Jacksonville University Chamber Strings Dr. Marguerite Richardson, director
PLEASE NOTE THE EARLIER-THAN-USUAL START TIME!
PLEASE NOTE THE EARLIER-THAN-USUAL START TIME!
- Handel: Concerto Grosso in G major, opus 6, no. 1
- Faure: Elegy (Dr. Shannon Lockwood, violoncello)
- Mozart: Divertimento in D, K.136
- Mascagni: Intermezzo (from Cavalleria Rusticana)
Mendelssohn: Sinfonia No. 2 in D[selection cancelled]
- Szewczyk: Rebirth of Hope
Dr. Scott Watkins, guest keyboardist
Along with J.S. Bach (1685-1750) and Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) is widely regarded as among the most significant composers of the Baroque era, and certainly his Messiah is one of the most-performed works of all time. Handel was born in Germany but became a British subject in 1727, and it was from his naturalized home in London that he gained fame as a composer, primarily for his operas and oratorios. Among his instrumental works, both Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks remain great favorites. The 18 concerti grossi that comprise his Opus 3 and Opus 6 are not as well-known, but they nonetheless provide some of the finest examples of the genre. All of Handel's 12 Concerti Grossi, Op. 6 were composed in less than a month in the fall of 1739, and primarily were written to serve as interludes during performances of his oratorios and other choral works.
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) was a composer, organist, pianist and teacher, and he is widely regarded as the foremost French composer of his generation. Although Fauré greatly admired Wagner he 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; in the process he successfully bridged the styles of Saint-Saëns (his teacher) and Ravel (his student). Among Fauré's best-known works is the hauntingly beautiful choral Requiem, and his songs and chamber music also have a devoted and well-deserved following. Composed in 1880 for cello and piano, Fauré's Élégie, Op. 24, was first performed publically in 1883 by cellist Jules Loëb (1852-1933), to whom the piece is dedicated. The piece remained so popular that Fauré was asked to create an orchestral version which was published in 1901, and first performed that same year with the legendary Pablo Casals (1876-1973) as soloist.
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. From this early beginning he absorbed and mastered all the contemporary musical trends he was exposed to along the way, and by the end of his short life he left posterity with over 600 works. Mozart basically was still a 16-year-old "apprentice" composer when he wrote the Divertimento in D, K.136. It is the first of the three works (K. 136-138) that are sometimes referred to as the "Salzburg Symphonies," because he was employed as court musician in Salzburg during in the winter of 1772 when they were written. It is unclear from his manuscript whether Mozart intended them for string quartet or string orchestra, and the title"divertimento" was added by a hand other than Mozart's. Unlike the composer's mature Divertimentos and Serenades for winds and strings which typically have at least 6 movements, these Salzburg string-only works have just three movements. By this point in his career Mozart had already spent time in Italy, and would soon return, so it is not surprising that he seems to have patterned them after the Italian sinfonia, works typically in a fast-slow-fast, three-movement pattern.
Italian composer and conductor Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945), a classmate of Puccini at the Milan Conservatory, rocketed to international fame following the 1890 premiere of Cavalleria rusticana (Rustic Chivalry). Although he wrote more than a dozen subsequent operas, Mascagni was never able to duplicate the same level of international success he achieved with the one-act verismo opera of betrayal and revenge that assures the composer his continuing place in opera history. The orchestral Intermezzo comes just prior to the opera's climactic final scene, and it gained wide-spread exposure among non-opera goers when film director Martin Scorsese used it to open his 1980 bio-pic, Raging Bull, now widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made.
Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) was 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. Through the course of his career Mendelssohn became something of a superstar performer and composer, especially in Great Britain where he was a particular favorite of Queen Victoria. His musical legacy includes the well-known "Scottish" and "Italian" Symphonies, his often-performed and recorded Violin Concerto, and Elijah, which is surpassed only by Handel's Messiah in popularity among large-scale sacred oratorios. At sixteen, Mendelssohn produced his first 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) -- so, in terms of achieving his musical "maturity," Mendelssohn surpassed even Mozart. Between the ages of 12 and 14 young Felix composed a dozen symphonies for string orchestra as student exercises, at first mimicking 18th-Century formal procedures. Working under the guidance of composer Carl Friedrich Zelter (1758-1832), the 12-year-old Mendelssohn wrote the first seven of his 12 Sinfonias for strings in 1821. Like the others in this early group, Sinfonia No. 2 in D major (MWV N.2) follows a 3-movement, fast-slow-fast outline, apparently taking as a model works by J.S. Bach's son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788).
Polish-born violinist and composer Piotr Szewczyk (b. 1977) joined the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in 2007. He has appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras and ensembles, and performs frequently in solo and chamber recitals, including appearances in the United States, Poland, Germany and Austria. Szewczyk's works have won a number of national and international composition prizes, including the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra’s 2008 Fresh Ink competition, and his music has been featured on the CBS Early Show and NPR's Performance Today. The elegiac Rebirth of Hope was composed in 2005 in response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami, which, on December 26, 2004, claimed the lives of over 230,000 people in 14 countries, making it among the worst natural disasters in recorded history.