Tuesday, December 29, 2009

12/16/2010 @ 10:30 a.m.: Freedom, Slavery and the Roots of American Music

A lecture presented by Ray Kamalay on the influence of slavery on American popular music.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

12/14/2009 @ 6:16pm: Linda Minke & Edith Moore-Hubert

Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra cellist Linda Minke and Community Foundation of Jacksonville's 2008 Artist Award winner Edith Moore-Hubert team up for an evening of music for cello and piano or harpsichord.

  • A. Vivaldi: Sonata No. 3 in A minor, RV 43
  • J. S. Bach: Viola da Gamba Sonata II in D major
  • Claude Debussy: Romance
  • G. Faure: Sicilienne, op. 78 ; Apres un Reve ; Au bord de l'eau
  • Alan Hovhaness: Suite for Cello and Piano, op. 193
  • Christopher Norton: Selections from Microjazz

    The harpsichord for this recital is an Italian style instrument built in 2003 by Paulo Maurici, New York, courtesy of Henson Markham.

    Cellist Linda Minke has been an active performer and teacher in the Jacksonville area since 1993. Ms. Minke teaches cello at Jacksonville University, performs with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and is a member of the Magnolia String Quartet. She plays contemporary music with Ponte Vedra singer/songwriter Mark Williams, frequently performs at Friday Musicale, and has been an active member of the Chamber Music Society of Good Shepherd since its inception in 2003. Additionally, every August since 1983, Linda has had the privilege to play with the Peninsula Music Festival in Door County, Wisconsin.

    Having served as Assistant Principal Cello with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra from 1983-1993, Minke was also a founding member of the Rhodes College Piano Trio. Linda's Master's degree in Cello Performance was earned at University of Memphis (formerly Memphis State University,) where she also received extensive training in Suzuki Violin and Cello Pedagogy. Minke holds two bachelors degrees (one in Cello performance and the other in Music Education) from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan.

    While home-schooling her son Victor, Linda became well acquainted with the Waldorf Education method, and has integrated Suzuki and Waldorf into her teaching style. She teaches class violin for the Childrens' Enrichment Workshop at the Church of the Good Shepherd and for Jacksonville Symphony's Jumpstart Strings program at Reynolds Lane Elementary. Minke also maintains an active private teaching studio in her home.

    After completing her bachelor’s degree with Hugh Thomas at Birmingham-Southern College, Edith Moore-Hubert continued her piano studies with Herbert Stessin of the Juilliard School. She obtained her master’s degree in piano performance from Manhattan School of Music, where her professors included Solomon Mikowsky, Robert Abramson, Raymond Lewenthal, Gary Graffman and Earl Wild. She has been a member of the music faculties at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Birmingham-Southern College Conservatory, and currently teaches at Jacksonville University and Florida State College at Jacksonville.

    A 2008 winner of an Individual Artist Award from The Community Foundation of Jacksonville, Edie has performed as accompanist in Leipzig, Weimar, Nurnberg, Bern, Strasbourg, New York, Philadelphia, and throughout the Southeast. She is an active chamber musician, performing recently with the San Marco Chamber Music Society and St. Augustine Music Festival, and is organist/pianist at the Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist.

    Edie is working toward a Certificate in the Arts in Healthcare from the University of Florida. Her CD, Music for Body and Soul, funded through the generosity of The Community Foundation of Jacksonville and Polymusic Studios in Birmingham, Alabama, is a collection of classical works suitable for the healthcare setting.

    Program Notes by Ed Lein, Music Librarian

    Music historians often refer to the Venetian violin virtuoso Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) as the composer most representative of the mature Italian Baroque style, and in addition to sonatas and sacred choral music he wrote nearly four dozen operas and over 500 concertos. Nicknamed il Prete Rosso ("The Red Priest") owing to his hair color and day job, as the composer of "The Four Seasons" Vivaldi wrote what have become among the most recognized violin concertos of any era, so it is perhaps surprising that after he died his music remained virtually unknown until the 20th Century. Vivaldi is among the earliest composers to treat the cello as a solo instrument, with almost 30 cello concertos and nine (or so) cello sonatas with continuo accompaniment. This Sonata in A minor, RV 43, is one of six published together in 1740 as “Opus 14,” but it is doubtful that Vivaldi himself had anything to do with their grouping or publication. The movements follow the “slow-fast-slow-fast” pattern of the typical Baroque sonata da chiesa (i.e., “church sonata”), providing the soloist opportunity to display in alternation contemplative elegance and sprightly good humor.

    Although he was dismissed by many of his contemporaries as being too old-fashioned, the great German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) ranks with Beethoven (who himself studied Bach’s music) as among the most influential composers of all time. Bach composed three sonatas featuring the viola da gamba, an instrument typically with guitar-like frets and six strings that was very popular during the Renaissance and was already somewhat archaic in Bach’s time. But the “duo sonata” texture, with the harpsichord sharing in the presentation of thematic material as an equal soloist (rather than merely providing harmonic support as a continuo instrument) was then a new thing. Like Vivaldi, Bach casts Sonata No. 2 in D major, BWV 1028, in the four-movement layout of the sonata da chiesa.

    Achille-Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was a quintessentially French composer, pianist and music critic whose own revolutionary music ushered in many of the stylistic changes of the 20th Century. Debussy is usually identified as the chief proponent of musical “Impressionism,” but he did not approve of that label himself. Debussy’s hauntingly beautiful Romance was the second of two songs for voice and piano published in 1891 as Deux romances. The transcription is by legendary cellist Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976), called “the greatest string player of all time,” who became principal cellist first of the Bolshoi Theater at age 15 and then of the Berlin Philharmonic at age 18.

    Composer, organist, pianist and teacher Gabriel Urbain Fauré (1845-1924) was the foremost French composer of his generation. Although he greatly admired the chromatic music of Richard Wagner, Fauré remained relatively free of Wagner’s highly-colored influence and instead led his own harmonic revolution by treating chords with added 7ths and 9ths as consonant and by introducing modal inflections into an essentially diatonic framework. The cello and piano version of Fauré’s Sicilienne, Op.78, was completed by the composer in 1898, salvaged from the incidental music begun in 1893 for an unproduced play, and ironically it became one of its composers best-known works after being orchestrated and inserted into the incidental music for an 1898 production of a different play, Pelléas and Mélisande. Fauré is widely regarded as the greatest master of the French art-song, and the heart-wrenching Après un rêve (“After a Dream”) is perhaps his greatest song. Au bord de l'eau (“On the Bank of the River,” 1875) demonstrates Fauré’s uncanny ability to marry music to words, as the flowing melody and accompaniment conjure the image of the flowing water, and the subtle shifts between major and minor echo doubts about the permanence of love while watching passing clouds and distant smoke dissolve and observing how a flower’s fragrance dissipates--but the belief in love is ultimately affirmed in the optimism of a major chord.

    American composer Alan Hovhaness (born Alan Vaness Chakmakjian, 1911-2000) is perhaps best known for his early works that reflect his Armenian heritage, but his evolving, highly original style eventually incorporated influences from a wide variety of ethnic music from around the world, especially from India and the Far East. With over 500 works to his credit, he was among the first composers to include aleatoric or “chance” passages in some of his works, and he has been credited with anticipating both the minimalist techniques of composers such as Philip Glass and Steve Reich, and the mysticism of John Taverner, Arvo Pärt, and Henryk Gorécki. Hovhaness believed that melody was the most important musical element, and he maintained that good music should communicate directly with all listeners and not only with academically trained music theorists. Consequently, during the early days of his career many "establishment" musicians dismissed him, but his supporters included composers as diverse as John Cage and Howard Hanson, and he maintained a lasting relationship with his daughter’s godfather, Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. Hovhaness's three-movement Suite, Op. 193, was first published in 1962, and lasts about five minutes.

    Following early successes as a composer, concert pianist and rock musician in his native New Zealand, Christopher Norton (b.1953) moved to the United Kingdom in 1977 to study composition at York University. Also a successful arranger and record producer, his compositional output includes a wide variety of music styles ranging from orchestral pieces and ballets to pop songs and music for television programs, but he is most famous for his best-selling Microjazz series, called a “stimulating blend of contemporary popular genres and classical values.” Beginning as a series of piano pieces, the composer has expanded Microjazz to include works featuring the entire range of orchestral instruments.
  • Thursday, October 22, 2009

    11/16/2009 @ 6:15 p.m.: Jacksonville University Chamber Strings

    Marguerite Richardson, conductor

    Antonio Vivaldi: L’Estro Armonico, Op. 3: Concerto No. 8 in A minor for two violins and strings, RV 522
    Piotr Szewczyk: Summer Music
    Edward Lein: Hoodoo
    Jacksonville University Chamber Strings

    Antonín Dvořák: Quartet in F Major, Op.96, "American" (1st Movement)
    Jacksonville University Honors String Quartet (Ronald Lagarde & Mallory Bray, violins; Peter Dutilly, viola; Joseph Engel, violoncello)

    Peter Warlock: Capriol Suite
    Edvard Grieg: Holberg Suite, Op.40
    Jacksonville University Chamber Strings


    Sam Lagarde,
    Mallory Bray,
         associate concertmaster    
    Stephanie Dierickx
    Ashley Thorns
    David Reynolds
    Breana Mock
    Philip Sanders, principal    
    Sarah Morris
    Ali Villella
    Steffani Schmidt
    Peter Dutilly, principal
    Jake Campbell
    Erick Crow
    Joe Engel, principal
    Victor Minke Huls
    Christopher Davis
    Philip Holman
    Max Coley, principal
    Ray Davis
    Carolyne Scott

    A member of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra since 1990, violinist Marguerite Richardson began her violin studies at the age of four. Ms. Richardson has performed symphonic and chamber music throughout the United States, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, and Central America, and performs locally with the Florida Arts Trio. Between 1995 and 2003, Ms. Richardson began and developed the String Program at the University of North Florida, where she maintained a studio of violin and viola students and conducted the UNF Orchestra.

    Currently, Ms. Richardson maintains a private teaching studio and serves as Chamber Music Coordinator and Premiere Strings Orchestra conductor for the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra. At Jacksonville University she is an Assistant Professor, teaching violin and viola, directing the Orchestra and coaching string chamber ensembles.

    She holds a Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music, a Master of Music from the University of South Carolina, and is currently completing her Doctor of Music degree from Florida State University.

    Program notes by Ed Lein, Music Librarian

    Music historians often refer to the Venetian violin virtuoso Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) as the composer most representative of the mature Italian Baroque style, and in addition to sonatas and sacred choral music he wrote nearly four dozen operas and over 500 concertos. Nicknamed il Prete Rosso ("The Red Priest") owing to his hair color and day job, as the composer of The Four Seasons Vivaldi wrote what have become among the most recognized violin concertos of any era, so it is perhaps surprising that after he died his music remained virtually unknown until the 20th Century. The 12 concerti grossi of Vivaldi's L'Estro Armonico ("Harmonic Inspiration"), Op. 3, were published in 1711, and Concerto No. 8, which features 2 solo violins, was later arranged for organ solo by J.S. Bach.

    Musical works by Polish composer Piotr Szewczyk (b. 1977) have won a number of international composition contests, and have been featured on NPR and at the American Symphony Orchestra League Conference in Nashville. His music has been performed by numerous orchestral and chamber ensembles, and his recently published string quintet, The Rebel, was performed live on the CBS Early Show by the Sybarite Chamber Players, and also was featured in January 2009 on NPR's Performance Today. To fulfill the commission he earned as winner of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra’s 2008 Fresh Ink composition competition, Mr. Szewczyk has composed First Coast Fanfare which will receive its world premiere by the JSO this coming spring. About his Summer Music (2009) the composer writes:

    Summer Music for string orchestra was commissioned by Prelude Chamber Music Camp in Jacksonville. It is inspired by the joy and fun of summer days. While playful and energetic at first the piece transforms in the middle into a slow, meditative section, like the slower summer days we use for self-reflection and relaxation. Right after the slow section dissolves, the piece launches into an energetic ride that doesn’t let go to the very end, speeding up to the fiery finale. This version of the piece includes an optional harp part that adds a distinct color and flavor to the string orchestra ensemble.
    A virtuoso violinist as well as a member of the Jacksonville Symphony since September 2007, Mr. Szewczyk is the creator and performer of a critically-acclaimed recital of exciting and innovative solo pieces called Violin Futura. Piotr will return to Music@Main on May 18, 2010, to present another installment of Violin Futura featuring all new works written especially for him by composers from around the globe.

    More at http://www.verynewmusic.com/

    Florida native Edward Lein (b. 1955) is the Music Librarian at Jacksonville Public Library's Main Library, and holds Master's degrees in both Music and Library Science from Florida State University. As a tenor soloist he appeared in recitals, oratorios and dramatic works throughout his home state, and drawing on his performance experience the majority of his early compositions are vocal works. Following peformances of pieces by the Jacksonville Symphony, including Meditation for cello, oboe and orchestra (premiered June 2006) and In the Bleak Midwinter (premiered December 2007), his instrumental catalog has grown largely due to requests from Symphony players for new pieces, and he endeavors to imbue his instrumental works with the same singing lyricism found in his vocal music. Hoodoo, a samba, is the first movement of a four-movement suite called Un Dulcito ("A Little Sweet"), and was first performed in the summer of 2009 by students and faculty from the Prelude Chamber Music Camp. The entire suite, based on Latin American dances, entered the repertoire of the Vero Beach High School Orchestra for the first complete performances of Un Dulcito on November 7-8, 2009, under conductor Matt Stott.

    Listen to Hoodoo:

    More at http://sites.google.com/site/edwardlein/

    Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) is an immensely popular Czech composer who fused melodic and rhythmic elements of Bohemian folk music with classical symphonic forms. Fostered by his friend Johannes Brahms, Dvořák gained international acclaim and was invited to New York City to become the director of the National Conservatory of Music from 1892 to 1895, during which time he wrote the famous New World Symphony. It was also during this time that he composed his String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Op.96 (1893), nicknamed the "American," and Dvořák said that it most definitely reflects his American sojourn: the second movement was influenced by the melancholy longing of African American Spirituals, the third by American birdsong, and the fourth, perhaps, by American railway travel.

    Peter Warlock (1894-1930) was born in London as Philip Arnold Heseltine and had a successful career as a music critic under his real name. But he is better known by the bewitching pseudonym he used for his musical compositions, and it also reflects his interest in the occult. Providing inspiration for a number of British authors including Aldous Huxley and D.H. Lawrence, at age 36 Warlock's colorful personal life ended by gas poisoning, under suspicious circumstances. Although he devoted most of his compositional efforts toward writing songs, Warlock's instrumental Capriol Suite (1926) has become his best-known work. Originally for piano duet and inspired by Orchésographie, a manual of Renaissance dances by Thoinot Arbeau (1519-1595), the composer also prepared a version for full orchestra in addition to this one for strings.

    Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) was a Norwegian composer and virtuoso pianist best known for his Piano Concerto in A minor and the incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt, and the originality of his Lyriske stykker ("Lyric Pieces") for piano solo lead some to call him "The Chopin of the North." Grieg's Holberg Suite, Op. 40 (1884) , or, Fra Holbergs tid ("From Holberg's Time"), was originally a "Suite in Olden Style" for piano solo, but it has become more popular in the composer's own version for string orchestra. The five movements were composed to commemorate the 200th birth anniversary of Danish-Norwegian playwright Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754).

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    1/16/2010 @ 3:30 p.m.: Jayoung Kim, cello

    Assisted by JooHyun Lee, piano


    Ludwig van Beethoven
    Seven Variations on "Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen" from 'Die Zauberflöte', WoO 46 (CLICK to hear on YouTube)

    Gaspar Cassado'
    Solo Suite
    I. Prelude-Fantasia (CLICK to hear on YouTube)
    II. Sardana-Danza (CLICK to hear on YouTube)
    III. Intermezzo e danza finale (CLICK to hear on YouTube)

    Dmitri Shostakovich
    Sonata for cello and piano, Op. 40
    I. Allegro non troppo (CLICK to hear on YouTube)
    II. Allegro (CLICK to hear on YouTube)
    III. Largo (CLICK to hear on YouTube)
    IV. Allegro (CLICK to hear on YouTube)

    Frederic Chopin
    Introduction and Polonaise Brillante, Op. 3 (CLICK to hear on YouTube)

    With concert appearances throughout the United States, Costa Rica, and South Korea, cellist Jayoung Kim enjoys an active performing career as both chamber musician and soloist. A native of Korea who took up the cello at age 10, she has appeared in music festivals and artist series including Promising Artists of the 21st Century (San Jose, Costa Rica), OK MOZART International Music Festival (Bartlesville, OK), Young-San Artist Series (Seoul, Korea), and The Varga Celebration (Greensboro, NC), and was soloist at the University Orchestra Festival with Ewha University Orchestra.

    As a member of the chamber ensemble enhakē she has captured numerous prizes including the Grand Prize at the Yellow Springs Chamber Music Competition (2009), Gold Medal at International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition (2008), and Judge’s Special Recognition Award at Plowman Chamber Music Competition (2008). She has given recitals and master classes at Valdosta State University, Texas A&M University, Mesa State College (Grand Junction, CO), and University of Costa Rica, and in addition to touring France and America, upcoming engagements include the world premier of a work by Libby Larsen commissioned by enhakē.

    Ms. Kim has served as principal cellist of Florida State University Symphony Orchestra and Ewha University Orchestra, and as guest principal cellist of Sinfonia Gulf Coast and Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra. She received a B.M. degree from Ewha University with Ewha Honor Scholarship, an M.M. from the Eastman School of Music, and is now a doctoral candidate at Florida State University. Her teachers have included Gregory Sauer, Alan Harris, David Bjella, and Il-Whan Bae, and she has participated in master classes with Lynn Harrell, Fred Sherry, Mihai Tetel, Andres Diaz, Edward Aaron, and Thomas Landshoot.

    A native of Seoul, Korea, Pianist JooHyun Lee earned a doctoral degree in Piano Accompanying and Chamber Music at the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Jean Barr and solo piano with Nelita True as her minor field. Ms. Lee also received Masters degree at Eastman School of Music following her undergraduate degree studies in Piano Performance at Seoul National University.

    She has enjoyed great success as a vocal accompanist, playing for major voice competitions in Korea, the United States, and Germany. Recent honors include the Barr Award in accompanying which is given to an outstanding collaborative pianist, the excellence in accompanying, second prize in the Jessie Kneisel Lieder competition, Eastman’s prestigious Brooks Smith Fellowship in Piano Accompanying and Chamber Music, and the Barbara M.H Koeng Award given to an accompanist who has a passion for working with singers. In addition to these collaborations, Ms. Lee also enjoys partnering instrumentalists, and for two summers participated in The Quartet Program where she performed with violinist Charles Castleman and violist Allyson Dawkins. She is currently a staff pianist at Eastman School of music and Bowdoin International Music Festival.

    Program Notes by Ed Lein, Music Librarian

    The music of the transcendent German composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) formed the culmination of the Classical style and the foundation of the Romantic. Along with J.S. Bach, Beethoven is arguably the best known Western classical composer, but over the past few decades works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) have become almost as recognizable, especially after the success of the 1984 movie of Peter Shaffer’s play, Amadeus. Himself a big fan of Mozart, Beethoven used the show-stopping Act 1 duet between Pamina and Papageno from Die Zauberflöte ("The Magic Flute") as the inspiration for Seven Variations on Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen, WoO 46. By 1801, the year Beethoven wrote these Variations, the 31-year-old composer had already suffered acute hearing loss, which he described in his letters. For the last decade of his life Beethoven was completely deaf, but he continued to produce revolutionary masterworks that still provide benchmarks other composers strive to attain.

    By virtue of a scholarship from his hometown of Barcelona, a nine-year-old Gaspar Cassadó (1897-1966) was able to accept an invitation to study in Paris with the legendary Catalan cellist Pablo Casals, where, in addition to his cello lessons, Cassadó studied composition with both Manuel de Falla and Maurice Ravel. After World War I, Cassadó began a successful international career as both cellist and composer, including several concerts with Casals. During the1920s Cassadó settled permanently in Florence, Italy, and after World War II his reputation and career, not to mention his personal morale, suffered tremendously when his mentor unjustly accused him of sympathizing with Mussolini’s fascist regime, despite Cassadó’s continuing friendship and collaboration with perhaps the most vocal of Italy’s anti-fascist composers, Luigi Dallapicolla. The rift between teacher and protégé was finally reconciled during the mid 1950s through the efforts of a mutual friend, the British violinist Yehudi Menuhin, but Cassadó’s career never fully recovered. The 1926 Suite for Solo Cello remains one of Cassadó’s best known works. Its modal inflections and folk-dance rhythms attest to the composer’s Catalan heritage, and the rhapsodic first movement acknowledges other influences, with direct references to Zoltán Kodály’s Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 8, and Ravel’s ballet, Daphnis et Chloe.

    Joining Prokofiev and Khachaturian, Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) is one of few composers of the former Soviet Union to sustain a large following in the West, but his career was far from “smooth sailing.” During his lifetime his music was periodically banned by Stalinist authorities, and he suffered two official denouncements, in 1936 and 1948. However, because of his worldwide popularity the Soviets liked to use Shostakovich as propaganda, so their censures always proved temporary—but he still withheld his more personal works until after Stalin’s death in 1953. Shostakovich likewise has had detractors among many of the West’s avant-garde, centering around composer-turned-conductor Pierre Boulez. Although the influence of the self-styled “cutting edge” has since dulled, from the 1950s into the 1980s the group and its followers wielded their own brand of artistic totalitarianism, insisting that composers abandon familiar musical forms in favor of mathematical or electronic compositional procedures, and dismissing works by those who used tonal idioms to communicate directly with listeners. Ignoring the ideological tyranny on both fronts, performers and listeners have always embraced Shostakovich’s music, and he remains among the most frequently performed and recorded of 20th-Century composers. Shostakovich wrote is Sonata in D Minor for Cello and Piano, Op. 40, in 1934, before the 28-year-old composer experienced government interference, or, for that matter, artistic browbeating.

    The Polish-born pianist Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) was the first composer to make full use of the expressive qualities and coloristic potential of the piano when it was a still-developing keyboard instrument, and he rightly has been called the "Poet of the Piano." Much of all piano music by subsequent composers shows his influence, and his revolutionary use of chromatic harmonies and unusual key relationships profoundly influenced composers of symphonic music and operas as well, such as Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner--thus Chopin's importance in the development of the "Romantic" style in general can not be overestimated. The vast majority of Chopin’s music is for piano solo, and his few other works all feature the piano. Chopin’s four chamber music pieces likewise include parts for the solo cello, and the earliest of these is the Introduction and Polonaise brilliante, Op. 3, dating from 1829. Patterned after a stately Polish dance that has become closely identified with Chopin, the Polonaise brillante was originally written as a diversion for a piano-playing princess and her cello-playing father. It demonstrates that the 19-year-old composer had already found a compositional voice which was not merely an imitation of other composers—in this regard Chopin’s precociousness surpassed even Mozart’s. Chopin added the Introduction the following year for his own public performances of the showpiece.

    Friday, October 2, 2009

    12/08/2009 @ 6:15pm: Julian Toha, piano

    Known for his passionate performances, poetic imagination, and technical command, American pianist Julian Toha has acquired a reputation as an exciting young artist of the 21st century.

    Program Selections
  • FELIX MENDELSSOHN Fantasie in F# minor, Op. 28, “Scottish Sonata”: 1. Con moto agitato
  • J.S. BACH Prelude & Fugue No. 8 in D# Minor, BWV 877 (WTC, Book 2)
  • ALEXANDER SCRIABIN Fantaisie in B Minor, Op. 28
  • FRANZ SCHUBERT Sonata No. 14 in A Minor, D. 784
  • ALBERTO GINASTERA Suite de Danzas Criollas, Op. 15

    As a soloist and chamber musician Julian Toha (www.juliantoha.com) has inspired audiences throughout the United States and abroad with his highly emotional and original interpretations. An engaging pianist who plays from the heart, his memorable concerts have received wide acclaim. When asked about his goal as an artist, Toha answered, "I just want the audience to fall in love."

    In January 2009, Toha was invited to perform Samuel Barber's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 38, with the Ars Flores Symphony Orchestra after winning first place in their 7th Annual Young Artist Concerto Competition. In February, he performed the same work with the Florida State University Philharmonia after winning the 2008 Young Artist Competition at the Florida State University College of Music. That same month he placed second and received the Max Kaplan Award in the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Competition. In March 2009, Toha entered the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra Instrumental Competition and was the only pianist selected to advance to the final round. In April, Toha was nominated and named the 2009 Presser Scholar. The foundation grants awards to musicians who show strong evidence of an emerging career, and this national honor comes with a title and scholarship. In May, Toha entered as one of the youngest competitors in the International Beethoven Piano Sonata Competition and advanced to the semifinal round.

    Following these successes Toha toured Europe in the summer, playing solo concerts in Italy, Spain, France, and Germany. Now Mr. Toha has embarked on a 2009-2010 domestic tour of over 30 cities in 10 states, with performances ranging from live in-studio radio broadcasts and artist series to concerts in museums and churches. Throughout the tour he will focus his efforts on stretching the imaginations of listeners. "Pretend to be a kid again; dream. Free your mind and listen with your heart." This is Julian's advice for audience members to enhance their musical experience.

    A recipient of several scholarships including from the Morning Musicale of Fort Lauderdale and the College of Music at Florida State University, Toha is finishing his bachelor's degree in Piano Performance, studying principally under Leonard Mastrogiacomo. Apart from music, Julian loves photography, exercising, poetry, cooking, and the visual arts.

    February 3rd of this year marked the bicentennial of the birth of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor whose prodigious musical talents rivaled those of Mozart, and who, like Mozart, did not live to see his 40th birthday. Although the final manuscript of this Fantasie in F# minor was not published until 1834, the composer’s letters suggest that the work originated in 1828, around the same time that he wrote his “Scottish” Symphony and the Hebrides Overture. At the time of publication Mendelssohn himself suppressed his original title, Sonate ecossaise, but it nonetheless shares musical characteristics with his other Gaelic inspirations, so the nickname has sneaked its way back into use. Considered one of Mendelssohn’s finest works for the virtuoso pianist, its title and formal design suggest that it is perhaps patterned after Beethoven’s Sonata quasi una fantasia (“Moonlight Sonata”), with three movements each faster than the previous, even though Mendelssohn’s thematic material is nothing like Beethoven’s.

    Although he was dismissed by many of his contemporaries as being too old-fashioned, the great German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) ranks with Beethoven (who himself studied Bach’s music) as among the most influential composers of all time. The most-studied contrapuntal works ever written are contained within Bach’s two books that comprise his monumental Das wohltemperierte Clavier (The Well-tempered Clavier). Each book contains 24 pairs of Preludes and Fugues that traverse all the major and minor keys. Prelude and Fugue No. 8 from the 2nd book has been published both in D# minor and in its enharmonic equivalent, E-flat minor—giving the pianist a choice between either of two nearly impossible key signatures!

    In addition to numerous symphonies, chamber works, masses, and solo piano music, the Austrian composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828) composed over 600 songs in his short life, and has remained unsurpassed in his ability to marry poetry with music. Although his music was regularly performed in private concerts for Vienna’s musical elite and his genius was touted by no less than Beethoven, Schubert was never able to secure a publisher for the bulk of his masterworks so he depended on his devoted circle of friends for maintaining his finances. Schubert wrote this Piano Sonata in A minor in 1823. That same year he learned that he was suffering from syphilis, then an incurable disease, so the bleak fury that pervades some of the writing is not altogether surprising. Even so, he continued to compose works of genius that showcased his increasing originality, and after his death (probably from medicinal mercury poisoning) Schubert’s wish to be buried next to Beethoven was honored.

    Russian pianist, composer and mystic Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) was a classmate of Rachmaninoff at the Moscow Conservatory. But unlike his famous friend who retained the stylistic traits of Russian Romanticism throughout his career, Scriabin developed a unique musical language that progressed beyond early lyrical musings directly inspired by Chopin and Liszt into a tonally nebulous sound-world that has lead some to call him the “progenitor of Serialism.” Scriabin’s Fantaisie, Op. 28, dating from 1900, is representative of his “middle period” in which he moves beyond his early models, retaining an opulent lyricism but within an ever-shifting chromatic harmonic framework, yet still with a sense of underlying tonality. Technically demanding, it remains a favorite of pianists, but apparently Scriabin himself didn’t find it too memorable, literally. The story goes that he once overheard a friend playing an interesting piece and asked what it was. The friend answered that it was Scriabin’s own Fantaisie, to which the composer responded with a perplexed, “What Fantaisie?”

    Regarded as one of the most important composers from South America, Argentina’s Alberto Ginastera (1910-1981) was the son of immigrants from Catalonia (his father) and Italy (his mother), and the composer retained the Catalan pronunciation of the family name (i.e., with the “G” pronounced like an English “j,” as in “genius”). Ginastera himself grouped his music into three stylistic periods: “Objective Nationalism” (1934-48), “Subjective Nationalism” (1948-58), and “Neo-expressionism” (1958-81). But even in his later works which use serialism and other avant-garde techniques he retained the driving rhythms inspired by the folk music of his homeland. Suite de Danzas Criollas, Op. 15 (“Suite of Creole Dances,” 1946), dating from his first stylistic period, straightforwardly adapts Argentine folk tunes. Interestingly, progressive rocker Keith Emerson performed music from the suite during Emerson, Lake and Palmer rock concerts.
  • 10/20/2009 @ 6:15pm: Abbas Abboud, piano

    Abbas Abboud
    Upon completing studies at the Baghdad School of Music and Ballet and the National Conservatory of Music in Amman, Jordan, Iraqi virtuoso Abbas Abboud attended France's Conservatoire National on scholarship, and was awarded their Gold Medal by unanimous vote of the Jury des Concours. Other awards include first prizes in both the Concours International de Piano and the Foundation Natexis Banque Populaire music competition. In addition to concertizing throughout France, Germany, Switzerland and Jordan, Mr. Abboud performed under contract with the Alsumaria Iraqi Satellite TV Network from June 2007 - May 2008.

  • Mozart : Piano Sonata No. 14 in C–minor, K. 457 -- Watch Abbas Abboud on YouTube!
  • Beethoven : Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 ("Appassionata"). 3. Allegro ma non troppo - Presto
  • Liszt : Funérailles -- Watch Abbas Abboud on YouTube!
  • Chopin : Scherzo No.1 in B minor, Op. 20 -- Watch Abbas Abboud on YouTube!
  • Chopin : Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 31

    Times Union Article about Mr. Abboud

    PROGRAM NOTES, by Ed Lein, Music Librarian

    Austria's Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791), unquestionably one of the greatest composers in history, began his career touring Europe as a 6-year-old piano prodigy, and he absorbed and mastered all the contemporary musical trends he was exposed to along the way. He wrote more than 600 works, including 22 operas and over three dozen symphonies, plus numerous concertos, chamber works, piano pieces, and choral works. The Piano Sonata in C minor, K. 457 (1784) is generally regarded as Mozart's finest work in the genre, and it likely served as the inspiration for Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, "Pathétique". Mozart dedicated his three-movement Sonata to Thérèse von Trattner, a friend and piano student who later became godmother to four of the composer's six children.

    The music of the transcendent German composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) formed the culmination of the Classical style and the foundation of the Romantic. By 1819 Beethoven was completely deaf, but he continued to produce revolutionary masterworks that still provide benchmarks other composers strive to attain. Beethoven began composing his Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 in 1803 and continued to work on it for several years, finally publishing it in 1807, but the tempestuous work did not receive its nickname until 1838, well after the composer's death. The final movement, in sonata-rondo form, has the feel of perpetual motion, and noted British musicologist Sir Donald Francis Tovey (1875-1940) observed that this is one of only a few sonatas by Beethoven that ends in tragedy rather than triumphing over it.

    Hungarian virtuoso Franz Liszt (1811-1886) is widely regarded as the greatest pianist of all time, and his performances excited an hysteria that today is reserved for only the most popular of rock stars. Despite great fame following a sometimes impoverished youth, Liszt remained unspoiled and donated great sums of his concert earnings to a wide variety of charitable causes, and in later life he even took orders in the church. His generosity extended to helping increase the fortunes of struggling musicians, among them Hector Berlioz and Liszt’s future son-in-law, Richard Wagner. An innovative composer, Liszt is credited with creating the symphonic tone poem as a form, developing the technique of thematic transformation, and he even anticipated some of the harmonic devices of Impressionist composers. The elegiac Funérailles ("Funeral", 1849) is the 7th in a cycle of ten piano pieces known collectively as Harmonies Poétiques et Religieuses (Poetic and Religious Harmonies). It was written to commemorate the passing of three friends who recently had died trying to liberate Hungary from Habsburg rule.

    The Polish-born pianist Frédéric Chopin was the first composer to make full use of the expressive qualities and coloristic potential of the piano when it was a still-developing keyboard instrument, and he rightly has been called the "Poet of the Piano." Much of all piano music by subsequent composers shows his influence, and his revolutionary use of chromatic harmonies and unusual key relationships profoundly influenced composers of symphonic music and operas as well, such as Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner--thus Chopin's importance in the development of the "Romantic" style in general can not be overestimated. Among other achievements, Chopin was the first to "liberate" the scherzo form from its previously subsidiary role as an interior movement in symphonies and and other multi-movement works. With Chopin the scherzo becomes an independent piece that retains the lively tempo and 3/4 time of its precedents, but which often dispenses with the jocularity implied by the title ("scherzo" is the Italian word for "joke"), and which rather expansively elaborates on the traditional "ABA" formal design. Following the stormy turbulence of the opening "A" section of Scherzo No. 1, Op. 20, first published in 1835, the "B" middle section provides a tranquil respite with a setting of the Polish Christmas carol, Lulajze Jezuniu (Sleep Little Jesus). In Chopin's Scherzo No. 2, Op. 31, published two years later, the beginning and concluding "A" sections share characteristics of sonata-allegro design, but with an interruption by the episodic central "B" section thrown in.

    A capacity crowd applauds Mr. Abboud following his stupendous performance on October 20, 2009, the Library's best-attended concert ever! The concert marked Mr. Abboud's U.S. recital debut.

  • Thursday, July 30, 2009

    10/5/2009 @ 6:15 p.m.: Jacksonville Masterworks Chorale

    Now in its 20th season and under the direction of Dr. Mark Stallings since 2002, the Jacksonville Masterworks Chorale is comprised of choral enthusiasts who love rehearsing and performing masterpieces of choral literature. These performances have included works by composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Handel, Britten, Rutter, Bernstein, Thompson, Vaughan Williams and Duruflé. The JMC has appeared in numerous places of worship in the Jacksonville area, and has shared the stage with notable area choruses, including the Jacksonville Symphony Chorus, the Florida Community College choruses, and the Jacksonville Children's Chorus. In addition, the JMC performed at Rollins College in Orlando for an American Choral Directors Association competition.


    Larry Farrow
  • Doodlin'
    Traditional German, arranged by Robert Swift
  • Die Musici (Music Shall Live)
    Franz Schubert
  • Mirjams Siegesgesang (Miriam's Song of Triumph) op. 136
    BIOGRAPHY RESOURCE CENTER articles about ...
    * Franz Schubert
    * Robert Schumann
    * John Rutter

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    Robert Schumann
  • Zigeunerleben (Gypsy Life) op. 29, no. 3
    Traditional American, arranged by John Horman
  • Follow the Drinking Gourd
    Lloyd Pfautsch
  • Fraulein Bo-Peepen and Jack Der Spratt (from Songs Mein Grossmama Sang)
    Traditional Sea Chantey, arranged for Treble Voices by Emily Crocker
  • The Drunken Sailor
    John Rutter
  • Banquet Fugue (from The Reluctant Dragon)

    The Jacksonville Masterworks Chorale are ...
  • Amanda Dandy
  • Stephanie Doerr
  • Julie Garmendia
  • Erin Gawera
  • Elizabeth Mattke
  • Laura Osofsky
  • Sally Pitzer
  • Annuel Preston
  • Altos
  • Sandy Anderson
  • Helen Benjamin
  • Ginger Blomberg
  • Serena Bloomfield
  • Carol Lynn Calvert
  • Joanne Liberty
  • Sharon Schade
  • Patricia Wakefield
  • Tenors
  • William Adams
  • Howard Beardslee
  • Julie Cross
  • Keith Hall
  • Carol Romine
  • Basses
  • William Cumbaa
  • Tom Fox
  • David Huh
  • Ken Kutch

  • The JMC's Artistic Director since 2002, Florida native Dr. Mark Stallings holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Miami, a Masters of Education from Florida Atlantic University, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Miami. As a music educator Dr. Stallings has worked in both public schools and universities, including serving as Director of Choral Activities at the University of Central Florida. Mark’s heart is in music ministry, having served churches in Amarillo, Texas, and across Florida in Stuart, Lighthouse Point, Winter Park, and in Orange Park for the past nine years. He was the Northwest Texas Conference Chairperson of the Chorister’s Guild and is Past President of the Florida Chapter of the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts. Dr. Stallings is listed in the Outstanding Young Men of America and Who’s Who in Religion, and his elected memberships in leadership and honor societies include Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa and Pi Kappa Lambda.

    Collaborating on piano is Ted Munn, Director of Music Ministries at Avondale United Methodist Church. Ted received a BA in languages and international trade from Clemson University and a Master of Music in Choral Conducting and Sacred Music from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. The multi-talented JCM alto Joanne Liberty lends the extra pair of hands for selections with four-handed accompaniments.

    Program Notes by Edward Lein, Music Librarian

    The versatile performer, arranger, conductor and composer Larry Farrow, an Associate Professor of Jazz and Contemporary Media at Florida State University, has worked in radio, film, television and the recording studio, and has collaborated with with such diverse musicians as Ann Margaret, Gladys Night, The Jacksons, Harry Belafonte, Aretha Franklin and Peter Nero. Well known for his choral pieces, Farrow's Doodlin' dates from 1982, and its playful interplay draws on the composer's jazz background.

    Holding both Masters and Doctoral degrees from the Eastman School of Music, organist, conductor, composer and arranger Robert F. Swift has taught music to students ranging from 3rd graders to graduate students, with appointments at Ithaca College, Eastman, Memphis State University and Plymouth State University. Using parallel texts in the original German and in English, Swift's lively adaptation of the folk song Die Musici ("Music Shall Live") has remained a favorite of choristers of all ages since first introduced in 1981, and its 3/4 time and piano duet accompaniment perhaps bring to mind the Liebeslieder Waltzes of Brahms.

    In addition to numerous symphonies, chamber works, masses, and solo piano music, the Austrian composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828) composed over 600 songs in his short life, and he has remained unsurpassed in his ability to marry poetry with music. His music was regularly performed in private concerts for Vienna’s musical elite and his genius was touted by no less than Beethoven, but Schubert was never able to secure a publisher for the bulk of his masterworks so he depended on his devoted circle of friends for maintaining his finances. Among his friends was soprano and voice teacher Anna Fröhlich, for whom he wrote several of his partsongs, and it was principally with her and her three singing sisters in mind that Schubert wrote Mirjams Siegesgesang, D. 942. Although the cantata for soprano solo, mixed voices, and piano was not published until more than a decade after the composer's death, the piece was first performed on January 30, 1829, at a Schubert memorial concert organized by Anna Fröhlich.

    The English version sung today is based on the original German text by Austria's greatest playwright, Franz Grillparzer (1791-1872).

    Strike your timbrels, Hebrew maidens,
    Miriam bids upraise the lay;
    Mighty is the Lord at all times,
    Mightier hail we Him today.

    Out of Egypt, as a shepherd
    Guards his flock and shows the way,
    Thou hast led Thy chosen people,
    Fire by night and cloud by day.

    Shepherd! Thou hast led us onward;
    Strong Thine arm and keen Thine eye;
    At Thy word the sea obedient
    Parts and leaves a pathway dry.

    At Thy blast the floods congealing,
    Stand upright as crystal walls;
    Thro’ the sea’s heart pass we dry-shod,
    Trusting in Thy voice which calls.

    As we pass the sky grows darker,
    Voices shout, “We will pursue!”
    Armour gleaming, trumpets clanging,
    Pharaoh’s host bursts on the view.
    Lord of hosts, this hour we perish:
    Help us, Lord our rock prove true.
           Voices shout, still pressing onward,
    ”We will pursue and overtake.”
    But Hark! What sighings! Wailings! Moanings!
    Cursings! Hark! the storm!
    Tis the Lord in all His fury.
    Headlong rush the pent-up waves.
    Pharaoh’s chariots! Horse and rider!
    Mighty waters overwhelm them.

    Fearfulness and dread upon them fall:
    By darkness and horror are they smitten:
    Drown’d the captains and drown’d the host.
    Egypt’s king! as lead sinks he down beneath
    The mighty flood. Earth has swallowed all.

    God no more her tide restraining,
    All her shores the sea regaining,
    Ne’er restoreth king or slave---
    Her sad waste at once both shroud and grave.

    The hopes of the great German Romantic composer Robert Schumann (1810-1856) to become a concert pianist were dashed in his early twenties when he permanently injured his hand, so he redirected his energies to both composing and music criticism. From childhood he was torn between literature and music, but he managed to combine these two loves even in some of his purely instrumental music by using poetry and dramatic narrative to color and direct the musical discourse. The four-part Zigeunerleben dates from 1840, Schumann's "Year of Song" which also saw the creation of Dichterliebe, Frauenliebe und -leben, and the his two other Liederkreis. It is composed on a text depicting a Romantic notion of Gypsy Life written especially for Schumann by the popular German poet Emanuel Geibel (1815-1884), and during the composer's lifetime the colorful work (which includes optional percussion parts) became one of his most popular pieces.

    Im Schatten des Waldes, im Buchengezweig
    da regt's sich und raschelt und flüstert zugleich.
    Es flackern die Flammen, es gaukelt der Schein
    um bunte Gestalten, um Laub und Gestein.

    Das ist der Zigeuner bewegte Schar
    mit blitzendem Aug' und wallendem Haar,
    gesäugt an des Niles geheiligter Flut,
    gebräunt von Hispaniens südlicher Glut.

    Um's lodernde Feuer in schwellendem Grün
    da lagern die Männer verwildert und kühn,
    da kauern die Weiber und rüsten das Mahl
    und füllen geschäftig den alten Pokal.

    Und Sagen und Lieder ertönen im Rund,
    wie Spaniens Gärten so blühend und bunt,
    und magische Sprüche für Not und Gefahr
    verkündet die Alte der horchenden Schar.

    Schwarzäugige Mädchen beginnen den Tanz,
    da sprühen die Fackeln in rötlichem Glanz,
    es lockt die Gitarre, die Cymbel klingt,
    wie wild und wilder der Reigen sich schwingt.

    Dann ruh'n sie ermüdet vom nächtlichen Reih'n;
    es rauschen die Buchen in Schlummer sie ein.
    Und die aus der glücklichen Heimat verbannt,
    sie schauen im Träume das glückliche Land.

    Doch wie nun im Osten der Morgen erwacht,
    verlöschen die schönen Gebilde der Nacht;
    es scharret das Maultier bei Tagesbeginn,
    fort zieh'n die Gestalten, wer sagt dir, wohin?

    In the shadows of the forest, among the beechtrees,
    something moves and rustles and whispers all at once.
    Flames are flickering, their glow dances
    Around colorful figures, around leaves and rocks:

    It is the roaming band of gypsies
    With flashing eyes and waving hair,
    weaned on the holy waters of the Nile,
    tanned by Spain's scorching sun.

    Around the fire in the swelling green forest
    Wild and bold men are resting,
    women squat to prepare the meal,
    and busily fill ancient goblets.

    And tales and songs resound all around,
    of how Spanish gardens are so full of bloom and color;
    and words of magic to ward off need and danger
    the wise old woman recites for the listening crowd.

    Dark-eyed girls begin their dance
    While torches flicker in redish glow;
    The guitar casts its lure and the cymbal sounds;
    The dance grows wild and wilder.

    Then they rest, weary from the night of dance,
    and the beeches rustle them to sleep.
    And, banned as they are from their blissful homeland,
    they see it in their dreams, that happy land.

    But now, when the morning awakes in the east,
    so vanish the beautiful visions of the night;
    at daybreak the mules paw the ground,
    the figures move away-who knows where

    The titular "gourd" in the powerful Underground Railroad song Follow the Drinking Gourd refers to the Big Dipper constellation that helped point the way North to freedom for 19th-Century slaves escaping from Southern plantations. Composer and arranger John D. Horman (b. 1946), a music educator for 26 years before his retirement last year, is the Director of Music at Warner Memorial Presbyterian Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, and has published over 150 pieces for choruses of all ages.

    Lloyd Pfautsch (1921-2003) was the founder of the Dallas Civic Chorus, a longtime professor of sacred music and director of choral activities at Southern Methodist University, a gifted baritone soloist, and a widely performed composer, especially of sacred choral music. His decidedly secular Songs Mein Grossmama Sang offer a humorous parody of Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzes while retelling popular nursery rhymes. Culled from author David Morrah's 1953 collection, Fraulein Bo-Peepen, and More Tales Mein Grossfader Told, the text's bilingual mix does for German what Miss Piggy did for French.

    Before becoming Vice President of Choral Publications for Hal Leonard Corporation in Milwaukee in 1989, Texas native Emily Crocker taught for 15 years in her home state. Continuing her award-winning work with youngsters, she founded the Milwaukee Children's Choir in 1994, and as an internationally performed composer she began winning ASCAP awards in 1986. The Drunken Sailor, Crocker's arrangement of the popular sea chantey (or "shanty") for treble voices with optional piano, dates back to 1980, and offers advice in addressing the age-old problem of inebriated mariners, by dawn's early light.

    Identified by BBC Music Magazine as "the most successful and well-known composer of choral music in recent British history," London-born John Rutter (b. 1945) is co-editor (with Sir David Wilcox) of the highly popular Carols for Choirs anthologies, and now divides most of his time between composing, conducting and lecturing. Rutter's eclectic style combines the harmonic language of early 20th Century British and French liturgical music with the tunefulness of popular song, creating a winning blend that has made works such as his Gloria (1976), Requiem (1985) and Magnificat (1990) among the most frequently performed works of any composer of his generation. Based on an 1898 children's tale by Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932) and with lyrics by David Grant, Rutter's musical fable The Reluctant Dragon was originally written for peformance by Britain's famous King's Singers and the City of London Sinfonia. Coming just before the fable's finale, the amusing Banquet Fugue is a lively show-stopper that might easily serve as a theme song for Top Chef!
  • Wednesday, July 29, 2009

    9/29/2009 @ 6:15 p.m.: Trio Solis


    Due to unannounced renovations to the Library's Hicks Auditorium this program has been canceled. Trio Solis hopes to reschedule.

    Founded in 2008, Trio Solis combines three dynamic virtuosi:

        Corinne Stillwell (violin),
        Gregory Sauer (cello), and
        Read Gainsford (piano)

    Since their Music @ Main concert in January 2009, subsequent performances by the faculty artists from Florida State University's College of Music included an engagement at New York's Carnegie Hall in May 2009, where they played the Trio by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich with the composer in attendance.

    Join us in welcoming these outstanding artists back to the Library's Hicks Auditorium for an evening of chamber music offerings from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries!

  • Jean Françaix
  • Anton Arensky

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  • Jean Françaix
  • Piano Trio (1986) [Jacksonville Premiere]

  •           Jean Françaix in the Library's Catalog

    Edward Lein
  • Rumor (Rumba for Violin and Cello, 2009) [World Premiere]
              Edward Lein in the Library's Catalog

    Anton Arensky
  • Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor, op. 32 (1894)

  •           Anton Arensky in the Library's Catalog

    Corrine Stillwell
    Corinne Stillwell (violin) earned her degrees from The Juilliard School, where she first enrolled at age ten. A versatile musician, she has appeared in recital at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall, on the Dame Myra Hess series in Chicago, and as soloist with numerous orchestras across the United States and on tour in Eastern Europe. Her chamber music activities have included performances at Alice Tully Hall, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Kosciuszko Foundation, the Museum of Modern Art, and at the festivals of Aspen, Norfolk, Skaneateles, the Victoria Bach Festival, and the International Festival-Institute at Round Top in Texas. Frequently heard on WXXI-FM public radio, she has collaborated with David Shifrin, Robert Levin, Pepe Romero, members of the Pro Arte and Cavani quartets, and members of the faculty at the Eastman School of Music. She has served as Assistant Concertmaster of the Rochester Philharmonic and prior to that, was a member of the Harrington String Quartet in Amarillo, Texas. In 2007, Ms. Stillwell joined the faculty at Florida State's College of Music, where she is Assistant Professor of Violin.


    Greg Sauer
    Praised for his versatility, Gregory Sauer (cello) has appeared in numerous solo recitals, including performances at the Old First Concert Series in San Francisco, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento and the Brightmusic Concert Series in Oklahoma City, and numerous chamber music performances have included appearances at Tanglewood, Aspen Music Festival, Santa Fe Promusica, and the Boulder Modern Music Festival, among many others. Greg has performed concertos with the Houston Symphony, Hudson Valley Philharmonic, the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, the Quad City Symphony, and Oklahoma City Philharmonic, to name only a few. A Prizewinner in the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and Ima Hogg national competitions, he served nine seasons as principal cellist of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Sauer is Assistant Principal Cello of the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, and, prior to joining the Florida State University music faculty in 2006, he taught at the University of Oklahoma for 11 years, where he was named Presidential Professor in 2005.


    Read Gainsford
    Read Gainsford (piano) has performed widely in the USA, Europe, Australia, South Africa, and his native New Zealand as solo recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician. He has made successful solo debuts at the Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, and has performed in many other prestigious venues, including the Kennedy Center, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Barbican Centre, Fairfield Halls, Birmingham Town Hall and St.-Martin-in-the-Fields. Dr. Gainsford has recorded for the Amoris label, BBC Radio Three, Radio New Zealand's Concert Programme, and has broadcast on national television in New Zealand, the UK, and Yugoslavia. Since moving to the United States in 1992, Read has been a guest artist for the American Music Teachers Association, has appeared at the Gilmore Keyboard Festival and the Music Festival of the Hamptons, and has spent several summers at the Heifetz International Music Institute. He is a member of the contemporary music group Ensemble X, and also the Garth Newel Chamber Players. Formerly on the faculty of Ithaca College where he received the college-wide Excellence in Teaching Award in 2004, Dr. Gainsford became Associate Professor of Piano at FSU in 2005.


    Program Notes by Ed Lein, Music Librarian

    Jean Françaix (1912-1997)
    Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano (1986
        I. [No designation] -- II. Scherzando -- III. Andante -- IV. Allegrissimo

    Although the parents of French composer, orchestrator and concert pianist Jean Françaix were professional musicians -- his father directed the Le Mans music conservatory and his mother was a singer and vocal coach -- the musical talents of such a precocious youngster likely would have been obvious to just about anyone. Young Jean began composing at age six, and by 10 he had become a published composer. At this point his exceptional talent was brought to the attention of Nadia Boulanger, the extraordinarily gifted teacher who mentored some of the greatest musical talents of the 20th Century, ranging from Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter and Ástor Piazzolla to Burt Bacharach and Quicy Jones, and even among such luminaries Boulanger considered Françaix to be one of the most naturally gifted composers she had worked with. Françaix, who remained an unapologetic neoclassicist throughout his long career, never ceased adding to his catalog of over 200 compositions in virtually all forms (including operas and film scores), finishing his last completed work less than four months before his death.

    Written when Françaix was in his 70s, his sparkling Piano Trio received its first performance at the 1987 Cheltenham Festival in England, and (as best we can tell) this (its latest performance!) is the Jacksonville premiere. At times reminiscent of Poulenc and Shostakovich, the Trio demonstrates the composer's witty, eclectic style, and shows that he never lost his youthful energy and playfulness.

  • Françaix's Trio on YouTube (end of mvt. III. -- all of IV.)


    Edward Lein (b. 1955)
    Rumor: Rumba for Violin and Cello

    Edward Lein, a native of Fort Pierce, Florida, is the Music Librarian for Jacksonville Public Library, holding Master's degrees in both Music and Library Science from Florida State University, and as a tenor soloist (now retired) he appeared in recitals, oratorios and dramatic works throughout his home state. Drawing on his performance experience the majority of his earliest compositions were vocal works, including Missa pro defunctis (Mass for the Deceased, 1991), first performed by Riverside Presbyterian Chancel Choir with members of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. Following premieres by the Jacksonville Symphony of his Meditation, for Cello, Oboe and Orchestra (2006) and In the Bleak Midwinter (2007), his instrumental catalog has grown, largely due to requests from Symphony players for new pieces. He endeavors to imbue his instrumental works with a singing lyricism similar to that of his vocal works.

    Rumor is the last movement of a four-movement suite called Un Dulcito ("A Little Sweet"), mimicking the Latin American ballroom dances that inspired them, and the composer is delighted to have such distinguished artists give the premiere performance of his little rumba (rumbita?). The entire suite grew from Tangle, a tango written in March 2009 at the request of Jacksonville Symphony players Piotr Szewczyk and Alexei Romanenko, and both Rumor and Hoodoo (the first movement samba) include variations of the tune from Tangle. Adapted for string orchestra, Un Dulcito is scheduled for its first complete performance this fall by the Vero Beach High School Symphony.

  • MP3 of Lein's Rumor on the composer's website.
  • CLICK to download a PDF file of the complete score of Un Dulcito (String Orchesra version)


    Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
    Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor, op. 32 (1894)

    I. Allegro moderato -- II. Scherzo (Allegro molto) -- III. Elegia (Adagio) -- IV. Finale (Allegro non troppo)

    Russian composer, pianist, conductor and teacher Anton Arensky is of the generation between Rimsky-Korsakov (his teacher) and Rachmaninoff and Scriabin (his students). Nurtured by his parents who were both amateur musicians, by the time he was nine Arensky was already composing songs and piano pieces. He began studies at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1879, and upon being graduated with the Gold Medal in 1882 he immediately joined the faculty of the Moscow Conservatory, a marked distinction for a 21 year old. In Moscow he received friendly encouragement from Piotr Tchaikovsky, whose own international musical style had the greatest impact on Arensky's development as a composer, and, incidentally, whose brother Modest provided the libretto for one of Arensky's three operas. Arensky resigned his professorship in 1895 to return to St. Petersburg as director of the Imperial Chapel until 1901. The last five years of his life were spent composing and touring as a successful concert pianist and conductor, but Arensky had the reputation as an overactive drinker and gambler, and these addictions greatly undermined his health. He died from tuberculosis in a Finnish sanatorium a few months before his 45th birthday.

    Not long after Arensky's passing, Rimsky-Korsakov wrote in his memoirs that Arensky would be "soon forgotten" because he found the style of his former student to be too derivative of Rimsky himself and of Tchaikovsky (the latter influence is much greater than the former). Nonetheless, Arensky's works are now becoming more familiar as new recordings of his works are made available, and his Piano Trio No. 1, Op. 32, has retained its place in the repertoire and remains his most frequently performed extended composition. According to allmusic.com, this Trio has been released on at least 33 recordings, compared with only four released of Rimsky-Korsakov's Piano Trio. (In fairness, it should be mentioned that Rimsky-Korsakov's Trio was completed after his death by his son-in-law, composer Maximilian Steinberg, but even his most popular chamber work, the 1876 Quintet for piano, flute, clarinet, horn and bassoon, has only 12 recordings listed.)

    Arensky's Piano Trio No. 1 was written in memory of cellist Karl Davidov, who had been director of the St. Petersburg conservatory while Arensky was a student there. The cello is featured prominently, no doubt in honor of Davidov, but it has been suggested perhaps also as a tribute to Arensky's father who likewise played the cello. Apparently using Mendelssohn's Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor, op. 49, as a model, Arensky's Trio demonstrates his lyrical gifts as well as his deftness in organizing convincing musical discourse.

  • Arensky's Piano Trio on YouTube
  • CLICK to download a PDF file of the complete score and parts


  • Wednesday, May 6, 2009

    6/10 @ 6:15 p.m.: Huls Clark Duo perform Beethoven and Mendelssohn Violin Sonatas

    Max Huls, violin
    Christine Clark, piano

  • BEETHOVEN: "Kreutzer" Sonata
  • MENDELSSOHN: Sonata in F Major (1838)

    Violinist Max Huls joined the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in 1993 and was introduced to the First Coast as soloist in Bartók’s Second Rhapsody, for violin and orchestra. Mr. Huls is on the faculty of the Prelude Chamber Music Camp, is a violin coach for the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra, and in addition to his core membership in the JSO he is Concertmaster of the Coastal Symphony of Georgia. He appeared variously as concertmaster, soloist and conductor with the Savannah Symphony, and was concertmaster of the Memphis Symphony and Opera Memphis. Max was on the faculty of the University of Memphis and Rhodes College, and while living in Tennessee was much sought after as a studio musician, working with the rock group The Replacements and soul legends Patti LaBelle and Al Green, among many others. He has participated in numerous music festivals, including the Aspen Music Festival, the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, and the Eastern Music Festival. Among his numerous local concerts and recitals, Max has performed Paganini's demanding Twenty-four Caprices for Friday Musicale, and as a member of Duo Proto he plays violin and viola alongside his son, Victor Minke Huls. Mr. Huls frequently collaborates with award-winning pianist Christine Clark, and the Huls Clark Duo was featured in both our June 2007 and June 2008 Intermezzo Sunday concerts.

    A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Christine Armington Clark began piano studies with James Crosland, and continued her professional training at Oberlin Conservatory. She received a Master's degree in piano performance from the University of Illinois, and studied with Leon Fleisher in the Peabody Conservatory Artist Diploma Program upon the recommendation of legendary concert pianist Lorin Hollander. Ms. Clark was national finalist in the Collegiate Artist Competition sponsored by the Music Teachers National Association, and attended the Aspen Music Festival on a piano performance and accompanying scholarship. She competed in the Maryland International Piano Competition, and won the Boca Raton Piano Competition. A versatile musician, Ms. Clark played keyboard with Trap Door, a local rock group, and toured Europe under the aegis of Proclaim! International. She taught piano at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and her chamber music performances include an appearance at the Goethe Institute in San Francisco. Well known along the First Coast, Ms. Clark has appeared with the Jacksonville Starlight Symphonette and the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and appears frequently in solo recitals and in collaboration with many of the areas finest instrumentalists and vocalists. She also serves on the Boards of several arts organizations and is President of Friday Musicale. In addition to being an accomplished pianist, Christine is an attorney, and while working in Washington, D.C., she gave perhaps her most unusual recital, performing in the United States Supreme Court at the request of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

    PROGRAM NOTES, by Ed Lein, Music Librarian (©2009, E. Lein--please notify/cresit if reprinting)

    The music of the transcendent German composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) formed the culmination of the Classical style and the foundation of the Romantic, and he has remained the best known Western classical composer for 200 years. Beethoven wrote his “Kreutzer” Sonata (Sonata no. 9 for violin and piano, op. 47) in 1803, two years after he began to lose his hearing. By 1819 Beethoven was completely deaf, but he continued to produce revolutionary masterworks that still provide benchmarks other composers strive to attain. The "Kreutzer" gets its nickname from its dedicatee, Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766-1831), a French virtuoso Beethoven had seen perform in Vienna. Ironically, Kreutzer deemed the work virtually unplayable and never performed the remarkable sonata that has secured the violinist's place in music history.

    True story: Kreutzer wasn’t the work's original dedicatee. That suspended honor went to George Bridgetower ( ca.1778-1860), an Afro-Polish virtuoso employed by the British Royal family. Bridgetower was apparently something of a cut-up: the original dedication read “Sonata per uno mulaticco lunattico.” When he and Beethoven premiered the work in Vienna on May 24, 1803, the ink was barely dry on the score, and for the second movement George had to read from the piano score over Ludwig’s shoulder. During the performance Bridgetower altered the violin part somewhat, much to Beethoven’s delight, and at some point Beethoven rewarded him by giving the violinist his tuning fork (now in the British Library). But, as the story goes, the two went out for a drink afterwards and Bridgetower made an off-color joke about a woman who turned out to be a very dear friend of the composer—Beethoven took the insult personally and broke off all ties with the violinist, and changed the dedication in the process.

    February 3rd of this year marked the bicentennial of the birth of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), a composer, pianist, organist and conductor whose prodigious musical talents rivaled those of Mozart, and who, like Mozart, did not live to see his 40th birthday. But young Felix came from a well-to-do German family and he, along with a brother and two sisters, was raised in an intellectually stimulating and stable environment, and thus was protected from the childhood exploitation that Mozart endured. Mendelssohn benefited from an impressively well-rounded education, and in addition to studying the piano, the violin and composition he developed skills as a visual artist, evidenced in over 300 surviving paintings and drawings of remarkable quality.

    At sixteen, Mendelssohn produced his first musical masterwork, the Octet for Strings, Op. 20, and the following year saw the completion of the brilliant A Midsummer Night’s Dream concert overture (Op. 21), which in some ways provides a precedent for the symphonic poems of Liszt. When he was 20, Mendelssohn sparked the revival of interest in the music of J.S. Bach and also gained international fame by conducting the first performance of the St. Matthew Passion since Bach’s death. During his tenures as conductor in Düsseldorf (1833-1835) and Leipzig (1835-1845), Mendelssohn likewise rekindled interest in the music of Handel, and works he premiered included Schubert’s newly-discovered Symphony No. 9. Through the course of his career he became something of a superstar performer and composer especially in Great Britain, and was a particular favorite of Queen Victoria. But, as did many in his family, Mendelssohn suffered from hypertension, and was often in ill-health, especially during the last years of his life. He died from a series of strokes in 1847, and was survived by his wife, Cécile, and their five children.

    In contrast to many of his flamboyant contemporaries, Mendelssohn neither overcame abject poverty, had a string of adulterous affairs, nor suffered syphilitic insanity—consequently, his reputation as a “Romantic” suffered. After Mendelssohn died, Richard Wagner became a particularly vociferous critic, lumping him with the likes of Brahms as examples of, in his mind, the unimpassioned, backward-looking drivel in dire contrast to his own more worthy creations of genius. Of course, in addition to tooting his own tuba, Wagner had ulterior motives which had nothing to do with the music itself. For one, Maestro Mendelssohn apparently had rejected (and possibly lost) the score to Wagner’s early Symphony. For another, Wagner was virulently anti-Semitic, and although Mendelssohn was by all accounts a devout Lutheran, his grandfather Moses, a well-known philosopher, was Jewish. Sadly, Wagner’s propaganda did have a negative effect among many critics even through most of the 20th Century, and not only among the Nazis who actually banned his works. But Mendelssohn’s music has never fallen out of favor with concertgoers, and his flawless Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64, remains among the most-frequently performed and recorded concertos ever written, and his Elijah (1846) likely has received more performances than any other large-scale oratorio with the exception of Handel’s Messiah. Long regarded as the quintessential recessional for weddings, it is perhaps the Wedding March from Mendelssohn’s incidental music to Shakespeare’s A Midsummernight’s Dream (Op. 61, 1843) that has received the most public performances. Ironically, this March is frequently paired with the bridal processional (“Here Comes the Bride…”) from Wagner’s opera, Lohengrin—it seems that posterity finds Mendelssohn’s music the perfect complement to Wagner’s, so the two therefore have been forever married, as it were.

    The first two of Mendelssohn‘s three sonatas for violin and piano were composed at ages 11 and 16 respectively. This evening’s Sonata dates from 1838 and is a work of his maturity, but it was never submitted for publication by the composer, nor does it appear to have been performed prior to its rediscovery by British virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin in the early 1950s. This has caused some to ponder why Mendelssohn might have “rejected” so fine a work, but it is much more likely that the composer simply never found time to revise the Sonata to his full satisfaction. Unlike so many composers, Mendelssohn did not depend on the publication of his works for income, so he had the luxury of taking as much time as he wanted to refine various details—e.g., even though Mendelssohn first conducted his ever-popular “Italian” Symphony (No. 4) in 1833, he still was withholding it from publication at the time of his death 14 years later!

  • Monday, May 4, 2009

    5/26 @ 6:15 p.m.: Anne Elise Richie

    Anne Elise Richie, mezzo-soprano
    Bonita Sonsini Wyke, piano
    With guest artist Mary Richie, piano

  • HECTOR BERLIOZ: Three songs from Les nuits d’ été
    Villanelle - Le spectre de la rose - Lîle inconnu
    Anne Elise Richie & Bonita Sonsini Wyke

  • JOSEPH HAYDN: Sonata in B minor, Hob. XVI:32
    1. Allegro Moderato - 2. Tempo di Minuetto - 3. Presto
    Mary Richie, piano

  • MICHAEL HEAD: Three Songs of Venice
    The Gondolier - St. Mark’s Square - Rain Storm
  • FRANCESCO SANTOLIQUIDO: I canti della sera
    L’assiolo canta - Alba di luna sul bosco
    Tristezza crepuscolare - L’incontro
          The Spinster of Chelsea Embankment
    (from Cabaret Songs, Vol.3)
          Two songs from Ladies of Their Nights and Days
    I Left You in Florence - The Queen Elizabeth Blues
    Anne Elise Richie & Bonita Sonsini Wyke

    Known for her warm, rich mezzo-soprano voice and gracious performing style, Anne Elise Richie has distinguished herself as an opera singer, concert artist and devoted teacher. A Metropolitan Opera District Winner, Ms. Richie has toured Italy, France and Germany in addition to her many performances in the United States. She has appeared in a wealth of diverse operas and theatrical productions including Madama Butterfly, Hansel and Gretel, The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, The Pirates of Penzance and 1776, and fine intonation and committed character portrayal are hallmarks of her performances. In addition to appearing as a soloist with the Birmingham Symphony Mozart Celebration, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Milwaukee Catholic Symphony Orchestra, University of Chicago Orchestra and Winston-Salem/Piedmont Triad Orchestra, Ms. Richie sang for four seasons with the New York City Opera Chorus and Opera Orchestra of New York. Upcoming local performances include a June 22nd appearance as soloist for Maurice Durufle's Requiem, part of Jacksonville Masterworks Chorale's Summer Sings choral workshop series. She was a Visiting Professor of Voice at the University of North Florida and an adjunct professor at New Jersey City University, Wagner College and Bergen Community College. In addition to maintaining a private studio, Ms. Richie was the Head of Vocal Studies at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts from August 2005 to May 2007. She received her undergraduate degree in Vocal Performance from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and Masters in Opera Performance from the North Carolina School of the Arts, and she is now nearing the completion of her doctoral degree in Vocal Performance with an emphasis on Vocal Pedagogy from Florida State University.

    Bonita Sonsini Wyke has been an active part of the Jacksonville music community since 1985, and in working with many of the First Coast's leading vocalists, instrumentalists and musical ensembles she has earned the reputation as a musician of unsurpassed sensitivity, technical skill and artistry. Originally from Los Angeles, California, she has performed for more than thirty years as a collaborative pianist and harpsichordist for choral groups, orchestral and instrumental ensembles, and for stage productions including opera, music theater, ballet and modern dance. In 2007, Bonita joined the Piano Department at Jacksonville University as full-time Staff Accompanist for Opera, Music Theater, Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, and student and faculty recitals. A founding member of the San Marco Chamber Music Society, Ms. Sonsini Wyke is a seasoned chamber player, and especially enjoys four-hand piano literature.

    Pianist Mary Richie has been performing since age 16, and divides her time between teaching and accompanying in Tampa, where she resides, and traveling to Orlando, Jacksonville and the Jersey Shore to be with family. Throughout her extensive career as an organist and Minister of Music in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Charlotte (North Carolina) and Tampa she has maintained a successful private studio, teaching aspiring pianists of all ages. A graduate of Alverno College (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), she completed Master’s level courses in accompanying and performance at Winthrop College (Charlotte, North Carolina) and is presently studying performance technique and chamber repertoire with Dr. Averill Summer at the University of South Florida in Tampa. In December 2007, the mother of five and grandmother of seven performed with the St. Timothy Catholic Church Adult Choir (Lutz, Florida) at Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano and La chiesa di Sant'Ignazio di Loyola in Rome, Italy.

    Program Notes, by Ed Lein, Music Librarian

    The French Romantic Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) was among the most progressive composers of his era, and his original blending of symphonic forms with dramatic narrative, coupled with his keen insight into orchestration, had profound influence on the creative development of such luminaries as Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt. As a composer, Berlioz was never very popular with the French musical establishment, and despite his early successes he had difficulty getting his later works performed unless he paid for the concerts himself. But he did enjoy success as an author and music critic, and gained international fame as a conductor. In 1850 he was appointed Head Librarian of the Paris Conservatoire, which provided not only financial stability, but also something of an ironic twist to his biography. As a youth Berlioz had been sent to Paris to attend medical school, but rather than study human anatomy (which repulsed the young Hector) he preferred to study music scores, so he would sneak into—and then be kicked out of—the very library he would later manage. Especially famous for his Symphonie fantastique (1830) and Grande Messe des morts (Requiem Mass, 1837), Berlioz wrote about 50 songs with piano or guitar accompaniment, and among these the six songs from Les nuits d’ete (“The Nights of Summer”), Op. 7 (1841, orchestrated 1856) are easily the best known. Although the lyrics of all the opus 7 songs are by the influential French poet and critic Théophile Gautier (1811-1872), apparently the composer’s original intent was not that they be performed as a song cycle. Instead, he conceived them as separate songs to be performed variously by tenor, baritone, contralto, and mezzo-soprano, and was only later (but easily) convinced to orchestrate the whole set by an admiring music publisher. The selections this evening are the first, second and sixth songs from the set. Villanelle, a rustic song, joyously welcomes the returning spring with renewed hopefulness as the countryside begins to reawaken. In Le spectre de la rose (“The Ghost of the Rose”), a fading blossom at first seems to lament having been cut down in its prime, only to rejoice in its happy fate of having adorned the belle of the ball as its perfume lingers on. In the concluding barcarolle, L'île inconnue ("The Unknown Island"), a flirtatious gondolier asks his pretty young passenger to imagine which exotic shores she'd like to be whisked away to--she responds, "To the faithful shore where we're always in love!"

    Genial Austrian composer (Franz) Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) is the musician most credited with establishing the “Classical” style that his two younger contemporaries Mozart and Beethoven built upon, and by the time of his death "Papa" Haydn had become the most widely celebrated composer in Europe. Known as both “Father of the Symphony” and “Father of the String Quartet,” Haydn began his career as a choirboy and never developed into a keyboard virtuoso, so his (at least) 51 keyboard sonatas were mostly composed in the early part of his career as a court musician. His Piano Sonata No. 47 (1776) is one of only seven he wrote in a minor key, and its three-movement scheme is representative of the instrumental sonata forms he pioneered.

    British composer Michael Head (1900-1976) became famous as a classical singer who accompanied himself at the piano, so it is not surprising that the great majority of his works are for voice and piano. His three Songs of Venice (1976), on texts by his sister Nancy Bush (1907-1991), were composed for the great British mezzo-soprano Janet Baker. The songs were among Head’s very last works—sadly, the composer died before Dame Janet premiered them in 1977. Head is considered especially gifted in his ability to conjure images using music, demonstrated here as he assumes in turn the roles of biographer, travel guide, and naturalist philosopher.

    Italian composer Francesco Santoliquido (1883-1971) completed the music and lyrics of his earliest surviving songs, I canti della sera (“The Songs of the Evening”) in 1908. They were published by Ricordi in 1912, and the journal Musical America recommended them “as the finest of modern concert songs” in 1922. But in addition to composing, Santoliquido published books of verse and short stories, and in 1937 and 1938 he penned several fascist, anti-Semitic articles, and also decried musical modernism. As a result he was effectively ostracized from the progressive arts community. Ironically, his third wife, pianist Ornella Pulti Santoliquido, had been a student of Alfredo Casella (a prominent Jewish-Italian composer and a particular target of Francesco's), and she became known as an advocate of modern music. As these four evocative "evening songs" demonstrate, Santoliquido’s early style blends characteristics of Debussy and Richard Strauss (by way of Puccini!), but they do not yet show the influence of the Arabic music that colored his later works, the result of a nine-year sojourn to North Africa which began in 1912. The first song, L’assiola canta (“The Horned Owl Sings”), is an invitation to share an intimate walk through the woods on a still, starry evening, interrupted only by the mournful sigh of an owl. Alba di luna sul bosco (“Moonrise over the Woods”) artfully depicts the appearance of a red moon over the forest and it’s shimmering reflection caught on the surface of a pond; this in turn leads the poet to reflect on the surrounding vast stillness and peace, and how such a perfect sense of communion mirrors, or perhaps even inspires newly found love. As its title suggests, the mood of Tristezze crepuscolare (“Twilight Gloom”) changes from peaceful contemplation to sorrowful angst and agitation as the incessant pealing of evening church bells unearths painful memories of a lost love. The final song, L’incontro (“The Encounter”), ends the cycle on a more hopeful note as it relates the happy reunion of a couple who years before had enjoyed a similar twilight flirtation, with evening bells and sqwaking seabirds now heard in the distance, just the same as before. The accompaniment includes rhythmic patterns similar to those used in the preceding songs, perhaps suggestive of the imperfectly-recalled memories mentioned in the lyrics.


    The versatile New York pianist and composer Richard Pearson Thomas (b. 1957) is at home in both the musical theater and the concert hall. In addition to accompanying recitals with singers at major U.S. and international venues, he composes for films and the stage, including the Off-Off-Broadway shows Parallel Lines (2005) and Ladies in a Maze (1996). The Montana native is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and the University of Southern California, was on faculty at Yale, and currently is on the faculty at Teachers College/Columbia University. He has composed more than 80 operas with students in New York City public schools as composer-in-residence of the Gold Opera Project, Young Audiences/New York. Writing the words as well as the music, Mr. Thomas began issuing collections of his Cabaret Songs in 1995. Published in 2006, The Spinster of Chelsea Embankment comes from Volume 3, and has been described as depicting “a figure apparently on intimate terms with more than a century-and-a-quarter's worth of literary luminaries, like Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) and Charles Dickens (1812-1870).” Composed between 1980 and 1988 and also with texts by the composer, Ladies of Their Nights and Days is a cycle of 11 songs, subtitled “a musical tour for mezzo-soprano.” In the context of the whole cycle Windsor: The Queen Elizabeth Blues is the first song, and I Left You in Florence is the last, but each song is strong enough to be performed independently. About his cycle the composer says, “[it] is designed for a singing actress with great musical and dramatic skills. Each song is a different character in a different European setting,” and he adds, “The piano accompaniments are orchestral and challenging, but a lot of fun for an accomplished pianist."