Orchestra Roster, Soloist Bio, and Program Notes for
May 15, 2005 Musica Bella Concert
Musica Bella Orchestra Season Series Concert No. 19
Conductor: Phillip Gaskill
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Church of the Blessed Sacrament
KRAUSE WORLD PREMIERE, BEETHOVEN, MENDELSSOHN, and MILHAUD
Beethoven: Overture to Fidelio, Op. 72
Drew Krause: Quadrille for Violin and Orchestra [WORLD PREMIERE]
Whitney LaGrange, violin
Milhaud: Concertino d’Hiver for Trombone and Strings
Ron Hay, trombone
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 in A, Op. 90 (“Italian”)
Michelle Des Roches,
principal second violin
Jeremy Hwang, principal
Anahit Harutyunyan Gaskill,
James Mark Pedersen
Robert Jost, principal
Shoji Mizumoto, section leader
Thomas Crane, section leader
Christine Todd, section leader
Jenny L. Ruzow,
Manager Anahit Harutyunyan-Gaskill
Assistant Manager Thomas Crane
Stage Manager Shoji Mizumoto
Music Director/Conductor Phillip Gaskill
|ABOUT OUR SOLOISTS
Whitney LaGrange is from McAllen, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Music Degree from The Juilliard School where she studied with Margaret Pardee and Naoko Tanaka. She was awarded a Master of Music Degree from the University of Illinois where she had a full scholarship and teaching assistantship under Sherban Lupu. While there, she also studied with Emanuel Vardi, and chamber music with Nathaniel Rosen. In 1995, she attended the Artist Diploma Program at Yale University where she had a full scholarship and was a student of Erik Friedman. Her chamber music studies were under the guidance of members of the Tokyo Quartet, St. Lawrence Quartet, and Boris Berman. She became first violin of the St. Augustine String Quartet in 1995. The Quartet had a graduate residency at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida, working with members of the Bergonzi Quartet. From 1995 to 1998 the Quartet performed extensively throughout Florida, and performed at festivals in Michigan, Victoria, Toronto, and Delaware. In 1998, the Quartet issued a CD of Bartok String Quartet No. 2 and Beethoven’s "Harp" Quartet on Fuller Sound Recordings. While in Miami, she was a core member of the Miami City Ballet Orchestra. Since moving back to New York in 1999, she has played with the Jupiter Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic, and S.E.M. Ensemble.
Ron Hay hails from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ron began playing at the age of ten. He attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, and completed his formal training at the Manhattan School of Music, where he received a full Merit Scholarship. Ron’s principal teachers were John Swallow, David Langlitz, and William Brown.
After finishing school, Ron worked as a freelance musician in New York before accepting principal positions in the Orchestra Philharmonic of the University of Mexico, Mexico City, and the Symphonic Orchestra of Aguascalientes in the city of that name in Mexico.
Ron returned to New York in 1996, and has been busy freelancing ever since. In 2001, he formed the Neuravian Trombone Ensemble, which presents the finest in funeral and memorial music. He is a proud registered member of S.O.F.T. (Society of Funeral Trombones), and enjoys playing with the excellent musicians living in New York.
|ABOUT OUR GUEST COMPOSER
Drew Krause has written over 50 works for instrumental and electronic media. His music is published by Frog Peak and has been recorded by Innova, New Ariel, Frog Peak, and Bonk Records. He has received grants from Harvestworks, The MacDowell Colony, The Wurlitzer Foundation, and Meet the Composer, and residencies at Stanford University and Brooklyn College. A composition graduate of Juilliard (MM) and the University of Illinois (DMA), his principal teachers were Herbert Brun, Salvatore Martirano, Vincent Persichetti, Bernard Rands, and Stuart Smith. He has served as resident pianist for the Bonk, ThreeTwo, New Music Miami, and SubTropics festivals, and was musical director of FUNMusic in Urbana from 1993 to 1996. Performances include Roulette, Diapason Gallery, International Computer Music Conference, SCI National Conference, FOCUS!, and Ought-One festival. Active as a composer and pianist of contemporary music, he lives and works in New York City.
by Thomas Crane, unless otherwise indicated
|Ludwig van Beethoven was intimately familiar with the world of the opera house, having partly supported himself as a young man by playing the viola in the pit, and fully intended to make his mark in this milieu. Among several planned projects was an operatic version of Macbeth, and some of Beethoven’s sketches evoking the unearthly horror of Shakespeare’s drama were later incorporated into the “Ghost” piano trio. But in the end, he only completed one opera, Fidelio—technically not a grand opera but a Singspiel, with spoken dialogue—and even this barely survived its infancy. As the final rehearsals were taking place, in November of 1805, Napoleon’s troops occupied Vienna. The premiere played to an almost empty house, and after two more performances the work was dropped. An 1806 production fared better, and the opera had a major revival in 1814.
During this time, it acquired several overtures. The original 1805 overture, discarded a year later, found new life as a concert piece, the Leonore Overture No. 2 (Leonore being the disguised heroine’s real name). For the 1806 production, Beethoven composed a longer and more elaborate overture that reflected the action of the drama. This Leonore No. 3—a staple of the concert repertoire ever since—served as the work’s introduction until 1814, when it was relocated to the second act as a long interlude preceding the final scene; Beethoven replaced it with the Fidelio Overture, the work heard today. After Beethoven’s death, a fourth overture was discovered among his scores; the Leonore No. 1 is now believed to be a much earlier work that the composer resuscitated and then scrapped.
The compact Fidelio Overture suggests little of the opera’s action or its grim prison setting; an energetic curtain-raiser, it begins with four fanfare-like allegro bars that are promptly succeeded by a very slow, lyrical passage that shows off the horns to fine effect. Eventually this introduction leads to a principal allegro theme based on the “fanfare” and starring the solo horn. The movement follows sonata form, recapitulating the fast-slow pattern of the opening and concluding with a presto coda.
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|Quadrille was written at the invitation of my wife, Whitney LaGrange, and the Musica Bella Orchestra for their 2004-2005 concert season. The piece is in one movement, approximately 10 minutes long. The title “Quadrille” is used in a double sense, referring both to my frequent method of composing systematically (for example, on “quadrille” or “graph” paper) and to the antique communal dance form, a precursor of the modern square dance. The orchestra and soloist are equal partners throughout the three main sections of the piece: an elegaic introduction, a series of rhythmically agitated phrases between the soloist and orchestra, and a faster contrapuntal closing section. —Note by Drew Krause|
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|Many traditions and currents shaped Darius Milhaud’s more than four hundred works. He was raised on the music of his native Provence and of the synagogue as well as the classics, and soon made his way to Paris. In 1917 his close friend, the great writer Paul Claudel, was posted to Rio de Janeiro as French ambassador, and invited Milhaud (who had been rejected for military service) to accompany him as his private secretary. During his two years in Rio, Milhaud avidly absorbed the rhythms and sounds of Brazil and produced some of his most enduring works (notably L’Homme et son désir, L’Enfant prodigue, and Saudades do Brasil). He returned to France by way of New York, where he visited Harlem in search of authentic jazz. In the 1920s, Milhaud became part of the “Group of Six,” a rather loose (aesthetically speaking) confederation of young French composers that included Francis Poulenc and Arthur Honegger; later, with the advent of Nazism, he emigrated to the United States and taught for many years at Mills College in California.
In 1934, Milhaud composed a work for violin and chamber orchestra entitled Concertino de printemps (Spring Concertino). Nearly two decades later, he completed his own “Four Seasons” cycle with Concertino d’automne for two pianos, Concertino d’été (Summer Concertino) for viola, and today’s work, Concertino d’hiver (Winter Concertino) for trombone. In spite of its long history, the trombone suffers from a paucity of solo works, and it is a mark of Milhaud’s originality that he chose to set this powerful instrument against a string orchestra.
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|Felix Mendelssohn arrived in Italy in 1830. Like thousands of tourists before and since, he was delighted by the language, landscape, music, cuisine, and, above all, the incredible cultural and historical patrimony of the Italians, not to mention their abundant sunshine. He was also appalled by the rampant poverty, the Italians’ apparent indifference to their past glories, and the low level of the musical performances he heard—this last situation resulting from the mass emigration of Italy’s most gifted musicians to Germany, France, and England, where they could find better incomes and more appreciative audiences. Once settled in Rome, however, Mendelssohn began work almost immediately on his Fourth Symphony. He completed it early in 1833, and on May 13 of that year it enjoyed a highly successful premiere in London. (It should perhaps be noted that Mendelssohn had finished his third symphony—the “Reformation” Symphony, known today as No. 5—in 1830, while his final symphony, the “Scotch” of 1842, is called No. 3.)
As in his other “regional” works—the Fingal’s Cave (or Hebrides) Overture and the “Scotch” Symphony—Mendelssohn avoided literal quotation of native themes, preferring to create a wholly original body of music evoking his personal impressions of the country. The well-known theme that opens the Italian Symphony has the air of the tarantella, that most Italian of dances, with its 6/8 meter and boundless energy. In keeping with traditional sonata form, a more lyrical secondary theme follows. After the repeat of the exposition, Mendelssohn begins the development section by introducing a new theme in a minor key, which serves as the subject of a fugue—one might see this as the composer’s German heritage coming to the fore. The second movement, cast in the Dorian mode with a suggestion of Gregorian plainchant, has the air of a solemn religious or funeral procession. The third movement looks to the classical minuet. The finale, in minor, embodies the saltarello (literally, “jumping dance”), which resembles the tarantella but is considerably faster, with a drum-like underlying pulse heard at the outset. As in the first movement, the development section presents a new theme with fugal treatment; far from sounding academic, the elaborate counterpoint only adds to the tension and whirling excitement.