Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Intermezzo Sunday Concert, April 6, 2014 @ 3 p.m.

Kimberly Beasley, Soprano
Scott Watkins, piano

Faculty Artists from Jacksonville University

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari
  Quattro Rispetti, Op. 11
     Un verde praticello senza piante
     Jo dei saluti ve ne mando mille
     E tanto c'è pericol ch'io ti lasci
     O sì che non sape vo sospirare

Piotr Tchaikovsky
   Three Romances, from Op. 47
       1. Кабы знала я (Had I but Known)
       6. День ли царит (Whether Daylight Reigns)
       7. Я ли в поле да не травушка была (Was I not a Sprig of Grass in the Meadow?)
   Нет, толко тот, кто знал, Op. 6, No. 6 (None but One Who Knows Longing,
        aka "None But the Lonely Heart")


Richard Strauss
   Zueignung, Op. 10, No. 1
   Ich trage meine Minne, Op. 32, No. 1
   Heimliche Aufforderung, Op. 27, No. 3

Claude Debussy
   Trois chanson de Bilitis
     I. La flûte de Pan
     II. La chevelure
     III. Le tombeau des Naïades

William Bolcom
   3 Cabaret Songs
     Over the piano
     Places to Live


Kimberly Beasley is an Assistant Professor of Voice at Jacksonville University and holds a Bachelor's in Music Theatre from the University of Colorado, a Master of Music from Valparaiso University and a Certificate of Vocal Performance from Northwestern University where she studied with Sunny Joy Langton and coached with Richard Boldrey and Baritone Sherrill Milnes of the Metropolitan Opera, who observed that   "Kimberly is a fine musician who sings with great sensitivity, offering mature musicianship and strong performance technique."            

While a Chicago resident she performed frequently as a soloist with the Northwest Festival Orchestra, Southwest Michigan Symphony, Elmhurst Symphony, the Northwest Indiana Symphony, DuPage Opera Theatre, the New Philharmonic Orchestra, Light Opera Works, and the Grant Park Symphony Chorus. With the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Kimberly performed in their productions of Cavalleria Rusticana, Fidelio, and Turandot

Professor Beasley has extensive concert and recital appearances featuring varied repertoire including opera, oratorio, jazz, and musical theatre. Her varied stage roles have ranged from Cinderella in Into the Woods and Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore, to Angelica in Suor Angelica, Rosina in Barber of Seville, Dorine in Tartuffe, Micäela in Carmen, and Butterfly in Madama Butterfly. An experienced stage director for companies including the Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso and OneTheatre in Chicago, Professor Beasley has brought her expertise to Jacksonville University, directing a number of opera and musical theater productions, including Little Women, the Musical, which won awards for Best Actor and Best Set Design from Broadway World, and the Jacksonville premiere of Kurt Weill's Street Scene, in April 2013.

Professor Beasley has taught university courses in applied theory, opera scenes, vocal pedagogy, and opera history at Valparaiso University, Northwestern University, and the Graham School of the University of Chicago. In addition to Music at Main, you can hear her locally with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music Society of Jacksonville, and Friday Musicale.

Scott Watkins, Assistant Professor of Piano at Jacksonville University, is well known to First Coast audiences for his appearances with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, his numerous solo recitals, and his frequent collaborations with many of the areas finest singers and instrumentalists. His 1985 U.S. debut, an all-Bach recital given in Chicago, was broadcast live nationwide, and has been followed by a steady flow of solo and concerto performances in North and South America, Europe and the Caribbean. He has been heard often in the United States and Canada on National Public Radio and Television, and in South America and Europe on The Voice of America. Performances have included the world premieres of Elie Siegmeister’s From These Shores and Ned Rorem’s Song and Dance.

An active chamber musician, Dr. Watkins has appeared with the LaSalle Quartet and violinist Eugene Fodor, and a  performance with violinist Hillary Hahn was broadcast on NPR's Performance Today. Much in demand as an accompanist, he has appeared with soprano Elizabeth Futral and baritone Steven White, and released a disc of late romantic lieder with White. Watkins also released two solo discs, one featuring works from his New York debut at Carnegie Hall, and another, Christmas Cards, featuring music for the holiday season, with works by Bach, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Handel, Grainger, and others.
A champion of new music, Watkins recently recorded An American Sonata for two pianos and percussion by noted American composer and pianist Gary Smart.

Dr. Watkins is the recipient of numerous awards, including the John Philip Sousa Award for Outstanding American Musicians, Rotary Club of Florida's Annual Artistic Merit Award, and France's Jeunesse Musicales. In 1985, he became the youngest winner ever of The U.S. Department of State's Artistic Ambassador Award. His degrees include a Bachelor of Music from the University of Cincinnati, Master of Music from University of South Carolina, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from Florida State University.

PROGRAM NOTES, by Kimberly Beasley

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) was an Italian composer born of a German father, but his tastes always gravitated toward Italian Renaissance music. His songs are melodic and tonal and he is quoted as saying, "Why do so many `modernists’ rail at the things past? Can one imagine a saint, railing at all the saints that preceded him?" He never apologized for not being drawn to more modernist compositional techniques. These songs are appealing for their melodic beauty and I imagine them to be somewhat of a progression: imagining love not yet discovered, pining for love that has become a reality, encouraging and maintaining love in an effort to hold on to it, and finally being exhausted of all the effort this thing called love has required!

Piotr Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) wrote over 100 songs and had a special ability to take a poem and demonstrate its deepest emotions. Although not sung with the expanse of vocal color in Schumann or Mahler, his songs are engrossing and haunting. The three on this program from Opus 47 use the poetry of Tolstoy (1817-1875), Apukhtin (1840-1893), and Surikov (1841-1880). Tolstoy is an understood favorite of the Russian romantic era and Had I But Known is a fantastical, imaginary vignette, sung by a young girl anticipating a rendezvous. Apukhtin supposedly wrote Whether Daylight Reigns at the suggestion of Tchaikovsky himself in honor of the singer Alexandra Panayeva. He knew Apukhtin was enamored with her and asked if he had ever written her a poem. Apukhtin handed him a piece of paper with this poem on it, and Tchaikovsky wrote the song two days later. Surikov was a peasant by birth and remained a stable hand until his death. His poem for “The Bride’s Lament” (Was I not a Sprig of Grass in the Meadow?) uses a familiar theme in Russian poetry and echoes the poet’s own station in life.

[Given his gift for singing melodies, it is not surprising that Tchaikovsky created some memorable songs.  The best-known, at least in the English-speaking world, is None but One Who Knows Longing (aka, None but the Lonely Heart), which even has been recorded by pop and jazz singers, including Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughan.--Ed Lein]

  Нет, толко тот, кто знал                                            None but One Who Knows Longing

Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was a multifaceted composer with output in song, opera, and orchestral repertoire. His songs written between 1885 and 1918 have a more conservative harmonic structure; however, although never reaching the progressiveness of Salomé, which commenced his operatic output ranging from 1905-1942, the later songs do have mildly shocking chord structure and harmonic progression reminiscent of later compositions. The songs selected are from Opus 10, 27, and 32 and demonstrate some evolution as a composer. All three songs were orchestrated by Robert Heger and Heimliche Aufforderung and Ich trage meine Minne were later transcribed for piano by Max Reger. Zueignung, with poetry by Hermann von Gilm, was dedicated to singer Viorica Ursuleac, Ich trage mein Minne, with poetry by Karl Henckell from his Buch der Liebe, is dedicated to Pauline, Strauss’ wife, and Heimliche Aufforderung, with poetry by John Henry Mackay, was given to Pauline on her wedding day.

Claude Debussy (1862-1918), known for his pentatonic and whole scales, defines the Impressionistic era of classical music. Although his orchestral works are frequently heard, you almost have to be at a song recital to hear some of his vocal works. The Trois chansons de Bilitis are set to poetry by Pierre Louÿs, poetry that depicts the Grecian courtesan Bilitis* as a contemporary of Sappho. They are set low in the soprano voice, but it is a timbre that was desired by the composer and evokes the mood of these sensual, “satyrical” poems perfectly. I picture the Narnia of C.S. Lewis, first in spring, then in winter, fauns, satyrs, and nymphs all around.

*Louÿs presented his original poetry as though it were translations of ancient Greek poems written by Bilitis, a fictional character he had created for the project.

William Bolcom (b. 1938) is a National Medal of Arts winner as well as a multiple Grammy award winner. He retired from teaching in 2008 after serving as Professor of Composition at the University of Michigan for 35 years. An accomplished pianist, he has performed and recorded extensively with his wife Joan Morris. He has written songs as well as orchestral works and operas that have been premiered all over the world. The Cabaret Songs hearken back to the day when Bolcom played for vaudeville shows and are, as a group, a cabaret in and of themselves. Set to poems by Arnold Weinstein, a frequent collaborator with Bolcom, enjoy these three selections!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Intermezzo Sunday Concert, April 27, 2014 @ 3 p.m.

M. Brent Williams, violin 
Douglas Jurs, piano
Faculty Artists from Valdosta State University & Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

  • Libby Larsen: Blue Piece for Violin and piano
  • Maurice Ravel: Sonata in G
    - Allegretto (G major)
    - Blues
    . Moderato (A major)
    - Perpetuum mobile
    . Allegro (G major)
  • George Antheil: Sonata No. 2
  • Gershwin-Heifetz: Selections from Porgy and Bess
        Summertime/A Woman is a Sometime Thing - My Man's Gone Now - It Ain't Necessarily So - Tempo di Blues

M. Brent Williams has enjoyed a varied career as a soloist and chamber musician in nine different countries and as a member of over fifteen symphony orchestras. He is currently the Concertmaster of the Albany Symphony Orchestra (GA), Assistant Concertmaster of the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra (FL) and Principal Second Violin of the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra (GA). Williams has performed concerti with the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia Gulf Coast (FL), the Opera Teatro di Lucca Chamber Orchestra (Lucca, Italy), Albany Symphony Orchestra and Valdosta State University Percussion Ensemble. Williams has been a lecturer of Violin and World Music at Valdosta State University since 2008 where he performs with the Azalea String Quartet and is the director/founder of VSU’s Pan-American Ensemble (the university’s first, full-fledged world music ensemble). He has also been on the faculties of the Chapel Hill Chamber Music Workshop (NC), Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp (MI) and Florida State University Summer Music Camp in addition to being the former Director of the Tallahassee Youth Orchestra Symphonic Strings and Co-Director of TYO’s Fiddlers (FL). Williams’ live performances have appeared on many NPR stations including WBLV (MI) and KRTS (TX) and he has recorded for the Naxos, Koch and Emeritus labels. Williams holds BMA from the Oklahoma University, MM and DM from the Florida State University.

A dedicated chamber musician, his current group enhake was the Grand Prize Winner of the Yellow Springs Chamber Music Competition (2009), First Prize Winner of the International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition (2008), received the Judges’ Special Recognition Prize at the Plowman Chamber Music Competition (2008), was awarded the James and Lola Faust Chamber Music Scholarship (2009), was a finalist of the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition (2011), was a semi-finalist at the Concert Artists Guild Competition (2009) and also received the American Composers Forum’s Encore grant in addition to multiple Musical Associate Grants from FSU. With enhake, they have held residencies at the OK Mozart festival (2008-present), Texas A & M University, University of Costa Rica, Bach Institute of Music (San Jose, Costa Rica), National Superior Institute of Music (Moravia, Costa Rica), Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre, Brasil), Federal University of Goias (Brasil), Universidade de Brasilia and Mesa State College, in addition to performances at the Pan-Music Festival at the Seoul Arts Center (South Korea) and on the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Newman Series, Appleton Museum Chamber Series (Ocala, Fla.), and for both Music @ Main and Friday Musicale concert series in Jacksonville.  enhake performed the ICMEC Winners’ concert at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall (2008) and returned 3 May 2010 to perform a recital entitled “American Portrait” which included the premiere of Libby Larsen’s Rodeo Reina del Cielo— a piece written for the group.

Chicago-born pianist Douglas Jurs was appointed Assistant Professor of Piano and Music Theory at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Fall 2012, having previously served on the piano faculties at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and Edgewood College. Dr. Jurs has performed solo and collaborative recitals throughout the U.S. and abroad in cities like Vienna, Nice, and Milan and at festivals such as the Holland International Music Sessions, Aspen Music Festival, Banff Centre for the Arts, and Centre d’Arts Orford in Quebec, among others. He won First Prize at the 2004 Lee Biennial Piano Competition, and was winner of the University of Wisconsin Beethoven Competition in 2010.

Dr. Jurs is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Blue Horse Music Festival in Woodstock, Vermont, a biannual winter/summer concert series that features acclaimed musicians performing in the intimate Blue Horse Inn music parlor. A committed teacher, Dr. Jurs has over ten years of private piano teaching experience and his pre-college students have won competitions at the local, state and national levels. In past summers, he has worked as an Artist Teacher at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan. As a long-time advocate for arts outreach, Dr. Jurs has performed in correctional facilities, psychiatric hospitals and as a past Associate Artist with Cleveland Opera, in over 100 public schools throughout Ohio. He was one of the first teachers to work with the University of Wisconsin Piano Pioneers program, an initiative that brings affordable music lessons to low-income students.

Dr. Jurs' music degrees are from the University of Wisconsin (DMA), Cleveland Institute of Music (MM), and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music(BS-OF), where he was a Friends of Music Scholar, double major in Piano and English Literature, and rider for the Cutters cycling team.

PROGRAM NOTES - under construction - Please check back

Libby Larsen: Blue Piece for Violin and piano
Score & Recording on the Composer's website

One of the most-performed and recorded living American composers, Grammy Award-winner Libby Larsen (b. 1950) has over 500 works in virtually every vocal and instrumental genre, including 15 operas. In 1973 Larsen co-founded the Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composer’s Forum, and she has held residencies with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony and the Colorado Symphony. Her brief Blue Piece received its premiere in March 2010 by Cora Cooper at the Kansas Music Educators Conference.

Maurice Ravel: Sonata in G
YouTube performance

Maurice Ravel (1875–1937) was a great French composer and master orchestrator who maintains a place among the most performed and recorded composers of all time.  He is often identified with Debussy as a chief proponent of musical Impressionism, but Ravel melded exotic harmonies with classical formal structures to create a personal, refined style that transcends a single label.  In 1897 Ravel composed a  violin sonata in A minor, a student work which has been published and recorded posthumously; so his more famous Sonata for Violin and Piano in G Major is sometimes referred to as “Sonata No. 2.”  Those familiar only with Ravel’s opulent pre-war works may be surprised by its sparse textures, and the composer said that he purposely did not try to hide the difference between the legato sound of the violin and the relatively brittle, percussive sound of  the piano.  Ravel began writing the G major Sonata in 1923, but due to declining health and "writer's block" he did didn't finish it until four years later.  It is his last chamber music composition, and it summarizes the diverse elements that blend into his mature style: impressionistic modal and whole tone inflections, parallel triads and open fifths, bi-tonal passages and a peppering of sharp dissonances, sometimes glittering accompaniment figures, and, especially in the second “Blues” movement, a fascination with American jazz and blues and the music of George Gershwin.  Ravel himself was the pianist for the 1927 world premiere in Paris, as well as for the American premiere the following year.

George Antheil: Sonata No. 2
YouTube performance

American modernist composer, author and inventor George Antheil (1900-1959) was a precocious youngster from Trenton, New Jersey, who started studying music seriously at age six. Despite never finishing high school, by age 19 Antheil had convinced composer Ernest Bloch to teach him privately, and around the same time he began getting a monthly stipend from Mary Louis Curtis Bok  to assist with his composing.  Mrs. Bok, who later would found the Curtis Institute of Music, would continue to provide Antheil with at least limited financial support for two decades.  In 1922, Antheil moved first to Berlin, then to Paris a year later where his circle of associates included fellow composers Igor Stravinsky, Erik Satie and Virgil Thomson, and also writers, including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and Ezra Pound.  Even before crossing the Atlantic, the self-styled Bad Boy of Music (as Antheil titled his 1945 autobiography) had written  "The Airplane," his second piano sonata and the first in a series of compositions inspired by the sounds of machinery that would bring him notoriety.  Antheil returned to Germany in the late 1920s, but when Hitler began to gain ground in the mid-1930s Antheil returned to The States, eventually moving to Hollywood where he became much admired for his film scores.  He also entered into an improbable wartime partnership with actress Heddy Lamar to develop a radio-controlled torpedo that used technology adapted from player pianos (you can't make this stuff up...).

While living in Paris, British poet Ezra Pound commissioned Antheil to write three violin sonatas for Olga Rudge, an American concert violinist (and Pound's mistress). In discussing Antheil's Second Sonata violinist Mark Fewer observes:
The form of this sonata for violin and piano is extraordinarily “out of the box,” particularly for 1923! Everything — from the wild swings in musical content to ideas that never quite finish themselves to the completely over-the-top cadenza and the quiet tango with the pianist switching to drums at the end—is revolutionary. The best way I have found to describe it is to use the analogy of channel-surfing — it really is like sitting down with a remote control and changing the channel every few seconds.

Gershwin-Heifetz: Selections from Porgy and Bess
- Summertime/A Woman is a Sometime Thing
- My Man's Gone Now
- It Ain't Necessarily So
- Tempo di Blues
YouTube performance

George Gershwin (1898-1937) wrote his first song in 1916 and his first Broadway musical in 1919, and 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 opera Porgy and Bess (1935), with lyrics by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin, remains the only opera by an American-born composer firmly established in the repertory. Upon the death of Lithuanian-born virtuoso Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987), his obituary in The New York Times called him "perhaps the greatest violinist of his time." In 1944, Heifetz transcribed Selections from 'Porgy and Bess' for use in his own concerts, and they have remained favorites of violinists ever since.