Sunday, July 16, 2017 @ 3:00 p.m.
Brevard Concert Orchestra
Ken Lam, conductor
Maria Sanderson, violin
Ticket holders may attend The PreConcert, a free recital in Thomas Hall, which begins one hour before the performance.
BACH / STOKOWSKI Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582
TCHAIKOVSKY Marche Slave
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 4
STRAUSS, JR. An der schönen, blauen Donau
BRAHMS Hungarian Dances, Book III
SMETANA 3 Dances from The Bartered Bride
MÁRQUEZ Danzón No. 2
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Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582 (arr. Stokowski)
Premiered on February 10, 1922, in Philadelphia with Stokowski conducting.
Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue was one of the first organ works Stokowski arranged for orchestra. Having worked as an organist for ten years, Stokowski was intimately familiar with Bach’s style, and his masterful orchestrations are evidence of the conductor’s many talents. He must have had the rich string sound of the Philadelphia orchestra in mind for this particular transcription, as the lush string writing is central to his romantic reading of one of Bach’s many masterworks.
While a Passacaglia is one of the quintessential Baroque genres (continuous variations unfolding over a repeated bass theme), Brahms famously used a Passacaglia to close his Fourth Symphony. Presumably, Stokowski had realized how the rich timbral palette of an orchestra can illuminate the complex counterpoint (two or more independent lines heard simultaneously) of Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue.
Pyotr Il'ych Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Marche Slave, Op. 31
Premiered on November 17, 1876, in Moscow with Nikolai Rubinstein conducting Unlike many of Tchaikovsky’s works, this tone poem has an obvious historical/political context and clear programmatic meaning. When war broke out between Serbia and the Ottoman Empire, Russia came to Serbia’s aid. The Russian Musical Society commissioned this work from Tchaikovsky for a benefit concert of the Red Cross Society. Tchaikovsky used a variety of Serbian and Russian tunes to express Serbia’s need for help, Russia’s willingness to intervene, and a prophetic ending of victory with a blazing rendition of “God Save the Tsar.”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K. 218
In Florence we met a young Englishman, a pupil of the famous violinist Nardini. The lad, who plays very finely and is of Wolfgang’s age and height, came to the house of the learned poetess Signora Corilla. . . The two boys performed by turns through-out the evening amidst continual embracing. The other day the little Englishman, a most charming lad, had his violin brought to us and played all the afternoon, Wolfgang accompanying him, also on the violin. The following day we dined with M. Gavard…and the two children played by turns the whole afternoon, not like boys but like men!
This description from proud father Leopold Mozart tells us a lot about his genius son. First of all, Amadeus had unparalleled exposure to the arts on his many travel throughout Europe. Secondly, Mozart didn’t often find equals amongst his peers, so the young Englishman seems to have been one of the reason for Mozart’s increased output of violin music for the next five years. His five Violin Concertos, all composed within eight months, would become the pinnacle of his violin works. Among these five, the Fourth Violin Concerto is the most “classical,” and the first movement is the perfect example of balancing form and expression within the context of a concerto.
Johann Strauss Jr. (1825-1899)
An der schönen, blauen Donau
(The Beautiful Blue Danube), Op. 314
Who would have thought that one of the most famous pieces of all time was initially anything but successful. Composed in 1866 on a commission by the Vienna Men’s Choral Society, the choral work received a muted reception (which in Strauss’s case meant only one encore). When it became apparent that its lack of success was its unwieldy text, Strauss reworked it as a purely orchestral work for the 1867 Paris World Exhibition. The work became so popular, that Strauss’s publisher had to make 100 new copper plates to print over a million copies of the piano score!
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Hungarian Dances Nos. 5 and 6
Brahms and “popular” don’t seem to belong in the same sentence. As the musical conservative and the champion of absolute music, we picture the serious Brahms with his long beard, frowning on anything resembling “fun.” Yet his 21 Hungarian Dances show a playful and populist Brahms. Some people even go as far as suggesting that these Dances influenced Scott Joplin’s ragtime style—and of course Stokowski got his career started with the Fifth and Sixth Dances, as these were his very first recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1917. So there’s no doubt Brahms wrote “popular” music. Surely Brahms would have loved Charlie Chaplin’s hilarious barbershop choreography of his Fifth Hungarian Dance in The Great Dictator.
Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884)
Three Dances from The Bartered Bride
Smetana single-handedly created a Czech musical style, and The Bartered Bride is considered the truest of all Czech operas. As might be expected, the three dances express the nationalistic sentiments most clearly. The Polka closes Act 1 with an impromptu dance of a group of villagers. The setting of the Furiant is a tavern, and it abounds with folkloric music. The Dance of the Comedians is taken from Act 3, when a traveling circus troupe performs a pantomime.
Arturo Marquez (b. 1950)
Danzón No. 2
Danzón No. 2 was commissioned by the National Autonomous University of Mexico and was premiered on March 5, 1994 in Mexico City conducted by Francisco Savin.
Danzón No. 2 gained international popularity after Gustavo Dudamel included it in his European and American tour in 2007. Two years later a short film was made, using the piece as its structural center. In it the composer himself is featured as pianist in a dance hall in the 1940s. The film explores the golden age of the danzón, a dance that originated in Cuba but became part of the folklore of Veracruz. Márquez’s inspiration stems from visits with painter Andrés Fonseca and dancer Irene Martinez, who took him to dance halls in Veracruz and Mexico City. The composer’s intention was to capture the essence of the danzón. Its continued popularity states loud and clear, “Mission accomplished!”
- Siegwart Reichwald
Overture Program Information
Artist Information (Show)
Ken Lam is Music Director of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Associate Professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey, and Artistic Director of Hong Kong Voices.
In 2011 Mr. Lam won the Memphis Symphony Orchestra International Conducting Competition and was a featured conductor in the League of American Orchestra's 2009 Bruno Walter National Conductors Preview with the Nashville Symphony. He made his US professional debut with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in June 2008 as one of four conductors selected by Leonard Slatkin. In recent seasons he has led performances with the symphony orchestras of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Pops, Baltimore, Detroit, Memphis, Illinois, and Meridian, as well as the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Guiyang Symphony Orchestra, and the Taipei Symphony Orchestra.
In opera, he has led critically acclaimed productions at Spoleto Festival USA, Lincoln Center Festival, and at the Luminato Festival in Canada, and has directed numerous productions of the Janiec Opera Company at Brevard.
Ken Lam studied conducting with Gustav Meier and Markand Thakar at Peabody Conservatory, David Zinman and Murry Sidlin at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen, and Leonard Slatkin at the National Conducting Institute. Previous conducting positions include Associate Conductor for Education of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Assistant Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He read economics and law at St. John's College, Cambridge University, and previously spent ten years as an attorney specializing in international finance.
Mr. Lam was the recipient of the 2015 Johns Hopkins University Global Achievement Award.
Maria Sanderson has attended Indiana University’s String Academy for nine years and is presently a member of the String Academy Violin Virtuosi. She studies with Mimi Zweig, and has frequently performed in solo and ensemble recitals at IU. Maria was Concertmaster for the last two years of SA Chamber Orchestra and Assistant Concertmaster for Indianapolis Symphony’s Side by Side Program.
She has performed in masterclasses with Midori, Vadim Repin, Josh Bell, and many others. Her solo work includes performances with the Moscow Ballet, the IU String Academy Chamber Orchestra, the SE Missouri State University Orchestra, the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, and twice with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra. This spring Maria toured Argentina for three weeks with the IU Violin Virtuosi; she performed as soloist at each concert and also led many pieces. She toured the US this fall for six weeks with the Sphinx Virtuosi, and was scheduled to perform with the Fresno Youth Orchestra, the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, and the New World Symphony Orchestra in Miami.
Maria was recently First Place winner of the Rising Star Competition, the Bloomington Symphony Competition, and the Sphinx Competition.