Aisslinn Nosky and Claire Chase. “Look out world. Here comes a monster”

Well, this is a real coup.

Claire Chase, “the most important flutist of our time” (New York Times), is joined at this concert by the great Aisslinn Nosky, one of Canada’s foremost baroque violinists.

The MCO, as we like to brag, offers the best in local and international music, and Claire is among the cream of the second category. To linger on praise lavished on her by the press: the “spectacular… young star of the modern flute” (The New Yorker) and Harvard professor of music displays “a rare combination of grace and guts” (Wall Street Journal) and “extravagant technique, broad stylistic range and penetrating musicality” (New York Times). The American Record Guide is less flowery: “Look out world. Here comes a real monster.”

Aisslinn needs little introduction, but her musical background is too interesting not to touch on: formerly a member of Tafelmusik, Aisslinn Nosky is now the Concertmaster of the Handel and Haydn Society and focuses on her solo career, which has taken so many interesting directions. At her last two concerts with the MCO, the charismatic performer practically bourrée’d, chaconne’d, and danced her way through the tempestuous music of Haydn and other Baroque masters. Clearly, it’s not only her technical virtuosity that makes her “Toronto’s Eric Clapton of the violin” (Toronto Star), but also her rock and roll approach to the Baroque.

A very special concert to usher in the summer.

This is the fifth concert in our 2021 Spring and Summer Festival, and it’s been a joy to reconnect with you. We hope to connect with you at this eclectic concert as well.

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The concert begins at 7.30pm CDT on MCO's YouTube channel on June 24th. Household tickets for casual buyers are $20; all MCO subscribers are automatically given access to this concert. Click here to add a ticket to your cart (only one ticket required per household!) or call the MCO Ticketline 204-783-7377. The MCO will then send you a private link for accessing the concert a few days before the event. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

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Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
Anne Manson, Music Director
Karl Stobbe, Concertmaster
Online Presentation
24 June 2021 through 8 July 2021

Aisslinn Nosky, violin
Claire Chase, flute

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
Simple Symphony, Op. 4

  1. Boisterous Bourrée
  2. Playful Pizzicato
  3. Sentimental Sarabande
  4. Frolicsome Finale

Joseph Bodin de Boismortier (1689-1755)
Sonata No. 1, in G Major
for Flute and Violin, Op. 51

  1. Andante
  2. Presto
  3. Sicigliano
  4. Allegro

Claire Chase, Aisslinn Nosky

Marcos Balter (b. 1974)
Alone for flute & wine glass (2013)

Claire Chase, Aisslinn Nosky

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644-1704)

Michael Oesterle (b. 1968)
Stand Still, for solo violin

Aisslinn Nosky

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Sonata No. 1, in G Major for Two Flutes, TWV 40:124

  1. Soave
  2. Allegro
  3. Andante
  4. Allegro

Claire Chase, Aisslinn Nosky

Samuel Barber (1910-1981)
Adagio for strings

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Sinfonia in G Major, RV 151 ‘Alla rustica’

  1. Presto
  2. Adagio
  3. Allegro

MCO season sponsor / CN
Concert sponsor / Wawanesa Insurance
Concertmaster sponsor / Paul & Beryl Walsh
Season media sponsors / Classic 107 & Golden West Broadcasting

Volunteer Sponsor / MB Liquor Mart

MCO at Home sponsor / Christianson Wealth Advisors, National Bank Financial

The MCO gratefully acknowledges the support of The Canada Council for the Arts, the Manitoba Arts Council, the Winnipeg Arts CouncilThe Winnipeg Foundation, and the Richardson Foundation.

Aisslinn Nosky

A unique and dynamic violinist, Aisslinn Nosky has captivated audiences around the world with her innovative interpretations and impeccable technique. Her fierce passion for early music and skill as a soloist, director, and conductor has generated robust appreciation by press and audiences alike. Hailed as “superb” by the New York Times and “a fearsomely powerful musician” by the Toronto Star, widespread demand for Aisslinn continues to grow.

In addition to her role as Concertmaster of the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston, Aisslinn has also collaborated with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Holland Baroque, and the Charlotte Symphony. She was a dedicated member of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra from 2005 to 2016 and served as Principal Guest Conductor of the Niagara Symphony from 2016 to 2019.

Aisslinn is a founding member of the Eybler Quartet, who explore repertoire from the early quartet literature on period instruments. Their most recent recording features Beethoven’s Op. 18 string quartets and was released in 2018 (CORO). Gramophone magazine mused, “they make no bones about treating Beethoven as a radical  … this set might delight you or it might infuriate you: either way, I suspect, Beethoven would have been more than happy.” With the Eybler Quartet, Aisslinn serves on the faculty of EQ: Evolution of the String Quartet at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. EQ is an intensive summer course for emerging artists which celebrates the lineage of the string quartet, both as a historical genre and as a freshly invigorated practice in the 21st century.

Aisslinn has recorded the complete Haydn violin concertos with the Handel and Haydn Society and most recently, Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante (CORO) with violist Max Mandel. Born in Canada, she began playing violin at age three and made her solo debut with the CBC Vancouver Orchestra at age eight.

Claire Chase

Claire Chase is a soloist, collaborative artist, educator, curator and advocate for new and experimental music. She has given the world premieres of hundreds of new works by a new generation of composers, and has championed new music internationally by forming organizations, cultivating intersectional alliances, founding commissioning initiatives and supporting community and education programs that reach new audiences. She was the first flutist to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2012, and in 2017 was the first flutist to be awarded the Avery Fisher Prize from Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Chase has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from The Curtis Institute of Music and The Cleveland Institute of Music.

In 2013 Chase launched Density 2036, a 24-year commissioning project to create new repertoire for flute between 2013 and 2036, the centenary of Edgard Varèse’s groundbreaking 1936 flute solo, Density 21.5. Each season, Chase premieres a new program of commissioned music.

A deeply committed educator, Chase is Professor of the Practice in the Department of Music at Harvard University. She has also served as co-artistic director of a three-week intensive workshop for emerging musicians at Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity, and was a Fellow at Project&, a Chicago-based social justice organization. Chase collaborated with Project&, the composer Marcos Balter and the director Douglas Fitch on the creation of Pan, an opera for solo flute and an all-ages community ensemble, which Alex Ross of The New Yorker called “art as grassroots action.”

Chase co-founded the International Contemporary Ensemble in 2001, described as the United States’ “foremost new-music ensemble” (The New Yorker), and served as its artistic director until 2017 and as an ensemble member on performance and education projects on five continents. The Ensemble has premiered more than 800 works since its inception and has spearheaded an artist-driven organizational model that earned the ensemble the Trailblazer Award from the American Music Center in 2010 and the Ensemble of the Year Award in 2014 from Musical America Worldwide.

Marcos Balter

Praised by the Chicago Tribune as “minutely crafted” and “utterly lovely,” the New York Times as “whimsical” and “surreal,” and the Washington Post as “dark and deeply poetic,” the music of composer Marcos Balter (b.1974, Rio de Janeiro) is at once emotionally visceral and intellectually complex, primarily rooted in experimental manipulations of timbre and hyper-dramatization of live performance.

Recent appearances include those at Carnegie Hall, Köln Philharmonie, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Wigmore Hall, ArtLab at Harvard University, Lincoln Center, Walt Disney Hall, Teatro Amazonas, Sala São Paulo, Park Avenue Armory, Teatro de Madrid, Bâtiment de Forces Motrices de Genève, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago. Recent festival appearances include those at Tanglewood Contemporary Music Festival, Ecstatic Music Festival, Acht Brücken, Aldeburgh Music Festival, Aspen, Frankfurter Gesellschaft für Neue Musik, Darmstadt Ferienkurse, and Banff Music Festival. His works are published by PSNY (Schott), and commercial recordings of his music are available through New Amsterdam Records, New Focus Recording, Parlour Tapes+, and Navona Records.

Recent collaborators include the rock band Deerhoof, dj King Britt and Alarm Will Sound, yMusic and Paul Simon, Orquestra Experimental da Amazonas Filarmonica, American Contemporary Music Ensemble, American Composers Orchestra, and conductors Susanna Malkki, Steven Schick, and Karina Canellakis.

Having previously taught at the University of Pittsburgh, Northwestern University, Lawrence University, Columbia University, and Columbia College Chicago, he is currently an Associate Professor of Music Composition at Montclair State University and a guest scholar at the University of Pennsylvania (Fall 2019). He currently lives in New York City.

Michael Oesterle

Michael Oesterle is a Canadian composer living in Deux-Montagnes Québec. While he writes primarily for the concert hall, he has composed for theatre, film, animation, and dance projects. His concert music has been performed by a wide range of groups such as Ensemble Intercontemporain (Paris), the Exaudi Vocal Ensemble (UK), and Tafelmusik (Toronto). He has a long association with Quatuor Bozzini and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, having worked on a variety of projects for both groups. Between 2002 and 2010 he partnered with award-winning animation artist Christopher Hinton on a series of films in production with the National Film Board of Canada. In his role as co-founder and director of Ensemble Kore, a Montréal-based contemporary music ensemble, he was responsible for the production of many innovative concerts between 1996 and 2008, working with performers and composers from across Canada and other parts of the world. Throughout his career he has been grateful for the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Simple Symphony, Op. 4
Benjamin Britten

Numerous front-rank British composers, including Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Holst, have found writing for the rich, expressive and flexible medium of the string orchestra a highly congenial practice. The British repertoire for strings received a major stimulus when the Anglo-Canadian conductor Boyd Neel (1905-1981) founded a virtuoso string orchestra in 1933. With it, he offered training and performing experience to the finest young players, and a vessel through which composers from Britain and abroad could express themselves through this medium.

Within two years, the Britons Arthur Bliss and Michael Tippett had created works especially for Neel’s orchestra. Neel resumed his original profession as a doctor during the Second World War. He relocated to Canada in 1953 and from then on focused exclusively on music. He conducted the first recordings of major string orchestra scores by Vaughan Williams (Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis) and Britten (Simple Symphony); commissioned the work that launched Britten’s international reputation, the Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge; and received Britten’s Prelude and Fugue as a tenth-anniversary gift to him and his orchestra.

Britten composed his first music when he was five, and produced a steady stream of new creations throughout his life. The appearance of the Boyd Neel Orchestra may have played a role in the creation of the Simple Symphony. In the year of the orchestra’s founding, Britten sifted through piano pieces and songs he had written between the ages of nine and twelve. Selecting eight themes that he considered too good for the waste basket (two for each movement), he used them as the building blocks for this thoroughly engaging work. He completed it in just seven weeks, from December 1933 to February 1934, and conducted the première himself, leading the Norwich String Orchestra, on 6 March 1934.

It offers a delightful blend of appealing, straightforward melodies composed by a prodigy, and the budding insight into string instruments that the twenty-year-old composer was already amassing. “Although the development of these themes is in many places quite new,” he wrote, “there are large stretches of the work which are taken bodily from the early pieces—save for the re-scoring for strings.”

A simple listing of the movement titles tells you all you need to know about them: Boisterous Bourrée; Playful Pizzicato; Sentimental Saraband; and Frolicsome Finale. Britten modeled the titles of the first and third sections on the Baroque dance suite, but he made no attempt to evoke the music of that era in any direct way.

Sonata No. 1 in G Major for flute and violin, Op. 51
Joseph Bodin de Boismorter

This gifted French composer won great success for his music, chamber and vocal works in particular. He was not only a talented artist but also quite a shrewd businessman. According to Wikipedia, “he was one of the first composers to have no patrons. Having obtained a royal license for engraving music in 1724, he made enormous sums of money by publishing his music for sale to the public.” He had a particular fondness for the flute. Not only did he feature it in many compositions—such as this elegant work—he wrote a widely used instruction method for it.

Heinrich Ignaz von Biber

Renowned as one of the greatest violinists of the seventeenth century, Biber was also a highly productive composer. He spent most of his career in Salzburg, Austria, in service to the Archbishop—as would Mozart a century later. He composed Battalia (Battle) in 1673. He probably created it for the annual Carnival celebrations in Salzburg. It is fanciful, descriptive program music of the type that enjoyed widespread popularity at the time, through the music of Antonio Vivaldi and many other composers. It includes references to folk airs and popular tunes of the day. Among the characters and scenes it depicts are a rowdy band of musketeers; the god Mars, in a spectacular violin solo; Bacchus, god of wine; a battle; and a concluding lament for the wounded.

Stand Still, for solo violin
Michael Oesterle

The composer has provided the following note:

My concept for Stand Still is that the four movements should not, in a traditional sense, be four sections with contrasting expressions. Instead, I composed the movements to appear quite similar in nature. They are constructed using a small set of building blocks of musical material which appear in different contexts throughout the piece, seen from changing perspectives, trying to establish themselves through repetition and variation. As these similar sounding ideas reappear in each movement, they reassess their meaning and usefulness to the larger picture. The overall landscape of this piece is filled with recognizable idiomatic violin gestures: hinting at expressions familiar to the Baroque, Folkloric, or Romantic traditions. The resulting twists and turns and dance-like motions appear light hearted and playful, yet they consistently reveal an aspiration for an introvert sensibility in that the structure doesn’t allow for the gestures to spiral out of control. Throughout the piece, the open strings of the violin resonate an harmonic image which acts like a blank canvas. The open A and E strings emerge as a reliable starting point for all the musical gestures and ideas, resonating as a stable core around which changing expressions pivot and play. In the last movement the open E string of the violin attempts to take over, the blank canvas wanting to shed itself of paint, returning to a state where expressions stand still.

Stand Still was commissioned by Aisslinn Nosky whose distinct voice and refinement of sound and expression inspired this piece. Funding for this commission was provided by The Canada Council for the Arts.

Sonata No. 1 in G Major for two flutes, TWV 40:124
Georg Philipp Telemann

Even in an era known for its composers’ productivity, Telemann was exceptional. A rough estimate of his output numbers several thousand pieces, including more than 1000 sacred cantatas and 40 settings of the Passion of Christ. During his lifetime, his music earned him the reputation as the finest German composer of the day, superior even to J.S. Bach, and his popularity rivaled that of Handel. He was capable of infusing even the smallest of works with pleasing inventiveness, as he did in this charming work for a pair of flutes. It glows with warmth and good cheer.

Adagio for Strings
Samuel Barber

After undergoing a period of relative neglect following his death, Barber’s reputation has ridden the neo-romantic wave and returned to the high level it enjoyed during the peak of his career. His music combines the emotional warmth and spirit of communication found in nineteenth-century romanticism, with those techniques of contemporary practice that suited him.

In 1937, the renowned Italian/American conductor, Arturo Toscanini, was planning programs for the début season of a marvelous broadcasting ensemble, the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Wishing to include a short American work, he consulted conductor Artur Rodzinski, who had recruited and rehearsed the new ensemble. Rodzinski, who had just conducted Barber’s Symphony No. 1 in Austria at the Salzburg Festival to great acclaim, recommended Barber.

The composer responded with two pieces: the brand-new Essay for Orchestra, and the Adagio for Strings, which he transcribed for string orchestra from the second movement of the String Quartet he had composed in 1935. He dispatched the pieces to Toscanini, but a short time later they were returned without comment. When Barber’s partner, Gian Carlo Menotti, visited Toscanini in the summer of 1938, Barber refused to accompany him. Toscanini told Menotti, “He’s just angry with me, but he has no reason to be—I’m going to do both of his pieces.” Toscanini made good on his promise, leading the NBC Symphony Orchestra in the double début, in New York on November5, 1938. Barber’s works were broadcast nationwide, bringing his name to a wide audience in the most prestigious way imaginable.

The eloquent simplicity and grave beauty of the Adagio for Strings have led to its becoming not only an international concert favourite, but an appropriate element of solemn public ceremonies. This practice began with the funeral of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1945, and came to include Barber’s own memorial service, and the funerals of Albert Einstein and Princess Grace of Monaco. The Adagio has also been used to poignant effect on the soundtrack of several films, including The Elephant Man (1980), Platoon (1986), Lorenzo’s Oil (1992) and Amélie (2001). In 1967, Barber recast the piece once again as an unaccompanied choral work, setting the Latin Mass text Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).

Concerto for Strings in G Major, RV151 (Alla rustica)
Antonio Vivaldi

Vivaldi’s enormously busy and productive career as composer, violinist and teacher drew its due share of acclaim. One measure of his success is the fact that Johann Sebastian Bach, the greatest composer of the baroque era, paid him the compliment of transcribing several of his concertos from one musical medium to another. This group of teamefforts includes Bach’s Concerto for Four Keyboards in A minor, an arrangement and elaboration of Vivaldi’s Concerto for Four Violins in B minor.

A concerto is generally understood to be a piece for featured solo instrument (or instruments), with accompaniment. Yet Vivaldi’s treasure chest of concertos includes about 60 pieces with no such star roles. How can this be? It’s likely they were meant to display the performing skills of an entire ensemble, not just a select band of players. Soloist-free concertos for string orchestra were much in demand in his time. The nickname of this brief example—it lasts barely four minutes—refers to its rustic mood and folk-like themes, especially the country-dance style of the finale.

First violin
Karl Stobbe
Chris Anstey
Mary Lawton
Mona Coarda

Second violin
Rachel Kristenson
Maya de Forest
Boyd MacKenzie
Sarah Harrington

Daniel Scholz
Momoko Matsumura
Marie-Elyse Badeau
Michaela Kleer

Sean Taubner
Carolyn Nagelberg

Double bass
Paul Nagelberg
Anna Scheider

Will Bonness