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Assante Vancouver Centre Stars Series

Americana: Walker, Montgomery & Copland

November 27, 2020 7:30 PM

Otto Tausk, Music Director

Andrew Crust, Associate Conductor

Measha Brueggergosman, Host

George Walker: Lyric for Strings

Jessie Montgomery: Starburst

Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring

The first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for music, George Walker was a musician of tremendous energy both as a concert pianist and composer. His lovely and introspective Lyric for Strings is one of his most popular works. The young violinist, composer and educator Jessie Montgomery is one of a new and diverse generation of Black and Latin classical musicians who have earned the support of the Sphinx organization, and her sparkling work Starburst was commissioned and debuted by the Sphinx Virtuosi. Copland’s Appalachian Spring is presented in its original chamber form for 13 musicians. The great Canadian soprano and media darling Measha Brueggergosman hosts.

Measha Brueggergosman, host

Motivated and hungry for new experiences, Ms. Brueggergosman’s career effortlessly embraces the broadest array of performance platforms and musical styles and genres.

Measha began her career predominantly committed to the art of the song recital and has presented innovative programs at Carnegie Hall, Washington’s Kennedy Center, London’s Wigmore Hall, both the Konzerthaus and Musikverein in Vienna, Madrid’s Teatro Real, as well as at the Schwarzenberg, Edinburgh, Verbier and Bergen Festivals with celebrated collaborative pianists Justus Zeyen, Roger Vignoles, Julius Drake, and Simon Lepper.

On the opera stage, her recent highlights include the roles of Giulietta and Antonia in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Elettra in Idomeneo, Jenny in Weill’s Mahagonny, Emilia Marty in Janáček’s Věc Makropulos, Hannah in Miroslav Srnka’s Make No Noise, and Sister Rose in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. On the concert platform last season she returned to Carnegie Hall with the New World Symphony, performed Elettra in Idomeneo at Opera Atelier, Toronto, and gave a recital at the Barbican Center, London. She has also recently worked with the Orchestre de Paris, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and New World Symphony. Orchestras and conductors such as Daniel Barenboim, Michael Tilson Thomas, Franz Welser-Möst, Sir Andrew Davis, Gustavo Dudamel and Daniel Harding.

Her first recording for Deutsche Grammophon, Surprise, includes works by Schoenberg, Satie and Bolcom and is one of the most highly regarded debut albums of recent years. Her subsequent disc Night and Dreams, which features songs by Mozart, Brahms, Strauss, Schubert, Debussy, Duparc and Fauré won several awards and her recording of the Wesendonck Lieder with Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra earned her a Grammy nomination.

Off the stage, Measha is just as active: she recently released her memoir “Something Is Always On Fire” published by Harper Collins, she appears regularly on primetime TV (most recently advocating on behalf of contemporary Canadian literature); and leading Canadian children across the country in song, in celebration of the nationwide campaign for music education.

Measha Brueggergosman champions the education and involvement of new audiences and holds several honorary doctorates and ambassadorial titles with international charities.

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, Associate 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.

GEORGE WALKER

b. Washington, DC, USA / June 27, 1922

d. Montclair NJ, USA / August 23, 2018

In 2001, the eminent radio host, producer and interviewer Bruce Duffie had a dilemma. The station where he had worked for some 25 years, WNIB, Classical 97.1 FM, was about to cease operations. Duffie would be on the air when the transmitter was switched off. So, what piece of music should he present as the longstanding station’s swan song? He chose Lyric for Strings, by the American composer George Walker. It was an unusual, but wholly appropriate selection.

George Walker was born in Washington D.C. in 1922. He completed high school at the age of 14 and received a piano scholarship to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio. Following his graduation in 1941, he enrolled at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he began piano studies with Rudolf Serkin, and composition with Rosario Scalero. The latter would prove to be the more influential figure.

Walker was a man of many firsts. In 1945, he became the first African-American pianist to play a recital at New York's Town Hall, the first Black pianist to play as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the first Black graduate from Curtis. But even after signing with a major artist’s management agency and touring Europe, he soon realized that his prospects were limited. As he told The New York Times, “Because I was Black, I couldn’t get either major or minor dates. From the outset they explained that getting concerts for me — a Black pianist playing classical music — would be an uphill battle.”

Walker’s parallel passion for composition proved to be an advantage, and the basis for a long and distinguished academic career in which he earned Guggenheim, Rockefeller and Fulbright fellowships. His output encompassed more than 90 compositions, from solo piano pieces to vocal, chamber and orchestral works. In 1996 he became the first African-American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Music, for his work Lilacs, a setting of verses by Walt Whitman that lament the death of Abraham Lincoln.

Lyric for Strings is George Walker’s best-known and most frequently performed work. Although it was published in 1990, its roots stretch back to the beginning of his career. While he was a graduate student at Curtis, Walker’s grandmother passed away. In 1946 he wrote a string quartet and the second movement, titled Lament, was dedicated in her memory. Years later, he expanded the piece to suit a string orchestra, retitled it Lyric, and it achieved widespread acclaim. Keep in mind that Walker’s composition instructor at Curtis was Rosario Scalero, the same person who taught Samuel Barber a decade earlier. Barber’s career was truly launched when the second movement of his own string quartet gained fame as the Adagio for Strings. Many people have commented that the two works, Lyric and Adagio, share a similar emotional arc that touches the heart.

When the time arrived for that final sign off at station WNIB, broadcaster Bruce Duffie remarked, “I wanted something special, reflective, tender, strong, and positive to end…The calls and e-mails which I received after that were bittersweet, but they all said the same thing - that I had spoken eloquently, and had chosen the absolutely perfect piece to end.”

Notes: Matthew Baird

JESSIE MONTGOMERY

b. New York, NY, USA / December 8, 1981

Jessie Montgomery is a composer, violinist and educator, now based in Princeton, New Jersey, where she has been working towards her PhD in composition. Born in Manhattan, she grew up in a household steeped in music, theatre, story-telling and social activism. She maintains an active performance career as a violinist with her own ensembles, as well as with the Silkroad Ensemble and Sphinx Virtuosi.

In 2020 she was awarded a Medal of Excellence and a $50,000 career grant from the SPHINX Organization, with whom she has been associated for nearly 20 years. Sphinx was founded in 1997 by Aaron P. Dworkin with the goal of addressing the underrepresentation of people of color in classical music. Sphinx’s four program areas form a pipeline that develops and supports diversity and inclusion in music education, artists performing on stage, the repertoire and programing being performed, the communities represented in audiences, and the artistic and administrative leadership within the field.

”I began my relationship with Sphinx as a junior division competitor (some) years ago,” she told The Violin Channel, “and have since been a two-time laureate in the senior division, taught at the Sphinx Performance Academy, have been Composer-in-Residence with the Sphinx Virtuosi, a member of the Catalyst Quartet, and served on various panels for their annual conference. I cannot stress enough how important this organization has been for me and for all of the musicians they have served and continue to serve. My community has grown because of their work, and it has been inspiring to [see] communities outside of the Sphinx network change and be inspired to change their views on who deserves what opportunities in classical music. I see things becoming more equalized in small pockets of our field–little by little, the shift is happening.”

As she describes, "I wrote Starburst in 2013 for the Sphinx Virtuosi, an amazing, conductor-less string ensemble. I remember vividly at the time that I wanted to write something that was reflective of the ensemble itself…so I composed this encore to be very explosive and celebratory, a fiery and very energetic piece.” Ms Montgomery describes in her program note that the dynamic nature of the group closely matches the astronomical definition of a starburst:  …the rapid formation of large numbers of new stars in a galaxy at a rate high enough to alter the structure of the galaxy significantly.

Notes: Matthew Baird

AARON COPLAND

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

d. Sleepy Hollow, NY, USA / December 2, 1990

Aaron Copland has often been referred to as the “Dean of American Composers.” Others, such as Charles Ives, preceded him and many more followed in his footsteps, including Leonard Bernstein and John Adams. But few have matched the widespread recognition and popularity that Copland enjoyed throughout his lifetime.

Born in the Prospect Heights neighbourhood of Brooklyn, he spent the bulk of his career in New York City. During the incredibly productive period from 1936 through 1947, his residence was a modest 10th floor studio at the Empire Hotel, (still standing today at Columbus and West 63rd Street, opposite Lincoln Centre). A string of successful works for concert, film and dance stages helped to define an American “sound,” most notably the three “folk” ballets: Billy the Kid, Rodeo, and Appalachian Spring.

The latter work was commissioned by the wealthy music patron and pianist Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, and paired Copland with the doyenne of modern American dance, Martha Graham. Graham began to outline the emotional thrust and structure, if not a direct plot, so Copland labelled the work-in-progress simply as “Ballet for Martha.” Ultimately a poem by Hart Crane, and Graham’s childhood in the Allegheny Mountains, provided the inspiration for the title, Appalachian Spring. Incidentally, the “spring” of the title was not the season, but a babbling brook!

Copland’s score calls for a chamber sized ensemble of just 13 players, and it tells a simple story. It is 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 are 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 is 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.

The ballet premiered to great acclaim on October 30th, 1944, at the Library of Congress in Washington. The following year, Copland’s score was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Notes: Matthew Baird

Series Performances

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Bach & Beethoven with Ehnes and Tausk
This is some text inside of a div block.
Americana: Walker, Montgomery & Copland
This is some text inside of a div block.
A Tale of Two Mozarts
More series performances to be announced.
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Assante Vancouver Centre Stars Series

Americana: Walker, Montgomery & Copland

November 27, 2020 7:30 PM

Otto Tausk, Music Director

Andrew Crust, Associate Conductor

Measha Brueggergosman, Host

George Walker: Lyric for Strings

Jessie Montgomery: Starburst

Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring

The first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for music, George Walker was a musician of tremendous energy both as a concert pianist and composer. His lovely and introspective Lyric for Strings is one of his most popular works. The young violinist, composer and educator Jessie Montgomery is one of a new and diverse generation of Black and Latin classical musicians who have earned the support of the Sphinx organization, and her sparkling work Starburst was commissioned and debuted by the Sphinx Virtuosi. Copland’s Appalachian Spring is presented in its original chamber form for 13 musicians. The great Canadian soprano and media darling Measha Brueggergosman hosts.

Measha Brueggergosman, host

Motivated and hungry for new experiences, Ms. Brueggergosman’s career effortlessly embraces the broadest array of performance platforms and musical styles and genres.

Measha began her career predominantly committed to the art of the song recital and has presented innovative programs at Carnegie Hall, Washington’s Kennedy Center, London’s Wigmore Hall, both the Konzerthaus and Musikverein in Vienna, Madrid’s Teatro Real, as well as at the Schwarzenberg, Edinburgh, Verbier and Bergen Festivals with celebrated collaborative pianists Justus Zeyen, Roger Vignoles, Julius Drake, and Simon Lepper.

On the opera stage, her recent highlights include the roles of Giulietta and Antonia in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Elettra in Idomeneo, Jenny in Weill’s Mahagonny, Emilia Marty in Janáček’s Věc Makropulos, Hannah in Miroslav Srnka’s Make No Noise, and Sister Rose in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. On the concert platform last season she returned to Carnegie Hall with the New World Symphony, performed Elettra in Idomeneo at Opera Atelier, Toronto, and gave a recital at the Barbican Center, London. She has also recently worked with the Orchestre de Paris, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and New World Symphony. Orchestras and conductors such as Daniel Barenboim, Michael Tilson Thomas, Franz Welser-Möst, Sir Andrew Davis, Gustavo Dudamel and Daniel Harding.

Her first recording for Deutsche Grammophon, Surprise, includes works by Schoenberg, Satie and Bolcom and is one of the most highly regarded debut albums of recent years. Her subsequent disc Night and Dreams, which features songs by Mozart, Brahms, Strauss, Schubert, Debussy, Duparc and Fauré won several awards and her recording of the Wesendonck Lieder with Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra earned her a Grammy nomination.

Off the stage, Measha is just as active: she recently released her memoir “Something Is Always On Fire” published by Harper Collins, she appears regularly on primetime TV (most recently advocating on behalf of contemporary Canadian literature); and leading Canadian children across the country in song, in celebration of the nationwide campaign for music education.

Measha Brueggergosman champions the education and involvement of new audiences and holds several honorary doctorates and ambassadorial titles with international charities.

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, Associate 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.

GEORGE WALKER

b. Washington, DC, USA / June 27, 1922

d. Montclair NJ, USA / August 23, 2018

In 2001, the eminent radio host, producer and interviewer Bruce Duffie had a dilemma. The station where he had worked for some 25 years, WNIB, Classical 97.1 FM, was about to cease operations. Duffie would be on the air when the transmitter was switched off. So, what piece of music should he present as the longstanding station’s swan song? He chose Lyric for Strings, by the American composer George Walker. It was an unusual, but wholly appropriate selection.

George Walker was born in Washington D.C. in 1922. He completed high school at the age of 14 and received a piano scholarship to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio. Following his graduation in 1941, he enrolled at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he began piano studies with Rudolf Serkin, and composition with Rosario Scalero. The latter would prove to be the more influential figure.

Walker was a man of many firsts. In 1945, he became the first African-American pianist to play a recital at New York's Town Hall, the first Black pianist to play as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the first Black graduate from Curtis. But even after signing with a major artist’s management agency and touring Europe, he soon realized that his prospects were limited. As he told The New York Times, “Because I was Black, I couldn’t get either major or minor dates. From the outset they explained that getting concerts for me — a Black pianist playing classical music — would be an uphill battle.”

Walker’s parallel passion for composition proved to be an advantage, and the basis for a long and distinguished academic career in which he earned Guggenheim, Rockefeller and Fulbright fellowships. His output encompassed more than 90 compositions, from solo piano pieces to vocal, chamber and orchestral works. In 1996 he became the first African-American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Music, for his work Lilacs, a setting of verses by Walt Whitman that lament the death of Abraham Lincoln.

Lyric for Strings is George Walker’s best-known and most frequently performed work. Although it was published in 1990, its roots stretch back to the beginning of his career. While he was a graduate student at Curtis, Walker’s grandmother passed away. In 1946 he wrote a string quartet and the second movement, titled Lament, was dedicated in her memory. Years later, he expanded the piece to suit a string orchestra, retitled it Lyric, and it achieved widespread acclaim. Keep in mind that Walker’s composition instructor at Curtis was Rosario Scalero, the same person who taught Samuel Barber a decade earlier. Barber’s career was truly launched when the second movement of his own string quartet gained fame as the Adagio for Strings. Many people have commented that the two works, Lyric and Adagio, share a similar emotional arc that touches the heart.

When the time arrived for that final sign off at station WNIB, broadcaster Bruce Duffie remarked, “I wanted something special, reflective, tender, strong, and positive to end…The calls and e-mails which I received after that were bittersweet, but they all said the same thing - that I had spoken eloquently, and had chosen the absolutely perfect piece to end.”

Notes: Matthew Baird

JESSIE MONTGOMERY

b. New York, NY, USA / December 8, 1981

Jessie Montgomery is a composer, violinist and educator, now based in Princeton, New Jersey, where she has been working towards her PhD in composition. Born in Manhattan, she grew up in a household steeped in music, theatre, story-telling and social activism. She maintains an active performance career as a violinist with her own ensembles, as well as with the Silkroad Ensemble and Sphinx Virtuosi.

In 2020 she was awarded a Medal of Excellence and a $50,000 career grant from the SPHINX Organization, with whom she has been associated for nearly 20 years. Sphinx was founded in 1997 by Aaron P. Dworkin with the goal of addressing the underrepresentation of people of color in classical music. Sphinx’s four program areas form a pipeline that develops and supports diversity and inclusion in music education, artists performing on stage, the repertoire and programing being performed, the communities represented in audiences, and the artistic and administrative leadership within the field.

”I began my relationship with Sphinx as a junior division competitor (some) years ago,” she told The Violin Channel, “and have since been a two-time laureate in the senior division, taught at the Sphinx Performance Academy, have been Composer-in-Residence with the Sphinx Virtuosi, a member of the Catalyst Quartet, and served on various panels for their annual conference. I cannot stress enough how important this organization has been for me and for all of the musicians they have served and continue to serve. My community has grown because of their work, and it has been inspiring to [see] communities outside of the Sphinx network change and be inspired to change their views on who deserves what opportunities in classical music. I see things becoming more equalized in small pockets of our field–little by little, the shift is happening.”

As she describes, "I wrote Starburst in 2013 for the Sphinx Virtuosi, an amazing, conductor-less string ensemble. I remember vividly at the time that I wanted to write something that was reflective of the ensemble itself…so I composed this encore to be very explosive and celebratory, a fiery and very energetic piece.” Ms Montgomery describes in her program note that the dynamic nature of the group closely matches the astronomical definition of a starburst:  …the rapid formation of large numbers of new stars in a galaxy at a rate high enough to alter the structure of the galaxy significantly.

Notes: Matthew Baird

AARON COPLAND

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

d. Sleepy Hollow, NY, USA / December 2, 1990

Aaron Copland has often been referred to as the “Dean of American Composers.” Others, such as Charles Ives, preceded him and many more followed in his footsteps, including Leonard Bernstein and John Adams. But few have matched the widespread recognition and popularity that Copland enjoyed throughout his lifetime.

Born in the Prospect Heights neighbourhood of Brooklyn, he spent the bulk of his career in New York City. During the incredibly productive period from 1936 through 1947, his residence was a modest 10th floor studio at the Empire Hotel, (still standing today at Columbus and West 63rd Street, opposite Lincoln Centre). A string of successful works for concert, film and dance stages helped to define an American “sound,” most notably the three “folk” ballets: Billy the Kid, Rodeo, and Appalachian Spring.

The latter work was commissioned by the wealthy music patron and pianist Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, and paired Copland with the doyenne of modern American dance, Martha Graham. Graham began to outline the emotional thrust and structure, if not a direct plot, so Copland labelled the work-in-progress simply as “Ballet for Martha.” Ultimately a poem by Hart Crane, and Graham’s childhood in the Allegheny Mountains, provided the inspiration for the title, Appalachian Spring. Incidentally, the “spring” of the title was not the season, but a babbling brook!

Copland’s score calls for a chamber sized ensemble of just 13 players, and it tells a simple story. It is 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 are 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 is 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.

The ballet premiered to great acclaim on October 30th, 1944, at the Library of Congress in Washington. The following year, Copland’s score was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Notes: Matthew Baird

Series Performances

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Bach & Beethoven with Ehnes and Tausk
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Americana: Walker, Montgomery & Copland
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A Tale of Two Mozarts
More series performances to be announced.
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