EVENTS 2017-11-05T19:47:45+00:00
Feb 11 @ 8:00 pm
AARON NEVILLE QUINTET @ Balboa Theatre | San Diego | California | United States

Four-time Grammy® Award Winner

Aaron Neville Quintet
featuring Charles Neville, saxophone

Aaron Neville has lead a remarkable career as both a soloist and a member of the legendary Neville Brothers. This performance will feature his new album of New Orleans R&B/funk, along with some of his favorites from his five decade career.

Aaron Neville, vocals
Charles Neville, saxophone
Michael Goods, keyboard
David Johnson, bass
Eric Struthers, guitar
Earl Smith Jr., drums & vocals

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Please be aware there is no intermission in this performance.

Click here to view the complete January-February 2016 Program Book

PROGRAM NOTES: Aaron Neville Quintet

Aaron Neville, vocals
Charles Neville, saxophone
Michael Goods, keyboard
David Johnson, bass & vocals
Eric Struthers, guitar
Earl Smith Jr., drums & vocals

Works to be announced from stage


Aaron-Neville"These songs helped to mold me into who I am," says Aaron Neville. "They're all dear to my heart, and they rode with me, in my bones, through all these years."

With MY TRUE STORY, one of the world's finest singers is revisiting the music he grew up with, and adding a few new spins along the way. Neville's first release for Blue Note Records is a collection of twelve classic doo-wop numbers, performed in his utterly inimitable vocal style, and co-produced by Blue Note President Don Was and Keith Richards.

The selections on the album include classics by such vocal-group giants as Little Anthony and the Imperials ("Tears on My Pillow"), Hank Ballard and the Midnighters ("Work With Me, Annie"), and the Drifters ("Money Honey," "Under the Boardwalk," "This Magic Moment"). To Neville, though, these songs weren't just the soundtrack to his youth; they became the underpinning for all of the remarkable music he has created across five decades.

"I attended the university of doo-wop-ology," he says. "Anything I do has got some doo-wop in it. It’s just part of me—it’s the texture that I’m singing in, it’s the endings, it's the harmonies. At 3 o’clock in the morning, I wake up with a doo-wop song going in my head and I can’t go back to sleep because I’m singing it over and over."

Yet the recordings on MY TRUE STORY aren't simply imitations of the original sessions. For one thing, some of the songs included—like the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" or "Gypsy Woman" by the Impressions—come from a slightly later time period than the classic doo-wop era, and aren't usually classified as part of the genre. But Neville explains that for him, it's not the calendar that matters, it's the vocal approach.

"Doo-wop started with five guys, like the Clovers—or five girls, like the Chantels or the Shirelles —singing harmony together on a bench or a stoop,” he says. “My own favorite place was the boys’ bathroom at school, because it had such great acoustics. So I always thought 'Be My Baby' was a doo-wop song, because it’s a lead singer with harmony singers.

“I came up in the doo-wop era, and if I heard something and thought it was doo-wop, then it was. So if it didn’t fall in that category before, then it does now!"

The other twist given to this material is that while doo-wop tended to keep the emphasis squarely on the vocalists, MY TRUE STORY sees Neville backed by a top-flight rock & roll band, led by the distinctive, propulsive guitar work of Richards himself. The other musicians include Greg Leisz on guitar (Beck, Sheryl Crow), Benmont Tench on organ (founding member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), George G. Receli on drums (Bob Dylan), and Tony Scherr on bass (Bill Frisell, Norah Jones).

"Doo-wop songs centered around the vocals,” says Neville. “But with these great musicians, we could highlight the musical side of it too-this record is a combination of all of it, to bring it up to date."

Richards—who Was approached when he remembered that the guitarist kept the Jive Five song "My True Story" playing on a loop in his room during the making of the Rolling Stones' Voodoo Lounge album—describes work on the album as "the perfect session." Twenty-three songs were cut in five days, all of them live and many in the first take.”

"Opportunities like this don't come 'round very often," says Richards. "I grew up with these songs, like Aaron did. It's such a pleasure to play with a voice like that, and the band all fell straight in together—I never saw such a bunch of hardened musicians act like a bunch of kids."

Neville explains that having internalized this music so deeply, he was able to show the musicians the genuine old-school feel that these songs require. "On songs like 'Ting a Ling' and 'Work with Me, Annie,' I had to kind of dance the groove I wanted," he says with a broad smile. "I had to move around and bob and weave and show them that strut like when you’re walking in New Orleans. But this band was ready for anything, they were jumping on it, and everything came out so easy."

As if all of these ingredients weren't enough, several singers from the glory days of doo-wop joined the sessions to provide backing vocals on a number of the songs, including Eugene Pitt of the Jive Five (who co-wrote the album's title song), Bobby Jay of the Teenagers, and Dickie Harmon from the Del-Vikings. Neville’s touring bass player, David Johnson, drummer, Earl Smith, Jr. and Joel Katz also lend their voices to some of the arrangements.

MY TRUE STORY represents a culmination of Aaron Neville’s incredible career, which has seen him move seamlessly back and forth between solo work and his role in the first family of New Orleans music, the Neville Brothers. His first hit single was the landmark "Tell It Like It Is," which held the Number One spot on the R&B charts for five weeks in 1967. He went on to win Grammy Awards for his triple-platinum 1989 collaboration with Linda Ronstadt Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind, and reached the Country charts with the title track of 1993’s The Grand Tour. A member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, his most recent project was the gospel album I Know I’ve Been Changed in 2010.

Don Was says that it was an easy decision to bring the legendary Neville to Blue Note. "Nobody sings like him," he says. "He's a great artist, a guy with integrity and excellence and authenticity—and that’s what the label is really about."

When Was and Neville discussed possible projects, the singer indicated that recording an album of doo-wop songs had long been a dream of his. He adds, though, that his recent relocation to New York City after losing his home to Hurricane Katrina, and his recent marriage, gives MY TRUE STORY additional significance.

"It’s definitely extra-meaningful," he says. "I have a new life, I’m singing to my wife Sarah. I think God knew I wanted to do it and he waited for the right moment. He made the stars align, and he said, 'Aaron, it’s time for you to do some doo-wop.'"

This performance marks Aaron Neville's La Jolla Music Society debut.

NING FENG, violin
Feb 21 @ 3:00 pm
NING FENG, violin @ The Auditorium at TSRI | San Diego | California | United States

Ning Feng, violin

2006 First Prize Winner at International Paganini Competition

La Jolla Music Society presents Ning Feng, a multi-competition winning Chinese violinist with a program that includes Mozart, Beethoven, Falla, Korngold and Waxman’s Carmen Fantasie.

“The young Chinese violinist wowed the bravo-spouting audience with his effortless virtuosity, clarity and command… it was Ning that stole the show.” – Time Out

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NING FENG, violin:
Ning Feng returns to La Jolla Music Society as the featured soloist as part of the San Diego Youth Symphony Series on Friday, February 26 at 8:00 PM, MCASD Sherwood Auditorium

Ning Feng, violin
Jeeyoon Kim, piano

MOZARTSonata in B-flat Major, K.378 (1779)
BEETHOVENSonata No.2 in C Minor, Op. 30 (1803)
FALLASuite Populaire Espagnole, (1926)
KORNGOLDMuch Ado About Nothing Suite, Op. 11 (1919)
WAXMANCarmen Fantasie (1947)
MASSENETMeditation from Thaïs

Click here to view the complete January-February 2016 Program Book

PROGRAM NOTES: Ning Feng, violin

by Eric Bromberger

Sonata for Piano and Violin in B-flat Major, K.378 (1779)
Allegro moderato
Andantino sostenuto e cantabile
Rondeau: Allegro

Born January 27, 1756, Salzburg
Died December 5, 1791, Vienna

This sonata dates from the period of Mozart’s move from his native Salzburg to Vienna–the evidence is unclear whether he wrote it in Salzburg or just after his arrival in Vienna in 1781. In any event, it was published as part of a group of six violin sonatas in Vienna on December 8, 1781, almost ten years to the day before the composer’s death.

This group of six sonatas represents a sudden advance in Mozart’s writing for violin and keyboard. His early violin sonatas had been largely piano sonatas with violin accompaniment, but here the violin becomes a more equal partner in the enterprise. The Sonata in B-flat Major is especially impressive for the richness of its ideas, for the music seems continually alive with new themes, new moods, new ideas, and these often stand in dramatic contrast to each other. It is also extremely vital, almost scintillating music–energy seems to boil out of every measure.

The Allegro moderato opens simply. The graceful main idea is heard immediately in the piano, with the violin accompanying it, but the roles quickly reverse as the violin takes up the melody. The exposition is full of striking features–key shifts, romantic turns of phrase, rapid runs–with an extended development that begins in the unexpected key of C minor.

Mozart’s marking for the second movement– Andantino sostenuto e cantabile–is important. He rarely marked a movement cantabile–he assumed that all music should sing–so that when he specifies cantabile, it should be taken seriously. This truly is lyric music, an extended aria for violin rather than voice. It is built on contrasting episodes–the first melodic, the second dramatic–and these alternate before the quiet close.

The concluding rondo-finale is brief but brilliant. The piano announces the rondo theme, which then goes through several varied episodes including sixteenth-note runs, flying triplets, dotted dance rhythms, and hunting horn calls before the final return of the rondo theme and the dash to the concluding cadence.

The six sonatas–offered by Artaria, Mozart’s new publishers in Vienna–were enthusiastically received by the critics there. Listening to this supremely accomplished music two centuries later, it is easy to understand why.

Sonata in C Minor for Violin and Piano, Opus 30, No. 2 (1803)
Allegro con brio
Adagio cantabile
Scherzo: Allegro
Finale: Allegro

Born December 16, 1770, Bonn
Died March 26, 1827, Vienna

Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in C Minor is one of the set of three that he wrote in the small village of Heiligenstadt outside Vienna during the summer and fall of 1802. This was a period of extraordinary distress for the composer, for it was during the months at Heiligenstadt that Beethoven was finally forced to accept the inevitability of his deafness. The choice of key for this sonata is important, for C minor was the key Beethoven employed for works of unusual intensity. The recently-completed “Pathétique” Sonata, Fourth String Quartet, and Third Piano Concerto were in C minor, and in the next several years Beethoven would use that key for the Funeral March of the Eroica, the Fifth Symphony, and the Coriolan Overture. The musical conflict that fires those works is also evident in this sonata, which is–with the Kreutzer Sonata–the most dramatic of Beethoven’s ten violin sonatas.

The opening movement is marked Allegro con brio, the same indication Beethoven would later use for the opening movements of the Third and Fifth Symphonies, and the sonata’s first movement has a dramatic scope similar to those symphonies. It opens quietly with a recurrent brooding figure that ends with a sudden turn, like the quick flick of a dragon’s tail. The violin soon picks this up and also has the second subject, which marches along clipped dotted rhythms. There is no exposition repeat, and Beethoven slips into the development quietly, but soon the energy pent up in these simple figures is unleashed–this dramatic music features massive chording by both instruments and drives to a huge climax.

By contrast, the Adagio cantabile opens with a melody of disarming gentleness, once again announced by the piano, and much of this movement sings gracefully. As it develops, however, the accompaniment grows more complex, and soon these murmuring runs begin to take over the music; Beethoven makes sharp dynamic contrasts before bringing the movement to a quiet close. The brief Scherzo: Allegro is full of stinging accents and rhythmic surprises; its trio section is a subtle variation of the movement’s opening theme, here treated in canon.

The Finale: Allegro returns to the mood of the opening movement–again there is a quiet but ominous opening full of suppressed energy that will later explode to life. This finale is in modified sonata-rondo form, and despite an occasional air of play and some appealing lyric moments, the movement partakes of the same atmosphere of suppressed tension that has marked the entire sonata. Beethoven brings it to a suitably dramatic close with a blazing coda marked Presto that remains resolutely in C minor.

Suite Populaire Espagnole (1926)
El paño moruno (Allegretto vivace)
Nana (Calmo e sostenuto)
Canción (Allegretto)
Polo (Vivo)
Asturiana (Andante tranquillo)
Jota (Allegro vivo)

Born November 23, 1876, Cádiz
Died November 14, 1946, Alta Grazia, Argentina

Falla had moved from Madrid to Paris in 1907, but returned to Spain at the beginning of World War I. The Seven Popular Spanish Songs, completed in Paris in 1914, was his final work before his departure. It comes from a period of unusual creativity: El Amor Brujo would follow in 1915 and Nights in the Gardens of Spain in 1916. In arranging that collection of songs, Falla took the unaccompanied melodic line of seven Spanish popular or folk songs and harmonized them himself, occasionally rewriting or expanding the original melodic line to suit his own purposes. Several years later the Polish violinist Paul Kochanski arranged six of the songs–with the approval of the composer–for violin and piano and published them as Suite Populaire Espagnole (Kochanski also rearranged the order of the movements in his arrangement).

  1. El paño moruno or “The Moorish Cloth” (Allegretto vivace) is based exactly on the famous song, and Kochanski’s arrangement makes imaginative use of harmonics and pizzicato.
  2. Nana (Calmo e sostenuto) is an arrangement of an old Andalusian cradle song, and Falla said that hearing this melody sung to him by his mother was his earliest memory. The violin is muted throughout, and the piano accompaniment is quietly syncopated.
  3. Canción (Allegretto) repeats a dance theme continuously: the entire middle section is performed on artificial harmonics.
  4. Polo (Vivo) The polo is a specific form: an Andalusian folksong or dance in 3/8 time, sometimes with coloratura outbursts. This particular polo, while based on Andalusian elements, is largely Falla’s own composition.
  5. Asturiana (Andante tranquillo) is a tune from Asturias, a province in the northwest part of Spain. Here the violin, muted throughout, plays the melodic line above a quiet sixteenth-note accompaniment.
  6. Jota (Allegro vivo) is the best-known part of the suite. A jota is a dance in triple time from northern Spain, sometimes accompanied by castanets. Slow sections alternate with fast here, and the extensive use of chorded pizzicatos may be intended to imitate the sound of castanets.

Much Ado About Nothing Suite, Opus 11 (1919)
The Maiden in the Bridal Chamber
Dogberry and Verges: March of the Watch
Scene in the Garden
Masquerade: Hornpipe

Born May 29, 1897, Brno, Czech Republic
Died November 29, 1957, Hollywood

It is easy for American audiences to think of the man who won Oscars for the scores to The Adventures of Robin Hood and Anthony Adverse as a film composer, but Erich Korngold wrote for the movies for only about a decade (1934-1946). The rest of his career was dedicated to “serious” music (which somehow implies that film music is not serious): Korngold wrote five operas, a great deal of symphonic and instrumental music, and a number of songs. Some of his works, including the opera Die tote Stadt and the wonderful Violin Concerto (composed for Heifetz and based on themes from Korngold’s film scores), have achieved a measure of popularity. Much good music by Korngold remains–and deserves–to be heard.

Korngold wrote incidental music for a production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing in Vienna in 1919, the year before the première of Die tote Stadt. The original version was scored for chamber orchestra, and Korngold then drew two suites from this music, one for orchestra and one for violin and piano. Shakespeare’s comedy, with its sharp-tongued lovers Beatrice and Benedick and the evil plot against the innocent Hero, has always been a favorite, and Korngold’s music captures some of the magic of the play. Particularly memorable are the bumbling constables of the night watch, Dogberry and Verges, and Korngold depicts the stumbling antics of the night watch in the sturdy and comic little march that comprises the second movement of these excerpts. The Garden Scene is soaring and melodic, and Korngold rounds the suite off with a Hornpipe (appropriately, a dance of English origin) that zips briskly along its 2/4 meter.

Carmen Fantasie (1947)

Born December 24, 1906, Chorzów, Poland
Died February 24, 1967, Los Angeles

Franz Waxman began his career as a pianist in Berlin cafés but soon gravitated to what was then a new path for music–film scores. He arranged the music for Friederich Holländer’s Der blaue Engel in 1930 but fled Germany three years later when Hitler came to power. Waxman arrived in the United States in 1934 and quickly established himself as one of Hollywood’s leading composers–among his many films were Magnificent Obsession, Captains Courageous, Rebecca, Suspicion, Sunset Boulevard, and A Place in the Sun. Waxman also wrote “concert” music, and these works were often based on material from his film scores. A first-rate conductor, he founded the Los Angeles Music Festival in 1947 and directed it for the final twenty years of his life; with that festival, he presented the West Coast première of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem.

Georges Bizet’s Carmen offers such intoxicating music that it has haunted musicians ever since its 1875 première, and Bizet’s music has re-appeared in many forms, from a Busoni sonatina to Shchedrin’s arrangement for strings and percussion to countless virtuoso paraphrases. The most famous of these are the many arrangements for violin and orchestra by Sarasate, Hubay, Zimbalist, and others. Waxman wrote his Carmen Fantasie in 1947 for Jascha Heifetz, who was one of his neighbors in Hollywood. This ten-minute virtuoso showpiece does not need to be analyzed or “explained” to listeners, who may simply sit back and enjoy one more evocation of Bizet’s memorable tunes, all stitched together with some very fancy fiddling (the imprint of Heifetz’s virtuosity is evident throughout). Along the way, we hear such favorites as the Habanera, Seguidilla, and Intermezzo, as well as a few tunes that do not usually appear in Carmen paraphrases, including the Card Song from Act III.

Musical Prelude 2 PM
Young artists from the San Diego Youth Symphony & Conservatory perform.

PAGANINI Caprice No. 20 in D Major from 24 Caprices for Solo Violin, Op. 1 Sofia Hashemi-Asasi, violin
J.S. BACHPreludio from Violin Partita No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006Sofia Hashemi-Asasi, violin
TCHAIKOVSKYViolin Concerto in D Major, Opus 35
II. Canzonetta (Andante)
III. Finale (Allegro vivacissimo)
Sofia Hashemi-Asasi, violin
Bora Kim, piano
Sofia Hashemi-Asasi, violin
Bora Kim, piano

NingFengPrize-winning violinist Ning Feng’s technical brilliance and poetic, expressive interpretations of the great masterworks of the violin repertoire have made him one of the most exciting of the younger generation of top-level players. Feng was born in China, studied in London and now lives in Berlin, a base for his career performing concertos and recitals all around the world. He plays a 1721 Stradivari violin, known as the “MacMillan”, on private loan, kindly arranged by Premiere Performances of Hong Kong.

A recipient of prizes at the Hanover International, Queen Elisabeth and Yehudi Menuhin International violin competitions, Ning Feng was First Prize winner of the 2005 Michael Hill International Violin Competition (New Zealand), and in 2006 won first prize in the International Paganini Competition. He previously studied at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music and London’s Royal Academy of Music where he was the first student ever to be awarded 100% for his final recital.

Ning Feng records for Channel Classics in the Netherlands. His latest recording is of the Bruch Scottish Fantasy and Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, released in February 2014. Previously for the label, he recorded two albums of entirely solo works: the solo sonatas by Bartók, Prokofiev and Hindemith were released as Solo 2 in August 2013 and the first Solo album featured pieces by Paganini, Kreisler, Berio, Schnittke and others. “You will be blown away by the artistry of this album, and blown away in great sound to boot,” commented Audiophile Audition about that album.

On the concert stage, Feng has performed in recent seasons with orchestras such as the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra (conducted by Iván Fischer), Russian State Symphony (conducted by Vladimir Jurowski), Orchestre National de Lyon and in halls such as Sydney Opera House, Moscow’s Great Hall, Vienna Konzerthaus, Berlin Konzerthaus, Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre and Beijing’s NCPA. In recital he has played in prestigious series and festivals such as the Vancouver Recital Series and Hong Kong International Chamber, Prague Spring and Schleswig-Holstein festivals. With Igor Levit he has performed across Germany, including at the Ludwigsburg and Mecklenburg Vorpommern Festivals, and also at the Kissinger Sommer Festival where he plays every year and where he was an Artist-in-Residence in 2014.

Highlights of Ning’s 2014/15 season include debuts with the LA Philharmonic, Munich Symphony Orchestra, the Liszt and Berlin Konzerthaus Chamber orchestras, returns to the Auckland Philharmonia, Orchestra Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias, Macao Symphony and recitals and chamber performances in Seoul, Hong Kong and Brussels. He will also be soloist on two major tours, performing the Glazunov Concerto with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic/Petrenko in Dublin and across China, and later in the season the Beethoven Concerto with the Hong Kong Philharmonic/Van Zweden across some of the major centres of Europe, including London, Zurich, Berlin and Vienna.

Alongside his performing career, Feng holds teaching positions at the Musikhochschule Lübeck and Hochschule für Musik Hans Eisler Berlin.

This performance marks Ning Feng's La Jolla Music Society debut.

Jeeyoon KimClassical pianist Dr. Jeeyoon Kim delights audiences with her sensitive artistry, colorful musical expression and insightful commentary from the stage. In her recent performance, Chiesa Nuova, a performing arts foundation in Chicago, describes her artistry as "impeccable, brilliant and heart-rending." A native of South Korea, Jeeyoon has made her way across the globe with performances at venues including FortePiano Salon Live Series, live broadcasting on classical music channel in Chicago, WFMT, 98.7, Nichols Hall in Evanston, Graves Recital Hall in Columbus, Ohio, Hilbert Circle Theatre in Indianapolis, Wheeler Concert Hall at the University of Evansville, GloVil Art Hall in Korea, Judson Park Auditorium in Cleveland, and at the Mozarteum Festival in Salzburg, Austria. Other recent performances include "Arts in August" concert series in Evansville, Indiana, Stradivari Society in Chicago, the Chamber Music Series at the Glema Mahr Fine Arts Center in Madisonville, Kentucky, Parisian Salon Concert Series in Chicago and San Diego Symphony Chamber Music Series, collaborating soloists such as a violinist, Philippe Quint, and a cellist, Johannes Moser. Last season, she performed Schumann A minor piano concerto with the conductor, Susan Kitterman, at the historical music hall of Indianapolis, the Hilbert Circle Theater.

Kim received the first prize in the Korean Music Teachers' Association Competition at age 18. She made her debut as a concert artist the same year, performing Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 2 with the Camerata Orchestra in Busan, Korea. She was awarded a full scholarship to study at Busan National University, where she graduated in 2002 with top honors. Afterwards, Dr. Kim came to the United States for further musical studies, receiving a Master of Music degree in 2005 and a Doctor of Music in piano performance in 2009, both from Indiana University with a full scholarship and a graduation with distinction. Also after her doctorate degree, she received a Master of Music in piano pedagogy from Butler University with a full scholarship. She studied with masters of Andrzej Jasinski, Cluade Frank, Menheim Pressler, Reiko Neriki and Shigeo Neriki through master classes, chamber music coaching, and her music study at Indiana University. As a recording artist, she released her debut CD in 2007, an album of works by Mozart, Debussy, and Liszt. Now she is in the process of producing the second album with a projected title as "10 More Minutes", a collection of her encores. An accomplished piano pedagogue, she is in frequent demand as a master class clinician and a judicator. The most recent workshops include at the IMTA conference at Indiana University in Bloomington in 2011, Butler University in 2013, and national MTNA conference in New York City in 2012, and Wisconsin in 2011. Kim maintains an active national and International performing schedule both as a soloist and a chamber musician.

For more information visit

This performance marks Jeeyoon Kim's La Jolla Music Society debut.

Feb 26 @ 8:00 pm
SDYS CHAMBER ORCHESTRA @ MCASD Sherwood Auditorium | San Diego | California | United States

SDYS Chamber Orchestra

Jeff Edmons, music director & conductor
Ning Feng, violin

La Jolla Music Society showcases the incredibly talented young musicians of SDYS’ Chamber Orchestra with featured soloist, Discovery Series artist, Ning Feng playing the Vieuxtemps Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Minor.

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NING FENG, violin:
Ning Feng also performs a solo recital as part of the Discovery Series on Sunday, February 21 at 3:00 PM, The Auditorium at TSRI..

MOZARTOverture to The Marriage of Figaro, K.492 (1986)
VIEUXTEMPSViolin Concerto No.5 in A Minor, Op. 37 (1961, published)
Ning Feng, violin
MOZARTSymphony No. 35 in D Major, K.385 (1782)
KABALEVSKYThe Comedians, Op. 26 (1938)


Click here to view the complete January-February 2016 Program Book

PROGRAM NOTES: SDYS Chamber Orchestra with Ning Feng, violin

by Eric Bromberger

Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, K.492 (1786)

Born January 27, 1756, Salzburg
Died December 5, 1791, Vienna

The Marriage of Figaro, based on the Beaumarchais play that had been banned for its theme of social injustice and its portrayal of servants outsmarting their masters, had its première in Vienna on May 1, 1786, and promptly began a successful run. In many respects, Figaro marked the high point of Mozart’s success during his lifetime. On a visit to Prague the following year to conduct the opera, Mozart reported that “here nothing is talked of but Figaro, nothing played but Figaro, nothing whistled or sung but Figaro, no opera so crowded as Figaro, nothing but Figaro.”

Mozart customarily composed the overtures to his operas last, and that was probably the case with The Marriage of Figaro, though there is no evidence that he had to stay up all night before the final rehearsal to get it done, as was the case with Don Giovanni. Mozart’s overtures were usually in sonata form, but he abandoned that form here, and for good reason. The Marriage of Figaro is witty, brilliant, and wise, and it needs an overture that will quickly set its audience in such a frame of mind. This overture is very brief (barely four minutes), and Mozart drops the development section altogether. He simply presents his sparkling themes (there are six of them, even in so short a space!), recapitulates them, and plunges into the opera. Evidence suggests that he had originally begun to compose a D-minor Andante as an interlude at the center of the overture, but saw that it would be out of place and crossed it out.

From the first instant, when this music stirs to life, to its sudden explosions of energy, the overture has delighted all who hear it and is the perfect lead-in to the comic escapades (and human insight) that will follow. Faced with having to choose a performance marking for his players, Mozart dispensed with any description of the emotional character he wanted from a performance. He simply chose one word, and it is perfect: Presto.

Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Minor, Opus 37 (1861)
Allegro non troppo; Moderato
Allegro con fuoco

Ning Feng, violin

Born February 17, 1820, Verviers, Belgium
Died June 6, 1881, Mustapha-lez-Alger, Algeria

The Belgian violinist-composer Henri Vieuxtemps had a career quite similar to that of his contemporary, the Polish violinist-composer Henryk Wieniawski. Both were child prodigies, both studied in Paris, both spent extended periods in Russia, both toured America, and both taught at the Brussels Conservatory in the final years of their lives. Vieuxtemps loved to travel, and so embarked on concert tours that took him throughout Europe and brought him to America for three extended visits; one of the results of his time in America was his encore piece Souvenir d’Amérique, a set of comic variations on “Yankee Doodle.” Ironically, Vieuxtemps’ love of travel led to his death. Riding in an open carriage while on vacation in Algeria, he was struck on the head by a rock thrown by a drunk and died of complications from that injury.

Vieuxtemps is part of the tradition of great Belgian violinist-composers that includes his teacher Charles de Beriot and his student Eugene Ysaÿe. As might be expected, Vieuxtemps wrote primarily for the violin–his compositions include seven violin concertos (of which the Fourth and Fifth are the best-known), a violin sonata, string quartets, and a number of short works for violin. He composed his Fifth Violin Concerto shortly after returning to Paris from his second American tour in 1857. The concerto–which is quite compact–has an unusual form. Its movements are performed without pause, and the first movement is substantial, lasting about eleven minutes, but the cadenza and second and third movements combine to span only about eight minutes. The Allegro non troppo begins with the customary orchestral introduction, and the solo violin makes an unexpectedly subdued entrance. Vieuxtemps writes beautifully for his own instrument here, combining an elegant lyricism with passages of extraordinary virtuosity. The long first movement leads directly into the cadenza (Vieuxtemps composed two different cadenzas for this concerto), which in turns flows without pause into the Adagio. Vieuxtemps borrowed the main theme of this movement from the opera Lucile, composed in 1769 by his countryman André Grétry. Early in that opera, four characters join to sing “Ou peut-on être mieux,” a quartet in praise of domestic happiness, and some of that happy spirit infuses this lyric movement. Vieuxtemps originally intended to conclude the Fifth Concerto at the end of this movement but eventually decided to add fast movement. This blazing finale, marked Allegro con fuoco, whips past in barely a minute.

Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K.385 “Haffner” (1782)
Allegro non troppo; Moderato
Allegro con fuoco


For Mozart, July 1782 brought some of the best of times, and some of the worst. On the 16th of that month, his opera The Abduction from the Seraglio was produced in Vienna after nearly a year of intense work. The Abduction–Mozart’s first opera in German–was a huge success: it was at that première that Emperor Joseph II complained that the opera had “too many notes,” only to be met with Mozart’s famous reply: “Exactly as many as are necessary, Your Majesty.” Mozart was quite busy with other matters as well, arranging the opera for wind ensemble, revising an earlier wind serenade, and preparing for his own marriage to Constanze Weber on August 4. But back in Salzburg, that marriage had been frostily opposed by Mozart’s father Leopold, who had cut off all communication with his son for a time.

And now, in the midst of this frantically busy month, came a letter from Leopold, and it brought a request. In Salzburg, Sigmund Haffner, the son of a prominent family, was being elevated to the nobility. Six years earlier, in 1776, when one of the Haffner daughters was married, the family had asked Wolfgang to compose music for that occasion, and he had responded with the Serenade in D Major, K.250, nicknamed the “Haffner” Serenade. Now, the family wondered, could Wolfgang supply music for the ennoblement ceremony?

The composer nearly exploded. Some sense of his thorny relation with his father burns through his reply: And now I’m supposed to produce a new symphony? How is such a thing possible?

You have no idea how hard it is to arrange something like that for winds so that it really suits them and yet loses none of its effect. Oh well, I must just spend the night over it, otherwise it can’t be done–and for you, dearest father, I’ll make the sacrifice. You’ll definitely get something from me in every mail–I’ll work as fast as possible–and so far as haste permits, I’ll write well.

Desperate for his father’s approval of his marriage, Mozart set to work on the music for the Haffners in what little spare time he had (his father’s approval would arrive–grudgingly–on August 5, the day after he and Constanze were married). While he missed sending something “in every mail,” he did manage over the next couple of weeks to turn out a six-movement serenade consisting of an Allegro, a march, a slow movement, two minuets, and a rondo-finale. He finished and dispatched the last of these movements on August 7, three days after his marriage, and then–with other things on his mind–completely forgot about this music.

He remembered it the following winter. Mozart had scheduled an academy of his own music at the Burgtheater in Vienna on March 23, 1783. It would be a long concert indeed: Mozart played one of his piano concertos, there were arias and other orchestral movements, and Mozart played some solo piano music. He needed a festive orchestral work to open this program, and now he remembered the serenade he had written the previous summer for the Haffners. He wrote to his father, asking to have the manuscript sent from Salzburg. Mozart’s music could impress even its creator, and he wrote back to his father: “My new Haffner symphony has positively amazed, for I had forgotten every single note of it. It must surely produce a good effect.”

It should be noted, though, that what Mozart received from Salzburg was not a symphony, but a serenade. To convert it to a symphony, he made a number of changes, eliminating the opening march (this survives as his March in D Major, K. 408) and one of the two minuets (this has been lost). He also added flutes and oboes to what was now a four-movement symphony. What we know as the “Haffner” Symphony had its first performance at the Burgtheater concert, an evening that was by all accounts a huge success. Mozart described it to his father: “The theater could not possibly have been fuller and all the boxes were taken. What pleased me most, however, was that his Majesty the Emperor was present, was delighted and applauded me loudly.”

The “Haffner” Symphony explodes to life, then seems to overflow with festive energy across its compact (twenty-minute) span. Something of Mozart’s performance before the emperor may be evident from the performance instructions he sent his father the previous summer: “The first Allegro must be played with great fire, the last–as fast as possible.” We feel that “great fire” from the first instant, when the violins make their two-octave leaps and the music races ahead on trills, a firm little march-rhythm, and blazing runs. This symphony is in the “violinist’s key” of D major, a key that sits comfortably under the hand and has a particularly resonant sound, and the writing for violins in the outer movements of this symphony is particularly brilliant. In the course of the movement Mozart three times gives the violin part the unusual marking sciolte: “in a free and easy manner.” This music is hardly “easy,” but that marking does suggest some of the festive quality Mozart wanted in a performance. He builds this Allegro on only one theme–the powerful opening–and this undergoes some impressive contrapuntal extension before the movement races to its ringing close on great D-major chords.

Mozart left no marking for the second movement, and later editors have marked it Andante. It too is in sonata form, contrasting the elegant opening with an active second idea from the second violins and violas. The development is quite brief, and Mozart rounds the movement off with a recapitulation that continues to develop the material. The Minuet returns to the manner (and the key) of the opening Allegro–its powerful beginning makes the same two-octave leap that brought the symphony to life–but the graceful trio draws us into a world of polished elegance.

We should remember Mozart’s instruction that the finale should be “as fast as possible.” He marks it Presto, and it often feels like a perpetual-motion for the combined violin sections, which are given passages of virtuoso brilliance. This movement is just plain fun, with its racing violins, great explosions, surprising little adventures along the way, and the final rush to the sizzling close.

No wonder Joseph II was delighted and applauded so loudly. Over two centuries later, this symphony still has that effect on audiences.

The Comedians, Opus 26 (1938)
Comedians’ Galop
Little Lyrical Scene


Born December 30, 1904, St. Petersburg
Died February 16, 1987, Moscow

In 1938, the year he completed the first version of his opera Colas Breugnon, Dmitry Kabalevsky was asked to provide music for a production at the Central Children’s Theater in Moscow of Daniel’s play The Inventor and the Comedians. Long interested in music for children, Kabalevsky was happy to write music for this play, which tells the story of a band of traveling comedians. Two years after the play was produced, he took ten numbers from his score, changed their order slightly, and arranged them as an orchestral suite called The Comedians. Daniel’s play appears to have disappeared, but nearly eighty years later Kabalevsky’s colorful suite remains one of his most popular works.

Kabalevsky’s finest music is marked by exhilarating energy, a nice sense of irony, and a genuine melodic gift–some of the best music in this suite, in fact, comes in its slow movements. Despite the furious energy of much of this music, textures remain transparent throughout, and the quiet movements offer sensitive writing for solo winds. The ten pieces in The Comedians are admirably concise: the entire suite lasts barely a quarter of an hour.

The Prologue, appropriately marked Allegro vivace, races along on dotted rhythms and the bright color of the xylophone. Comedians’ Galop has become the most famous part of the suite: with its evocation of pratfalls and tumbling clowns, this movement has joined Julius Fucik’s Entry of the Gladiators as some of the greatest circus music ever written.

A leisurely March leads to a somber little Waltz in which the dance tune is passed easily between different instruments. The mock-serious Pantomime, with its ponderous chordal accompaniment, is all the more effective for keeping its tongue in cheek, while the Intermezzo–colored by the sound of varied instrumental duets–comes to a surprising close with a dark string resolution.

The winsome Little Lyrical Scene leads to two movements that show the influence of other composers. Some have heard echoes of Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony in the Gavotte, but this graceful music, with its haunting clarinet duet and ironic turns of phrase, bears more fully the imprint of the composer who influenced so much Soviet music–Gustav Mahler. The Scherzo, full of graceful string passages punctuated by wind solos, evokes the atmosphere of Tchaikovsky’s ballet scores.

Kabalevsky rounds off his suite with a blazing Epilogue. This brings back the theme of the Prologue, now in a grand restatement, and the music rushes to a knock-out conclusion.

An interview with Ning Feng hosted by Marcus Overton

SDYSChamber3Under the leadership of President and CEO Dalouge Smith and Music Director Jeff Edmons, San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory (SDYS) instills excellence in the musical and personal development of students ages 8 to 23 through rigorous and inspiring musical training experiences. Since 1945, SDYS has given thousands of musicians the opportunity to study and perform classical repertoire at a highly advanced level. SDYS attracts student musicians from throughout San Diego, Imperial and Riverside counties and serves over 600 students annually through its 12 ensembles.

The organization’s preeminent ensemble, the SDYS Chamber Orchestra is comprised of the principal and assistant principal musicians from the advanced level Ovation Program and rehearses at an extraordinarily proficient level for a youth program. Provided the finest training, the Chamber Orchestra is given the opportunity to perform professional level repertoire from multiple historic periods for both string orchestra and full chamber orchestra on a national and international stage. Most recently, select students of the San Diego Youth Symphony participated in SDYS’s 70th Anniversary tour to China and performed in Beijing’s Forbidden City Concert Hall, San Diego’s sister city Yantai’s Poly Grand Theatre and the Oriental Arts Center in Shanghai in June 2015.

SDYS Chamber Orchestra last performed at La Jolla Music Society in the San Diego Youth Symphony Series on December, 11 2015 San Diego Youth Symphony enjoys a successful partnership with LJMS.

For more information visit

Jeff-EdmondUnder Jeff Edmons' direction, the Youth Symphony has experienced tremendous growth, both in enrollment and in level of musical achievement. Performing the most difficult works in classical repertoire, SDYS achieves the highest standard attainable by a youth orchestra. SDYS' exemplary standards of skill and musicianship have afforded it the opportunity to participate in the most prestigious international festivals and perform with eminent guest artists and musicians from around the world.

Under Mr. Edmons direction, the Youth Symphony boasts a strong international presence as well as setting a benchmark for excellence in the United States. San Diego Magazine named Jeff Edmons as "50 People to Watch in 1997."

Mr. Edmons has dedicated himself to promoting youth music and youth education. He has led youth, collegiate and professional orchestras in critically acclaimed performances throughout the United States, as well as Mexico, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Switzerland. He has received numerous local and national invitations and awards for his achievements in music education. Mr. Edmons has also been featured in articles and journals honoring his work and has been the subject of documentaries on CNN, Fox Television, National Public Radio and many more.

He studied violin performance with Michael Davis, former Concertmaster of the Scottish National Orchestra, String Pedagogy with renown Pedagogue Dr. Robert Gillespie, and he studied Wind, Brass,Percussion Pedagogy and Wind Ensemble conducting with Craig Kirchoff, Principal Guest Conductor of the Tokyo Wind Orchestra and past President and Chair of the National College Band Director's Association.

Jeff Edmons and the San Diego Youth Symphony enjoy a successful partnership with LJMS.

For more information visit

NingFengPrize-winning violinist Ning Feng’s technical brilliance and poetic, expressive interpretations of the great masterworks of the violin repertoire have made him one of the most exciting of the younger generation of top-level players. Feng was born in China, studied in London and now lives in Berlin, a base for his career performing concertos and recitals all around the world. He plays a 1721 Stradivari violin, known as the “MacMillan”, on private loan, kindly arranged by Premiere Performances of Hong Kong.

A recipient of prizes at the Hanover International, Queen Elisabeth and Yehudi Menuhin International violin competitions, Ning Feng was First Prize winner of the 2005 Michael Hill International Violin Competition (New Zealand), and in 2006 won first prize in the International Paganini Competition. He previously studied at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music and London’s Royal Academy of Music where he was the first student ever to be awarded 100% for his final recital.

Ning Feng records for Channel Classics in the Netherlands. His latest recording is of the Bruch Scottish Fantasy and Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, released in February 2014. Previously for the label, he recorded two albums of entirely solo works: the solo sonatas by Bartók, Prokofiev and Hindemith were released as Solo 2 in August 2013 and the first Solo album featured pieces by Paganini, Kreisler, Berio, Schnittke and others. “You will be blown away by the artistry of this album, and blown away in great sound to boot,” commented Audiophile Audition about that album.

On the concert stage, Feng has performed in recent seasons with orchestras such as the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra (conducted by Iván Fischer), Russian State Symphony (conducted by Vladimir Jurowski), Orchestre National de Lyon and in halls such as Sydney Opera House, Moscow’s Great Hall, Vienna Konzerthaus, Berlin Konzerthaus, Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre and Beijing’s NCPA. In recital he has played in prestigious series and festivals such as the Vancouver Recital Series and Hong Kong International Chamber, Prague Spring and Schleswig-Holstein festivals. With Igor Levit he has performed across Germany, including at the Ludwigsburg and Mecklenburg Vorpommern Festivals, and also at the Kissinger Sommer Festival where he plays every year and where he was an Artist-in-Residence in 2014.

Highlights of Ning’s 2014/15 season include debuts with the LA Philharmonic, Munich Symphony Orchestra, the Liszt and Berlin Konzerthaus Chamber orchestras, returns to the Auckland Philharmonia, Orchestra Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias, Macao Symphony and recitals and chamber performances in Seoul, Hong Kong and Brussels. He will also be soloist on two major tours, performing the Glazunov Concerto with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic/Petrenko in Dublin and across China, and later in the season the Beethoven Concerto with the Hong Kong Philharmonic/Van Zweden across some of the major centres of Europe, including London, Zurich, Berlin and Vienna.

Alongside his performing career, Feng holds teaching positions at the Musikhochschule Lübeck and Hochschule für Musik Hans Eisler Berlin.

This performance marks Ning Feng's La Jolla Music Society debut.

Feb 28 @ 8:00 pm
DANIIL TRIFONOV, piano @ MCASD Sherwood Auditorium | San Diego | California | United States

Daniil Trifonov, piano

Described by San Diego music critic Ken Herman as “…a Paragon of Technical Prowess and Poetic Exposition,” the irrepressible young Russian pianist, Daniil Trifonov, returns to La Jolla Music Society by popular demand with a program of virtuosic works from the piano repertoire.

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Prior to the performance please join us for dinner at La Valencia

Daniil Trifonov also performs Montreal Symphony Orchestra as part of the Celebrity Orchestra Series on Wednesday, March 23 at 8:00 PM, Jacobs Music Center-Copley Symphony Hall.

REVIEW: by Ken Herman, April 11, 2014
Trifonov a Paragon of Technical Prowess and Poetic Exposition

J.S. BACHChaconne from the Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004
(arr. for piano by Ferruccio Busoni)
SCHUBERTPiano Sonata in G Major, D.894
BRAHMSVariations on a Theme by Paganini, Op. 35, Book I
RACHMANINOFFPiano Sonata No.1 in D Minor, Op. 28
TCHAIKOVSKY-PLETNEV Silver Fairy from The Sleeping Beauty
SCRIABINPrelude for left hand in C-Sharp Minor Op. 9, No. 1
LISZTGrandes etudes de Paganini, S. 141 No. 6


Click here to view the complete January-February 2016 Program Book

PROGRAM NOTES: Daniil Trifonov, piano

by Eric Bromberger

Chaconne from the Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004 (1720)
(arr. for piano by Ferruccio Busoni)


Born March 21, 1685, Eisenach, Germany
Died July 28, 1750, Leipzig

The magnificent Chaconne that concludes the Partita No. 2 for Unaccompanied Violin is among the most intense music Bach ever wrote, and it has worked its spell on musicians everywhere over the last two and a half centuries. The violin is a linear instrument, and the full harmonic textures implied in the original seem to cry out for performances that can project these more satisfactorily than can the violin. The Chaconne has been transcribed for many other instruments and combinations of instruments, including several versions for keyboard: first by Joachim Raff and in 1877 by Brahms, who arranged it for left hand only. Brahms was almost beside himself with admiration for this music; to Clara Schumann he wrote: “If I could picture myself writing, or even conceiving such a piece, I am certain that the extreme excitement and emotional tension would have driven me mad.”

Ferruccio Busoni, who felt a similar excitement about the Chaconne, made his transcription some years after Brahms’ and first performed it at a concert in Boston in 1893. This was a period when Busoni was making piano transcriptions of Bach’s organ music, and at least one scholar has suggested that Busoni conceived of the Chaconne as organ music (rather than violin music) and then–with that sonority in mind–proceeded to make a transcription for piano that would project an organ-like richness of sound. Busoni’s transcription is a fairly exact reproduction of Bach’s music: he makes only minor changes in the original, including the repetition of one brief phrase not repeated by Bach.

A chaconne is one of the most disciplined forms in music: it is built on a ground bass in triple meter over which a melodic line is repeated and varied. Here the four-bar ground bass repeats 64 times during the quarter-hour span of the Chaconne, and over it Bach spins out gloriously varied music, all the while keeping these variations firmly anchored on the ground bass. At the center section Bach moves into D major, and here the music relaxes a little, content to sing happily for a while; after the calm nobility of this interlude, the quiet return of D minor sounds almost disconsolate. Bach drives the Chaconne to a great climax and a restatement of the ground melody at the close.

Piano Sonata in G Major, D.894 (1826)
Molto moderato e cantabile
Menuetto: Allegro moderato


Born January 31, 1797, Vienna
Died November 19, 1828, Vienna

Schubert composed this music in October 1826, and it was published six months later in Vienna by Tobias Haslinger as Schubert’s Opus 78. But when he brought out this score, Haslinger gave it a title that has caused a great deal of confusion: he published the work not as a unified whole but under the names of its four movements, and so it first appeared in April 1827 as Fantaisie, Andante, Menuetto, and Allegretto. This awkward name was in turn abbreviated to Fantasy in G Major, and the music was known for some time under that title, even though Schubert’s manuscript clearly calls the work a sonata on its title page. Haslinger’s substitution of so unwieldy a title of his own has been explained by at least one observer as an effort to attract the developing market of amateur pianists in Vienna with a title that might not seem so forbidding to casual players as a sonata.

Actually, Haslinger’s motives were more complex–and understandable–than such an explanation seems to make them. There were good reasons why he might not want to call this music a sonata, and those reasons center primarily on its first movement. That movement is of extraordinary length (if the indicated repeat is taken, it can stretch out to nearly twenty-five minutes), it is at a moderate tempo, and it has none of the dramatic character one associates with a sonata-form first movement. The other movements are of comparably generous proportions, so much so, in fact, that the entire work can approach fifty minutes in some performances, making it significantly longer than Beethoven’s mighty “Hammerklavier” Sonata. It is no surprise that Haslinger, faced with such unusual music, might choose to identify it to potential buyers as a collection of individual pieces rather than a unified sonata.

But Schubert knew what he was about, and this clearly is a Piano Sonata in G Major, as we have come to know it today. Schubert’s conception of the piano sonata was different from Beethoven’s, and those differences are most evident in that first movement. Schubert’s marking Molto moderato e cantabile suggests that he wants a broad, relaxed, and singing performance, and that is certainly consistent with the music itself, which rocks gently along its 12/8 meter and moves from a pianissimo dynamic in the opening measure to triple piano in the tenth. If this is going to be non-dramatic music, it is also nicely unified: most of the thematic material seems to spin out of that quiet opening subject, and the music by turn dances, surges, and flows across the long span of the movement. The development seems to begin more powerfully in firm G minor, but those tensions relax almost immediately, and the music resumes the character it established in its opening moments. In the closing measures, the rhythmic pattern of the very beginning seems to break down and dissolve as the music marches to a barely-audible close.

The second movement is a slow rondo (the marking is Andante) in 3/8 meter. The opening melody–simplicity itself–will be the basis for the rondo, and it grows more ornate as it reappears across the broad span of this movement. Schubert separates these episodes with violent interruptions, great hammered chords that intrude upon the sweet atmosphere of the beginning and then melt away as the rondo theme reasserts itself. By far the shortest of the movements, the Menuetto dances with a sort of rustic simplicity, once again built on insistent chords; in sharp contrast, Schubert specifies that he wants the delicate trio section molto legato after the staccato chords of the minuet.

The last movement is another rondo, but this one too is at an unexpected tempo: rather than opting for a brilliant finale, Schubert writes a comfortable one. The marking here is Allegretto, and the agreeable central theme makes clear that–like the first movement–this music will be essentially non-dramatic. Schubert takes that rondo theme through a series of varied permutations: sometimes it dances in the piano’s ringing high register, sometimes it appears deep in the pianist’s left hand, and it undergoes some nice thematic evolution as it proceeds. A gorgeous C-minor episode marked espressivo passes by so quickly that it is over almost before the ear has begun to adjust; Schubert then brings it back in sunny C major, and just as quickly this vanishes too. So this movement goes: it is long, but it offers a constantly-evolving musical landscape, and finally this music dances its way to an ending all the more wonderful for being so understated.

Variations on a Theme of Paganini, Opus 35, Book I (1863)


Born May 7, 1833, Hamburg
Died April 3, 1897, Vienna

Niccolò Paganini–rumored by some to be in league with the devil–published his Twenty-Four Caprices for Solo Violin in 1820, and the theme of the final caprice, full of angular leaps and coiled energy, has haunted composers ever since. Among those who have written extended works based on this sprightly theme are Paganini himself (twelve variations), Liszt (Transcendental Études), Schumann (Paganini Variations), Rachmaninoff (Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini), and–more recently–Witold Lutosławski and Boris Blacher (both of whom have composed a set of Variations on a Theme of Paganini) and George Rochberg (Fifty Caprice Variations). Further sets of variations may still come, for the possibilities of this theme appear inexhaustible.

Brahms composed his Variations on a Theme of Paganini in 1863, shortly after moving from Hamburg to Vienna, and published them as two books of fourteen variations each. These variations are extremely compact: each set–consisting of the theme, fourteen variations, and a blazing finale–lasts only about eleven minutes. Brahms himself described them as exercises (“Studies for Pianoforte”) and gave the two sets the slightly dry and academic title of “Books,” but listeners should not be put off by the composer’s usual self-deprecation: this is ingenious and exciting music, pleasing for the verve of the writing for piano and for the sheer exhilaration of hearing Paganini’s theme put through so many transformations.

It is also fiendishly difficult for the performer, and Brahms’ Paganini Variations are regarded as one of the supreme tests for pianists. Brahms’ close friend Clara Schumann, one of the finest pianists of the nineteenth century, found them so difficult that she called them Hexenvariationen (“Witches’ Variations”), implying that it would take supernatural powers to solve all the technical problems they present. Brahms himself gave the first performance of the two Books in Vienna on March 17, 1867.

The Paganini Variations may succeed brilliantly as concert music, but there is at least an element of truth in Brahms’ description of them as exercises. Each variation presents the pianist with a particular technical problem: some are written in thirds, some in sixths, some in octaves; some present several rhythms simultaneously, while others require difficult trills or staccato or legato passages; still others require awkward hand-crossings. The music itself is quite varied, ranging from gentle passages that Brahms marks molto dolce to an explosive variation marked Feroce, energico.

On this recital Mr. Trifonov performs Book I. A generalization sometimes made is that Book I is distinguished by the difficulty of its technical hurtles, while Book II is more satisfying from a purely musical point of view, though such a distinction may not matter much: it should be noted that a century ago pianists sometimes assembled their own sets of Paganini Variations by drawing variations from the two Books. Brahms’ music at its best fuses technically complex writing with engaging musical ideas, and the Paganini Variations can be enjoyed on many levels: for the virtuosity of the playing, the ingenuity of the variations, and the beauty of the music, as Paganini’s theme is made to sing in ways its creator never dreamed of.

Piano Sonata No. 1 in D Minor, Opus 28 (1907)
Allegro moderato; Allegro
Allegro molto


Born April 1, 1873, Semyonovo, Russia
Died March 28, 1943, Beverly Hills

In February 1906 Rachmaninoff resigned his position as conductor at the Bolshoi and moved his family to Dresden. He had won critical praise as a conductor, but the demands of that position prevented him from composing, which was what he really wanted to do. He loved the quiet house he rented in Dresden–it was surrounded by a garden–and he set to work immediately. The next few years were some of his most productive, for they included the composition of his Second Symphony, Isle of the Dead, and Third Piano Concerto. Also from these years came a work that has proven much less familiar, the First Piano Sonata. Rachmaninoff sketched the sonata in January and February 1907 and had it complete on May 14 of that year.

But he was by no means comfortable with his latest creation. To a friend he described his problems with it: “The sonata is certainly wild and interminable. I think it takes about 45 minutes. I was lured into this length by its guiding idea. This is–three contrasting types from a literary work. Of course no program will be indicated, though I begin to think that the sonata would be clearer if the program were revealed. Nobody will ever play this composition, it’s too difficult and long . . . At one time I wanted to make a symphony of this sonata, but this seemed impossible because of the purely pianistic style in which it is written.” The première, given in Moscow on October 17, 1908, by Konstantin Igumnov, got a respectful but mystified reaction, and the composer had scarcely any more success when he played the sonata on his recitals during the next several seasons.

Perhaps it may help audiences to know that the “literary work” that inspired this sonata was Goethe’s Faust and that its three movements were apparently inspired in turn by Faust, Gretchen, and Mephistopheles. Small wonder that the work struck Rachmaninoff as symphonic in character: these are the titles and sequence of the three movements of Franz Liszt’s Faust Symphony, composed in 1857. Rachmaninoff chose not to reveal the inspiration, and this sonata is in no sense programmatic: its three movements should be understood more as character pieces than as pieces that depict specific events.

This is an extremely difficult sonata for the performer, and it generates textures so full and dramatic that Rachmaninoff was right to wonder if it might really be symphonic music. The Allegro moderato alternates tentative figures with fierce outbursts before rushing ahead at the Allegro; its second subject, marked Moderato, is built on repeated notes that emerge from murmuring figurations. This movement, long and technically demanding, drives to a sonorous climax that rides along great waves of sound before the music subsides to recall the second subject and to close quietly, even peacefully. The main idea of the Lento is introduced above rocking triplet accompaniment, and that rhythm will eventually drive this movement to an agitated climax; a striking sequence of descending trills brings the movement to its restrained close. The finale has seemed to some who know of the sonata’s original inspiration to have been inspired by the Flight to Brocken in Goethe’s Faust. It opens with hammered octaves that are marked both fortissimo and marcato and then races ahead; the second subject is a quiet, march-like idea that Rachmaninoff marks “very resolute.” These two ideas alternate throughout the movement, which also features some lyric and haunting melodies. The music accelerates to the close, where Rachmaninoff rounds matters off with a great chordal climax full of the sound of pealing bells and a suitably furious cadence.


Lecture by Steven Cassedy: What does an intermezzo come between?

DaniilTrifonovRussian pianist Daniil Trifonov (dan-EEL TREE-fon-ov) has made a spectacular ascent to classical music stardom since winning First Prize at both the Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein competitions in 2011 at the age of 20. Combining consummate technique with rare sensitivity and depth, his performances are a perpetual source of awe. “He has everything and more, ... tenderness and also the demonic element. I never heard anything like that,” stated Martha Argerich, while the New York Times has observed, “Mr. Trifonov has scintillating technique and a virtuosic flair. He is also a thoughtful artist. … He can play with soft-spoken delicacy, not what you associate with competition conquerors.”

The 2013-14 season promises to be a banner one for the young pianist. Deutsche Grammophon signed him as an exclusive recording artist, and his first album for the label, Trifonov: The Carnegie Recital, was captured live at his recent sold-out Carnegie recital debut and is due for U.S. release this winter, to coincide with his return to the New York venue. The New York Times noted that Trifonov’s “soulful artistry and virtuoso chops were in full evidence” at his 2012 Carnegie debut. Further recital engagements take the pianist from Chicago to London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro, and a host of other international musical hotspots. He looks forward to a similarly extensive lineup of orchestral collaborations, playing concertos by Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Scriabin, Shostakovich, Chopin, and Mozart in dates with 19 of the world’s foremost orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Washington’s National Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, and Rome’s Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. Upcoming chamber music highlights include a duo recital tour with his teacher and fellow pianist, Sergei Babayan, that kicks off with a gala concert at the Dallas Chamber Music Society.

The 2012-13 season saw Trifonov make debuts with all the “Big Five” orchestras – the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, and Philadelphia Orchestra – and with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and London’s Royal Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras, besides returning to the London Symphony and the Mariinsky Orchestra led by Valery Gergiev, the Russian National Orchestra under Mikhail Pletnev, and the Warsaw Philharmonic with Antoni Wit. He made solo recital debuts at Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, Japan’s Suntory Hall, and the Salle Pleyel in Paris, and the summer brought further triumphs at the Verbier and Edinburgh Festivals and in the pianist’s BBC Proms debut at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Recent recitals have also taken Trifonov to the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Boston’s Celebrity Series, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw (Master Piano Series), Berlin’s Philharmonie (the Kammermusiksaal), Munich’s Herkulessaal, Bavaria’s Schloss Elmau, Zurich’s Tonhalle, the Lucerne Piano Festival, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, the Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, and the Seoul Arts Center.

As an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, Trifonov’s future plans with the label include recording Rachmaninoff’s complete piano concertos. His existing discography features a Chopin album for Decca and a recording of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra on the ensemble’s own label.

It was during the 2010-11 season that Trifonov won medals at three of the music world’s most prestigious competitions, taking Third Prize in Warsaw’s Chopin Competition, First Prize in Tel Aviv’s Rubinstein Competition, and both First Prize and Grand Prix in Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Competition. Jury members and observers at these events included Martha Argerich, Krystian Zimerman, Van Cliburn, Emanuel Ax, Nelson Freire, Yefim Bronfman, and Gergiev, who personally awarded Trifonov the Moscow Grand Prix, an additional honor bestowed on the best overall competitor in any category.

Born in Nizhny Novgorod in 1991, and having begun his musical training at the age of five, Trifonov went on to attend Moscow’s Gnessin School of Music as a student of Tatiana Zelikman, before pursuing his piano studies with Sergei Babayan at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He has also studied composition, and continues to write music for piano, chamber, and orchestra.

Daniil Trifonov last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Freeman Family Piano Series on April 10, 2015.

For more information visit

KEB’ MO’ – BLUESAmericana
Mar 4 @ 8:00 pm
KEB' MO' - BLUESAmericana @ Balboa Theatre | San Diego | California | United States

Three-time Grammy® Award Winner

Keb’ Mo’

Twenty years since the release of his debut album, visionary roots-music story teller Keb’ Mo’ embarks on a new chapter of artistic and personal growth with the release of the Grammy&#174-nominated BLUESAmericana, his 12th full-length recording.

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Prior to the performance please join us for dinner in the beautiful Fontainebleau Room
at The Westgate Hotel

Click here to view the complete March-April 2016 Program Book


Keb' Mo', vocals & guitar
Stanley Sargeant, bass
Casey Wasner, drums
Michael Hicks, keyboard

Works to be announced from stage


KEBMOThree-time Grammy® winner and visionary roots-music storyteller Keb’ Mo’ embarks on a new chapter in his career with the April 22 release of BLUESAmericana on Kind of Blue Music. His twelfth full-length album marks the 20th anniversary of his debut ‘Keb’ Mo’,’ but, more important, the disc is a signpost of artistic and personal growth. “I only make albums when I’m inspired to, and these 10 songs come from a very honest place,” Keb’ relates. “BLUESAmericana is the beginning of the next phase of who I am.” The disc will be accompanied by Keb’s most extensive tour in years.

Achieving this wasn’t easy. In the period since the unveiling of 2011’s ‘The Reflection’ — which paired Keb’ with India.Arie, Vince Gill, Dave Koz and Marcus Miller while spotlighting eclectic, virtuoso performances — Keb’ and his wife, Robbie, persevered through a challenging patch in their marriage. “I had to learn more about myself,” Keb’ says, “and in doing that I felt a personal shift.”

That learning process and its happy resolution yielded many of BLUESAmericana’s songs. At its core, the album is about love and understanding. Those qualities are expressed in some of the most poignant and joyfully melodic numbers Keb’ has ever recorded. Many of them, including the pledge of commitment “Do It Right” and the reflective “For Better Or Worse,” assay devotion and marriage. The thorny, comic “The Worst is Yet To Come” is about hope, despite the hilarious laundry list of pitfalls its protagonist endures as he searches for a silver lining. And “Somebody Hurt You” is, in Keb’s words, “where the blues meets the church.” That number features Rip Patton, a longtime friend and Civil Rights era Freedom Rider, on beatific bass vocals.

“My first intention was to make a stripped-down acoustic album — just me and my guitar playing some songs. But” — Keb’ laughs — “I couldn’t do it! I love ensembles so much.” Acoustic guitars do feature prominently in these arrangements, which boast plenty of textural flesh via electric and resonator slide guitars, mandolin, percussion, keyboards, reeds and horns, but still reveal the gorgeously chiseled architecture of their bare bones origins. The album was co-produced by Keb’ Mo’ and Casey Wasner. Recording started with Keb’ and Casey setting up in Keb’s home studio just outside of Nashville. Then Keb’ and drummer Keio Stroud laid down the basic tracks.

“Keio and I set the tone for the album,” explains Keb’, who played most of the guitars on BLUESAmericana, several of the bass guitar parts, keyboards and percussion. “I wanted everything on the album to be as pure a statement from me as possible. Even when I called another musician to play a part, I had already recorded a template of what that part should be, to guide them.”

Keb’s favorite number is the ebullient “I’m Gonna Be Your Man,” a dynamo of a song that starts with a steel resonator guitar and powers through its blues foundation to more free-ranging sonic terrain. “It’s about chasing what you want,” he explains. “I used to be the kind of guy who lived in fear of the ‘smack-down,’ but I’ve realized it is very romantic to pursue a woman and be willing to accept rejection.”

Another highlight is “The Old Me Better,” recorded with a New Orleans Second Line feel and co-penned with his longtime friend and writing partner John Lewis Parker. “As one delves into the life of holy matrimony and the wife being the ‘boss,’ one longs for the old days of being footloose and fancy free,” Keb’ relates. “This song is a humorous way of looking at the fact that maybe it wasn’t better than it is now, but it sure seems like it was at certain times.” The song gets its Crescent City sound from guest artists the California Feetwarmers, a band Keb’ discovered playing a birthday party he attended at a home in L.A.’s Topanga canyon. “When I heard them play, I knew that was the sound I wanted for the song,” he notes.

The album closes with the lovely, poetic “So Long Goodbye.” Keb’ wrote the lyrics during a flight while on tour. “Every word is true and honest,” he reflects. “I think this song is so personal that I was emotionally paralyzed by it. I didn’t know what to do with it musically.” He shared the lyrics with fellow songwriter Rebecca Correia, who crafted the melody. Robbie Brooks Moore sings on the recording, “so that brings it around full circle for me,” Keb’ says.

BLUESAmericana represents the second time Keb’ has undergone a personal transformation. The first began in 1984 in his native Los Angeles, where he’d worked hard to get record and publishing deals and establish himself as a studio musician under his given name Kevin Moore, and then saw all of that dissipate.

“I was convinced my career was over, and that if I was lucky I’d be able to play blues gigs for $40 or $50 a night… if I was lucky,” he recounts. He was very lucky. Kevin got a gig in a blues combo with saxist Monk Higgins and guitarist Charles “Charlie Tuna” Dennis, who today plays rhythm six-string behind B.B. King.

“Until then I thought there was just two kinds of blues — fast and slow,” says Keb’. “Charlie taught me that there are all kinds of blues: Delta blues, Texas blues, Chicago blues, soul-blues… I started opening my mind and learning how deep the blues was.” His discovery of historic blues artists Robert Johnson and “Big” Bill Broonzy also resonated profoundly, and over the next decade Kevin developed a sound that blended their acoustic framework with the pop, R&B, rock, jazz and soul that had previously stoked his compositions. “I never set out to be a ‘blues guy’, ” he explains, “but the blues is very powerful and fuels what I do. The blues puts the ‘realness’ in it for me.”

By 1994 Moore was signed to a major label again. He determined to celebrate his creative rebirth by adopting the new moniker Keb’ Mo’. His first album under that name, ‘Keb’ Mo’,’ earned gold-record status. The second Keb’ Mo’ album, ‘Just Like You,’ won the Grammy Award for Contemporary Blues Album — a feat he’s repeated twice since then, with 1999’s ‘Slow Down’ and 2005’s ‘Keep It Simple.’

Over the past two decades Keb’ has cultivated a reputation as a modern master of American roots music through the understated excellence of his live and studio performances. His songs have been recorded by B.B. King, Buddy Guy, the Dixie Chicks, Joe Cocker and Robert Palmer, and his playing inspired leading instrument maker Gibson Brands to issue the Keb’ Mo’ Signature Bluesmaster acoustic guitar. He’s collaborated with a host of other artists including Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Brown, Cassandra Wilson, Buddy Guy, Amy Grant, Solomon Burke and Little Milton. Keb’ also performs the theme song for the smash sit-com ‘Mike & Molly’ and was music composer for TV’s ‘Memphis Beat.’

He’s no stranger to the stage and screen himself. Keb’s acting career began with an early ’90s Los Angeles production of Leslie Lee’s ‘The Rabbit Foot.’ He portrayed Robert Johnson in the 1998 documentary ‘Can’t You Hear the Wind Howl’ and appeared three times on the TV series ‘Touched By An Angel.’ He also played the ghostly bluesman Possum in John Sayles’ 2007 movie ‘Honeydripper.’ But Keb’ stresses that his focus will always be on making music and being a communicator, a songwriter.

“My job is to look for something that’s truthful,” he vows. “Lies are the hardest things in the world to remember, but the truth digs right inside me and it reaches other people, too. If a song is truthful, the way the songs on BLUESAmericana are, I have a piece of that song inside of me so I can always deliver it from my heart.”

This performance marks Keb' Mo's La Jolla Music Society debut.

For more information visit

Mar 11 @ 8:00 pm
PAUL LEWIS, piano @  MCASD Sherwood Auditorium | San Diego | California | United States

Paul Lewis, piano

British pianist Paul Lewis makes his La Jolla Music Society debut in this season’s Frieman Family Piano Series. A protégé of Alfred Brendel, Mr. Lewis brings his signature vigor and authoritative command to solo piano works by Brahms, Schubert and Liszt.

“Mr. Lewis played with incisive rhythmic bite and, when called for, real abandon, which was fun to hear from such a tasteful musician.”                   —The New York Times

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BRAHMSFour Ballades, Op. 10
SCHUBERTSonata for Piano No. 9 in B Major, D.575
BRAHMSThree Intermezzi, Op. 117
LISZTAprès une lecture du Dante, fantasia quasi Sonata, S.161/7

Click here to view the complete March-April 2016 Program Book

PROGRAM NOTES: Paul Lewis, piano

by Eric Bromberger

Four Ballades, Opus 10 (1854)
No. 1 in D Minor
No. 2 in D Major
No. 3 in B Minor
No. 4 B Major

Born May 7, 1833, Hamburg
Died April 3, 1897, Vienna

Originally, a ballad was a literary rather than a musical form, and while ballades were often sung to a dramatic narrative text, that term has no precise musical meaning. But a number of composers have been drawn to that title, perhaps because of the ballad’s association with dramatic events and poetic tale-telling. Chopin was the first to adopt the title (and his four Ballades include some of his greatest music), but other composers have used it as well: Liszt, Franck, Grieg, Fauré, Barber, and others have written short pieces they titled ballade.

In the summer of 1854 Johannes Brahms wrote four short piano pieces that he called ballades. This was a very intense time for Brahms. He was very young–21–and only a few months earlier had come a catastrophe: his friend and mentor Robert Schumann had attempted suicide and was now committed to an asylum. Brahms was steadfast in his aid to the Schumann family, helping to support and organize the shattered household, visiting Robert in the asylum, and consoling Clara. And at a deeper level, Brahms was wrestling with a private demon: the collision between his own youthful love for Clara and his unwavering support for her husband.

It was under these conditions that Brahms wrote the Four Ballades. Brahms would never wear his heart on his sleeve, so we should not look for autobiographical meaning in this music, but there is no question that these are four very intense pieces. The first–and most famous–of them blurs the meaning of the title even further because this ballade is in fact based on a literary ballad. Brahms had been intrigued by the old Scottish ballad Edward, which he had first encountered in Herder’s translation, and on the first page of the music he made the connection clear: “After the Scottish ballad Edward.” That ballad tells a dark tale: young Edward comes home from the hunt with bloody hands and laments that he has killed his falcon, but it soon becomes clear that he has killed his father (and in some versions had done so at the instigation of his mother). There is evidence Brahms originally planned this music as a song (the rhythm of Brahms’ opening section matches the language of the ballad in both the Scottish and in Herder’s German translation), but he eventually completed it as a piano piece. This music has been much admired, and Brahms’ biographer Karl Geiringer hears a “tragic power” in it. The opening section alternates two somber chordal themes. These explode in the violent middle section, marked Allegro, and the return of the quiet opening material is unsettled by the triplets that now murmur deep in the pianist’s left hand.

The second ballade, marked Andante, is inevitably referred to as a “lullaby,” and its gentle song is softly blurred by the syncopated accompaniment–Brahms’ marking is espressivo e dolce. But this piece is not in simple ternary form, and suddenly pounding chords push the music in entirely new directions, which include a section encrusted with grace notes. Finally the opening material does return, but it has grown more complex as its winds its way into silence.

Brahms marked the third ballade Intermezzo, but it is in fact a scherzo, marked Allegro and flashing unevenly along a 6/8 meter. The chordal trio section bears some relation to the scherzo theme itself, and the actual return of that theme is quite impressive: Brahms insists on a dynamic of triple piano, and this mercurial movement almost whispers its way to the close.

Critics hear the influence of Schumann in the long final ballade, marked Andante con moto. Again, Brahms’ structure is original. The flowing opening section gives way to a murmuring episode that the composer marks Col intimissimo sentimento, but over the final pages Brahms begins to fuse elements of these two different kinds of music. These alternate, dovetail, and finally blur together.

Piano Sonata in B Major, D.575 (1817)
Allegro ma non troppo
Scherzo: Allegretto
Allegro giusto

Born January 30, 1797, Vienna
Died November 19, 1828, Vienna

In the fall of 1816, nineteen-year-old Franz Schubert moved out of the family home, where he was irksomely employed helping his schoolteacher father, and took a private apartment. This was part of his effort to declare independence and to try to support himself as a freelance composer. Over the course of the following year, Schubert completed six piano sonatas and began several others. It was perfectly logical that a young composer wishing to support himself should turn to piano music, for there was a growing market for such music among the growing middle class in Vienna. But these efforts at independence came to nothing: none of these sonatas was published during Schubert’s lifetime (some of this music did not appear until the twentieth century), and the composer’s youthful attempt to achieve financial independence ended in failure. In the fall of 1817 Schubert had to move back in with his family and resume his chores as an elementary teacher.

The Sonata in B Major, composed in August 1817, was the last of this group of sonatas, and it was not published until 1846, eighteen years after Schubert’s death. The sonatas of 1817 are seldom heard today, but the Sonata in B Major is regarded as the most successful of the set–Schubert’s biographer John Reed hears in it a “characteristic vein of dynamic and optimistic lyricism.”

The sonata is in four fairly compact movements. The opening Allegro ma non troppo depends heavily on dotted rhythms in both its themes. Already evident in this movement is Schubert’s fluid sense of harmonic freedom: though the movement is set in the unusual key of B major, soon he is in the remote key of G major, and even here he is flirting with G minor. This all makes for a great range of expression within the generally amiable spirit of this sonata-form movement. Schubert moves to E major for the Andante, based on a noble chordal melody that continues to make use of dotted rhythms. Along the way come such unexpected features as rolled chords, hammered left-hand octaves, and sharp dynamic contrasts. Schubert calls the third movement a Scherzo but marks it Allegretto; this is very attractive music indeed, with its graceful outer sections and flowing trio. By contrast, the concluding Allegro giusto, in sonata form, powers along a vigorous 3/8 meter. Schubert either hammers out this meter or allows it to flow easily, as he does in the second subject, marked dolce, and the movement sails along gracefully to its (rather sudden) close.

Three Intermezzi, Opus 117 (1892)
No. 1 in E-flat Major: Andante moderato
No. 2 in B-flat Minor: Andante non troppo e con molto espressione
No. 3 in C-sharp Minor: Andante con moto


Brahms’ piano music figures curiously in his career. He burst to prominence as a young pianist-composer (hailed by Robert Schumann as a “young eagle”), and most of his early music was for piano, including huge-scaled sonatas and complex sets of variations. But at age 30 he seemed to forget about the piano, turning instead to chamber and vocal works and later to symphonic music. He waited fifteen years and wrote eight short piano pieces, then waited another thirteen years before he returned to the piano one final time, composing late in life four collections of piano pieces: Opp. 116, 117, 118, and 119.

The twenty pieces that make up these four final sets are all very brief (they may accurately be described as miniatures) and are in ABA form: a first theme, a countermelody–usually in a contrasting tempo and key, and a return of the opening material, now slightly varied. This is intensely personal music, as if Brahms were distilling a lifetime of experience and technical refinement into these brief pieces as he returned one last time to his own instrument.

He wrote the Three Intermezzi of his Opus 117 during the summer of 1892, spent at his favorite summer retreat, Bad Ischl, in the Alps near Salzburg. Brahms’ titles for his piano pieces were sometimes a little loose, but for him the term “intermezzo” seemed to imply music of a quiet, almost introspective nature. It is a cliché to call Brahms’ late music “autumnal,” but there is something darker still about these three intermezzi: they are spare, haunting, moving–almost bleak. Brahms himself called them “lullabies of my pain.”

The first intermezzo in fact is a lullaby. At the top of the music Brahms wrote two lines of a German translation of the old Scottish ballad Lady Anne Bothwell’s Lament:

            Balou, my boy, lye still and sleep,
            it grieves me sore to hear thee weep.

The calm outer section (Brahms marks it “sweet, simple”) gives way to a more agitated middle episode in E-flat minor before the return of the opening material and the quiet close. The second intermezzo (Brahms stresses that he wants it played con molta espressione) hides its theme inside a quiet cascade of arpeggios–only gradually does the ear make out the long line of melody within this flow. The outer section offers some of the most wistful music Brahms ever wrote, and the mood changes little in the middle section: Brahms’ biographer Karl Geiringer suggests that this music portrays a “man as he stands with the bleak, gusty autumn wind eddying round him.” The final intermezzo opens with the ominous tread of the quiet main theme in C-sharp minor octaves. It has been compared to a funeral march, and the more animated middle section lightens the mood only briefly before the return of opening theme, now skillfully set as a middle voice within a complex harmony.

Verbal description does these three pieces no justice. This quiet and somber music may well be dark. It is also endlessly beautiful.

Après une lecture du Dante, fantasia quasi sonata, S.161/7 (1839)

Born October 22, 1811, Raiding
Died July 31, 1886, Bayreuth

Après une lecture du Dante was published as the seventh (and final) piece of the second book of Années de pèlerinage. Liszt borrowed that elaborate title from a poem by Victor Hugo and appended his own description fantasia quasi sonata; the work is sometimes known as the Dante Sonata. Written in 1839, it was apparently very difficult for Liszt: Marie d’Agoult wrote to a friend to say that its composition “was sending him to the very devil.” Certainly the topic gripped Liszt, for it here inspires some of his most vivid tone-painting.

The Dante Sonata opens with powerful descending octaves meant to depict the entry into hell and doubtless inspired by the line “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” Liszt underlines this association by having the octaves descend on the interval of a tritone. This unsettling interval (a diminished fifth) has been associated for centuries with the devil: its unresolved dissonance was referred to as the diabolus in musica, and its use was forbidden in some circles. Here that ominous sound makes an ideal accompaniment for our descent into hell, and soon we are plunged into the torment of the damned on music that Liszt marks lamentoso. Liszt biographer Alan Walker notes that one of Liszt’s students–on information provided by the composer–copied the following lines from Inferno into his own score at this point:

            Here sighs, with lamentations and loud moans,
            Resounded through the air pierced by no star,
            That e’en I wept at entering. Strange tongues,
            Horrible cries, words of pain,
            Tones of anger, voices deep and hoarse,
            With hands together smote that swelled the sounds,
            Made up a tumult, that for ever whirls
            Round through that air with solid darkness stained,
            Like to the sand that in the whirlwind flies.

Consolation comes with the singing and serene second subject (perhaps a vision of heaven from out of the pit of hell), though Walker points out that this is ingeniously derived from the horrifying lamentation theme. Liszt then extends both these ideas through some furious development–the work is not so much in the sonata form that its title implies as a sort of free expansion of the fundamental themes. There are moments of radiant calm along the way, but finally Liszt drives the Dante Sonata to a dramatic and sonorous close.

Lecture by Steven Cassedy
What Does an Intermezzo Come Between?

An intermezzo by definition is a composition that comes between two others. Brahms’s Three Intermezzi, Op. 117, written toward the end of his life, are among the most hauntingly beautiful pieces he wrote. Each could certainly stand on its own. So why did Brahms call them “Intermezzi?”

PaulLewis1Paul Lewis is internationally regarded as one of the leading musicians of his generation. His recent cycles of core piano works by Beethoven and Schubert have received unanimous critical and public acclaim worldwide, and consolidated his reputation as one of the world’s foremost interpreters of the central European classical repertoire. His numerous awards have included the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist of the Year, two Edison awards, three Gramophone awards, the Diapason D'or de l'Annee, the Preis Der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, the Premio Internazionale Accademia Musicale Chigiana, and the South Bank Show Classical Music award. In 2009 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Southampton.

He performs regularly as soloist with the world's great orchestras, including the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, London Symphony, Bavarian Radio Symphony, NHK Symphony, New York Philharmonic, LA Philharmonic, and the Royal Concertgebouw, Tonhalle Zurich, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Philharmonia, and Mahler Chamber Orchestras, in collaboration with such conductors as Sir Colin Davis, Stephane Deneve, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Bernard Haitink, Pablo Heras-Casado, Daniel Harding, Paavo Järvi, Sir Charles Mackerras, Andris Nelsons, Wolfgang Sawallisch and Robin Ticciati. He is also a frequent guest at the world's most prestigious festivals, including Lucerne, Mostly Mozart (New York), Tanglewood, Schubertiade, Salzburg, Edinburgh, La Roque d’Antheron, Rheingau, Klavier Festival Ruhr, and London’s BBC Proms where in 2010 he became the first pianist to perform a complete Beethoven piano concerto cycle in one season.

Paul Lewis’ recital career takes him to venues such as London's Royal Festival Hall, Alice Tully and Carnegie Hall in New York, the Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Theatre des Champs Elysees in Paris, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Berlin Philharmonie and Konzerthaus, Tonhalle Zurich, Palau de Musica Barcelona, Oji Hall in Tokyo, and Melbourne’s Recital Centre.

His multi-award winning discography for Harmonia Mundi includes the complete Beethoven piano sonatas, concertos, and the Diabelli Variations, Liszt’s B Minor Sonata and other late works, and all of Schubert’s major piano works from the last six years of his life, including the 3 song cycles with tenor Mark Padmore. Future recording plans include the Brahms D Minor Piano Concerto with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Daniel Harding, and solo works by Mussorgsky and Schumann.

Paul Lewis studied with Joan Havill at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London before going on to study privately with Alfred Brendel. Along with his wife the Norwegian cellist Bjørg Lewis, he is artistic director of Midsummer Music, an annual chamber music festival held in Buckinghamshire, UK

This performance marks Paul Lewis' La Jolla Music Society debut.

Mar 16 @ 8:00 pm
BALLET FLAMENCO DE ANDALUCIA @ Spreckels Theatre | San Diego | California | United States

Ballet Flamenco De Andalucía
20th Anniversary Tour

Images: 20 Years
Under the direction of award-winning Rafaela Carrasco, Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía is recognized as the most important representative of flamenco art
in Spain.

Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the company, Images: 20 Years revisits five of the most celebrated choreographies of its repertoire. This program is a tribute to the former directors who inspired Carrasco during her career and is an interpretation of the rich history of the company.

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Click here to view the complete March-April 2016 Program Book

PROGRAM NOTES: Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía
Images: 20 Years

Del maestro

En la oscuridad de la luz


Mirando al Sur

Las cuatro esquinas


Artistic Director - Rafaela Carrasco
Repetiteur - David Coria
Rafaela Carrasco, David Coria, Ana Morales, Hugo López

David Coria, Ana Morales, Hugo López
Female Dancers:
Rafaela Carrasco, Ana Morales, Alejandra Gudí, Florencia O’Ryan, Laura Santamaría, Paula Comitre, Carmen Yanes
Male Dancers:
David Coria, Hugo López, Eduardo Leal, Antonio López, Alberto Sellés

THE MUSIC: Musicians:
Antonio Campos, Jesús Torres, Juan Antonio Suárez “Cano”
Antonio Campos, Antonio Núñez “El Pulga”:
Musical Direction:
Antonio Campos, Jesús Torres, Juan Antonio Suárez “Cano”

This performance marks Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía's La Jolla Music Society debut.

Del maestro
Tribute to Mario Maya
Choreography: Rafaela Carrasco
Dancers: Full Company

En la oscuridad de la luz
Tribute to María Pagés
Choreography: Rafaela Carrasco, Ana Morales, David Coria
Dancers: Full Company

Tribute to José Antonio Ruiz
Choreography: Rafaela Carrasco, Ana Morales
Dancers: Rafaela Carrasco, Ana Morales,
Alejandra Gudí, Laura Santamaría,
Florencia O´Ryan, Paula Comitre,
Carmen Yanes

Mirando al Sur
Tribute to Cristina Hoyos
Choreography: Rafaela Carrasco, Hugo López
Dancers: Full Company

Las cuatro esquinas
Tribute to Rubén Olmo
Choreography: Rafaela Carrasco
Dancers: Full Company

Lighting and Set Design: Gloria Montesinos (AAI)
Images: Visuales Tama
Costume Design: Blanco and Belmonte
Costume Production: Blanco and Belmonte/ Pepa Carrasco / Bova Mikhailova/ Amay Flamenco (batas de cola), Salao, Taller de la Unidad de Recursos Técnicos, Producción (AAIICC)
Shoes: Gallardo
Recording Studio: Estudio RedLed
Sound Design: Rafael Gómez
Production, Technichal and Choreography Team: Personal de la Unidad de Recursos Técnicos y Producción de la Agencia Andaluza de Instituciones Culturales
Production Manager: Ana Prieto
Technical Coordinator: Paloma Contreras
Graphic Design: Ildefonso Troya

Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía, is recognized as the most important representative of flamenco art in Spain. The company returns under the direction of the multi-award-winning Rafaela Carrasco. Awarded with “Giraldillo” for the best show in the 2014 Bienal de Flamenco de Sevilla, Images: 20 Years celebrates the 20th anniversary of the company, and revisits five of the most celebrated choreographies of its repertoire. Not only a tribute to the former directors who inspired Rafaela during her career, the show is also an interpretation of the rich history of the company. The show, awarded with the Giraldillo Prize of the 18th Flamenco Bienal of Seville for Best Show, is a creation of current choreographer, Rafaela Carrasco. Rafaela has been involved since the beginning of the company as as student, répétitrice, soloist dancer and now, since 2013, as Artistic Director and choreographer. Rafaela is inspired by these five selected moments in order to pay a tribute to the former directors of the Ballet. The show is not only a review of the different stages of the company, but a personal interpretation of these moments, drawn with the experience obtained during these 20 years.

Please join us for a conversation with Rafaela Carrasco hosted by Marcus Overton.

Ballet-Flamenco-de-AndaluciaBallet Flamenco de Andalucía is the highest institutional representative of flamenco art which has served as flamenco ambassador since its inception 20 years ago. During this time the Ballet has become the best way to open new markets for flamenco; it has been on stages all over the world and has taken part in the cultural agendas of countries such as the United States, Argentina, Cuba, France, Italy, Hungary or Switzerland or international events like Aichi Exhibition in Japan.

The dance company has been a constant source of talents whence major current flamenco artists emerged: Israel Galván, Isabel Bayón, Rafael Campallo, Belén Maya, Fernando Romero, Mercedes Ruiz, María José Franco, Juan José Jaén ‘El Junco’, Patricia Guerrero or the current choreographer—Rafaela Carrasco— among others.

Rafaela Carrasco was selected in September 2013 as head choreographer of Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía. With the new show “Images of the Ballet”, she wants to bring back the best of the company’s repertoire, which now spans over twenty years.

This performance marks Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía's La Jolla Music Society, debut.

Mar 23 @ 8:00 pm
MONTREAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA @ Jacobs Music Center - Copley Symphony Hall | San Diego | California | United States

Montreal Symphony Orchestra

Kent Nagano, music director
Daniil Trifonov, piano

Kent Nagano, Music Director of Montreal Symphony Orchestra conducts an evening with orchestral works by Debussy and Stravinsky and featuring La Jolla Music Society favorite, the internationally renowned Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

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Daniil Trifonov returns to La Jolla Music Society for a solo recital as part of the Frieman Family Piano Series on Sunday, February 28 at 8:00 PM, MCASD Sherwood Auditorium

DEBUSSYJeux; poème dansé
PROKOFIEVPiano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26
STRAVINSKYThe Rite of Spring

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PROGRAM NOTES: Orchestre symphonique de Montréal

by Eric Bromberger

Jeux: poème dansé (1912)

Born August 22, 1862, Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Died March 25, 1918, Paris

A garden, at night: Bushes and brambles ducking in and out of the harsh light and deep shadows cast by an outdoor electric floodlight. A stray tennis ball bounces onto stage, chased by a frolicking young boy and two girls. As they search for the ball, they tease, laugh and play with each other, eventually falling into a furtive embrace. Such was the choreographic scenario to which Debussy composed Jeux for the Ballets Russes in 1912, though Sergei Diaghilev had originally imagined three boys in the main roles. With Vaslav Nijinsky in the principal role, the work premièred at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in May 1913, only two weeks before the same dancer would set the gossiping classes atwitter with his controversial choreography to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Nijinsky’s choreography for Jeux, which drew more heavily on postures from golf, tennis and jazz dance than it did from classical ballet, was not a great success. Even Debussy was non-committal, commenting only a couple of weeks later, “Among recent pointless goings-on I must include the staging of Jeux, which gave Nijinsky’s perverse genius a chance of indulging in a peculiar kind of mathematics.” But the music lived on independent of the dance, and is now universally praised as an important 20th century work in line with Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. As in that earlier piece, tone colour and orchestral texture take centre-stage. Inconclusive harmonies suggest atonality, while never fully taking the plunge. The musical themes are short, following quickly one upon the other, and the liberal use of woodwinds in various combinations makes for a character-driven and playful atmosphere.

Piano Concerto, No. 3 in C Major, Opus 26 (1921)
Andante - Allegro
Tema con variazioni
Allegro, ma non troppo

Born April 23, 1891, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine
Died March 5, 1953, Moscow

As a child growing up in the Ukrainian countryside, Sergei Prokofiev was naturally experimental when it came to piano playing. His juvenile compositions were often written in a different key for each hand, creating a jarringly novel effect. This rogue instinct would follow the young composer to the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, where he began his sketches for his Piano Concerto No. 3 while still a student. Completing the work in 1921, Prokofiev performed the solo part himself in the première that same year in Chicago. He also performed in the first recording of the work in 1932, proving for all posterity that the herculean technical challenges in the score grew at least partly out of his own aptitude as an exceptionally talented pianist. Prokofiev’s five essays in the piano concerto genre are significant for their total integration of soloist and orchestra, where each part is an active contributor to the essential character of the work. The lyrical opening clarinet theme of the first movement floats somewhere between tentative and serene, as it is joined by meandering harmonies in the strings. When the orchestra suddenly takes off with the locomotive rhythm of a speeding train, and the piano bursts into the texture with a joyful yelp, the first three notes of the clarinet melody are reversed in substance and effect, becoming motivic material for the ensuing figurations. A second theme is more sarcastic in nature, but the movement ultimately builds toward a romantic climax, recalling the opening melody in a grandiose tutti near the end. The second movement is a theme and variations, allowing for a full exploration of Prokofiev’s unique ability to bring out opposing characters in the same musical material – from lush and lyrical to grotesquely terrifying and exuberantly joyful. The final movement begins with a humorous topic in the orchestra, taken up and expanded by the piano, soon building to a great romantic climax. The hair-raising coda increases in energy, as piano and orchestra join in a janissary-like clamouring in the upper registers, insistent rhythms and hand-over-hand flourishes bringing the work to a powerful close in C major.

The Rite of Spring (1913)
Part I: The Adoration of the Earth
Part II: The Sacrifice

by © Marc Wieser

Born June 17, 1882, Oranienbaum
Died April 6, 1971, New York

Paris, May 29, 1913: a date that lives on in musical notoriety. That night, the capacity audience at the newly built Théâtre des Champs-Élysées collectively participated in the birth of a new era – or the violent death of an old one, depending on whom you asked. The trio of enfants terribles at the centre of the scandal were Sergei Diaghilev, the daring founder of Les Ballets Russes, Vaslav Nijinsky, his unruly choreographer, and Igor Stravinsky, Russian darling of the Parisian avant-garde; the work, The Rite of Spring.

A week after the première, a headline from The New York Times trumpeted “Parisians Hiss New Ballet,” going on to report that the house lights had to be turned up to quell “hostile demonstrations” in the audience, while at one point the ruckus was so loud that the dancers on stage could no longer hear the orchestra, Nijinsky himself shouting out the choreography from the wings. Popular myth remembers Stravinsky’s shocking new music as the cause of the riots, while the American scholar Richard Taruskin places the blame squarely on the “ugly earthbound lurching and stomping devised by Vaslav Nijinsky.” But principal dancer Lydia Sokolova recalled, “they had prepared in Paris for a riot… they had got themselves all ready.” On the eve of a great war, in a continent still grappling with class disparity, the people seemed primed to manifest: a row was inevitable.

Stravinsky’s frenetically propulsive score unfolds as a series of tableaux depicting imagined scenes of ancient Pagan rituals around the coming of spring. A young girl is chosen by elders and forced to dance herself to death in an act of sacrifice to the land. Fragments of Russian folk tunes are evidence of the composer’s efforts to express the elemental character of his homeland, while incessant motor-rhythms and terrifyingly unpredictable accented off-beats lend an aspect of mechanization to the essentially folkloric subject matter – an ominous contradiction at the heart of the work. In fact, this revolutionary ballet score, with its violent juxtapositions of rival tonalities, may be one of the most apt and profound expressions of the clash of the old world with an impending mechanical age.

The Rite of Spring holds a special place in the OSM repertoire. First performed in Montréal in 1957 under the direction of Igor Markevitch, Rite would go on to become a signature work for the Orchestra during the directorship of Charles Dutoit, representing the confluence of Russian and French influences at the heart of the OSM’s traditional programming. In 1984 it featured prominently on a tour of Canada, USA and Europe, and a recording made that same year was honoured with a Félix award in Quebec. Most recently, Kent Nagano led the OSM in Stravinsky’s masterpiece in 2012 and 2016 in performances at Maison symphonique de Montréal.

Lecture by Michael Gerdes:
Music in Times of Change</b>
In May of 1913, Paris was the scene of two momentous musical occasions, the premières of Debussy’s Jeux and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. The former was virtually ignored and the latter triggered a riot. Why such different reactions to sounds that would change music forever?

MontrealSymphonyOrchestraSince its founding in 1934, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal has distinguished itself as a leader in the orchestral life of Canada and Québec. A cultural ambassador of the highest order, the Orchestra has earned an enviable reputation internationally through the quality of its recordings and tours. The OSM carries on that rich tradition under the leadership of its Music Director, Kent Nagano, while featuring innovative programming aimed at underlining the relevance of orchestral repertoire in our lives and strengthening the Orchestra’s connection with the community.

The excellence and vision of the OSM have been shaped over the years by its music directors: Wilfrid Pelletier, a Montrealer by birth and first Artistic Director of the Orchestra, Désiré Defauw, Igor Markevitch, Zubin Mehta, with whom the Orchestra toured in Europe for the first time, Franz-Paul Decker, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Charles Dutoit, who collaborated with the Orchestra for close to 25 years, and, since 2006, Kent Nagano.

Over the years, the Orchestra has undertaken some 40 excursions and tours. The OSM has carried out ten tours in Asia, eleven tours in Europe and three in South America. In 2008, Kent Nagano and the OSM performed twice in Carnegie Hall (2008 and 2011), where the Orchestra played almost every year between 1982 and 2004 to sold out halls. In August 2011, they took part in the Edinburgh International Festival. After a critically acclaimed tour in South America in spring 2013, Kent Nagano and the OSM went on an extensive European tour in March 2014, which was a resounding success. The last OSM tour took place in Japan and in China in October 2014.

The OSM has made over 100 recordings for Decca, EMI, Philips, CBC Records, Analekta, ECM and Sony as well as on its own label, which have earned it a total of 50 national and international awards.

On September 7, 2011, the OSM under Kent Nagano inaugurated its new home, the Maison symphonique de Montréal. The construction of this concert hall was made possible thanks to the Government of Québec. The hall's acoustics and theatre design bear the signature of the firm Artec Consultants Inc. Its architecture was entrusted to a consortium consisting of Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc. and Ædifica Architects.

Inaugurated on May 28, 2014, at Maison symphonique, the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique was generously offered to the OSM by Mrs. Jacqueline Desmarais. It was manufactured by the house of Casavant on behalf of the OSM (and is the Orchestra’s property), with the collaboration of architects Diamond Schmitt + Ædifica for its visual design.

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Kent-NaganoKent Nagano is renowned for interpretations of clarity, elegance and intelligence. He is equally at home in music of the classical, romantic and contemporary eras, introducing concert and opera audiences throughout the world to new and rediscovered music and offering fresh insights into established repertoire. Since September 2006, he is Music Director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, a contract extended until 2020. He also became Artistic Advisor and Principal Guest Conductor of Gothenburg Symphony in September 2013. Since September 2015, he is the General Music Director of the Hamburg State Opera and the Chief Conductor of the Philharmonic State Orchestra. At the Hamburg State Opera, he will start his first season with the premiere of Berlioz' Les Troyens, the world premiere of Toshio Hosokawas Stilles Meer, and also Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie choreographed by John Neumeier.

A milestone at the helm of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal was the inauguration of the orchestra’s new concert hall la Maison symphonique de Montréal in September 2011. With the orchestra he performed the complete cycles of Beethoven and Mahler symphonies, Schoenberg's Gurrelieder, concert versions of Wagner's Tannhäuser, Tristan und Isolde, Das Rheingold, Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher, Messiaen's Saint François d'Assise, L’Aiglon by Honneger and Ibert as well as a concert series featuring the works of Dutilleux (2010-2011) and Boulez (2011-2012). Nagano has taken the orchestra on a coast-to-coast tour of Canada and also to Japan, China, South Korea, Europe and South America. In March 2014 embarked on an extensive European tour with concerts in Zurich, Bern, Geneva, Vienna, Madrid, Oviedo, Cologne, Essen and Munich. Their recordings together include the Juno award winning album Ideals of the French Revolution Mahler’s Orchestral Songs with Christian Gerhaher, and Beethoven’s Piano Concertos nos. 4 and 5. Kent Nagano and the OSM also completed the recording of all the Beethoven symphonies released under Sony Classical/Analekta.

At the Bayerische Staatsoper, where he was General Music Director from 2006 to 2013, Kent Nagano commissioned new operas such as Babylon by Jörg Widmann, Das Gehege by Wolfgang Rihm and Alice in Wonderland by Unsuk Chin. New productions have included Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina, Idomeneo, Eugene Onegin, Ariadne auf Naxos and Die Schweigsame Frau, Dialogues des Carmélites, Saint François d’Assise, Wozzeck, George Benjamin’s Written on Skin and Der Ring des Nibelungen. With the Bayerisches Staatsorchester Kent Nagano has toured throughout Europe and in Japan and together they have recorded Bruckner Symphonies nos. 4, 7 and 8. In January 2014, Kent Nagano returned to the Bayerische Staatsoper to conduct a revival of Widmann’s Babylon.

As a much sought after guest conductor, he has worked with most of the world’s finest orchestras including the Vienna, Berlin and New York Philharmonics, Chicago Symphony, Dresden Staatskapelle and Leipzig Gewandhaus. He has an ongoing relationship with Sony Classical and has also recorded for Erato, Teldec, Pentatone and Deutsche Grammophon as well as Harmonia Mundi, winning Grammy awards for his recordings of Busoni’s Doktor Faust with Opéra National de Lyon, Peter and the Wolf with the Russian National Orchestra and Saariaho’s L’amour de loin with the Deutsches Symphonieorchester Berlin.

A very important period in Kent Nagano’s career was his time as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, from 2000-2006. He performed Schönberg’s Moses und Aron with the orchestra (in collaboration with Los Angeles Opera), and took them to the Salzburg Festival to perform both Zemlinsky’s Der König Kandaules and Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten, as well as to the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden with Parsifal and Lohengrin in productions by Nikolaus Lehnhoff. Recordings with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin for Harmonia Mundi include repertoire as diverse as Bernstein’s Mass, Bruckner’s Symphonies nos. 3 and 6, Beethoven’s Christus am Ölberge, Wolf Lieder, Mahler’s Symphony no. 8 and Schönberg’s Die Jakobsleiter and Friede auf Erden, as well as Brahms’s Symphony no. 4 and Schoenberg’s Variationen für Orchester op. 31. In June 2006, at the end of his tenure with the orchestra, Kent Nagano was given the title Honorary Conductor by members of the orchestra, only the second recipient of this honour in their 60-year history.

Kent Nagano became the first Music Director of Los Angeles Opera in 2003 having already held the position of Principal Conductor for two years. His work in other opera houses has included Shostakovich’s The Nose (Staatsoper Berlin), Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel (Châtelet, Paris), Hindemith’s Cardillac (Opéra national de Paris), Dialogues des Carmélites (Metropolitan Opera) and at the Salzburg Festival Les contes d’Hoffmann, Zemlinsky’s Der Koenig Kandaules, Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten and the world premiere of Saariaho’s L’amour de loin. Other world premieres include Bernstein’s A White House Cantata and operas by Peter Eötvös (Three Sisters), and John Adams (The Death of Klinghoffer and El Niño).

Born in California, Kent Nagano maintains close connections with his home state and was Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra from 1978-2008. His early professional years were spent in Boston, working in the opera house and as assistant conductor to Seiji Ozawa at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He played a key role in the world premiere of Messiaen’s opera Saint François d’Assise at the request of the composer, who became a mentor and bequeathed his piano to the conductor. Kent Nagano’s success in America led to European appointments: Music Director of Opéra National de Lyon (1988-1998) and Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra (1991-2000).

Kent Nagano last performed for La Jolla Music Society in SummerFest 2012.

DaniilTrifonovRussian pianist Daniil Trifonov (dan-EEL TREE-fon-ov) has made a spectacular ascent to classical music stardom since winning First Prize at both the Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein competitions in 2011 at the age of 20. Combining consummate technique with rare sensitivity and depth, his performances are a perpetual source of awe. “He has everything and more, ... tenderness and also the demonic element. I never heard anything like that,” stated Martha Argerich, while the New York Times has observed, “Mr. Trifonov has scintillating technique and a virtuosic flair. He is also a thoughtful artist. … He can play with soft-spoken delicacy, not what you associate with competition conquerors.”

The 2013-14 season promises to be a banner one for the young pianist. Deutsche Grammophon signed him as an exclusive recording artist, and his first album for the label, Trifonov: The Carnegie Recital, was captured live at his recent sold-out Carnegie recital debut and is due for U.S. release this winter, to coincide with his return to the New York venue. The New York Times noted that Trifonov’s “soulful artistry and virtuoso chops were in full evidence” at his 2012 Carnegie debut. Further recital engagements take the pianist from Chicago to London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro, and a host of other international musical hotspots. He looks forward to a similarly extensive lineup of orchestral collaborations, playing concertos by Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Scriabin, Shostakovich, Chopin, and Mozart in dates with 19 of the world’s foremost orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Washington’s National Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, and Rome’s Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. Upcoming chamber music highlights include a duo recital tour with his teacher and fellow pianist, Sergei Babayan, that kicks off with a gala concert at the Dallas Chamber Music Society.

The 2012-13 season saw Trifonov make debuts with all the “Big Five” orchestras – the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, and Philadelphia Orchestra – and with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and London’s Royal Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras, besides returning to the London Symphony and the Mariinsky Orchestra led by Valery Gergiev, the Russian National Orchestra under Mikhail Pletnev, and the Warsaw Philharmonic with Antoni Wit. He made solo recital debuts at Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, Japan’s Suntory Hall, and the Salle Pleyel in Paris, and the summer brought further triumphs at the Verbier and Edinburgh Festivals and in the pianist’s BBC Proms debut at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Recent recitals have also taken Trifonov to the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Boston’s Celebrity Series, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw (Master Piano Series), Berlin’s Philharmonie (the Kammermusiksaal), Munich’s Herkulessaal, Bavaria’s Schloss Elmau, Zurich’s Tonhalle, the Lucerne Piano Festival, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, the Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, and the Seoul Arts Center.

As an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, Trifonov’s future plans with the label include recording Rachmaninoff’s complete piano concertos. His existing discography features a Chopin album for Decca and a recording of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra on the ensemble’s own label.

It was during the 2010-11 season that Trifonov won medals at three of the music world’s most prestigious competitions, taking Third Prize in Warsaw’s Chopin Competition, First Prize in Tel Aviv’s Rubinstein Competition, and both First Prize and Grand Prix in Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Competition. Jury members and observers at these events included Martha Argerich, Krystian Zimerman, Van Cliburn, Emanuel Ax, Nelson Freire, Yefim Bronfman, and Gergiev, who personally awarded Trifonov the Moscow Grand Prix, an additional honor bestowed on the best overall competitor in any category.

Born in Nizhny Novgorod in 1991, and having begun his musical training at the age of five, Trifonov went on to attend Moscow’s Gnessin School of Music as a student of Tatiana Zelikman, before pursuing his piano studies with Sergei Babayan at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He has also studied composition, and continues to write music for piano, chamber, and orchestra.

Daniil Trifonov last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Freeman Family Piano Series on April 10, 2015.

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Apr 15 @ 8:00 pm
TANGO, SONG AND DANCE @ MCASD Sherwood Auditorium | San Diego | California | United States

Tango, Song and Dance

Augustin Hadelich, violin, Joyce Yang, piano & Pablo Villegas, guitar

Acclaimed violinist Augustin Hadelich is joined by dazzling pianist Joyce Yang and dynamic guitarist Pablo Villegas perform an evening of Spanish-themed music built around André Previn’s three-part piece of the same name and include works by Rodrigo, Falla, Piazzolla, Ginastera, Ysaÿe, and Villa-Lobos.

Experience passion, fire and romance!

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ANDRÉ PREVINTango from Tango, Song and Dance
RODRIGOInvocación y Danza (Homage to Manuel de Falla)
FALLACanciones Populares Espaňolas
GINASTERADanzas Argentinas
ANDRÉ PREVINSong from Tango, Song and Dance
PIAZZOLLAHistoire du Tango
YSAŸESonata for Solo Violin No. 6 in E Major, Op. 27/6
ANDRÉ PREVINDance from Tango, Song and Dance
VILLA-LOBOSAria from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5

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PROGRAM NOTES: Tango Song and Dance

by Augustin Hadelich


Over the years, Augustin and I have had a great time putting together recital programs that we thought were both coherent and intriguing. We recently decided it was time for something new and bold!

Among the many works for violin and piano that we were considering, André Previn’s three-movement work Tango Song and Dance (written in 1997 for Anne-Sophie Mutter) jumped out at us. It’s a break from the usual: it’s not a sonata; it’s American; it swings —we loved it immediately! Augustin started to program it in some recitals with pianist Joyce Yang, and audiences love it too!

An interesting factor is that every movement is approximately five minutes long — three balanced movements, each of which stands quite well on its own. Having been drawn to the concept that classical music must, in order to survive, introduce visual elements into its presentation, I began to SEE these three movements as separated pillars of a recital program. We would use lighting and a non-verbal narrative that would thread through various pieces and make the concert a coherent entity.

Since the music is the most important element of Tango Song and Dance, we spent many hours finding the right music for Previn’s pillars to frame. When they finally fell into place, I called the director Ed Berkeley, asking him to create the narrative and find an excellent lighting director.
- Patricia Handy, Artistic Advisor

About Tango Song and Dance:

As with any conceptually solid program, various connections and resonances between the pieces continued to arise as Patricia and I worked on putting this program together, and several possibilities for the narrative emerged. In Ed Berkeley’s words, “The first step is to study the emotional connections between and among the instrumental lines in each work. Where do the instruments argue? Where do they agree? Where do they flirt? Where seduce? Where do they celebrate, where despair?” It all starts with Previn’s Tango. Ed elaborates: “The violin and piano in Previn’s Tango seem to be having an emotional problem connecting with each other. There is a struggle. This is the core of the evening, the starting point that cries for resolution.”

It is then that guitarist Pablo Villegas appears playing Rodrigo’s Invocation and Dance, drawing me into his own mysterious world. I join him in five Falla songs, after which the piano explodes jealously in Ginastera’s Danzas Argentinas. Ed feels that “private thoughts are explored in the solo works until a synthesis is found among the violin, piano and guitar”. At the end, in Villa-Lobos’s gorgeous Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, we finally all play together. It’s a truly beautiful way to end both the narrative and the musical program!

To reinforce the non-verbal narrative, Ed asked lighting designer Kate Ashton to create lighting that would further communicate the story. Ed asked that “spaces become smaller and larger to connect and separate the musicians; color and image change to imply the passage of time and further explore the emotional voice of each instrument.” The lighting is atmospheric, reinforcing the character and emotional message of each work. In order that the musical content of the recital remain dominant, we decided not to use motion graphics. We want the audience to reflect upon where the pieces take them, and to make their own connections. We hope that you will have as much fun with this music as we do!

About the Music:

André Previn (born 1929) wrote Tango Song and Dance for violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. This three-movement work will frame tonight’s program, with the first movement, Tango, played at the start of the concert; the second, Song, at the beginning of the second half; and the third, Dance, at the end. Tango is full of theatrical flair. In Previn’s own words: “At the time, the tango revival craze had not yet been born, and so the first movement with its purposeful and exaggerated tango clichés was still possible. The clustered harmonies are not terribly far removed from the sound the traditional accordion makes, and the whole movement should be full of self-conscious poses”. Below the surface, however, there is a troubled and uneasy feeling. Song is poignant and extremely sentimental. The piano accompaniment’s textures and harmonies evoke sad piano bar music, over which the violinist sings wistfully. The finale, Dance, is a wild ride. It is here that the jazz influence is felt most strongly. That said, it would be rather hard to dance to since Previn likes to make the bars trip over themselves by leaving out the final eighth note. Much of the piano playing sounds like boogie woogie patterns played on a broken piano: lots of “wrong” and “missed” notes and general mayhem! Above all this, the violin plays jazz riffs intermingled with more percussive, atonal passages. Overall, the mood of the movement is frenzied and jubilant.

Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999) is one of Spain’s most celebrated composers, particularly famous for his works for guitar. His rhapsodic solo guitar work Invocación y danza is an homage to the great Spanish composer Manuel de Falla, and it contains subtle quotes of Falla works such as the Three-Cornered Hat, and El amor brujo, although the quotes are disguised in such a way as to be barely recognizable.

Manuel de Falla (1876-1946) wrote his Siete canciones populares españolas originally for voice and piano. The work was first transcribed for violin and piano by Paul Kochanski in the early 20th century. The guitar is a very prominent instrument in Spanish music, and many of the folk forms, for example the jota, would originally have been sung with guitar accompaniment. In his piano accompaniments, Falla is often trying to imitate the sounds of the guitar. We have chosen five of Falla’s original seven songs. El paño moruno is a lament about a piece of Moorish cloth that has been stained and will now fetch only a low price at the market. The overly dramatic tone (with many cries of Ay! Ay!) is enigmatic. Could the stained cloth be a symbol of lost innocence? Asturiana is an extremely mournful song. The weeping protagonist seeks consolation near a green pine. Instead of giving comfort, the pine tree starts weeping as well. Jota is a passionate song about two lovers. Since they are not seen talking to one another, people around them don’t think they love each other—but anyone who looks into their hearts knows the truth. The next song, Nana, is a tranquil lullaby. The Moorish influence is most clearly heard in this song. Occupying Spain from 711 until 1492, the Moors left a strong mark on Spanish music and architecture, in addition to many other areas of their culture. The cycle ends with Polo, a type of flamenco. The singer, in great despair, is cursing love and fate.

Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983) wrote his Danzas Argentinas Op. 2 in 1937. The first of the three dances, Danza del viejo boyero (Dance of the Old Herdsman) is a quirky piece full of sudden dissonances which are caused by the left hand playing only black keys and the right hand playing only white ones. Danza de la moza donosa (Dance of the Beautiful Maiden) is a melancholic, sensual piece full of sighing, chromatic gestures. The final movement, Danza del gaucho matrero (Dance of the Arrogant Cowboy) is highly virtuosic and at turns wild, savage, angry and jubilant.

Roland Dyens (born 1955) is a French guitarist, composer, arranger and improviser, and Tango en Skaï is his most famous original composition. The work is a light-hearted homage to Argentinian tango. “Skaï” is a French slang term for imitation leather, and is a reference to the distinctive leather outfits of the Gauchos (cowboys) of Argentina.

Originally written for flute and guitar (the earliest tango instrumentation), the four movements of Histoire du Tango by Ástor Piazzolla (1921-1992) retrace the history of Argentine tango throughout the 20th century: The first movement, titled Bordel 1900, is written in the fast and lively style of the first tangos - played and danced in the bordellos of Buenos Aires starting around 1882. Café 1930 strikes a very different note. Tango has evolved to become slower, more melancholic, and no longer just for dancing. People are now listening to tango orchestras, and violins are featured for the first time. By the time we reach Nightclub 1960, the tango has been enriched by the influence of bossa nova from Brazil. This is the passionate, rambunctious style of the tango that made Piazzolla world-famous. Finally, in Concert d’aujourd’hui, the tango has arrived in the concert hall. This movement showcases Piazzolla’s unique compositional style, with influences from great 20th century composers such as Bartók and Stravinsky. Having started out in seedy red-light districts and survived eras when it was outlawed in Argentina, the tango is now being celebrated in the most illustrious concert halls throughout the world.

In 1923 the Belgian virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931) was nearing the end of his career. Inspired by Bach’s six sonatas and partitas (which form the core of the solo violin repertoire) he set out to write six of his own solo sonatas, each dedicated to another great violinist of his time. After dedicating the first five to Joseph Szigeti, Jacques Thibaud, George Enescu, Fritz Kreisler and Mathieu Crickboom, he dedicated the sixth and final sonata to Manuel Quiroga, one of the greatest Spanish violinists of the 20th century. Perhaps Ysaÿe’s most technically challenging sonata, it is cast in one single rhapsodic movement and is very much an homage to Spanish music and to Quiroga’s passionate and dramatic playing style. After many displays of virtuosity and improvisatory detours, the music comes to a stop, and a charming and seductive habanera dance emerges from the silence. After the dramatic opening returns, the fireworks quickly build towards a heroic ending.

When Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) wrote his nine Bachianas Brasileiras, he intended them primarily as homages to Bach. His music often shows the strong influence of Brazilian folk music, and in these pieces, the Brazilian rhythms and idioms are combined with counterpoint and harmony directly inspired by Bach’s music. To conclude tonight’s program, we will perform the first movement, Aria, from the Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, undoubtedly the most famous of this cycle. The arrangement for violin, guitar and piano has been composed by Stefan Malzew.

A conversation with Augustin Hadelich hosted by Marcus Overton

Augustin-HadelichContinuing to astonish audiences with his phenomenal technique, poetic sensitivity and gorgeous tone, Augustin Hadelich has established himself as one of the most sought-after violinists of his generation. His remarkable consistency throughout the repertoire, from Paganini to Adès, is seldom encountered in a single artist.

Worldwide appearances include multiple engagements with the Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, and internationally, with the BBC Philharmonic/Manchester, BBC Symphony/London, NHK Symphony/Tokyo, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the Stuttgart Radio Orchestra, to name a few.

Highlights of Mr. Hadelich’s 2014/2015 season include debuts with the Minnesota Orchestra, Danish National Symphony, and the London Philharmonic, as well as return engagements with the New York Philharmonic and the symphonies of Baltimore, Houston, Indianapolis, Liverpool, Saint Louis, and Seattle. Other recent and upcoming projects include debuts with the Chicago Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, as well as his recital debut at the Wigmore Hall in London, an Artist-in- Residency with the Netherlands Philharmonic, and tours with both the Toronto and San Diego symphonies.

In addition to several recital CDs, Mr. Hadelich’s first major orchestral recording, featuring the violin concertos of Jean Sibelius and Thomas Adès (Concentric Paths) with Hannu Lintu conducting the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, was released to great acclaim in March 2014 on the AVIE label. The disc has been nominated for a Gramophone Award, and was listed by NPR on their Top 10 Classical CDs of 2014. A recent recording of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and Bartók’s Concerto No. 2 with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra under Miguel Harth-Bedoya is scheduled for release on AVIE in the spring of 2015.

The 2006 Gold Medalist of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, Mr. Hadelich is the recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant (2009), a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship in the UK (2001), and Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award (2012). He received an artist diploma from The Juilliard School, where he was a student of Joel Smirnoff. Mr. Hadelich plays on the 1723 “Ex-Kiesewetter” Stradivari

Augustin Hadelich last performed for La Jolla Music Society in SummerFest 2015.

For more information visit

Joyce-Yang Blessed with “poetic and sensitive pianism” (Washington Post) and a “wondrous sense of color” (San Francisco Classical Voice), pianist Joyce Yang captivates audiences with her virtuosity, lyricism, and interpretive sensitivity. As a Van Cliburn International Piano Competition silver medalist and Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient, Yang showcases her colorful musical personality in solo recitals and collaborations with the world’s top orchestras and chamber musicians.

Yang came to international attention in 2005 when she won the silver medal at the 12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The youngest contestant at 19 years old, she took home two additional awards: the Steven De Groote Memorial Award for Best Performance of Chamber Music (with the Takàcs Quartet) and the Beverley Taylor Smith Award for Best Performance of a New Work.

Since her spectacular debut, she has blossomed into an “astonishing artist” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung). She has performed as soloist with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, the Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Sydney, and Toronto symphony orchestras, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, and the BBC Philharmonic (among many others), working with such distinguished conductors as Edo de Waart, Lorin Maazel, James Conlon, Leonard Slatkin, David Robertson, Bramwell Tovey, Peter Oundjian, and Jaap van Zweden. In recital, Yang has taken the stage at New York’s Lincoln Center and Metropolitan Museum; the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC; Chicago’s Symphony Hall; and Zurich’s Tonhalle.

During the 2014-15 season Yang returns to the New York Philharmonic to play Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 under Bramwell Tovey at Lincoln Center and the Bravo! Vail Festival, and enjoys a full schedule of North American concerto engagements. She joins the Takács Quartet for Dvorak in Lincoln Center’s Great Performers Series, tours and records with violinist Augustin Hadelich, plays chamber music and solo recitals with Musica Viva Australia, as well as gives performances in Aspen, Montreal, and for the Van Cliburn Foundation in Fort Worth. In her return to the Aspen Music Festival this summer she plays the Grieg Concerto under Osmo Vänskä and reunites with Hadelich and guitarist Pablo Villegas for a reprise of their acclaimed “Tango, Song, and Dance” program in which “Yang shone” (Washington Post) at its Kennedy Center premiere.

Additional highlights of recent seasons include Yang’s Royal Flemish Philharmonic and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin debuts, the conclusion of a four-year Rachmaninoff cycle with de Waart and the Milwaukee Symphony, to which she brought “an enormous palette of colors, and tremendous emotional depth” (Milwaukee Sentinel Journal), collaborations with the Alexander, Modigliani and Takács Quartets, and “ravishing performances” (Dallas Morning News) with Hadelich in Dallas and Los Angeles. Yang also made her UK debut in the Cambridge International Piano Series, and impressed the New York Times with “vivid and beautiful playing” of Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet with members of the Emerson String Quartet at the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center.

In spring 2014, Yang “demonstrated impressive gifts” (New York Times) with a trio of album releases: her second solo disc for Avie Records, Wild Dreams, on which she plays Schumann, Bartók, Hindemith, Rachmaninoff, and arrangements by Earl Wild; a pairing of the Brahms and Schumann Piano Quintets with the Alexander Quartet; and a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Denmark’s Odense Symphony Orchestra that International Record Review called “hugely enjoyable, beautifully shaped … a performance that marks her out as an enormous talent.” Of her 2011 debut album for Avie Records, Collage, featuring works by Scarlatti, Liebermann, Debussy, Currier, and Schumann, Gramophone praised her “imaginative programming” and “beautifully atmospheric playing.” Yang made her celebrated New York Philharmonic debut with Maazel at Avery Fisher Hall in November 2006 and performed on the orchestra’s tour of Asia, making a triumphant return to her hometown of Seoul, South Korea. Subsequent appearances with the Philharmonic included the opening night of the Leonard Bernstein Festival in September 2008, at the special request of Maazel in his final season as music director. The New York Times pronounced her performance in Bernstein’s The Age of Anxiety a “knockout.”

Born in 1986 in Seoul, South Korea, Yang received her first piano lesson at the age of four. She quickly took to the instrument, which she received as a birthday present, and over the next few years won several national piano competitions in her native country. By the age of ten, she had entered the School of Music at the Korea National University of Arts, and went on to make a number of concerto and recital appearances in Seoul and Daejeon. In 1997, Yang moved to the United States to begin studies at the pre-college division of the Juilliard School with Dr. Yoheved Kaplinsky. During her first year at Juilliard, Yang won the pre-college division Concerto Competition, resulting in a performance of Haydn’s Keyboard Concerto in D with the Juilliard Pre-College Chamber Orchestra. After winning the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Greenfield Student Competition, she performed Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with that orchestra at just twelve years old. She graduated from Juilliard with special honor as the recipient of the school’s 2010 Arthur Rubinstein Prize, and in 2011 she won its 30th Annual William A. Petschek Piano Recital Award.

Yang appears in the film In the Heart of Music, a documentary about the 2005 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. A Steinway artist, she currently lives in New York City.

Yoyce Yang last performed for La Jolla Music Society in SummerFest 2015.

PabloVillegas“virtuosic playing characterized by its vividly shaded colors and irresistible exuberance…” – The New York Times

The soul of the Spanish guitar runs in Pablo Villegas’s blood. Born and raised in La Rioja, Spain – the country with unique and deep ties to his chosen instrument – Villegas is distinguished by performances as charismatic as they are intimate. With his singing tone and consummate technique, his interpretations conjure the passion, playfulness, and drama of his homeland’s rich musical heritage, routinely drawing comparisons with such legendary exponents of his instrument as Andrés Segovia. Indeed, at just 15 he won the Andrés Segovia Award, launching a succession of international wins that include Gold Medal at the inaugural Christopher Parkening International Guitar Competition. The first guitarist to win El Ojo Crítico, Spain’s top classical music honor, Villegas also became the youngest of his generation to appear with the New York Philharmonic, in an auspicious debut under the late Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos at Avery Fisher Hall. He has since performed for both the Dalai Lama and the Spanish royal family, and it was he who gave the world premiere of Rounds, the first composition for guitar by five-time Academy Award-winner John Williams. A born communicator, the guitarist explains: “Music is a social tool, and opening people’s hearts, and helping them connect to the inner life of the emotions, is my mission.”

Villegas launches the 2015-16 season with the international release of his solo album, Americano, which marks his debut on the Harmonia Mundi label. Exploring the multiple guitar traditions of the New World from tango to bluegrass, this colorfully eclectic selection features the world premiere recording of Williams’s Rounds; music from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story; preludes by Brazilian master Heitor Villa-Lobos; and the popular standard Granada by Mexico’s Agustin Lara. In concert, Villegas makes no fewer than seven orchestral debuts in the coming season, with ensembles including the Pacific, Cincinnati and Santa Barbara Symphonies, Norway’s Bergen Philharmonic, and Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra, where he reunites with Alondra de la Parra. Following his triumphant debuts with the two orchestras last season, the guitarist also makes welcome returns to the Pittsburgh and Oregon Symphonies.

Known for a sound so rich and full that it does not need amplification, Villegas’s concerto collaborations regularly inspire immediate reengagements. Since his international breakthrough after his triumphs at the 2003 Tárrega Competition and 2006 Parkening Competition, he has appeared with orchestras in more than 30 countries, including the New York, Los Angeles, and Israel Philharmonics, and the Boston, San Francisco, Houston, and Toronto Symphonies. He made a series of important debuts under the baton of Frühbeck de Burgos, and has enjoyed fruitful collaborations with conductors including Giancarlo Guerrero, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Carlos Kalmar, Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Helmut Lachenmann, Juanjo Mena, Alondra de la Parra, and composer George Crumb. Last season, Villegas enjoyed an increased American presence, making debuts with seven U.S. orchestras. For his first appearances with ensembles including the Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Oregon Symphonies, he played Rodrigo’s soul-stirring Concierto de Aranjuez, a signature work that also served as the vehicle for his collaboration with Spain’s National Radio & Television Orchestra (RTVE). In recital, he appeared at Carnegie Hall, the New York City Classical Guitar Society, the Guitar Foundation of America Convention, the Grand Teton Music Festival, Puerto Rico’s Festival Casals, and Italy’s Merano Festival, as well as in duet with violinist Augustin Hadelich at Ohio’s Linton Music Series and Germany’s Rheingau Music Festival.

Dedicated to expanding the guitar’s repertory and audience, Villegas is an ardent champion of new music. Besides John Williams, whose Rounds he premiered at the 2012 Parkening Competition in Malibu, he has worked closely with contemporary composers including Sérgio Assad, of whose Concerto of Rio de Janeiro, written for and dedicated to Villegas, he gave the world and European premieres at the Guitar Foundation of America Convention and Cordoba Guitar Festival. He has also given first performances of works by Maria Dolores, and looks forward to premiering a new concerto by Lorenzo Palomo in the 2016-17 season.

An active recording artist, in addition to making his Harmonia Mundi debut with Americano Villegas recently recorded a trio of Rodrigo concertos with the National Orchestra of Spain, thereby becoming the first in more than 20 years to capture the Concierto de Aranjuez with the ensemble. His previous releases include Histoire du Tango, a collection of violin-guitar works with Augustin Hadelich for the AVIE label, and Manuel Ponce’s Concierto del sur, a platinum title that he recorded with Alondra de la Parra for Sony Classical. Besides inspiring rapturous reviews on both sides of the Atlantic, Villegas has been featured on Spain’s national television and radio, and in such leading Spanish outlets as El Mundo. His U.S. coverage includes interviews on Fox 5, WQXR, and other local stations, and a cover story in Classical Guitar magazine.

In 2007 Villegas founded the Music Without Borders Legacy (MWBL), a non-profit organization that seeks to bridge cultural, social, and political boundaries through classical music. Since its inception, the foundation has reached more than 15,000 at-risk children and youth around the world, through music programs in the U.S.A., Mexico, and Spain, and is now supported by La Caixa Bank. Villegas also serves as cultural ambassador for La Rioja’s Vivanco Foundation and its Museum of Wine Culture, considered the most prestigious wine museum in the world.

Born in 1977 in La Rioja in Northern Spain, Villegas was inspired to take guitar lessons after seeing Segovia on television. He gave his first public performance at just seven years old, and went on to graduate at the top of his class at the Royal Conservatoire in Madrid. After several years in Germany, in 2001 he relocated to New York City, where he studied for his Masters and Doctorate with David Starobin at the Manhattan School of Music, and where he lives to this day.

For more information please visit

Pablo Villegas last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Discovery Series on April 10, 2011.

Apr 17 @ 3:00 pm
ISTVÁN VÁRDAI, cello @ The Auditorium at TSRI | San Diego | California | United States

István Várdai, cello & Julien Quentin, piano

2014 First Prize Winner at the 63rd ARD International Music Competition

La Jolla Music Society welcomes Hungarian cellist István Várdai to the
Discovery Series. Winner of several prestigious international prizes, Mr. Várdai will perform a program of favorites from the cello repertoire including works by Mendelssohn, Rachmaninoff, Dvořák and Brahms’ Sonata for Cello in F Major.

“His playing was commendable for its fluidity and virtuosity, distinguished by both a fleet-fingered lightness and a rich timbre.” – New York Times

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István Várdai, cello
Julien Quentin, piano

BRAHMSSonata for Cello and Piano in F Major, Op. 99
MENDELSSOHNSong Without Words, in D Major Op. 109
Albumblatt (1835)
DVOŘÁK Rondo in G Minor, Op. 94
RACHMANINOFFVocalise, Op. 34, No. 14
STRAVINSKYSuite Italienne for Cello and Piano (arr. Piatigorsky)
ROSTROPOVICHHumoresque, Op. 5

Click here to view the complete March-April 2016 Program Book

PROGRAM NOTES: István Várdai, cello & Julien Quentin, piano

by Eric Bromberger

Sonata for Cello and Piano in F Major, Opus 99 (1886)
Allegro vivace
Adagio affettuoso
Allegro passionato
Allegro molto

Born May 7, 1833, Hamburg
Died April 3, 1897, Vienna

Brahms was frequently inspired to write for a particular instrument by a particular virtuoso player. He wrote much of his violin music with Joseph Joachim in mind, and late in life he wrote a series of works for clarinet after being impressed with the playing of Richard Mühlfeld. It was his association with the Austrian cellist Robert Hausmann (1852-1909) that led to the composition of Brahms’ second and final cello sonata. Brahms heard Hausmann perform his Cello Sonata in E Minor in Vienna in March 1885 and was so taken with Hausmann’s playing that he wanted to write a new work specifically for him. But Brahms, then in the process of composing his Fourth Symphony, could not begin such a work immediately. It was not until the summer of 1886, which Brahms spent at Hofstetten on Lake Thun in Switzerland, that he could finally set to work on the sonata.

When he returned to Vienna in the fall, he brought the manuscript with him, and he and Hausmann gave the work several private hearings before it had its first public performance in Vienna on November 24, 1886. Brahms himself was a virtuoso pianist, but he had the unfortunate habit of grunting and snorting as he played. His friend Elizabeth von Herzogenberg referred gently to this when she wrote of her enthusiasm for the sonata: So far I have been most thrilled by the first movement. It is so masterly in its compression, so torrentlike in its progress, so terse in the development, while the extension of the first subject on its return comes as the greatest surprise. I don’t need to tell you how we enjoyed the soft, melodious Adagio, particularly the exquisite return to F sharp major, which sounds so beautiful. I should like to hear you play the essentially vigorous Scherzo. Indeed, I always hear you snorting and puffing away at it–for no one else will ever play it just to my mind. It must be agitated without being hurried, legato in spite of its unrest and impetus.

Those who claim that Brahms never wrote true chamber music have some of their most convincing evidence in this cello sonata, for this is music conceived on a grand scale–muscular, passionate, striving. The first movement is marked Allegro vivace, and from its first moments one senses music straining to break through the limits imposed by just two instruments. If the tremolandi beginning suggests the scope of symphonic music, the rising-and-falling shape of the cello’s opening theme recalls the rising-and-falling shape of the opening movement of the composer’s just-completed Fourth Symphony. The first movement is in sonata form, and the vigorous opening theme is heard in various guises throughout the movement. Its quiet and stately reappearance in the piano just before the coda is a masterstroke.

Brahms specifies that the Adagio be played affettuoso–“with affection”–yet for all its melting songfulness, this is a serious movement, full of surprises. Brahms moves to the distant key of F-sharp major for this movement and then to the equally unexpected F minor for the second subject. He uses pizzicato, a sound not typical of his string writing, for extended periods and sometimes has the piano mirror that sound with its accompaniment. And he builds his themes on something close to echo effects, with one instrument seeming to trail the other’s statement. It is imaginative writing–and often very beautiful. With the third movement, Allegro passionato, the music returns to the mood of the first, for it begins and ends with a great rush of energy. Between the scherzo sections comes a haunting trio featuring some of Brahms’ most sensitive writing for the cello. In the felicitous words of American composer Daniel Gregory Mason, “throughout this movement there are few of those places, unhappily frequent in most music for the cello, that sound so difficult that you wish, with Dr. Johnson, they were impossible.”

The Allegro molto is by far the shortest movement of the sonata, and after the driving power of the first and third movements, the finale seems almost lightweight, an afterthought to the sound and fury that have preceded it. Its main theme, possibly of folk origin, rocks along happily throughout and–in another of Brahms’ many successful small touches in this sonata–is played pizzicato just before the final cadence.

Song without Words in D Major, Opus 109 (1829/1845)

Born February 3, 1809, Hamburg
Died November 4, 1847, Leipzig

Between 1830 and 1845 Mendelssohn composed a number of short pieces for piano that he called Lieder ohne Worte: “Songs without Words.” That title makes clear that the impulse in this music is fundamentally lyric: a singing melody, usually in the right hand, is supported by a relatively straightforward accompaniment in the left, and many of these pieces are easy enough to suggest that Mendelssohn intended them for the growing number of amateur pianists in the first part of the nineteenth century. But many of them are frankly virtuosic, so difficult that they remain beyond the reach of all but the most talented amateur pianists. All these pieces, though, show Mendelssohn’s virtues–appealing melodies, a nice sense of form, rhythmic vitality, and polished writing for the piano–and they became vastly popular in the nineteenth century.

The Lieder ohne Worte have appeared in arrangements for many instruments, but the Song without Words in D Major, Opus 109 was conceived by Mendelssohn himself for cello and piano. He appears to have composed it in the fall of 1845, shortly after the première of his Violin Concerto, but he had not published it at the time of his death sixteen months later–it was published after his death and assigned the opus number 109 at that time. This brief piece is in the three-part form that Mendelssohn favored in his Lieder: the opening section is indeed song-like in its appealing lyricism, while the middle section is impetuous. Mendelssohn makes a particularly beautiful return to the opening material, and the music draws to a quiet close.

Albumblatt (1836)


Albumblatt means “album-leaf,” and in music it denotes a short work, usually of intimate character and often conceived as a composition so brief that it might be written on a single page of someone’s album (Beethoven’s Für Elise is sometimes considered an albumblatt). The form was popular during the nineteenth century (a time when some people actually had personal albums), but it has pretty much vanished over the last hundred years. Mendelssohn wrote several works he titled Albumblatt, and listeners will find this gentle music much in the manner of the Song without Words just performed on this program. Mendelssohn marks it Assai tranquillo (“very tranquil”), though the minor tonality gives this music a dark and wistful expressive range.

Rondo in G Minor, Opus 94 (1893)

Born September 8, 1841, Muhlhausen, Bohemia
Died May 1, 1904, Prague

The year 1891 brought momentous changes for Dvoŕák. He turned 50 that September and found himself much honored: he received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Cambridge that year, but more importantly he concluded negotiations with Jeannette Thurber to go to America and take on the directorship of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City the following year. Dvoŕák knew that his life was about to be transformed and that he would have to be gone from his homeland for years, and so–during the winter and spring of 1892–he embarked on a lengthy farewell tour of concerts through Bohemia and Moravia. The centerpiece of this tour was Dvoŕák’s recently-completed “Dumky” Trio: with violinist Ferdinand Lachner and cellist Hanus Wihan, he performed it more than forty times.

But Dvoŕák realized that he needed music to play with each of those two string players individually, and so he quickly composed some new music (and arranged some old) for them. One of the new pieces was the Rondo in G Minor for cello and piano, which Dvoŕák began on Christmas Day 1891 and finished the following day; the composer and Wihan gave the first performance (almost before the ink had dried) on January 6, 1892, while on tour in Kladno. Two years later, Dvoŕák arranged the piano part for orchestra, and the Rondo has actually become better-known today in its orchestral version.

Wihan appears to have been an extraordinary cellist. Dvoŕák wrote the “Dumky” Trio for him, and in 1895 would write his Cello Concerto–easily the greatest ever composed for that instrument–with Wihan’s skills particularly in mind. The Rondo in G Minor is a much more modest work, but pleasing in its own way. It moves from a fairly straightforward treatment of the rondo tune at the opening through some unexpected and imaginative extensions as the work proceeds.

Vocalise, Opus 34, No. 14 (1912)

Born April 1, 1873, Novgorod
Died March 28, 1943, Beverly Hills

Rachmaninoff wrote so much bravura piano music and so many dramatic orchestral works that one tends to overlook his greatest strength as a composer–an incredible lyric gift best evident in his more than seventy songs and numerous choral works. Vocalise dates from the summer of 1912, which Rachmaninoff spent at Ivanovka, his family’s country estate. There he completed a cycle of fourteen songs, tailoring each to the talents of an individual Russian singer he knew. The last of the fourteen–dedicated to soprano Antonina Nezhdanova, a member of the Moscow Grand Opera–was wordless: the soprano was simply to sing the melodic line over piano accompaniment. The song proved popular, and a few years later–at the suggestion of conductor Serge Koussevitzky–Rachmaninoff arranged Vocalise for string orchestra. Vocalise has haunted performers as well as listeners: in addition to the original versions for voice and for orchestra, the current catalog lists transcriptions for cello, piano, and saxophone.

It is easy to understand this music’s appeal. Vocalise offers Rachmaninoff’s most bittersweet lyricism, suffused with a dark, elegiac quality–this music was, in fact, performed at the memorial service following Rachmaninoff’s own death.

Suite Italienne for Cello and Piano (arr. Piatigorsky) (1932)

Born June 17, 1882, Oranienbaum, Russia
Died April 6, 1971, New York City

In the years after World War I, Stravinsky found himself at an impasse as a composer, unwilling to return to the grand manner of the “Russian” ballets that had made him famous, but unsure how to proceed. Serge Diaghilev, impresario of the Ballets Russes, suggested a ballet based on themes by the Italian composer Giovanni Pergolesi (1710-1736) and showed him some of Pergolesi’s music. Stravinsky was entranced. Over the next year he composed a ballet with song in eighteen parts, based on themes from Pergolesi’s operas and instrumental music (though subsequent research has shown that not all these themes were written by Pergolesi). Stravinsky kept Pergolesi’s melodic and bass lines, but supplied his own harmony and brought to this music his incredible rhythmic vitality. First produced in Paris on May 15, 1920, with sets by Picasso and choreography by Massine, Pulcinella was a great success.

Over the next few years Stravinsky made several arrangements for instrumental duos of excerpts from Pulcinella. First was a Suite for Violin and Piano based on themes from the ballet, which he made in 1925. Next came an arrangement of different excerpts for cello and piano, made in 1932 by the composer and Gregor Piatigorsky; this version was the first be called Suite Italienne. The following year, Stravinsky and violinist Samuel Dushkin made an arrangement of excerpts for violin and piano and called it Suite Italienne as well. (Somewhat later, Jascha Heifetz and Piatigorsky made an arrangement for violin and cello, which they also called Suite Italienne.)

The cello and piano version of Suite Italienne is in six movements. It opens with a jaunty Introduzione (the ballet’s Overture), followed by a lyric Serenata, based on an aria from Pergolesi’s opera Il Flaminio. The Aria is a transcription of the bass aria “Con questo parolina” from Pulcinella, while the blistering Tarantella rushes to a surprising and sudden ending. The concluding section is in two parts: a slow Minuetto full of complex double-stops leads without pause to the exciting Finale.

Humoresque, Opus 5 (1967)

Born March 27, 1927, Baku, Azerbaijan
Died April 27, 2007, Moscow

We remember Mstislav Rostropovich as one of the greatest of cellists, but he was also a gifted conductor and–like many virtuosos from years past–a composer. Though not a prolific composer, he did write for his own instrument, and his best-known work is the brief Humoresque, which has been recorded many times. A humoresque is a musical term without precise meaning–that title refers to a piece with a playful character rather than denoting a specific musical form.

Rostropovich’s Humoresque is a brilliant composition, a showpiece for virtuoso cellist. Only two minutes long, it is essentially a blistering perpetual motion that puts a cellist through a range of techniques: much of the Humoresque is set in the cello’s high positions (sometimes at the very top of the instrument’s range), and it requires rapid arpeggios, double-stops, glissandos, and quick leaps across the fingerboard. The Humoresque is an exhilarating piece for cellists (and for audiences), and after a cadenza-like flourish it concludes with a pair of resounding pizzicato strokes.

Musical Prelude 2 PM
Young artists from the San Diego Youth Symphony perform.

DEBUSSYPremière Rhapsodie
MOZARTAdagio from Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K.622
BASSIConcert Fantasia on motives from Verdi’s opera Rigoletto

Ray Shenker, clarinet
Sidney Yin, piano

Istvan-VardaiIstván Várdai, the 29 year old Hungarian cellist was honoured with several prestigious international prizes: in 2008 he won the 63th Geneva International Music Competition, and additional special prizes as well: Audience Prize, “Pierre Fournier” Prize, “Coup de Coeur Breguet” Prize. He took the third prize of the International Tchaikovsky Music Competition, Moscow in 2007. In 2006 he was awarded with the special prize of the Emanuel Feuermann Cello Competition at the Kronberg Academy and received first prize at the 13th International Brahms Competition in Austria. He was winner of the David Popper International Music Competition three times, (2000, 2003, 2004) In 2014 he won the ARD Cello Competition in Munich.

Since his debut concert in 1997 in The Hague, he has performed in New York, London, Paris, Prague, Vienna, Frankfurt, Munich, Geneva, Dublin, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Florence, Tokyo, Kobe, Beijing with great success. Along his starting career, he played with world-famous musicians and orchestras: Mikhail Pletnov, Ádám Fischer, Zoltán Kocsis, Howard Griffiths, Gilbert Varga, St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Geneva Chamber Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Suisse Romande Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. He has been invited to Santander Festival, the Gergiev Festival in St. Petersburg, the Pablo Casals Festival (Spain), Festival of Radio France (Montpellier), Bellerive Festival (Switzerland), Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Verbier Festival, West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Schwetzingen Festival and the Budapest Spring Festival. In 2010 he made his debut, among others, in Carnegie Hall and the Wiener Konzerthaus and performed with Gidon Kremer, András Schiff and Yuri Bashmet in the frame of „Chamber Music Connects the World” at Kronberg Academy.

From 2004 István studied in the Class of Special Talents at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, from 2005 at the Music Academy of Vienna. Between 2010 and 2013 he continued his studies at Kronberg Academy. From 2013 he is on the staff of the Academy. He attended masterclasses of Natalia Gutman, Natalia Shakhovskaya, András Schiff and János Starker. In 2009 he was awarded the Junior Prima Prize as best young artist of the year, in 2012 he received the prestigious Prix Montblanc awarded to the world's most promising young musician. His first CD containing pieces of Janáček, Prokofiev and the Elgar cello concerto was released in October 2009 by Ysaye Records. In 2010 he recorded the cello concerto of Johann Baptist Vanhal. On his CD released by the Hännsler label in 2013 he plays works by Mendelssohn, Martinu, Paganini, Beethoven and Popper. His recent CD with both versions of Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations was released in November 2014.

Mr. Várdai is, together with Kristóf Baráti, artistic director of „Kaposfest”, Hungary's leading chamber music festival. He plays a Montagnana cello from 1720.

This performance marks István Várdai's La Jolla Music Society debut.

Julien-QuentinFrench pianist Julien Quentin has established himself as a versatile and sensitive musician, exhibiting great maturity and poise. His remarkable depth of musicianship and distinct clarity of sound coupled with flawless technique, make him an artist in demand as both soloist and chamber musician.

He has made successful recital debuts in Paris (Salle Cortot), Geneva Conservatoire Hall and Bargemusic in New York. He has appeared as soloist with the Wroclaw, Qatar and Córdoba Philharmonic Orchestras under such conductors as Tommaso Placidi, Paul Biss, Jens Troester & Han-Na Chang. Regularly invited to numerous international Festivals, Quentin’s appearances in Europe include Verbier, Lucerne, Gstaad, Montreux, Zermatt, Dresden, Braunschweig, Schwetzingen, Ludwigsburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Beethovenfest Bonn, Radio France Montpellier, Saint Denis and Harrogate. A regular performer in North America, he has appeared at the La Jolla, Ventura, Shandelee, Virginia Arts and Mostly Mozart Festivals in the United States. He has broadcast in Canada, United States, Japan and in countries across Europe.

Julien Quentin is a keen chamber musician and has collaborated with artists such Nicolas Altstaedt, Emanuel Ax, Lisa Batiashvili, Measha Brueggergosman, Corey Cerovsek, Martin Fröst, Sol Gabetta, David Garrett, Nelson Goerner, Ilya Gringolts, Gary Hoffman, Angelika Kirchschlager, Lawrence Power, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Sayaka Shoji, Kirill Troussov and Tatjana Vassiljeva.

Touring internationally in America, Australia, Japan, the Middle East and throughout Europe, he has appeared at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Wigmore Hall in London, the Louvre in Paris, the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus, the Berlin Philharmonie, the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, in Avery Fisher, Alice Tully and Carnegie Halls in New York. He has recorded for EMI Classics and Sony RCA. He also performed on the harpsichord, appearing in concert with Sarah Chang and the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra, as well as with Thomas Quasthoff and under the baton of Leonidas Kavakos. During the 2013/14 season, solo and chamber music engagements will bring him to Austria, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and through the United States.

Born in Paris, Julien Quentin started his studies at the Geneva Conservatory with Alexis Golovine. In 2002, he completed his Artist Diploma under the tutelage of Emile Naoumoff at Indiana University, where he held a one-year teaching position as Assistant Instructor and was a recipient of the Presser Award. In 2003, he received his Graduate Diploma from the Juilliard School, where he studied with György Sándor. He has also worked with Paul Badura-Skoda, Nikita Magaloff, György Sebök, and Earl Wild.

Julien Quentin now lives in Berlin. With visual artists Emanuela Lucaci, Kevork Mourad or Norman Perryman, he explores new artistic visions bringing various art forms together. He also pursues his interest in other genres of music through his collaboration with composer Justin Messina, pianists Francesco Tristano and Rami Khalifé, or producer Martin Wheeler in projects ranging from improvisation to producing electronic music.

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This performance marks Julien Quentin's La Jolla Music Society debut.

Apr 24 @ 8:00 pm
MURRAY PERAHIA, piano @ MCASD Sherwood Auditorium | San Diego | California | United States

Murray Perahia, piano

After almost thirty years, legendary pianist Murray Perahia returns to La Jolla Music Society to give a solo piano recital with works by Haydn, Mozart, Brahms and featuring Beethoven’s mighty Hammerklavier Sonata.

“Mr. Perahia invariably strikes an ideal balance, playing with a beautiful sound, crystalline articulation, judicious use of pedal and an essential buoyant pulse.” – The New York Times

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HAYDNAndante and Variations in F Minor, Hob.VII:6
MOZARTPiano Sonata in A Minor, K.310
BRAHMSLate Piano Music
        Ballade in G Minor, Op. 118, No. 3
        Intermezzo in C Major, Op. 119, No. 3
        Intermezzo in E Minor, Op. 119, No. 2
        Intermezzo in A Major, Op. 118, No. 2
        Capriccio in D Minor, Op. 116, No. 1
BEETHOVENPiano Sonata in B-flat Major, Op. 106 “Hammerklavier”


Click here to view the complete March-April 2016 Program Book

PROGRAM NOTES: Murray Perahia, piano

by Eric Bromberger

Andante and Variations in F Minor, Hob.VII:6

Born March 31, 1732, Rohrau, Austria
Died May 31, 1809, Vienna

This extraordinary music is one of Haydn’s final compositions for piano. He wrote it in Vienna in 1793 between his two visits to London, and evidence suggests that Haydn himself was unsure just what form this music would take. The manuscript is headed “Sonata,” and it is possible Haydn intended it as the first movement of a sonata, giving up that plan when it became clear to the composer that this music should stand alone. He revised the score carefully, and its final form is unusual: it is a set of double variations–the first theme in F minor, the second in F major–which is then completed by a powerful coda 83 measures long.

The somber opening theme, marked Andante, is heard immediately and passes between both hands, extending through two strains. Haydn then switches to F major for the second theme, but this florid melody, full of swirls and arabesques, shows subtle harmonic relations to the subdued opening subject, so that there is already a unifying bond between these two themes before the variations begin. Haydn then offers two variations on these two themes. The variations on the F minor theme remain restrained, chromatic, and expressive, while the variations on the F major theme are more florid, full of trills and flowing triplets. Haydn begins the coda with a literal reprise of the opening theme, and suddenly this music takes off: over rising harmonic tension, the coda grows more powerful, more expressive, and more dynamic as it drives to a fortissimo climax. And then–in an equally original stroke–Haydn has the music fall back, shatter, and fade into silence on bits of the original theme.

Haydn dedicated the Andante and Variations to Babette (or Barbara) von Ployer, who had been one of Mozart’s students. Scholars, though, have been nearly unanimous in sensing another woman as the real inspiration behind this music. In 1789, Haydn had become good friends with Marianne von Genzinger, the wife of a Viennese physician, and their friendship took the form of a lengthy series of letters in which the older composer was able to pour out–after his own long and unhappy marriage–a depth of feeling and observation; these letters in fact remain one of the clearest records of Haydn’s character and thinking in these years. In January 1793, Marianne von Genzinger died suddenly at age 38, and many music historians regard the Andante and Variations, written shortly after her death, as Haydn’s response to that devastating event. Until more evidence is available, such a connection must remain conjectural, but this somber and expressive music–composed and very carefully revised in the months after Marianne’s death–has seemed to many to be Haydn’s homage to a friend he held very dear.

Piano Sonata in A Minor, K.310
Allegro maestoso, common time
Andante cantabile con espressione

Born January 27, 1756, Salzburg
Died December 5, 1791, Vienna

In September 1777, the 21-year-old Mozart set out on a trip that would turn into a disaster. Accompanied by his mother, he was to seek a position worthy of his talents in two of the musical capitals of Europe, Mannheim and Paris, while father Leopold remained behind in Salzburg. Suspicions of Mozart’s immaturity were instantly confirmed. From Mannheim, he proposed abandoning the trip to take a 16-year-old soprano on a tour of Italy (Leopold’s response was nearly apoplectic), and everywhere he went Mozart was considered too young for the role of kapellmeister. The disaster came in Paris–Mozart’s mother died suddenly during the summer of 1778. When Mozart returned to Salzburg in January 1779, both he and his father knew that the trip had been in every way a failure.

The Piano Sonata in A Minor, composed in Paris, shows a depth, tension, and expressivity new in the young composer’s music. Alfred Einstein has called it “a tragic sonata,” and it has been easy for some to conclude that Mozart wrote the sonata in response to his mother’s death. The evidence seems clear, however, that it had been completed before Maria Anna Mozart died on July 3, 1778.

We feel a level of tension from the first instant of this sonata, where the A-minor tonality is violated by a D-sharp grace note, but this dissonance only serves to establish the mood of what will follow. Mozart’s marking Allegro maestoso for this movement is curious, for there is nothing heroic or regal here. Instead, there is something darker, something powerful and insistent, and the music keeps pressing ahead–even the quietly-rippling second subject maintains this mood.

Mozart seldom marked a movement cantabile (he felt that all music should sing), but he goes even farther here, specifying that the second movement should be Andante cantabile con espressione. It is in ternary form, with calm outer sections framing an agitated central episode. In his biography of Mozart, Maynard Solomon argues that in this movement Mozart invents what would become an archetype of the romantic imagination: the music begins in Edenic innocence, but the middle section plunges that primal world into a darkness that threatens to overpower it; Mozart recovers as he returns to the opening section, but now this has been changed by the experience. Solomon argues that in this movement Mozart creates the pattern of “the Romantic mood-piece” that Schubert, Chopin, Brahms, and many others would employ over the following century.

The concluding Presto returns to the tonality–and manner–of the opening movement. Though quiet, the music partakes of that same restless spirit, much of it energized around the rhythm of a dotted eighth. A brief A-major episode at the center of the movement brings a brush of sunlight across the dusky landscape of this music, but Mozart quickly returns to A minor and drives the music implacably to its close.

Late Piano Music

Born May 7, 1833, Hamburg
Died April 3, 1897, Vienna

As he approached his sixtieth birthday, Brahms returned to the instrument of his youth, the piano. The young Brahms–the “heaven-storming Johannes,” as one of his friends described him–had established his early reputation as the composer of dramatic piano works: of his first five published works, three were big-boned piano sonatas, and he next produced a series of extraordinarily difficult sets of virtuoso variations. And then suddenly, at age 32, Brahms walked away from solo piano music, and–except for some brief pieces in the late 1870s–that separation would last nearly three decades.

When the aging Brahms returned to the instrument of his youth, he was a very different man and a very different composer from the “heaven-storming Johannes” of years before. During the summers of 1892-93, Brahms wrote twenty brief piano pieces and published them in four sets as his Opp. 116-119. The twenty pieces that make up these four final sets are all very brief (they may accurately be described as miniatures) and are in ABA form: a first theme, a countermelody–usually in a contrasting tempo and key, and a return of the opening material, now slightly varied. While perhaps technically not as demanding as his early piano works, these twenty pieces nevertheless distill a lifetime of experience and technical refinement into very brief spans, and in their focused, inward, and sometimes bleak way they offer some of Brahms’ most personal and moving music. Someone once astutely noted that a cold wind blows through these late piano pieces; Brahms himself described them as “lullabies of my pain.”

This recital offers five of those twenty pieces. The thunderous beginning of the Ballade in G Minor seems to bring back the world of “the young, heaven-storming Johannes.” Now, at age 60, Brahms fuses that powerful earlier manner with a greatly refined technique. The Allegro energico opening moves easily into the gorgeous middle section in B major; Brahms constantly reminds the pianist here to play dolce and espressivo. The return of the opening plunges briefly into a “wrong” key, but matters quickly recover, and the music pounds ahead with all its original strength.

The Intermezzo in C Major, marked Grazioso e giocoso (“Graceful and happy”), dances easily on its 6/8 meter. This piece has no true contrasting theme in its center–Brahms simply slows down his opening idea and uses that as the central episode before the return of the theme at its original tempo. In the Intermezzo in E Minor, which Brahms marks Andantino un poco agitato, the pianist’s two hands seem to be chasing each other through the murmuring, rhythmically-fluid opening section. The central episode dances gently (Brahms’ marking is teneramente: “tenderly”); the music gradually makes its way back to the opening material, now varied, and Brahms concludes with a faint whiff of the waltz-melody. The Intermezzo in A Major is like a lullaby (Brahms’ marking is Andante teneramente), and that gentle mood prevails throughout, though the center section is elaborate and varied before the subtle reintroduction of the opening material. The Capriccio in D Minor, marked Presto energico, flies restlessly along its 3/8 meter; much of the writing is sharply syncopated, with the accent falling on the final beat.

Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, Opus 106 “Hammerklavier” (1817/1818)
Scherzo: Assai vivace
Adagio sostenuto
Largo; Allegro; Allegro risoluto

Born December 16, 1770, Bonn
Died March 26, 1827, Vienna

Beethoven spent the summer of 1817 in the small village of Mödling, about twelve miles south of Vienna. These were miserable times for the composer (he himself referred to this as a period of “oppressive circumstances”): he was in poor health, locked in a bitter legal struggle for custody of his nephew Karl, and sinking deeper into deafness. Worse, he found himself at a creative standstill. Since the dissolution of the Heroic Style five years earlier, he had fallen into a long silence as–from the depths of his illness and deafness–he searched for a new musical language. Yet Beethoven took pleasure in the village in the lovely valley of Brühl, where he would go for long walks. He was joined on one of these by the pianist Carl Czerny, who reported that Beethoven told him “I am writing a new sonata that will become my greatest.” But progress was slow. Beethoven began the sonata in the fall of 1817 and had only the first two movements complete by the following April. He returned to Mödling for the summer of 1818 and had the sonata done by the end of that summer. It had taken a year of work.

Many would agree with Beethoven that this sonata is his greatest, and–at 45 minutes–it is certainly his longest. When it was published in September 1819, it acquired the nickname “Hammerklavier,” a nickname that originated–obliquely–with the composer himself. Beethoven in these years had become convinced that the piano was a German invention, and he did not want to use the Italian title pianoforte for the instrument (during this period he was also coming to prefer German performance markings to Italian). When this sonata and the Sonata in A-flat Major, Opus 101 were published, Beethoven specified that they were “für das Hammerklavier,” which was simply the German word for piano (a piano with the strings struck by hammers). The title Hammerklavier has stuck only to the second of those sonatas, but that nickname–with its latent subtextual implication of vast power–is inextricably linked to our sense of this music. We never think of it as the Sonata in B-flat Major. We think of it only with one powerful word: Hammerklavier.

Coming as it does between the collapse of the Heroic Style and the arrival of the Late Style, the Hammerklavier is inevitably a transitional work, though that hardly need imply an inferior one. It is traditional in the sense that it retains the four-movement structure of the sonata: a sonata-form first movement, a scherzo, a lyric slow movement, and a powerful fast finale, yet in every other sense this music looks ahead, and Maynard Solomon is quite right when he describes the Hammerklavier “the crystallization of the late style.” Those old forms may be present, but Beethoven is transforming them beyond recognition even as he holds onto them.

The Allegro opens with a powerful, almost defiant chordal gesture, yet Beethoven quickly follows this with a flowing, lyric idea and then brings the music to a brief pause--in those opening eight bars, he has provided enough material to fuel virtually the entire movement. There is a second theme, a quiet chorale set high in the pianist’s right hand while the left accompanies this with swirling sextuplets; Beethoven marks this cantabile dolce ed espressivo, but it is really the sonata’s opening that will dominate this movement–the chorale theme does not re-appear until almost the end of the exposition, and Beethoven treats it thereafter more as refrain than as an active thematic participant. The drama comes from that sharply-contrasted opening idea, and Beethoven builds much of his development on a fugal treatment of the opening gesture before the movement drives to a powerful close on a coda derived from that opening.

After that mighty first movement, which lasts a full dozen minutes, the Scherzo whips pasts in barely two. It is in standard ternary form, but Beethoven experiments with the whole notion of theme here: the outer section is built virtually on one rhythmic pattern, the dotted figure heard at the very beginning. The brief central episode, in D-flat major and written in octaves, leads to a dazzling return to the opening: a Prestissimo run across the range of the keyboard and great flourish set up the beautifully-understated reappearance of the opening. The ending is just as brilliant: Beethoven writes a very brief Presto that begins in colossal power and–almost before we know it–has vanished like smoke.

The Adagio sostenuto is not just the longest movement in this sonata but one of the longest slow movements Beethoven ever wrote. He specifies that it should be Appassionata e con molto sentimento, and the simple, moving chordal melody at the beginning gradually expands across the long span of this movement, taking us through a range of experience, intense and heartfelt. The final movement opens with a long introduction marked Largo; some of this is unbarred and gives the impression of existing outside time, yet in the middle of this slow introduction the music suddenly rushes ahead on a five-measure Allegro that sounds as if it had come directly from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. The Largo resumes, gathers power on a series of trills, and suddenly the main section–Allegro risoluto–bursts to life. This massive finale is one long fugue in three voices, which Beethoven then develops with great power, originality, and complexity; perhaps he saw in the fugue, with its combination of intellectual and emotional power, an ideal conclusion to so powerful a sonata. This finale makes fiendish demands on the pianist (it is scarcely easier for the listener), and it has produced some stunned reactions: Barry Cooper notes that “There is in this finale . . . an element of excessiveness . . . An instinct to push every component part of the music . . . not just to its logical conclusion but beyond.” And in fact the sonata is so overwhelming–technically, musically, emotionally–that it has left all who write about it gasping for language that might measure its stride. Paul Bekker calls the slow movement “the apotheosis of pain, of the deep sorrow for which there is no remedy . . . the immeasurable stillness of utter woe.” The pianist and pedagogue Ernest Hutcheson virtually concedes defeat: “The immensity of this composition cannot fail to strike us with awe. We gaze at its vast dome like pygmies from below, never feeling on an intellectual or moral level with it.”

Perhaps it is best to leave the last word to Beethoven himself, who mailed this music off to his publisher with a wry observation: “Now there you have a sonata that will keep the pianists busy fifty years hence.”

Lecture by Steven Cassedy: Redefining Sonata Form
Beethoven’s Opus 106, popularly but somewhat misleadingly called the “Hammerklavier,” is the longest and probably most technically difficult of the composer’s thirty-two sonatas for piano. It’s also, from a formal standpoint, one of the most radical, bursting the bounds of sonata form just as it seems to want to burst the bounds of the instrument on which it is performed.

MurrayPerahia1In the more than 40 years he has been performing on the concert stage, American pianist Murray Perahia has become one of the most sought-after and cherished pianists of our time, performing in all of the major international music centers and with every leading orchestra. He is the Principal Guest Conductor of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, with whom he has toured as conductor and pianist throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, and South East Asia.

Born in New York, Mr. Perahia started playing piano at the age of four, and later attended Mannes College where he majored in conducting and composition. His summers were spent at the Marlboro Festival, where he collaborated with such musicians as Rudolf Serkin, Pablo Casals, and the members of the Budapest String Quartet. He also studied at the time with Mieczyslaw Horszowski. In subsequent years, he developed a close friendship with Vladimir Horowitz, whose perspective and personality were an abiding inspiration. In 1972 Mr. Perahia won the Leeds International Piano Competition, and in 1973 he gave his first concert at the Aldeburgh Festival, where he worked closely with Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, accompanying the latter in many lieder recitals. Mr. Perahia was co-artistic director of the Festival from 1981 to 1989.

In the 2014-15 season, apart from touring Europe and the Middle East, Mr. Perahia embarks on a ten-city tour of Asia with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, conducting and performing works by Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Stravinsky. His Spring 2015 recital tour of the United States includes performances in New York's Carnegie Hall, Los Angeles's Disney Hall, and Chicago’s Symphony Hall, with further appearances scheduled in Rohnert Park, Tucson, Scottsdale, Kalamazoo, Sarasota, and Savannah. Mr. Perahia’s past season included a much awaited recital debut in Australia as well as a residency with the Berlin Philharmonic.

Mr. Perahia has a wide and varied discography. Sony Classical has issued a special boxed set edition of all his recordings including several DVDs entitled The First 40 Years. His recording of Brahms Händel Variations, which won the Gramophone Award in 2011, was described as “one of the most rewarding Brahms recitals currently available.” Some of his previous solo recordings feature a 5-CD boxed set of his Chopin recordings, Bach’s Partitas Nos. 1, 5, and 6 and Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, opp 14, 26, and 28. He is the recipient of two Grammy awards for his recordings of Chopin’s complete Etudes and Bach’s English Suites Nos. 1, 3, and 6, and several Gramophone Awards including the first ever granted Piano Award in 2012.

Recently, Mr. Perahia embarked on an ambitious project to edit the complete Beethoven Sonatas for the Henle Urtext Edition. He also produced and edited numerous hours of recordings of recently discovered master classes by the legendary pianist, Alfred Cortot, which resulted in the highly acclaimed Sony CD release, “Alfred Cortot: The Master Classes.”

Mr. Perahia is an honorary fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, and he holds honorary doctorates from Oxford University, the Royal College of Music, Leeds University, and Duke University. In 2004, he was awarded an honorary KBE by Her Majesty The Queen, in recognition of his outstanding service to music.

Murray Perahia last performed for La Jolla Music Society at the Sherwood Auditorium on March 9, 1987.

Apr 30 @ 8:00 pm
HUBBARD STREET DANCE CHICAGO @ Spreckels Theatre | San Diego | California | United States

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Works by Alejandro Cerrrudo, Penny Saunders,
William Forsythe, Crystal Pite

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is among the most original forces in contemporary dance. As one of the only professional dance companies to perform year-round, Hubbard Street is continually touring nationwide and internationally. Now in its 37th year, the Company has appeared in some of the most celebrated dance venues around the globe.

“Hubbard Street Dance Chicago ought to bottle itself as a cure for the ills of the era.”
The New York Times

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Click here to view the complete March-April 2016 Program Book

PROGRAM NOTES: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Out of Keeping




Excerpt from Second to Last


Solo Echo

Artistic Director - Glenn Edgerton
Executive Director - Jason D. Palmquist
General Manager - Karena Fiorenza Ingersoll
Rehearsal Director - Lucas Crandall
Resident Choreographer - Alejandro Cerrudo
Director of External Affairs - Suzanne Appel
Artistic Associate and Coordinator, Pre-Professional Programs - Meredith Dincolo
Founding Artistic Director - Lou Conte

Jesse Bechard, Jacqueline Burnett, Alicia Delgadillo, Jeffery Duffy,
Kellie Epperheimer, Michael Gross, Jason Hortin, Alice Klock, Emilie Leriche,
Florian Lochner, Ana Lopez, Andrew Murdock, Penny Saunders,
David Schultz, Kevin J. Shannon, Jessica Tong

Director of Production - Jason Brown
Company Manager - Ishanee DeVas
Head of Wardrobe - Rebecca M. Shouse
Lighting Director - Kaitlyn Breen
Stage Manager and Properties Master - Julie E. Ballard
Head Carpenter and Stage Operations - Stephan Panek
Master Electrician - Sam Begich
Audio Engineer - Kilroy G. Kundalini
Touring Wardrobe - Jenni Schwaner Ladd

Out of Keeping
Choreography: Penny Saunders
Music: Ólafur Arnalds, Volker Bertelmann, Karsten Gundermann, Hilary Hahn, Danny Norbury
Set and Lighting Design: Michael Mazzola
Costume Design: Branimira Ivanova

Created for and premièred by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago December 10, 2015 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park, Chicago. Music by Volker Bertelmann and Hilary Hahn: “North Atlantic” and “Clock Winder,” from the album Silfra, as performed by Hilary Hahn and Hauschka, courtesy of Universal Music Group, used by permission of G. Schirmer, Inc. / Music Sales Group. Music by Danny Norbury: “Speak, Memory,” from the album Dusk, used by permission of Danny Norbury. Music by Ólafur Arnalds: “Tomorrow’s Song,” from the album Living Room Songs. Music by Karsten Gundermann: “Faust - Episode 2 – Nachspiel,” from the album Spheres, as performed by Daniel Hope and Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin, conducted by Simon Halsey, courtesy of Universal Music Group, used by permission of Karsten Gundermann. Elizabeth Yntema for the Mark Ferguson Elizabeth Yntema Family Charitable Trust is the Lead Individual Sponsor of Out of Keeping by Penny Saunders. Additional support for Out of Keeping by Penny Saunders is provided by Individual Sponsors Randy and Lisa White.

Choreography: William Forsythe
Stage Design: William Forsythe
Lighting: William Forsythe
Costume Design: William Forsythe
Music: Thom Willems
Technical Consultant: Tanja Rühl
Staging: Cyril Baldy, Amancio González

N.N.N.N. appears as a mind in four parts, four dancers in a state of constant, tacit connection. Underscored by the sudden murmured flashes of Thom Willems’ music, these dancers enter into a complex, intense inscription. Their arms, heads, bodies and legs become singular voices, each tuned and in counterpoint to the other. These performers write out a text of the voice of the body, slowly, then more and more rapidly, coalescing over and over into a linked entity of flinging arms, folding joints and a sharp, high sense of time. Hubbard Street is honored to be the first U.S. dance company to perform William Forsythe’s N.N.N.N., restaged at the Hubbard Street Dance Center in Chicago by Forsythe with original cast members Cyril Baldy and Amancio González.

N.N.N.N. was created for and premièred by Ballett Frankfurt on November 21, 2002 at the Opernhaus, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; and first performed by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, October 15, 2015. Original score by Thom Willems. Used by permission of Thom Willems. Hubbard Street’s acquisition of N.N.N.N. is sponsored by the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, with support from Sandra and Jack Guthman through the Imagine campaign. Lead Individual Sponsors of the Season 38 Fall Series celebrating William Forsythe are Jay Franke and David Herro. Additional support is provided by Individual Sponsors Pam Crutchfield, Charles Gardner and Patti Eylar, and Richard L. Rodes. The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation is the Lead Foundation Sponsor of the Season 38 Fall Series.

Excerpt from Second to Last
Choreography &
Costume Concept:
Alejandro Cerrudo
Music: Arvo Pärt
Lighting Design: Michael Korsch

Created for and premièred by Ballet Arizona at the Orpheum Theatre, Phoenix, AZ, March 28, 2013. Original Set Design by Wrara Plesoiu. Original Costume Design by Leonor Texidor. First performed by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago as part of The Art of Falling, created for and premièred by Hubbard Street and The Second City, Inc. in collaboration at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park, Chicago, October 16, 2014. Music by Arvo Pärt: “Spiegel im Spiegel,” from the album Arvo Pärt: Alina, as recorded by Dietmar Schwalke, Alexander Malter, Vladimir Spivokov, and Sergei Bezrodny, courtesy of ECM Records. Used by permission of European American Music Distributors Company. The Art of Falling was commissioned by the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park, with support from Sandra and Jack Guthman through the Imagine campaign; was sponsored by Richard L. Rodes, R. Penny Rodes DeMott, GoodSmith, Gregg & Unruh LLP, The Walter E. Heller Foundation and Wessex 504 Corporation; and Choreographer’s Circle Members Meg and Tim Callahan, Sidney and Sondra Berman Epstein, Caryn Jacobs and Dan Cedarbaum, and Sallyan Windt. The Art of Falling was partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Solo Echo
Choreography: Crystal Pite
Music: Johannes Brahms
Lighting Design: Tom Visser
Stage Design: Jay Gower Taylor
Costume Design: Joke Visser, Crystal Pite
Staging: Eric Beauchesne

Lines for Winter By Mark Strand

Tell yourself as it gets cold and gray falls from the air that you will go on walking, hearing the same tune no matter where you find yourself — inside the dome of dark or under the cracking white of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow. Tonight as it gets cold tell yourself what you know which is nothing but the tune your bones play as you keep going. And you will be able for once to lie down under the small fire of winter stars. And if it happens that you cannot go on or turn back and you find yourself where you will be at the end, tell yourself in that final flowing of cold through your limbs that you love what you are.

Created for and premièred by Nederlands Dans Theater February 9, 2012 at the Lucent Danstheater, Den Haag, the Netherlands. First performed by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago December 10, 2015 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Chicago. Music by Johannes Brahms: Allegro non Troppo from Sonata for Cello and Piano in E Minor, Opus 38, and Adagio Affettuoso from Sonato for Cello and Piano in F Major, Opus 99, from the album Brahms Sonatas for Cello & Piano, courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment. Poem by Mark Strand: “Lines for Winter,” from Selected Poems, © 1979 by Mark Strand and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. Sara Albrecht is the Lead Individual Sponsor of the Hubbard Street première of Solo Echo by Crystal Pite. Hubbard Street’s touring engagements featuring Solo Echo by Crystal Pite are sponsored by the Lauren Robishaw Creative Fund.

A conversation with Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton and choreographer Penny Saunders hosted by Marcus Overton

HubbardStreetDanceChicago1Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s core purpose is to bring artists, art and audiences together to enrich, engage, educate, transform and change lives through the experience of dance. Celebrating its 38th season in 2015–16, Hubbard Street continues to be an innovative force, supporting its creative talent while presenting repertory by major international artists.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago grew out of the Lou Conte Dance Studio at LaSalle and Hubbard Streets in 1977, when Lou Conte gathered an ensemble of four dancers to perform in senior centers across Chicago. Barbara G. Cohen soon joined the company as its first Executive Director. Conte continued to direct the company for 23 years, during which he initiated and grew relationships with both emerging and established artists including Nacho Duato, Daniel Ezralow, Jiří Kylián, Ohad Naharin, Lynne Taylor-Corbett and Twyla Tharp.

Conte’s successor Jim Vincent widened Hubbard Street’s international focus, began Hubbard Street’s collaboration with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and cultivated growth from within, launching the Inside/Out Choreographic Workshop and inviting Resident Choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo to make his first work. Gail Kalver’s 23 years of executive leadership provided continuity from 1984 through the 2006–07 season, when Executive Director Jason Palmquist joined the organization.

Glenn Edgerton became Artistic Director in 2009 and, together with Palmquist, moved this legacy forward on multiple fronts. Inside/Out is now part of a three-pronged strategy for building repertoire, the Choreographic Development Initiative, aimed at being a national model for artistic development while proactively diversifying contemporary concert dance.

Partnerships with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and other institutions keep Hubbard Street deeply connected to its hometown. To the company’s repertoire, Edgerton has extended relationships with its signature choreographers while adding significant new voices such as Kyle Abraham, Mats Ek, Sharon Eyal, Alonzo King, Crystal Pite, Victor Quijada and Gustavo Ramírez Sansano.

The main company’s 18 members comprise one of the only ensembles in the U.S. to perform all year long, domestically and around the world, while four progressive Summer Intensive Programs bring young artists into its ranks. Hubbard Street 2, its second company for early-career artists, was founded in 1997 by Conte and Julie Nakagawa. Now directed by Terence Marling, HS2 cultivates young professional dancers, identifies next-generation choreographers, and performs domestically and abroad in service of arts education, collaboration, experimentation and audience development.

Hubbard Street’s Youth, Education and Community Programs are national benchmarks for partnership, dance education and urban school research. In 2008, the Parkinson’s Project became the first dance class in the Midwest for those affected by Parkinson’s disease and, with The Autism Project pilot in 2014, it’s now part of Hubbard Street’s growing Adaptive Dance Programs. Youth Dance Programs for students ages 18 months to 18 years emphasize creative expression and are offered year-round at the Hubbard Street Dance Center.

At the Lou Conte Dance Studio — where Hubbard Street began in 1974 — workshops and master classes allow access to expertise, while a broad variety of weekly classes offer training at all levels in jazz, ballet, modern, tap, African, hip-hop, yoga, Pilates® and dance fitness. Visit to learn more.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Dance Series on February 29, 2008.

May 4 @ 8:00 pm
NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC @ Jacobs Music Center - Copley Symphony Hall | San Diego | California | United States

New York Philharmonic

Alan Gilbert, music director

La Jolla Music Society ends it’s Celebrity Orchestra Series with America’s oldest orchestra, the internationally acclaimed New York Philharmonic. Conducted by Alan Gilbert, the orchestra’s Music Director since 2009, the evening features quintessential orchestral classics by Beethoven and Sibelius.

“A galvanizing force at the Philharmonic. … He is building a legacy that matters and is helping to change the template for what an American orchestra can be.”
                                                                                          — The New York Times

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BEETHOVENEgmont Overture, Op. 84 (1809-10)
Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 (1811-12)
SIBELIUSSymphony No. 7 in C Major, Op. 105 (1924)
Finlandia, Op. 26 (1899-1900)

Click here to view the complete May 2016 Program Book

PROGRAM NOTES: New York Philharmonic

by Eric Bromberger

Egmont Overture, Opus 84 (1809-10)

Born December 16, 1770, Bonn
Died March 26, 1827, Vienna

In 1809 Beethoven was invited to contribute incidental music to a revival of Goethe’s tragedy Egmont at the Vienna Burgtheater. The motives of the theater’s managers were clear: the French occupation of Vienna had just ended, and they wanted to celebrate their own freedom with a production of a play that told of resistance to political oppression. Beethoven had found the French occupation very difficult (he had hidden in the basement of his brother’s house with a pillow wrapped around his head during the French bombardment), and he was delighted to write the incidental music, which consists of an overture and nine other movements, including songs, entr’actes, a melodrama, and a concluding victory symphony.

But Egmont appealed to Beethoven for reasons deeper than its relevance to the French occupation of his adopted city. Goethe’s tragedy tells of the heroic resistance to the Spanish occupation of the Netherlands by Count Egmont, who is imprisoned by the evil Duke Alva. When a rescue attempt by Egmont’s lover Clärchen fails, she poisons herself, but Egmont goes to the gallows confident of the ultimate triumph of his cause. The themes of an imprisoned hero, a faithful woman willing to make sacrifices for love and political ideals, and the resistance to tyranny are of course those of Beethoven’s opera Fidelio, and while the endings of Egmont and Fidelio are quite different, Beethoven must have found Goethe’s play close to his own heart.

The complete incidental music is seldom heard today, but the overture has become one of Beethoven’s most famous. It does not, however, attempt to tell the story of the play, and listeners should not search for a musical depiction of events. A powerful slow introduction gives way to a tentative, falling string figure–gradually the strength coiled up in this simple theme-shape is unleashed, and the dramatic overture rushes ahead at the Allegro. This music is full of energy, and at moments Beethoven subtly shifts the pulse of his 3/4 meter to make it feel like 6/8. The ominous chords of the opening return to usher in the brilliant close, where music that will reappear in the Symphony of Victory (the tenth and final movement of the incidental music) symbolizes the ultimate victory of Egmont’s cause.

Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Opus 92 (1811–12)


Beethoven turned 40 in December 1810. Forty can be a difficult age for anyone, but for Beethoven things were going very well. True, his hearing had deteriorated to the point where he was virtually deaf, but he was still riding that white-hot explosion of creativity that has become known, for better or worse, as his “Heroic Style.” Over the decade-long span of that style (1803-1813) Beethoven essentially re-imagined music and its possibilities. The works that crystalized the Heroic Style–the Eroica and the Fifth Symphony–unleashed a level of violence and darkness previously unknown in music, forces that Beethoven’s biographer Maynard Solomon has described as “hostile energy,” and then triumphed over them. In these violent symphonies, music became not a matter of polite discourse but of conflict, struggle, and resolution.

In the fall of 1811, Beethoven began a new symphony–it would be his Seventh–and it would differ sharply from those two famous predecessors. Gone is the sense of cataclysmic struggle and hard-won victory that had driven those earlier symphonies. There are no battles fought and won in the Seventh Symphony–instead, this music is infused from its first instant with a mood of pure celebration. Such a spirit has inevitably produced a number of interpretations as to what this symphony is “about”: Berlioz heard a peasants’ dance in it, Wagner called it “the apotheosis of the dance,” and more recently Maynard Solomon has suggested that the Seventh is the musical representation of a festival, a brief moment of pure spiritual liberation.

But it may be safest to leave the issue of “meaning” aside and instead listen to the Seventh simply as music. There had never been music like this before, nor has there been since–Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony contains more energy than any other piece of music ever written. Much has been made (correctly) of Beethoven’s ability to transform small bits of theme into massive symphonic structures, but in the Seventh he begins not so much with theme as with rhythm: he builds the entire symphony from what are almost scraps of rhythm, tiny figures that seem unpromising, even uninteresting, in themselves. Gradually he unleashes the energy locked up in these small figures and from them builds one of the mightiest symphonies ever written.

The first movement opens with a slow introduction so long that it almost becomes a separate movement of its own. Tremendous chords punctuate the slow beginning, which gives way to a poised duet for oboes. The real effect of this long Poco sostenuto, however, is to coil the energy that will be unleashed in the true first movement, and Beethoven conveys this rhythmically: the meter of the introduction is a rock-solid (even square) 4/4, but the main body of the movement, marked Vivace, transforms this into a light-footed 6/8. This Vivace begins in what seems a most unpromising manner, however, as woodwinds toot out a simple dotted 6/8 rhythm and the solo flute announces the first theme, a graceful melody on this same rhythm. Beethoven builds the entire first movement from this simple dotted rhythm, which saturates virtually every measure. As theme, as accompaniment, as motor rhythm, it is always present, hammering into our consciousness. At the climax, horns sail majestically to the close as the orchestra thunders out that rhythm one final time.

The second movement, in A minor, is one of Beethoven’s most famous slow movements, but the debate continues as to whether it really is a slow movement. Beethoven could not decide whether to mark it Andante (a walking tempo) or Allegretto (a moderately fast pace). He finally decided on Allegretto, though the actual pulse is somewhere between those two. This movement, too, is built on a short rhythmic pattern, in this case the first five notes: long-short-short-long-long–and this pattern repeats here almost as obsessively as the pattern of the first movement. The opening sounds like a series of static chords–the theme itself occurs quietly inside those chords–and Beethoven simply repeats this theme, varying it as it proceeds. The central episode in A major moves gracefully along smoothly-flowing triplets before a little fugato on the opening rhythms builds to a great climax. Beethoven winds the movement down on the woodwinds’ almost skeletal reprise of the fundamental rhythm.

The Scherzo explodes to life on a theme full of grace notes, powerful accents, flying staccatos, and timpani explosions. This alternates with a trio section for winds reportedly based on an old pilgrims’ hymn, though no one, it seems, has been able to identify that exact hymn. Beethoven offers a second repeat of the trio, then seems about to offer a third before five abrupt chords drive the movement to its close.

These chords set the stage for the Allegro con brio, again built on the near-obsessive treatment of a short rhythmic pattern, in this case the movement’s opening four-note fanfare. This four-note pattern punctuates the entire movement: it shapes the beginning of the main theme, and its stinging accents thrust the music forward continuously as this movement almost boils over with energy. The ending is remarkable: above growling cellos and basses (which rock along on a two-note ostinato for 28 measures), the opening theme drives to a climax that Beethoven marks fff, a dynamic marking he almost never used. This conclusion is virtually Bacchanalian in its wild power–no matter how many times one has heard it, the ending of the Seventh Symphony remains one of the most exciting moments in all of music.

The first performance of the Seventh Symphony took place in the Great Hall of the University in Vienna on December 8, 1813. Though nearly deaf at this point, Beethoven led the performance, and the orchestra was able to compensate for his failings, so that the première was a huge success. On that occasion–and at three subsequent performances over the next few months–the audience demanded that the second movement be repeated.

Symphony No. 7 in C Major, Opus 105 (1924)

Born December 8, 1865, Tavastehus, Finland
Died September 20, 1957, Järvenpää, Finland

In 1915, while at work on his Fifth Symphony, Jean Sibelius looked ahead and described how he envisioned his next two symphonies. He described his Seventh-to-be as: “Joy of life and vitality, with appassionato passages. In three movements–the last an ‘Hellenic rondo.’” And then he offered a caveat: “All this with due reservation.” It was a good thing he did, because when the Seventh Symphony appeared nine years later, it bore almost no resemblance to his earlier description. Instead of being in three movements with a “Hellenic rondo” as its finale, the Seventh is in only one movement, lasting just over twenty minutes. It is an entirely original form, yet that one-movement structure manages to preserve much of the emotional effect of the four-movement classical symphony: we come away from Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony feeling that we have embarked on–and made–a satisfying symphonic journey.

Many have commented on the originality of Sibelius’ design, but in fact others had done the same thing before him. Arnold Schoenberg, in his Chamber Symphony No. 1 of 1906, and Franz Schreker, in his Chamber Symphony of 1916, had made the same effort to compress the massive four-movement symphonic structure of the late nineteenth-century symphony into a concise one-movement form: both those composers pared the symphony down mercilessly, recasting it for a chamber ensemble and limiting it to a twenty-minute span. Sibelius, who probably did not know the Schoenberg and Schreker chamber symphonies, set out to achieve the same structural compression in his Seventh Symphony, but he did it with a full symphony orchestra. For all its compression, however, for all its paring-down and its economy, Sibelius’ Seventh is expressive and heartfelt music.

Good symphonists present their material immediately, and Sibelius gives us his three fundamental themes in the first minutes. The Seventh Symphony opens with a soft timpani salvo, and lower strings climb a C-major scale that somehow ends up in the unexpected key of A-flat minor. Here (and throughout) the syncopated statement of themes contributes to the subtlety of Sibelius’ presentation. Almost instantly we hear pairs of woodwinds weaving about, followed by an intense string chorale that makes its way on a nine-part division of the strings. These will be the basic themes of the symphony, but now Sibelius introduces one further element: a solo trombone cuts through these textures with a ringing, heroic solo that will return twice at climactic moments in the symphony.

Over the next twenty minutes, these themes will re-appear, evolve, and interweave. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Seventh Symphony lies in its subtle changes of tempo, which are achieved with a mastery so assured that we cannot tell where one tempo ends and another begins: a moderate tempo is established, and before we aware of it the pulse of that tempo has become fast, and just as suddenly it has relaxed again. Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony may mirror the general approach of the Schoenberg and Schreker chamber symphonies, but Sibelius integrates tempos, sections, and moods with a subtlety and assurance that those earlier composers never dreamed of. Eventually the Seventh Symphony builds to an icy rip in C major that Sibelius marks Largamente, then falls away and gradually re-groups to build to the powerful close, where–at virtually the final second–the symphony claws its way back into C major.

As was his habit, Sibelius worked on this symphony almost to the last minute. He completed it on March 2, 1924, barely in time to get the parts copied and the music rehearsed before the première three weeks later, when Sibelius led the first performance on March 24, 1924, with the Stockholm Philharmonic. At that concert, the program book listed this piece as a Fantasia Sinfonica–Sibelius was so concerned about his radical structure that he was reluctant to call this music a symphony. But after hearing it, he was convinced that it was a true symphony and that it should be numbered among his works in that form.

After the Seventh Symphony, Sibelius wrote only one more large-scale work, the tone poem Tapiola in 1926. And then he stopped composing–the final 31 years of his life were spent in silence. Apparently he tried to write an Eighth Symphony, and evidence suggests that he made some sketches for it, but he abandoned that effort, and his sketches have disappeared. With the Seventh, an entire symphonic journey compressed into a concise one-movement arc, Sibelius had gone as far as he could with the symphony.

Finlandia, Opus 26 (1899–1900)


Finlandia has become a virtual symbol of Finland and its aspirations, but this music achieved that status almost by accident. Sibelius originally composed it in 1899 for what seems like an innocuous occasion–a celebration to help raise money for newspaper pension funds–but this fiery music quickly caught the heart of the Finnish people and became a symbol of their national pride.

Finland had been under Russian control throughout the nineteenth century, and the movement for Finnish independence had always been strong. When Czar Nicholas II cracked down in 1899 and began an intense russification campaign, the country nearly exploded with opposition, and it was at that precise moment that Sibelius wrote this music, which was first titled Finland Awake! So obvious was that meaning that Russian authorities banned its performance, and Sibelius retitled the piece Finlandia when he revised it the following year. The Finns would finally gain their independence from Russia after World War I, but Finlandia has remained a sort of unofficial national hymn ever since.

Yet this music tells no story, nor does it incorporate any Finnish folk material. Many assumed that music that sounds so “Finnish” must be based on native tunes, but Sibelius was adamant that all of it was original: “There is a mistaken impression among the press abroad that my themes are often folk melodies. So far, I have never used a theme that was not of my own invention. The thematic material of Finlandia . . . is entirely my own.”

Finlandia is extremely dramatic music, well-suited to the striving and heroic mood of the times. Its ominous introduction opens with snarling two-note figures in the brass, and they are answered by quiet chorale-like material from woodwinds and strings. At the Allegro moderato the music rips ahead on stuttering brass figures and drives to a climax. Sibelius relaxes tensions with a poised hymn for woodwind choir that is repeated by the strings (surely this was the spot most observers identified as “authentic” Finnish material). The music takes on some of its earlier power, the stuttering brass attacks return, and Sibelius drives matters to a knock-out close.

Small wonder that music so dramatic–and composed at so important a moment in Finnish history–should have come to symbolize that nation’s pride and desire for independence.


The Magnificent Seven with SDSU director of orchestras, Michael Gerdes

On this program, we hear two of history’s greatest symphonists at the peak of their compositional powers. These pieces are a summation of the work that has come before, each symphony building upon the previous and revealing the evolution of two great artists. In listening to the seventh symphonies of Sibelius and Beethoven, can we glimpse what is yet to come?

NewYorkPhilharmonic1Founded in 1842, the New York Philharmonic is the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States and one of the oldest in the world; on May 5, 2010, it performed its 15,000th concert. Music Director Alan Gilbert, The Yoko Nagae Ceschina Chair, began his tenure in September 2009, succeeding a distinguished line of 20th-century musical giants that goes back to Gustav Mahler and Arturo Toscanini. The Orchestra has always played a leading role in American musical life, commissioning and/or premiering works by each era’s leading composers, some of which have won the Pulitzer Prize. Renowned around the globe, the Philharmonic has appeared in 430 cities in 63 countries — including the February 2008 historic visit to Pyongyang, DPRK, for which the Philharmonic earned the 2008 Common Ground Award for Cultural Diplomacy.

The Philharmonic, which appears annually on Live From Lincoln Center on PBS, is the only American orchestra to have a 52-week-per-year nationally and internationally syndicated radio series — The New York Philharmonic This Week — which is also streamed on The Orchestra has made nearly 2,000 recordings since 1917, with more than 500 currently available, and including several Grammy Award winners. Since June 2009 more than 50 concerts have been released as downloads, available at all major online music stores, and the Philharmonic’s self-produced recordings continue in the 2011–12 season. Famous for the long-running Young People’s Concerts, the Philharmonic has developed a wide range of education programs, among them the School Partnership Program that enriches music education in New York City, and Learning Overtures, which fosters international exchange among educators.

New York Philharmonic last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Celebrity Orchestra Series on May 15, 2012.

Alan-GilbertNew York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert began his tenure in September 2009. The first native New Yorker to hold the post, he has sought to make the Orchestra a point of pride for the city and country. As New York magazine wrote, “The Philharmonic and its music director Alan Gilbert have turned themselves into a force of permanent revolution.”

Mr. Gilbert and the Philharmonic have forged artistic partnerships, introducing the positions of The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence and The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence, held in the 2014–15 season by Christopher Rouse and violinist Lisa Batiashvili, respectively, as well as the new position of Artist-in-Association, inaugurated by Inon Barnatan this season; an annual festival, which this season is Dohnányi / Dvořák; CONTACT!, the new-music series; and the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, an exploration of today’s music by a wide range of contemporary and modern composers inaugurated in spring 2014.

In the 2014–15 season Alan Gilbert conducts the U.S. Premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Clarinet Concerto, a Philharmonic co-commission, alongside Mahler’s First Symphony; La Dolce Vita: The Music of Italian Cinema with Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, and Josh Groban; Verdi’s Requiem; a staging of Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake featuring Oscar winner Marion Cotillard; World Premieres by John Adams, Peter Eötvös, and Christopher Rouse; works by contemporary Nordic composers during CONTACT!; and the Silk Road Ensemble and Yo-Yo Ma’s 15th-anniversary celebration. He concludes The Nielsen Project, the multi-year initiative to perform and record the Danish composer’s symphonies and concertos, the first release of which was named by The New York Times as among the Best Classical Music Recordings of 2012. The Music Director presides over the EUROPE / SPRING 2015 tour with stops including London, featuring Giants Are Small’s theatrical reimagining of Stravinsky’s ballet Petrushka as part of the Orchestra’s second International Associate residency at the Barbican Centre; Cologne, where he leads the World Premiere of Peter Eötvös’s Senza sangue, a Philharmonic co-commission; and returns to Dublin and Paris.

Last season’s highlights included the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL; Mozart’s three final symphonies; the U.S. Premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Frieze coupled with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; World Premieres; an all-Britten program celebrating the composer’s centennial; the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey as the film was screened; the ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour; and a staged production of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson. High points of Mr. Gilbert’s first four Philharmonic seasons included the critically celebrated productions of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre (2010) and Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (2011) — both cited as the top cultural events of their respective years — as well as Philharmonic 360 at Park Avenue Armory (2012), the acclaimed spatial music program featuring Stockhausen’s Gruppen, and A Dancer’s Dream: Two Ballets by Stravinsky (2013, and later presented in movie theaters internationally). Other highlights included World Premieres of works by Magnus Lindberg, John Corigliano, Christopher Rouse, and composers featured on CONTACT!; Mahler’s Second Symphony, Resurrection, on A Concert for New York on September 10; Mr. Gilbert’s Philharmonic debut as violin soloist in J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins; five concerts at Carnegie Hall; six tours to Europe; and the Asia Horizons tour.

Conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor of Hamburg’s NDR Symphony Orchestra, he regularly conducts leading orchestras nationally and internationally, such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Orchestra della Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. He has appeared at The Metropolitan, Los Angeles, Zurich, Royal Swedish, and Santa Fe opera companies. In 2014–15 he conducts the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra’s season-opening concerts and on tour in Lucerne, Berlin, and London; Mozart’s Don Giovanni at The Metropolitan Opera; and The Philadelphia, Munich Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, and NDR Symphony orchestras.

In September 2011 Alan Gilbert became Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies at The Juilliard School, where he is also the first holder of Juilliard’s William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies. He made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut in 2008 leading John Adams’s Doctor Atomic; the DVD and Blu-ray of this production received the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording. Renée Fleming’s recent Decca recording Poèmes, on which he conducted, received a 2013 Grammy Award. Earlier releases garnered Grammy Award nominations and top honors from the Chicago Tribune and Gramophone magazine.

Mr. Gilbert studied at Harvard University, The Curtis Institute of Music, and Juilliard and was assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra (1995–97). In May 2010 he received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Curtis, and in December 2011 he received Columbia University’s Ditson Conductor’s Award for his “exceptional commitment to the performance of works by American composers and to contemporary music.” In 2014 he was elected to The American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and he received a 2015 Foreign Policy Association Medal for his commitment to cultural diplomacy.

For more information visit

Alan Gilbert last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Celebrity Orchestra Series on May 15, 2012.

May 8 @ 3:00 pm
JOSEF SPACEK, violin @ The Auditorium at TSRI | San Diego | California | United States

Josef Špaček, violin

2009 First Prize Winner at the Michael Hill Violin Competition

Closing the 47th Season Discovery Series is multiple violin competition winner Josef Špaček. Returning to La Jolla Music Society, having appeared during Season 46 as concertmaster with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,
Mr. Špaček’s solo program includes works by J.S. Bach, Prokofiev, Saint-Saëns and more.

“With pure tone and a gutsy lower register, the cooly contained Špaček combined fluent technique with expressive finesse…” — The Guardian

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Josef Špaček, violin
Miroslav Sekera, piano

J.S. BACHChaconne from the Partita No. 2 in D Minor for Unaccompanied Violin, BWV 1004 (1720)
SZYMANOWSKIMyths, Op. 30 (1915)
YSAŸECaprice (After a Study in Form of a Waltz of Saint-Saëns, Op. 52, No. 6) (1900)
PROKOFIEVSonata for Solo Violin in D Major, Op. 115 (1947)
SAINT-SAËNSViolin Sonata No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 75 (1885)

Click here to view the complete May 2016 Program Book

PROGRAM NOTES: Josef Špaček, violin & Miroslev Sereka, piano

by Eric Bromberger

Chaconne from the Partita No. 2 in D Minor for Unaccompanied Violin, BWV 1004 (1720)

Born March 21, 1685, Eisenach
Died July 28, 1750, Leipzig

This Chaconne is of course THE Chaconne, one of the most famous and difficult pieces ever written for the violin. Bach composed it around 1720 as the final movement of his Partita No. 2 in D Minor for Unaccompanied Violin. The first four movements present the expected partita sequence–Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, and Gigue–but then Bach springs a surprise: the last movement is a chaconne longer that the first four movements combined. The Chaconne offers some of the most intense music Bach ever wrote, and it has worked its spell on musicians everywhere for the last two-and-a-half centuries. Beyond the countless recordings for violin, it is currently available in performances by guitar, cello, lute, and viola, as well as in piano transcriptions by Brahms, Busoni, and Raff.

A chaconne is one of the most disciplined forms in music: it is built on a repeating ground bass in triple meter over which a melodic line is varied. A chaconne demands great skill from a performer under any circumstances, but it becomes unbelievably complex on the unaccompanied violin, which must simultaneously suggest the ground bass and project the melodic variations above it. Even with the curved bow of Bach’s day, some of this music borders on the unplayable, and it is more difficult still on the modern violin, with its more rounded bridge and concave bow.

This makes Bach’s Chaconne sound like supremely cerebral music–and it is–but the wonder is that this music manages to be so expressive at the same time. The four-bar ground bass repeats 64 times during the quarter-hour span of the Chaconne, and over it Bach spins out gloriously varied music, all the while keeping these variations firmly anchored on the ground bass. At the center section, Bach moves into D major, and here the music relaxes a little, content to sing happily for awhile; after the calm nobility of this interlude, the quiet return to D minor sounds almost disconsolate. Bach drives the Chaconne to a great climax and a restatement of the ground bass at the close.

Myths, Opus 30 (1915)

Born October 3, 1882, Tymoszówska
Died March 29, 1937, Lausanne

World War I forced Szymanowski to remain in his native city of Tymoszówska in Poland, and there he composed prodigiously: the Symphony No. 3, Violin Concerto No. 1, and numerous songs, cantatas, and piano pieces all date from the first years of the war. Now in his early thirties, Szymanowski had only recently thrown off the influence of Wagner and Strauss to forge his own style, a style that grew in large measure from his exploration of Sicily and North Africa and from his new awareness of ancient cultures. Musically, this meant a style characterized by great attention to instrumental color, busy textures, and an expressionism that can verge on intoxicated ecstasy.

Szymanowski composed several works for violin and piano during this period, among them his three Myths, Opus 30 in 1915. Szymanowski had fallen in love with classical antiquity, and each of the three movements–The Fountain of Arethusa, Narcissus, and Dryads and Pan–is based on a different Greek myth. Arethusa was a nymph loved by both Artemis and the river god Alpheus. Bathing in a river, she was forced to flee underwater to the island Ortygia to escape Alpheus; on that island, Artemis transformed her into a fountain, but Alpheus followed, was himself transformed into a river, and so was united with Arethusa at last. Szymanowski makes no attempt to cast this myth in a “classical” style but instead sets The Fountain of Arethusa in a shimmering, post-impressionistic musical language. This is a display-piece for both instruments, from the delicate piano introduction (clearly the sound of the fountain) through the writing for violin, which has a sort of fantastic tonal opulence, soaring high in its range, slipping into passages played entirely in harmonics, and leaping between an extroverted brilliance and a reflective lyricism. The Fountain of Arethusa has become one of Szymanowski’s most popular works.

Narcissus was loved by Echo, but he was so consumed with himself that he rejected her; she in turn caused him to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool, where he withered away and was transformed into a flower. Szymanowski casts his Narcissus in a rondo-like form, with the violin’s principal melody returning in different keys and guises.

Dryads were tree-nymphs (the most famous of them was Euridice, wife of Orpheus), and Pan the god of fields, forests, and flocks. Pan pursued the nymph Syrinx, who fled to the river Ladon and prayed to be turned into a reed; her prayer was granted, and Pan cut the reed and from it made his pipes. Szymanowski’s setting of this tale is notable for its brilliant writing for violin: Dryads and Pan offers the violinist a cadenza (rare in chamber music) and features quarter-tones and harmonics used to imitate the sound of Pan’s flute. Szymanowski wrote Myths for the Polish violin virtuoso Paul Kochanski, and it is dedicated to Kochanksi’s wife Sofia.

Caprice (After a Study in Form of a Waltz of Saint-Saëns, Opus 52, No. 6) (1900)

Born July 16, 1858, Liège
Died May 12, 1931, Brussels

Saint-Saëns began to play the piano at the age of two and quickly turned into a prodigy of breathtaking achievements: at age ten, following a concert at which he played Beethoven and Mozart piano concertos, he offered to perform any Beethoven sonata as an encore–by memory. He began composing for the piano at age three, and his earliest surviving music for that instrument dates from 1843, when he was eight; there followed a great deal more music for piano, with his final work appearing in 1921, when he was 86. These pieces are mostly short (significantly, there are no sonatas among them), and they are often in dance forms.

In 1877, when he was 42, Saint-Saëns wrote a series of studies for solo piano, which he called Six Etudes and published as his Opus 52. The last of these etudes is titled Caprice (After a Study in the Form of a Waltz). Some years later, the great Belgian violinist-composer Eugene Ysaÿe made a transcription of this Caprice for violin and piano, and in the process created one of the great virtuoso pieces for violinists–Ysaÿe played this Caprice with great success throughout his career. In its original form, the Caprice is daunting enough for pianists, but Ysaÿe’s transcription is a textbook of virtuoso violin technique: it demands rapid passages in fingered octaves, flying spiccato double-stops, great leaps, left-hand pizzicatos, sustained writing in the violin’s highest register, double-stopped tremolandi, and so on. The Caprice begins in the character of dance music (the opening is marked Allegro di valse), but across the sustained span of this demanding work the music gradually accelerates to a knock-out close.

Sonata for Solo Violin in D Major, Opus 115 (1947)

Born April 23, 1891, Sontsovka
Died March 5, 1953, Moscow

Prokofiev composed this unusual (and little-known) sonata in 1947. This was a difficult moment for the composer, then 56 years old. Two years earlier he had fallen and suffered a serious concussion, and he would never fully recover his strength or his health. During the winter of 1946-47 Prokofiev completed his Sixth Symphony, one of his finest scores, and then composed this brief sonata for solo violin. Sonatas for unaccompanied violin are not by themselves unusual–Bach, Ysayë, and Bartók have all written notable examples–but the distinctive title of Prokofiev’s sonata points to a larger purpose. He intended that this sonata might be played by a single violinist–or by any number of violinists, all playing in unison. Violin students in Russia often played in groups as part of their training, and Prokofiev intended that this sonata might be used for that purpose.

But those students would have to be awfully good violinists, because for all its simplicity and straightforwardness, the Sonata in D Major can be very difficult indeed. Prokofiev does not write the complex contrapuntal music that other composers have often made a feature of their solo violin sonatas–the writing here is entirely linear–but this music is full of technical hurdles: great leaps, rapid string-crossings, quick chording, spiccato passages that alternate with sustained lyric lines. It might be a sonic treat to hear twenty very good violinists play this sonata, but it is most often performed today by a single violinist.

The sonata is in three brief movements. The opening Moderato is in sonata form, built on the athletic opening idea and a lyric second subject that Prokofiev marks both piano and dolce. That contrast between saucy energy and a beautiful lyricism is a feature of some of Prokofiev’s finest music, and this attractive movement alternates busy passagework with more restrained and reflective interludes. The Andante dolce is in theme-and-variation form. The theme is heard at the very beginning (Prokofiev stresses that it should be espressivo), and five sharply-contrasted variations follow. Prokofiev marks the final movement Con brio, and it is indeed full of brio. This finale contrasts its brisk opening episode with an even faster second section marked Allegro precipitato, and after all this energy the sonata concludes on a rush of triplets up the scale and a resounding D.

Violin Sonata No. 1 in D Minor, Opus 75 (1885)

Born October 9, 1835, Paris
Died December 16, 1921, Algiers

Saint-Saëns wrote his First Violin Sonata in 1885. At age 50, he was at the height of his powers. In that same year he wrote his Wedding Cake Waltz, and the following year he would write two of his most famous works: the “Organ” Symphony and the Carnival of the Animals. Although Saint-Saëns did not play the violin, he clearly understood the instrument–already he had written three violin concertos and the famous Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso; the Havanaise would follow two years later.

The structure of the sonata is unusual. It has four movements, but the first and second are connected, as are the third and fourth, dividing the sonata into two extended parts. Saint-Saëns’ marking for the opening movement–Allegro agitato–is important, for this truly is agitated music. Beneath its quiet surface, the movement feels constantly restless. Its opening theme, a rocking tune for violin, alternates meters, slipping between 6/8 and 9/8; perhaps some of the music’s air of restlessness comes from its failure to settle into a constant meter. The lyric second idea–a long, falling melody for violin–brings some relief, and the dramatic development treats both these themes. While the second movement is marked Adagio, it shares the restless mood of the first. The piano has the quiet main theme, but the music seems to be in continuous motion before coming to a quiet close.

The agreeable Allegretto moderato is the sonata’s scherzo. It dances gracefully, skittering easily between G major and G minor. At the center section, the violin has a haunting chorale tune over quietly-cascading piano arpeggios; as the movement comes to its close, Saint-Saëns skillfully twines together the chorale and the dancing opening theme and presents them simultaneously. Out of this calm, the concluding Allegro molto suddenly explodes–the violin takes off on the flurry of sixteenth-notes that will propel the finale on its dynamic way. This is by far the most extroverted of the movements, and it holds a number of surprises: a declamatory second theme high in the violin’s register and later a brief reminiscence of the lyric second theme of the opening movement. At the end, Saint-Saëns brings back the rush of sixteenth-notes and the sonata races to a close so brilliant that one almost expects to see sparks flying through the hall.

Musical Prelude 2 PM
Young artists from the San Diego Youth Symphony & Conservatory perform.

J.S. BACHVivace from Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor, BWV 1043 Ilana Hirschfeld, violin
Christian Gonzales, violin
MOZARTOboe Quartet in F Major, K.370/368b Laura Gilmore, oboe
Daniel Rim, violin
Nathan Rim, viola
Andrew Rim, vcello

Josef-SpacekJosef Špaček is fast emerging as one of the most accomplished violinists of his generation. He studied with Itzhak Perlman at The Juilliard School in New York, Ida Kavafian and Jaime Laredo at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and with Jaroslav Foltýn at the Prague Conservatory. He was laureate of the International Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, and won top prizes at the Michael Hill International Violin Competition in New Zealand, the Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition in Denmark and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York. In addition to his flourishing solo career, Josef Špaček has served as concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the youngest in its history. As soloist he makes guest appearances with orchestras across Europe, the US and Asia, such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Prague Philharmonia, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Essener Philharmoniker, Tonkünstlerorchester Niederösterreich, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI Torino, Orchestre National de Belgique, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony and Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

Bělohlávek, Jakub Hrůša, Christoph Eschenbach, Manfred Honeck, Asher Fisch, Roy Goodman, Eliahu Inbal, Jun Märkl, Thomas Søndergård, Giordano Bellincampi, Tomáš Netopil, Marco Angius and Rossen Milanov. Josef Špaček gives numerous recitals in Europe (including at the Rudolfinum in Prague, the Konzerthaus in Vienna and at Schloß Elmau), Asia and the USA (among others at the Kennedy Center, Washington D.C. and La Jolla, San Diego). In 2013 he released his debut recording on Supraphon, which includes works by Smetana, Janáček and Prokofiev. April 2015 saw the Supraphon release of his recordings of the violin concertos of Dvořák and Janáček, and of the Fantasy of Suk, with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek. In 2010 he recorded works by H.W. Ernst for Naxos. His first CD, which was released in 2006, includes a complete recording of the Sonatas for Solo Violin by Eugène Ysaÿe. Josef Špaček plays a violin made in 1855 in the workshop of Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume.

Josef Špaček last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Celebrity Orchestra Series on November 6, 2014.

Miroslav SekeraMiroslav Sekera ranks among the preeminent members of the young generation of Czech pianists. His exceptional talent was first spotted at the early age of three years by the distinguished educator, Professor Zdena Janžurová. Miroslav was a child prodigy who was ready to take up at that tender age, along with piano also the study of violin with Professors Zdenek Vyoral and Josef Novák. Very soon, he began to reap triumphs not only in concert appearances, but also in numerous junior performing competitions, as both pianist, violinist and chamber player. He then made an unforgettable experience which has remained imprinted in his memory to this day: namely, participation in the making of the marvelous film, Amadeus. As it happenned, the film's director, Miloš Forman, was looking for a child actor to impersonate Mozart in his early years. The six-years-old Mirek proved the ideal choice, thanks to his unique virtuoso skills at playing violin and piano. Those who have seen the movie will surely recall the little boy displaying incredible bravura performing spinet and violin blindfold...

Some time after that experience, Mirek found himself confronted with the definitive choice of the instrument on which to concentrate fully in his further study. The piano prevailed, and there followed years of study at the Basic Art School in Prague´s Voršilská Street, from where he advanced to the Prague Conservatory´s class of Professor Eva Boguniová, all through his studies there simultaneously frequenting also the class of Professor Martin Ballý. He then pursued his schooling at the Academy of Music in Prague, with Associate Professor Miroslav Langer. He graduated in 1999, as the Academy's best solo piano graduate.

While still studying at the two schools, in 1991, he won first prize in the Chopin Competition at Mariánské Lázne. In the following year, he received first prize from the conservatory students contest in Pardubice.

His many awards won in prestigious interpreting competitions at various points of his career have included first prize from the prestigious Chopin Competition at Mariánské Lázne (1991), first prize from the conservatory students contestin Pardubice(1992), first prize from the competition organized by the Prague Academy of Music (1999), where he also received a scholarship from Yamaha: as well as second prize from the international competition at Gaillard, France (2000), and first prize from the Johannes Brahms International Competition at Portschach, Austria (2002).

Miroslav Sekera makes concert appearances in the Czech Republic and on the international circuit, not only as an outstanding soloist, but likewise as a chamber ensemble player. Since his student years, he has given many full-length recitals in Prague, as well as in other venues in the Czech Republic and abroad. In 2006, he was released a solo CD by Multisonic support of Czech Music Foundation with parts J. Brahms, D. Scarlatti, M. Moszkovski. For contemporary Boston composer Joseph Summer recorded three CDs issued by record company Albany Records and Navona Records. In 2013 he recorded with violinist Josef Špacek CD for Supraphon. He regularly collaborates with Czech Radio. For the second time appeared as a soloist with the Symphony Orchestra FOK under the baton of Jirí Kout. He regularly collaborates with the mezzo-soprano Dagmar Pecková.

This performance marks Miroslav Sekera's La Jolla Music Society debut.

May 14 @ 3:00 pm
THE BEETHOVEN PIANO TRIOS: PART I @ MCASD Sherwood Auditorium | San Diego | California | United States

The Complete Beethoven Piano Trios: Part I

Wu Han, piano, Philip Setzer, violin & David Finckel, cello

Emerson String Quartet violinist Philip Setzer joins David Finckel and Wu Han, co-artistic directors of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, in the first of this two-performance chronological presentation of the complete Beethoven piano trio cycle.

Click here for PART II

Buy Tickets

Dinner Break: 5-7 PM

Special Dinner:
Between the performances please join us for dinner at The MED Patio at La Valencia Hotel

BEETHOVENPiano Trio in E-flat Major, Op. 1, No. 1 (1797-95)
Piano Trio in G Major, Op. 1, No. 2 (1794-95)
Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 1, No. 3 (1794-95)

Click here to view the complete May 2016 Program Book

PROGRAM NOTES: The Complete Beethoven Piano Trios: Part I

by Eric Bromberger


Listeners should not be deceived by these trios’ opus number, for they are by no means Beethoven’s first compositions. When Beethoven arrived in Vienna in 1792, he had already written many works under the supervision of his teachers in Bonn, including a piano concerto, an oboe concerto, a fragment of a violin concerto, a fragment of a symphony, and numerous chamber works. Most of these have disappeared, but their range and number suggest that Beethoven was far from a novice composer when he arrived in Vienna. And once settled in his adopted city, Beethoven studied with Haydn, Salieri, and Albrechtsberger, working for several years to refine his mastery of sonata form.

Beethoven was particularly anxious that the first work he published in Vienna–and the first work to which he assigned an opus number–should be successful. He chose for this first official publication a set of three piano trios on which he had worked for several years. They were published in July 1795, but all three had been performed before that: Beethoven was so eager for these trios to succeed that he had them performed while still in manuscript so that he could refine the work that would mark the beginning of his career. He dedicated the set to Prince Lichnowsky, his patron in Vienna. There is evidence that Lichnowsky–anxious himself for the young composer to succeed–secretly helped underwrite the publication costs so that Beethoven’s financial success in his first effort would be assured. Another major figure on the Viennese musical scene had a different reaction to the publication of these trios. Franz Joseph Haydn asked that Beethoven include the words “Pupil of Haydn” beneath his name on the trios’ title page. Beethoven’s feelings about the older master varied considerably across his lifetime. At this moment his relations with that older master were a little tender, and Beethoven brusquely refused the suggestion, exclaiming stormily to a friend that he “had never learned anything from [Haydn].”

The piano trio of Mozart and Haydn’s day was typically a brief work in three movements in a fast-slow-fast sequence. In the trios of those earlier masters, the piano usually had the musical interest, and the strings were often cast in subordinate roles. While Beethoven’s first trios are by no means revolutionary, one feels that he has already taken over the earlier form and tried to make it his own. He adds an extra movement–a scherzo–to each of these trios, and he expands the scope and development of the other movements to the point that they become large-scale works: the Trio in E-flat Major that opens this program lasts a full half-hour.

Piano Trio in E-flat Major, Opus 1, No. 1 (1794-95)

Born December 16, 1770, Bonn
Died March 26, 1827, Vienna

The opening Allegro of the Trio in E-flat Major leaps to life with an arpeggiated chord in the piano that will recur throughout the movement. The quiet second subject, played in unison by all three instruments, arrives quickly, and this sonata-form movement works through an extended development. The piano announces the opening theme of the Adagio cantabile, and in fact the piano–Beethoven’s own instrument–figures prominently throughout the trio. Here the piano’s line is florid, embellished with trills and turns. The center of the slow movement features some imaginative writing for the strings, whose long lines soar above steady piano accompaniment. Beethoven marks the third movement Scherzo, but formally it is not much different from the classical minuet-and-trio. Its most striking feature is the calm trio, where over sustained string chords the piano has quiet, bell-like cascades of notes; a brief coda brings the movement to a close. The piano’s bright octave leap opens the Finale, marked Presto. The most energetic of the movements, it features a dancing second subject built on three descending notes that is treated by each of the instruments in turn and developed throughout the movement.

Piano Trio in G Major, Opus 1, No. 2 (1794-95)

The Trio in G Major is the most genial of the set, quite different in mood from the Trio in C Minor that follows it. It opens with a slow introduction marked simply Adagio; the violin’s theme in the introduction will later serve as the main theme of the Allegro vivace, and the graceful second subject of this sonata-form movement is also announced by the violin. The Largo con espressione, frequently compared to the lyric slow movements of Schubert, begins with an extended passage for solo piano, soon joined by the strings; this opening episode forms the basis for the entire movement. The Scherzo, fairly restrained by Beethoven’s standards, is formally not much different from the classical minuet-and-trio; Beethoven appends a brief coda to bring the movement to a quiet close. The Presto finale rips along cheerfully on rapidly-repeated sixteenth-notes; a singing second subject provides variety but does not dampen the movement’s high spirits.

Piano Trio in C Minor, Opus 1, No. 3 (1794-95)

We have seen that when Beethoven refused to list himself as “Pupil of Haydn” when these trios were published, he claimed that he “had never learned anything from him.” But there was a further reason for Beethoven’s animosity toward Haydn at this point. The older composer had advised him to publish the first two trios, but to hold back the Trio in C Minor. Beethoven, who believed the Trio in C Minor the best of the set, suspected jealousy on Haydn’s part. Haydn later explained to Ferdinand Ries–apparently in all innocence and sincerity–that he believed the Trio in C Minor too advanced for audiences, but Beethoven bore the grudge for some time.

This trio is remarkable if for no other reason than that it is Beethoven’s first published work in C minor, the key that would call forth some of his most impassioned music: the Pathetique Sonata, the Fourth String Quartet, the Third Piano Concerto, the Funeral March of the Eroica, and the Fifth Symphony, to name only the best-known examples. This trio shares some of that same C-minor spirit. The Allegro con brio opens with an ominous theme for all three instruments in unison. Remarkably, Beethoven introduces the second theme immediately: it is heard in the tenth measure in the piano. The dramatic development treats both themes, often accompanied by showers of sixteenth-notes from the piano. The Andante cantabile con Variazioni is a set of five graceful variations on the piano’s noble opening theme; Beethoven appends a brief coda. The full title of the Menuetto Quasi Allegro is important, for it suggests that–in its rapid tempo–this minuet form is edging toward becoming a scherzo; the trio section belongs largely to the cello. The Finale: Prestissimo rushes along with the opening theme passed from violin to piano to cello. Rather than moving into a major key for the close, Beethoven keeps the movement firmly in C minor and provides an effective surprise by closing the work–which had been so full of turmoil–very quietly.

Lecture By Eric Bromberger
Beethoven at Opus 1

In May 1795 a set of three piano trios by the 24-year-old Beethoven were advertised, and appeared later that year as his official Opus 1. His first publication was a very carefully planned event, the product of a determined young composer and his equally-determined supporters. This lecture explores the three trios of Beethoven’s Opus 1: how they were written, the music itself, its reception in Vienna, and these trios’ place in Beethoven’s chamber music-and his career.

Philip-SetzerViolinist Philip Setzer is a founding member of the Emerson String Quartet, which has received nine Grammy Awards, three Gramophone Awards, and the coveted Avery Fisher Prize, and has performed cycles of the complete Beethoven, Bartók, and Shostakovich string quartets in the world's musical capitals, from New York to Vienna. The Noise of Time, a groundbreaking theater collaboration between the Emerson Quartet and Simon McBurney--about the life of Shostakovich--was based on an original idea of Mr. Setzer's.

As a soloist, he has appeared on several occasions with The Cleveland Orchestra, with the Aspen Chamber Orchestra, and also with the National, Memphis, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Omaha and Anchorage Symphonies. In 1976, Philip Setzer won a bronze medal at the Queen Elisabeth International Competition in Brussels. He has also participated in the Marlboro Music Festival.

Mr. Setzer is a tenured Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at Stony Brook University and has given master classes at schools around the world. He has been a regular faculty member of the Isaac Stern Chamber Music Workshops at Carnegie Hall and the Jerusalem Music Center. His article about those workshops appeared in The New York Times on the occasion of Isaac Stern’s 80th birthday celebration in 2001.

Mr. Setzer studied violin with Josef Gingold and Rafael Druian, at The Juilliard School with Oscar Shumsky, and also studied chamber music with Robert Mann and Felix Galimir.

Philip Setzer last performed for La Jolla Music Society in SummerFest, 2015.

FrinckelAndHanCellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han, Musical America’s 2012 Musicians of the Year, rank among the most esteemed and influential classical musicians in the world today. The talent, energy, imagination, and dedication they bring to their multifaceted endeavors as concert performers, recording artists, educators, artistic administrators, and cultural entrepreneurs go unmatched. In high demand year after year among chamber music audiences worldwide, the duo has appeared each season at the most prestigious venues and concert series across the United States and around the world to unanimous critical acclaim. For thirty-four years, David Finckel served as cellist of the Grammy Award-winning Emerson String Quartet.

David Finckel and Wu Han’s wide-ranging musical innovations include the launch of ArtistLed (, classical music’s first musician-directed and Internet-based recording company, whose catalogue of sixteen albums has won widespread critical acclaim. David Finckel and Wu Han are the founding Artistic Directors of Music@Menlo, a chamber music festival and institute in Silicon Valley soon to celebrate its twelfth season, and have served as Artistic Directors of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 2004. In 2011, David Finckel and Wu Han were named Artistic Directors of Chamber Music Today, an annual festival held in Korea, and David Finckel was recently named Artistic Director and honoree of the Mendelssohn Fellowship, which identifies young Korean musicians and promotes chamber music in Korea.

In these capacities, as well as through a multitude of other education initiatives, such as their newly created chamber music studio at Aspen Music Festival and School, they have achieved universal renown for their passionate commitment to nurturing the careers of countless young artists. David Finckel and Wu Han reside in New York.

For more information, please visit

David Finckel and Wu Han last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Revelle Chamber Music Series on April 26, 2014.

May 14 @ 8:00 pm
THE BEETHOVEN PIANO TRIOS: PART II @ MCASD Sherwood Auditorium | San Diego | California | United States

The Complete Beethoven Piano Trios: Part II

Wu Han, piano, Philip Setzer, violin & David Finckel, cello

Emerson String Quartet violinist Philip Setzer joins David Finckel and Wu Han, co-artistic directors of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, in the second part of this two-performance chronological presentation of the complete Beethoven piano trio cycle.

Click here for PART I

Buy Tickets

Dinner Break: 5-7 PM

Special Dinner:
Between the performances please join us for dinner at The MED Patio at La Valencia Hotel

BEETHOVENPiano Trio in D-flat Major, Op. 70, No. 1 “Ghost” (1808)
Piano Trio in E-flat Major, Op. 70, No. 2 (1808)
Piano Trio in B-flat Major, Op. 97 “Archduke” (1810-11)

Click here to view the complete May 2016 Program Book

PROGRAM NOTES: The Complete Beethoven Piano Trios: Part II

by Eric Bromberger


During the years 1807-8, Beethoven composed some of his most dramatic orchestral music. From early 1807 came the Coriolan Overture, the Mass in C Major was composed that summer, and during the fall and winter Beethoven was occupied with the Fifth Symphony. Once the Fifth was complete, he proceeded immediately to the Sixth Symphony and worked on that through the summer of 1808. With these mighty works behind him, Beethoven appears to have needed a break. He took leave of orchestral music and turned to the smaller canvases of chamber music, composing the two piano trios of Opus 70 and a cello sonata in the fall of 1808; the “Harp” Quartet followed the next year. Beethoven dedicated the two trios of Opus 70 to Countess Anna Maria Erdödy and–despite failing hearing–took part in performances of them at her home during the Christmas season in 1808.

Piano Trio in D Major, Opus 70, No. 1 “Ghost” (1808)

Born December 16, 1770, Bonn
Died March 26, 1827, Vienna

The exact source of the nickname “Ghost” for this trio is unknown, but it clearly refers to the middle movement, a striking Largo in D minor. This is dark, almost murky music–the piano murmurs a complex accompaniment while the strings twist and extend bits of melody above it. This unusual music (Beethoven rarely marked a movement Largo) has excited a great deal of curiosity about its inspiration. One possibility is particularly intriguing.

Beethoven had worked on his opera Leonore (later renamed Fidelio) from 1804 until 1806. It had not achieved success, and–anxious to try another opera–Beethoven explored many possible subjects. One of these was Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and he and the playwright Heinrich Collin went so far as to discuss a libretto. In fact, Beethoven actually began work on the music for Macbeth, for there are sketches in D minor marked “Macbeth.” Nothing ever came of them, though the idea of an opera based on this play continued to fascinate Beethoven, even in his final years.

But on the same sheet that contains the sketches for Macbeth are the first sketches for the Largo assai ed espressivo movement of this trio, also in D minor. Whether this somber and brooding music, written in 1808, grew out of Beethoven’s projected music for Macbeth cannot be known for sure, but the connection–however distant–is clearly there, and this movement may be our one hint as to what Beethoven’s music for that tragedy might have been like. Surely it is not too great a leap to imagine this music in conjunction with the witches or Macbeth’s dark final days.

Beethoven frames this remarkable Largo with two fast movements, both in radiant D major. The middle movement is so powerful that the outer movements seem a little light by comparison, and some observers have gone so far as to suggest that they should be seen as prelude and postlude to the Largo. The Allegro vivace e con brio opens with a pithy rhythmic figure that recurs throughout the movement and finally brings it to a close. The main theme is a flowing, elegant idea heard first in the cello and quickly passed between all three instruments. This theme dominates the opening movement, giving it an atmosphere of easy expansiveness. The concluding Presto sounds innocent after the grim pizzicato strokes that end the Largo. It offers long melodic lines, a graceful partnership between the instruments, and a smooth flow of good-spirited music throughout.

Piano Trio in E-flat Major, Opus 70, No. 2 (1808)

The Trio in E-flat Major has been much admired, and with good reason. Some have claimed that in this trio Beethoven consciously wrote thematic material in the manner of Haydn and Mozart and then treated it in his own mature style–the music thus combines the elegance and restraint of an earlier era with Beethoven’s own powerful sense of form and musical evolution. Beyond this, the music is distinctive for its gentleness and for Beethoven’s many structural innovations.

The first movement opens with a stately and poised Poco sostenuto introduction, with the three instruments making terraced entrances. This reaches a moment of repose, and violin and cello announce the leaping, graceful main theme of the Allegro ma non troppo, which is soon followed by a flowing second idea. The development, marked by a series of swirling trills from all three instruments, is exceptionally gentle, and Beethoven continually reminds the performers that their playing should be dolce. The ending is remarkable: instead of a mighty recapitulation, Beethoven brings back the music of the introduction, and the movement comes to its quiet close as the Allegro theme gradually dissolves.

Beethoven’s choice of tempos for the inner movements is surprising: instead of making a defined contrast between a slow movement and a fast one, he instead writes two Allegretto movements. The hopping four-note figure heard in the piano at the very beginning of the first Allegretto will dominate this genial movement, either whispered in the background, stamped out vigorously, or simply implied. The third movement is marked Allegretto ma non troppo, and Beethoven’s performance markings are noteworthy: once again he constantly reminds all three instruments to play dolce, and at some points his dynamic indication is ppp, a marking he rarely used. The form of this movement is quite original: it is built on its flowing opening idea and a chordal melody offered as statement-and-answer by strings and piano; Beethoven simply alternates these sections as the movement proceeds. Particularly striking here is the contrast between the elegant string lines and the harmonic pungency of the piano’s transition passages. The seemingly easy-going Finale: Allegro, in sonata form, is built on a wealth of quite different ideas; Beethoven gradually pulls these together in a lengthy coda and drives the trio to a sonorous close.

Piano Trio in B-flat Major, Opus 97 “Archduke” (1810-11)

The archduke of this trio’s nickname was Archduke Rudolph von Hapsburg, youngest brother of Emperor Franz. Rudolph studied piano and composition with Beethoven, beginning about 1804, when he was 16. A contemporary portrait shows a young man with fair hair and the full Hapsburg lips; he appears to have been blessed with a sense of humor. Beethoven remained fond of Rudolph, who was destined for the church, throughout his life; it was for Rudolph’s elevation to archbishop that Beethoven composed the Missa Solemnis, and he dedicated a number of his greatest works to Rudolph, including the Fourth and Fifth Piano Concertos, the Hammerklavier Sonata, and the Grosse Fuge, as well as this trio. For his part, Rudolph became one of Beethoven’s most generous and reliable patrons, furnishing him with a substantial annuity for many years and maintaining a collection of his manuscripts. Rudolph, however, did not long survive his teacher–he died in 1831 at age 43.

Beethoven sketched this trio in 1810 and composed it during March 1811, shortly before beginning work on his Seventh and Eighth Symphonies. He was 40 years old and nearing the end of the great burst of creativity that has come to be known as his “Heroic Style,” the period that began with the Eroica in 1803 and ended in about 1812 with the Eighth Symphony. Beethoven was growing increasingly deaf at this time–an unsuccessful performance of the “Archduke” Trio in 1814 was his final public appearance as a pianist–and he would soon enter the six-year period of relative inactivity as a composer that preceded his late style.

The “Archduke” Trio seems well-named, for there is something noble about this music, something grand about its spacious proportions and breadth of spirit. At a length of nearly 45 minutes, it is longer than most of Beethoven’s symphonies, but–unlike the symphonies–this trio is quite relaxed: it makes its way not by unleashing furious energy to fight musical battles but by spinning long, lyric melodic lines. It is as if Beethoven is showing that there is more than one way to write heroic music.

The nobility of this music is evident from the opening instant of the Allegro moderato, where the piano quickly establishes the music’s easy stride (it is characteristic of this music that both outer movements should be marked Allegro moderato rather than the expected Allegro). The piano also introduces the slightly square second theme, and this sonata-form movement develops easily over its lengthy span. Strings open the huge Scherzo, with the piano quickly picking up their theme. Particularly striking here is the trio section–its deep chromatic wanderings alternate with an exuberant waltz and furnish the material for the coda.

The gorgeous Andante cantabile is a set of variations on the piano’s expressive opening subject. These variations proceed by making this simple melody more and more complex: the music appears blacker and blacker on the pages of the score before it falls back to end quietly, proceeding without pause to the concluding Allegro moderato. Full of energy, this rondo-finale is also full of good humor and imaginative rhythms. The music flies to its close on a coda marked Presto.

Lecture with Erica Bromberger
The end of the Heroic Style

Beethoven’s Heroic Style burst to life with the Eroica Symphony of 1803 and he transformed Classical Style into the platform for some of the most intense music ever written. But over the following decade, those furies began to abate, and the three trios on this program, composed in 1808-11, show a relaxation of the Heroic Style. This lecture discusses these three trios, written at a moment when Beethoven’s music was beginning once again to look to the future.

Philip-SetzerViolinist Philip Setzer is a founding member of the Emerson String Quartet, which has received nine Grammy Awards, three Gramophone Awards, and the coveted Avery Fisher Prize, and has performed cycles of the complete Beethoven, Bartók, and Shostakovich string quartets in the world's musical capitals, from New York to Vienna. The Noise of Time, a groundbreaking theater collaboration between the Emerson Quartet and Simon McBurney--about the life of Shostakovich--was based on an original idea of Mr. Setzer's.

As a soloist, he has appeared on several occasions with The Cleveland Orchestra, with the Aspen Chamber Orchestra, and also with the National, Memphis, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Omaha and Anchorage Symphonies. In 1976, Philip Setzer won a bronze medal at the Queen Elisabeth International Competition in Brussels. He has also participated in the Marlboro Music Festival.

Mr. Setzer is a tenured Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at Stony Brook University and has given master classes at schools around the world. He has been a regular faculty member of the Isaac Stern Chamber Music Workshops at Carnegie Hall and the Jerusalem Music Center. His article about those workshops appeared in The New York Times on the occasion of Isaac Stern’s 80th birthday celebration in 2001.

Mr. Setzer studied violin with Josef Gingold and Rafael Druian, at The Juilliard School with Oscar Shumsky, and also studied chamber music with Robert Mann and Felix Galimir.

Philip Setzer last performed for La Jolla Music Society in SummerFest, 2015.

FrinckelAndHanCellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han, Musical America’s 2012 Musicians of the Year, rank among the most esteemed and influential classical musicians in the world today. The talent, energy, imagination, and dedication they bring to their multifaceted endeavors as concert performers, recording artists, educators, artistic administrators, and cultural entrepreneurs go unmatched. In high demand year after year among chamber music audiences worldwide, the duo has appeared each season at the most prestigious venues and concert series across the United States and around the world to unanimous critical acclaim. For thirty-four years, David Finckel served as cellist of the Grammy Award-winning Emerson String Quartet.

David Finckel and Wu Han’s wide-ranging musical innovations include the launch of ArtistLed (, classical music’s first musician-directed and Internet-based recording company, whose catalogue of sixteen albums has won widespread critical acclaim. David Finckel and Wu Han are the founding Artistic Directors of Music@Menlo, a chamber music festival and institute in Silicon Valley soon to celebrate its twelfth season, and have served as Artistic Directors of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 2004. In 2011, David Finckel and Wu Han were named Artistic Directors of Chamber Music Today, an annual festival held in Korea, and David Finckel was recently named Artistic Director and honoree of the Mendelssohn Fellowship, which identifies young Korean musicians and promotes chamber music in Korea.

In these capacities, as well as through a multitude of other education initiatives, such as their newly created chamber music studio at Aspen Music Festival and School, they have achieved universal renown for their passionate commitment to nurturing the careers of countless young artists. David Finckel and Wu Han reside in New York.

For more information, please visit

David Finckel and Wu Han last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Revelle Chamber Music Series on April 26, 2014.

May 21 @ 8:00 pm
MOZART GROUP @ MCASD Sherwood Auditorium | San Diego | California | United States

MozART group

Don’t let their prestigious musical education and expert musicianship fool you. Laugh out loud at the MozART group’s witty musical interpretations and unpredictable stage antics.

Made up of musicians from prestigious Academies of Music in Warsaw and
Łódz, MozART group sells out stadiums in Europe and are YouTube sensations with more than 10 million hits. Their performances not only rival the comedic brilliance of the late, great Victor Borge, but they are all first-class musicians, each funny, silly and sweet in their own way.

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Works to be announced from stage


MozartGroup"We exist despite the sober formality of great concert halls, despite the boredom of classical musicians' life, despite fanatic lovers of classical music, despite fans of rock, rap or pop who are afraid of classical music. We treat our Muse with a humorous irony and we're sure, she will have nothing against it!" MozART group

All four gentlemen of the MozART group are well educated instrumentalists who graduated from prestigious Academies of Music in Warsaw and Łódz, but they decided to play classical music in a humorous way. The MozART group created a worldwide unique musical cabaret, where the music, not the words are the source of joy and laugh. Take a classical composition as canvas, analyze its structure and theme, surround it with musical associations, brilliant, outstanding ideas and while listening to the final product the listener is constantly surprised, amazed, laughing and moved to tears.

The musicians of the MozART group have been playing together since 1995. At the beginning, they presented short musical jokes on Canal Plus Television and gave their first debut in 1997 at the PAKA competition of young Polish cabarets in Krakow. In the same year, they presented their first cabaret program entitled "Mozart's still alive" and since then, they have given concerts in all of Europe, Canada, the U.S.A and Asia. The quartet also performances with colleagues around the world including shows with the mime Irek Krosny or the multitalent Bobby McFerrin.

The MozART group is a frequent TV guest including international galas and concerts. The quartet received prestigious prizes like the Grand Prix of the XVIII Festival of Satire and Comedy in Lidzbark; "Pingwin z brazu" (the Bronze Penguin) - the prize given by the cabaret community of Zielona Gora, an informal capitol of Polish cabaret and two GOLDEN TROUGHS at the RYJEK Festival in Rybnik/Poland. In July 2010 the MozART group was awarded a special prize from the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Poland for outstanding achievements and 15 years on stage. The 31st European Humor Festival GAGY in Slovakia awarded the MozART group with the 2011 GRAND PRIX. In March 2013 the MozART group was awarded all three main prizes at the 10th "Festival des Artes Burlesques" in St.Etienne/France: the Grand Prix of the Jury, the Audience Award and the Press Award.

The first show of the group, in which they took Antonio Vivaldi as their patron, was entitled "The Four Seasons à la MozART group". Similar subtitle has their CD "Creatures" where each of the seasons begins the same way as Vivaldi's compositions. Later on, however, it runs freely in the direction of various world songs about spring, summer, autumn and winter. This show provides the listener with over 70 minutes of a sophisticated, perfectly arranged, sublime fun! In 2008 & 2009 two DVDs of the MozART group were released with great success and got a huge attention in Poland and abroad. The "Best of MozART group" DVD was released in February 2010. Two further DVDs followed in 2011 and 2012.

2011 marked a very important artistic year for the quartet. Within seven months The MozART group visited 24 countries, 4 continents, performing more than 150 public and exclusive shows. The quartet made its debuts in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Latvia, Turkey, Mexico, Costa Rica, U.S.A., Estonia, Slovakia, Portugal and France. In October 2012, the MozART group performed for the first time in Moscow and performed again at the Svetlanov Hall in December 2013. In 2013 the quartet visited China for the first time performing with great succes at the sould out NCPA in Beijing, the SHOAC in Shanghai and six other venues and cities. 2013 ended successfully with eight shows in Germany at the most important venues of the country like the Musikhalle Hamburg, Gasteig Munich, Tonhalle Düsseldorf.

Starting in January, the 2014 tour list will contain shows in Germany, France, Hungary, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Macedonia, Czech Republic, Austria, South Korea, Brazil, Turkey, Switzerland, China, Canada and the U.S.A.. 2015 will start with a tour in Germany and lead the quartet to over 30 countries again.

MozART group last performed for La Jolla Music Society on March 8, 2012.

Oct 6 @ 8:00 pm
JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER ORCHESTRA WITH WYNTON MARSALIS @ Balboa Theatre | San Diego | California | United States

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
with Wynton Marsalis

Under the leadership of nine-time Grammy® Award-winner Wynton Marsalis, this world-renowned orchestra opens La Jolla Music Society’s 2016-17 Season. Combining the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players, Jazz at Lincoln Center returns to San Diego for a celebratory opening to La Jolla Music Society’s 48th Season.

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Prior to the performance please join us for Happy Hour at The Westgate Hotel.

Click here to view the complete October 2016 Program Book

Program to be Announced from the Stage
There will be No Intermission

Wynton Marsalis, music director, trumpet
Greg Gisbert, trumpet
Kenny Rampton, trumpet
Marcus Printup, trumpet
Vincent Gardner, trombone
Chris Crenshaw, trombone
Elliot Mason, trombone
Sherman Irby, alto & soprano saxophones, flute, clarinet
Ted Nash, alto & soprano saxophones, flute, clarinet
Victor Goines, tenor & soprano saxophones, clarinet, bass clarinet
Walter Blanding, tenor & soprano saxophones, clarinet
Paul Nedzela, baritone & soprano saxophones, bass clarinet
Dan Nimmer, piano
Carlos Henriquez, bass
Ali Jackson, drums

WyntonMarsalisWynton Marsalis is an internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, educator and a leading advocate of American culture. He is the world’s first jazz artist to perform and compose across the full jazz spectrum from its New Orleans roots to bebop to modern jazz. By creating and performing an expansive range of brilliant new music for quartets to big bands, chamber music ensembles to symphony orchestras, tap dance to ballet, Wynton has expanded the vocabulary for jazz and created a vital body of work that places him among the world’s finest musicians and composers.

Wynton was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 18, 1961, to Ellis and Dolores Marsalis, the second of six sons. At age eight Wynton performed traditional New Orleans music in the Fairview Baptist Church band and at 14 he performed with the New Orleans Philharmonic, New Orleans Symphony Brass Quintet, New Orleans Community Concert Band, New Orleans Youth Orchestra, New Orleans Symphony, various jazz bands and with the popular local funk band, the Creators.

At age 17 Wynton became the youngest musician ever to be admitted to Tanglewood’s Berkshire Music Center. Despite his youth, he was awarded the school’s prestigious Harvey Shapiro Award for outstanding brass student. Wynton moved to New York City to attend Juilliard in 1979. In 1980 Wynton seized the opportunity to join the Jazz Messengers to study under master drummer and bandleader Art Blakey. It was from Blakey that Wynton acquired his concept for bandleading and for bringing intensity to each and every performance. In the years to follow Wynton performed with Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, Sweets Edison, Clark Terry, Sonny Rollins, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and countless other jazz legends. Wynton assembled his own band in 1981 and hit the road, performing over 120 concerts every year for 15 consecutive years. With the power of his superior musicianship, the infectious sound of his swinging bands and an exhaustive series of performances and music workshops, Marsalis rekindled widespread interest in jazz throughout the world. Students of Marsalis’ workshops include: James Carter, Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, Harry Connick Jr., Nicholas Payton, Eric Reed and Eric Lewis, to name a few.

At the age of 20, Wynton recorded the Haydn, Hummel and Leopold Mozart trumpet concertos. His debut recording received glorious reviews and won the Grammy Award® for “Best Classical Soloist with an Orchestra.” Marsalis went on to record 10 additional classical records, all to critical acclaim. Wynton performed with leading orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Pops, The Cleveland Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra and London’s Royal Philharmonic, working with an eminent group of conductors including: Leppard, Dutoit, Maazel, Slatkin, Salonen and Tilson-Thomas. Famed classical trumpeter Maurice André praised Wynton as “potentially the greatest trumpeter of all time.”

To date Wynton has produced over 70 records which have sold over seven million copies worldwide including three Gold Records. Marsalis’ rich and expansive body of music places him among the world’s most significant composers. He has been commissioned to create new music for several dance companies including: Garth Fagan, Peter Martins at the New York City Ballet, Twyla Tharp with the American Ballet Theatre, Judith Jamison at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, and Savion Glover. Marsalis collaborated with the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society in 1995 to compose the string quartet At The Octoroon Balls, and again in 1998 to create a response to Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale with his composition A Fiddler’s Tale. With his collection of standards arrangements (Standard Time Volumes I-VI), Wynton reconnected audiences with the beauty of the American popular song. He re-introduced the joy in New Orleans jazz with his recording The Majesty Of The Blues. He extended the jazz musician’s interplay with the blues in Levee Low Moan, Thick In The South and other blues recordings. With Citi Movement, In This House On This Morning and Blood On The Fields, Wynton invented a fresh conception for extended form compositions. His inventive interplay with melody, harmony and rhythm, along with his lyrical voicing and tonal coloring assert new possibilities for the jazz ensemble. The New York Times Magazine said Blood On The Fields marked the symbolic moment when the full heritage of the line, Ellington through Mingus, was extended into the present.”

The San Francisco Examiner stated, “Marsalis’ orchestral arrangements are magnificent. Duke Ellington’s shadings and themes come and go but Marsalis’ free use of dissonance, counter rhythms and polyphonics is way ahead of Ellington’s mid-century era.” Wynton extended his achievements in Blood On The Fields with All Rise, an epic composition for big band, gospel choir, and symphony orchestra which was performed by the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Kurt Masur along with the Morgan State University Choir and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (December 1999). Marsalis collaborated with Ghanaian master drummer Yacub Addy to create Congo Square, a groundbreaking composition combining elegant harmonies from America’s jazz tradition with fundamental rituals in African percussion and vocals (2006). For the anniversary of the Abyssinian Baptist Church’s 200th year of service, Marsalis blended Baptist choir cadences with blues accents and big band swing rhythms to compose Abyssinian 200: A Celebration, which was performed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Abyssinian’s 100 voice choir before packed houses in New York City (May 2008). In the fall of 2009 the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra premiered Marsalis’ composition Blues Symphony. Marsalis further expanded his repertoire for symphony orchestra with Swing Symphony, premiered by the renowned Berlin Philharmonic in June 2010. The New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Barbican have all signed on to perform Swing Symphony.

In the fall of 1995 Wynton launched two major PBS broadcast events: Marsalis On Music, an educational television series on jazz and classical music, and the 26-week series entitled Making the Music. These entertaining and insightful radio shows were the first full exposition of jazz music in American broadcast history. Wynton’s radio and television series were awarded the most prestigious distinction in broadcast journalism, the George Foster Peabody Award. Marsalis has also written five books: Sweet Swing Blues on the Road, Jazz in the Bittersweet Blues of Life, To a Young Musician: Letters from the Road, Jazz ABZ, and his most recent release Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life.

Wynton Marsalis has won nine Grammy Awards® and in 1983 he became the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards® for both jazz and classical records. He repeated the distinction by winning jazz and classical Grammy Awards® again in 1984. Today Wynton is the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards® in five consecutive years (1983-1987). Honorary degrees have been conferred upon Wynton by over 25 of America’s leading academic institutions including Columbia, Harvard, Howard, Princeton and Yale. Time magazine selected Wynton as one of America’s most promising leaders under age 40 in 1995, and in 1996 Time celebrated Marsalis as one of America’s 25 most influential people. In November 2005 Wynton Marsalis received The National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the United States Government. In 1997 Wynton Marsalis became the first jazz musician ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his epic oratorio Blood On The Fields. During the five preceding decades the Pulitzer Prize jury refused to recognize jazz musicians and their improvisational music, reserving this distinction for classical composers. In the years following Marsalis’ award, the Pulitzer Prize for Music has been awarded posthumously to Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane.

Wynton’s creativity has been celebrated throughout the world. He won the Netherlands’ Edison Award and the Grand Prix Du Disque of France. The Mayor of Vitoria, Spain, awarded Wynton with the city’s Gold Medal – its most coveted distinction. Britain’s senior conservatoire, the Royal Academy of Music, granted Mr. Marsalis Honorary Membership, the Academy’s highest decoration for a non-British citizen (1996). The city of Marciac, France, erected a bronze statue in his honor. The French Ministry of Culture appointed Wynton the rank of Knight in the Order of Arts and Literature and in the fall of 2009 Wynton received France’s highest distinction, the insignia Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, an honor that was first awarded by Napoleon Bonaparte.

In 1987 Wynton Marsalis co-founded, and became Artistic Director for Jazz at Lincoln Center and Music Director for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. In July 1996, due to its significant success, Jazz at Lincoln Center was installed as new constituent of Lincoln Center, equal in stature with the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, and New York City Ballet - a historic moment for jazz as an art form and for Lincoln Center as a cultural institution. In October 2004, with the assistance of a dedicated Board and staff, Marsalis opened Frederick P. Rose Hall, the world’s first institution for jazz. Under Wynton’s leadership, Jazz at Lincoln Center has developed an international agenda presenting rich and diverse programming that includes concerts, debates, film forums, dances, television and radio broadcasts, and educational activities.

Wynton Marsalis has devoted his life to uplifting populations worldwide with the egalitarian spirit of jazz. Immediately following Hurricane Katrina, Wynton organized the Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Concert and raised over $3 million for musicians and cultural organizations impacted by the hurricane. At the same time, he assumed a leadership role on the Bring Back New Orleans Cultural Commission where he was instrumental in shaping a master plan that would revitalize the city’s cultural base. Wynton Marsalis has selflessly donated his time and talent to non-profit organizations throughout the country to raise money to meet the many needs within our society. From My Sister’s Place (a shelter for battered women) to Graham Windham (a shelter for homeless children), the Children’s Defense Fund, Amnesty International, the Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute, Food For All Seasons (a food bank for the elderly and disadvantaged), Very Special Arts (provides experiences in dance, drama, literature, and music for individuals with physical and mental disabilities) to the Newark Boys Chorus School (an academic music school for disadvantaged youths) and many, many more. It is Wynton Marsalis’ commitment to the improvement of life for all people that portrays the best of his character and humanity.

Wynton Marsalis last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Jazz Series on March 15, 2014

Jazz at Lincoln Center OrchestraThe Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra is comprised of 15 of the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players today. This remarkably versatile orchestra performs and leads educational events in New York, across the U.S. and around the globe. Under Music Director Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra spends over a third of the year on tour. The big band performs a vast repertoire, from rare historic compositions to Jazz at Lincoln Center-commissioned works, including compositions by Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie.

Over the last few years, the orchestra has performed collaborations with many of the world’s leading symphony orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Russian National Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Television broadcasts of Jazz at Lincoln Center programs have helped broaden the awareness of its unique efforts in the music. The orchestra was featured in a production of Great Performances entitled “Swingin’ with Duke: Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis,” which aired on PBS in 1999.

The Orchestra of Jazz at Lincoln Center last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Jazz Series on March 15, 2014

Oct 7 @ 8:00 pm
OMARA PORTUONDO 85 TOUR @ Balboa Theatre | San Diego | California | United States

From Buena Vista Social Club:
Omara Portuondo 85th Anniversary Tour

Special Guests Roberto Fonseca,
Anat Cohen & Regina Carter

Embodying the musical spirit of the original Havana club and encapsulating Cuba’s “musical golden age,” Buena Vista Social Club’s leading lady Omara Portuondo headlines this 85th Anniversary Tour. A legendary vocalist who has been singing professionally for an incredible 70 years, the great Cuban Diva Omara Portuondo’s voice reflects a long, creative life and passion for music.

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Click here to view the complete October 2016 Program Book

Program to be Announced from the Stage
There will be No Intermission

Omara Portuondo, vocals
Roberto Fonseca, piano, keyboards, vocals
Anat Cohen, clarinet & saxophone
Regina Carter, violin
Ramses “Dinamite” Rodriguez, drums
Andras Coayo, percussion
Yandy Martinez, bass

As Cuban revolutions go, it was an entirely peaceable uprising – but its impact could not have been more profound. On the release of the Buena Vista Social Club™ album in 1997, few outside the specialist world music audience initially took much notice of the record’s elegantly sculpted tunes and warm, acoustic rhythms. Then something extraordinary occurred. The album was spectacularly reviewed by a few discerning critics, but although their words of praise did Buena Vista’s cause no harm, they cannot explain what subsequently happened. Good reviews create an early surge in sales, but unless it’s a big pop release sustained by an expensive TV advertising campaign, the established pattern is that interest then slowly tails off. Instead, Buena Vista’s sales figures kept steadily rising week by week, building almost entirely by word-of-mouth until it achieved critical mass: all who heard the record not only fell in love with Buena Vista’s irresistible magic, but were then inspired to play or recommend the album to everyone they knew. It was one of those rare records that transcended the vagaries of fad and fashion to sound timeless but utterly fresh. Once you heard it, you had to have a heart of stone not to be swept away by the music’s romantic impulses and uninhibited exuberance.

Omara PortuondoAs a result of this renewed popularity, Omara Portuondo experienced one of her most fertile and successful periods. After a solo world tour in 2002, in the autumn of the same year, she performed at the Japan Jazz Festival, accompanied by Michael Brecker, Herbie Hancock, John Patitucci, Wayne Shorter and Danilo Pérez. In 2003, she returned to European soil to take part in the legendary Glastonbury Festival before going on to perform in Canada and the USA in autumn, leading a band which included such heavyweights as Papi Oviedo on the Tres, Rolando Baro on piano and Fabián García on the double-bass.

That same year, Omara went back to the studio to record her second solo album for World Circuit. The producers were Nick Gold and Alê Siquiera, a respected Brazilian producer well-known for his work with Carlinhos Brown, Caetano Veloso and Tribalistas, winners of a Latin GrammyTM . The technical team was complemented by two renowned professionals, engineer Jerry Boys and Cuban musician and arranger Demetrio Muñiz.

Flor de Amor (World Circuit) signals a change in direction in Omara Portuondo’s career: it is an album marked by a more subtle sound and a richness of texture. Omara brought in a mixture of Cuban and Brazilian musicians for this album, and it is this factor which influences the particular style of the music. Never one to sleep on laurels, Omara returned to Europe in 2004 to promote this album, which she performed at such illustrious venues as the North Sea Jazz Festival, Marble Hill House in London, Olympia in Paris and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. That same summer, Omara gave the first concert at Berlin’s legendary Gendarmenmarkt, within the series of concerts “Open-air Classics”. Before an audience of 7,000 people and accompanied by 68 musicians – among whom were members of the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg Symphonic Orchestra, conducted by Scott Lawton – and escorted by such a special guest and friend as Ibrahim Ferrer, it was an unforgettable night which signalled the start of a new, ambitious world tour, the Projecto Especial Sinfónico, which in 2006 led to performances in the most important classical music festivals and theatres.

Before 2004 had come to a close, Omara received two great surprises: in Montreaux, the International Red Cross appointed her International Ambassador, making her the first Cuban artist to achieve such a distinction; and Flor de amor was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Traditional Tropical Record category. This was not, however, the only accolade that the record was to receive. In the 16th edition of theBillboard Latin Music Awards, in 2005, Flor de amor obtained the Tropical Record of the Year award in the female category.

In 2006, Omara continued along the same lines that have characterized her work in recent years. Indeed, her deep-rooted social conscience led her to establish the Fundación de Amigos de Omara in Cancun to provide support to women from all over the world who are the victims of the social and economic circumstances that affect developing countries. Moreover, she kept up her intense musical activity with concerts in Latin America, Asia and Europe, among these one of very special significance for her: the performance in Barcelona which brought her together with Mayte Martín and Martirio in the show “Entre Amigas” and in which she paid tribute to her idol, Ibrahim Ferrer, whom she also honored with the songs “Casablanca” and “Killing Me Softly”, songs which she and Ferrer sang together on Rhythms del Mundo (Universal) and in which several Cuban artists joined rock groups to play numbers by Radiohead, U2 or Sting, to name a few.

And, while in 2006 she was able to work with two figures of the Spanish music scene, 2007 was the year in which she joined forces with one of the legends of Brazilian music, the singer Maria Bethânia. The two of them worked on recordings in Rio de Janeiro, with both Cuban and Brazilian musicians such as pianist Roberto Fonseca and the Brazilians Carlos Baia and Jorge Hélder, and under the close attention of producers Swami Jr (Omara’s current musical director) and Jaime Alem (Bethânia’s current music director).

Finally, we come to 2008, a year which Omara started with a tour alongside Bethânia and continued with Gracias (Montuno Producciones), the record marked her sixtieth year in the music business. Recorded in Havana and produced by the Brazilians Alê Siquiera (who also produced her last record) and Swami Jr, what better way to celebrate such an auspicious occasion than to recruit a first-class quintet? Indeed, Omara’s career is one full of exceptional talent and the careers of the musicians that are to take part in this celebration are no less impressive: the three musicians that Omara has worked with in the past – pianist Roberto Fonseca, guitarist and musical director Swami Jr and percussionist Andrés Coayo – and the two musicians who will be debuting alongside “the girlfriend of feeling”, the Israeli double bassist Avishai Cohen and the Hindu percussionist Trilok Gurtu.

With Gracias, Omara’s aim is to relive the numbers that she has found most moving and to work with the songwriters she most admires, such as Silvio Rodríguez, Pablo Milanés and Jorge Drexler, the latter being the composer of the record’s title song, specially dedicated to Omara. These are not, however, the only star guests at this event. If the list were not already impressive enough, other great names will also be present: Chucho Valdés, who performs a number composed by Omara’s son; the brilliant African musician, Richard Bona; and the Brazilian maestro, Chico Buarque. In 2009, Omara performed Gracias on stage in a series of concerts in which she reviewed her singing career, accompanied by six musicians.

This performance makes Omara Portuondo's La Jolla Music Society debut

Anat CohenClarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen has won hearts and minds the world over with her expressive virtuosity and delightful stage presence. Reviewing one of Anat’s headlining sets with her quartet at the North See Jazz Festival, DownBeat said: “Cohen not only proved to be a woodwind revelation of dark tones and delicious lyricism, but also a dynamic bandleader who danced and shouted out encouragement to her group – whooping it up when pianist Jason Lindner followed her clarinet trills on a Latin-flavored number. . . With her dark, curly, shoulder-length hair swaying to the beat as she danced, she was a picture of joy.”

The Jazz Journalists Association has voted Anatas Clarinetist of the Year nine years in a row, and she has topped both the Critics and Readers Polls in the clarinet category in DownBeat magazine every year since 2011. That’s not to mention years of being named Rising Star in the soprano and tenor saxophone categories in DownBeat, as well as for Jazz Artist of the Year. In 2009, ASCAP awarded Anat a Wall of Fame prize for composition and musicianship, among other honors. Earning this acclaim, Anat has toured the world with her quartet, headlining at the Newport, Umbria, SF Jazz and North Sea jazz festivals as well as at such hallowed clubs as New York’s Village Vanguard and at Columbia University’s prestigious Miller Theatre. In March 2015, Anzic Records releases Luminosa, her seventh album as a bandleader. Luminosa sees Anat play singing, dancing originals, interpret Brazilian classics by the likes of Milton Nascimento, and even re-imagine electronica as acoustica with an ingenious arrangement of a Flying Lotus tune. Members from Anat’s touring quartet – keyboardist Jason Lindner, bassist Joe Martin, drummer Daniel Freedman – appear on the album, as do guest guitarists Romero Lubambo and Gilad Hekselman, percussionist Gilmar Gomes and the Brazilian players of her new band Choro Aventuroso.

Luminosa encapsulates the description Jazz Police offered of Anat in full flight: “She becomes a singer, a poet, a mad scientist, laughing – musically – with the delight of reaching that new place, that new feeling, with each chorus.” Along with interpreting several Brazilian numbers – two choro pieces and a trio of Nascimento songs –the album features multiple originals by Anat, including compositional tributes to Brazilian guitar great Baden Powell and the inspirational founder of the Newport Jazz Festival, George Wein.“The sound of Luminosa reflects my musical life in New York City,” she explains. “I flow between modern and traditional jazz, between samba and choro– all maybe in a week’s time. The title is Portuguese for luminous – something shining, especially in the dark. To me, music is a luminous experience. Whenever I’m immersed in it, life lights up for me, no matter what else is going on.”

The new Luminosa follows Anat’s acclaimed Anzic release from 2012, Claroscuro, which takes its title from the Spanish word describing the play of light and shade (chiaroscuro in Italian). The album showcased Anat’s fluency in a global set of styles, from creolized New Orleans chanson and the evergreen swing of an Artie Shaw tune to African grooves and Brazilian choro, samba and more. Playing clarinet, bass clarinet and tenor and soprano saxophones, she was joined in the studio by her quartet, plus such special guests as trombonist/vocalist Wycliffe Gordon and star clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera. Reflecting on the naturally communicative, one-take spontaneity of the album, Anat said: “I was playing with some of my favorite musicians in the world, and we all speak a common language, no matter where we come from.” DownBeat gave Claroscuro four-and-a-half stars out of five, praising its “effervescence” and “deeply resonant” qualities, with the review concluding that “this multifaceted woodwind player only gets better.” Also taken by the record’s ebullient, irresistible variety, All About Jazz declared about Anat: “She’s one of a kind.”

Anat was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and raised into a musical family. She attended the Tel Aviv School for the Arts, the "Thelma Yellin" High School for the Arts and the Jaffa Music Conservatory. Jazz captured the youngster’s imagination, and she thrilled to recordings by Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet, Benny Goodman and Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. Anat began clarinet studies at age 12 and played jazz on clarinet for the first time in the Jaffa Conservatory’s Dixieland band. At 16, she joined the school’s big band and learned to play the tenor saxophone; it was this same year that Anat entered the prestigious “Thelma Yellin” school, where she majored in jazz. After graduation, she discharged her mandatory Israeli military service duty from 1993-95, playing tenor saxophone in the Israeli Air Force band.

Through the World Scholarship Tour, Anat was able to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she not only honed her jazz chops but also expanded her musical horizons, developing a deep love and facility for various Latin music styles. Fellow Berklee students who hailed from Latin and South American countries were inspirational for the young musician: “Hearing them play the samba of Brazil, chacarrera of Argentina and cumbia of Colombia, I loved those rhythms immediately and was drawn to playing them myself,” Anat says. “The flowing Latin rhythms opened up a whole world of groove to me – and added new layers of expressivity in my jazz playing.”During her Berklee years, Anat visited New York City during semester breaks, making a beeline for the West Village club Smalls to soak up a melting pot of jazz, contemporary grooves and world music in a scene that included such future collaborators as Jason Lindner, Omer Avital and Daniel Freedman. Back in Boston, she played in myriad contexts and bands, including Afro-Cuban, Argentinean, klezmer, contemporary Brazilian music and classic Brazilian choro.

Moving to New York in 1999 after graduating from Berklee, Anat spent a decade touring with Sherrie Maricle’s all-woman big band, The Diva Jazz Orchestra; she also worked in such Brazilian groups as the Choro Ensemble and Duduka Da Fonseca’s Samba Jazz Quintet, along with performing the music of Louis Armstrong with David Ostwald’s “Gully Low Jazz Band.”Anat soon began to bend ears and turn heads; whether playing clarinet, soprano saxophone or tenor saxophone, she won over the most knowing of jazz sages: Nat Hentoff praised her “bursting sound and infectious beat,” Dan Morgenstern her “gutsy, swinging” style, Ira Gitler her “liquid dexterity and authentic feeling,” and Gary Giddins her musicality “that bristles with invention.”

Establishing her own Anzic Records label in 2005, Anat kicked off her discography as a bandleader with Place & Time, a small-combo session of mostly original tunes that was named one of the year’s best debuts by All About Jazz. Her two ambitious releases of 2007 –Noir (presenting Anat with a jazz orchestra) and Poetica (a chamber-jazz feature for her clarinet) – led The New York Times to enthuse over her “warm, singing tone.”Beautifully arrangedby Oded Lev-Ari, Noir saw Anat front a large ensemble in numbers from “Cry Me a River” to a medley of “Samba de Orfeu” / “Strutting with Some Barbecue”to the Sun Ra ballad “You Never Told Me That You Care.”Poetica drew from a world of music – popular melodies from Israel, a Jacques Brel song and John Coltrane’s “Lonnie’s Lament,” with a mix of jazz quartet settings and pieces arranged for Anat with string quartet by Omer Avital. Both albums appeared on many year-end best of 2007 lists, including those of JazzTimes, Slate and Paste magazines. The Village Voice spoke of Anat’s “enviable insouciance” and how “she alludes to the mystical in a merry way,” while DownBeat declared: “Noir could be a classic” and added that Anat’s “unforced elegance on clarinet could take her to the top.” The Washington Post said: “Cohen has emerged as one of the brightest, most original young instrumentalists in jazz. . . with a distinctive accent of her own.”

Anat’s 2008 release, Notes from the Village, was a showcase for her multi-reed talents in quartet and quintet settings, with the album featuring such original Cohen compositions as the one-world tribal dance “Washington Square Park” and sweetly, gorgeously playful “Lullaby for the Naïve Ones” alongside interpretations that again reflect the leader’s wide enthusiasms– from Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” and John Coltrane’s “After the Rain” to Ernesto Lecuona’s “Siboney” and Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” In its review, The New York Times said: “Notes From The Village is a resounding confirmation – yes, she is the real deal.” DownBeat awarded the album four stars, stating that “Cohen makes it seem easy, mixing a gift for melody with an improvisational fluidity that has few peers today.” And All Music Guide pointed out: “What makes Cohen’s music so special, aside from the high level of musicianship, is her fertile imagination. Through all of her efforts as a leader, there's hardly a speck of filler, but rather a wealth of ideas and the desire to expand the purview of her instrument beyond putative traditional swing.”

In 2007, Anat became the first Israeli to headline at the Village Vanguard, the setting for perhaps the most celebrated live recordings in jazz history; the occasion yielded the 2010 release Clarinetwork: Live at the Village Vanguard, which captured the leader paying tribute to Benny Goodman and leading a hard-swinging combo with all-stars Benny Green, Peter Washington and Lewis Nash. Calling Anat “one to watch,” National Public Radio underscored the contemporary approach the group took to the Goodman book: “Cohen and company treat 1920s and ‘30s material with a relatively free hand; when they get rolling in `Sweet Georgia Brown,’ her rhythm section echoes the thunder of John Coltrane’s quartet.” In its glowing review, All About Jazz singled out the performance of “St. James Infirmary,” saying: “Cohen reaches a state of musical ecstasy... as her clarinet moans, sighs, soars and wails with passion and emotion.”

Anat has also recorded four acclaimed albums as part of the3 Cohens Sextet with her brothers, saxophonist Yuval and trumpeter Avishai: 2003’s One, 2007’s Braid, 2011’s Familyand 2013’s Tightrope(with the last three released by Anzic). Declared All About Jazz: “To the ranks of the Heaths of Philadelphia, the Joneses of Detroit and the Marsalises of New Orleans, fans can now add the 3 Cohens of Tel Aviv.” The 3 Cohens band has toured from across the U.S. and Europe to Brazil and Australia, including headlining the Village Vanguardand Carnegie’s Zankel Hall. The three siblings – with Anat the middle child to the elder Yuval and younger Avishai – graced the cover of the January 2012 issue of DownBeat, and among the international acclaim for the recent Tightrope was the Financial Times marveling over its “emotional sweep.” The album features the 3 Cohens improvising as an a cappella horn choir as well as teaming with such special guests as Fred Hersch and Christian McBride. About the special rapport she has with her brothers, Anat says: “We can talk without talking. Often, we don't even have to look at each other onstage. We have such history together that we feel each other through the music.”

Several recordings by the Choro Ensemble feature Anat’s clarinet as a key solo voice, including the 2007 Anzic album Nosso Tempo. She has added solos to albums by guitarist Howard Alden (I Remember Django), drummer Teri Lynne Carrington (The Mosaic Project), singer Ann Hampton Callaway (Blues in the Night), percussionist Cyro Baptista (Beat the Donkey and Infinito), trombonist-vocalist Wycliffe Gordon (Hello, Pops!), singer Lila Downs (Shake Away/Ojo de Culebra), pianist Jason Lindner (Now vs. Now and Live at the Jazz Gallery, both on Anzic), the Duduka Da Fonseca Quintet (Samba Jazz in Black and White), Sherrie Merricle’s Diva Jazz Orchestra (Live in Concert), pianist Jovino Santos Neto (Veja o Som), singer Amy Cervini (Digging You, Digging Me: A Tribute to Blossom Dearie and Jazz Country, both Anzic) and singer Melissa Stylianou (Silent Movie and No Regrets, both Anzic), among many others. With Anat as executive producer, Anzic has also released albums by the 3 Cohens, Avishai Cohen, Yuval Cohen, Third World Love, Duchess, Hilary Gardner, Joel Frahm, Joe Martin, Omer Avital, Daniel Freedman, Eli Degibri, Duduka Da Fonseca, Ernesto Cervini and the Waverly Seven.

Anat collaborates regularly with one of her heroes, Cuban-American clarinetist-saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera, who introduced her onstage at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in the Jazz at Lincoln Center complex as “one of the greatest players ever of the clarinet.”Having first appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival in 2007, she had the honor of being the music director for the Newport Jazz Festival Now 60! all-star band that toured the U.S. on the occasion of the festival’s 60th anniversary in 2014. Anat is a fixture on the New York scene at such clubs as Birdland, starring in a recent tribute to the music of Django Reinhardt there, among much else. Anat has also appeared in New York at the Village Vanguard, Jazz Standard, Blue Note, Iridium, Joe’s Pub, Greenwich House and the Jazz Gallery, as well as other top clubs across the country and around the world – Yoshi’s in San Francisco, Blues Alley in Washington, D.C., Regatta Bar in Boston, the Sunset in Paris, Bimhuis in Amsterdam, Jazzclub Fasching in Stockholm, A Trane in Berlin and Zappa in Tel Aviv. She has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Symphony Space in New York, along with Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center, Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Boston’s Berklee Performance Center, the ORF-Kulturhaus in Vienna and Belgrade’s Kolarac Hall in Serbia.

The world’s great jazz festivals have invited Anat to perform, including the JVC, Newport, Chicago, Monterey, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage, SF Jazz (San Francisco), Playboy (Los Angeles), Duke Ellington (Washington, D.C.), Montreal, Copenhagen, Jazz a Vienne, Umbria, North Sea (Netherlands), Tudo e Jazz (Brazil), Caesaria (Israel) and Zagreb Jazzarella festivals. Her performances have been broadcast internationally, including by WBGO, WFUV, WNYC and NPR in the U.S. and Radio Netherlands, ORF (Austrian Radio), SR (Swedish Radio) and Radio Bremen (Germany).

As the Chicago Tribune says about Anat, “The lyric beauty of her tone, easy fluidity of her technique and extroverted manner of her delivery make this music accessible to all.” Leading up to the March 17, 2015, release of Luminosa and beyond, Anat will be bringing her charismatic stage performances again to music lovers around the globe, including a five-night March 4-8 stand at New York City’s Jazz Standard. She says: “Any day when I get to share music with people – other musicians, an audience–feels like a celebration to me.”

This performance marks Anat Cohen's La Jolla Music Society debut

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Regina CohenViolin virtuoso Regina Carter is considered the foremost jazz violinist of her generation. Winner of a coveted 2006 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship, she is also a Resident Artistic Director at SF JAZZ.

In 1987, she joined the all-female pop-jazz quintet Straight Ahead and appeared on their first three albums before leaving the band in 1991 and moving to New York, where she picked up session work with artists including Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige, Billy Joel, Dolly Parton, Max Roach and Oliver Lake. She released her self-titled solo album on Atlantic in 1995, followed by Something for Grace, an album dedicated to her mother and released in 1997. Carter also toured with Wynton Marsalis that same year, then switched to the Verve label where she released Rhythms of the Heart in 1999. Motor City Moments, a tribute to her hometown, followed in 2000.

In December 2001, she traveled to Genoa, Italy, and made musical history by being the first jazz musician and the first African American to play the legendary Guarneri Del Gesu violin, made in 1743 and owned by classical music virtuoso and composer Niccolo Paganini. This encounter inspired her 2003 album, Paganini: After a Dream, which featured works by Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy and Italian film composer Ennio Morricone. She recorded I’ll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey in 2006 as a tribute to her late mother. That same year Carter was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, given to a highly select group who “show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work.”

Reverse Thread, released in May 2010, was a celebration of traditional African music via a contemporary perspective. Carter also took her pioneering spirit on the road in the late summer and fall of 2012 for a two-month world tour with rock icon Joe Jackson’s stellar ensemble in support of his release The Duke, a collection of interpretations of Duke Ellington’s work .

Carter continues her musical quest for beauty and history with her SONY Music Masterworks debut Southern Comfort, in which she investigates her family history and explores the folk tunes her paternal grandfather, a coalminer, would have heard as he toiled in Alabama. The expanded project includes a blend of folk songs and spirituals, serving as Carter’s interpretation of her roots through a modern lens.

Said Chuck Mitchell, Senior Vice President of SONY Masterworks, "We're tremendously pleased to have the incomparable Regina Carter with us at Masterworks. Her musical odyssey has been charted through a series of unforgettable recordings over the years and Southern Comfort is the latest and perhaps the most eloquent expression of her deep and profoundly enlightening musical humanity.”

Regina’s new album, Ella: Accentuate the Positive, marks the 100th birthday of a musical legend. The album celebrates the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald – THE source of Regina’s musical inspiration. An influence she has cherished throughout her life, Regina describes her visceral connection to Ella’s music:

“Growing up in Detroit, there was always music playing in our home. While there was a variety of music I enjoyed, there were a few recordings and artists I found consistently captivating. Ella Fitzgerald was one of these exceptions. To this very day, whenever I hear an Ella recording it grabs me at my core. I’m entranced by her voice, her melodic improvisations and the passion and artfulness with which Ella sings a song. She helps me understand a song by providing a window to its essence. In a word, Ella is sublime, and she is at the top of my go-to list when learning a jazz tune. Perhaps Jimmy Rowles said it best, “Music comes out of her. When [Ella] walks down the street…she leaves notes.” I’m so excited to celebrate Ella Fitzgerald, an artist who has meant so much to all the notes in my musical life.”

For Regina Carter, the violin isn’t merely an improvisational vehicle. It’s a passport to unexpected realms, a Rosetta stone that unlocks the door to a myriad of cultures and worlds.

This last performed with La Jolla Music Society in the Jazz Series on October 7, 2016

Guitarist and composer Marvin Sewell was born and raised in Chicago. He learned how to play the guitar by hanging out with many Chicago basement bands, and was exposed to a variety of styles of music. In high school, he started playing with the Malcolm X Community College Big Band, and from there started playing with many famous local Chicago musicians such as Von Freeman, Ramsey Lewis, Billy Branch, Jody Christian, Big Time Sarah, and Barbara La Shore. He moved to New York in 1990, began working with his first major jazz group, Jack Dejohnette’s Special Edition, in 1992. At that same time, he was playing with jazz cellist Diedre Murray and jazz bassist Fred Hopkins. The following year he recorded albums with Jack Dejohnette, Diedre Murray, and Gary Thomas, and played in Hannibal Peterson’s composition African Portraits, an opera in which he played blues slide guitar in collaboration with the St. Louis Symphony, New Music Symphony, and the Westchester Symphony Orchestra. In 1995, he began playing with Cassandra Wilson with whom he played a variety of string instruments for six years. On Wilson’s album Traveling Miles, Sewell co-wrote the song, “Right Here, Right Now” with Wilson. In 2002, Sewell did a tour of eastern Africa with the Newsoeme, Sewell, and Harris Trio, performing in Kenya, Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique, and Mauritius. Today, he spends most of his time writing music for his own band, The Marvin Sewell Group. Additionally, Sewell has performed and recorded with Ani DiFranco, David Sandborn, Marcus Miller, Jorge Sylvester, Greg Osby, Joe Lovano, George Benson, Sekou Sanidiata, Peter Herborn, and a host of many other esteemed musicians.

This performances marks Marvin Sewell's La Jolla Music Society debut.

Born and raised in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Chris Lightcap played violin and piano before taking up the electric bass at fourteen. As a senior in high school he started to study the upright bass and the following year he enrolled at Williams College. During this period he studied bass, composition and improvisation with Milt Hinton, Cameron Brown, Robert Suderburg, Alvin Lucier, and Bill Dixon. Upon graduating from Williams with the school’s Hutchinson Arts Grant, he moved to his current home, New York City. He began performing weekly with the Cecil Taylor Big Band in 1995, and was invited to perform in a trio with Archie Shepp and Sunny Murray in Paris the following year. For the next two years he worked regularly throughout New York City in a trio led by a saxophonist George Garzone. In 2000, Lightcap joined the ensemble of Regina Carter. He has performed and recorded extensively with Carter on four continents and has been featured alongside her group with the Boston, Atlanta and Minnesota Symphonies. He has also toured and played major festivals with such bandleaders as Mark Turner, Tomasz Stanko, Ravi Coltrane, Joe Morris, Ben Monder, Terrel Stafford, Ralph Alessi, and Rob Brown. In 1998 he began to write for his own group, a quartet featuring Gerald Cleaver on drums and Tony Malaby and Bill McHenry on tenor saxophones. Lightcap’s two recordings with this group, Lay-Up (2000) and Bigmouth (2003) were on CMJ’s top 10 radio chart and received critical acclaim in The New York Times, Jazztimes, Cadence, Village Voice, and All About Jazz. In 2005, Lightcap expanded the band to include Craig Taborn on keyboards and named the group Bigmouth. In 2010, he released his third album, Deluxe, and it was named one of the year’s top albums by NPR, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Jazz Times, Village Voice and Time Out New York. In 2011, Chamber Music America awarded Lightcap a New Jazz Works commission grant. The result, New York: Lost and Found was premiered by Bigmouth at the 2012 Earshot Festival and featured on NPR’s Jazzset with Dee Dee Bridgewater. This music, along with a cover of Lou Reed’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties” was released under the title Epicenter on Bigmouth’s 2015 album Clean Feed. He has also appeared on recordings with Tom Harrell, Dianne Reeves, Marc Ribot, Anthony Coleman, Steve Bernstein, Roy Campbell, Mat Maneri and Joshua Bell.

This performances marks Chris Lightcap's La Jolla Music Society debut.

Drummer Alvester Garnett was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1970. He began his formal studies in percussion at the age of 14, and was first introduced to jazz at the age of 16. While still a junior in high school and participating in an all-county high school jazz band, he met Ellis Marsalis, who advised him to obtain the famed jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis recordings of Max Roach and many others, including “Papa” Jo Jones, “Philly” Joe Jones, Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins, James Black, and Ed Blackwell. During the following summer, Garnett again studied with Marsalis in a summer program for gifted musicians at Virginia Commonwealth University. He later joined the Malden Diplomats Drum and Bugle Corp in Boston, and the summer after graduating high school attended Gunther Schuller’s music training program at The Festival at Sandpoint in Sandpoint, Idaho. It was here that he first met and studied with master drummer Max Roach, leading trumpeter and educator Wynton Marsalis, and jazz historian Martin Williams. Garnett graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1993. During his undergraduate career, he won third place in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drum Competition. After college, he relocated to New York, where he worked with Betty Carter’s trio and became a member of Abbey Lincoln’s quartet. He was also a member of Cyrus Chestnut’s trio, and in 1998 began touring extensively with both Regina Carter and James Carter. Among his numerous appearances and accomplishments, he has appeared on PBS’s Great Performances in a tribute to Kurt Weill along with Betty Carter; performed on a live record with saxophonist Teddy Edwards, as well as the albums Earth Stories with Cyrus Chestnut and Who Used To Dance with Abbey Lincoln. He has also continued working with numerous artists including Dee Dee Bridgewater, Clark Terry, Dr. Michael White and the Richmond Symphony.

This performances marks Alvester Garnett's La Jolla Music Society debut.

Regina CohenSince the beginning of his musical career in the early 1990s, Cuban-born multi-instrumentalist Roberto Fonseca has stated his mission clearly: “I want my music to reach people who don’t know me, and I dream of one day becoming a point of reference for my audience.” Although still very young – by the standards of jazz, hip-hop, world music or any other genre – Fonseca has maintained a sharp focus on his mission that has already garnered him global recognition.

The UK Guardian is just one of the many voices in both the music and mainstream press worldwide to have recognized Fonseca’s immense talent by heralding him as “a fabulously gifted pianist, composer and bandleader with a gift for melody that outshines more celebrated peers.” The Guardian further proclaimed him as “one of a new breed who can transcend musical boundaries through sheer quality.”

Born into a musical family in Havana, Cuba, in 1975, young Roberto originally gravitated to percussion, but started playing the piano at age 8 (the interest in percussion would eventually enhance his piano style). His first musical performances was playing drums for a band that covered Beatles songs.

He began composing at age 14, drawing inspiration from Afro-Cuban music. “In school, we used to regard American jazz as a point of reference,” Fonseca recalls. “I felt that my music would be a fusion of both genres. I liked lots of jazz musicians, such as Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett, but also old American funk and soul classics.”

His appearance at Havana’s International Jazz Festival at the tender age of 15 was not only a revelation to audiences, but the launching pad for a musical education that resulted in a degree in musical composition from the Instituto Superior de Arte. But the degree was only the beginning of his education process. He saw every road after college as an opportunity to merge his style with other styles and create something greater than the sum of its parts. At 21, he embarked on a tour through Italy with singer Augusto Enriquez, which included performances on RAI, the state TV channel, which introduced him to audiences well beyond his Cuban origins.

Shortly after the Italian tour, Fonseca joined saxophonist Javier Zalba to form Temperamento, a group that became his creative platform for the next 15 years, beginning with the release of En el Comienzo in 1998. The album won the award for Best Jazz Album at the Cubadisco 1999 festival.

En el Comienzo was followed by three solo albums in rapid succession – Tiene Que Ver (1999), No Limit (2000) and Elengó (2001). In between these projects, he also composed the soundtrack for Black, a film by French director P. Maraval, and produced Un montón de cosas, an album by the hip-hop group Obsesión.

In 2001, he joined the Orquestra de Ibrahim Ferrer for a world tour that logged more than 400 performances throughout Europe, the UK, South America, Australia, Asia and just about every other corner of the globe. Led by Ferrer – an alumni of the Buena Vista Social Club™, the legendary Cuban collective that had taken the world by storm some five years earlier – the tour with the Orquestra positioned Fonseca alongside legendary figures like Cachaíto López, Guajiro Mirabal, Manuel Galbán and many others. The tour marked the beginning of an ongoing and fruitful relationship with various members of BVSC.

Fonseca’s relationship with Ferrer strengthened in the years following the tour. When Ferrer set out to record his treasured collection of boleros, he tapped Fonseca to arrange the compositions and co-produce the recording. Mi Sueño: A Bolero Songbook was released in early 2005, and a world tour followed later in the year. The project was Ferrer’s last – and arguably one of his greatest – before his death in August 2005.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, Fonseca had established his reputation as a creative bridge between traditional Cuban music and the sound of a new era. As such, he drew the attention of not just enthusiastic audiences but seasoned musicians as well. Omara Portuondo, another Buena Vista alumni also invited him to join her on tour.

The intensive touring and multicultural exposure planted the seeds for Zamazu, Fonseca’s monumental 2007 recording that assembled more than 20 musicians and integrated elements of his various influences: Afro-Cuban, jazz, classical and traditional Cuban music. Among the musicians on this diverse and ambitious recording were Portuondo, Zalba, Carlinhos Brown, Vincente Amigo, Ramsés Rodríguez and many others. Following the release of Zamazu, Fonseca showcased generous portions of the recording at some of the most prestigious festivals in the world in front of spellbound audiences.

“Llegó Cachaíto,” one of the tracks from Zamazu, appeared in Hancock, the 2008 film starring Will Smith. That same year, Fonseca also played on Portuondo’s Gracias, a recording that won a Latin Grammy for Best Contemporary Tropical Album.

Zamazu was a tough act to follow, but Fonseca found a way to bring the magic and energy of his live show into the studio for his 2009 release, Akokan. The album featured his quartet with guest performances by Cape Verdean vocalist Mayra Andrade and American guitarist Raul Midón.

The following year, 2010, was no less hectic and ambitious for Fonseca. He collaborated with director Jorge Fuentes in the filming of Temperamento, a documentary chronicling the history of the band that Fonseca had co-founded more than a decade earlier. Fonseca also arranged and co-produced Havana Cultura with British DJ Gilles Peterson. The two-disc album released in 2010 assembles the best of a new generation of Cuban musicians – more than 60 in all – specializing in Afro-jazz, hip-hop, funk, reggaeton and R&B. Later that same year, he also released Live at Marciac, a CD-DVD set that captures Fonseca and his band at a 2009 festival date in France.

Along the way, Fonseca has developed an aesthetic sense that extends beyond music. This became most evident when he developed a professional relationship with French fashion designer Agnes B. Their rapport first emerged when he began wearing her creations for all of his performances, and deepened when he played live for the Agnes B fashion show in Paris in 2006. In addition, Fonseca’s music has been used in Marie Claire’s internet advertising and marketing campaigns.

His latest studio effort Yo, was recently nominated for a GRAMMY® in the category of Best Latin Jazz Album. Recorded in Paris, Yo draws its simple but appropriate title from the Spanish word for “I” or “me.” Fonseca is clearly the focal point of the recording, but his multidimensional and multicultural sound exists within an intricate mosaic made up of a total of 15 fifteen musicians from Cuba, Africa, the U.S. and elsewhere. All of these valuable partners help Fonseca down new paths that continue to explore countless directions and ideas.

Fonseca and his crew have already touring worldwide in support of Yo, with more than 100 concerts since April 2012. In the midst of this ambitious schedule, he has also managed to remix a new recording by the French alternative rock band Mensch.

The live shows have been stunning audiences across Europe, North America and Japan. The Guardian said “A rousing demonstration of what can happen when a great Cuban pianist becomes obsessed with Africa. Fonseca is the finest fusion exponent in Cuba.” The Arts Desk said of Roberto, “The sense was that Fonseca has music hard-wired into every cell, pouring out of his body and soul.” The album has also received positive accolades, topping the Best of 2012 album lists in The Sunday Times, Le Monde, The Guardian, Vibrations, Telerama and after his release in the U.S.A continuing the tradition with the Best of 2013 in The Washington Post, “Songs of 2013″ on NPR.

As always with Fonseca, there are new creative worlds to explore, and new artistic bridges to build between the traditional and the modern-day. “This album unveils the beginning of a new phase more than the closure of an old one,” he says. “I want to delve deep into my roots in light of my experiences and show the diversity of my musical universe, all these ideas which I had out aside, unable to use until now.”

In 2014 Roberto Fonseca combined solo performances, robertoSOLOfonseca in France and Rusia. He briefly toured in the U.S. with a trio format and performed last summer with Mali singer Fatoumata Diawara.

From that encounter, Roberto released the new album At Home (Jazz Village).

This performance marks Roberto Fonseca's La Jolla Music Society debut

Oct 22 @ 8:00 pm
TWYLA THARP DANCE @ Spreckels Theatre | San Diego | California | United States

Twyla Tharp Dance
50th Anniversary Tour

Tony Award-winning choreographer and Kennedy Center Honoree Twyla Tharp celebrates fifty years of dance making with her hand-chosen, fierce band of dancers who bring her choreography to life. Turning her decades of experience into proof that time is her partner as she continues to deepen and expand the singular imagination which makes her one of the century’s most treasured artists.

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Click here to view the complete October 2016 Program Book

PROGRAM NOTES: Twyla Tharp Dance


Premièred 1976 in Edinburgh, Scotland

Choreography: Twyla Tharp
Costumes: Santo Loquasto
Lighting: Jennifer Tipton
Music recorded by:
The Hired Hands,
The Kessinger Brothers,
The Skillet Lickers, Charlie Poole and
the North Carolina Ramblers,
Johnny and Albert Crockett
Dancers: Daniel Baker, Ramona Kelley, Amy Ruggiero, Kaitlyn Gilliland

Texas Quickstep (The Hired Hands)
Fifty Year Ago Waltz (The Hired Hands)
Rat Cheese Under The Hill (The Kessinger Brothers)
Cacklin’ Hen And A Rooster Too (The Skillet Lickers)
Took My Gal A-Walkin’ (Charlie Poole and The North Carolina Ramblers)
Fresno Blues (Johnny and Albert Crockett)
Alabama Jubilee (The Hired Hands)
Approximate Duration: 20 minutes


Premièred 2016 in Saratoga Springs, New York
Performed to String Quartet in B-flat Major, Opus 130
by Ludwig van Beethoven

Choreography: Twyla Tharp
Costumes: Norma Kamali
Lighting: Stephen Terry
Dancers: Matthew Dibble with Kaitlyn Gilliland, Ron Todorowski, Daniel Baker, Ramona Kelley, Amy Ruggiero, Reed Tankersley, Ashlee Dupré
Approximate Duration: 20 minutes


Premièred 1980 in Dayton, Ohio
Performed to Variations on a Theme by Paganini,
Opus 35
by Johannes Brahms

Choreography: Twyla Tharp
Costumes: Ralph Lauren
Lighting: Jennifer Tipton
Dancers: Reed Tankersley, Matthew Dibble, Daniel Baker, Ramona Kelley, Amy Ruggiero with Kaitlyn Gilliland

Book I Reed Tankersley Book II Matthew Dibble, Daniel Baker, Ramona Kelley, Amy Ruggiero with Kaitlyn Gilliland
Approximate Duration: 23 minutes

Executive Director Jesse Huot
Company Manager Alexander Brady
Archivist Rika Okamoto
Administrative Assistant Chelsea Keys

Lighting Supervisor/Production Manager, Stage Manager Stephen Terry
Wardrobe Supervisor Sydney de Briel

Additional thanks to David Kahne, Shelley Washington, Sean Kelleher, Amy Lehman, Joe Mizrahi, Lisa Egan, Twanette Tharp, and Norma Stevens.

Country Dances shoes handcrafted by Capezio

This program was made possible by support from Pathways to Dance and the New York State Council on the Arts. The Joyce Theater Foundation’s Artist in Residence program helped realize rehearsals of this evening’s repertory.

The Twyla Tharp Dance Foundation thanks Jay Franke and David Herro, Bill and Catherine Miller, Patsy and Jeff Tarr, Stephen and Cathy Weinroth and Vicente Wolf for their generous support with special thanks to Tam O’Shaughnessy for underwriting Twyla Tharp and Three Dances.

Marcus Overton will host a conversation with Malashock Dance’s Artistic Director John Malashock, a San Diego-born-and-based dancer and choreographer who danced for many years with Twyla Tharp and was one of the original dancers on which Brahms-Paganini was created.

Twyla TharpSince graduating from Barnard College in 1963, Ms. Tharp has choreographed more than one hundred sixty works: one hundred twenty-nine dances, twelve television specials, six Hollywood movies, four full-length ballets, four Broadway shows and two figure skating routines. She received one Tony Award, two Emmy Awards, nineteen honorary doctorates, the Vietnam Veterans of America President's Award, the 2004 National Medal of the Arts, the 2008 Jerome Robbins Prize, and a 2008 Kennedy Center Honor. Her many grants include the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In 1965, Ms. Tharp founded her dance company, Twyla Tharp Dance. Her dances are known for creativity, wit and technical precision coupled with a streetwise nonchalance. By combining different forms of movement – such as jazz, ballet, boxing and inventions of her own making – Ms. Tharp’s work expands the boundaries of ballet and modern dance.

In addition to choreographing for her own company, she has created dances for The Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Paris Opera Ballet, The Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet, The Boston Ballet, The Australian Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Martha Graham Dance Company, Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Atlanta Ballet and Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Today, ballet and dance companies around the world continue to perform Ms. Tharp’s works.

In 1992, Ms. Tharp published her autobiography PUSH COMES TO SHOVE. She went on to write THE CREATIVE HABIT: Learn it and Use it for Life, followed by THE COLLABORATIVE HABIT: Life Lessons for Working Together.

Today, Ms. Tharp continues to create.

This performance marks Twyla Tharp Dance's La Jolla Music Society debut.

Oct 30 @ 3:00 pm
RAPHAËL SÉVÈRE, clarinet  @ The Auditorium at TSRI | San Diego | California | United States

Raphaël Sévère, clarinet

2013 First Prize Winner Young Concert Artists International Audition

The young award-winning French clarinettist Raphaël Sévère performs works
by Devienne, Poulenc, Berg and Weber. He is joined by pianist Paul Montag.

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POULENC: Clarinet Sonata No. 1 in C Major
Raphaël Sévère, clarinet and Adam Laloum, piano

Raphaël Sévère, clarinet
Paul Montag, piano

DEVIENNEClarinet Sonata No. 1 in C Major
POULENCSonata for Clarinet and Piano
BERGFour Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 5
WEBERGrand Duo Concertant in E-flat Major, Op. 48


POULENC: Clarinet Sonata No. 1 in C Major
Raphaël Sévère, clarinet and Adam Laloum, piano

JOHN WILLIAMS: Fantasy on Themes
Raphaël Sévère, clarinet and Paul Montag, piano

Click here to view the complete October 2016 Program Book

PROGRAM NOTES: Raphaël Sévère, clarinet

by Eric Bromberger

Clarinet Sonata No. 1 in C Major

Born January 31, 1759, Joinville, Haute-Marne, France
Died September 5, 1803, Paris
Approximate Duration: 16 minutes

A contemporary of Mozart, François Devienne moved at age 20 to Paris, where he joined the Paris Opera orchestra as a bassoonist and studied the flute. Over the next decade he appeared frequently as a soloist on both flute and bassoon in that city, and he apparently was a member of the orchestra of the Loge Olympique, which gave the first performances of Haydn’s “Paris” Symphonies. During the difficult years of the French Revolution, Devienne joined the military band of the Paris National Guard, and when the Paris Conservatory was established in 1795, Devienne became its first professor of flute. In these same years he published an important method for the one-key flute, Nouvelle méthode théorique et pratique pour la flûte. Devienne’s life, however, was brief. He was placed in asylum shortly after his 44th birthday and died a few months later after a period of mental decline. A handsome portrait of Devienne, elegantly dressed and holding a black wooden flute, was painted by a student of Jacques Louis David.

Devienne was a prolific composer. Though he had great success in his own day as an opera composer, he is remembered today primarily for his writing for winds, particularly for flute and bassoon (his own instruments), and also for the clarinet. The clarinet was just being admitted into orchestras in these years, and Devienne–like Mozart–was attracted to its expressive possibilities, particularly its smooth sound, agility, and wide range.

The Sonata No. 1 in C Major, which has become one of Devienne’s best-known works for clarinet, is in fact an arrangement of his Oboe Sonata No. 1 in C Major, Opus 70, No. 1; in the process of arranging this music for clarinet, Devienne rewrote sections so that the clarinet’s greater range and agility would be highlighted. The sonata is in three movements. The first, marked Allegro con spiritoso is in a sort of early sonata form. The line moves easily between clarinet and piano here, and Devienne’s melodic material is sturdy and attractive. The Adagio moves to C minor, with the clarinet spinning its long and mournful melody over an understated accompaniment, while the concluding rondo–in the expected 6/8 meter–offers much opportunity for the clarinetist to display his abilities: long runs, a minor-key episode, and a great cadenza-like flourish all help drive this music to its firm conclusion.

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano

Born January 7, 1899, Paris
Died January 30, 1963, Paris
Approximate Duration: 13 minutes

The summer of 1962 found Francis Poulenc in a valedictory mood. That summer he wrote two sonatas for woodwinds and piano, and both were dedicated to the memory of other composers who had been his friends: a Sonata for Oboe and Piano, dedicated to the memory of Serge Prokofiev, and a Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, dedicated to the memory of Arthur Honegger. Forty years earlier, Honegger and Poulenc had both been members of Les Six, a group of composers in Paris who were briefly united by their youth and talent. When Poulenc wrote these sonatas, he was 63 years old and in good health, and he could not have known that they would be his final works: he died suddenly of a heart attack the following winter.

Throughout his career, Poulenc had been particularly attracted to the sound of woodwinds: in 1940 he described his Sextet for Piano and Woodwind Quartet as an act of “homage to the wind instruments I have loved from the moment I began composing.” Something of the memorial character of the Clarinet Sonata can be seen in Poulenc’s marking for the first movement: he asks that the opening Allegro be played tristamente: “sadly.” A somewhat astringent opening leads to more lyrical material; Poulenc shifts gears at the center of the movement, moving into 3/4 and a more stately section marked Très calme before a return of the opening themes brings the movement to a quiet close. The middle movement is marked Romanza, suggesting music of an unusually expressive character. An introductory flourish from the clarinet leads to the movement’s climbing main theme, marked “very gentle and melancholy”; the exotic swirls from the clarinet will return throughout this movement, which also comes to a peaceful close. Out of the silence, the finale–“Fast and with fire”–bursts to life on pounding chords and an abundance of energy. There are more lyric episodes along the way, but the bristling energy of the opening is never far away, and the music finally pounds to the sudden plunge that brings this sonata to its abrupt conclusion.

The original plan was that the première of Sonata for Clarinet and Piano would be given by Benny Goodman with the composer at the piano, but Poulenc’s sudden death in January 1963 made that impossible. Goodman did perform this sonata at a memorial concert for Poulenc given in Carnegie Hall in April 1963. The pianist on that occasion was Leonard Bernstein.

Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Opus 5

Born February 9, 1885, Vienna
Died December 24, 1935, Vienna
Approximate Duration: 8 minutes

The Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano come from early in Alban Berg’s career, at a moment when he was still feeling his way as a composer. Berg had studied with Schoenberg from 1904 to 1910, and now–in his late twenties–he was searching for a voice of his own. In 1911 his String Quartet met with a disastrous public reception in Vienna, the following year he composed the five Altenberg Lieder (the complete set would not be not performed until 1952), and early in 1913 he wrote the Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano. These pieces would also wait some time to be heard, for the war soon disrupted musical life throughout Europe (miserable the entire time, Berg spent the war in the Austrian army). Immediately after the war, Schoenberg established in Vienna the Society for Private Musical Performances, an idealistic organization dedicated to young composers and to new music. The Society banned all critics, gradated ticket prices on one’s ability to pay, and gave new music the rehearsal time it deserved. It was at one of the Society’s concerts–on October 17, 1919–that Berg finally was able to hear the Four Pieces, six years after they had been written. By that time he had become a completely different composer–he was now at work on Act II of his opera Wozzeck.

In the years before the war, Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg had pared their musical language down to its barest essentials: this meant the virtual elimination of theme, development, repetition, and even a harmonic foundation. Their works from these years tend to be very short, built on bits of theme or rhythm or instrumental color that do not have the opportunity to develop. Berg’s Four Pieces span a total of eight minutes, and the keynote throughout is compression: the second piece, for example, is only eight measures long. These four miniatures for clarinet and piano almost by definition do not require detailed description. Berg requires a wide range of technique (the clarinetist is repeatedly asked for flutter-tonguing and echo-tone), and the sudden changes of mood rest on dynamic markings that extend from triple forte to quadruple piano.

In gratitude, Berg dedicated the Four Pieces to Schoenberg and to the Society for Private Musical Performances.

Grand Duo Concertant in E-flat Major, Opus 48

Born November 18, 1786, Eutin, Germany
Died June 5, 1826, London
Approximate Duration: 20 minutes

The Grand Duo Concertant took shape only gradually, and its unusual composition reflects a degree of uncertainty in Weber’s own mind about the proper form for this music. He wrote the final two movements first, composing the Andante and the Rondo during the summer of 1815 for a tour with the clarinetist Heinrich Baermann; the two of them played this work in its two-movement form on a tour through southern Germany. Successful as this version proved, Weber was not satisfied, and the following year he went back and wrote a sonata-form first movement. Weber could easily have called the resulting work a sonata for clarinet and piano, but he chose a different name: Grand Duo Concertant.

It was a good decision. This is not so much a sonata (which implies chamber music) as it is a chamber concerto. This music is certainly “grand” in scope, but Weber was also right to specify its “concertant” quality: it demands that its performers be not just equals but virtuoso soloists capable of a technique more often heard in the orchestra hall than in the more intimate environs of chamber music. Weber wrote the piano part for himself (and the music shows just how good a pianist he must have been), but the Duo shines throughout with his love for the clarinet. While it has been arranged for violin and is sometimes performed in that version, the Duo is clarinet music, featuring fluid runs, wide leaps, and the instrument’s distinctly mellow sound.

It may be no surprise that the first movement was written last. Sonata form gave Weber a good deal of trouble: he preferred a freer, more rhapsodic approach to composition, and his ambivalence about sonata form may be another reason why he chose to give this music a different name. He marks this opening movement Allegro con fuoco, and it is full of fire. This movement establishes its character from the first instant, where the piano sweeps the clarinet along an opening theme that spans nearly three octaves; the clarinet introduces the second subject, a plastic and flowing idea that Weber marks lusingando: “charming, intimate.”

Dramatic as the first movement is, the slow movement is–in its own way–even more impressive. Weber moves to C minor, and over steadily-tolling chordal accompaniment the clarinet sings the grieving main idea, marked con duolo. But, having concluded this episode, the clarinet drops out entirely and the piano launches into a thunderous interlude of its own. The clarinet returns, and the music rises to a dramatic reprise and falls away to the quiet close.

The clarinet announces the main theme of the rondo-finale, a sinuous melody full of some nice rhythmic dislocations, and the music dances ahead. Something of its character is evident from Weber’s instructions in the score: scherzando, con anima, dolce, grazioso, and delicamente. But there are surprises here too: suddenly, over surging tremolo piano accompaniment, the clarinet has a soaring episode marked con molto affetto: “with much affection.” Gradually the rondo tune reasserts itself, and Duo dances and swirls its cheerful way home.

Musical Prelude 2 PM
Young artists from the San Diego Youth Symphony perform.

REINECKEAllegro molto moderato from Flute Concerto, Op. 283 Christine Kim, flute
Dana Burnett, piano
DUTILLEUXSonatine for Flute and Piano Christine Kim, flute
Dana Burnett, piano
Christine Kim, flute
Dana Burnett, piano

Raphaël Sévère“Destined for the most brilliant future, gifted with astonishing technical mastery and astounding musicality” (ResMusica), French clarinetist Raphaël Sévère is quickly gaining attention. After making his concerto debut at age 11 with the Beijing Opera Orchestra, Mr. Sévère’s budding career took off when he won five international competitions at age 12. When he was just 15, he became the youngest artist and first clarinetist to be nominated for Best New Instrumentalist of the Year at the 2010 Victoires de la musique classique. By the time he turned 19, he had already received a degree with highest honors from the Conservatoire national supérieur de Paris.

Mr. Sévère’s U.S. tour this season includes recitals at the University of Florida Performing Arts, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, the Embassy Series, Vancouver Recital Society, and appearances as soloist with Sinfonia Gulf Coast and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. He appears at festivals in France including Les Musicales de Pommiers, Festival du Périgord Noir, Festival du Comminges, and Festival du Vigan, as well as Festival Amadeus in Geneva. Mr. Sévère also performs in Paris, Lucerne, Montpellier, and Bucharest, Romania, and as soloist with French orchestras including L’Orchestra de Normandie, L’Orchestra de Basse-Normandie, and L’Orchestre Provence Côte D’Azur.

As a soloist, Mr. Sévère has performed with many orchestras throughout France, including the Orchestre National de France. Outside of his home country, he has played with the Russian National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Vladimir Spivakov, as well as the Czech Philharmonic, Budapest Chamber Orchestra, Württemberg Chamber Orchestra, and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta. He has also participated in La Folle Journée festivals in Nantes, Bilbao, and Tokyo, as well as the Festival de Radio France et Montpellier, Festival International de Colmar, Festival de Menton, Festival Antibes Génération Virtuoses, and Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. During his first U.S. tour last season, he performed concerts at the Paramount Theatre, the Port Washington Library, the University at Buffalo, the Center for Arts in Natick, Rockefeller University, and the Levine School of Music. A seasoned chamber player, Mr. Sévère frequently collaborates with distinguished musicians including YCA alumni Jean-Frédéric Neuburger, Olivier Charlier, and the Modigliani String Quartet.

Winner of the 2013 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Mr. Sévère gave his New York and Washington, D.C. recital debuts on the Young Concert Artists Series last season. At the YCA Auditions, he was the recipient of the Alexander Kasza-Kasser Prize and the Korean Concert Society Prize, which provide support for his Kennedy Center debut, as well as the Leona Green Prize for Winds.

After an early music education that included piano, violin, and cello, Mr. Sévère began playing the clarinet at the age of eight, and was admitted to the Conservatoire national supérieur de Paris at 14. When he was 12 years old, he recorded his first album, Récital de musique française, which received four stars from Diapason; his second album, Opus 2, received five. Mr. Sévère’s most recent recordings include the Berio Folk Songs on Naïve Records and an album of Brahms works.

This performance marks Raphaël Sévère's La Jolla Music Society debut.

Paul MontagBorn in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, Paul Montag began playing piano at the age of four. Two years later, he entered France’s National Regional Conservatory of Boulogne-Billancourt and at 11 was awarded a Unanimous First Prize. At 13, he was admitted to France’s National Superior Conservatory of Music of Paris (CNSM), where he earned two recital prizes. Later he attended France’s Normal School of Music in Paris, where he earned the Superior Perfection Certificate and the Concert Certificate, and participated in the master classes of pianists Anne Quéfélec, François-René Duchâble, Jean-Claude Pennetier and Paul Badura-Skoda.

As an award winner of the Cziffra Foundation and a recipient of the Charles Oulmont Prize of the Foundation of France, he was invited at a young age to play in a number of renowned festivals throughout Europe including those at Sceaux, Epau, Colmar, Senlis, Evian, Milan, Sienna, Bamberg and Porto. He also frequently performed at major Parisian halls including the Gaveau, the Cortot, the Mogador and the Salle Pleyel. In recent years he has been touring and giving master classes in Japan and Vietnam.

He recently recorded Paul Hindemith’s youth piano music; a complete edition of Albert Roussel’s melodies; and songs of Charles-Marie Widor and Félicien David. He loves musical diversity and is particularly fond of contemporary repertoire, participating in numerous musical world premieres as well as recordings on France Musique and broadcasts for the Nippon Television Network System.

This performance marks Paul Montag's La Jolla Music Society debut

Dec 1 @ 8:00 pm
HÉLÈNE GRIMAUD, piano @ MCASD Sherwood Auditorium | San Diego | California | United States

Hélène Grimaud, piano

French pianist Hélène Grimaud makes a welcome return to La Jolla Music Society to open the 2016-17 Season Piano Series.

She brings a diverse program of works featured on her new album Water, released by Deutsche Grammophon in 2016, including works by Berio, Ravel, Liszt, Debussy and more. She also performs Brahms’ Piano Sonata No. 2 in F-sharp Minor.

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Prior to the performance please join us for dinner at NINE-TEN.

TAKEMITSURain Tree Sketch II
FAURÉBarcarolle No. 5 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 66
RAVELJeux d'eaux
LISZTLes jeux d'eau à la Villa d'Este
JANÁČEKIn the Mists 1
DEBUSSYLa cathédrale engloutie
BRAHMSPiano Sonata No. 2 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 2
RACHMANINOFFÉtudes-tableaux, Op. 33, No. 2

Click here to view the complete December 2016 - January 2017 Program Book

PROGRAM NOTES: Hélène Grimaud, piano

by Eric Bromberger

WATER The first half of this program consists of eight separate works, each inspired in a different way by water. Water in these pieces may take many forms–it can be mist, rain, oceans, fountains. Some of these pieces were inspired by different locations or settings or legends, each having to do in some way with water. Or the composers may simply have been inspired by water itself–its sound, its feel, its beauty, its evocative power. Water is fundamental to life, and these eight composers–eight very different artists–respond to it in quite different ways.


Born October 24, 1925, Oneglia, Italy
Died May 27, 2003, Rome
Approximate Duration: 2 minutes

Luciano Berio composed his Wasserklavier in 1964, and in its original form the work was for two pianos; Wasserklavier (that title means “Water-Piano”) has a companion piece composed in 1970: Erdenklavier: “Earth- Piano.” Wasserklavier is an extremely brief (26-measure) and concentrated work. Berio’s detailed performance markings give explicit indication of the music’s character: it must be triple piano throughout, and Berio marks the music sempre legatissimo and teneramente e lontano: “tenderly and far away.” Though it is in a specific key (F minor), this music may be regarded as a study in harmonic and textural complexity. It begins gently in 6/8, and at least one critic has made the connection between this quiet opening and the barcarolle, the rocking song of Venetian gondoliers, and identified that connection as the source of the work’s title. Within this quiet beginning, Berio introduces a brief thematic cell that interrupts the harmonic and rhythmic flow. Gradually textures grow thicker, there are wide thematic skips, and the music takes on an unexpected complexity before Wasserklavier resolves quietly on an F-minor scale.

Rain Tree Sketch II

Born October 8, 1930, Tokyo
Died February 20, 1996, Tokyo
Approximate Duration: 4 minutes

Takemitsu was virtually self-taught as a composer. His music–which combines Japanese materials, Western techniques, and an acute ear for instrumental color–is entirely original. Not for Takemitsu is the dramatic, incident-crowded music of the Western symphonic tradition. Instead, he suggests, “We should listen in the way we walk through an ornamental garden.” Certain features distinguish Takemitsu’s music: its wide palette of color, the contrast between what seems a static timelessness and bursts of ecstatic activity reminiscent of Messiaen, the contrast between the sound of the piano’s sharp percussive attack and the subtle decay of that attack, the attention to reverberation (this music requires scrupulous use of all three pedals), and the delicacy of much of his music.

Takemitsu composed Rain Tree Sketch II in 1992, shortly after the death of Olivier Messiaen in April of that year; the work received joint premières in October 1992 in France and Japan. Subtitled In Memoriam Olivier Messiaen, this music seems to take on some of the spirit of that French master: Takemitsu’s opening marking is “Celestially Light,” and he specifies that the central episode is to be “Joyful.”

Barcarolle No. 5 in F-sharp Minor, Opus 66

Born May 12, 1845, Pamiers, France
Died November 4, 1924, Paris
Approximate Duration: 6 minutes

The term barcarolle (“boat-song”) comes from the Italian barcarole, the songs of the Venetian gondoliers. The barcarolle traditionally has some of the relaxed ease of those songs, in which a melody is sung over a rocking accompaniment in a slow 6/8 meter that echoes the motion of the boat across the waves. This agreeable form made its way into the art-music of serious composers across Europe in the middle of the nineteenth century–Chopin composed a Barcarolle in F-sharp Major, Mendelssohn included what he called Venetian Boat Songs in several of his sets of Songs without Words, and many other composers provided examples.

French composer Gabriel Fauré was particularly attracted to the barcarolle–he wrote thirteen of them across the span of his career. He completed the fifth of that series on September 18, 1894, a few months after his fiftieth birthday and dedicated it to the wife of his friend Vincent d’Indy. No one coming to this music without knowing its title would guess that it is a barcarolle. Rather than exuding a relaxed ease, this is complex music. Fauré sets it in 9/8 rather than the expected 6/8, but will then write passages in 6/8, and at one point he sets the right hand in 2/4 and the left in 6/8. This is also quite energetic music. Fauré may mark the beginning dolce, but within just a few measures the music has grown to sempre fortissimo, and it spills over with energy throughout–it can be rippling and sparkling one moment, turbulent and dissonant the next, and dissonances will sting from out of these washes of sound. After all this energy, the music grows quiet and vanishes on a gently-arpeggiated chord in F-sharp major.

Jeux d’eau

Born March 7, 1875, Ciboure, Basses-Pyrénées, France
Died December 28, 1937, Paris
Approximate Duration: 5 minutes

Ravel composed his Jeux d’eau in 1901, when he was still almost unknown. At that time, the 26-year-old composer had gained a slender reputation with a few brief piano pieces– Pavane for a Dead Princess and Habanera–but he was still enrolled in the Paris Conservatory as a student of Fauré and struggling to win that symbol of success for young French composers, the Prix de Rome. Ravel never won that prize, but his Jeux d’eau, one of his most dazzling and original pieces, brought him sudden fame.

This music is at once both a connection with the past and a departure toward the future. The connection with the past may at first seem an unlikely one: Franz Liszt. In 1877, while living in Rome, Liszt had composed a brief piano piece called Les jeux d’eaux a la Villa d’Este (heard later on this program), a depiction of the play of the water in the fountain of the estate where he was living. Ravel borrowed both the general conception of Liszt’s music and the first part of his title when he wrote Jeux d’eau (“Play of the Water”), but he achieved a range of sparkling color from the piano that Liszt never dreamed of.

In the score, Ravel prefaced the music with a quote from Henri de Regnier: “The river god laughs at the water as it caresses him.” One should take this as a general suggestion of spirit rather than as something the music sets out to depict literally–Ravel himself said that Jeux d’eau was “inspired by the bubbling of water and the musical sounds of fountains, waterfalls, and brooks.” In this music he achieves an enormous range of sounds that evoke sparkling waters: the very opening (which sounds bell-like because Ravel keeps it in the piano’s ringing high register) suggests a completely new soundworld from the piano, and Ravel contrasts this with a variety of sonorities, from delicate tracery cascading downward to thundering music that sweeps across the keyboard.


Born May 29, 1860, Camprodón, Lérida, Spain
Died May 18, 1909, Cambo-les-Bains, France
Approximate Duration: 10 minutes

We remember Albeniz primarily for the music inspired by his homeland, and the work that most completely embodies Albéniz’s use of Spanish materials is his masterpiece, the suite Iberia. Iberia consists of four books of three pieces each, which were composed during the final years of his life, 1905- 09. These twelve pieces have been described as a collection of evocations of Spain and its atmosphere, music, and sounds (so successful has this music proven that some observers claim that this music evokes for them even the characteristic smells of Spain). Albéniz wrote Iberia during his final illness, when he was living in France, and in a touching way these pieces truly are evocations of a music and a world Albeniz remembered from his boyhood.

Almería, the second piece in Book II, was inspired by the city of that name, built on the Mediterranean coast during the Muslim occupation of southern Spain. Almería is famous for its fortress, its beautiful setting, and its hot temperatures. Albéniz’s evocation of the city is in ternary form, with the central chordal section giving way to an expansive return of the opening material.

Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este S.163/4

Born October 22, 1811, Raiding, Austria
Died July 31, 1886, Bayreuth, Germany
Approximate Duration: 7 minutes

Liszt gave up the post of kapellmeister in Weimar in 1859 and moved the following year to Rome, where he took minor orders in the Catholic Church and lived for part of each year in the Villa d’Este in Rome. The Villa d’Este is a handsome sixteenth-century villa built on a steep hillside in Tivoli and famous for its gardens and particularly for its fountains, which are of many different and elaborate designs and which stretch down the hillside. By the time Liszt lived there, the Villa had fallen into disrepair (it has since been renovated), but the fountains and gardens were intact, and they made a profound impression on the composer.

Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este (“Play of the Waters at the Villa d’Este”) is a musical evocation of one of the sparkling fountains on the estate. This shimmering music would have a powerful influence a generation later on two young French composers who would write a great deal of similar “water” music: Debussy and Ravel. Liszt’s portrait of sunlight sparkling off the waters of the fountain seems pure impressionism: the swirling beginning gives way to more lyric ideas in the middle section. In the score at this point Liszt includes a quote from St. John: “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I give him shall become in him a fountain of water springing up into eternal life.”

Andante from In the Mists

Born July 3, 1854, Hukvaldy, Czech Republic
Died August 12, 1928, Ostravia, Czech Republic
Approximate Duration: 3 minutes

Janáček composed In the Mists in 1912, when he was 58 years old and serving as director of the Organ School in Brno. As a composer he was virtually unknown: a regional production of his opera Jenůfa in 1904 had brought him a brief moment of notice, but now he seemed doomed to live out his days as a provincial musician. Success would come to Janáček a decade later, but when he wrote In the Mists, Janáček could have no inkling of this: he was nearing retirement, he was unknown, he was trapped in an unhappy marriage, and he feared that this would be his fate.

Some of Janáček’s biographers believe that the title In the Mists is autobiographical and that it refers to Janáček’s belief that–as a composer–he was lost “in the mist.” Janáček had a fondness for enigmatic titles, and we need to be careful not to read significance into a situation where it may not belong, but that suggestion is intriguing.

In the Mists is a suite of four brief movements. The mood here is neither bitter nor angry, but all four movements are tinged with a measure of melancholy. All four are in a general ternary form: an opening statement, a central episode in a different mood or tempo, and return (sometimes modified) to the opening material. But this music conforms to no set form, and the individual movements are episodic, mercurial in their short themes, repeated phrases, and quick changes of mood and color. This recital offers only the opening Andante, and one might note how beautifully it establishes the subdued mood of the entire work.

La cathédrale engloutie

Born August 22, 1862, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Died March 25, 1918, Paris
Approximate Duration: 6 minutes

Debussy composed his first book of twelve Preludes very quickly, between December 1909 and February 1910. Though he has been inescapably tagged an “impressionist,” Debussy disliked that term. He would have argued that he was not trying to present a physical impression of something but instead trying to re-create in sound the character of his subject. So little was he concerned to convey a physical impression that he carefully placed the evocative title of each prelude at its end rather than its beginning: he did not wish to have an audience (or performer) fit the music into a preconceived mental set but rather wanted the music heard for itself first, then identified with an idea or image later. Some scholars, in fact, have gone so far as to say that perhaps Debussy wanted the music to suggest the title.

La cathédrale engloutie (“The Engulfed Cathedral”), however, does seem to offer a kind of tone-painting. It was inspired by the ancient Breton legend of the town of Ys, which had been submerged and would rise from out of the sea one day each year. The prelude begins with the sound of tolling bells, a distant chorale is heard, and gradually the cathedral rises magnificently out of the sea, sparkling and majestic in the sunlight, then gradually sinks back into the depths.

Piano Sonata No. 2 in F-sharp Minor, Opus 2

Born May 7, 1833, Hamburg
Died April 3, 1897, Vienna
Approximate Duration: 26 minutes

In his famous article in the October 1854 Neue Zeitschrift für Musik that hailed Brahms as “a young eagle,” Robert Schumann described the effect of watching the young man play his music: “Sitting at the piano he began to disclose wonderful regions to us. We were drawn into even more enchanting spheres. Besides, he is a player of genius who can make of the piano an orchestra of lamenting and loudly jubilant voices. There were sonatas, veiled symphonies rather…” Schumann helped Brahms publish these sonatas, and the young man was astonished by the experience of seeing his own music in print–and by his sudden respectability. To Schumann he wrote: “I still cannot accustom myself to seeing these guileless children of nature in their smart new clothes.”

For the first of his works to be published, Brahms chose the two piano sonatas he had played for the Schumann family; both had been composed while he was still a few months short of his twentieth birthday. Published as his Opus 2, the Piano Sonata in F-sharp Minor was actually the first to be composed: Brahms had written it in November 1852. This is a big-boned and dramatic piece of music–at moments it feels very much like “a veiled symphony”–and throughout its span one feels the young composer attempting to constrain his own impetuous and spirited music within the frame of the piano sonata as handed down by Beethoven. The result can feel like a hybrid: this sonata gives the impression of wildness, of a free and rhapsodic spirit caught almost unwillingly within classical form. This is also a very unusual piano sonata, and one of its most distinctive features is the young composer’s effort to unify it around one controlling theme-shape.

This shape appears at the beginning of the second movement, marked Andante con espressione. Brahms in fact composed this movement first, and it may be useful to begin a discussion of this violent sonata with this gentle theme. Brahms drew the shape of the theme from the song Mir ist Leide by the Minnesinger Kraft von Toggenberg; in the song, this theme sets the words: “It makes me sad, that winter has bared the wood and heath.” Brahms uses this theme as the basis of a variation movement: he offers three variations, the last of which grows into a huge extension of the melody (Brahms marks it con molt’ agitazione) before fading to the quiet close. But the interesting thing is that Brahms then takes the initial four notes of this theme and uses them as the basis for the dramatic opening gesture of the first movement and for the main theme of the third movement, a scherzo: he works outward from the slow movement as he builds the rest of this sonata.

A quick tour of that sonata: the opening movement is extremely dramatic, with hammered octaves and much chordal writing. It proceeds almost unremittingly to its powerful coda and then closes (surprisingly) with two quiet chords. The slow movement follows, leading without pause into the scherzo, which is in many respects the most attractive of the four movements. Its basic theme-shape is drawn directly from the melodic theme of the slow movement; here it rushes nimbly along a 6/8 meter. The trio section–quite long–is also impressive: the mood changes sharply here as the music dances with an unexpected elegance, then makes a dark and dissonant return to the opening section. The last movement shows similar imagination. It opens with a long introduction–full of swirls, trills, and runs–before launching into the main section, a smoothly-flowing Allegro non troppo e rubato. Some of the opening movement’s explosive manner returns here, but at the end Brahms springs another surprise: the movement’s florid introduction now returns, and the sonata spirals to its close in a great shower of arabesques and delicate runs.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Of Brahms’ first five opus numbers, three are massive piano sonatas, all of them complete by the time he was twenty, and while he lived for another 44 years, he never wrote another piano sonata. Apparently he found the form too confining for the kind of piano music he wanted to write. When the Piano Sonata in F-sharp Minor was published–and appeared in its “smart new clothes”–Brahms dedicated it to Clara Schumann, whom he had not yet met when he composed it.

Lecture by Steven Cassedy
Can you really make a piano sound like water? And why do composers (almost) always write water music with lots of sharps and ask performers to spend most of their time playing on the black keys of the piano? Maybe it has something to do with the sounds of the pentatonic scale (what you get if you play only black keys)? But what makes those sounds water-like?

Helene-GrimaudShe could be called a Renaissance woman for our times. Hélène Grimaud is not just a deeply passionate and committed musical artist whose pianistic accomplishments play a central role in her life; she is a woman with multiple talents that extend far beyond the instrument she plays with such poetic expression and peerless technical control. The French artist has established herself as a committed wildlife conservationist, a compassionate human rights activist and as a writer.

Grimaud was born in 1969 in Aix-en-Provence where she began her piano studies at the conservatory with Jacqueline Courtin and subsequently under Pierre Barbizet in Marseille. She was accepted into the Paris Conservatoire at just 13 and won first prize in piano performance a mere three years later. She continued to study with György Sándor and Leon Fleisher until, in 1987, she gave her well-received debut recital in Tokyo. The same year the renowned conductor Daniel Barenboim invited her to perform with the Orchestre de Paris. This marked the launch of Grimaud’s musical career – one highlighted by concerts with most of the world’s major orchestras and many celebrated conductors. Her recordings have been critically acclaimed and awarded numerous accolades, among them the Cannes Classical Recording of the Year, Choc du Monde de la musique, Diapason d’or, Grand Prix du disque, Record Academy Prize (Tokyo), Midem Classic Award and the Echo Award.

Between her debut in 1995 with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Claudio Abbado and her first performance with the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur in 1999 – just two of many acclaimed musical milestones – Grimaud made a wholly different kind of debut: in upper New York State she established the Wolf Conservation Center.

Her love for the endangered species was sparked by a chance encounter with a wolf in northern Florida which led to her determination to open an environmental education centre. “To be involved in direct conservation and being able to put animals back where they belong,” she says, “…there’s just nothing more exciting.” But Grimaud’s engagement doesn’t end there: she is also a member of the organization Musicians for Human Rights, a worldwide network of musicians and people working in the field of music to promote a culture of human rights and social change.

For most people, establishing and running an environmental organisation or having a flourishing career as a musician would be accomplishment enough. Yet, remarkably, Hélène Grimaud has also found time to pursue writing, publishing three books that have appeared in various languages. Her first, Variations Sauvages, appeared in 2003. It was followed in 2005 by Leçons particulières, and in 2013 by Retour à Salem, both semi-autobiographical novels.

Despite her divided dedication to these multiple passions, it is through Grimaud’s thoughtful and tenderly expressive music-making that she most deeply touches the emotions of audiences. Fortunately, they have been able to enjoy her concerts worldwide, thanks to the extensive tours she undertakes as a soloist and recitalist. She is also an ardent and committed chamber musician who performs frequently at the most prestigious festivals and cultural events with a wide range of musical collaborators, including Sol Gabetta, Thomas Quasthoff, Rolando Villazón, Jan Vogler, Truls Mørk, Clemens Hagen and the Capuçon brothers.

Recent performance highlights have included two collaborations with the Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon – firstly, tears become… streams become…, a large-scale immersive installation at New York’s historic Park Avenue Armory, whose Drill Hall floor was flooded to become an immense field of water, and secondly, Neck of the Woods, a piece devised for the Manchester International Festival combining music, visual art and theatre, in which Grimaud shared the stage with legendary actress Charlotte Rampling. She also appeared at the opening-night gala of the new Philharmonie de Paris and gave two summer concerts at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (New York State) in her role as 2015 Artist-in-Residence. Her recital at the Philharmonie Essen in May, meanwhile, was crowned by the award of the 2015 Klavier-Festival Ruhr Prize, honouring her exceptional career and extraordinary artistry.

In her diary for the 2015/16 season are appearances with Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra at St Petersburg’s White Nights Festival and at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden’s Summer Festival. She plays Beethoven with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia under Antonio Pappano and Brahms with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. She also tours Asia and Europe, playing concertos by Ravel, Brahms and Mozart and giving a recital programme inspired by water.

In 2016, Grimaud will release Water, a live recording of the performances from tears become… streams become… which brings together works by nine composers: Berio, Takemitsu, Fauré, Ravel, Albéniz, Liszt, Janáček, Debussy, and Nitin Sawhney, who has written seven short Water Transitions for the album as well as producing it. Grimaud has been an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist since 2002, and Water follows the September 2013 release of her album of the two Brahms piano concertos, the first concerto with Andris Nelsons conducting the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the second recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic. Classic FM said: “Hélène Grimaud turns her thrilling, deeply personal brand of music-making to Brahms’s first and second Piano Concertos. Throughout her playing is sensitive, graceful, and commanding without ever feeling forced.” Limelight magazine called it an “utterly remarkable, inspired and inspiring recording”.

Duo, the album she recorded with cellist Sol Gabetta just prior to the Brahms concertos, won the 2013 ECHO Award for “chamber recording of the year”. Previous releases include her readings of Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 19 and 23 on a 2011 disc which also featured a collaboration with singer Mojca Erdmann in the same composer’s Ch’io mi scordi di te?. Grimaud’s 2010 release, the solo recital album Resonances, showcased music by Mozart, Berg, Liszt and Bartók, while her other DG recordings include a selection of Bach’s solo and concerto works, in which she directed the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen from the piano; a Beethoven disc with the Staatskapelle Dresden and Vladimir Jurowski which was chosen as one of history’s greatest classical music albums in the iTunes “Classical Essentials” series; Reflection and Credo (both of which feature a number of thematically linked works); a Chopin and Rachmaninov Sonatas disc; a Bartók CD on which she plays the Third Piano Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra under Pierre Boulez; and a DVD release of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra under the direction of Claudio Abbado.

Hélène Grimaud is undoubtedly a multi-faceted artist. Her deep dedication to her musical career, both in performances and recordings, is reflected and reciprocally amplified by the scope and depth of her environmental and literary pursuits.

Hélène Grimaud last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Celebrity Orchestra Series on February 13, 2015.

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Dec 2 @ 8:00 pm
SDYS CHAMBER ORCHESTRA @ MCASD Sherwood Auditorium | San Diego | California | United States

SDYS Chamber Orchestra

Jeff Edmons, music director & conductor
Richard O’Neill, viola

Returning for the second year as resident artists through our deepening Education Partnership, La Jolla Music Society showcases the incredibly talented young musicians of SDYS’ Chamber Orchestra featuring violist Richard O’ Neill
playing Alexander Tchaikovsky’s arrangement of the Shostakovich Sinfonia for Solo Viola and Strings.

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FALLARitual Fire Dance from El Amor Brujo
SHOSTAKOVICHSinfonia for Solo Viola and Strings
(arr. Tchaikovsky)
DEBUSSYClair de Lune
(Orchestrated by André Caplet)
MOZARTSymphony No. 31 in D Major, K.297 "Paris"

Click here to view the complete December 2016 - January 2017 Program Book

PROGRAM NOTES: SDYS Chamber Orchestra with Richard O'Neill, viola

by Eric Bromberger

Ritual Fire Dance from El amor brujo

Born November 23, 1876, Cádiz, Spain
Died November 14, 1946, Alta Gracia, Argentina
Approximate Duration: 4 minutes

Falla went to Paris to study in 1907 and remained there for seven years, but with the outbreak of World War I he returned to Madrid and–not surprisingly–wished to write something specifically Spanish. Through his friend Martinez Sierra, he met the Andalusian singer-dancer Pastora Imperio, and from her mother, the gypsy Rosario la Mejorana, they heard the old Andalusian gypsy tale that became the basis for a ballet entitled El amor brujo. Sierra adapted a scenario, and Falla composed the music between November 1914 and April 1915, when it was premièred in Madrid.

El amor brujo tells of the young gypsy woman Candelas who loved a passionate but dissolute gypsy, now dead. Candelas is being pursued by the handsome Carmelo, but she is haunted by the ghost of her former lover: whenever she and Carmelo are about to exchange “the perfect kiss” that will symbolize their love, the ghost appears and prevents it. Carmelo devises a plan: remembering the dead gypsy’s fondness for all beautiful young women, he asks his friend Lucia to accompany them. The ghost appears and begins to flirt with Lucia, freeing Candelas and Carmelo to exchange “the perfect kiss.” Vanquished, the ghost disappears forever and triumphant bells ring out.

The Ritual Fire Dance depicts Candelas’ final attempt to exorcise the demon of the gypsy. Midnight arrives on its twelve quiet strokes, and now Candelas dances this “fire” dance in the effort to banish the spirit of her dead lover. Swirling trills over a walking bass line lead to the famous main theme of this dance, with its characteristic triplets; the dance grows increasingly animated and ends brilliantly. Though the Ritual Fire Dance fails to chase off the dissolute ghost, it has become famous on its own and has been heard in many arrangements (it was one of Arthur Rubinstein’s most successful encore pieces).

Sinfonia for Viola and String Orchestra (arr. by Alexander Tchaikovsky of Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Minor, Opus 138)

Born September 25, 1906, St. Petersburg
Died August 9, 1975, Moscow
Approximate Duration: 20 minutes

In 1923, four young string players at the Moscow Conservatory formed a quartet that would eventually become known as the Beethoven Quartet, and they quickly became good friends with the star composition student at the rival St. Petersburg Conservatory, Dmitri Shostakovich. The Beethoven Quartet’s close relation with the composer would last for over half a century, and they gave the premières of thirteen of his quartets (all but the first and last). By the late 1960s, however, the effect of time was becoming all too clear: Shostakovich suffered from debilitating illness over the final decade of his life, and the quartet lost two of its original members–second violinist Vasily Shirinsky died and violist Vadim Borisovsky retired. As a gesture of lifelong respect and gratitude, Shostakovich dedicated each of his String Quartets Nos. 11 through 14 to a different member of the quartet. He composed the String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Minor during the summer of 1970, completing it on August 10, and dedicated it to violist Borisovsky on the occasion of his seventieth birthday (Borisovsky had at that point already retired from the quartet). With its new members, the Beethoven Quartet gave the quartet several private hearings before the official première on December 13, 1970, in Leningrad.

The Thirteenth Quartet is heard at this concert in an arrangement for solo viola and string orchestra made by the Russian composer Alexander Tchaikovsky (born 1946). In this arrangement, titled Sinfonia for Viola and String Orchestra, Tchaikovsky transforms the quartet into a sort of concerto for viola and string orchestra by assigning to the solo viola the quartet’s leading melodic line, whether it was for the two violins, the viola, or the cello in the original. The effect is to re-cast Shostakovich’s quartet in a way that gives the viola a concerto-like solo part and enriches the overall sound of the original.

This music may have been written to commemorate a birthday, but there is nothing festive about it. It’s one movement is in a broad ternary form: the opening Adagio gives way to a long central episode at twice that tempo before the final section returns to the opening tempo.

Set in the dark key of B-flat minor, the Sinfonia opens with a spare viola solo marked espressivo. Gradually the other voices enter, the music rises to a dissonant outburst, and the opening section gives way to the central section, marked Doppio movimento and announced by chirping threenote patterns. These patterns of three-note attacks gradually build to a strident climax in which three-note patterns are hammered out by the entire ensemble. Then the music launches into an eerie dance that skitters along triplet rhythms and is punctuated by the sound of the players tapping their bows on their instruments. This unsettled music–wild in its hard-edged energy and strange sounds–is the most Bartókian moment in the entire cycle of Shostakovich’s quartets.

Gradually this dance winds down, and ominous trills and a recall of the three-note patterns lead to a return to the opening tempo. But now that opening music has become even darker. In the course of this closing section, for which Shostakovich mutes all the instruments, there is a long duet– murmuring and subdued–for viola and cellos, and then the cellos vanish. The final word is left to the viola, whose bleak soliloquy (sometimes set at the extreme upper limit of that instrument’s range) leads to the jolting cadence: on its final note, the viola is rejoined by the (unmuted) violins, and these instruments shriek out the concluding B-flat.

Clair de lune (orch. André Caplet)

Born August 22, 1862, Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Died March 25, 1918, Paris
Approximate Duration: 5 minutes

Clair de lune, Debussy’s seductive invitation into a world of moonlit possibility, has become one of his most famous compositions, so it may come as a surprise to learn that in its earliest version this music had nothing at all to do with moonlight. Debussy originally composed it around 1890 under the title Promenade sentimentale, and the 28-year-old composer intended it as one of the movements of a suite of pieces for piano. Debussy sketched that suite in 1890, but he was in no hurry to finish it–not until fifteen years later, in 1905, did he come back to these pieces, revise them, and publish the set under the title Suite bergamasque.

But there had been some important changes along the way. The movement originally titled Promenade sentimentale now had a new name, Clair de lune, which Debussy had taken from the title of a poem by Paul Verlaine. Verlaine (1844-1896) is remembered as one of the symbolist poets, that school of poetry centered in France at the end of the nineteenth century that reacted against realism and in favor of an exploration of the internal consciousness–a setting suffused with the half tones of soft moonlight was perfect for that imagination.

Debussy’s Clair de lune fully deserves its popularity. No matter how over-familiar this music may have become, Debussy’s fluid rhythms, haunting melodies, and muted, silvery colors continue to work their hold on listeners (and performers). Clair de lune has been arranged for many different instrumental combinations, and arrangements for orchestra offer a palette of sound that can evoke the subtle textures of Debussy’s music more fully than a solo piano. Clair de lune is heard at this concert in an orchestration by the French composer André Caplet (1878-1925), who is best-remembered today for his arrangements of Debussy’s piano pieces.

Symphony No. 31 in D Major, K.297 “Paris”

Born January 27, 1756, Salzburg
Died December 5, 1791, Vienna
Approximate Duration: 20 minutes

In the years 1777-78 Mozart and his mother set out on a long trip through the musical capitals of Europe in search of a position for the young man. Mozart found no position, but the trip did let him hear the two finest orchestras in Europe: those of Mannheim and Paris. He was very impressed by the Mannheim orchestra, renowned for its virtuosity and long crescendos, but he was distinctly less impressed with the situation in Paris, where he found the orchestra subpar and the audiences shallow. The Paris orchestra was famous for its unison attacks, called there coup d’archet, but Mozart was underwhelmed. To his father back in Salzburg, he wrote: “The oxen here make such a fuss of this!–the devil!–they all begin together–just like in other places.” In Paris, Mozart was asked by Joseph LeGros, director of the Concerts Spirituels, to write a symphony, and early in June 1778 he composed a symphony tailored specifically for Paris. He wrote for the large Paris orchestra, which meant a full complement of winds (including the first appearance of clarinets in a Mozart symphony); he left out the minuet movement typical only of the Viennese symphony; and he tried to appeal to current Parisian fashions. This is most evident in Mozart’s conscious use of the coup d’archet: the first movement opens with a massive attack for full orchestra and then a brisk run up the D-major scale. This flourish, clearly aimed at Parisian taste, returns at key points throughout the movement. Scholars have noted the influence of the baroque concerto on this movement, which features themes tossed between strings and solo winds, but there is also a touch of Mannheim influence in the long crescendos. In a letter to his father, Mozart made clear just how consciously he was trying to please his audience: “Right in the middle of the first Allegro, there was a passage that I knew must please, all the hearers were quite carried away and there was a great burst of applause–but I had known, when I wrote it, what kind of effect it would make, so I brought it back again at the close–when there were shouts of Da capo.”

While the audience liked the slow movement at the première, LeGros did not and asked Mozart to rewrite it for a second performance of the symphony in August. This Mozart did, and the movement exists in two versions–as an Andantino in 6/8 and as an Andante in 3/4–but the problem now is that no one knows which is the original and which is the replacement! At the present concert, the Andantino is performed. This is songful and elegant music, and while Mozart introduces a second subject, he does not develop either of his main ideas. The scoring is somewhat unusual: after the huge orchestral effects of the first movement, Mozart uses the winds very sparingly here, and most of the thematic interest is in the strings.

The concluding Allegro returns to the manner of the opening movement and is notable for its virtuosity and brilliant effects, which include some accomplished fugal writing in the development. For the best description of this music, though, we should turn to the composer himself, who wrote to his father after the première: “as I had heard that all the last Allegros here, like the first, begin with all the instruments together, usually in unison, I began mine with the two violins alone, piano for the first eight bars–after which came a forte–this made the audience, as I expected, say ‘Ssh’ at the piano–and then came the forte–when they heard the forte they at once began to clap their hands–I went as soon as the symphony was over to the Palais Royal–I had a large ice–and I said the Rosary as I had vowed.”

On a final note, Mozart may have sneered at French tastes and consciously catered to them, but this does not mean that he undervalued this music. On the contrary: he took this symphony with him when he moved to Vienna in 1781 and performed it there several times, something he rarely did with his “old” music.

Arrive early for a pre-performance interview with Richard O’Neill hosted by Marcus Overton.

SDYSChamber3Under the leadership of President and CEO Dalouge Smith and Music Director Jeff Edmons, San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory (SDYS) instills excellence in the musical and personal development of students ages 8 to 23 through rigorous and inspiring musical training experiences. Since 1945, SDYS has given thousands of musicians the opportunity to study and perform classical repertoire at a highly advanced level. SDYS attracts student musicians from throughout San Diego, Imperial and Riverside counties and serves over 600 students annually through its 12 ensembles.

The organization’s preeminent ensemble, the SDYS Chamber Orchestra is comprised of the principal and assistant principal musicians from the advanced level Ovation Program and rehearses at an extraordinarily proficient level for a youth program. Provided the finest training, the Chamber Orchestra is given the opportunity to perform professional level repertoire from multiple historic periods for both string orchestra and full chamber orchestra on a national and international stage. Most recently, select students of the San Diego Youth Symphony participated in SDYS’s 70th Anniversary tour to China and performed in Beijing’s Forbidden City Concert Hall, San Diego’s sister city Yantai’s Poly Grand Theatre and the Oriental Arts Center in Shanghai in June 2015.

SDYS Chamber Orchestra last performed at La Jolla Music Society in the San Diego Youth Symphony Series on December, 11 2015 San Diego Youth Symphony enjoys a successful partnership with LJMS.

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Jeff-EdmondUnder Jeff Edmons' direction, the Youth Symphony has experienced tremendous growth, both in enrollment and in level of musical achievement. Performing the most difficult works in classical repertoire, SDYS achieves the highest standard attainable by a youth orchestra. SDYS' exemplary standards of skill and musicianship have afforded it the opportunity to participate in the most prestigious international festivals and perform with eminent guest artists and musicians from around the world.

Under Mr. Edmons direction, the Youth Symphony boasts a strong international presence as well as setting a benchmark for excellence in the United States. San Diego Magazine named Jeff Edmons as "50 People to Watch in 1997."

Mr. Edmons has dedicated himself to promoting youth music and youth education. He has led youth, collegiate and professional orchestras in critically acclaimed performances throughout the United States, as well as Mexico, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Switzerland. He has received numerous local and national invitations and awards for his achievements in music education. Mr. Edmons has also been featured in articles and journals honoring his work and has been the subject of documentaries on CNN, Fox Television, National Public Radio and many more.

He studied violin performance with Michael Davis, former Concertmaster of the Scottish National Orchestra, String Pedagogy with renown Pedagogue Dr. Robert Gillespie, and he studied Wind, Brass,Percussion Pedagogy and Wind Ensemble conducting with Craig Kirchoff, Principal Guest Conductor of the Tokyo Wind Orchestra and past President and Chair of the National College Band Director's Association.

Jeff Edmons and the San Diego Youth Symphony enjoy a successful partnership with LJMS.

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Richard-ONeillEMMY® Award Winner, two-time GRAMMY® nominee and Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient, Richard O'Neill has appeared as soloist with the London, Los Angeles, Seoul and Euro-Asian Philharmonics, the BBC, KBS and Korean Symphony Orchestras, the Moscow and Württemburg Chamber Orchestras and Alte Musik Köln with conductors Andrew Davis, Vladimir Jurowski, Yannick Nezet-Sequin, Vassily Sinaisky, Miguel Harth-Bedoya and François Xavier Roth. As recitalist he has performed at Carnegie, Avery Fisher, Alice Tully, Kennedy Center, Wigmore, the Louvre, Salle Cortot, Madrid’s National Concert Hall, Tokyo’s International Forum and Opera City, Osaka Symphony Hall and Seoul Arts Center. A UNIVERSAL/DG recording artist, he has made eight solo albums that have sold more than 150,000 copies. An Artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and resident violist of Camerata Pacifica, he frequently collaborates with the world’s greatest artists. Dedicated to the music of our time, composers Elliot Carter, John Harbison, Huang Ruo and Paul Chihara have written works dedicated to him. In his ninth season as Artistic Director of DITTO (his South Korean chamber music initiative) he has introduced tens of thousands to chamber music in South Korea and Japan and will collaborate with Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica this October. The first violist to receive the Artist Diploma from The Juilliard School, he was honored with a Proclamation from the New York City Council for his achievement and contribution to the Arts. He serves as Goodwill Ambassador for the Korean Red Cross and UNICEF, runs marathons for charity and teaches at UCLA.

Richard O’Neill last performed for La Jolla Music Society in SummerFest 2014.

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Dec 9 @ 8:00 pm
TAKÁCS QUARTET @ MCASD Sherwood Auditorium | San Diego | California | United States

Takács Quartet

Recognized as one of the world’s great ensembles, the Takács Quartet
returns to La Jolla Music Society to play their unique blend of drama, warmth and humor, to bring fresh insights to the string quartet repertoire. They bring
an all-Beethoven program featuring three quartets from different decades in chronological order, highlighting the development of Beethoven’s writing
for the quartet.

“The Takács might play Beethoven better than any other quartet in the past or the present.”
– The Cleveland Plain Dealer

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Prior to the performance please join us for Happy Hour at The LOT.

BEETHOVENString Quartet in A Major, Op. 18, No. 5
BEETHOVENString Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95 "Serioso"
BEETHOVENString Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 127

Click here to view the complete December 2016 - January 2017 Program Book


by Eric Bromberger

String Quartet in A Major, Opus 18, No. 5

Born December 16, 1770, Bonn
Died March 26, 1827, Vienna
Approximate Duration: 28 minutes

Beethoven’s first string quartets, a set of six written in Vienna during the years 1798-1800, inevitably show the influence of Haydn and Mozart, who had made the form a great one. Scholars have been unanimous in believing that the fifth quartet of Beethoven’s set had a quite specific model: Mozart’s String Quartet in A Major, K.464, composed in 1785. Beethoven greatly admired this particular quartet and had copied out the last two movements as a way of studying them. Carl Czerny reported that Beethoven once took up the Mozart score and exclaimed: “That’s what I call a work! In it, Mozart was telling the world: Look what I could create if the time were right!” For his own quartet, Beethoven took both the key and general layout of Mozart’s quartet: a sonata-form first movement, a minuet movement that comes second, a theme-and-variation third movement, and a sonata-form finale that–like Mozart’s–ends quietly.

But it is unfair to Beethoven to see his Quartet in A Major as just an imitation of Mozart’s masterpiece. Though the two composers were the same age when they wrote these quartets (29), Beethoven was still feeling his way with a form Mozart had mastered, and though he may have chosen Mozart as a model, this music sounds in every measure like young Beethoven. The opening Allegro is built on two nicely-contrasted ideas–a soaring opening theme and a darker, more melodic second idea–and Beethoven asks for a repeat of both exposition and development. The opening of the minuet belongs entirely to the violins, with the second violin gracefully following and commenting on the first’s theme; the trio section–with the theme in the middle voices under the first violin’s drone–is surprisingly short.

Longest of the movements, the Andante cantabile offers five variations on the simple falling-and-rising idea announced at the beginning; particularly effective are the fugal first variation, the first violin’s staccato triplets in the second, the expressive fourth (which Beethoven marks sempre pp), and the exuberant fifth. A long coda leads to a restatement of the theme and a quiet close. The energetic and good-natured finale is in sonata (rather than the expected rondo) form. The opening melody leaps smoothly between instruments, and Beethoven offers a quiet chorale as the second theme. The writing for all four voices is extremely accomplished here, and on the energy of the opening idea the music rushes to its close, which brings a sudden and surprisingly quiet concluding chord.

String Quartet in A Major, Opus 18, No. 5
Approximate Duration: 21 minutes

Beethoven’s manuscript for the Quartet in F Minor is dated October 1810, but almost certainly he continued to work on this quartet for some years after that, and it was not published until 1816. This quartet has a nickname, “Quartetto Serioso,” that–unusually for a musical nickname–came from the composer himself. Well aware of the music’s extraordinary character, Beethoven described the quartet as having been “written for a small circle of connoisseurs and . . . never to be performed in public.” Joseph Kerman has described it as “an involved, impassioned, highly idiosyncratic piece, problematic in every one of its movements, advanced in a hundred ways” and “unmatched in Beethoven’s output for compression, exaggerated articulation, and a corresponding sense of extreme tension.” Yet this same quartet–virtually the shortest of Beethoven’s string quartets–comes from the same period as the easily accessible “Archduke” Trio, the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies, and the incidental music to Goethe’s Egmont, and this music’s extraordinary focus and tension seem sharply at odds with those scores. In fact, this quartet in many ways prefigures Beethoven’s late style and the great cycle of quartets written during his final years.

The first movement is extraordinarily compressed (it lasts barely four minutes), and it catapults listeners through an unexpected series of key relationships. The unison opening figure is almost spit out, passing through and ending in a “wrong” key and then followed by complete silence. Octave leaps and furious restatements of the opening figure lead to the swaying second subject, announced in flowing triplets by the viola. The development section of this (highly modified) sonata-form movement is quite short, treating only the opening theme, before the movement exhausts itself on fragments of that theme.

The marking of the second movement, Allegretto ma non troppo, might seem to suggest some relief, but this movement is even more closely argued than the first. The cello’s strange descending line introduces a lovely opening melody, but this quickly gives way to a long and complex fugue, its sinuous subject announced by the viola and then taken up and developed by the other voices. A quiet close (derived from the cello’s introduction) links this movement to the third, a violent fast movement marked Allegro assai vivace ma serioso. The movement is in ABABA form, the explosive opening section alternating with a chorale-like subject for the lower three voices which the first violin decorates. Once again, Beethoven takes each section into unexpected keys. The last movement has a slow introduction–Larghetto espressivo–full of the darkness that has marked the first three movements, and this leads to a blistering finale that does much to dispel the tension. In an oft-quoted remark about the arrival of this theme, American composer Randall Thompson is reported to have said: “No bottle of champagne was ever uncorked at a better moment.” In contrast, for example, to the near-contemporary Seventh Symphony, which ends in wild celebration, this quartet has an almost consciously anti-heroic close, concluding with a very fast coda that Beethoven marks simply Allegro.

Some have felt that the Quartet in F Minor is composed with the same technique as the late quartets but without their sense of spiritual elevation, and in this sense they see the present quartet as looking ahead toward Beethoven’s late style. But it is unfair to this music to regard it simply as a forerunner of another style. This quartet may well be dark, explosive, and extremely concentrated. But it should be valued for just those qualities.

String Quartet in E-flat Major, Opus 127
Approximate Duration: 37 minutes

When Russian prince Nikolai Golitsyn wrote to Beethoven in the fall of 1822 to commission three string quartets, his request met a sympathetic response: the composer had been thinking about writing string quartets for some time and promised to have the first done within a month or two. After seven years of intermittent activity he had resumed sustained composing in 1820 with a set of three piano sonatas, but other projects now intervened, and despite the prince’s frequent inquiries Beethoven had to complete the Missa Solemnis, Diabelli Variations, and Ninth Symphony before he could begin work on the first of the three quartets in the summer of 1824. This quartet–in E-flat major–was not complete until February 1825. Performed immediately by the string quartet of Ignaz Schuppanzigh, the music was a failure at its première on March 6, 1825. Furious, Beethoven quickly had it rehearsed and performed by a quartet led by Joseph Böhm. The composer attended their rehearsals and supervised their interpretation (though deaf, he could follow their performance by watching the movement of their bows). The second performance was successful, and this quartet was performed publicly at least ten more times in 1825–an extraordinary number of performances for a new work–and always to great acclaim.

That fact is important because it undercuts the notion that Beethoven’s late quartets were far ahead of their time. Certain features of the late quartets did defy quick comprehension, but this was not true of the Quartet in E-flat Major. At first glance, this is the most traditional of Beethoven’s late quartets. It has a relatively straightforward structure: a sonataform first movement, a variation-form slow movement, a scherzo in ABA form, and a dance-finale. But to reduce this music to such simplicity is to miss the extraordinary originality beneath its appealing and gentle surface.

In the first movement, Beethoven seems to set out intentionally to blur the outlines of traditional sonata form, which depends on the opposition of material. Contrast certainly seems to be implied at the beginning, which opens with a firm chordal Maestoso, but this Maestoso quickly melts into the flowing and simple main theme, marked Allegro (Beethoven further specifies that he wants this melody performed teneramente–“tenderly”–and sempre piano e dolce). The powerful Maestoso returns twice more, each time in a different key, and then drops out of the movement altogether; Beethoven builds the movement almost exclusively out of the opening melody and an equally-gentle second subject. Here is a sonata-form movement that does not drive to a powerful climax but instead remains understated throughout: the movement evaporates on a wisp of the opening Allegro theme.

Two softly-pulsing measures lead to the main theme of the Adagio, a gently-rocking and serene melody introduced by the first violin and repeated by the cello. There follow six melodic variations, each growing organically out of the previous one until the music achieves a kind of rhapsodic calm–and the original theme has been left far behind. Four sharp pizzicato chords introduce the scherzo, and these four chords then vanish, never to reappear. The fugue-like opening section, built on a dotted figure and its inversion, leads to a brief–and utterly different–trio section. In E-flat minor, this trio whips past in a blistering blur: Beethoven’s phrase markings here stretch over twenty measures at a time. Beethoven brings back the opening section, then offers a surprise at the ending by including a quick reminiscence of the trio just before the cadence.

The last movement has proven the most difficult for commentators, perhaps because of its apparent simplicity. Marked only Finale (there is no tempo indication), it opens with a four-measure introduction that launches off in the wrong direction before the true main theme appears in the first violin. Of rustic simplicity, this melody has been compared to a country-dance, and the second theme–a jaunty march-tune decorated with grace notes–preserves that atmosphere. The tunes may be innocent, but Beethoven’s treatment of them in this sonata-form movement is quite sophisticated, particularly in matters of modulation and harmony. The ending is particularly striking. At the coda Beethoven re-bars the music in 6/8, moves to C major, and speeds ahead on violin trills, chains of triplets, and shimmering textures. The very end, back in E-flat major, is calm, resounding–and perfect.

Lecture by James Chute
In the Takács Quartet’s illuminating, all-Beethoven program, we’ll hear Beethoven learning the principles of the string quartet genre in the String Quartet No. 5, expanding those principles in No. 11, and transcending them in No. 12, the first of his five celebrated late string quartets. We’ll talk about some of basics that Beethoven mastered, the rules that had been perfected by Haydn and Mozart, and how Beethoven broke them to go beyond any other composer of his era, and some would say any era, in his string quartets.

Takacs QuartetRecognized as one of the world's great ensembles, the Takács Quartet plays with a unique blend of drama, warmth and humor, combining four distinct musical personalities to bring fresh insights to the string quartet repertoire.

In 2012, Gramophone announced that the Takács was the only string quartet to be inducted into its first Hall of Fame, along with such legendary artists as Jascha Heifetz, Leonard Bernstein and Dame Janet Baker. The ensemble also won the 2011 Award for Chamber Music and Song presented by the Royal Philharmonic Society in London. Based in Boulder at the University of Colorado, the Takács Quartet performs ninety concerts a year worldwide, in North America, throughout Europe as well as in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.

Appointed in 2012 as the first-ever Associate Artists at Wigmore Hall in London, the Takács will present six concerts per season there. Other European engagements include performances in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Musikverein in Vienna, and the Musee d'Orsay in Paris.

In 2013-2014, the Takács returns to Japan and Singapore, and will also perform Bartók Cycles throughout the U.S., including performances at Ravinia, Carnegie Hall, Princeton, Kennedy Center, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Boston, and Cleveland. The Quartet recently toured in North America with pianists Marc-Andre Hamelin and Garrick Ohlsson, including concerts at New York's Lincoln Center.

The Quartet's award-winning recordings include the complete Beethoven Cycle on the Decca label. In 2005 the Late Beethoven Quartets won Disc of the Year and Chamber Award from BBC Music Magazine, a Gramophone Award and a Japanese Record Academy Award. Their recordings of the early and middle Beethoven quartets collected a Grammy, another Gramophone Award, a Chamber Music of America Award and two further awards from the Japanese Recording Academy. Of their performances and recordings of the Late Quartets, the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote "The Takács might play this repertoire better than any quartet of the past or present."

In 2006 the Takács Quartet made their first recording for Hyperion Records, of Schubert's D804 and D810. A disc featuring Brahms' Piano Quintet with Stephen Hough was released to great acclaim in November 2007 and was subsequently nominated for a Grammy. Brahms' Quartets Op. 51 and Op. 67 were released in the fall of 2008 and a disc featuring the Schumann Piano Quintet with Marc-Andre Hamelin was released in late 2009. The complete Haydn "Apponyi" Quartets, Op. 71 and 74 were subsequently released, followed in 2012 by the Schubert Quintet CD with Ralph Kirshbaum. The three Britten Quartets will be released in 2013.

The Quartet has also made sixteen recordings for the Decca label since 1988 of works by Beethoven, Bartók, Borodin, Brahms, Chausson, Dvořák, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Smetana. The ensemble's recording of the six Bartók String Quartets received the 1998 Gramophone Award for chamber music and, in 1999, was nominated for a Grammy. In addition to the Beethoven String Quartet cycle recording, the ensemble's other Decca recordings include Dvořák's String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 51 and Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81 with pianist Andreas Haefliger; Schubert's Trout Quintet with Mr. Haefliger, which was nominated in 2000 for a Grammy Award; string quartets by Smetana and Borodin; Schubert's Quartet in G Major and Notturno Piano Trio with Mr. Haefliger; the three Brahms string quartets and Piano Quintet in F Minor with pianist András Schiff; Chausson's Concerto for violin, piano and string quartet with violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet; and Mozart's String Quintets, K515 and 516 with Gyorgy Pauk, viola.

The quartet is known for innovative programming. In 2007 it performed, with Academy Award–winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Everyman" in Carnegie Hall, inspired by the Philip Roth novel. The group collaborates regularly with the Hungarian folk ensemble Muzsikas, performing a program that explores the folk sources of Bartók's music. The Takács performed a music and poetry program on a fourteen city US tour with the poet Robert Pinsky. In 2010 the Takács collaborated with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and David Lawrence Morse on a drama project that explored the composition of Beethoven's last quartets. The members of the Takács Quartet are Christoffersen Faculty Fellows at the University of Colorado Boulder. The Quartet has helped to develop a string program with a special emphasis on chamber music, where students work in a nurturing environment designed to help them develop their artistry. The Quartet's commitment to teaching is enhanced by summer residencies at the Aspen Festival and at the Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara. The Takács is a Visiting Quartet at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London.

The Takács Quartet was formed in 1975 at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest by Gabor Takács-Nagy, Károly Schranz, Gabor Ormai and András Fejér, while all four were students. It first received international attention in 1977, winning First Prize and the Critics' Prize at the International String Quartet Competition in Evian, France. The Quartet also won the Gold Medal at the 1978 Portsmouth and Bordeaux Competitions and First Prizes at the Budapest International String Quartet Competition in 1978 and the Bratislava Competition in 1981. The Quartet made its North American debut tour in 1982. Violinist Edward Dusinberre joined the Quartet in 1993 and violist Roger Tapping in 1995. Violist Geraldine Walther replaced Mr. Tapping in 2005. In 2001 the Takács Quartet was awarded the Order of Merit of the Knight's Cross of the Republic of Hungary, and in March of 2011 each member of the Quartet was awarded the Order of Merit Commander's Cross by the President of the Republic of Hungary.

The Takács Quartet last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Revelle Chamber Music Series on January 17, 2015.

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Dec 16 @ 8:00 pm
THE UKULELE ORCHESTRA OF GREAT BRITAIN @ MCASD Sherwood Auditorium | San Diego | California | United States

Event Info

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain
“Holiday Show”

This Holiday Season come and enjoy The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain with bells on!

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain has entertained British Royalty, jammed with George Harrison, performed with Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) and rocked out at Glastonbury Festival! See and hear for yourself why their hilarious, entertaining dash through all genres of music has led to sold out shows all over the world from the Royal Albert Hall to Sydney Opera House via Carnegie Hall.

This holiday season, The Ukulele Orchestra will ask the audience to add to the music by inviting them to play ukuleles and sing from their seats in the hall.

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Audience Play-Along Pieces
Great Opportunities for Ticket Holders


Learn more about the Ukulele Orchestra play-a-long pieces
The Ukulele Orchestra are asking you, the audience, to add to the music and the festive merriment by inviting you to play ukuleles and sing from your seats in the hall. This page is here to make it easy for you to be prepared and practice the music in advance of the performance. Click to download sheet music and watch video tutorials for three Holiday pieces: Good King Wenceslas, Jingle Bells and We Wish You A Merry Christmas.

Sheet Music

Video Tutorials

Click here to view the complete December 2016 - January 2017 Program Book



Back by popular demand, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain returns for two special Holiday Shows. When The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is in town, audiences can look forward to lots of catchy, foot-stomping tunes, a bit of comedy and, at this time of year, good old-fashioned holiday cheer!

George Hinchliffe
Jonty Bankes
Peter Brooke Turner
Will Grove-White
Leisa Rea
Ben Rouse
Dave Suich
Richie Williams

The program will be announced from the stage and will include songs where the orchestra will invite you to play along.

There will be 20-minute intermission.

Artist Bio


The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, that’s the one featuring founders George Hinchliffe and Kitty Lux, has already enjoyed touring in the United States several times. For those who have not yet encountered it, the essential point is that it is an original musical ensemble featuring only ukuleles of various sizes and registers, accompanied by just the natural voices of the performers. Harsher critics have stated the opinion that the Ukulele Orchestra formed their repertoire based on any music considered inappropriate for the instrument, with a “shopping trolley dash through genres” and musical history. For this USA tour the original Ukes chose from their exploration of American folk and blues, heavy metal, bebop and jazz, punk, reggae, electronic dance music and even Chinese melodies gleaned from their 2014 tour of China.

In Europe and America the Orchestra are best known for playing versions of famous rock songs and film themes, sometimes changing these so that the expectations of the audience are subverted. Sometimes a rock song will be changed into a jazz idiom, or sometimes several songs which are known from different genres are combined in one “soup of contrasts.”

The founding brief for the group was to have fun and “not to lose money.” Incredibly, throughout its thirty year career, the group has succeeded in both not losing money AND incidentally making millions of dollars. It has been seen worldwide by audiences including members of the British Royal Family and other crowned heads of Europe, at the Houses of Parliament in London, and by many millions of television and online viewers. In one territory, the Orchestra has played to audiences which comprise sixty percent of the population!

When The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain began in 1985, the public opinion was that an orchestra consisting entirely of ukuleles in different sizes was a strange concept. This was something that attracted the founders. The Orchestra members at that time had experience of many kinds of music and yet had become tired of the conventions of the music business world as well as the conventions of performance and genre stereotyping which were prevalent at that time.

The idea was to make something fresh and entertaining, both modern and old-fashioned, in a different style which deviated from the current performance fashion. People liked the result.

Today, after many years, the Orchestra finds that wherever they go, people are now playing ukuleles, often in groups. Many of these enthusiasts tell the Orchestra that they were inspired to play the instrument after seeing and hearing this, the original Ukulele Orchestra. And now there are many ukulele orchestras, some acknowledging the pioneering work of the UOGB, others claiming ignorance of this rich history, but none of them existing before this, the original Ukulele Orchestra.

In 2015 The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain will celebrate sixteen million minutes of “ukuleleation,” having been “on the road” for thirty years and counting.

While it is not normally in the nature of these artists from Britain to “blow their own trumpets,” or in this case to “pluck their own ukuleles,” it is undeniably a fact that The Ukulele Orchestra of Great

Britain has become not only a national institution, but also a worldwide phenomenon. Among their many international concerts and festival appearances, they have “Sold Right Out” twice at Carnegie Hall in New York, twice at The Royal Albert Hall in London, and also at Sydney Opera House in Australia.

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain has been featured in a CNN report in 2012 and featured on CBS This Morning in 2013. The Orchestra has been invited by the British Broadcasting Corporation to play live on air for BBC Radio 3 (the classical music channel) as well as for BBC Radio 1 (the rock, Electronic Dance Music and youth music channel) and live on other BBC channels many times. They have taken part in “The Electric Proms” (in a collaboration with The Kaiser Chiefs), and the BBC Promenade Concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London (“The Proms”), where they were the “fastest selling late night prom in history,” selling many thousands of tickets for the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London very quickly.

At this concert the Ukulele Orchestra performed “Jerusalem” and other classics of the “Last Night of the Proms,” the celebrated 120 year old concert series which launched in 1895. Around 2,000 ukulele players in the audience joined the Orchestra in playing passages from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. A DVD of this 2010 BBC Prom concert at The Royal Albert Hall is available to order from the website, For those who wish to perform with the Orchestra in the comfort of their own homes, chords and words to accompany the Ukes during their 2012 Sydney Opera House concert are available on this DVD.

The Orchestra has recorded and released records, CDs and DVDs on its own independent label, as well as with CBS, Sony, Discethnique, Longman, Volume, Tachyon and The Ministry of Sound, as well as appearing on Jools Holland’s Hootenany.

Original compositions and songs by the Orchestra have been used on television on film, and in radio plays, as well as in performance by other musicians. They have collaborated with the British Film Institute in providing music for silent films and also musically with Madness, Robbie Williams, Ant & Dec, Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Stefan Raab, Rainer Hersch and a full symphony orchestra performing at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Beatle George Harrison was a well known fan who established contact and played with the orchestra.

In addition to performing at theatres and concert halls, the orchestra has also packed the crowds in at rock festivals such as Glastonbury, The Big Chill, WOMAD, The Electric Picnic, and before 170,000 people in Hyde Park, as well as playing in seven cathedrals in England and Wales. The group has been commissioned to write commemorative concerts, eg. The Cecil Sharp 100 Year Memorial Concert in 2012 and The 100 Year World War One Memorial Concert in 2014 for Birmingham Town Hall.

One unique feature of this, the original Ukulele Orchestra, is that although there are many examples of collaboration, they have remained a determinedly independent concern. Relying on their own resources and an email list of tens of thousands they continue to run their own recording, publishing and to eschew mainstream advertising and record companies.

Celebrity fans include Sir Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Monty Python’s Michael Palin, Brian Eno, Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, George Benson, Joe Brown and Bette Midler.

The orchestra has many “catch phrases” which audiences find entertaining. “A world tour with only hand luggage,” for example, referring to the fact that ukuleles are small instruments. Every concert from the first to the present day, has begun with the announcement: “Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, we ARE the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.” For English speakers, the stress on the word “Are” is a little amusing, suggesting as it does that the orchestra is politely explaining to someone who perhaps thought that a different group was on stage, and that in order to clear up any confusion, they are confirming that they truly are the members of the orchestra.

A typical ukulele orchestra concert will feature songs sung by each member of the orchestra so that the audience can get to know each person on stage. Often a fast piece will be followed by a slow piece in order to maintain variety, and a rock song will perhaps be followed by classical music. The concept is that if a “level field” is maintained by playing only the one kind of instrument, then all kinds of music can be played quite easily without the variety appearing to be chaotic. One important task of any musical group is maintain unity with variety, integrity with difference, many voices all working in the same direction. This orchestra is made up of performers who are different from each other, and with very different musical backgrounds, experiences and performing styles. The ukulele brings them all together. Mr Hinchliffe says that the work of the orchestra is like a pencil line drawing rather than a multi-colored painting. The palate is limited but the possibilities are endless. The ukulele in the hands of the orchestra is said to be like an iceberg; visible above the water, but with much more hidden beneath; there are spiritual dimensions which are far larger and which are not immediately seen. Within the limitations and the simplicity of the humble starting point of the orchestra, there are many possibilities for exploration and variation. It may be the case that the very nature of limitation (in this case to the sounds of the ukulele) enables wider variations to be pursued (which might seem too extreme in a less limited context). Perhaps the limitation stimulates freedom within a defined context. Too much variety could be confusing, too many limitations could become tiresomely familiar. With their combination of “unity and variety, and simultaneous individualism and collectivism” the orchestra is able to make the best of the over-riding vision as well as the individual talents and personalities in the orchestra.

Because the music is played on only ukuleles in different sizes, the conventions of any given genre might not be present. Sometimes the music sounds like folk music, sometimes, like a music without a tradition. The sounds of the instruments are not typical for most of the music played.

The arrangements of the music are specially made, often by the Director and Founder, George Hinchliffe, or by other members of the group. The focus is to bring out the spirit of the music, to be faithful to the musical notes, while actually changing the style or genre of the music by the mere fact of playing it on ukuleles. Audiences have reported that the music of the orchestra is variously, moving, funny, stomping, thought provoking, surprising, or inducing the audience by sheer infectious spirit to “tap their toes” along with the beat.

Fun facts: The orchestra was asked to provide music for broadcasts about the World Cup. The orchestra has played WOMAD festivals in two continents and in two different centuries. The orchestra has performed many times at London’s 100 Club, joining the venue’s history with The Sex Pistols, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday, Glen Miller, BB King, Muddy Waters, The Who, The Kinks, Metallica and The Rolling Stones. The orchestra maintains its independence, in relation to record companies, management, publishing and touring and has its own CDs, DVDs, mailing list of tens of thousands, Youtube channel etc. The orchestra has been a crossword clue in the New Musical Express, the newspaper which was for many years the key publication for popular music in the UK. In addition to performing at Carnegie Hall in New York on more than one occasion, the orchestra has performed at The Carnegie Hall in Shetland, the islands midway between Scotland and Norway. The orchestra has performed in the arctic, at the Polar Jazz Festival in Svalbard, but also in Tasmania, North and South Islands of New Zealand, and on both the east and west coasts of Australia. The performers in The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain are: George Hinchliffe, Jonty Bankes, Peter Brooke Turner, Will Grove-White, Leisa Rea, Dave Suich, and Richie Williams

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain last performed for La Jolla Music Society as a Special Event on January 23, 2015.

For more information visit


Dec 17 @ 8:00 pm