Saturday, March 19, 2022 at 7:30pm
Sunday, March 20, 2022 at 3:00pm

From Struggle
to Victory

Season Subscriptions are currently on sale, to purchase call Patron Services 203.325.1407 x10

Single tickets will go on sale October 1st

Questions? Email Patron Services at office@stamfordsymphony.org

Saturday, March 19, 2022 at 7:30pm
Sunday, March 20, 2022 at 3:00pm

From Struggle
to Victory

Season Subscriptions are currently on sale, to purchase call Patron Services 203.325.1407 x10

Single tickets will go on sale October 1st

Questions? Email Patron Services at office@stamfordsymphony.org

Saturday, March 19, 2022 at 7:30pm
Sunday, March 20, 2022 at 3:00pm

From Struggle
to Victory

Season Subscriptions are currently on sale, to purchase call Patron Services 203.325.1407 x10

Single tickets will go on sale October 1st

Questions? Email Patron Services at office@stamfordsymphony.org

Time to event

 

Duration

2 hours
with a 20 minute intermission

About this performance:

Perhaps the most famous piece for orchestra; the most majestic of cello concertos, and two contrasting contemporary pieces, by Mexican composer Alejandro Basulto and Atlanta native, Carlos Simon, make this a concert of discovery and exhilaration!

Musical Program to include:

Alejandro Basulto Fanfarria de Feria

Dvořák Cello Concerto

Nicholas Canellakis, cello

Carlos Simon, Fate Now Conquers

Beethoven Symphony No. 5

Michael Stern, conductor

A Message From Music Director Michael Stern

Featured Artists:

Nicholas Canellakis, cello

Hailed by The New Yorker as a “superb young soloist,” Nicholas Canellakis has become one of the most sought-after and innovative cellists of his generation, captivating audiences throughout the United States and abroad. In The New York Times his playing was praised as “impassioned … the audience seduced by Mr. Canellakis’s rich, alluring tone.”
Canellakis’s recent highlights include concerto appearances with the Albany, Delaware, Lansing, and Bangor Symphonies, the Erie Philharmonic, The Orchestra Now, and the New Haven Symphony as Artist-in-Residence; Europe and Asia tours with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, including appearances in London’s Wigmore Hall, the Louvre in Paris, the Seoul Arts Center, and the Shanghai and Taipei National Concert Halls; and recitals throughout the United States with his long-time duo collaborator, pianist-composer Michael Brown. He made his Carnegie Hall concerto debut with the American Symphony Orchestra in 2015.
Canellakis is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, in which he performs regularly in Alice Tully Hall and on tour. He is also a regular guest artist at many of the world’s leading music festivals, including Santa Fe, Ravinia, Music@Menlo, Bard, Bridgehampton, La Jolla, Hong Kong, Moab, Music in the Vineyards, and Saratoga Springs. In addition, he was recently named Artistic Director of Chamber Music Sedona, in Arizona.
A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and New England Conservatory, his teachers have included Orlando Cole, Peter Wiley, Paul Katz, and Madeleine Golz at Manhattan School of Music Precollege. He was a member of the Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two), and has also been in residence at Carnegie Hall as a member of Ensemble Connect.
Filmmaking and acting are special interests of Mr. Canellakis. He has produced, directed, and starred in several short films and music videos, including his popular comedy web series “Conversations with Nick Canellakis.” His latest film, “Thin Walls,” has been nominated for awards at many prominent film festivals. His films and videos can be found on his website at nicholascanellakis.com.

Program Notes:

Fanfarria de Feria (fair Fanfare)
Alejandro Basulto
b. 1984
Alejandro Basulto composed the Fanfarria in 2020 He explains: “As a Mexican musician, the word fanfare has two different meanings: on the one hand, it refers to a piece of celebratory music usually performed by the brass and percussion – which is the usual Classical musician’s definition. On the other hand, it is a particular tune ingrained in Mexico’s popular culture, simply known as the “fanfarria” (Spanish for Fanfare) or the “diana.”
While both are performed by the same instrumental forces (brass and percussion) and serve the same purposes (celebratory), the traditional and the Mexican fanfares have a very different character. The usual fanfare has this unmistakably highbrow and solemn flair—even fast-paced fanfares share this grandiloquent sound. The “Mexican Fanfarria” is unequivocally popular, lowbrow, and uncomplicated. In my Fanfarria de Feria, I decided to…create narrative tension between the highbrow and the lowbrow aspects of what I understand as a fanfare.
Mexican composer and conductor Alejandro Basulto is currently working on his Doctoral Degree in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Houston. He has previously studied in Spain and in Mexico.
Fate now Conquers
Carlos Simon
b. 1986
A native of Atlanta and a Doctorate graduate of the University of Michigan, Carlos Simon describes his music as influenced by jazz, gospel and neo-romanticism. He was named one of the three recipients of the 2021 Sphinx Medal of Excellence.
Simon composed Fate now Conquers in 2020, explaining: “This piece was inspired by a journal entry from Ludwig van Beethoven’s notebook written in 1815:
“Iliad. The Twenty-Second Book
But Fate now conquers; I am hers; and yet not she shall share In my renown; that life is left to every noble spirit
And that some great deed shall beget that all lives shall inherit.”
We know that Beethoven strove to overcome many obstacles in his life and documented his aspirations to prevail, despite his ailments. Whatever the specific reason for including this particularly profound passage from the Iliad, in the end it seems that Beethoven relinquished to fate. Fate now conquers.”
Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104
Antonín Dvořák
1841-1904
Antonín Dvořák’s sojourn in the United States from 1892 to 1895 came about through the efforts of Mrs. Jeanette B. Thurber. A dedicated and idealistic proponent of an American national musical style, she underwrote and administered the first American music conservatory, the National Conservatory of Music in New York. Because of Dvořák’s popularity throughout Europe, he was Thurber’s first choice as director. He, in turn, was probably lured to the big city so far from home by both a large salary and a passion for musical nationalism that paralleled Mrs. Thurber’s own. He was eager to learn more of the Native-American and African-American music, which he believed should be the basis of the American national style of composition. He also shared with Mrs. Thurber the conviction that the National Conservatory should admit African-American students.
Dvořák’s period in New York was quite productive in spite of his administrative and teaching duties. He composed string quartets, a string quintet, the Ten Biblical Songs, Symphony No. 9 and lastly, most of the Cello Concerto.
For a number of years, Dvořák’s friend, the cellist Hanus Wihan, had been asking for a cello concerto. But the ultimate impetus was a performance by Irish cellist, composer and conductor Victor Herbert of his Cello Concerto No. 2 at a New York Philharmonic concert. Dvořák thought the work splendid and a few months later sat down to write his own concerto. He finished it just before he left New York to return to his native Bohemia.
Dvořák resisted Wihan’s suggestions for a bravura piece, preferring to focus on the emotions rather than technical acrobatics. Instead of pitting the soloist against the orchestra, he preferred a partnership. While writing the concerto he received news that his sister-in-law, Josefina Kaunitzová was critically ill. Dvořák had been in love with her and had wanted to marry her some 30 years earlier but had had to settle for her sister instead. As a tribute to Josefina, he included in the second movement of the concerto a reference to her favorite of his songs, “Leave me alone.” Shortly after his return to Prague, Josefina died. Dvořák changed the ending of the Concerto, adding the elegiac and exquisitely painful coda to the final movement, again briefly quoting the song in a duet between the cello and solo violin.
The Concerto is a monument to Dvořák’s incredible gift for melody, not only in the basic thematic material but also in the “connective tissue” that holds together any great musical work of art. The winds, especially the flutes, play an important role in this Concerto, sometimes seeming to shut out the rest of the orchestra from their private conversation with the soloist.
The clarinet opens the Concerto with one of the most emotionally evocative eight notes in the repertory, a theme that lends itself to a variety of harmonizations that Dvořák makes good use of in the course of the movement. While the Concerto is certainly not a bravura piece, the cello part in this movement is difficult both technically and emotionally. It requires a “private” and intense development of two themes, as well as rapid figurative accompaniments to the orchestra. There is no formal cadenza.
The Adagio is another dialogue for cello and woodwinds. It begins gently, with a choir of woodwinds quoting from the song, immediately echoed by the cello, which is joined by the winds for the next strain of the theme. The cello continues with a poignant sighing motive that increases the emotional tension in preparation for the only appearance of the full orchestra in the entire movement in a sudden anguished cry. But the movement quickly returns to the quiet but intense conversation between cello and winds.
A march opens the final movement, but soon the cello’s reflective personality takes over, periodically slowing the tempo. Throughout the Concerto, the cello frequently lapses into passionate reverie, and Dvořák “concludes” the Finale two thirds of the way through, replacing the customary cadenza with the moving coda in memory of Josefina, the muse of the entire Concerto.
Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
Ludwig van Beethoven
1770-1827
The four most clichéd notes in classical music were once the most revolutionary. For the first time a rhythm, rather than a melody, became the main subject of a symphonic movement – and not merely as a first theme to be stated and picked up again for a while in the development and recapitulation sections. Beethoven wove the rhythm into the entire fabric of the first movement, and subsequently into the rest of the Symphony. The motive first appears as a repeated demand, subsequently expanded into a genuine melody in the first theme. It recurs as a throbbing accompaniment in bass and timpani in the second theme, all the way to the final cadence of the exposition.
Such an original symphonic structure did not come easily, especially to a composer who lacked the ever-ready melodic genius of a Mozart, Bach or Haydn who all produced copiously on demand. A collection of the composer’s sketchbooks bears witness to the lengthy and often painful gestation of some of his greatest music. The Fifth Symphony took four years to complete, between 1804 and 1808. But Beethoven also had to eat, and during those four years he also produced the Fourth Symphony, the Fourth Piano Concerto, the three String Quartets Op. 59, the Mass in C and the Violin Concerto.
The Symphony No. 5 was premiered at one of those monster public concerts common in the nineteenth century; on the program were premieres of the Sixth Symphony and the Fourth Piano Concerto, the aria “Ah! Perfido,” the Choral Fantasia and several movements of the Mass in C. One can only imagine the bewilderment of the audience on its first encounter in a single evening with the “Pastorale” and the Fifth.
Because the Fifth Symphony is now so familiar, it is difficult to think of it as innovative, but it was not only the integration of the four-note rhythmic motif into the entire fabric of the first movement that was new. The second movement, Andante con moto, involves its own kind of novelty. It is made up of two short juxtaposed, contrasting themes: the first in dotted rhythm in the strings, the second a slow almost military theme in the brass. Beethoven produces from the two themes a double set of variations. And it should be noted that the second theme contains within it in augmentation (in longer note values) the germinal four-note rhythm of the first movement.
For the Scherzo, Beethoven again prominently takes up the motivic rhythm in the horns, this time in augmentation. The Trio is a fugue. The repeat of the Scherzo theme is scored for clarinet and bassoon over pizzicato strings playing pianissimo.
Symphony No. 5 has frequently been referred to as a struggle from darkness to light, but it is a commonplace that has palpable grounding in truth. Not only does the symphony begin in C minor and end in C major, but there is also the magnificent transition between the third and fourth movements, a kind of sunlight breaking through the clouds with violins stammering over the timpani as it throbs out the motto. The emergence into the triumphant Finale paved the way for the symphonic writing of the future, including Beethoven’s own Ninth Symphony, Mendelssohn’s Third (The “Scottish”) and Brahms’s First.
Program notes by:
Joseph & Elizabeth Kahn
Wordpros@mindspring.com
www.wordprosmusic.com