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Parc Retirement Living Tea & Trumpets

A Musical Quilt

November 26, 2020 2:00 PM

Andrew Crust, conductor

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

The program for Tea and Trumpets has been described as A Music Quilt. Drawing from five separate performances that have been featured on TheConcertHall.ca, the program is hosted by the VSO’s Associate Conductor Andrew Crust with music by Copland, Beethoven, Mussorgsky and more!

James Ehnes, violin & leader

James Ehnes has established himself as one of the most sought-after violinists on the international stage. Gifted with a rare combination of stunning virtuosity, serene lyricism and an unfaltering musicality, Ehnes is a favourite guest of many of the world’s most respected conductors including Ashkenazy, Alsop, Sir Andrew Davis, Denève, Elder, Ivan Fischer, Gardner, Paavo Järvi, Mena, Noseda, Robertson and Runnicles. Ehnes’s long list of orchestras includes, amongst others, the Boston, Chicago, London, NHK and Vienna Symphony Orchestras, the Los Angeles, New York, Munich and Czech Philharmonic Orchestras, and the Cleveland, Philadelphia, Philharmonia and DSO Berlin orchestras.

Recent orchestral highlights include the MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall with Noseda, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig with Shelley, San Francisco Symphony with Janowski, Frankfurt Radio Symphony with Orozco-Estrada, London Symphony with Harding, and Munich Philharmonic with van Zweden, as well as his debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Lincoln Center in spring 2019. In 2019/20, Ehnes is Artist in Residence with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, which includes performances of the Elgar Concerto with Luisi, a play/direct programme leg by Ehnes, and a chamber music programme. In 2017, Ehnes premiered the Aaron-Jay Kernis Violin Concerto with the Toronto, Seattle and Dallas Symphony Orchestras, and gave further performances of the piece with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Alongside his concerto work, James Ehnes maintains a busy recital schedule. He performs regularly at the Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, Symphony Center Chicago, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Ravinia, Montreux, Chaise-Dieu, the White Nights Festival in St Petersburg, Verbier Festival, Festival de Pâques in Aix, and in 2018 he undertook a recital tour to the Far East, including performances in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. As part of the Beethoven celebrations, Ehnes has been invited to perform the complete cycle of Beethoven Sonatas at the Wigmore Hall throughout 2019/20. Elsewhere Ehnes performs the Beethoven Sonatas at Dresden Music Festival, Prague Spring Festival, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, at Aspen Music Festival (as part of a multi-year residency) and at Bravo Vail Festival during his residency week also including the Violin Concerto and Triple Concerto with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Runnicles. In 2016, Ehnes undertook a cross-Canada recital tour, performing in each of the country’s provinces and territories, to celebrate his 40th birthday.

As a chamber musician, he has collaborated with leading artists such as Andsnes, Capucon, Lortie, Lugansky, Yo-Yo Ma, Tamestit, Vogler and Yuja Wang. In 2010, he formally established the Ehnes Quartet, with whom he has performed in Europe at venues including the Wigmore Hall, Auditorium du Louvre in Paris and Théâtre du Jeu de Paume in Aix, amongst others. Ehnes is the Artistic Director of the Seattle Chamber Music Society.

Ehnes has an extensive discography and has won many awards for his recordings, including a Grammy Award (2019) for his live recording of Aaron Jay Kernis’ Violin Concerto with the Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot, and a Gramophone Award for his live recording of the Elgar Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Sir Andrew Davis. His recording of the Korngold, Barber and Walton violin concertos won a Grammy Award for ‘Best Instrumental Soloist Performance’ and a JUNO award for ‘Best Classical Album of the Year’. His recording of the Paganini Caprices earned him universal praise, with Diapason writing of the disc, “Ehnes confirms the predictions of Erick Friedman, eminent student of Heifetz: ‘there is only one like him born every hundred years’.” Recent releases include sonatas by Beethoven, Debussy, Elgar and Respighi, and concertos by Walton, Britten, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Strauss, as well as the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Andrew Manze, which was released in October 2017 (Onyx Classics).

Ehnes began violin studies at the age of five, became a protégé of the noted Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin aged nine, and made his orchestra debut with L’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal aged 13. He continued his studies with Sally Thomas at the Meadowmount School of Music and The Juilliard School, winning the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music upon his graduation in 1997. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and in 2010 was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. Ehnes was awarded the 2017 Royal Philharmonic Society Award in the Instrumentalist category.

James Ehnes plays the “Marsick” Stradivarius of 1715.

jamesehnes.com

Otto Tausk, music director

Dutch conductor Otto Tausk is the Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, now in his third season. He is also the newly announced Chief Conductor of recently formed Phion Orkest van Gelderland & Overijssel. Until spring 2018, Tausk was Music Director of the Opera Theatre and Tonhalle Sinfonieorchester St. Gallen. He appears as a guest with such orchestras as Concertgebouworkest, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, Philharmonie Südwestfalen, Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestre symphonique de Québec, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Mariinsky  Orchestra, the orchestras of Perth, Tasmania, Auckland, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and BBC National Orchestra of Wales, with whom he made his BBC Proms debut in August 2018. He is a hugely respected musical personality in his native Holland, working with all its major orchestras and composers.

In the 2020/21 season, Tausk continues guesting relationships with orchestras such as Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Het Gelders Orkest, Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. In Vancouver, Tausk will lead an innovative reimagined season in response to COVID-19, showcasing the orchestra with a curated series of digital performances.

In the opera pit, he will conduct Michel van der Aa’s new opera ‘Upload’, with the world premiere at Dutch National Opera, plus further appearances with the other co-commissioning parties including Oper Köln. In St. Gallen, Tausk conducted the world premiere of ‘Annas Maske’, by Swiss composer David Philip Hefti, the Swiss premiere of George Benjamin’s ‘Written on Skin’, Korngold’s ‘Die Tote Stadt’ and other titles including ‘Don Giovanni’, ‘Die Entführung aus dem Serail’, ‘Eugene Onegin’, ‘West Side Story’, ‘Lohengrin’ and ‘Ariadne auf Naxos’.

Tausk has recorded with the Concertgebouworkest (Luc Brewaeys, and an animated version of Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’), Tonhalle Sinfonieorchester St. Gallen (Korngold and Diepenbrock), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (Mendelssohn) and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (Gavin Bryars) amongst others. For the cpo label in 2011 Hans Pfitzner’s enchanting Orchesterlieder garnered international praise, not least the Classica France’s ‘Choc du mois’. His Prokofiev disc with Rosanne Philippens also received BBC Music Magazine Concerto Disc of the Month (2018).

Born in Utrecht, Otto Tausk initially studied violin and then conducting with Jonas Aleksa. Between 2004 and 2006, Tausk was assistant conductor to Valery Gergiev with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, a period of study that had a profound impact on him. In 2011 Tausk was presented with the ‘De Olifant’ prize by the City of Haarlem. He received this prestigious award for his contribution to the Arts in the Netherlands, in particular his extensive work with Holland Symfonia serving as Music Director 2007 to 2012. In reflecting on their work together in The Netherlands, Valery Gergiev paid particular tribute to Tausk on this occasion.

www.ottotausk.nl

Andrew Crust, conductor

Andrew Crust has developed a versatile international career as a conductor of orchestral, opera, ballet and pops programs. Currently serving as the Associate Conductor of the Vancouver Symphony in Canada, Andrew conducts a large number of subscription, pops, educational and contemporary concerts with the VSO each season. Andrew is the newly-appointed Music Director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra beginning in the 20/21, where he programs and conducts the Grand Classics, Pops and Educational series, featuring such soloists as Awadagin Pratt, Amit Peled and Kathrine Jolly.

In the current and upcoming seasons Andrew will debut with the Arkansas and Vermont Symphonies as Music Director finalist, and with the San Diego Symphony and Calgary Philharmonic as a guest conductor. Other recent engagements include performances with the Winnipeg Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Bozeman Symphony and l’Orchestre de la Francophonie in Québec.

Andrew is a 2020 winner of the Solti Foundation US Career Assistance Award. In 2017 he was awarded first prize at the Accademia Chigiana by Daniele Gatti, receiving a scholarship and an invitation to guest conduct the Orchestra di Sanremo in Italy. He was a semi-finalist for the Nestlé/Salzburg Festival’s Young Conductors Award competition, and was selected by members of the Vienna Philharmonic as a winner of the Ansbacher Fellowship, with full access to all rehearsals and performances of the Salzburg Festival.

Andrew is equally at ease in the pit, having conducted ballet with Ballet Memphis and the New Ballet Ensemble, and opera with Opera McGill, College Light Opera Company, Boulder Opera Company, and others. As a Pops conductor, Andrew has collaborated with such artists as Rufus Wainwright, Steven Page, Michael Bolton, Cirque de la Symphonie, and the United States Jazz Ambassadors. Andrew has also established himself as a conductor of films with orchestra.

Andrew served as Assistant Conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra from 2017-2019 where he conducted around forty concerts each season. He stepped in last minute for a successful subscription performance featuring Bernstein’s Serenade with violinist Charles Yang. Andrew also served as Conductor of the Memphis Youth Symphony Program. As the Assistant Conductor of the Portland Symphony Orchestra in Maine from 2016-2018, he conducted a variety of concert series, helped coordinate the orchestra’s extensive educational programs, and helped lead a program for concertgoers under 40 called “Symphony and Spirits”.

Crust was the Assistant Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of the USA (NYO-USA) in the summers of 2017 and 2018, assisting Michael Tilson Thomas on an Asian tour, as well as Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop and James Ross at Carnegie Hall and in a side-by-side performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He has also served as Cover Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, San Diego Symphony and Nashville Symphony, Assistant/Cover Conductor of the Boulder Philharmonic and Assistant Conductor of Opera McGill.

Abroad, he has led concerts with the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana in Italy, Hamburger Symphoniker at the Mendelssohn Festival in Germany, the Moravian Philharmonic in the Czech Republic and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile in Santiago.

As an arranger/orchestrator, Andrew is currently working with Schirmer to make orchestrations of a set of Florence Price’s art songs, has orchestrated works by Alma Mahler and Prokofiev, as well as many pops and educational selections.

Andrew is dedicated to exploring new ways of bringing the classical music experience into the 21st century through innovative programming and marketing, creating community-oriented and socially-sensitive concert experiences, and utilizing social media and unique venues. Andrew is a firm believer in meaningful music education, having produced and written a number of original educational programs with orchestras.

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1919, the Grammy and Juno-award winning Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is the third largest orchestra in Canada, the largest arts organization in Western Canada, and one of the few orchestras in the world to have its own music school.

Led by Music Director Otto Tausk since 2018, the VSO performs more than 150 concerts each year, throughout Vancouver and the province of British Columbia, reaching over 270,000 people annually. On tour the VSO has performed in the United States, China, Korea and across Canada.

The orchestra presents passionate, high-quality performances of classical, popular and culturally diverse music, creating meaningful engagement with audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Recent guest artists include Daniil Trifonov, Dawn Upshaw, James Ehnes, Adrianne Pieczonka, Gidon Kremer, Renée Fleming, Yefim Bronfman, Itzhak Perlman, Bernadette Peters, Tan Dun, and more.

For the 2020-21 season the VSO has created the innovative streaming service TheConcertHall.ca, a virtual home for a virtual season, where more than forty performances will be released throughout the year.

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH

b. Eisenach, Germany / March 21, 1685

d. Leipzig, Germany / July 28, 1750

Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041 - MVT I Allegro

Johann Sebastian Bach’s prowess as a keyboard player is well known. As a church musician much of his career was spent in the organ loft providing music for devotional use. But it is interesting to remember that J. S. Bach began his musical life studying violin with his father, and later his eldest brother. Reflecting on his father’s career, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach observed, ''In his youth and until the approach of old age, he played the violin cleanly and penetratingly, and thus kept the orchestra in better order than he could have done with the harpsichord…He understood to perfection the possibilities of all stringed instruments.''

Bach wrote countless cantatas and a great deal of organ music while serving in Weimar and Leipzig. But during one of his occasional hiatuses from those demands, he found time to indulge his interest in purely instrumental music, especially sonatas, suites and concertos. There are three violin concertos in the BWV catalogue (1041, 1042 & 1043 – the latter is the “Double Concerto”) and some others that are lost or only exist in a revision for keyboard.

The first of these known concertos has long been a favourite of James Ehnes, the soloist in this performance. He states, “This Bach A minor Concerto is a piece that many students learn as sort of a ‘rite of passage.’ If you study the Suzuki method it’s in one of the books of that, and I remember that’s how I first knew it. It’s a piece that I loved it then, and I love it now, and I’m sure that I’ll love it until the day I die. It’s always interesting, it’s always challenging, it’s always beautiful and there’s always something new to discover with it!”

Bach took his inspiration from the works of his near contemporary, the Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi. In Bach’s hands, the three contrasting movements present more of a dialogue between soloist and ensemble, in place of a dispute! In the opening movement, a recurrent theme is exchanged and varied by the musical forces. The stately middle movement is supported by a repeating bass line, while the third movement bounces along in a jaunty jig.

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

b. Bonn, Germany / baptized December 17, 1770

d. Vienna, Austria / March 26, 1827

Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 - MVT II Allegretto

In popular culture, Beethoven’s symphonies have their fair share of memorable moments: the “heroic” Symphony No. 3, the defiant “dit dit dit-duuuuhhh” opening of Symphony No. 5, and the “Ode to Joy” of the Symphony No. 9. However, during Beethoven’s lifetime, the Symphony No. 7 was exceedingly popular as a celebration of rhythm and propulsive power.

The symphony was composed in 1811 and premiered in Vienna on 8 December 1813. The event was a charitable concert to benefit soldiers wounded in the Napoleonic Wars at the Battle of Hanau, which had taken place six weeks earlier. Austrian and Bavarian forces had suffered great losses against Napoleon’s retreating forces. Beethoven had previously torn up his dedication of the “Eroica” Symphony to Napoleon. This time he shook a defiant fist at the French Emperor with a musical battle known as Wellington’s Victory. It was the novelty number on the program in that concert. The main attraction proved to be the Symphony No. 7 in A Major. The orchestra at the premiere included some of the greatest musical luminaries of the day, including Spohr, Hummel, Salieri, Meyerbeer, Romberg, Dragonetti, and Giuliani. The second movement Allegretto had to be immediately encored in the performance, and it proved so popular that it was frequently performed independently, sometimes even inserted in place of “less attractive” movements of Beethoven’s other works. The Seventh Symphony was repeated three times in the following 10 weeks and Beethoven himself referred to it as "one of the happiest products of my poor talents.”

It was Richard Wagner who famously described the symphony as a glorification of music in motion. "All tumult, all yearning and storming of the heart, become here the blissful insolence of joy, which carries us away with bacchanalian power through the roomy space of nature, through all the streams and seas of life, shouting in glad self-consciousness as we sound throughout the universe the daring strains of this human sphere-dance. The Symphony is the Apotheosis of the Dance itself: it is Dance in its highest aspect, the loftiest deed of bodily motion, incorporated into an ideal mold of tone."

AARON COPLAND

b. Brooklyn, New York, USA / November 14, 1900

d. Sleepy Hollow, New York, USA / December 2, 1990

Appalachian Spring - Finale

The next excerpt of music comes from the much-loved ballet APPALACHIAN SPRING. Aaron Copland first titled it, simply, “Ballet for Martha” It was the modern dance pioneer Martha Graham and her company who brought the story to the stage in October 1944.

Copland’s score calls for a chamber sized ensemble of just 13 players, and it tells a simple story. It’s spring in the rural Pennsylvania Hills, in the early 1800s. At a newly built farmhouse, a young couple think about their marriage and the joys and challenges of setting up their home in the wilderness. They’re visited by a preacher who delivers a sermon, and an older pioneer woman, who shares her experience and wisdom. Gradually the four of them resolve that whatever troubles they may face, their faith, hope and love will carry them through. It’s a parable about Americans forging their lives in a new land – in the words of the Shaker hymn:

’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

’Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

’Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

b. Bonn, Germany / baptized December 17, 1770

d. Vienna, Austria / March 26, 1827

If you were to assess a composer’s character based solely on one of his most popular works, Ludwig van Beethoven could be assumed to be a cheerful and optimistic man whose music conveyed the charm and elegance of Mozart. That is decidedly not the description that most would imagine. Where is the defiant radical, the messy-haired musical curmudgeon shaking a defiant fist at the gods of fate? Where is the caricature of the noisy neighbour of Beethoven Lives Upstairs fame? At the turn of the 19th century Beethoven was already breaking new musical ground. It just so happens that the Septet for Winds and Strings in E Flat Major was a musical diversion, composed to please, impress and entertain Viennese society.

Beethoven was shy of his 30th birthday when the Septet was first performed on April 2, 1800, at the Royal Imperial Court Theatre in Vienna. It was dedicated to the Empress Maria Theresa, the second wife of Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor. Italian by birth, she enjoyed courtly life in Vienna, particularly waltzing and dancing. So, what better way for Beethoven to impress the elite members of Viennese society than to produce an easy on the ears serenade that echoed his classical predecessors. The concert, staged to raise money and introduce new works by Beethoven, also featured his Symphony No. 1, a piano concerto, an improvisation by the composer and music by Haydn and Mozart.

The Septet caught the ear of the musical public. Soon there were arrangements of it for all manner of instruments, from piano solo to piano duet, from settings for guitars to a full-scale Harmonie or wind ensemble version. Beethoven himself saw no reason to miss out catering to the hunger of amateur musicians. He scaled down his original setting to be performed by clarinet (or violin), cello, and piano. Beethoven endured demands for more music in the same style, with increasing frustration. Fifteen years after its premiere, people still clamoured for the Septet, leading Beethoven to declare, “That damn work, I wish it could be burned.”

But what’s not to like. The combination of clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello, and double bass, provides a rich sound pallet. The violinist at the premiere was the virtuoso Ignaz Schuppanzigh, so there are plenty of passages with a concerto-like flair. The clarinetist, too, has a starring role opposite the violin. The inclusion of a double bass frees up both the bassoon and the cello to soar to their higher registers. As a musical calling card Beethoven hit the jackpot, much to his chagrin. But the public continues to be all the happier for it.

MODEST PETROVICH MUSSORGSKY

b. Karevo, Russia / March 9, 1839 (March 21, New Style )

d. St. Petersburg, Russia / March 15, 1881 (March 28, New Style )

Pictures at an Exhibition – Baba Yaga & The Great Gate of Kiev

In March of 1881, Modest Mussorgsky sat to have his portrait painted. His green dressing gown, trimmed with dark, red silk is rumpled, as if he has just been roused from his convalescence. His scraggly beard, bed-head hair, hollow eyes and bulbous red nose give a hint to the fact that Mussorgsky was at the end of his days, just shy of his 42nd birthday. The painter, Ilya Repin, was a close friend of the Russian composer, and over the course of four sittings preserved some of the former vigour of his subject, particularly the piercing gaze. But the alcoholism that plagued the composer in his final years had taken its toll. When Repin returned for a final touch up sitting a few days later, Mussorgsky was dead.

Mussorgsky won early success with his tone poem Night on Bald Mountain and the historical opera Boris Godunov. He shared the drive of Mikhail Glinka to develop a uniquely Russian musical identity. Joined by Mily Balakirev, Cesar Cui, Alexander Borodin and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, he became part of the “Mighty Handful” of composers who developed a sound separate from more Western-focused traditions at the Moscow and St. Petersburg conservatories.

In his final years Mussorgsky was plagued with thoughts of mortality. Following the death of his friend, the Russian artist and architect Viktor Hartmann, Mussorgsky attended a public exhibition of his works. A suite for solo piano, Pictures at an Exhibition, was the result, in which the composer takes a musical promenade from picture to picture, contemplating each image before moving on to the next. Some of Hartmann’s images survive to this day and others have been long lost, but the written descriptions of the event and Mussorgsky’s musical depictions evoke the experience. [Many of Hartmann’s images can be found online at Wikipedia]

Following the initial Promenade, the first image is a Gnome, a grotesque Christmas Nutcracker with bared teeth and crooked legs. After moving on, an Italian troubadour is seen in front of the ruins of an Italian castle. The sounds of quarreling children are heard in the garden of a French palace, followed by the plodding of heavy oxcart in Poland. The skittering Ballet of Unhatched Chicks was inspired by a costume design for children dressed as fledgling canaries. Separate portraits of two Jewish men, one rich and one poor, are captured, respectively, in a low, stern voice and a nervous, chattering response.

Continuing the promenade through the gallery, Mussorgsky interprets a The Weekly Market at Limoges as an increasingly heated quarrel between two women. From one French scene we are soon taken to Paris, to view the gloomy, underground catacombs built in Roman times. A wall constructed of skulls evokes a chilling hush, before the sudden appearance of Baba Yaga. She is a menacing figure in Slavic folklore, flying through the sky to her forest hut, which is supported by clawed feet.

At the end of the exhibition stands a depiction of the Great Gate of Kiev, inspired by Hartmann’s architectural rendering, complete with an onion domed bell tower. The ceremonial procession, chanting, and tolling of bells brings the program to a thunderous climax.

The original piano suite has been arranged for various ensembles over the years, most notably in an orchestration by Ravel. The present showpiece, for brass and percussion, was prepared by the English conductor, composer and arranger, Elgar Howarth (b.1935). He was a member of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, (for whom he created the setting), and was also one of the trumpeters on the recording of The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour!

Program notes by Matthew Baird

Bach: Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041: I. Allegro

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92: II. Allegretto

Copland: Appalachian Spring: Finale

Beethoven: Septet for Winds and Strings in E-Flat Major, Op. 20: V. Scherzo: Allegro molto e vivace

Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition (arr. for brass ensemble by Elgar Howarth)

15. The Hut on Hen’s Legs (Baba Yaga)

16. The Great Gate of Kiev

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Parc Retirement Living Tea & Trumpets

A Musical Quilt

November 26, 2020 2:00 PM

Andrew Crust, conductor

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Bach: Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041: I. Allegro

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92: II. Allegretto

Copland: Appalachian Spring: Finale

Beethoven: Septet for Winds and Strings in E-Flat Major, Op. 20: V. Scherzo: Allegro molto e vivace

Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition (arr. for brass ensemble by Elgar Howarth)

15. The Hut on Hen’s Legs (Baba Yaga)

16. The Great Gate of Kiev

The program for Tea and Trumpets has been described as A Music Quilt. Drawing from five separate performances that have been featured on TheConcertHall.ca, the program is hosted by the VSO’s Associate Conductor Andrew Crust with music by Copland, Beethoven, Mussorgsky and more!

James Ehnes, violin & leader

James Ehnes has established himself as one of the most sought-after violinists on the international stage. Gifted with a rare combination of stunning virtuosity, serene lyricism and an unfaltering musicality, Ehnes is a favourite guest of many of the world’s most respected conductors including Ashkenazy, Alsop, Sir Andrew Davis, Denève, Elder, Ivan Fischer, Gardner, Paavo Järvi, Mena, Noseda, Robertson and Runnicles. Ehnes’s long list of orchestras includes, amongst others, the Boston, Chicago, London, NHK and Vienna Symphony Orchestras, the Los Angeles, New York, Munich and Czech Philharmonic Orchestras, and the Cleveland, Philadelphia, Philharmonia and DSO Berlin orchestras.

Recent orchestral highlights include the MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall with Noseda, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig with Shelley, San Francisco Symphony with Janowski, Frankfurt Radio Symphony with Orozco-Estrada, London Symphony with Harding, and Munich Philharmonic with van Zweden, as well as his debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Lincoln Center in spring 2019. In 2019/20, Ehnes is Artist in Residence with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, which includes performances of the Elgar Concerto with Luisi, a play/direct programme leg by Ehnes, and a chamber music programme. In 2017, Ehnes premiered the Aaron-Jay Kernis Violin Concerto with the Toronto, Seattle and Dallas Symphony Orchestras, and gave further performances of the piece with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Alongside his concerto work, James Ehnes maintains a busy recital schedule. He performs regularly at the Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, Symphony Center Chicago, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Ravinia, Montreux, Chaise-Dieu, the White Nights Festival in St Petersburg, Verbier Festival, Festival de Pâques in Aix, and in 2018 he undertook a recital tour to the Far East, including performances in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. As part of the Beethoven celebrations, Ehnes has been invited to perform the complete cycle of Beethoven Sonatas at the Wigmore Hall throughout 2019/20. Elsewhere Ehnes performs the Beethoven Sonatas at Dresden Music Festival, Prague Spring Festival, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, at Aspen Music Festival (as part of a multi-year residency) and at Bravo Vail Festival during his residency week also including the Violin Concerto and Triple Concerto with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Runnicles. In 2016, Ehnes undertook a cross-Canada recital tour, performing in each of the country’s provinces and territories, to celebrate his 40th birthday.

As a chamber musician, he has collaborated with leading artists such as Andsnes, Capucon, Lortie, Lugansky, Yo-Yo Ma, Tamestit, Vogler and Yuja Wang. In 2010, he formally established the Ehnes Quartet, with whom he has performed in Europe at venues including the Wigmore Hall, Auditorium du Louvre in Paris and Théâtre du Jeu de Paume in Aix, amongst others. Ehnes is the Artistic Director of the Seattle Chamber Music Society.

Ehnes has an extensive discography and has won many awards for his recordings, including a Grammy Award (2019) for his live recording of Aaron Jay Kernis’ Violin Concerto with the Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot, and a Gramophone Award for his live recording of the Elgar Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Sir Andrew Davis. His recording of the Korngold, Barber and Walton violin concertos won a Grammy Award for ‘Best Instrumental Soloist Performance’ and a JUNO award for ‘Best Classical Album of the Year’. His recording of the Paganini Caprices earned him universal praise, with Diapason writing of the disc, “Ehnes confirms the predictions of Erick Friedman, eminent student of Heifetz: ‘there is only one like him born every hundred years’.” Recent releases include sonatas by Beethoven, Debussy, Elgar and Respighi, and concertos by Walton, Britten, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Strauss, as well as the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Andrew Manze, which was released in October 2017 (Onyx Classics).

Ehnes began violin studies at the age of five, became a protégé of the noted Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin aged nine, and made his orchestra debut with L’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal aged 13. He continued his studies with Sally Thomas at the Meadowmount School of Music and The Juilliard School, winning the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music upon his graduation in 1997. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and in 2010 was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. Ehnes was awarded the 2017 Royal Philharmonic Society Award in the Instrumentalist category.

James Ehnes plays the “Marsick” Stradivarius of 1715.

jamesehnes.com

Otto Tausk, music director

Dutch conductor Otto Tausk is the Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, now in his third season. He is also the newly announced Chief Conductor of recently formed Phion Orkest van Gelderland & Overijssel. Until spring 2018, Tausk was Music Director of the Opera Theatre and Tonhalle Sinfonieorchester St. Gallen. He appears as a guest with such orchestras as Concertgebouworkest, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, Philharmonie Südwestfalen, Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestre symphonique de Québec, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Mariinsky  Orchestra, the orchestras of Perth, Tasmania, Auckland, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and BBC National Orchestra of Wales, with whom he made his BBC Proms debut in August 2018. He is a hugely respected musical personality in his native Holland, working with all its major orchestras and composers.

In the 2020/21 season, Tausk continues guesting relationships with orchestras such as Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Het Gelders Orkest, Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. In Vancouver, Tausk will lead an innovative reimagined season in response to COVID-19, showcasing the orchestra with a curated series of digital performances.

In the opera pit, he will conduct Michel van der Aa’s new opera ‘Upload’, with the world premiere at Dutch National Opera, plus further appearances with the other co-commissioning parties including Oper Köln. In St. Gallen, Tausk conducted the world premiere of ‘Annas Maske’, by Swiss composer David Philip Hefti, the Swiss premiere of George Benjamin’s ‘Written on Skin’, Korngold’s ‘Die Tote Stadt’ and other titles including ‘Don Giovanni’, ‘Die Entführung aus dem Serail’, ‘Eugene Onegin’, ‘West Side Story’, ‘Lohengrin’ and ‘Ariadne auf Naxos’.

Tausk has recorded with the Concertgebouworkest (Luc Brewaeys, and an animated version of Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’), Tonhalle Sinfonieorchester St. Gallen (Korngold and Diepenbrock), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (Mendelssohn) and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (Gavin Bryars) amongst others. For the cpo label in 2011 Hans Pfitzner’s enchanting Orchesterlieder garnered international praise, not least the Classica France’s ‘Choc du mois’. His Prokofiev disc with Rosanne Philippens also received BBC Music Magazine Concerto Disc of the Month (2018).

Born in Utrecht, Otto Tausk initially studied violin and then conducting with Jonas Aleksa. Between 2004 and 2006, Tausk was assistant conductor to Valery Gergiev with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, a period of study that had a profound impact on him. In 2011 Tausk was presented with the ‘De Olifant’ prize by the City of Haarlem. He received this prestigious award for his contribution to the Arts in the Netherlands, in particular his extensive work with Holland Symfonia serving as Music Director 2007 to 2012. In reflecting on their work together in The Netherlands, Valery Gergiev paid particular tribute to Tausk on this occasion.

www.ottotausk.nl

Andrew Crust, conductor

Andrew Crust has developed a versatile international career as a conductor of orchestral, opera, ballet and pops programs. Currently serving as the Associate Conductor of the Vancouver Symphony in Canada, Andrew conducts a large number of subscription, pops, educational and contemporary concerts with the VSO each season. Andrew is the newly-appointed Music Director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra beginning in the 20/21, where he programs and conducts the Grand Classics, Pops and Educational series, featuring such soloists as Awadagin Pratt, Amit Peled and Kathrine Jolly.

In the current and upcoming seasons Andrew will debut with the Arkansas and Vermont Symphonies as Music Director finalist, and with the San Diego Symphony and Calgary Philharmonic as a guest conductor. Other recent engagements include performances with the Winnipeg Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Bozeman Symphony and l’Orchestre de la Francophonie in Québec.

Andrew is a 2020 winner of the Solti Foundation US Career Assistance Award. In 2017 he was awarded first prize at the Accademia Chigiana by Daniele Gatti, receiving a scholarship and an invitation to guest conduct the Orchestra di Sanremo in Italy. He was a semi-finalist for the Nestlé/Salzburg Festival’s Young Conductors Award competition, and was selected by members of the Vienna Philharmonic as a winner of the Ansbacher Fellowship, with full access to all rehearsals and performances of the Salzburg Festival.

Andrew is equally at ease in the pit, having conducted ballet with Ballet Memphis and the New Ballet Ensemble, and opera with Opera McGill, College Light Opera Company, Boulder Opera Company, and others. As a Pops conductor, Andrew has collaborated with such artists as Rufus Wainwright, Steven Page, Michael Bolton, Cirque de la Symphonie, and the United States Jazz Ambassadors. Andrew has also established himself as a conductor of films with orchestra.

Andrew served as Assistant Conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra from 2017-2019 where he conducted around forty concerts each season. He stepped in last minute for a successful subscription performance featuring Bernstein’s Serenade with violinist Charles Yang. Andrew also served as Conductor of the Memphis Youth Symphony Program. As the Assistant Conductor of the Portland Symphony Orchestra in Maine from 2016-2018, he conducted a variety of concert series, helped coordinate the orchestra’s extensive educational programs, and helped lead a program for concertgoers under 40 called “Symphony and Spirits”.

Crust was the Assistant Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of the USA (NYO-USA) in the summers of 2017 and 2018, assisting Michael Tilson Thomas on an Asian tour, as well as Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop and James Ross at Carnegie Hall and in a side-by-side performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He has also served as Cover Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, San Diego Symphony and Nashville Symphony, Assistant/Cover Conductor of the Boulder Philharmonic and Assistant Conductor of Opera McGill.

Abroad, he has led concerts with the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana in Italy, Hamburger Symphoniker at the Mendelssohn Festival in Germany, the Moravian Philharmonic in the Czech Republic and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile in Santiago.

As an arranger/orchestrator, Andrew is currently working with Schirmer to make orchestrations of a set of Florence Price’s art songs, has orchestrated works by Alma Mahler and Prokofiev, as well as many pops and educational selections.

Andrew is dedicated to exploring new ways of bringing the classical music experience into the 21st century through innovative programming and marketing, creating community-oriented and socially-sensitive concert experiences, and utilizing social media and unique venues. Andrew is a firm believer in meaningful music education, having produced and written a number of original educational programs with orchestras.

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1919, the Grammy and Juno-award winning Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is the third largest orchestra in Canada, the largest arts organization in Western Canada, and one of the few orchestras in the world to have its own music school.

Led by Music Director Otto Tausk since 2018, the VSO performs more than 150 concerts each year, throughout Vancouver and the province of British Columbia, reaching over 270,000 people annually. On tour the VSO has performed in the United States, China, Korea and across Canada.

The orchestra presents passionate, high-quality performances of classical, popular and culturally diverse music, creating meaningful engagement with audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Recent guest artists include Daniil Trifonov, Dawn Upshaw, James Ehnes, Adrianne Pieczonka, Gidon Kremer, Renée Fleming, Yefim Bronfman, Itzhak Perlman, Bernadette Peters, Tan Dun, and more.

For the 2020-21 season the VSO has created the innovative streaming service TheConcertHall.ca, a virtual home for a virtual season, where more than forty performances will be released throughout the year.

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH

b. Eisenach, Germany / March 21, 1685

d. Leipzig, Germany / July 28, 1750

Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041 - MVT I Allegro

Johann Sebastian Bach’s prowess as a keyboard player is well known. As a church musician much of his career was spent in the organ loft providing music for devotional use. But it is interesting to remember that J. S. Bach began his musical life studying violin with his father, and later his eldest brother. Reflecting on his father’s career, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach observed, ''In his youth and until the approach of old age, he played the violin cleanly and penetratingly, and thus kept the orchestra in better order than he could have done with the harpsichord…He understood to perfection the possibilities of all stringed instruments.''

Bach wrote countless cantatas and a great deal of organ music while serving in Weimar and Leipzig. But during one of his occasional hiatuses from those demands, he found time to indulge his interest in purely instrumental music, especially sonatas, suites and concertos. There are three violin concertos in the BWV catalogue (1041, 1042 & 1043 – the latter is the “Double Concerto”) and some others that are lost or only exist in a revision for keyboard.

The first of these known concertos has long been a favourite of James Ehnes, the soloist in this performance. He states, “This Bach A minor Concerto is a piece that many students learn as sort of a ‘rite of passage.’ If you study the Suzuki method it’s in one of the books of that, and I remember that’s how I first knew it. It’s a piece that I loved it then, and I love it now, and I’m sure that I’ll love it until the day I die. It’s always interesting, it’s always challenging, it’s always beautiful and there’s always something new to discover with it!”

Bach took his inspiration from the works of his near contemporary, the Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi. In Bach’s hands, the three contrasting movements present more of a dialogue between soloist and ensemble, in place of a dispute! In the opening movement, a recurrent theme is exchanged and varied by the musical forces. The stately middle movement is supported by a repeating bass line, while the third movement bounces along in a jaunty jig.

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

b. Bonn, Germany / baptized December 17, 1770

d. Vienna, Austria / March 26, 1827

Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 - MVT II Allegretto

In popular culture, Beethoven’s symphonies have their fair share of memorable moments: the “heroic” Symphony No. 3, the defiant “dit dit dit-duuuuhhh” opening of Symphony No. 5, and the “Ode to Joy” of the Symphony No. 9. However, during Beethoven’s lifetime, the Symphony No. 7 was exceedingly popular as a celebration of rhythm and propulsive power.

The symphony was composed in 1811 and premiered in Vienna on 8 December 1813. The event was a charitable concert to benefit soldiers wounded in the Napoleonic Wars at the Battle of Hanau, which had taken place six weeks earlier. Austrian and Bavarian forces had suffered great losses against Napoleon’s retreating forces. Beethoven had previously torn up his dedication of the “Eroica” Symphony to Napoleon. This time he shook a defiant fist at the French Emperor with a musical battle known as Wellington’s Victory. It was the novelty number on the program in that concert. The main attraction proved to be the Symphony No. 7 in A Major. The orchestra at the premiere included some of the greatest musical luminaries of the day, including Spohr, Hummel, Salieri, Meyerbeer, Romberg, Dragonetti, and Giuliani. The second movement Allegretto had to be immediately encored in the performance, and it proved so popular that it was frequently performed independently, sometimes even inserted in place of “less attractive” movements of Beethoven’s other works. The Seventh Symphony was repeated three times in the following 10 weeks and Beethoven himself referred to it as "one of the happiest products of my poor talents.”

It was Richard Wagner who famously described the symphony as a glorification of music in motion. "All tumult, all yearning and storming of the heart, become here the blissful insolence of joy, which carries us away with bacchanalian power through the roomy space of nature, through all the streams and seas of life, shouting in glad self-consciousness as we sound throughout the universe the daring strains of this human sphere-dance. The Symphony is the Apotheosis of the Dance itself: it is Dance in its highest aspect, the loftiest deed of bodily motion, incorporated into an ideal mold of tone."

AARON COPLAND

b. Brooklyn, New York, USA / November 14, 1900

d. Sleepy Hollow, New York, USA / December 2, 1990

Appalachian Spring - Finale

The next excerpt of music comes from the much-loved ballet APPALACHIAN SPRING. Aaron Copland first titled it, simply, “Ballet for Martha” It was the modern dance pioneer Martha Graham and her company who brought the story to the stage in October 1944.

Copland’s score calls for a chamber sized ensemble of just 13 players, and it tells a simple story. It’s spring in the rural Pennsylvania Hills, in the early 1800s. At a newly built farmhouse, a young couple think about their marriage and the joys and challenges of setting up their home in the wilderness. They’re visited by a preacher who delivers a sermon, and an older pioneer woman, who shares her experience and wisdom. Gradually the four of them resolve that whatever troubles they may face, their faith, hope and love will carry them through. It’s a parable about Americans forging their lives in a new land – in the words of the Shaker hymn:

’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

’Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

’Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

b. Bonn, Germany / baptized December 17, 1770

d. Vienna, Austria / March 26, 1827

If you were to assess a composer’s character based solely on one of his most popular works, Ludwig van Beethoven could be assumed to be a cheerful and optimistic man whose music conveyed the charm and elegance of Mozart. That is decidedly not the description that most would imagine. Where is the defiant radical, the messy-haired musical curmudgeon shaking a defiant fist at the gods of fate? Where is the caricature of the noisy neighbour of Beethoven Lives Upstairs fame? At the turn of the 19th century Beethoven was already breaking new musical ground. It just so happens that the Septet for Winds and Strings in E Flat Major was a musical diversion, composed to please, impress and entertain Viennese society.

Beethoven was shy of his 30th birthday when the Septet was first performed on April 2, 1800, at the Royal Imperial Court Theatre in Vienna. It was dedicated to the Empress Maria Theresa, the second wife of Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor. Italian by birth, she enjoyed courtly life in Vienna, particularly waltzing and dancing. So, what better way for Beethoven to impress the elite members of Viennese society than to produce an easy on the ears serenade that echoed his classical predecessors. The concert, staged to raise money and introduce new works by Beethoven, also featured his Symphony No. 1, a piano concerto, an improvisation by the composer and music by Haydn and Mozart.

The Septet caught the ear of the musical public. Soon there were arrangements of it for all manner of instruments, from piano solo to piano duet, from settings for guitars to a full-scale Harmonie or wind ensemble version. Beethoven himself saw no reason to miss out catering to the hunger of amateur musicians. He scaled down his original setting to be performed by clarinet (or violin), cello, and piano. Beethoven endured demands for more music in the same style, with increasing frustration. Fifteen years after its premiere, people still clamoured for the Septet, leading Beethoven to declare, “That damn work, I wish it could be burned.”

But what’s not to like. The combination of clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello, and double bass, provides a rich sound pallet. The violinist at the premiere was the virtuoso Ignaz Schuppanzigh, so there are plenty of passages with a concerto-like flair. The clarinetist, too, has a starring role opposite the violin. The inclusion of a double bass frees up both the bassoon and the cello to soar to their higher registers. As a musical calling card Beethoven hit the jackpot, much to his chagrin. But the public continues to be all the happier for it.

MODEST PETROVICH MUSSORGSKY

b. Karevo, Russia / March 9, 1839 (March 21, New Style )

d. St. Petersburg, Russia / March 15, 1881 (March 28, New Style )

Pictures at an Exhibition – Baba Yaga & The Great Gate of Kiev

In March of 1881, Modest Mussorgsky sat to have his portrait painted. His green dressing gown, trimmed with dark, red silk is rumpled, as if he has just been roused from his convalescence. His scraggly beard, bed-head hair, hollow eyes and bulbous red nose give a hint to the fact that Mussorgsky was at the end of his days, just shy of his 42nd birthday. The painter, Ilya Repin, was a close friend of the Russian composer, and over the course of four sittings preserved some of the former vigour of his subject, particularly the piercing gaze. But the alcoholism that plagued the composer in his final years had taken its toll. When Repin returned for a final touch up sitting a few days later, Mussorgsky was dead.

Mussorgsky won early success with his tone poem Night on Bald Mountain and the historical opera Boris Godunov. He shared the drive of Mikhail Glinka to develop a uniquely Russian musical identity. Joined by Mily Balakirev, Cesar Cui, Alexander Borodin and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, he became part of the “Mighty Handful” of composers who developed a sound separate from more Western-focused traditions at the Moscow and St. Petersburg conservatories.

In his final years Mussorgsky was plagued with thoughts of mortality. Following the death of his friend, the Russian artist and architect Viktor Hartmann, Mussorgsky attended a public exhibition of his works. A suite for solo piano, Pictures at an Exhibition, was the result, in which the composer takes a musical promenade from picture to picture, contemplating each image before moving on to the next. Some of Hartmann’s images survive to this day and others have been long lost, but the written descriptions of the event and Mussorgsky’s musical depictions evoke the experience. [Many of Hartmann’s images can be found online at Wikipedia]

Following the initial Promenade, the first image is a Gnome, a grotesque Christmas Nutcracker with bared teeth and crooked legs. After moving on, an Italian troubadour is seen in front of the ruins of an Italian castle. The sounds of quarreling children are heard in the garden of a French palace, followed by the plodding of heavy oxcart in Poland. The skittering Ballet of Unhatched Chicks was inspired by a costume design for children dressed as fledgling canaries. Separate portraits of two Jewish men, one rich and one poor, are captured, respectively, in a low, stern voice and a nervous, chattering response.

Continuing the promenade through the gallery, Mussorgsky interprets a The Weekly Market at Limoges as an increasingly heated quarrel between two women. From one French scene we are soon taken to Paris, to view the gloomy, underground catacombs built in Roman times. A wall constructed of skulls evokes a chilling hush, before the sudden appearance of Baba Yaga. She is a menacing figure in Slavic folklore, flying through the sky to her forest hut, which is supported by clawed feet.

At the end of the exhibition stands a depiction of the Great Gate of Kiev, inspired by Hartmann’s architectural rendering, complete with an onion domed bell tower. The ceremonial procession, chanting, and tolling of bells brings the program to a thunderous climax.

The original piano suite has been arranged for various ensembles over the years, most notably in an orchestration by Ravel. The present showpiece, for brass and percussion, was prepared by the English conductor, composer and arranger, Elgar Howarth (b.1935). He was a member of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, (for whom he created the setting), and was also one of the trumpeters on the recording of The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour!

Program notes by Matthew Baird

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