our own preferences. Once a staple of the violin repertoire, this wonderful work has sadly become somewhat neglected over the last several generations. However, its inclusion in the Suzuki method instruction books has ensured its popularity among developing violinists.
Ludwig van Beethoven b. Bonn, Germany / baptized December 17, 1770 d. Vienna, Austria / March 26, 1827
Sonata in F Major, Op. 24, Spring Written in 1803, this sonata has become one of Beethoven’s most beloved chamber works, and is one of the prime examples (along with the Piano Sonata No. 15, Op. 28 and the Symphony No. 6) of Beethoven’s “pastoral” style of writing. Though the title “Spring” is not Beethoven’s, the charming, optimistic, and predominantly easy-going nature of this music makes it very appropriate.
“...introducing one of Beethoven’s most inspired and natural melodies, setting the mood for a piece of remarkable lyricism.” The first movement begins with the violin introducing one of Beethoven’s most inspired and natural melodies, setting the mood for a piece of remarkable lyricism. The second movement combines serene and longflowing melodies over a gently bubbling accompaniment that brings to mind the idea of gently flowing water. Following a charming and extremely brief scherzo, the finale is a graceful rondo (a piece in which the main theme returns again and again) that, despite moments of turbulence and drama, never loses its sense of good-natured fun. Program Notes © 2016 James Ehnes
Bramwell Tovey b. Ilford Essex, England / July 11, 1953
Stream of Limelight I first heard James Ehnes in Winnipeg in 1990. He played Ravel’s Tzigane with its dazzling opening cadenza and technical and musical demands completely mastered — at the age of fourteen. There’s an honesty and openness about Jimmy that comes out in the music-making and transports the listener directly to the composer’s vision without resort to artifice. He has a marvellous sense of humour and appreciation for irony which greatly complements his profound and intelligent musicianship. Since that initial meeting we’ve performed together countless times and become great friends. Stream of Limelight is affectionately dedicated to my dear friend, James Ehnes. Limelight was a nineteenth-century method of extremely bright theatrical illumination, pre-dating electricity. Actors honed their skills to deliver all types of scenes from intimate to dramatic, coping under the one source of brilliant light. Stream of Limelight is a flow of sound under the glare of this bright light, sometimes no more than a trickle, sometimes a torrent as the violin and piano engage in a robust dialogue based upon the ascending notes heard on the violin at the outset. Like all conversations there are highs and lows, smiles, jokes, silent thoughts, disagreements — until unanimity is reached in the final moments. Program Note © 2016 Bramwell Tovey
Encores Violinists are blessed to have an enormously rich repertoire, with important works from nearly all of the great composers. But there is also a tremendous assortment of lighter fare, both original and transcribed. These minor masterpieces have delighted audiences for generations and have played an invaluable role in the formation of our violin-playing traditions. Much as a great dessert perfectly concludes a fine meal, these musical bonbons are the perfect ending to a violin and piano recital. ■ allegro 27
The Vancouver Symphony gratefully acknowledges the generosity of these community leaders whose ongoing annual support makes it possible to present 150 passionate performances and inspiring education and community programs every year. Thank you for your loyalty and commitment to the VSO’s ongoing success. GOLD BATON CLUB Gifts from $50,000 and Up Mr. Alan and Mrs. Gwendoline Pyatt*
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PRINCIPAL PLAYERS Gifts from $7,500 to $9,999 Mrs. Joyce E. Clarke Dave Cunningham Kenneth W. and Ellen L. Mahon* Mollie Massie and Hein Poulus*
Gifts from $25,000 to $34,999 Mary and Gordon Christopher Foundation* Dr. Peter and Mrs. Stephanie Chung Lagniappe Foundation Mr. Gerald McGavin, C.M., O.B.C. and Mrs. Sheahan McGavin* McGrane-Pearson Endowment Fund* Jane McLennan Mr. Fred Withers and Dr. Kathy Jones CONCERTMASTER'S CIRCLE Gifts from $15,000 to $24,999 The Christopher Foundation (Education Fund) Mrs. Margaret M. Duncan Martha Lou Henley* Anonymous* Anonymous Gifts from $10,000 to $14,999 Larry and Sherrill Berg Mr. and Mrs. G. A. Cooper The Gudewill Family In Memory of John Hodge* Diane Hodgins Werner (Vern) and Helga Höing* Ms. Sumiko Hui Yoshiko Karasawa Mrs. Irene McEwen* Mr. Brian W. and Mrs. Joan Mitchell André and Julie Molnar Tom and Lorraine Skidmore
Gifts from $5,000 to $7,499 Dr. and Mrs. J. Abel Hans and Nancy Alwart Eric and Alex Bretsen Gerhard & Ariane Bruendl Etienne Bruson Philip & Pauline Chan Ian and Frances Dowdeswell Mohammed A. Faris Elisabeth and David Finch Debra Finlay Cathy Grant Mr. and Mrs. Sam Gudewill Hillary Haggan Paula and Doug Hart Kaatza Foundation Hank and Janice Ketcham Dr. Marla Kiess* Judi and David Korbin Sam and Anita Lee Doug and Teri Loughran The Lutsky Families Bruce and Margo MacDonald Roy Millen and Ruth Webber Mirhady Family Fund, held at Vancouver Foundation Fred R. Pletcher & Beverley G. Ellingson Joanne and Stanis Smith Maestro Bramwell Tovey and Mrs. Lana Penner-Tovey* The Tuey Charitable Foundation*
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For more information about the Patrons' Circle and the exclusive benefits associated with this program, please contact Mary Butterfield Director, Individual & Legacy Giving at
604.684.9100 ext. 238 or email email@example.com. 28 allegro
Mel and June Tanemura* Mr. and Mrs. David H. Trischuk Michael R. Williams Bruce Munro Wright Dr. and Mrs. Edward Yeung John Hardie Mitchell Family Foundation Anonymous* Anonymous PATRONS Gifts from $2,000 to $2,499 P. Carnsew and D. Janzen Ben and Beth Cherniavsky Leslie Cliff and Mark Tindle Dr. A. Douglas and Mrs. Anne Courtemanche Jean Donaldson In Memory of Betty Howard Mr. Hassan Khosrowshahi, O.B.C. and Mrs. Nezhat Khosrowshahi* Hugh and Judy Lindsay In Tribute of late Johnny Loh Violet and Bruce Macdonald Nancy and Frank Margitan Vi Roden in memory of Maurice Ian and Jane Strang Bella Tata* Denis Walker Anonymous* Anonymous (5)
Gifts from $1,500 to $1,999 Olin and Suzanne Anton Gordon and Minke Armstrong Derek and Stella Atkins Mr. R. Paul and Mrs. Elizabeth Beckmann Roberta Lando Beiser* Nathan Brine Mrs. May Brown, C.M., O.B.C.* Ms. Louise M. Cecil Dr. Kam and Katie Cheung Mr. Justice Edward Chiasson and Mrs. Dorothy Chiasson* Leanne Davis and Vern Griffiths Barbara J. Dempsey Sharon F. Douglas Darren Downs and Jacqueline Harris Nancy and Alain Duncan Rafael and Miryam Filosof Dennis Friesen for Gwen Mrs. San Given Anna and Alan Gove Marietta Hurst* Michael and Estelle Jacobson* Signe Jurcic C.V. Kent in memory of Vivian Jung Drs. Colleen Kirkham and Stephen Kurdyak
Uri and Naomi Kolet in honor of Aviva’s New York Ordination Christopher Loh Hank and Andrea Luck Nancy Morrison Mrs. Louise Pronovost Dal and Muriel Richards Dr. Robert S. Rothwell* Dr. William H. and Ruthie Ross Mrs. Joan Scobell David and Cathy Scott Dr. Peter and Mrs. Sandra Stevenson-Moore L. Thom Garth and Lynette Thurber Dr. Hamed Umedaly and Dr. Susan Purkiss Nico & Linda Verbeek* Dr. Brian Willoughby Eric and Shirley Wilson Dr. I. D. Woodhouse Nancy Wu Anonymous (4) ■ * Members of the Patrons’ Circle who have further demonstrated their support by making an additional gift to the Vancouver Symphony Foundation’s endowment fund.
Concert Program A IR C A N A D A M A S T ERW OR K S D IAMO N D OR P H EU M , 8P M
Saturday & Monday, May 14 & 16 S U R REY N IG H T S B EL L P ERF ORM IN G ARTS C E N TR E , S U R REY, 8P M
Sunday, May 15 Joshua Weilerstein conductor Joyce Yang piano SCHNITTKE Moz-Art à la Haydn MOZART Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491 I. Allegro II. Larghetto III. Allegretto
SILVESTROV The Messenger – 1996 BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major, Op. 60
I. Adagio – Allegro vivace II. Adagio III. Menuetto: Allegro vivace IV. Allegro ma non troppo
Free to ticketholders, May 14 & 16, 7:05pm to 7:30pm, in the auditorium. JOYCE YANG
VISIT THE SYMPHONY GIFT SHOP FOR CD SELECTIONS MASTERWORKS DIAMOND SERIES SPONSOR
MAY 14 CONCERT SPONSOR
Joshua Weilerstein conductor Joshua Weilerstein is Artistic Director Designate of the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne. He began his tenure with the orchestra in the 2015/16 season. With a repertoire ranging from Gesualdo to Rouse, he is committed to opening up the traditional classical repertoire to new audiences, enlivening and broadening concert-going and creating a natural dialogue between musicians and their public. Born into a musical family, Weilerstein’s career was launched when he won both the First Prize and the Audience Prize at the Malko Competition for Young Conductors in Copenhagen. He then completed a three-year appointment as Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic, which concluded in the 2013/2014 season. During his time as the Assistant Conductor with the New York Philharmonic, he was heavily involved in Young People’s Concerts, and also served as Concertmaster of Discovery Ensemble, a Boston-based chamber orchestra dedicated to presenting classical music to inner-city schools in Boston.
Joyce Yang piano Blessed with “poetic and sensitive pianism” (Washington Post) and a “wondrous sense of color” (San Francisco Classical Voice), pianist Joyce Yang captivates audiences with her virtuosity, lyricism, and interpretive sensitivity. As a Van Cliburn International Piano Competition silver medalist and Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient, Yang showcases her colorful musical personality in solo recitals and collaborations with the world’s top orchestras and chamber musicians. Yang came to international attention in 2005 when she won the silver medal at the 12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The youngest contestant at 19 years old, she took home two additional awards: the Steven De Groote Memorial Award for Best Performance of Chamber Music (with the Takács Quartet) and the Beverley Taylor Smith Award for Best Performance of a New Work. Yang appears in the film In the Heart of Music, a documentary about the 2005 Van Cliburn
International Piano Competition. A Steinway artist, she currently lives in New York City.
Alfred Schnittke b. Engels, Russia / November 24, 1934 d. Hamburg, Germany / August 3, 1998
Moz-Art à la Haydn Schnittke was best known as one of the wild men of recent music – but here he took his favoured method of welding together totally different styles in the same work, and shifted gears into party mode. He composed Moz-Art à la Haydn in 1977. It’s based on the fragments that are all that remains of a score that Mozart composed in 1783 for a pantomime. From them, Schnittke produced a wacky collage of sound, whose theatrical possibilities were first explored soon after it was written. Haydn and Mozart loved musical jokes. Surely they would approve of the playful homage Schnittke pays them here.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart b. Salzburg, Austria / January 27, 1756 d. Vienna, Austria / December 5, 1791
Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491 Mozart composed 12 superlative piano concertos, Nos. 14 to 25, between February 1784 and December 1786. They are deeper in feeling, broader in scope and richer in colour than any written before. The first performance of this one took place on April 7, 1786. Of all his 27 concertos for one or more pianos, only two are centred in minor keys, and only this one ends in the minor, as well. In Mozart’s day, minor keys didn’t always equate with melancholy, as they came to during the nineteenth century. But their occurrence did signify the presence of powerful and serious emotions. The turbulent mood of the first movement persists from the opening bars straight through to the close. Several brief counterthemes provide the only passages of repose. The piano, unaccompanied, launches the second movement, a deeply touching creation despite its outward simplicity. The winds are allegro 33
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used with special prominence throughout this serene rondo in slow tempo. Eight variations on a sombre, march-like theme make up the finale. Two of them pierce the clouds with rays of sunlight, but the coda maintains the concerto’s air of severity to the very end.
Valentin Silvestrov b. Kiev, Ukraine / September 30, 1937
The Messenger – 1996 Silvestrov abandoned a complex, frosty early style in favour of accessibility. During the mid-1970s he took time off to consider the direction he wanted his music to take. By the early `80s he arrived at what he calls his own, personalized “metaphysical style in the spirit of the new traditionalists and neoRomanticism.” The following remarks appear on the publisher’s website, regarding the quiet, beautiful piece you will hear at this concert: Dedicated to the composer’s late wife, Larysa Bondarenko (who died at an early age), it follows the style of Mozart with folk-song melodies and conventional string orchestration, but it is no imitation of style – Silvestrov allows the cadenzas to end unexpectedly and chord series are interrupted unconventionally, giving the music a sense of fragmentation, and distance from a recognizable history. The inclusion of a synthesizer produces windy, ghostly sounds further removing the music from its classical style. The composer writes, “The Messenger – 1996 is perhaps Larysa herself, perhaps some distant muse speaking in the language of the late eighteenth century. This archaic and yet vitally contemporary language is filtered through a profoundly post-modern sensibility. It is as if a visitor from some other dimension of time came to us with a message.”
Ludwig van Beethoven b. Bonn, Germany / baptized December 17, 1770 d. Vienna, Austria / March 26, 1827
Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major, Op. 60 Beethoven did most of the work on this piece in 1806, a busy year that also witnessed
the creation of the Violin Concerto, Piano Concerto No. 4 and the three ‘Razumovsky’ string quartets. That autumn, he visited his patron Prince Lichnowsky at his summer estate. There he met another great music lover, the Prince’s neighbour, Count Franz von Oppersdorf. An ardent admirer of Beethoven’s, the Count invited him and the Prince to his castle. He had his private orchestra perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 during their stay, then commissioned a new symphony from him. Symphony No. 4 is dedicated to him; he would later commission No. 5, as well. It is probable but not proven that the Count’s orchestra gave the Fourth its première. The first fully documented reading was a private one that took place in Vienna in March 1807. A prominent element in Beethoven’s sense of humour was a love of creating false expectations. This led him to begin this symphony, in essence a light-hearted work, with an introduction forecasting the exact opposite. Gloomy and questioning, it appears to be prefacing a dark, dramatic composition. This makes the arrival of the main allegro, which disperses these clouds with music of joyous abandon, all the more effective. Throughout the movement, Beethoven regularly offers the musical equivalent of pokes in the ribs, through displaced accents and sudden shifts in dynamics.
“The finale...surpasses all that has preceded it for sheer excitement and high spirits.” The slow movement glows with warmth. Beethoven keeps it moving by underpinning it with a gentle but steady rhythmic pulse. The ensuing menuetto is in fact a rough-hewn rustic scherzo, its title a typical Beethoven jibe aimed at tradition. The rambunctious opening and the languid central trio sections coming round and round in playful succession, a practice he would repeat in Symphonies 7 and 9. The finale, an exhilarating exercise in forward-pressing perpetual motion, surpasses all that has preceded it for sheer excitement and high spirits. ■ Program Notes © 2016 Don Anderson
C L A S S IC A L T R AD ITIO N S C H A N C EN T RE FO R T H E P ER F OR M ING ARTS, 8 PM
Friday & Saturday, May 20 & 21 Dale Barltrop leader/violin Nicola Benedetti violin BARTÓK Romanian Folk Dances
Stick Dance Sash Dance In One Spot Horn Dance Romanian Polka Fast Dance Fast Dance
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219, Turkish
I. Allegro aperto II. Adagio III. Rondeau: Tempo di menuetto
SHOSTAKOVICH, ORCH. BARSHAI Chamber Symphony, Op. 73a
THE PRESENTATION OF THIS SERIES IS MADE POSSIBLE, IN PART, THROUGH THE GENEROUS ASSISTANCE OF THE CHAN ENDOWMENT FUND AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA.
I. Allegretto II. Moderato con moto III. Allegro non troppo IV. Adagio V. Moderato – Adagio
Dale Barltrop leader/violin
With concerto performances at the heart of her career, Nicola is in much demand with major Australian violinist, Dale Barltrop, has performed orchestras and conductors across the globe. across North America, Europe and Australia. Born in Scotland of Italian heritage, Nicola Appointed Concertmaster of the Vancouver began violin lessons at the age of five with Symphony Orchestra in 2009, he has appeared Brenda Smith. In 1997, she entered the as both soloist and director with the VSO. Yehudi Menuhin School, where she studied Prior to his appointment in Vancouver, Barltrop with Natasha Boyarskaya. Upon leaving, she served for six years as Principal Second Violin continued her studies with Maciej Rakowski of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. and then Pavel Vernikov, and continues Recently appointed Concertmaster of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Barltrop divides his time between Australia and Canada. He has also served as guest director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, ACO2 and the Camerata of St John’s Chamber Orchestra in Brisbane. Barltrop has performed at numerous music festivals across North America, including Mainly Mozart, Festival Mozaic, Music in the Vineyards, Yellow Barn, Kneisel Hall, Tanglewood, and the New York String Seminar. He was a grand prizewinner at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, and winner of the violin division of the American String Teachers Association National Solo Competition. Barltrop began his violin studies in Brisbane, Australia, made his solo debut with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra at the age of fifteen, and was concertmaster of both the Queensland and Australian Youth Orchestras for numerous years. He moved to the United States in 1998 to attend the University of Maryland, and continued his studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music. His teachers have included William Preucil, Gerald Fischbach, the members of the Guarneri Quartet, Elizabeth Morgan, and Marcia Cox. Barltrop serves on the faculty of the VSO School of Music and the Vancouver Academy of Music. He has also taught at the University of British Columbia, National Orchestral Institute in Maryland, Australian National Academy of Music and Australian Youth Orchestra.
Nicola Benedetti violin Nicola Benedetti is one of the most sought after violinists of her generation. Her ability to captivate audiences with her innate musicianship and dynamic presence, coupled with her wide appeal as a high profile advocate for classical music, has made her one of the most influential classical artists of today.
to work with multiple acclaimed teachers and performers.
Nicola plays the Gariel Stradivarius (1717), courtesy of Jonathan Moulds.
Béla Viktor János Bartók b. Nagyszentmiklós, Hungary / March 25, 1881 d. New York, New York, USA / September 26, 1945
Romanian Folk Dances Bartók and fellow composer Zoltán Kodály made extensive use of the 4000 widely varied Hungarian folk melodies they had gathered in the countryside. Sometimes they quoted them directly; sometimes they used them as the building blocks for original compositions; sometimes they created original melodies in similar style. The traditional fiddle tunes that make up this delightful suite came from Transylvania. Bartók transcribed them first for solo piano in 1915, then for small orchestra two years later. Czech composer Arthur Willner prepared the highly effective version for string orchestra that you will hear at this concert. The selections are: a stately Stick Dance; Sash Dance, a lighter, moderately paced number; the melancholy In One Spot; a moderately paced Horn Dance; a hearty, heavily accented Rumanian Polka; and finally a pair of rousing Fast Dances.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart b. Salzburg, Austria / January 27, 1756 d. Vienna, Austria / December 5, 1791
Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219, Turkish Between April and December 1775, Mozart composed the last four of his five violin concertos. He probably wrote at least some of them to play himself. He completed No. 5 on December 20. It is not only the most allegro 39
accomplished of the series, but also the most unusual. The soloist’s first entry, for example, is remarkable for being quite different in tempo and mood – quiet and dreamy – from the preceding orchestral introduction. It’s as if the violinist were saying to the orchestra, “catch your breath while I introduce myself.” The second movement is a true adagio, slow and heartfelt, in contrast to the easy, flowing andante that was typically of the era. Its lyrical intensity borders on the operatic. The finale, a rondo in the style of a minuet, is the source of the concerto’s nickname. In the delightfully startling minor key episode mid-way through, Mozart instructed the cellos and basses to strike their strings with the wood of the bow, and asks the soloist for virtuoso pyrotechnics. These practices recall the Turkish military music that was all the rage in Austria at the time, a lingering effect of the sieges that the Turkish army, with its percussion-laden military bands, had made against Vienna.
Dmitri Shostakovich b. St. Petersburg, Russia / September 25, 1906 d. Moscow, Russia / August 9, 1975
Chamber Symphony, Op. 73a (after String Quartet No. 3) The 15 string quartets that Shostakovich composed between 1938 and 1974 offer as virtually complete a portrait of the composer as do the equal number of symphonies. At times they provide even deeper insights, speaking as they do a more intimate language. The Russian conductor Rudolf Barshai served as Music Director of the VSO from 1985 to 1988. He enjoyed a close personal relationship with Shostakovich, dating back to Barshai’s studying composition with him. The bond continued as Barshai, first as a violist and subsequently as a conductor, performed his teacher’s music frequently and with compelling insight. In 1969, he conducted the world première of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 14. Barshai received Shostakovich’s permission to transcribe String Quartets Nos. 8 and 10 for full string orchestra. He continued to produce such arrangements in the years following the composer’s death. This transcription of Quartet No. 3 took the process a step further, shifting the music closer to full orchestral territory by adding woodwinds to the texture. Barshai made 40 allegro
particularly effective use of the English horn’s dark, at times unsettling throatiness. During the reign of Joseph Stalin, Soviet artists were expected to produce straightforward, optimistic creations that would inspire the population to support communist ideals. However Shostakovich may have felt about this attitude (his memoirs, Testimony, state that he opposed it), he dutifully composed works that are at least superficially pro-communist. The Ninth Symphony (1945) proved to be a cheeky, small-scaled frolic rather than the heroic postwar apotheosis that officialdom demanded. Had the events of the war emboldened Shostakovich to compose the kind of music he truly wanted to write? A brutal repression of what Soviet officials saw as a dangerous, anti-Soviet tendency toward personalization began the following year. In 1948, the subversive attitudes that the Ninth Symphony presented instigated another of the public denunciations that benighted Shostakovich’s career. The Beethoven Quartet gave the first performance of String Quartet No. 3, in Moscow on December 16, 1946. It was the only piece Shostakovich had composed that year, and his final instrumental work to be heard before Stalin’s new acts of repression began. As if predicting the future, the five movements trace an emotional arc from light to darkness. Even from the first bar, the jauntiness of the first movement is shadowed by an underlying unease. It’s as if you were attending a party where the only guest you don’t recognize starts acting suspiciously. Anxiety continues to intensify in the second movement, until it erupts in the relentless rhythms and sarcastic themes of the third. In the fourth movement, the woodwinds sing doleful elegies, interspersed with terse declamations by the strings. The concluding movement, by far the longest of the five, follows on without a pause. It gradually hints that a return to the at least veiled optimism of the first movement may be possible. A shattering return of the doleful theme of the fourth movement terminates such speculation. You really can’t go home again. ■ Program Notes © 2016 Don Anderson
Vancouver Symphony Foundation
Ensure the VSO’s future with a special gift to the Vancouver Symphony Foundation, established to secure the long term success of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. The Vancouver Symphony family extends its sincere thanks to these donors, whose gifts will ensure that the VSO remains a strong and vital force in our community long into the future. $4,000,000 or more Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage Endowment Incentives Program $1,000,000 or more Ron and Ardelle Cliff Martha Lou Henley, C.M. Province of BC through the BC Arts Renaissance Fund under the stewardship of the Vancouver Foundation Alan and Gwendoline Pyatt The Jim Pattison Foundation $500,000 or more Werner (Vern) and Helga Höing Wayne and Leslie Ann Ingram $250,000 or more Carter (Family) Deux Mille Foundation Mr. Hassan and Mrs. Nezhat Khosrowshahi The Tong and Geraldine Louie Family Foundation Arthur H. Willms Family $100,000 or more Mary and Gordon Christopher Janey Gudewill and Peter Cherniavsky In memory of their Father Jan Cherniavsky and Grandmother Mrs. B.T. Rogers Malcolm Hayes and Lester Soo In Memory of John S. Hodge Michael and Estelle Jacobson
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K. Taryn Brodie Douglas and Marie-Elle Carrothers Mr. Justice Edward Chiasson and Mrs. Dorothy Chiasson Daniella and John Icke Dr. Marla Kiess Dan and Trudy Pekarsky Bob and Paulette Reid Nancy and Robert Stewart Beverley and Eric Watt Anonymous (2) $5,000 or more Charles and Barbara Filewych Stephen F. Graf Edwina and Paul Heller Marietta Hurst Kaatza Foundation Prof. Kin Lo Rex and Joanne McLennan Chantal O’Neil and Colin Erb Marion L. Pearson and James M. Orr In Memory of Pauline Summers Melvyn and June Tanemura Bella Tata/Zarine Dastur: In Memory of Shiring (Kermani) and Dali Tata Nico and Linda Verbeek Anonymous (1) The Vancouver Symphony gratefully acknowledges the support of those donors who have made a commitment of up to $5,000 to the Vancouver Symphony Foundation. Regretfully, space limitations prevent a complete listing.
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A SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO:
DALE BARLTROP VSO CONCERTMASTER LEFT AUSTRALIA for the United “ HAVING States soon after graduating high school, I
studied at the University of Maryland and then the Cleveland Institute of Music. At the age of 18, I arrived in Washington D.C. with nothing more than a violin on loan, two suitcases and an ambition to pursue a career in music. I had no idea where it would take me. I figured I’d probably return to Australia after 4 or 5 years of study, but before I knew it, I had landed myself a job in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and hence embarked on a career as far away from home as I’d ever imagined possible! From 2003–2009, I served as Principal Second Violin of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. I won that job while I was still working on my Masters in Cleveland, which I subsequently abandoned in favour of playing with one of the world’s pre-eminent chamber orchestras. I was incredibly lucky to “cut my teeth” in this group, playing alongside some truly inspiring musicians and traveling to some of the great concert halls of the world. I also developed a love of snow, the skills to drive in it and most importantly… the ability to dig my car out of it.
I first visited Vancouver in 2008 in order to renew my U.S. work visa, something which one must do outside of the U.S. Vancouver seemed like a perfectly lovely place to accomplish such a task, but little did I know just how much of an impact that visit would 42 allegro
have on me. It’s certainly no secret that I had met someone special during those three days in Vancouver, in between visits to the U.S. consulate. I had also become rather enamored by this intoxicating city… the mountains, the ocean and the feeling that I was instantly at home here. Three months later, the most serendipitous thing happened — an ad appeared in the monthly International Musician newspaper, calling for applicants for the Concertmaster position of the VSO. Fast-forward one year… I was moving to Vancouver… a move that was at once both personal and professional. Since that fateful trip, my partner, Rob, has been one of the VSO’s most frequent and loyal patrons! Coming from playing in a chamber orchestra, I was instantly confronted with the challenge of leading a much larger group of musicians. The sheer size of a symphony orchestra necessitates an approach that allows for more reaction time than one is used to in a small chamber orchestra. I found that my body language needed to adapt in order to broadcast the necessary information to the
back of the orchestra. As a Concertmaster, it is important that you are communicating as much as possible to the very edges of the orchestra — a good distance away. It became evident to me that I needed to develop a leadership style that would be decisive, inviting
and clear enough for everybody to interpret. It was also very important to establish rapport and trust with my colleagues — essential ingredients in building effective working relationships. It is the Concertmaster’s job to address the orchestra frequently during rehearsals and I became ever mindful of the fact that the sound of my voice can get old very quickly! In addition to playing the violin concertos of Schumann, Britten and Bartók (No.1), works which are rarely performed, I had the pleasure of directing the VSO once a year in an unconducted setting in our Chan Centre series (including three Vivaldi Four Seasons… one of my all-time favourite works to play!). This was a particularly satisfying experience as it allowed me the opportunity to communicate on a very personal and direct level. My colleagues always responded with the utmost conviction and courage to go beyond their comfort levels, interacting with each other in the absence of a conductor. These occasions were a great source of pride for me, much as the VSO Chamber Players concerts have been. This is a series we initiated several years ago, held in the intimate acoustics of Pyatt Hall in the VSO School of Music, curated by the musicians themselves and shining a spotlight on the depth of talent that exists within the VSO. It is a real gem in the VSO season and well worth checking out. Since I began with the VSO in 2009, we have seen the evolution of what is undoubtedly one of the great community music schools in North America. The VSO School of Music has redefined the VSO’s role within our community as we expand beyond a beacon of artistic excellence into an institution that advocates the pursuit, appreciation and belief in music, at any age, on any level and in any number of genres. I will forever cherish my first Mahler symphony with the VSO… the great Symphony of a Thousand (Mahler 8), performed as part of the Olympic Arts Festival in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, in the lead up to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics — a momentous occasion. I also regard our tour of the U.S. West Coast as a major highlight… not only because we visited such enticing cities as Palm Springs, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Las Vegas (yes… the orchestra was let loose on the strip and still managed to perform the next
evening!), but we played some truly heartfelt concerts, my favourite being the very first concert of the tour in Benaroya Hall, Seattle. Australia has always held a special place in my heart. It is where I grew up and where I learned my craft. I now have the opportunity to divide my time between orchestral playing (the Melbourne Symphony) and quartet playing (the Australian String Quartet). It will be both a challenge and a privilege to serve the musical community of my homeland in two very different, yet complementary roles. The quartet repertoire is utterly irresistable, some of the greatest music ever written. To combine Beethoven string quartets with Mahler symphonies and Strauss tone poems is a dream come true!
“I will also miss the incredible family of support surrounding the VSO…” Without a doubt, I will miss the people who have shaped my life over the last 7 years. My colleagues in the VSO have been an endless source of inspiration and guidance in the years since I took this job. They are an outstanding group of musicians and human beings — they have taught me so much about being in an orchestra, the strength and importance of collegiality and the endless pursuit of musical excellence. I will also miss the incredible family of support surrounding the VSO… the dedicated patrons, board members, donors, staff and friends of the VSO who truly keep this orchestra alive. You are all custodians of this venerable institution and I can’t thank you enough for the role you each play in the VSO’s life. I am also deeply indebted to Bramwell Tovey, who not only believed in me, but has shown me time and time again what it means to be an advocate of music. Vancouver, and indeed Canada, has been very fortunate to have Bramwell call it home… his devotion and love of this orchestra has massively contributed to its continued success over the years. I must also admit that the thought of leaving this amazing city weighs heavily on my mind…I will particularly miss the mountains, the pristine air, the abundance of plant life and the seafood! I will always consider it my home and plan to return as often as I can.
Dale Barltrop, VSO Concertmaster
GORDON GERRARD WITH THE VSO
conductor For a biography of Gordon Gerrard, please refer to page 14.
VA N C OU VER S UN S Y M P H ON Y AT TH E AN N E X OR P H EU M A N N E X, 7 : 3 0 P M
Sunday, May 22 The Elusive, Imaginary Future Gordon Gerrard conductor EDGARD VARÈSE Octandre MELISSA HUI From Dusk to Dawn GABRIEL DHARMOO the fog in our poise (World Première)*
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FINANCIAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BY
KATIA MAKDISSI-WARREN Parade JULIA WOLFE The Vermeer Room * Commissioned by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra with the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts
b. Paris, France / 1883; d. New York, NY, USA / 1965
Octandre (1923) One of the most forward-looking, influential, and strikingly modern composers of the mid-twentieth century, Edgard Varèse spent his early years reluctantly studying engineering before rebelling and turning to composition. He was intrigued by Futurism and the “art of noise” but eventually found his own path, similar but distinct, loving his new, ferociously active environment in New York City, and seeing future, progress, technology as things to be looked forward to and explored in his art. Varèse’s interest in “sound objects” moving through space, and his frustration with the limits of traditional acoustic sounds, led to some of the earliest-created tape pieces, and to Varèse being widely considered the father of electronic music. Modest in scope, yet undeniably brash and futuristic, Octandre is written for octet of three winds, four brass, and double bass. Varèse’s focus on strong colours, use of high range and extreme dynamics, and preference for wind and brass timbres over strings may bring to mind the music of Stravinsky, whose Octet was written the same year as Octandre. However, his frequent use of “note-groups” – group comprising all chromatic pitches between two notes, in various octaves – is closer to atonality than to the tonal implications we hear in the Stravinsky. Program Notes © 2016 Jocelyn Morlock
Melissa Hui b. Hong Kong / 1966
From Dusk to Dawn (1997) Melissa Hui was born in Hong Kong and raised in North Vancouver, BC. Initially inspired by the haunting music of the African pygmies and Japanese gagaku court orchestra, she strives to create a personal music of ethereal beauty, intimate lyricism and raucous violence. Her work has been performed throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The recipient of awards from the Guggenheim and Fromm Foundations, and a doctorate from Yale University, she moved to Montreal in 2004 after ten years on the composition faculty at Stanford University. She joined the Schulich School of Music composition faculty at McGill University in 2010. From Dusk to Dawn was commissioned by New Music Concerts with financial assistance from the Canada Council. I had in mind a twomovement work: a still, lyrical first movement 46 allegro
with subtle shifts in harmony followed by a bustling, lively second movement with restlessly shifting colours and rhythms. While working on the second movement, however, the work suggested otherwise, and from the midpoint of that movement, the work essentially goes backwards. The third movement, thus, reflects the first. For me, the differences in harmonic and melodic colouring of the two outer movements suggest the parallels between that of pre-dawn light and twilight. Program Notes © 2016 Melissa Hui
Gabriel Dharmoo b. Québec City, Canada / 1981
the fog in our poise (2016 – World Première) Gabriel Dharmoo’s musical practice encompasses composition, vocal improvisation and ethnomusicological research. As a composer, he has received various prizes and his works have been performed in Canada, the U.S.A, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Australia, Singapore and South Africa. As a vocalist, Gabriel has sung across Canada, Germany and the Netherlands, with improvisation gigs and his vocal performance project Anthropologies imaginaires (Best International Production at Amsterdam Fringe 2015). He is currently pursuing interdisciplinary research in Concordia University’s "Individualized Program" (PhD) with Sandeep Bhagwati (Music – Principal Supervisor), Noah Drew (Theatre) and David Howes (Anthropology of the Senses). the fog in our poise evokes the ceremonial music of an imaginary culture. This fictitious population would allow for a certain refinement in rituals and social graces, while retaining a profound relationship with their physicality and their natural environment. I am envisioning an admittedly idealized world where the civilized/uncivilized binary would simply not exist. Human intelligence and creativity would intertwine with the complexity of nature. Musically, this results in the coexistence of composed melodies and rhythmical structures, with semi-organized textures and atmospheres. Program Notes © 2016 Gabriel Dharmoo
Katia Makdissi-Warren b. Québec City, Canada / 1970
Parade (2012, 2016) Katia specialized in composition at conservatoires in Québec City and Hamburg before travelling to Beirut to study Arabic and Syrian music. Known for innovative compositions that offer a unique blend of Middle Eastern and Western musical styles,
she created the score for the multimedia gallery spaces in the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and composed the soundtrack for the international TedX congress in Beirut. Her work is regularly performed by a variety of prestigious Western and Oriental musical ensembles, including the Québec Symphony Orchestra, the Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental-Arabic Music, the Appassionata ensemble, the Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal (ECM+), and McGill University chamber orchestra. In addition to composing and performing, she conducts Quebec City’s Erreur de Type 27 and guest conducts the Consort contemporain de Québec. Parade is inspired by the diversity of urban cities. Drawing on Middle-Eastern, Argentinean and Contemporary music, the piece invites the listener to a world of allegory – a clandestine city where diversity dissolves into a single harmony. Musically, the piece is built on very similar melodic contours and rhythms from Lebanese and Argentinean music. Parade is a celebration of ancestral memory, of poetic music that crosses paths in the collective unconscious, seeking renewal.
b. Philadelphia, USA / 1958
The Vermeer Room (1989) In her own words, “Julia Wolfe, winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in music, draws inspiration from folk, classical, and rock genres, bringing a modern sensibility to each while simultaneously tearing down the walls between them.” Co-founder (in 1987) of renowned new music organization Bang on a Can, and professor of composition at Steinhardt School, New York University, Wolfe is a powerful force in 21st century music. A relatively early work by Julia Wolfe, The Vermeer Room is a bold piece. It is full of energy and surprisingly aggressive if you consider that it was inspired by a rather peaceful-looking painting by Vermeer found at the Met called A girl asleep – the girl in question dozing comfortably near an open door. This inspiration becomes more complicated, and more intriguing, when you consider that X-ray technology has determined that there was initially a male figure standing in the doorway, that Vermeer has chosen to erase completely. ■ Program Notes © 2016 Jocelyn Morlock
Program Notes © 2016 Katia Makdissi-Warren edited by Jocelyn Morlock
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VSO C HA M B E R PL AYER S
A L A N AND G WE N D OLIN E P YAT T HALL
DR. H.N . M A CCO R K IN D A L E STAGE VSO SC HO O L O F M U S IC
Tuesday, May 24, 7:30pm Thursday, May 26, 7:30pm Sunday, May 29, 2pm
WITH SUPPORT FROM
BEETHOVEN Serenade in D Major, Op. 25 Christie Reside flute Nicholas Wright violin Matthew Davies viola SHOSTAKOVICH
Five Pieces for Two Violins and Piano
Jennie Press violin Karen Gerbrecht violin Terence Dawson piano
HINDSON Little Chrissietina’s Magic Fantasy Jennie Press violin Karen Gerbrecht violin MARTINU˚ Madrigal Sonata Christie Reside flute Nicholas Wright violin Terence Dawson piano BEETHOVEN Grosse Fuge Op. 133 Jennie Press violin Karen Gerbrecht violin Matthew Davies viola Zoltan Rozsnyai cello
VANCOUVER BACH CHOIR
S P EC IA L S OR P H EU M T H EATR E , 8 P M
Wednesday, May 25 Last Night of the Proms BRAMWELL TOVEY
Bramwell Tovey conductor David Childs euphonium Vancouver Bach Choir The VSO, Maestro Tovey and the Vancouver Bach Choir present Last Night of the Proms. Traditional Proms favourites like Jerusalem, Rule Britannia and Pomp and Circumstance will be featured along with Blue Bells of Scotland and the Karl Jenkins Euphonium Concerto.
Bramwell Tovey, O.C. conductor
MAY 25 CONCERT SPONSOR
Grammy® and Juno® award-winning conductor/ composer Bramwell Tovey was appointed Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in 2000. Under his leadership the VSO has toured to China, Korea, across Canada and the United States. Mr. Tovey is also the Artistic Adviser of the VSO School of Music, a state-of-the-art facility and recital hall next to the Orpheum, the VSO’s historic home. His tenure has included complete symphony cycles of Beethoven, Mahler, Brahms as well as the establishment of an annual festival dedicated to contemporary music. In 2018, the VSO’s centenary year, he will become the orchestra’s Music Director Emeritus. allegro 51
During the 15/16 season Mr. Tovey’s guest appearances include the symphonies of Montreal, Melbourne, New Zealand, and Pacific Symphony, and the Philadelphia Orchestra and New York Philharmonic, reprising his programs with both at Bravo! Vail in summer 2016. The summer also includes returns to the Cleveland and Chicago symphonies and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In the winter of 2016 he will conduct Korngold's Die tote Stadt with Calgary Opera. In the 14/15 season Mr. Tovey made guest appearances with several US orchestras. In Europe he performed with the BBC Philharmonic and the Helsingborgs Symfoniorkester and he traveled to Australia on two separate occasions for engagements with the symphonies of Melbourne and Sydney. In 2003 Bramwell Tovey won the Juno® Award for Best Classical Composition for his choral and brass work Requiem for a Charred Skull. Commissions include the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, the Toronto Symphony and Calgary Opera who premiered his first full length opera The Inventor in 2011. A recording of the work by the VSO with UBC Opera and the original cast was made for the Naxos label and will be released this season. In 2014 his trumpet concerto, Songs of the Paradise Saloon, was performed by the LA Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra, both with Alison Balsom as soloist. A talented pianist as well as conductor and composer, he has appeared as soloist with many major orchestras, including his own Pictures in the Smoke with the Melbourne and Helsingborg Symphonies and the Royal Philharmonic. Mr. Tovey is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in London, the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and holds honorary degrees from the universities of British Columbia, Manitoba, Kwantlen and Winnipeg. In 2013 he was appointed an honorary Officer of the Order of Canada for services to music.
David Childs euphonium
David Childs is regarded as one of the finest brass musicians of his generation. He has appeared as soloist with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Concert Orchestra, Sinfonia Cymru, DCINY Symphony and BBC Philharmonic and regularly records as a solo artist for radio, television and commercial disc. David tours extensively and is a keen advocate of new music. He has premièred ten concerti for euphonium including a Royal Albert Hall BBC Proms broadcast of Alun Hoddinott's Sunne Rising — The King Will Ride, a Carnegie Hall US première of Karl Jenkins’ Concerto for Euphonium & Orchestra, and a UK première of Christian Lindberg’s Concerto for Euphonium & Orchestra directed by the composer. David Childs teaches at the Royal College of Music London, the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, and the Birmingham Conservatoire. He is also a founder member of the highly successful brass quartet Eminence Brass and Artistic Director of Wales’ premiere wind orchestra Cardiff Symphonic Winds.
Vancouver Bach Choir
Situated in Vancouver, the gateway of the Pacific Rim, the Vancouver Bach Choir is an award-winning symphonic choir committed to offering vibrant and culturally diverse choral experiences to its audiences. As one of the largest choral organizations in Canada, the Vancouver Bach Choir explores a wide range of repertoire from the past to the present with passion and commitment. Through its series of concerts presented at the magnificent Orpheum Theatre, the VBC continues to meet its mandate of commissioning and performing works by British Columbian and Canadian composers and presenting the world’s favourite symphonic choral works. Over the past eight decades, the choir has performed with numerous world-class musicians. Under the baton of Maestro Leslie Dala, the VBC continues its mission and tradition to share the beauty of choral music with local, national and international communities. ■ allegro 53
Concert Program M A R D ON G R OUP IN SUR AN C E M U S IC A L LY S P E AKIN G OR P H EU M T H EATR E , 8 P M
Saturday, May 28 N ORT H S H OR E C LASSIC S C EN T EN N IA L T HE ATR E , N ORT H VA N C OUV E R , 8 P M
Monday, May 30 Bramwell Tovey conductor Johannes Moser cello
Eugene Onegin, Op. 24: Polonaise
Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33
Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74, Pathétique
I. Adagio – Allegro non troppo II. Allegro con grazia III. Allegro molto vivace IV. Adagio lamentoso
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Bramwell Tovey, O.C. conductor
For a biography of Maestro Tovey, please refer to page 51.
Johannes Moser cello Hailed by Gramophone magazine as “one of the finest among the astonishing gallery of young virtuoso cellists,” German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser has performed with the world’s leading orchestras. In 2014 Johannes was announced as recipient of the prestigious 2014 Brahms prize, along with his brother, pianist Benjamin Moser. Johannes has received two ECHO Klassik awards and the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik for his recordings on Hänssler Classics. Born into a musical family in 1979 as a dual citizen of Germany and Canada, Johannes began studying the cello at the age of eight and became a student of Professor David Geringas in 1997. He was the top prize winner at the 2002 Tchaikovsky Competition, in addition to being awarded the Special Prize for his interpretation of the Rococo Variations. A voracious reader of everything from Kafka to Collins, and an avid outdoorsman, Johannes Moser is a keen hiker and mountain biker in what little spare time he has.
Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky b. Kamsko-Votkinsk, Russia / May 7, 1840 d. St. Petersburg, Russia / November 6, 1893
Eugene Onegin, Op. 24: Polonaise Eugene Onegin (1877-78) is Tchaikovsky’s most popular opera. The principal characters are Onegin, a young, handsome yet already jaded man of the world, and Tatyana, a lovely, shy woman given to romantic daydreams. She becomes infatuated with Onegin, but he rejects her coldly. Years later, after she has married an older man and gained maturity and strength, it is Onegin who falls in love with her. Although Tatyana admits she still loves him, she remains steadfast in her marriage and sends the heartbroken Onegin away. The sumptuous polonaise is heard during a ballroom scene in Act Three. Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33 Tchaikovsky idolized Mozart. He paid homage in several ways, most directly through Mozartiana 56 allegro
(1887), an orchestral suite transcribed from the earlier composer’s piano and choral pieces. Another means was the creation of works that reflect and stylize Mozart’s musical world. Among this latter group is this charming set of variations for cello and small orchestra, which he composed in 1876. The soloist it was intended for, Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, took it upon himself to ‘improve’ the variations. He shuffled the order, eliminated completely the last (and most difficult) of them, and replaced it with the original Variation No. 4. Tchaikovsky held ambivalent feelings towards the revisions, but allowed the piece to be published with them. This concert gives a rare opportunity to hear his original, superior edition. The introduction establishes both the gentle, refined mood and the transparency of the chamber orchestra scoring. The soloist introduces the relaxed and winsome theme – and rarely gets a breather after doing so. The variations rarely stray far from it, transmuting it into, among other things, a nostalgic waltz and a sorrowful lament.
Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74, Pathétique Tchaikovsky believed himself the victim of a cold, implacable fate. In the last three of his six symphonies, he depicted his struggle against it. He won some degree of victory in the Fourth and Fifth. But in the Sixth, his final and greatest work (which could be taken as his last will and testament), destiny reigned supreme. “There will be much formal innovation in this symphony,” he wrote to his nephew, “and incidentally, the finale will not be a noisy allegro but, on the contrary, a most long drawn out adagio.” He also confided that a program or story lay behind the symphony, one “that should remain an enigma for everyone but myself: let them try and guess it!…The theme is full of subjective feeling, so much so that as I was mentally composing it, I frequently shed tears.” An orchestra of staff and students of the Moscow Conservatory rehearsed the symphony in private in early October, 1893. This experience gave Tchaikovsky some misgivings about the finale, feelings which led him to conduct the premiere (St. Petersburg, October 28) with less than his customary skill. It met with a puzzled reaction, especially regarding the unprecedented act of concluding a symphony with a slow movement. Nine days later he was dead, perhaps by suicide.
The second performance took place at the memorial service, and made a much deeper impression that the first. According to Tchaikovsky’s brother, Modest, on the day after the premiere the composer was still searching for an appropriate subtitle for the piece. He did not wish to call it simply No. 6. Modest suggested first ‘tragic,’ which failed to please, then ‘pathétique,’ a French word of Greek origin that is commonly used in Russian. The nearest English equivalent, ‘pathetic,’ conveys only part of the original meaning, leaving its subtext of passion and suffering unexpressed. Tchaikovsky inscribed the word immediately on the score. The piece opens with a slow, mournful introduction. The expansive exposition section contrasts a restless first subject with a consoling second. The explosive start of the development heralds many pages of mounting hysteria. They include a musical quotation from the traditional Russian Requiem Mass, sung to the words ‘with thy saints, O Christ, give peace to the soul of thy servant.’ The development is crowned by a passage of slow, stern grandeur, where the trombones and tuba sound like nothing so much as funeral orators. After a final,
despairing appearance of the soaring second theme, the movement winds down into unsettled, resigned silence. At first, the next movement, a waltz, promises graceful contrast. But with five beats to the bar instead of the usual three, the mood is thrown off-kilter, with disturbing, bittersweet results. In the middle panel, the quiet but insistent beat of the timpani further robs the themes of their otherwise graceful nature. The third movement begins as a feathery, Mendelssohnian scherzo. Gathering momentum, it appears to become a blazing march of triumph, sweeping all before it. It certainly gives this impression when heard out of context. Yet this is not the only possible way of looking at it. David Brown, author of an authoritative, four-volume biography of Tchaikovsky, calls it “a deeply ironic, bitter conception.” The symphony’s slow, anguished finale confirms this view. Despite repeated protests, resignation becomes complete; a single stroke on the tamtam announces fate’s victory; the music sinks back into the dark depths of the orchestra where it began. ■ Program Notes © 2016 Don Anderson
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The Stradivarius Legacy Circle The Stradivarius Legacy Circle recognizes and thanks individuals in their lifetime for making arrangements for a gift in their will to the Vancouver Symphony Foundation—creating a lasting legacy of exceptional symphonic music and music education in our community. We sincerely thank our members for their foresight, generosity and commitment to the VSO's future. George Abakhan Janet M. Allan Renate A. Anderson K.-Jane Baker Lorna Barr Susan Boutwood Peter & Mary Brunold Dr. William. T. Bryson Ralph & Gillian Carder Mrs. Diana Gael Coomber Mr. and Mrs. G.A. Cooper Brigitte Daigle David & Valerie Davies Gloria Davies Julia Dodwell Sharon Douglas
Jackie Frangi Robert & Ann-Shirley Goodell Lorraine Grescoe W. Neil Harcourt in memory of Frank N. Harcourt In memory of John S. Hodge Renate R. Huxtable Wayne & Leslie Ann Ingram Margaret Irving Estelle & Michael Jacobson Mary Jordan Lorna Jean Klohn Dorothy Kuva Hugh & Judy Lindsay Dorothy MacLeod Robert Maxwell
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Bequests The Vancouver Symphony is grateful to have received bequests
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BEQUESTS TO THE VANCOUVER SYMPHONY FOUNDATION
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Jean Ethel Holler Bernard Van Snellenberg BEQUESTS TO THE VANCOUVER SYMPHONY SOCIETY $250,000 or more Ruth Ellen Baldwin $100,000 or more Reta Alden Dorothy Jane Boyce Roy Joseph Fietsch Hector MacKay $50,000 or more Fritz Ziegler $25,000 or more Dorothy M. Grant Lillian Erva Hawkins Florence Elizabeth Kavanagh Mary Fassenden Law
Geraldine Oldfield Alice Rumball Dr. Barbara Iola Stafford Anne Ethel Stevens Clayton K. Williams Dorothy Ethel Williams $10,000 or more Dr. Sherold Fishman John Devereux Fitz-Gerald Dorothea Leuchters Robert V. Osokin Elizabeth Jean Proven Freda Margaret Rush Doris Kathleen Skelton Sharone Young $5,000 or more Kathleen Grace Boyle Raymond John Casson Alfred Knowles Gordon McConkey
Evelyn Ann van der Veen Joan Marion Wasson $1,000 or more Phyllis Victoria Ethel Bailly Joyce Basham Doris May Bond Kathleen Mary DeClerq Betty Dunhaver Jean Haszard Grace Barbara Isobel Hooper Lewis Wilkinson Hunter Marjorie Lucille Keddy Annie Velma Pickell Jean Semple Kathleen Stemshorn Wilhelmina Stobie Marion Kathleen Laurette Whyte ■
For further information on leaving a Legacy gift to the VSO please call Mary Butterfield, Director, Individual and Legacy Giving at 604.684.9100 ext. 238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. 60 allegro
BRAMWELL TOVEY WITH THE VSO
G OL D C ORP M ASTE RWO R KS G O LD OR P H EU M T H EATR E , 8 P M
Saturday & Monday, June 4 & 6 Bramwell Tovey conductor EDWARD GREGSON
Dream Song (North American Première)
MAHLER Symphony No. 6 in A minor, Tragic VISIT THE SYMPHONY GIFT SHOP FOR CD SELECTIONS MASTERWORKS GOLD SERIES SPONSOR
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I. II. III. IV.
Allegro energico, ma non troppo Andante moderato Scherzo: Wuchtig Finale: Allegro moderato
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Bramwell Tovey, O.C. conductor
For a biography of Maestro Tovey, please refer to page 51.
Edward Gregson b. Sunderland, England / July 23, 1945
Dream Song (North American Première) Gregson is a composer of international standing, and one of the leading composers of his generation. His music has been performed, recorded, and broadcast in many countries. Dream Song was commissioned by the BBC for the 2010 ‘Mahler in Manchester’ Festival. The world premiere was given by the BBC Philharmonic, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda, on March 27, 2010. The composer writes, “My approach in tackling this commission was to ‘invade’ Mahler’s world of musical ideas; indeed, the title of the work, Dream Song, is intended to portray a half-remembered landscape of some of the themes and motives from his Sixth Symphony, fragmented (or deconstructed) as if in a dream, with the allpervading presence of the opening phrase (more often than not, only the first four notes) of the so-called Alma theme from the first movement, used as a kind of leitmotif, and giving the work a thematic coherence of sorts. Of course, in a mere 20 minutes it is impossible to re-create the large-scale contrasting emotional turmoil of this particular symphony, but I have tried to create a parallel musical world, albeit in contracted form, encompassing it within an arch-shaped one movement structure – slow, fast, slow, beginning loudly and ending quietly. In terms of orchestration, I have broadly adopted Mahler’s huge orchestra of the Sixth Symphony, but with slightly smaller wind and brass sections. However, the percussion section is equally large, with the use of some instruments that Mahler could not have known (but if he had he probably would have used them!). There are important solo roles for many instruments, particularly the violin.”
Gustav Mahler b. Kalischt, Bohemia / July 7, 1860 d. Vienna, Austria / May 18, 1911
Symphony No. 6 in A minor, Tragic Mahler began the Sixth Symphony during the summer of 1903, completing it a year later. This was one of the most idyllic periods of his life: his fame as a conductor reached its apex; regular and well-received performances of his music were taking place across Europe; and the companionship of his wife Alma and their two daughters was giving him great joy. Yet the music he was writing represents an even greater gulf between reality and his creative world than the one which had surrounded the creation of the Fifth Symphony. Symphony No. 6 and the song cycle Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children) are sombre, even tragic works. They turned out to be disturbingly prophetic ones, as well. Regarding the Symphony, Alma Mahler wrote in her memoirs, “In the last movement he describes himself and his downfall; or, as he later said: ‘It is the hero, on whom fall three blows of fate, the last of which fells him as a tree is felled.’ On him too fell three blows of fate, and the last felled him.” This refers to the events of 1907: the death of their older daughter Maria of diphtheria and smallpox, aged fourand-a-half; Mahler’s being driven from his job as Music Director of the Vienna State Opera; and the diagnosis of his life-threatening case of heart disease. To represent these ‘blows of fate,’ Mahler included a hammer in the orchestration of the Sixth Symphony’s finale. The sound he wanted from it wasn’t clangorous and steely, but a non-metallic thud, ‘like an axe stroke.’ The first performance took place on May 27, 1906, in Essen, under the composer’s direction. According to Alma, “Out of shame and anxiety he did not conduct the symphony well. He hesitated to bring out the dark omen behind this terrible last movement.” Mahler later made changes to the symphony’s orchestration, the most important of them the deletion of the last of the three hammer blows. He superstitiously feared it might hasten the arrival of the disaster that it predicted for him. He also had second thoughts about the
sequence of the inner movements. His original plan was to have the scherzo performed first, followed by the andante, and this was the order in which the movements were published. The sequence that he eventually decided upon, and which he always conducted, however, was andante first, followed by the scherzo. It is followed in the critical edition of his complete works that is sanctioned by the International Gustav Mahler Society, and it will be used for these performances. Mahler himself gave the Sixth Symphony the subtitle Tragic. In overall terms it is an appropriate designation. Yet it is only in the finale that the work’s catastrophic nature becomes completely clear. Each of the three preceding movements offers a balance of positive and negative elements. The opening movement contrasts a menacing, march-like subject with a passionate second melody. Alma recalled, “After he had drafted the first movement, he came down from the forest to tell me he had tried to express me in a theme. ‘Whether I’ve succeeded I don’t know; but you’ll have to put up with it.’ This is the great, soaring theme of the first movement of the Sixth Symphony.” In the middle comes a peaceful interlude, atmospherically coloured with the sound of cowbells. The second movement is a serene, gorgeously melodious lullaby, its climax, in contrast, a searing outpouring of emotion. “In the scherzo, he represented the unrhythmic games of the two children, tottering in zigzags over the sand,” Alma wrote. “Ominously the childish voices become more and more tragic, and at the end die out in a whimper.” This is one of the bitterest, most bizarrely-scored scherzos in any Mahler symphony. The colossal, overwhelming finale opens with an eerie, unsettling introduction in slow tempo. The movement proper is restless and striving. It consists of a series of waves of vigorous activity, each of which is crowned catastrophically by one of the hammer blows of fate. There is no recovery from the third and final climax. The music, its tragic destiny fulfilled, subsides into utter darkness. ■ Program Notes © 2016 Don Anderson
Concert Program A IR C A N A D A M A S T ERW OR K S D IAMO N D OR P H EU M , 8P M
Saturday & Monday, June 11 & 13 ROG ERS G ROU P FIN AN C IAL S Y M P H ON Y S U N D AY S OR P H EU M T H EATR E , 2 P M
Sunday, June 12
Bramwell Tovey conductor Chad Hoopes violin MORLOCK Disquiet BARBER Violin Concerto, Op. 14 I. Allegro II. Andante III. Presto in moto perpetuo
INTERMISSION CHAD HOOPES
Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47
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I. Moderato II. Allegretto III. Largo IV. Allegro non troppo
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For a biography of Maestro Tovey, please refer to page 51. allegro 65
Chad Hoopes violin
Disquiet was commissioned by the CBC for the CBC Radio Orchestra as part of their Shostakovich Project and was premièred at the Chan Centre on November 19, 2006. The composer writes, “Shostakovich amazes me – that he could continue to live and write in the stifling and terrifying atmosphere in which he did is miraculous. His music is powerful and extreme – occasionally bombastic, frequently full of sarcasm, always gripping.
22 year old American violinist, Chad Hoopes, has been appearing with numerous ensembles throughout the world since he won the first prize at the Young Artists Division of the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition. His exceptional talent and magnificent tone are acclaimed by critics worldwide. He is a violinist possessing vibrant virtuosity “with an inspiring blend of emotional When writing my piece, I explored a sense expression and technical ease” (Press of oppression and urgency, such that I imagine Democrat), and his mastery is described as would have been the perpetual emotional “way beyond his years” (Press Democrat). state of Shostakovich and his contemporaries. Beyond the concert hall, Chad's virtuosity I want to invoke a feeling of continuous and exuberant personality have been nervous energy that lurks in the shadows, featured on the CBS Early Show, NBC affiliate occasionally surfacing to become more urgent station WKYC (Cleveland), NPR station WCLV and intense, and never entirely dissipating.” in Ohio, ABC affiliate station KSTP Twin Cities Live, and on PBS's From the Top: Live at Carnegie Hall.
Chad began his violin studies in Minneapolis. He later studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music under David Cerone and Joel Smirnoff and has additionally studied at Ottawa’s NAC Young Artists Program and at the Heifetz Institute.
b. West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA / March 9, 1910 d. New York, New York, USA / January 23, 1981
Violin Concerto, Op. 14 This heartfelt concerto was commissioned by Samuel Fels, a wealthy industrialist and philanthropist from Philadelphia, as a vehicle for Iso Briselli, a gifted young violinist who Chad plays the 1713 Antonio Stradivari was Fels’s ward and protégé. Barber sketched Cooper; Hakkert; ex Ceci violin, courtesy the first two movements in Switzerland of Jonathan Moulds. during the summer of 1939. Due to the increasing threat of war, he returned to the USA in September. He completed the first two movements in mid-October and dispatched b. St. Boniface, Manitoba, Canada / 1969 them to Briselli. Briselli was pleased with Disquiet them, but his approval did not extend to the Juno®-nominated composer Jocelyn Morlock finale that Barber sent him in November. is one of Canada’s most distinctive voices. He considered it insufficiently substantial She has been praised in the Vancouver Sun to balance the first two movements. He for “A lyrical wonder, exquisite writing” with suggested that Barber rewrite the finale, but “an acute feeling for sonority.” Her music the composer declined to do so. The concerto has received numerous accolades, including: was premièred by the distinguished American Top 10 at the 2002 International Rostrum of soloist, Albert Spalding, on February 4, 1941. Composers; winner of the Mayor’s Arts Awards Eugene Ormandy conducted the in Vancouver (2008), a Juno® Nomination Philadelphia Orchestra. for Classical Composition of the Year (2011, Dispensing with preliminary gestures, Barber Exaudi) and numerous nominations for launches the concerto with a lyrical, gracious Western Canadian Music Awards including opening theme on solo violin. Throughout the two for her 2014 orchestral CD release, first movement, humour and drama make Cobalt. She began her term as themselves felt, but the overall mood is sweet the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s and restrained. This atmosphere continues in Composer-in-Residence in 2014. the slow second movement, with an added overlay of melancholy. Barber prefaces the
violin’s first entry with lovely solos for wind instruments. Tension later builds gradually to an orchestral climax of darkened fervour. The ‘perpetual motion’ brings a strong change in tone and a greatly heightened energy level. Brief, concentrated and Barber’s most ‘modern’ creation to date, it offers plenty of rhythmic thrust and virtuoso fireworks, for soloist and orchestra alike.
Dmitri Shostakovich b. St. Petersburg, Russia / September 25, 1906 d. Moscow, Russia / August 9, 1975
Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47 Shostakovich spent much of his life under the oppressive regime of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. The brutality of the time naturally left its mark upon as sensitive a creative artist as he. In 1936, his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District came under fire from Soviet officials as ‘formalist’ music, exactly the sort of personalized, pessimistic music that the country’s composers ought not to be writing. Overnight Shostakovich became persona non grata. He recognized how crucial the reaction to his next symphony, No. 5, would be. Failure would most likely result in his ‘disappearance,’ like those befalling countless victims of Stalinist purges. Yevgeny Mravinsky conducted the premiere in Leningrad on November 21, 1937, and it won a resoundingly positive reception. Early in 1938, after the symphony had firmly entrenched itself, the composer broke his
silence regarding his intentions by writing (or having his name unknowingly attached to the following): “The theme of my symphony is the making of a man. I saw man with all his experiences at the center of the composition... In the finale the tragically tense impulses of the earlier movements are resolved in optimism and the joy of living.” Testimony, the book of memoirs that was published after his death, offered a much different view, especially regarding the seemingly triumphant finale: “The rejoicing is forced, created under threat. It’s as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying, ‘Your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing,’ and you rise, shaky, and go marching off, muttering, ‘Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing.’ What kind of apotheosis is that? You have to be a complete oaf not to hear that.” Is the concluding section ‘triumphant’? Much depends on the conductor’s approach. At a fast tempo, the concluding section of the finale does indeed sound positive, even festive. At a slow pace, it becomes a hollow, agonized funeral march. More important than finding a ‘definitive’ answer to this uncertainty is to appreciate the searing portrayal of human suffering that Shostakovich offered in the third movement. This is the heart and soul of the piece. Its sincerity – as attested by the open weeping of the audience at the premiere – is unassailable. ■ Program Notes © 2016 Don Anderson
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