Music From Home: Rodrigo Orviz Pevida

TŌN clarinetist Rodrigo Orviz Pevida
“Doa untuk bumi/pray for the earth”
My first quarantine online collaboration is with this amazing musician and human being from Indonesia. I met Irwansyah and his family back in Sumatra while touring with Orquesta De Cámara De Siero. There, I learnt a bit of how rich, amazing, and beautiful Batak music is. I keep those moments and the hasapi close to my heart! Please follow him and his amazing group Suarasama. Thank you Irwansyah for letting me play a bit with you!

Music From Home: TŌN clarinetist Rodrigo Orviz"Doa untuk bumi/pray for the earth"My first quarantine online collaboration is with this amazing musician and human being from Indonesia. I met Irwansyah and his family back in Sumatra while touring with Orquesta De Cámara De Siero. There, I learnt a bit of how rich, amazing, and beautiful Batak music is. I keep those moments and the hasapi close to my heart! Please follow him and his amazing group Suarasama. Thank you Irwansyah for letting me play a bit with you!

Posted by The Orchestra Now on Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Music From Home: Esther Goldy Roestan

TŌN violinist Esther Goldy Roestan – “Social distancing practice with Wieniawski Etudes”

Music From Home

Music From Home: TŌN violinist Esther Goldy Roestan – “Social distancing practice with Wieniawski Etudes”

Posted by The Orchestra Now on Monday, March 30, 2020

Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3, Scottish

Notes by TŌN clarinetist Matthew Griffith

The Scottish Castle
Despite its editorial number, Symphony No. 3 was the fifth and final symphony Felix Mendelssohn completed. He did not publish it with a nickname, but after his death it was famously dubbed the “Scottish” upon the discovery of its vivid origin story. Rarely can we trace a piece of fine art back to a single magical moment of inspiration, but we know from Mendelssohn’s letters that he conceived this work precisely on July 30, 1829 in a Scottish castle rich with history:

“We went, in the deep twilight, to the Palace of Holyrood, where Queen Mary lived and loved. There is a little room to be seen there, with a winding staircase leading up to it. This the murderers ascended, and finding [David] Rizzio in a little room, drew him out. Three chambers away is a small corner where they killed him. […] Everything around is broken and moldering, and the bright sky shines in. I believe I found today in the old chapel the beginning of my Scottish Symphony.”

There he sketched the work’s somber opening melody and little more, focusing most of his attention on other music for more than a decade. Eventually he returned his attention to this symphony leading to its premiere at the Leipzig Gewandhaus in 1842.

The Music
Symphony No. 3 is in four continuous movements which vary wildly in emotion, perhaps depicting the scenes of love, murder, and decay that Mendelssohn once imagined. The first movement begins with his original melody, a gloomy atmosphere from which the rest of the piece blossoms. After an anxious and fretful Allegro un poco agitato, welcome relief arrives with the second movement. It is well-known among woodwind players such as myself, as the jolly tune and inner technical passages are commonly asked in auditions. Conjuring the right attitude for this festive dance is certainly more difficult when the other instruments are nowhere to be found! The third movement relaxes into a serene stroll with lush melodies, alternating between pleasant tip-toeing and a more serious noble march. Turmoil returns in the fourth movement, more vicious and energetic than ever, driving us toward a dramatic tragic conclusion that never happens. Surprisingly, Mendelssohn’s original melody makes a triumphant return, wrapping a happy conclusive bow around this masterpiece. We hope today’s performance can similarly bring positive closure to your day.

Bach’s Magnificat

Notes by TŌN oboist Shawn Hutchison

Curious Dichotomies
The music of J.S. Bach contains many curious dichotomies which have, no doubt, contributed to its enduring popularity and appreciation. It is at once abstract yet approachable, specific in its intended audience yet overwhelmingly universal in its message, and grounded in the earthly toils of human life while pointing towards a transcendent spiritual reality. These seemingly oppositional forces find profound synthesis in Bach’s setting of the Magnificat canticle. 

A Mature Style
Initially composed in 1723 as a set of twelve movements with added Christmas hymns, the Magnificat BWV 243 was completed in its current form in 1733, during the height of Bach’s career as the Thomaskantor in Leipzig. As such, it exemplifies the composer’s mature style, exhibiting the flowing counterpoint, clever text-painting, and deep emotional pathos so central to his writing. The Magnificat occupies an intriguing place in Bach’s liturgical output, as it is (alongside the Mass in B Minor) one of the few large-scale sacred works which he composed in Latin; being himself a Lutheran and operating professionally within the context of the German Reformation, Bach primarily composed vocal works in German.

Refined Skills
The year 1723 is significant in the life of J.S. Bach as it marks the outset of his creative life in Leipzig, where he was appointed as the Thomaskantor, a position which included the duties of composing music for church services, leading the musical direction of church performing ensembles, as well as teaching at the adjoining Thomasschule. Prior to his arrival in Leipzig, Bach held myriad posts—both within the church and for secular patrons such as Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen—and it is from this extensive working experience that he refined his compositional skills to the heights reached in works such as the cantata cycles, the Passions, and the Magnificat.

Scroll down below the video for text and translation.

 

Et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo.Magnificat anima mea Dominum.

Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae;
ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent 

Omnes generationes.

Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est, et sanctum nomen ejus.

Et misericordia ejus a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.

Fecit potentiam in brachio suo, dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.

Deposuit potentes de sede, et exaltavit humiles.

Esurientes implevit bonis,
   et divites dimisit inanes.

Suscepit Israel puerum suum recordatus misericordiae suae.

Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros.
Abraham et semini ejus in saecula.

Gloria Patri, et Filio,
gloria et Spiritui Sancto!
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper
et in saecula saeculorum.
Amen.

 

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.

And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

For he has looked with favor on his humble servant;
From this day [they] will call me blessed

in every generation.

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
   and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy.

the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now,
and will be for ever.
Amen.

Mozart’s Regina Coeli, K. 276

Notes by Steve V. Sinclair

The Background
Regina Coeli, or “Rejoice, Queen of Heaven,” honors the Virgin Mary, and is used in the Roman Catholic liturgy during the Easter season. Mozart composed three settings of this text—the work that we hear today is the last of those three. The exact date that the piece was written is unknown, but scholars believe it was completed in 1779 due to its stylistic similarities to Mozart’s Dominican Vespers, which was written that same year. The repeated “Alleluia” in this work has a rhythm that may bring to mind Handel’s Messiah, which Mozart heard in a 1777 performance in Mannheim, Germany.

The Music
This piece was originally written for a very small ensemble: just two violins, two oboes, two trumpets, timpani, and organ, in addition to the small chorus and four vocal soloists. Each vocal line is sung by either the soloists, the chorus, or a combination of the two, and they each conclude with an Alleluia sung by the full chorus. The solo lines, which are not highly ornamented, are integrated into the work as a whole, and the soloists and chorus alternate continually. The violins enrich the sound by doubling the chorus lines, and also serve as intonation support for the singers.

Scroll down below the video for text and translation.

 

Quia quem meruisti portare, Alleluia,

Regina Coeli, laetare, Alleluia.

Resurrexit sicut dixit. Alleluia.

Ora pro nobis Deum. Alleluia.

 

Bright Queen of heaven, rejoice! Alleluia.

For He, whom you deserved to bear, Alleluia,

Is, as He prophesied, arisen. Alleluia.

Pray for us. Alleluia.

Music From Home: Leonardo Pineda

Leonardo Pineda, TŌN ’19 & Christopher Beroes, Bard Conservatory ’16 perform Beroes’ arrangement of Venezuelan composer Antonio Lauro‘s Natalia.

Music From Home: Leonardo Pineda, TŌN '19 & Christopher Beroes, Bard Conservatory '16 perform Beroes' arrangement of Venezuelan composer Antonio Lauro's "Natalia."

Posted by The Orchestra Now on Friday, March 27, 2020

Music From Home: Tianpei Ai

TŌN violinist Tianpei Ai in an audition prep class with Nancy Wu, playing the 3rd movement of Beethoven‘s 9th Symphony.

Music From Home

Music From Home: TŌN violinist Ai Tianpei in an audition prep class with Nancy Wu, playing the 3rd movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

Posted by The Orchestra Now on Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2

Notes by TŌN violinist Bram Margoles

Overcoming Doubt
Sergei Rachmaninoff’s life was a journey to international stardom as a composer, pianist, and conductor. His career began in Russia, where he grew up in a somewhat wealthy family and was trained at the Moscow conservatory. He wrote the Second Symphony at a time when his success and popularity was growing. He had just moved from Russia to Dresden to escape the brewing political unrest in his home country. The symphony was not only a huge career success, but also a huge psychological success for Rachmaninoff, who suffered from crippling self-doubt about his compositional abilities. The catastrophic 1897 premier of his First Symphony left him so depressed that he could not compose for three years. He wrote the Second Symphony in secret in 1906, and it wasn’t until 1908 that it was premiered in St. Petersburg to rave reviews.

The Music
The first movement starts our journey with a slow introduction full of brooding and darkness. It then begins to dance, catching periodic waves of turbulent excitement reminiscent of Tchaikovsky, perhaps Rachmaninoff’s greatest compositional idol. The movement is full of unbridled romanticism, painful longing, and nostalgia. The second movement contains even harsher emotional extremes than the first, taking us from dance, to weeping lyricism, to the furious and difficult contrapuntal middle section, and back again to where it began. The third movement is perhaps the most iconic in the piece, a pinnacle of late romanticism. The turmoil of the first movement comes back, with the familiar themes now recast in a new context that echoes the romantic operas that were so popular at the time. The movement ends in a place of peaceful resolution for the first time in the symphony. The fourth movement is a triumphant celebration. The opening theme keeps coming back, gaining excitement and intensity each time. Little bits from the previous movements are sprinkled throughout, allowing us to look back and see how far we’ve come.

Take the Time to Feel
Relax and enjoy being washed over by every emotionally indulgent minute of this expansive symphony. Rachmaninoff often felt that he was meant to live in a past world of emotion and romanticism while those around him in the present were obsessed with reason and analysis. While listening today, I think he would want us to take a break from our information-filled modern world, and take the time to feel, not think.

Felix Slatkin’s Fisher’s Hornpipe, Wistful Haven, and Carmen’s Hoedown

Notes by TŌN timpanist Jacob Lipham

The Composer
The opening half of our concert concludes with three pieces by Felix Slatkin, Maestro Slatkin’s father, who as a teenager studied violin with Efrem Zimbalist as well as conducting with Fritz Reiner at the Curtis Institute of Music. At the age of seventeen he became a member of the St. Louis Symphony and later moved to Los Angeles, where he became concertmaster of the Twentieth Century Fox Studio Orchestra. While in Los Angeles in 1939, he met and married the exceptionally talented cellist Eleanor Aller, the principal cellist of the Warner Brothers Studio Orchestra. Together they formed the Hollywood String Quartet, which made numerous milestone recordings.

The Music
Felix Slatkin made a series of recordings for Liberty Records: Fantastic Percussion, Fantastic Fiddles, and Fantastic Brass of Felix Slatkin. The scores of the majority of his ensemble arrangements no longer exist, so Cindy McTee transcribed many of them from recordings. One of Felix’s arrangements she transcribed was the animated Fisher’s Hornpipe from his 1962 Grammy-nominated recording, Hoedown. The quick and giddy reel gives the strings a feast of notes to navigate and the audience a lively few minutes of good-humored song. McTee also transcribed the beautiful Wistful Haven, from his 1962 Fantastic Strings Play Fantastic Themes recording. It revolves around an arrangement of themes from Dvořák’s New World Symphony, and is filled out for full orchestra. Felix Slatkin’s stirring Carmen’s Hoedown utilizes famous themes from Bizet’s Carmen into a country-western style dance. Listen for my favorite moments in the piece featuring wonderfully virtuosic xylophone playing!

Leonard Slatkin’s Kinah

Notes by TŌN violist Katelyn Hoag

The Origin
Kinah is Leonard Slatkin’s musical tribute to the memory of his parents. His father, Felix Slatkin, was concertmaster of the Twentieth Century Fox Studio Orchestra and his mother, Eleanor Aller, was principal cellist of the Warner Brothers Studio Orchestra. Throughout Leonard Slatkin’s childhood, he would hear his parents rehearse Brahms’ Double Concerto for Violin and Cello at home. They finally had the chance to perform the work with an orchestra in 1963 when, after the dress rehearsal, Felix Slatkin suddenly died of a heart attack at age 47. Kinah is based on four notes that formed the opening theme of the slow movement of the Brahms Double Concerto.

The Reception
The piece was premiered by Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in December 2015 to great acclaim. Critics have said, “This was a wholly sincere effort that left many audience members genuinely shaken and moved,” and “The piece finds Slatkin spreading his wings as a composer.” Slatkin has conducted Kinah several times since its premiere, with orchestras such as the Pittsburgh Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, RTÉ National Symphony, and the Polish National Radio Symphony. Today’s performance of Kinah marks its New York City premiere.

What to Listen For
Kinah is based on Brahms’ Double Concerto, but the music never quite manages to finish a musical phrase from the piece. This serves as a reminder that Slatkin’s parents never had the chance to perform the work. The most apparent tribute to Brahms can be heard at the end of the piece in the offstage violin and cello parts. One can hear Slatkin’s strong compositional voice in the dramatic dialogue between the various orchestra sections and diversity of sounds. Kinah manages to pack an incredible range of emotions into only thirteen minutes.