August 23, 2013

2013–14 Season: Matthew McDonald Recommends

"Mozart & Tchaikovksy (Stravinsky's Fairy Kiss; Mozart Piano Concerto; Tchaik 5) will be a blast because each piece on the program features the bassoon in an interesting and dramatic way. Very challenging.

"Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony has been something I've been wanting to play for a long time. The piece's character demands a mournful and, at times, a darkly humorous bassoon voice.

"I can't wait to get started!"
--Matthew McDonald, Principal Bassoon

Mozart & Tchaikovsky

Nov. 7 and 9; Christoph Campestrini, guest conductor; Barry Snyder, piano

STRAVINSKY The Fairy’s Kiss: Divertimento
MOZART  Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
TCHAIKOVSKY  Symphony No. 5

Shostakovich's Tenth
May 22 and 24; Thomas Wilkins, guest conductor; Douglas Prosser, trumpet

BECKEL  Toccata for Orchestra      
ARUTIUNIAN  Trumpet Concerto          
SHOSTAKOVICH  Symphony No. 10

Listen to an excerpt from the fourth movement of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10, performed by Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. (You can hear an example of the "mournful" bassoon voice that Matthew describes starting around 2:35; hear McDonald perform it live with the RPO in May, 2014).

2013–14 Season: Gaelen McCormick Recommends

"The Appalachian Spring concert is one I'm very excited about.

"That concert will be the first time for me playing Barber's School for Scandal Overture, which is something I heard on a Pittsburgh Symphony broadcast back in high school. The orchestration struck me as very different from the Beethoven symphony my youth orchestra had been working on, and seemed like a challenge. It'll be fun learning it now.

"Appalachian Spring is something that I love more every time I perform it. Growing up, there was something about Copland's way of writing that bothered me; I think it's the very openness of his writing, with the voices spread out, that gave me the odd sense of loneliness. But as I traveled our country in my 20s, I've seen how the prairie/Midwest looks and feels, and now the music sounds more like the expansive plains (or big sky if you're thinking Montana). While I was an undergrad at Eastman, I regularly took modern dance classes at the U of R. We watched many videos of seminal 20th century choreographers, like Merce Cunningham, Alvin Ailey, and of course Martha Graham. Watching the dancers execute her vision of Appalachian Spring really sharpens the angular nature of Copland's writing.

"Piazzolla's Four Seasons is going to be hot! Juliana is an incredible musician, and Astor Piazzolla gives so much emotional material to work with in the seasons. I was lucky to perform a string quintet arrangement of these a few years ago, and the music is full of sweeping drama, and moments of gritty abrasive harmonies. He really tells the story of love and life in a large city (Buenos Aires). Tango is something that is near and dear to me--I met my husband taking tango lessons a few years ago!"
--Gaelen McCormick, Bass

Appalachian Spring
Oct. 24 and 26; Larry Rachleff, guest conductor; Juliana Athayde, violin

BARBER  Overture to The School for Scandal
COPLAND  Appalachian Spring Suite
PIAZZOLLA  The Four Seasons
FALLA  Three-Cornered Hat Suite No. 2

Watch a clip from the ballet Martha Graham choreographed to Copland's Appalachian Spring:

2013–14 Season: Thomas Rodgers Recommends

"In the RPO's 2013–14 season, I am especially looking forward to our concerts with Maestro Christoph Campestrini and Barry Snyder on November 7 and 9.

"Maestro Campestrini conducted my very first RPO concert in March of 2012, and I really enjoyed playing under him. I am excited that he will be working with us again.

"I was fortunate to get the opportunity to play some chamber music with Barry Snyder several months ago, and he is such a wonderful musician/pianist and person. I am looking forward to hearing him again."

--Thomas Rodgers, Violin

Mozart & Tchaikovsky
Nov. 7 and 9; Christoph Campestrini, guest conductor; Barry Snyder, piano

STRAVINSKY The Fairy’s Kiss: Divertimento
MOZART  Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
TCHAIKOVSKY  Symphony No. 5

Listen to Van Cliburn silver medalist (and Eastman School of Music Professor) Barry Snyder perform Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit, "Scarbo":

2013–14 Season: Kenny Grant Recommends

"For me, the Bartók, Brahms, and Higdon concert is one that I'm really excited about.

"Jonathan Biss is an amazing artist and we have not had the Brahms First Piano Concerto in some time. I find the orchestrations of these concertos beyond the scope of the symphonies. Brahms being a pianist really pours his heart and soul into each of his two piano concertos.

"Jennifor Higdon's compositions I find very well put together and extremely musical in scope. Christopher Seaman brought her Blue Cathedral to the orchestra while he was the music director.

"The Bartók Concerto for Orchestra is one of the finest works for orchestra. The RPO has done it many times and it is always welcomed back by the orchestra. It has beautiful solo passages for all the instruments and wonderfully contrasting movements."
--Kenny Grant, Principal Clarinet

Brahms and Bartók
Oct. 17 and 19; Bernhard Gueller, guest conductor; Jonathan Biss, piano

JENNIFER HIGDON  City Scape: Skyline
BRAHMS  Piano Concerto No. 1
BARTÓK  Concerto for Orchestra

Watch a conversation with Jonathan Biss on PBS's News Hour:

Béla Bartók
"The title of [Concerto for Orchestra] is explained by its tendency to treat the single orchestral instruments in a concertant or soloistic manner. The 'virtuoso' treatment appears, for instance, in the fugato sections of the development of the first movement (brass instruments) ... and especially in the second movement, in which pairs of instruments consecutively appear with brilliant passages." --Béla Bartók
"[Concerto for Orchestra] makes tremendous demands on the players' dexterity. Also, the atmosphere sometimes changes very drastically and very unexpectedly. That is what makes it interesting."
--Pierre Boulez
Listen to this NPR clip for more on Concerto for Orchestra, including an excerpt performed by Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony:

2013–14 Season: Peter Kurau & Geoffrey Sanford Recommend

"I'm looking forward to the return next season of Maestro Campestrini and Maestro Rachleff, both of whom provided wonderful, memorable concerts in recent seasons with the RPO."
--Peter Kurau, Principal Horn
"I'm looking forward to working with Larry Rachleff again.  I played for him during my Master's at Rice University and learned an incredible amount from him."
--Geoffrey Sanford, Oboe

“There is nothing like being present at a live classical music concert … Going to hear classical music is a window into one’s own feelings. These composers lived in the depths of the human condition … Classical music asks us, demands us, and brings us down into the richness of who we really are.”

--Larry Rachleff
Larry Rachleff is Music Director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic; he joins the RPO Oct. 24 and 26 for music by Barber, Copland, Piazzolla, and de Falla. Watch the video below for Rachleff's views on a conductor's role, why classical music is better live, and more:

"Music always has to say something to me, it has to speak to me as a human being. Only afterwards I will analyze other aspects of it."

--Christoph Campestrini
Austrian conductor Christoph Campestrini has conducted more than 100 orchestras on 5 different continents, and is also in demand as an opera conductor. Campestrini studied music at Juilliard and Yale, and also studied philosophy at Columbia University. He joins the RPO Nov. 7 and 9 for Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, plus music by Mozart and Stravinsky.

August 22, 2013

2013–14 Season: Stephen Laifer Recommends

"I'm definitely looking forward to Beethoven's 9th Symphony in January.

As the RPO's 4th Horn, I don't get the chance to play very many solos--but in the 3rd movement of his 9th symphony, Beethoven wrote a solo for the 4th Horn player in his orchestra that is an entire page long. It's one of the most challenging and rewarding pieces in the repertoire."
--Stephen Laifer, Fourth Horn

Beethoven's Ninth

Jan. 16, 18, and 19; Hugh Wolff, guest conductor; Rochester Oratorio Society, Eric Townell, director

BEETHOVEN  Symphony No. 9, “Choral”

Listen to the horn solo from the third movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, and hear it performed by the RPO's Stephen Laifer in January, 2014.

August 21, 2013

2013–14 Season: Rebecca Gilbert Recommends

"Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and Stravinsky's Firebird Suite: lusciously sensual music that will take your imagination to a warm, exotic fantasy world far away from our cold Rochester winter! Oh yeah...those two pieces have fabulous flute solos!"

--Rebecca Gilbert, Principal Flute

An Evening in Paris
Jan. 30 and Feb. 1
; Fabien Gabel, guest conductor; Philippe Quint, violin

DEBUSSY  Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun  
SAINT-SAËNS  Violin Concerto No. 3      
RAVEL  Une barque sur l’océan (A Boat on the Ocean)
RAVEL  Tzigane
STRAVINSKY  Firebird Suite (1919)

Watch an analysis of Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, hosted by Leonard Bernstein. 

Watch an excerpt from the Firebird Suite performed by Michael Tilson Thomas and the YouTube Symphony Orchestra: