Dvořák Symphony No. 8
Friday, August 4, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m.
Brevard Symphonic Winds
Brevard Concert Orchestra
Kraig Alan Williams, conductor
Ken Lam, conductor
Ticket holders may attend The PreConcert, a free recital in Thomas Hall, which begins one hour before the performance.
REED Armenian Dances (Part 1)
WEILL Suite from The Threepenny Opera
MACKEY The Frozen Cathedral
DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 8
More Information (Show)
Armenian Dances (Part 1)
Premiered on January 10, 1973 at the University of Illinois in Urbana with Harry Begian conducting.
Gomidas Vartabed (1869-1935) was an Armenian priest, musicologist, composer, arranger, singer, and choirmaster. He is considered the founder of the Armenian national school of music and is recognized as one of the pioneers of ethnomusicology. Gomidas collected and transcribed over 3,000 Armenian folk songs, fi ve of which are the basis for Reed’s rhapsodic fi rst movement of his Armenian Dances. Here is some background for each tune from the published score: The Apricot Tree consists of three organically connected songs that were transcribed in 1904. Its declamatory beginning, rhythmic vitality, and ornamentation make this song highly expressive. The Partridge Song is a simple, delicate melody that might perhaps be thought of as depicting the tiny steps of a partridge. Hoy, Nazan Eem is a lively, lyric love song. [It] depicts a young man singing the praises of his beloved Nazan (a girl’s name). The song has dance rhythms and ornamentation that make it an impressive, catchy tune. Alagyaz (the name of a mountain in Armenia) is a beloved Armenian folk song, and its long-breathed melody is as majestic as the mountain itself. Go, Go is a humorous, light-textured tune. Its repeated note pattern musically depicts the expression of laughter.
KURT WEILL (1900-1950)
Kleine Dreigroschenmusik (Little Threepenny Music) Few suites deriving from stage works are compositions in their own right, but the one that Weill extracted from Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera) is one of them. Weill composed the score for Elisabeth Hauptmann’s and Bertolt Brecht’s German adaptation of John Gays Beggar’s Opera during the summer of 1928. Against all odds, the makeshift commercial production took Berlin by storm in August 1928 , then all of continental Europe the following season, before being translated into fi fteen languages for more than 10,000 performances. Weill’s instrumental suite for eighteen instrumentalists was commissioned by Otto Klemperer for performance by his orchestra at the so-called “Krolloper” in February 1929. Its expanded, idiosyncratic instrumentation for winds, brass, and rhythm section initially discouraged widespread performances, but after the worldwide explosion of wind ensembles after World War II, it has become a repertory staple, one of Weill’s most frequently performed compositions. The eight movements actually convey the substance of eleven numbers from the stage work. The most ingenious of them alternates the “Moritat von Mackie Messer” (“Mack the Knife”) with Peachum’s third-act melodic inversion of the tune (“Lied von der Unzulaenglichkeit”). Weill also composed an entirely new transitional section of the “Kanonen-Song” that is so inspired one almost wishes it could be patched backwards into the stage work that inspired it. The suite then both highlights the score of the original stage work and extrapolates beyond it in both content and conception toward the eighteenth-century model of its inspiration, Mozart’s serenade, Eine kleine Nachtmusik.
-Kim H. Kowalke
JOHN MACKEY (1973-)
The Frozen Cathedral
Premiered on March 22, 2013 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, conducted by John Locke.
Excerpts from the composer’s website; the notes were written by Jake Wallace:
The Koyokon call it “Denali,” meaning “the great one,” and it is great. It stands at more than twenty thousand feet above sea level, a towering mass over the Alaskan wilderness. Measured from its base to its peak, it is the tallest mountain on land in the world—a full two thousand feet taller than Mount Everest. It is Mount McKinley, and it is an awesome spectacle. And it is the inspiration behind John Mackey’s The Frozen Cathedral. The piece was born of the collaboration between Mackey and John Locke, Director of Bands at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Locke asked Mackey if he would dedicate the piece to the memory of his late son, J.P., who had a particular fascination with Alaska and the scenery of Denali National Park. Mackey agreed—and immediately found himself grappling with two problems. How does one write a concert closer, making it joyous and exciting and celebratory, while also acknowledging, at least to myself, that this piece is rooted in unimaginable loss: The death of a child? The other challenge was connecting the piece to Alaska—a place I'd never seen in person. I kept thinking about all of this in literal terms, and I just wasn’t getting anywhere. My wife, who titles all of my pieces, said I should focus on what it is that draws people to these places. People go to the mountains—these monumental, remote, ethereal and awesome parts of the world—as a kind of pilgrimage. It’s a search for the sublime, for transcendence. A great mountain is like a church. “Call it The Frozen Cathedral,” she said.
ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88
Premiered on February 2, 1890, in Prague under the direction of the composer on the occasion of his election to the Bohemian Academy of Science, Literature, and Arts.
The Symphony No. 8 in G major was written during the summer of 1889. Dvořák had just fi nished building a house in the Bohemian countryside. With his previously written Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Dvořák had fi nally worked his way through an artistic identity crisis. Successful as a Bohemian composer, Dvořák had fallen more and more under the infl uence of the German symphonic tradition and Johannes Brahms. While Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 shows traces of the composer’s struggle to assert his own symphonic voice, his Symphony No. 8 celebrates his newfound identity as a Bohemian composer.
Ironically, his Eighth Symphony was especially well received outside Bohemia. Even Eduard Hanslick, the guardian of Brahmsian ideals, received the work with enthusiasm:
As the last work on the program, the symphony may have been placed in the most perilous position, but it triumphed with the purest of resources. While this composition is, from start to fi nish, undeniably the work of Dvořák, it differs considerably from both his previous symphonies now familiar in Vienna. This entire work, one of Dvořák’s best, is laudable for the fact that it is not pedantic yet, despite its composure, it is also far removed from naturalism. Dvořák is a serious artist who has learned much but, despite his knowledge, he has not sacrifi ced spontaneity and freshness. His works give voice to a singular individual, who emanates a refreshing breath of innovation and originality.
- Siegwart Reichwald
Overture Program Information
Artist Information (Show)
Dr. Kraig Alan Williams, conductor, is currently the Director of Bands, Associate Professor of Music, and Director of the Wind Studies Program at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. His duties include the artistic guidance of the GRAMMY-nominated Rutgers Wind Ensemble and administration of all aspects of a large, dynamic, and comprehensive university band program. Other responsibilities include teaching graduate and undergraduate conducting and the mentoring of master’s and doctoral students in Wind Studies.
Maintaining an active schedule as a guest conductor, clinician and lecturer, Williams has appeared in those capacities in more than 15 states and with such prominent ensembles as the Dallas Wind Symphony and The United States Air Force Band. Williams has conducted performances in Graz, Budapest, Malta, Marktoberdorf, and Prague. He has performed in Carnegie Hall, conducted live radio broadcasts on NPR, and has recorded for Mark Records, Albany Records, and ADK in Prague, Czech Republic.
Prior to arriving at Rutgers, Williams served as the Director of Bands at University of Memphis (2003-2011); conductor of the Duke University Wind Symphony and director of the Duke in Vienna program (1997-2000); director of bands and chamber ensembles at California State University, Los Angeles (1993-1996); assistant conductor of Southern California Inland Empire Symphony and Los Angeles Solo Repertoire Orchestra in Burbank, and music director of the Lake Elsinore Civic Light Opera (1990-1993).
Williams received his doctorate from The University of Texas at Austin, where he studied with Jerry F. Junkin. He received a Master’s of Music degree in performance from California State University, Northridge. Williams is a member of CBDNA, TMEA, and is a sponsor and honorary member of the Memphis chapters of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma.
Williams joined the conducting faculty at the Brevard Music Center in 2001 and was named Director of Band Activities in 2008. He has regularly achieved critical acclaim for his work with the Symphonic Band and Chamber Winds.
Ken Lam, conductor, 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.