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.

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