Double concerto times two,
and Soloists times five!
What’s better than a concerto? A double concerto! Even better than one single double concerto would be two double concertos. Our guest conductor Alain Trudel has lined up some of our favourite musicians for an incredible evening of interesting permutations and combinations.
MCO Concertmaster Karl Stobbe and violinist Kerry DuWors will take centre stage for the Bach double violin concerto, which is perhaps one of the most well-known works by that composer. Patricia Evans and Ken MacDonald will play a double horn concerto by Leopold Mozart, father and teacher of the more famous M.
There’s new music, too! The concert begins with percussionist Victoria Sparks and the premiere of a new concerto by composer Sid Robinovitch. Also interesting will be the Lyric Suite, written by Alban Berg around 1925 using methods derived from Schoenberg’s twelve-tone system.
Over the years, Sid Robinovitch has composed some of our favourite premieres! He writes for a wide variety of musical ensembles, and his music has also been performed by the Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal Symphony Orchestras, the Elmer Iseler Singers, and the Vancouver Chamber Choir.
His works have been frequently broadcast on CBC radio, including original pieces based on folk-tales from around the world and his arrangements of Judeo-Spanish folk-songs. His most recent composition for the MCO was Cantus Borealis: Song of the Forest.
The concert begins at 7:30 pm on January 12th in Westminster United Church, 745 Westminster at Maryland. Tickets are $32 for adults, $30 for seniors and $10 for students, including GST, at McNally Robinson, the West End Cultural Centre (586 Ellice at Sherbrook), Organic Planet (877 Westminster Ave) or MCO’s Ticketline (204.783.7377).
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Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
Anne Manson, Music Director
Karl Stobbe, Concertmaster
Westminster United Church
12 January 2016
Alain Trudel, guest conductor
Percussion concerto (Manitoba Arts Council commission, world premiere performance)
Johan Sebastian Bach
Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor (BWV 1043)
Concerto for Two Horns and Strings in E Flat Major
Praised by La Presse for his “immense talent as conductor, musician and performer,” Canadian conductor Alain Trudel is Music Director of l’Orchestre Symphonique de Laval and Principal Youth and Family Conductor of the National Arts Centre Orchestra. He is also Principal Guest conductor of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, was Principal Guest Conductor of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, and guest musical advisor for the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. Trudel was also the CBC Radio Orchestra conductor, taking the orchestra to new heights of artistic quality, as well as public and critical acclaim.
He has conducted every major orchestra in Canada as well as orchestras in the UK, USA, Sweden, Italy, Russia, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Latin America. Trudel made his Opéra de Montréal debut in 2009 and conducted the live recording of their 30th anniversary gala. In 2010 he made his debut at l’Opéra de Québec conducting their Gala, and Die Fledermaus in 2011. Trudel is also musical director of Operas at the University of Western.
Always committed to upcoming generations of musicians, Trudel was Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra and has regularly been invited to conduct and record with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. Their recording of Mahler 6 and The Rite of Spring was nominated for a Juno Award.
First known to the public as “the Jascha Heifetz of the trombone” (Le monde de la musique), Alain Trudel has been a guest soloist with orchestras worldwide, including Philharmonique de Radio-France, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Austrian Radio Orchestra, Festival Musica Strasbourg (France), Klangbogen Festival (Austria), Akiyoshidai and Hamamatsu festival (Japan). Alain is also a respected composer, with performances of his works having being presented across America and in Asia.
Alain Trudel is the first Canadian to be a Yamaha international artist, and is the recipient of numerous awards including the Virginia Parker, Charles Cros (France), Opus and Heinz Unger prizes. He has been named an Ambassador of Canadian Music by the Canadian Music Centre and received a Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2012.
Celebrated soloist and chamber musician, violinist Kerry DuWors has performed across Canada, the US, Mexico, Europe, New Zealand and Japan. At home in many musical settings, she has collaborated with internationally acclaimed soloists, ensembles and composers including James Ehnes, Yo-Yo Ma, Marc-André Hamelin, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, Martin Beaver, Colin Carr, Denise Djokic and Krzysztof Penderecki. Notable performances include those at Jordan Hall (Boston), Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Beethovenfest (Bonn) Sumida Triphony Hall (Tokyo), RadialSystem V (Berlin), Semperoper (Dresden), Baryshnikov Arts Center (NY), National Arts Centre, Montréal Chamber Music Festival and the Vancouver Recital Society. She has been a soloist with the Winnipeg, Red Deer and Saskatoon Symphonies, Montréal Chamber Orchestra and Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.
During studies at the University of Victoria, University of Toronto and Banff Centre, Kerry received many prestigious awards, including grand prize at the 26th Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition, Eaton Graduate Scholarship, Felix Galimir Award for Chamber Music Excellence and two Canada Council Career Development Grants. Associate Professor of Violin at Brandon University since 2003, Ms DuWors is also pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, NY). A four-time laureate of the Canada Council for the Arts’ Musical Instrument Bank Competition, she plays on the 1902 Enrico Rocca violin generously on loan from the Instrument Bank.
Patricia Evans has been principal horn of the WSO since 2002. A native of Northern Vermont, she began her studies on horn at the age of 10. Patricia went on to study at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and at McGill University in Montréal. She participated in the long-term residency program at The Banff Centre before being awarded a fellowship with the New World Symphony under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.
Since coming to Winnipeg, Patricia has been invited to play with some of the top orchestras in North America, including the Montréal Symphony Orchestra, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. She is a frequent soloist with the WSO. Patricia was a featured artist at the 2006 Northeast Horn Workshop and at the 2010 International Women’s Brass Conference. She has performed with the Winnipeg Chamber Music Society, GroundSwell, at the Clear Lake Music Festival, and with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.
Caroline Oberheu (“Callie” to her friends) has been playing third horn with the WSO since 2004. She has also performed with Canzona, the MusikBarock ensemble, and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. Callie was born and raised in Gilroy, California. After several years of piano lessons, she decided to take up the horn because she was inspired by her parents, two amateur musicians who met while playing horn together in the 1960s. Prior to joining the WSO, Callie attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and Rice University in Houston, Texas. Her primary teachers included Los Angeles film studio legend Vincent DeRosa, Richard Todd and William VerMeulen. When she’s not playing horn, Callie keeps busy as a football mom and special needs advocate.
Victoria Sparks holds a Bachelor of Music and Education from the University of Manitoba, where her teachers included Jauvon Gilliam and Rob Gardner. In 2010, Sparks graduated from Butler University, where she had the opportunity to study under Jon Crabiel, completing a Masters in Percussion Performance. Victoria has also had instruction from Craig Hentrick, Julie Spencer, Johnny Lee Lane and Jack Van Geem. She has had the honour of performing with many wonderful colleagues including Beverly Johnston, Dr. Catherine Wood, Dr. Laura Loewen and Eric Platz and has worked as a technical consultant for Dame Evelyn Glennie on several occasions.
Sparks is an active performer and music educator in Winnipeg. In 2010, Sparks was appointed the Coordinator of Percussion Studies at Brandon University where she currently teaches percussion techniques, directs the percussion ensemble, and runs a private studio. She also runs the percussion studio at the University of Manitoba and directs their percussion ensemble, as well as teaching at the Canadian Mennonite University. She is the founder and director of the Prairie Percussion Workshop, an education and performance based event for percussion students in middle and high school. Sparks performs regularly with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, the Brandon Chamber Players, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the GroundSwell New Music Series.
A native of Manitoba, Sid Robinovitch taught social sciences at York University, but since 1977 has devoted himself to musical composition, having studied at Indiana University and at the Royal Conservatory of Toronto. He currently lives in Winnipeg where he works as a composer and teacher.
Having written for a wide variety of musical ensembles, Robinovitch’s music has been performed by the Winnipeg, Toronto and Montréal symphony orchestras, the Elmer Iseler Singers, and the Vancouver Chamber Choir. His works have been frequently broadcast on CBC radio, including original pieces based on folk-tales from around the world and his arrangements of Judeo-Spanish folk-songs. His Cantus Borealis: Song of the Forest was commissioned by the MCO as part of a multi-disciplinary work premiered in 2011.
While many of Robinovitch’s works are rooted in traditional or folk material, they often have a distinctly contemporary flavour as well. Dreaming Lolita, for example, is a dramatic retelling in poetic form of the famous Nabokov novel, and in Psalms of Experience the choral textures are infused with elements of Balinese music and rhythmic chanting.
In addition to his concert works, Robinovitch has written music for film, radio and TV, and he is probably best known for his theme for CBC-TV’s satirical comedy series, The Newsroom.
Klezmer Suite, a recording devoted entirely to his music and performed by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Bramwell Tovey, was nominated for a 2002 Juno Award and received a Prairie Music Award for outstanding classical recording. Sefarad, a CD featuring his music for guitar, was released in 2008 on the Marquis label, and received a Western Canadian Music Award nomination for classical recording of the year. His latest CD, Choral Odyssey, was released in 2012 and features The Winnipeg Singers under the direction of Yuri Klaz.
Concerto for Percussion and Strings
The composer has written the following note:
This piece is written for mallet percussion and strings. It’s in a classical fast – slow – fast form featuring the marimba in the two outer movements and the vibraphone in the middle one. After a moody introduction with strings doubled by tremolos on the marimba, the first movement focusses on an aggressive rhythmic figure occasionally broken by chordal sequences. The second movement is lyrical with melody being passed back and forth between strings and vibe. The third movement utilizes a repeating cluster in the strings accompanied by arpeggiated marimba material.
Johann Sebastian Bach
Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor, BWV 1043
Bach arrived in the German town of Anhalt-Cöthen in 1717, to take up the position of Kapellmeister to Prince Leopold. Since he wasn’t required to compose church music for Leopold’s Calvinist court, he turned his attention to creating instrumental works. It is believed that many of his finest non-vocal compositions date from his six-year term in Cöthen, including this marvellous piece for two violins. The main violinists of Prince Leopold’s court orchestra had been recruited from Berlin: Joseph Speiss and Martin Friedrich Marcus. It’s quite likely that Bach composed this concerto with them specifically in mind. If, as some scholars believe, it dates from his subsequent term in Leipzig, he may have composed it for the Collegium musicum, an ensemble for whose concerts he was responsible.
The soloists in the concerto perform very much as equals, sharing and passing between them the richly inventive thematic materials. The outer movements crackle with energy. In the slow middle movement Bach created, in the words of biographer Julius Spitta, “a true pearl of noble, heartfelt song.”
Concerto for Two Horns in E-flat Major
The father of Wolfgang Amadeus won considerable renown in his own right. He had planned to enter the clergy, but his obvious musical talents led him to that calling instead. Mozart Senior joined the Archbishop of Salzburg’s orchestra in 1743. Over the next 20 years, he worked his way up from violinist to Court Composer and Vice-Kapellmeister.
Only two of his seven children survived to adulthood, and both proved musically gifted: Maria Anna (born 1751) and, supremely, Wolfgang, her younger brother by five years. Leopold devoted many years to them, both as instructor and impresario. They toured much of Europe, father presiding over his offspring’s remarkably precocious feats of musical skill. Eventually, it was just Leopold and Wolfgang who continued the trips. These journeys, and the resulting neglect of Leopold’s court duties, were partly responsible for his lack of further advancement (his obstinate, prickly personality figured in, as well), but they proved crucial to the enrichment of Wolfgang’s natural gifts.
Over the years, the father provided the son with multi-faceted service: proofreader, editor, preserver and cataloguer of manuscripts, valet, propagandist, advisor and travel arranger. Towards the end of his life, developments such as his disapproval of Wolfgang’s relocation to Vienna as a free-lance musician, and his choice of wife, diminished their closeness. Their many letters reveal a man who cared deeply about his son, but who harboured deep frustration over the lack of proper recognition given to Wolfgang’s genius.
In Leopold’s day, his most famous creation was a widely-used instruction method for the violin. It was published in 1756, the year of Wolfgang’s birth. Wolfgang’s music has cast Leopold’s considerable catalogue of works utterly in the shade, but the best of it deserves revival, and not just for reasons of curiosity. He composed several light-hearted, highly pictorial serenades and divertimentos, for example (bearing such titles as Musical Sleigh Ride, and Peasant Wedding), most of them for performance during the annual carnival season in the city of his birth, Augsburg, Germany. He is also the most likely composer of a work that for many years was known as Haydn’s Toy Symphony. Such highly entertaining compositions enjoyed immense popularity at that time and in that place.
The compact concerto that you will hear tonight is another delightful example of Father Mozart’s music. Dating from the summer of 1752 — three decades before Wolfgang’s splendid concertos for one solo horn — it is relaxed and genial to hear but very challenging for the soloists. As Bach had done before him in the Concerto for Two Violins, Mozart treated the two horn players as equals who share the thematic material, and the spotlight, in fully democratic fashion. The central movement, Andante, brings a touch of pathos, while the strong rhythm and arresting fanfares of the finale inevitably recall the horn’s longtime association with the hunt.
Berg had little formal musical education when he noticed an advertisement in a Vienna newspaper in 1904, placed by the thirty-year-old composer Arnold Schoenberg in hopes of attracting students. Berg, 19, and Anton Webern, 21, replied to it. Thus was born the ‘Second Viennese School,’ one of the twentieth century’s most influential musical movements. Schoenberg’s new pupils witnessed first-hand his experiments with radical compositional change that led him to establish the innovative processes known as atonality and serialism (‘12-tone’ music). They adopted them as their own — as did many other composers.
Berg’s music is the most tradition-oriented and overtly emotional created by the school’s founding trio. At times, he incorporated folk songs and chorale melodies into his compositions, and he cast them, or portions of them, in such long-established forms as the march, rondo, and variations. The potent dramatic content of his first opera, Wozzeck (1917-1922), overcame the challenges of its unfamiliar style and won it immediate success. It still receives regular international performances, as do his Violin Concerto (1935) and his second, unfinished opera, Lulu.
His small catalogue of music contains two works for string quartet. The string quartet that he composed in 1910 was the final piece he created while under Schoenberg’s direct guidance. With it, he took his place as a significant creative figure in his own right—a colleague instead of a student. He returned to the medium in 1925 for the six-movement Lyric Suite. It was premiered in Vienna by the Kolisch Quartet on 8 January 1927. At this evening’s concert, it will be performed by full string orchestra.
In the fourth movement, Berg included a quotation from the Lyric Symphony by his friend, composer Alexander Zemlinsky. In Zemlinsky’s piece, the theme appears with the words ‘you are my own one.’ For 40 years, this was thought to be the only programmatic element of the Lyric Suite. Berg dedicated the suite, at least publicly, to Zemlinsky.
However, while several musicologists (including the prominent American composer George Perle), were studying Berg’s music during the 1970s, they discovered the existence of a small printed score of the Lyric Suite that Berg had customized for, and given to, Hanna Fuchs-Robettin. The wife of a wealthy Czech industrialist, she had served as Berg’s hostess in Prague in May 1925, during a festival in which Zemlinsky conducted selections from Wozzeck. Berg held a burning passion for her throughout the final decade of his life, something of which Helene, his wife since 1911, was totally unaware.
Once Perle had tracked down the miniature score (it was in the possession of Fuchs-Robettin’s daughter), he discovered that it was filled with hand-written annotations that revealed in complete, stunning detail that the piece was in fact a passionate love-poem inspired by Berg’s adoration for Hanna Fuchs-Robettin. Musical equivalents of her and Berg’s initials, to cite just one facet of the suite’s extra-musical program, permeate the thematic materials of the entire work.
Musicologist Douglass Green found that Berg had borne in mind a poem in composing the suite’s finale. It was Stefan George’s German-language translation of De profundis clamavi, a poem from the initially controversial collection, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), that French author Charles Baudelaire had published in 1857. The poem is a passionate outpouring about a lost love. Berg didn’t consider it a generalized reflection of the last movement’s contents — he composed the music to fit the verses exactly.
George Perle suggested that Berg would have had nothing against a performance of the finale that included the poem performed by a singer. He also suspected Berg knew this was out of the question because of the need to keep secret both the suite’s program and his relationship with Hanna Fuchs-Robettin. The finale also contains a quote from Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan and Isolde, another tragic love story.
Author Douglas Jarman speculates that Hanna was the secret, but true, dedicatee of the Lyric Suite. “Like Leoš Janáček’s Second String Quartet, ‘Intimate Letters,’ written a few years later,” he writes, “the Lyric Suite is a record of a doomed love affair, doomed because the two people involved were already married.” You may recall the MCO’s performance of the Janáček piece last season.
The movements of the Lyric Suite alternate slow and fast tempos. The slow sections grow slower as the piece progresses, and the fast ones grow faster. Beginning with the second movement, each movement quotes from the previous movement, to the point where the central trio section of the third movement reappears as the opening section of the fourth.
“The work charts the progress of the (Berg/Fuchs-Robettin love) affair,” Douglas Jarman continues, “from the jovial first movement, and a portrait of Hanna and her two children in the second, through a muted declaration of love in the third, a passionate love scene in the fourth, and a nightmarish scherzo, which depicts the horrors and pain of the days and nights that follow. The finale is a wordless setting of the Baudelaire poem. Two references to the material of the opening movement close the formal circle, the work ending with a pair of gently rocking notes on solo viola, ‘dying away with love, yearning and grief … ’
De profundis clamavi
Charles Baudelaire (tr. Roy Campbell)
Have pity, my one love and sole delight!
Down to a dark abyss my heart has sounded,
A mournful world, by grey horizons bounded,
Where blasphemy and horror swim by night.
For half the year a heatless sun gives light,
The other half the night obscures the earth.
The arctic regions never knew such dearth.
No woods, nor streams, nor creatures meet the sight.
No horror in the world could match in dread
The cruelty of that dire sun of frost,
And that huge night like primal chaos spread.
I envy creatures of the vilest kind
That they in stupid slumber can be lost —
So slowly does the skein of time unwind!