Thursday, October 28, 2010

Intermezzo Sunday Concert, 12/12/2010 @ 2:30pm

Intermezzo Sunday Concerts, December 12, 2010

Flutation : a Flute Duo

Sunday Matinée at the Opera

Anne McKennon & Gia Sastre, flutes
assisted by Jeanne Huebner, piano

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Der Holle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen
from The Magic Flute, edited by Gerhard Braun for 2 flutes

Franz Doppler
Potpourri on Rossini's "The Barber of Seville"
for 2 flutes

George Gershwin

from Porgy and Bess
arranged for unaccompanied flute by Anne McKennon
(Anne McKennon)

Georges Bizet
Carmen Suite
arranged for 2 flutes by Kurt Walther
  • Introduction
  • Changing of the Guard, March of the Street Urchins
  • Habanera
  • Gypsy Dance and Song in the Tavern of Lillas Pastia

    Christoph Willibald Gluck
    Minuet and Dance of the Blessed Spirits

    from Orphée et Eurydice (1774 French version)
    Arranged for flute and piano
    (Gia Sastre and Jeanne Huebner)

    Franz and Karl Doppler
    Rigoletto-Fantaisie, Op. 38
    Fantasy and Variations on themes from Verdi's Rigoletto
    For 2 flutes and piano

    Program Notes, by Ed Lein, Music Librarian

    Anne McKennon is a versatile Jacksonville-area flutist who also plays piccolo, tin whistle, and sopranino, soprano and alto recorders. She studied flute locally with Mary Ellen Potter, and she frequently performs with the Chamber Music Society of Good Shepherd, Friday Musicale's Mary L'Engle Ensemble, Innamorati della Musica, and the FSCJ Flute Choir. In addition to playing classical repertoire, her varied background includes performances with a Celtic music group and an acoustic rock group, and she often writes and arranges original flute parts to meet the demands of each performance situation. In the summer of 2010, she arranged Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf for 2 flutes, mainly for classroom performances, but also for children's programs at Jacksonville Public Library.

    Miami native Gia Sastre holds degrees from DePaul University in Chicago (MM) and Florida State University (BM), and also pursued a resident course of study in Great Britain with Paul Edmund-Davies, then principal flutist of the London Symphony Orchestra. Prior to moving to Jacksonville, Ms. Sastre spent several years in Chicago as a recitalist and freelance artist. In Illinois, she frequently performed with harpist Ann Laura Tapia as a member of the Abellimento Flute & Harp Duo, and in 2006 the Duo released their debut recording, Abellimento, to critical acclaim. As a soloist, Ms. Sastre won the Musicians Club of Women Farwell Award, and she performed in the Chicago Cultural Center and other venues throughout the Chicago area. In addition to maintaining a private studio, Ms. Sastre served on the Community Music faculty of DePaul University as both flute instructor and flute choir director.

    Among the First Coast's most popular collaborative artists, pianist Jeanne Huebner is one whose talents are in constant demand. Holding a degree in music education from San Diego State College with a major in piano, she has taught public school music in California and Florida and has served as an organist and church music director. Currently serving as accompanist for various chamber music ensembles and at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Jacksonville, Ms. Huebner frequently performs for Friday Musicale events and with the Chamber Music Society of Good Shepherd for their monthly concerts.

    Austrian-born 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 during his travels. He wrote more than 600 works, including 22 operas and over three dozen symphonies, plus numerous concertos, chamber works, piano pieces, and choral works. An extremely demanding tour de force originally for high (high!) coloratura soprano, Der Holle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen ("Hell's vengeance boils in my heart"), is from the 2nd Act of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte ("The Magic Flute," 1791), the immensely popular Singspiel completed only a few months before the composer's death. Also known as "The Queen of the Night's Vengeance Aria," it famously presents the woefully unmaternal Queen trying to coerce her daughter, Pamina, to surreptitiously stab the Queen's rival, the virtuous Sarastro. Arranger Gerhard Braun (b. 1932) is a German flutist, composer, teacher, and recording artist who is highly regarded especially for his virtuoso recorder-playing.

    YouTube version (for Flute & Oboe)

    By 1829, when Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868) retired after the premiere of his 39th opera, Guillaume Tell, he had become the most popular composer in the history of music for the stage. Rossini's comic Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville, 1816) retains its place as one of the most frequently staged Italian operas, so it is no surprise that the virtuoso flutist and composer (Albert) Franz Doppler (1821-1883) included it among the various potpourris of opera tunes for two flutes he wrote for concert performances with his younger brother, Karl Doppler (1825-1900). Born in Lemberg, Poland (the present-day Lvov, Ukraine), the brothers gained fame touring Europe with their flute duo recitals, and both became prominent members of Hungarian orchestras. Karl eventually settled down as the Kapellmeister in Stuttgart (Germany), while Franz moved to Austria as conductor of the Vienna Court Opera. Franz was celebrated as a composer especially for his popular ballets, but today he is most remembered for his works that feature the flute.

    George Gershwin (1898-1937) wrote his first song in 1916 and his first Broadway musical in 1919, and he remained a fixture of the New York stage for 14 successive years. In 1924 he enjoyed success in applying jazz idioms to concert works with Rhapsody in Blue, and until the end of his life he produced larger-scale works alongside songs for musicals and films. Gershwin's Porgy and Bess (1935), with lyrics by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin, remains the only opera by an American composer firmly established in the repertoire. Gershwin began composing the show's most memorable song, Summertime, in December 1933, and he new a good thing when he heard it--the song appears twice in the opera's first act and reappears in the 2nd and 3rd acts as well. Indeed, Summertime is one of the most popular songs ever written: an international group of collectors of recordings of Summertime known as "The Summertime Connection" knows of at least 37,172 public performances of which 29,106 have been recorded (as of 10/01/2010).

    As a precocious youngster, Georges Bizet (1838-1875), entered the Conservatoire de Paris a couple of weeks before his tenth birthday and seemed destined for great things, excelling both as pianist and composer, and winning the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1857. But Bizet's adult life was plagued by one setback after another and he never enjoyed the success his great talent should have afforded. His final work, Carmen has become one of the most beloved operas of all time, but the 37-year-old Bizet, weakened by complications from acute tonsillitis (i.e., quinsy, the same affliction that "did in" George Washington), died of a heart attack three months after his masterpiece premiered to a decidedly lukewarm reception at Paris’s Opéra-Comique, and without a clue as to the ultimate popularity his swan song would gain. The perceived immorality of the story by French author Prosper Mérimée (1803-1870), beginning with smoking factory girls (shocking!) and ending with a sexually-charged murder, was a tad racier than the family-friendly theater was accustomed. The theater management even went so far as to insist that the ending be rewritten—it is to Bizet’s credit that he refused to compromise his artistic vision. The rest, as they say, is history.

    YouTube version (2 Flutes, different arrangement)

    Bohemian by birth and cosmopolitan in life, the early Classic-period composer Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787) spent his adulthood variously in Prague, Vienna, Milan, London, and Paris, and along the way he helped revolutionize the way operas were conceived, and thus laid the groundwork for the music dramas of Richard Wagner (1813-1883). Gluck's mythological Orfeo ed Euridice ("Orpheus and Eurydice," 1762) is generally regarded as the first "modern" opera. With it the composer abandoned the conventions of the prevailing opera seria, a stylized genre that typically introduces secco recitatives (i.e., those "dry," almost spoken passages accompanied only by harpsichord and bass instrument) to explain a situation, followed by florid arias in which the singers offer motionless reflections on said situation while the full orchestra supports their vocal pyrotechnics. Instead, Gluck favored a less contrived, more "naturalistic" dramatic style--except, of course, that everybody still goes around singing. This landmark opera has never left the repertoire, but Gluck did revise it a couple of times, most significantly for the 1774 Paris production, for which it became Orphée et Eurydice. The Parisians had a particular fondness for ballet, so, in addition to adapting the music to a French libretto from the original Italian, Gluck expanded the dance numbers, including adding a D-minor section to the existing F-major Menuet to create the well-known "Dance of the Blessed Spirits." This dance sequence heralds Orpheus's arrival in the Underworld, as he continues on his (ultimately unsuccessful) quest to lead his recently-deceased wife, Eurydice, back into the land of the apparently less-blessed living.

    YouTube version

    As previously mentioned, early in their careers the brothers Franz and Karl Doppler were famous throughout Europe for their duo flute concerts, and they apparently were quite the picture when they performed: the left-handed Karl held his flute "backwards" as it were, creating a mirror image of his right-handed brother as he stood opposite him. The flute duets they played were usually written or adapted by the elder Franz, but the two brothers collaborated in preparing the Rigoletto-Fantaisie, Op. 38, drawing on tunes from the ever-popular Rigoletto (1851), by Italy's foremost opera composer, Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901). Based on Victor Hugo’s tragic play, Le roi s’amuse (1832), Verdi's title character is the spiteful court jester to the Duke of Mantua. The Duke routinely seduces the wives and daughters of his courtiers, and Rigoletto takes great pleasure in mocking and humiliating the wronged noblemen. But when one of them hurls a father’s curse at Rigoletto, the superstitious jester is horrified--and, as it turns out, with good cause.

    YouTube version

  • Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Intermezzo Sunday Concert, 11/14/2010 @ 2:30pm

    Sunday Wakening

    Piotr Szewczyk, violin

    Six pieces from Violin Futura 3

    Gary Smart, piano

    Blossoms : Solo Piano Improvisations

    Two in One!
    1. The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra's Piotr Szewczyk premieres pieces for unaccompanied violin written especially for him by composers from around the world.
    2. UNF Professor Dr. Gary Smart presents free-wheeling piano improvisations ... Discard the labels--Expect the unexpected!

    Polish-born violinist and composer Piotr Szewczyk (b. 1977) studied composition and violin at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and while earning both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees as well as his Artist Diploma, Piotr served as concertmaster of several of the College-Conservatory's orchestras. He then received a fellowship at the New World Symphony in Miami Beach where he served as rotating concertmaster under Artistic Director Michael Tilson Thomas. The winner of the 2006 New World Symphony Concerto competition, Mr. Szewczyk has appeared as soloist with numerous ensembles, including the Lima Symphony, New World Symphony, World Youth Symphony Orchestra, Queen City Virtuosi, and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. Piotr also has given solo and chamber recitals in the United States, Poland, Germany and Austria, and his own award-winning compositions have been performed by numerous orchestral and chamber ensembles, and at the American Symphony Orchestra League Conference by ALIAS Ensemble in Nashville. Mr. Szewczyk’s string quintet, The Rebel, was performed live on the CBS Early Show by the Sybarite Chamber Players, and was also featured on NPR's Performance Today. Piotr joined the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in September 2007, and in 2008 he won a commission from the Symphony by placing first in its Fresh Ink composition competition. The resulting piece, First Coast Fanfare, was premiered by the Jacksonville Symphony on April 15th of this year.

    Mr. Szewczyk's critically-acclaimed Violin Futura project features recitals of short, exciting and innovative solo violin pieces newly-written for him by composers from the United States, Germany, England and Japan. Currently working on the third program group in the series, Szewczyk has performed Violin Futura at numerous festivals and universities including Spoleto Festival USA, Berklee College of Music in Boston, University of Florida, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Santa Fe New Music Festival, University of Cincinnati, University of North Florida, EMMA Lecture Series at Flagler College, Bavarian Academy of Arts in Munich, Germany, New Museum of Art and Design in Nuremberg, Germany and many others.

    For this Intermezzo recital, Mr. Szewczyk will perform:
    More about Mr. Szewczyk at

    Gary Smart's career has encompassed a wide range of activities as composer, classical and jazz pianist, and teacher. A true American pluralist, Dr. Smart composes and improvises a music that reflects an abiding interest in world musics, Americana and jazz, as well as the Western classical tradition. Always
    a musician with varied interests, he may be the only pianist to have studied with Yale scholar/keyboardist Ralph Kirkpatrick, the great Cuban virtuoso Jorge Bolet, and the master jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.

    Smart’s work has been supported by the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Music Educator's National Conference, the Music Teacher's National Association, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Smart’s music has been performed in major venues in the United States, including the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, as well as venues in Europe and Asia. His Concordia for orchestra won the Concordia jazz composition award and was premiered at Lincoln Center, New York. His Song of the Holy Ground for string quartet and piano won the 2008 John Donald Robb Musical Trust Composers’ Competition and was premiered at the 2009 Robb Composers’ Symposium at the University of New Mexico.

    Smart's compositions are published by Margun Music (G. Schirmer) and his work has been recorded on the Mastersound, Capstone and Albany labels. His CD’s The Major’s Letter, songs for voice and piano, American Beauty – a ragtime bouquet, Hot Sonatas, a collection of jazz-influenced chamber music, and Turtle Dreams of Flight, original music for solo piano performed by the composer, have all been released recently by Albany Records.

    Blossoms, a recording of his solo piano improvisations, is currently in production.

    Dr. Smart spent two residencies in Japan, teaching in programs at Osaka University and Kobe College. He also taught in Indonesia as "Distinguished Lecturer in Jazz" under the auspices of the Fulbright program. From 1999-2003, he served as Chairman of the UNF Music Department. Gary Smart is currently a Presidential Professor of Music at the University of North Florida.

    More about Dr. Smart at