NEWS, PROGRAM NOTES and BIOS
May 2010 Concert
Beach Cities Symphony
To see a typical program invitation card, click here.
PROGRAM NOTES 28 May 2010
Overture to Oberon
Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826)
Weber composed his first opera at age 13 and his last, Oberon, just before his untimely death from tuberculosis at 39. An accomplished keyboard player as well as an orchestral composer, he chose instead to focus on opera, specifically on developing German opera as a genre distinct from the pervasive Italian influences of his time. As a result of his success with Der Freischütz (1821) and, to a lesser extent, with Euryanthe (1823), Weber accepted a commission from Covent Garden for Oberon and took upon himself the additional arduous task of learning English while completing most of the opera before leaving for London in February, 1826. He wrote the overture shortly before the première on April 9 and died on June 5, the day before his scheduled return to Dresden. Oberon is based on an 18th Century German epic poem; the title character possesses a magic horn whose motif is heard at the beginning of the overture. The work is lively and energetic throughout, belying Weber’s state of health and providing yet another example of a Romantic spirit brightly burning just before its flame is extinguished.
Piano Concerto No. 8 in C Major, K. 246, “Lützow”
First movement: Allegro aperto
Piano Concerto No. 15 in B flat major, K. 450
First movement: Allegro
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
These concertos represent two distinct stages in the career of a composer and musician whose name is universally linked with the words “beloved genius.” Mozart composed Piano Concerto No. 8 while living in Salzburg after spending his teenage years in Italy with his father, mastering his craft and building his reputation. During the years 1776-7, he wrote a number of works for harpsichord; K. 246 was composed for Countess Antonia Lützow, an accomplished amateur musician in her mid-twenties. The solo passages demonstrate Mozart’s recognition of her agility as a keyboard artist, and the sprightly orchestra and solo interchanges reflect the vibrant youth of composer and patroness. Piano Concerto No. 15, K. 450, represents a more mature Mozart, now living in Vienna, composing for pianoforte (as opposed to harpsichord), and performing his own works in a series of concerts in prominent venues during the first three months of 1784, This concerto gives more emphasis to woodwinds in the orchestral introduction and features challenging virtuoso scale and chord patterns for the soloist. Mozart was clearly at the peak of his abilities as a pianist and relishing the opportunity to display them.
Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 22
First movement: Andante sostenuto
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
Saint-Saëns had a long, multi-faceted career in music, and three of his talents–as composer, pianist, and conductor–came together to bring the Second Piano Concerto before the public. While he was composing the concerto in the spring of 1868, one of his friends, the renowned pianist Anton Rubenstein, came to Paris for a series of performances to be conducted by Saint-Saëns. Rubenstein then decided to make his own conducting debut, with Saint-Saëns as soloist. The composer rushed to finish his work in progress, completed it in 17 days, and gave its première on May 13, 1868, with scarcely enough time to practice the difficult material he had written. A unique feature of the Second Concerto is the way it begins with a slow movement instead of following the usual fast-slow-fast movement sequence. Also unique is the way the solo piano rather than the orchestra opens the work with an arresting, majestic cadenza that leads to an operatic series of answering chords from the ensemble. The theme introduced after the orchestra enters is said to have originated in an exercise by Gabriel Fauré, a pupil of Saint-Saëns in the early 1860s.
Concerto No. 5 for Violin and Orchestra in A major, K. 219, “Turkish”
First movement: Allegro aperto
W. A. Mozart (1756-1791)
The Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, according to A. Hyatt King, “is not only the the greatest of Mozart’s violin concertos but has no rival throughout the second half of the 18th century.” The opening movement is in sonata form but has some curious structural experiments more usually associated with the music of Haydn than with that of Mozart. After the initial presentation of the thematic material by the orchestra, the soloist is introduced with the surprising device of a brief, stately Adagio, a technique perhaps derived from the D major Clavier Concerto of K.P.E. Bach. When the Allegro tempo resumes, the soloist plays not the main theme already announced by the ensemble, but a new lyrical melody for which the original main theme becomes the accompaniment. More new material fills the remainder of the exposition. The development section is invested with passages of dark minor harmonies which cast shadows across the generally sunny character of the movement and lend it emotional weight. The recapitulation calls for restrained, elegant virtuosity from the soloist. The nickname “Turkish” refers to the final movement, which will not be heard tonight.
Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Finale: Allegro vivacissimo
Because Peter Tchaikovsky was not a violinist, he elicited the assistance of Joseph Kotek, a young violin student and one of his composition pupils at the Moscow Conservatory, to work with him in Switzerland on the violin concerto. (In 1878, Tchaikovsky was vacationing to recover from a disastrous marriage.) Hoping that Leopold Auer, head of the violin department at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, would première the work, Tchaikovsky initially dedicated it to him. However, Auer declared it “impossible to play” and declined the inaugural performance. His judgment seemed like the kiss of death for the concerto, and its première would be delayed another three years until a former classmate, Adolf Brodsky, finally agreed to play it. A grateful Tchaikovsky decided to dedicate the concerto to him. Upon hearing the première in Vienna in 1881, the dreaded critic Eduard Hanslick described the concerto as “music that stinks to the ear” and “beats the violin black and blue.” Despite this reception, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto has gloriously survived and stands as one of the most adored in the repertoire. Even Leopold Auer later championed the work, performing it and teaching it to his students. Characterized by ravishingly beautiful passages, graceful melodies, and dazzling virtuosity, this masterpiece has been admired by generations of captivated audiences.
Bacchanale from Samson and Delila
Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)
In the Biblical story, the Philistines were gathered in Gaza to celebrate a pagan sacrificial ritual. As was their custom, they paraded their prized enemy prisoner, Samson, into the temple to entertain the jeering crowds. (See Judges 16 for the complete story.) In Saint-Saëns’ 1876 operatic rendition, the famous scene of the Bacchanale occurs during this ritual as the Philistines celebrate their victory. Saint-Saëns achieved an Eastern flavor by the frequent use of melodic intervals of an augmented second, an oboe cadenza, and by colorful use of percussion, including timbales, triangle, cymbals, bass drum, and castanets. The frenzied dance music is interrupted at one point by an extremely lush section before the climactic elements set the stage for the opera’s finale.
BIOGRAPHIES – MTAC Contest Winners - Artists of the Future
PianoConcerto in C, K. 246, first movement Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Megan Chang, piano soloist (picture)
Eight-year-old Megan Chang began her piano studies at age four and has been a student of Sylvia Ho since 2007. She is a GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) program student at Arnold Elementary School in Torrance. She has already triumphed in several competitions, winning first and second places at SYMF (Southwestern Youth Music Festival) in 2008 and in 2009, and first place at the 26th Young Musician Piano Competition sponsored by the Chinese American Education Association, and third place at the Cypress College Piano Competition in 2009.
Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 22, first movement by Camille Saint-Saëns
Jinyoung Choi, piano soloist (picture)
In spite of traveling to more than twenty countries in her sixteen years, Jinyoung Choi has been able to study piano since she was eight years old. She has been a student of Mihyang Keel since age thirteen. She has won numerous awards in several competitions and auditions including the Junior Bach Festival, SYMF, and Brentwood-Westwood Young Artists of Tomorrow competition. She is currently a student at West High School and a regular volunteer at Harbor-UCLA Medical center.
Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35, Finale by Peter Ilyich Tchaikowsky
Eleanor Dunbar, violin soloist (picture)
In May, 2008, Eleanor Dunbar impressed the audience with her performance, at age 12, of Edouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole. Currently at age 14, she is still a student of Gail Mellert, and has many awards to her credit. She is the concertmaster of Asia America Youth Symphony in which she has participated for seven years. She lists among her awards in violin: Bach Complete Works Competition, Music Teacher’s Association Scholarship Competition, Santa Monica College Concerto Competition, Ventura College Concerto Competition, and Artists of the Future Competition to name a few.
Piano Concerto in B-flat, K. 450. first movement by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Sabrina Kozak, piano soloist (picture)
Thirteen-year-old Sabrina Kozak is home-schooled and has been studying piano since the age of six. Since 2006, she has been a student of Hyeja Chong Ganahl and has been the recipient of numerous awards including a Gold and Silver Medal at the Southern California Junior Bach Festival. In 2008, she was a winner in the MTAC Scholarship Audition, and a winner of Southern Los Angles County CAPMT (California Association of Professional Music Teachers) Honors Audition and placed second in the CAPMT State Competition. This year she was invited to perform in a masterclass led by Jane Bastien at the CAPMT convention.
Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 19, first movement by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Lillian Liao, violin soloist.
A freshman at Palos Verdes High School, Lillian Liao has studied violin with Elmer Su since the age of four. She has won many awards including ten first-place awards at the SYMF for years, and third place at the ASTA Regional Competion in 2006 and 2009. Other triumphs include awards at the Long Beach Mozart Festival, and the Bellflower Young Artists’ Concerto Competition. Lillian has performed many solos, duets and quartets with the Palos Verdes Regional Symphony Orchestra and is presently the associate concertmistress of this orchestra.
YOUNG AUDIENCE PRESENTATION
MEZZANINE LEVEL, MARSEE AUDITORIUM
Once again, for the benefit of the young members of the audience, a presentation enhancing understanding the music to be performed tonight will take place at 7:30 P.M. in the upstairs mezzanine. The Chadwick Wednesday Quartet, directed by Richard Babcock, will include musical demonstrations and oral descriptions of styles employed by Mozart, Saint-Saëns, and Tchaikovsky.
The following members of the quartet are all eighth-grade students at Chadwick School:
Violin: Patty Jeon, age 14, studies with MiSook Song.
Flute: Juri Watanabe is a student of Lisa Schroeder.
Clarinet: Michelle Ling, age 14, is a former student of Nancy Carr. She has also played the piano for eight years.
Cello: Alexandra Nguyen-Phuc has studied cello for three years with Betty Woodyard and piano for 11 years with Dr. Linda Govel.
Two additional young speakers and their subjects:
Hadeel Saab, age 12, studies piano with Bozena Nakov and participates in the annual MTAC Certificate of Merit program. She is a student at Palos Verdes Intermediate School. Hadeel will speak on Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 8 in C major.
Nick Brabec is a graduating senior at South High School in Torrance.
A piano student of Ellen Lohneiss, he just achieved his Senior Medallion from MTAC at level nine in the Certificate of Merit program. Nick will speak on Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2.
This Young Audience Preview Lecture is co-sponsored by the Music Teachers' Association of California (MTAC) South Bay branch and the Beach Cities Symphony, with Palos Verdes Peninsula Chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon (International Music Fraternity). Thanks also go to Sandra Clay of A-Muse Music Center in Palos Verdes for donating gift certificates to each of the young presenters.
This page last modified on May 14, 2010.