The Stories Behind the Music for the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Concert Conducted by Anu Tali, Sept. 22

About the concert for the RI Philharmonic Orchestra’s TACO Classical with conductor Anu Tali and violinist Jennifer Koh, Saturday, Sept. 22
Open Rehearsal is on Friday, Sept. 21

***At a Glance ***

Pictures at an Exhibition
TACO Classical Concert
Saturday, Sept. 22, 8 p.m.
The VETS, One Avenue of the Arts, Providence
Anu Tali, guest conductor
Jennifer Koh, violin

BACH/STOKOWSKI: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
TORKE: Bright Blue Music
MUSSORGSKY/RAVEL: Pictures at an Exhibition
GLASS: Violin Concerto No.1 

Open Rehearsal
Friday, Sept. 21, at 5:30 p.m.

Buy Tickets
tickets.riphil.org

Stories behind the music

J.S. Bach (1685–1750)/Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977)
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
Audacious performances: To music lovers of the first 50 years of this century, Leopold Stokowski was a household name. The English-born conductor had, quite simply, revolutionized concert life in the United States. During his tenure as conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra (1912-1938), he developed the “Philadelphia sound” and introduced audiences to an adventurous repertory.
Innovative orchestral transcriptions: He developed masterworks from other repertories, most notably J.S. Bach’s organ pieces, which took on novel sounds by donning orchestral clothing. This music riveted general audiences, while several influential purists scoffed at the romantic emotion of the arrangements. Yet, as one musician has put it, “What he did was to bring out, in a way that nobody else has, the essential mysticism and the romanticism of Bach, which is undeniable.”
Listen for this: The Toccata and Fugue in D Minor was one of the earliest transcriptions, first presented in 1927. It became world-famous when Stokowski conducted it in the opening scene of Walt Disney’s film Fantasia (1940), visually enhanced by stunning abstract graphics. In 1938, he had commented:

The Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is like a vast upheaval of Nature. It gives the impression of great white thunderclouds—like those that float so often over the valley of the Seine—or the towering majesty of the Himalayas. The Fugue is set in the frame of the Toccata, which comes before and after. This work is one of Bach’s supreme inspirations—the final cadence is like massive Doric columns of white marble.

Philip Glass (1937- )
Violin Concerto No.1

Eclectic approach: Music with popular touches is the hallmark of Philip Glass. Appealing equally to fans of rock, jazz and classical music, Glass is the ultimate “crossover” composer. This has been the case since 1965, when he developed a new musical vision while working on a film score with sitar player Ravi Shankar. From that point, his music focused on small ensembles of amplified flutes and saxophones, electronic organs and synthesizers. Glass’s style became associated with a new trend in American music called Minimalism.
Transformed opera: His first opera, Einstein on the Beach (1976), featured a violinist in the title role rather than a singer.
Listen for this: The middle movement begins with oscillating pulsations in the strings, morphing subtly into something new in preparation for the soloist. The violin enters with its simple melody. That melody repeats 13 times with some variants, tapering off until it ends abruptly. Most of the final movement proceeds Glass-like, growing out of new repetitive ideas. However, its last section is a series of slow, high reminiscences of the earlier movements, a most satisfying gesture to end the work.

Michael Torke (1961- )
Bright Blue Music
Interesting syntheses: Michael Torke’s music explores a unique fusion of classical idioms with jazz, rock ’n’ roll and other American popular styles. The extent to which he employs any of these varies with the work. He composed The Yellow Pages in 1984 for chamber ensemble, his first piece to refer to color. Then, in 1985, Torke came into the public eye with a series of “color” works for orchestra. The first of these was Ecstatic Orange, which was soon choreographed by Peter Martins for the New York City Ballet. The same year saw the composition of a sequel, Bright Blue Music.
In his own words: Torke wrote the following regarding Bright Blue Music:

Inspired by Wittgenstein’s idea that meaning is not in words themselves but in the grammar of words used, I conceived of a parallel in musical terms: harmonies in themselves do not contain any meaning, rather, musical meaning results only in the way harmonies are used. Harmonic language is then, in a sense, inconsequential. If the choice of harmony is arbitrary, why not then use tonic and dominant chords—the simplest, most direct, and, for me, the most pleasurable? Once this decision was made and put in the back of my mind, an unexpected freedom of expression followed. With the simplest means, my musical emotions and impulses were free to guide me. The feeling of working was exuberant; I would leave my outdoor studio, and the trees and bushes seemed to dance, and the sky seemed a bright blue.

Listen for this: Torke said, “The key of the piece, D major (from which there is no true modulation), has been the color blue for me since I was five-years-old. Bright Blue Music continues the compositional development of my past two pieces, but does so with a new-found freedom and lyricism, and a new language: tonality.”

Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881)/Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Pictures at an Exhibition
Fabulous pairing: It is difficult to conceive that the piano suite, Pictures at an Exhibition written in 1874 by Mussorgsky, had to wait until after the composer’s death to be published. Maurice Ravel’s brilliant orchestration, which immediately became part of the standard repertoire, was suggested by Serge Koussevitzky, then a popular conductor in Paris. Ravel took the suggestion and made what many consider the most exemplary orchestration of a piano work ever. Koussevitzky premiered the piece in 1923.
An expression of sorrow: The origin of Pictures at an Exhibition goes back to 1873. That year saw the death of Victor Hartmann, architect and artist, who was a close friend of Mussorgsky’s. The composer expressed his sorrow at the loss to Russian critic Vladimir Stassov, who had first introduced them. The following year Stassov helped to arrange an exhibition of 400 of Hartmann’s watercolors and drawings in St. Petersburg.
Listen for this: From the collection, Mussorgsky chose 11 works on which to build his suite, introducing some of the movements with a recurring “promenade” theme. The Promenade, as explained by Stassov, represents the composer “walking now right, now left, now as an idle person, now urged to go near a picture; at times his joyous appearance is dampened as he thinks in sadness of his departed friend. . . .” Toward the end of the section, Mussorgsky suggests the witch flying. When she lands, it is squarely on the downbeat of the final section: The Great Gate of Kiev. This was Hartmann’s design for an ancient-style gate, complete with decorative cupola and a triumphal procession marching through the arches (represented by the Promenade theme). The full mass of Ravel’s orchestra (including chimes) comes together here to give Pictures at an Exhibition a majestic conclusion.

Buy Tickets

Tickets start at $15 (including all fees), and can be purchased online at tickets.riphil.org, in person from the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Box Office in East Providence, or by phone 401.248.7000 (Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.). On day of concerts only, tickets are also available at The VETS Box Office (Friday, 3:30 p.m.–showtime; Saturday, 4 p.m.-showtime). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.

 

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Meet Violinist Jennifer Koh; performs Concerto No.1 by Philip Glass in a return engagement, Sept. 22

Soloist Jennifer Koh joins Guest Conductor Anu Tali and the RI Philharmonic Orchestra for the TACO Classical concert, Saturday, Sept. 22
Open Rehearsal is on Friday, Sept. 21

JENNIFER KOH

JENNIFER KOH performs Concerto No.1 by Philip Glass in a return engagement, Sept. 22.

“One of our most thoughtful and intense musicians”—New York Times

About Jenner Koh, violinist

  • Gave a riveting performance with the RI Philharmonic Orchestra of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, captivating a record-setting audience in 2014.
  • Recognized for intense, commanding performances, delivered with dazzling virtuosity and technical assurance.
  • Dedicated to exploring a broad and eclectic repertoire, while promoting diversity and inclusivity in classical music.
  • Premiered more than 70 works written especially for her.
  • Named Musical America’s 2016 Instrumentalist of the Year.
  • Won the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Concert Artists Guild Competition and an Avery Fisher Career Grant.
  • Holds a bachelor’s in English literature from Oberlin College and studied at the Curtis Institute.
  • Artistic director of arco collaborative, Inc., an artist-driven nonprofit that fosters a better understanding of our world through a musical dialogue inspired by ideas and the communities around us.

***At a Glance ***

Pictures at an Exhibition
TACO Classical
Saturday, Sept. 22, 8 p.m.
The VETS, One Avenue of the Arts, Providence
Anu Tali, guest conductor
Jennifer Koh, violin

BACH/STOKOWSKI: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
TORKE: Bright Blue Music
MUSSORGSKY/RAVEL: Pictures at an Exhibition
GLASS: Violin Concerto No.1 

Open Rehearsal
Friday, Sept. 21, at 5:30 p.m.

Buy Tickets

Tickets start at $15 (including all fees), and can be purchased online at tickets.riphil.org, in person from the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Box Office in East Providence, or by phone 401.248.7000 (Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.). On day of concerts only, tickets are also available at The VETS Box Office (Friday, 3:30 p.m.–showtime; Saturday, 4 p.m.-showtime). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.

Meet Conductor Anu Tali; conducts first 2018-19 TACO Classical concert featuring Bach/Stokowski, Torke, Mussorgsky/Ravel and Philip Glass, Sept. 22

Anu Tali conducts the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra
for the TACO Classical concert, Saturday, Sept. 22
Open Rehearsal is on Friday, Sept. 21

Anu Tali © Kaupo Kikkas (19)

ANU TALI

About Anu Tali, guest conductor
“Charismatic, brilliant, energetic”—Herald Tribune

  • One of the most intriguing conductors on the international scene.
  • Belongs to a new generation of artists who are constantly searching for fresh musical ideas.
  • Became music director for the Sarasota Orchestra in 2013.
  • Continued in her role as chief conductor of the Nordic Symphony Orchestra, which she founded in 1997 together with her twin sister Kadri Tali to develop cultural contacts between Estonia and Finland and unite musicians from around the world.
  • Born in Estonia, began her musical career as a pianist, graduating from the Tallinn Conservatory in 1991.
  • Trained as a conductor at the Estonian Academy of Music.
  • From 1998 to 2000, she studied at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory.

***At a Glance***

Pictures at an Exhibition
TACO Classical Concert
Saturday, Sept. 22, 8 p.m.
The VETS, One Avenue of the Arts, Providence
Anu Tali, guest conductor
Jennifer Koh, violin

BACH/STOKOWSKI: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
TORKE: Bright Blue Music
MUSSORGSKY/RAVEL: Pictures at an Exhibition
GLASS: Violin Concerto No.1 

Open Rehearsal
Friday, Sept. 21, at 5:30 p.m.

Buy Tickets

Tickets start at $15 (including all fees), and can be purchased online at tickets.riphil.org, in person from the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Box Office in East Providence, or by phone 401.248.7000 (Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.). On day of concerts only, tickets are also available at The VETS Box Office (Friday, 3:30 p.m.–showtime; Saturday, 4 p.m.-showtime). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.

Bramwell Tovey named Artistic Advisor of the RI Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School Effective Immediately

Tovey Conducts Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra for the
First Time in His New Role, October 19 & 20

Grammy- and Juno-award winner and internationally acclaimed conductor, composer and pianist Bramwell Tovey joins the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School effective immediately as Artistic Advisor. Described as the model of a modern orchestral maestro, Tovey’s prolific career has earned him distinction on the stage, and in the classroom and community. He creates exceptional concert experiences, commissions and composes music for and of his community, and believes orchestras have a responsibility for providing and encouraging access to music education of the highest quality. Tovey is a true champion of connecting orchestras and the communities they serve.

These are values shared by the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School, which is the largest fully integrated professional orchestra and community music school in the United States. The Rhode Island Philharmonic plays a vital role in the region as an inclusive, artistic body dedicated to engaging and enriching the lives of all who wish to learn, practice and hear music. Last year, Tovey joined the faculty of the Boston University School of Music as Director of Orchestral and Conducting Studies, bringing him to New England and making this uniquely consummate appointment possible.

“I’m delighted to accept the position of Artistic Advisor for the Rhode Island Philharmonic. I’ve greatly enjoyed my concerts here and look forward to joining the Orchestra as it celebrates 75 years of music-making in 2019, and we commemorate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth in 2020.

Three things caught my attention in Rhode Island. First and foremost, the devotion and commitment of the musicians led by concertmaster Charles Dimmick. Secondly, the wonderful Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School with its dedicated teachers and inspirational dynamic and thirdly, the excellent Board under Robert Naparstek, President of the Board of Directors and the administration under Executive Director David Beauchesne, one of the most creative orchestra managers in America. The model created by the R.I. Philharmonic Orchestra and the R.I. Philharmonic Music School is unique in the United States and has proved a template for success in the 21st century. I’m looking forward to this new relationship in my career as I firmly believe, as does the Philharmonic, that we thrive only if we serve the communities in which we make music.”

–Bramwell Tovey, Artistic Advisor

Tovey succeeds Larry Rachleff, who led the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra for more than two decades. He will conduct the Amica Rush Hour concert, Friday, Oct. 19, and the TACO Classical concert, Saturday, Oct. 20, featuring Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with piano soloist Aaron Diehl. Both concerts take place at The VETS in Providence, the Orchestra’s long-time home.

One of North America’s most prominent conductors, Tovey was appointed Music Director Emeritus of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) following his 18-year tenure as its Music Director. Under his direction, the VSO toured Asia, Canada and the United States. In 2007, he won the Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra for a VSO recording of violin concertos by Barber, Korngold and Walton with violinist James Ehnes. In 2003, Tovey won the Juno Award for Best Classical Composition for his choral and brass work Requiem for a Charred Skull. He conceived and championed the VSO’s School of Music, which opened in 2011 with Tovey in the role of Artistic Advisor. The VSO School has grown rapidly, increasing the orchestra’s investment in education and its engagement with the community.

“We are thrilled and excited to welcome an artist of Tovey’s stature with impressive global renown and achievements in orchestral performance and music education. He is a true and multifaceted artist—a brilliant conductor, composer and soloist—with unique experience in the creation of a community music school connected to an orchestra. He is a progressive thinker, and the perfect person to build on Larry Rachleff’s legacy and shepherd our orchestra, school and community to new heights.”

–David Beauchesne, Executive Director

Since 2016, Tovey has conducted the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra on two successful occasions and has spent time working with students from the Music School. In November 2017, he led the Orchestra in a program that included Elgar’s “Enigma” Variations, Brahms’s Piano Concerto No.1 and Berlioz’s Le Corsaire Overture.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to be welcoming Maestro Tovey to the Rhode Island Philharmonic. He brings extraordinary musical depth and experience to our organization and is certain to be an inspirational leader for orchestra and audiences alike. The selection of such an esteemed and profound musician exemplifies the Philharmonic’s continued commitment to excellence in music-making. It is with great pride in our orchestra and the selection process that I welcome him to the podium.”

–Charles Dimmick, concertmaster and search committee member

“Members of the Orchestra, faculty, management, staff and Board are excited about the potential for growth in the quality and impact of the orchestra and our education programs under the artistic leadership of Bramwell Tovey. We are all delighted that we’ve attracted a transformational leader to join our team.”

–Marie Langlois, search committee chair and immediate past Board president

Acclaim for Bramwell Tovey

“Tovey caught fire in a wonderful rendition of Elgar’s popular Enigma Variations. The playing had passion, breadth and just seemed to blossom at every turn. The cellos sounded lush and centered, and the way Tovey…pulled the opening bars of the gorgeous ‘Nimrod’ variation out of the mist was hair-raising.” —Providence Journal

“Leonard Bernstein called him a hero, John Adams sang his praises, and the accolades continue to pile up.…A conductor and composer renowned not just for his musical brilliance but also his great rapport with audiences, Tovey is a fierce cultural advocate and finessed cultural ambassador.” —Toronto Globe and Mail

“Tovey commands resplendent playing from the Boston Symphony, having conducted breathtaking performances of Brahms’s German Requiem and Act 1 of Puccini’s Tosca in recent seasons at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood….”—Boston Classical Review

“Tovey then took on a masterwork of musical humor, Richard Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, leading the audience by the hand through the piece at the piano from beginning to end. He is a more mischievous teacher than, say, Leonard Bernstein was but just as illuminating….”—Los Angeles Times

“I loved Tovey’s conception of the Mahler—the breadth of the plush, main melody, the transitions into the lighter sections, the sparkle of the mocking interludes. This music spends time lavishly, but it was time well spent on Saturday.” —Toronto Globe and Mail

“He is the very model of a modern orchestral maestro…. Not only is he a supremely gifted conductor and music director, a much-published composer, a pianist (classical and jazz) and a dreamer of big projects, he is also the bearer of a fantastic sense of humor.” —Montecristo Magazine

“The establishment of the VSO School of Music was a major Tovey initiative, and a positive example of tending to the long-term musical well-being of his community.” —Vancouver Sun

About Bramwell Tovey

GRAMMY- and JUNO-award winning conductor and composer Bramwell Tovey is the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School’s recently announced Artistic Advisor; Principal Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra; and Director of Orchestra and Conducting Studies at Boston University’s School of Music.

Following an exceptional 18-year tenure as Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, which concluded in summer 2018, he now returns as the orchestra’s music director emeritus. Under his leadership, the VSO toured China, Asia, Canada and the United States. His innovations included the establishment of the VSO School of Music, the VSO’s annual festival of contemporary music and the VSO Orchestral Institute, a comprehensive summer orchestral training program for young musicians held in British Columbia.

During 2018-19, his guest appearances include the Chicago, St. Louis, Houston, Indianapolis and Toronto symphonies, and a special Christmas program with the Philadelphia Orchestra. In January, he will return to the Winnipeg Symphony’s New Music Festival, which he initiated during his tenure as Music Director there.

In 2003, Tovey won the Juno Award for Best Classical Composition for his choral and brass work Requiem for a Charred Skull. In 2007, he won the Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra for a VSO recording of violin concertos by Barber, Korngold and Walton with violinist James Ehnes. His song cycle, Ancestral Voices, which addresses the issue of Reconciliation, was written for acclaimed Kwagiulth mezzo-soprano Marion Newman and premiered in June 2017. His trumpet concerto, Songs of the Paradise Saloon, was commissioned by the Toronto Symphony for principal trumpet, Andrew McCandless, and performed in 2014 by Alison Balsom with the LA Philharmonic, the Philadelphia and the London Philharmonic orchestras. A recording of his opera, The Inventor, commissioned by Calgary Opera, features the original cast, members of UBC Opera and the VSO. His Concerto for Orchestra will receive its world premiere during spring 2019 to commemorate the VSO’s centenary, and a new violin concerto for James Ehnes has been commissioned by the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Ottawa, and will receive its premiere at the NAC in March 2019.

Tovey was the recipient of the Oskar Morawetz 2015 Award for Excellence in Music Performance. He was previously music director of Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg where he led the world premiere of Penderecki’s Eighth Symphony on the opening of the principality’s new concert hall, the Philharmonie. He won the Prix d’or of the Academie Lyrique Française for his recording of Jean Cras’s 1922 opera Polyphème with OPL.

In 2013, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for services to music. Since 2006, he has been artistic director of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain.

 

 

 

Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra presents first 2018-19 TACO Classical concert with Anu Tali conducting, Sept. 22

Violinist Jennifer Koh performs
Concerto No.1 by Philip Glass in a return engagement

Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra welcomes guest conductor Anu Tali to The VETS stage for Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, Torke’s Bright Blue Music, Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Philip Glass’s First Violin Concerto featuring violinist Jennifer Koh. The TACO Classical concert is Saturday, Sept. 22, at 8 p.m. The Open Rehearsal is on Friday, Sept. 21, at 5:30 p.m.

***At a Glance ***

Pictures at an Exhibition
TACO Classical Concert
Saturday, Sept. 22, 8 p.m.
The VETS, One Avenue of the Arts, Providence
Anu Tali, guest conductor
Jennifer Koh, violin

BACH/STOKOWSKI: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
TORKE: Bright Blue Music
MUSSORGSKY/RAVEL: Pictures at an Exhibition
GLASS: Violin Concerto No.1 

Open Rehearsal
Friday, Sept. 21, at 5:30 p.m.

Buy Tickets
tickets.riphil.org

or
401.248.7000
(M-F 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.).

About Anu Tali, guest conductor
“Charismatic, brilliant, energetic”—Herald Tribune

Anu Tali is one of the most intriguing conductors on the international scene. She belongs to a new generation of artists who are constantly searching for fresh musical ideas. In August 2013, Tali became music director for the Sarasota Orchestra. In addition to her duties in Sarasota, highlights of the 2017-18 season included her debuts with Pacific Symphony and at the Fringe Festival in Philadelphia. She continues in her role as chief conductor of the Nordic Symphony Orchestra, which she founded in 1997 together with her twin sister Kadri Tali to develop cultural contacts between Estonia and Finland and unite musicians from around the world. Today the Nordic Symphony Orchestra has members from 15 countries, featuring musicians from some of the world’s leading orchestras. Born in Estonia, Ms. Tali began her musical career as a pianist, graduating from the Tallinn Conservatory in 1991. She then trained as a conductor at the Estonian Academy of Music with Kuno Areng, Toomas Kapten and Roman Matsow. From 1998 to 2000, she studied at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory with Ilya Musin and later with Leonid Kortchmr and Jorma Panula.

About Jenner Koh, violinist
“One of our most thoughtful and intense musicians”—New York Times

In 2014, Jennifer Koh gave a riveting performance with the RI Philharmonic Orchestra of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, captivating a record-setting audience. She is recognized for intense, commanding performances, delivered with dazzling virtuosity and technical assurance. A forward-thinking artist, Ms. Koh is dedicated to exploring a broad and eclectic repertoire, while promoting diversity and inclusivity in classical music. She has premiered more than 70 works written especially for her. Her quest for the new and unusual, sense of endless curiosity, and ability to lead and inspire a host of multidisciplinary collaborators truly set her apart. Ms. Koh was named Musical America’s 2016 Instrumentalist of the Year, and won the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Concert Artists Guild Competition and an Avery Fisher Career Grant. She has a bachelor’s in English literature from Oberlin College and studied at the Curtis Institute, where she worked extensively with Jaime Laredo and Felix Galimir. She is the artistic director of arco collaborative, Inc., an artist-driven nonprofit that fosters a better understanding of our world through a musical dialogue inspired by ideas and the communities around us.

About the concert: stories behind the music

J.S. Bach (1685–1750)/Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977)
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
Audacious performances: To music lovers of the first 50 years of this century, Leopold Stokowski was a household name. The English-born conductor had, quite simply, revolutionized concert life in the United States. During his tenure as conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra (1912-1938), he developed the “Philadelphia sound” and introduced audiences to an adventurous repertory.
Innovative orchestral transcriptions: He developed masterworks from other repertories, most notably J.S. Bach’s organ pieces, which took on novel sounds by donning orchestral clothing. This music riveted general audiences, while several influential purists scoffed at the romantic emotion of the arrangements. Yet, as one musician has put it, “What he did was to bring out, in a way that nobody else has, the essential mysticism and the romanticism of Bach, which is undeniable.”
Listen for this: The Toccata and Fugue in D Minor was one of the earliest transcriptions, first presented in 1927. It became world-famous when Stokowski conducted it in the opening scene of Walt Disney’s film Fantasia (1940), visually enhanced by stunning abstract graphics. In 1938, he had commented:

The Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is like a vast upheaval of Nature. It gives the impression of great white thunderclouds—like those that float so often over the valley of the Seine—or the towering majesty of the Himalayas. The Fugue is set in the frame of the Toccata, which comes before and after. This work is one of Bach’s supreme inspirations—the final cadence is like massive Doric columns of white marble.

Philip Glass (1937- )
Violin Concerto No.1
Eclectic approach: Music with popular touches is the hallmark of Philip Glass. Appealing equally to fans of rock, jazz and classical music, Glass is the ultimate “crossover” composer. This has been the case since 1965, when he developed a new musical vision while working on a film score with sitar player Ravi Shankar. From that point, his music focused on small ensembles of amplified flutes and saxophones, electronic organs and synthesizers. Glass’s style became associated with a new trend in American music called Minimalism.
Transformed opera: His first opera, Einstein on the Beach (1976), featured a violinist in the title role rather than a singer.
Listen for this: The middle movement begins with oscillating pulsations in the strings, morphing subtly into something new in preparation for the soloist. The violin enters with its simple melody. That melody repeats 13 times with some variants, tapering off until it ends abruptly. Most of the final movement proceeds Glass-like, growing out of new repetitive ideas. However, its last section is a series of slow, high reminiscences of the earlier movements, a most satisfying gesture to end the work.

Michael Torke (1961- )
Bright Blue Music
Interesting syntheses: Michael Torke’s music explores a unique fusion of classical idioms with jazz, rock ’n’ roll and other American popular styles. The extent to which he employs any of these varies with the work. He composed The Yellow Pages in 1984 for chamber ensemble, his first piece to refer to color. Then, in 1985, Torke came into the public eye with a series of “color” works for orchestra. The first of these was Ecstatic Orange, which was soon choreographed by Peter Martins for the New York City Ballet. The same year saw the composition of a sequel, Bright Blue Music.
In his own words: Torke wrote the following regarding Bright Blue Music:

Inspired by Wittgenstein’s idea that meaning is not in words themselves but in the grammar of words used, I conceived of a parallel in musical terms: harmonies in themselves do not contain any meaning, rather, musical meaning results only in the way harmonies are used. Harmonic language is then, in a sense, inconsequential. If the choice of harmony is arbitrary, why not then use tonic and dominant chords—the simplest, most direct, and, for me, the most pleasurable? Once this decision was made and put in the back of my mind, an unexpected freedom of expression followed. With the simplest means, my musical emotions and impulses were free to guide me. The feeling of working was exuberant; I would leave my outdoor studio, and the trees and bushes seemed to dance, and the sky seemed a bright blue.

Listen for this: Torke said, “The key of the piece, D major (from which there is no true modulation), has been the color blue for me since I was five-years-old. Bright Blue Music continues the compositional development of my past two pieces, but does so with a new-found freedom and lyricism, and a new language: tonality.”

Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881)/Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Pictures at an Exhibition
Fabulous pairing: It is difficult to conceive that the piano suite, Pictures at an Exhibition written in 1874 by Mussorgsky, had to wait until after the composer’s death to be published. Maurice Ravel’s brilliant orchestration, which immediately became part of the standard repertoire, was suggested by Serge Koussevitzky, then a popular conductor in Paris. Ravel took the suggestion and made what many consider the most exemplary orchestration of a piano work ever. Koussevitzky premiered the piece in 1923.
An expression of sorrow: The origin of Pictures at an Exhibition goes back to 1873. That year saw the death of Victor Hartmann, architect and artist, who was a close friend of Mussorgsky’s. The composer expressed his sorrow at the loss to Russian critic Vladimir Stassov, who had first introduced them. The following year Stassov helped to arrange an exhibition of 400 of Hartmann’s watercolors and drawings in St. Petersburg.
Listen for this: From the collection, Mussorgsky chose 11 works on which to build his suite, introducing some of the movements with a recurring “promenade” theme. The Promenade, as explained by Stassov, represents the composer “walking now right, now left, now as an idle person, now urged to go near a picture; at times his joyous appearance is dampened as he thinks in sadness of his departed friend. . . .” Toward the end of the section, Mussorgsky suggests the witch flying. When she lands, it is squarely on the downbeat of the final section: The Great Gate of Kiev. This was Hartmann’s design for an ancient-style gate, complete with decorative cupola and a triumphal procession marching through the arches (represented by the Promenade theme). The full mass of Ravel’s orchestra (including chimes) comes together here to give Pictures at an Exhibition a majestic conclusion.

Buy Tickets

Tickets start at $15 (including all fees), and can be purchased online at tickets.riphil.org, in person from the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Box Office in East Providence, or by phone 401.248.7000 (Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.). On day of concerts only, tickets are also available at The VETS Box Office (Friday, 3:30 p.m.–showtime; Saturday, 4 p.m.-showtime). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.

Youth jazz & funk band headlines Summer’s End concert, Aug. 31

RI Philharmonic Music School’s youth jazz & funk band
wins top honor at an American Idol-inspired competition
 to become opening act for East Greenwich’s Summer’s End concert

TAKEMOTO JAZZThe RI Philharmonic Music School’s youth jazz and funk band wins the 2018 Race to the Stage. From left to right, they are: Greg Takemoto, band coach, Jarret Allen, (Lincoln), Medeski Dow, (Pawtucket), Max Riley, (Coventry), Emmanuel Despines, (Barrington), and Tor Kenyon, (Barrington). Missing from the photograph is band member Richard Evangelista (Providence).

Music School Jazz Band Performing 

The RI Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School’s Paul Murphy Ensemble of high school jazz and funk musicians won first prize in a competition modeled after the popular TV show American Idol. The winners of the annual Race to the Stage competition determine the opening acts for the annual free Summer’s End concert on Friday, Aug. 31 (rain date Sept. 1) at East Greenwich’s Eldredge Field. The gates open at 4; music starts at 5:30.

This year’s Race to the Stage included 12 musical acts who competed at the Greenwich Odeum this past April. The evening culminated with the RI Philharmonic Music School’s Jazz Band, who performed as the Tor Guides, taking the top prize. The other three winning musical acts who will also perform at the Summer’s End concert are the Visiting Wine, a Boston-based duo; singer-songwriter Allison Giuliano, of Providence, and singer Jesse Tolppa, of East Greenwich.

The RI Philharmonic Music School’s Jazz Band was chosen from a field of 32 aspiring performers who sent in online video submission. A committee reviewed the submissions and narrowed the field to 12 acts, who competed during Race to the Stage. The four judges for Race to the Stage included Megan Catelli, cellist and music teacher at Cole Middle School (East Greenwich); Katie Kleyla, vocalist with the New Providence Big Band; Bill McGrath, promotor of a music series; and vocalist-musician-songwriter Dana Wronski. Sal Sauco was the show’s emcee. Special thanks to the Greenwich Odeum and Stephen Caraccia of Main Street Music, for their key role in this event.

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School encourages lifelong engagement with music through comprehensive music education and community partnership programs taught by Orchestra members and outstanding faculty. Quality, access, diversity and collaboration are the Music School’s core values. If you have any questions, call 401.248.7001 or email cartercenter@riphil.org.

Youth Wind Ensemble presented a winning concert at Seekonk Public Library Meadows

Seekonk library 2

RI Music School’s Youth Summer Wind Ensemble and the East Bay Wind Ensemble perform at Seekonk Public Library Meadows

During a recent well-attended concert at the Seekonk Public Library Meadows, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School’s Youth Summer Wind Ensemble (RIPYSWE)—R.I.’s only auditioned student wind ensemble—performed individually and then jointly with the East Bay Summer Youth Ensemble.

The annual event, which is free and open to the public, included music from the Broadway productions of Dear Evan Hansen and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and traditional band music by John Philip Sousa. RIPYSWE is conducted by David Neves, Ph.D., and John F. Knasas, Jr., and EBSYE is led by David Marshall, director of bands for Somerset (Mass.) Berkley Regional High School.

Throughout the school year the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Wind Ensembles (RIPYWE) provides a quality wind ensemble rehearsal and performance experience for talented young musicians from southern New England. RIPYWE Symphonic Winds is designed for advanced middle- and high- school students, and the Wind Ensemble is for intermediate to advanced middle- and high-school students.

“There are so many excellent young musicians in Southern New England, and we are happy to be able to share with them the opportunities available to them to further their skills at the Music School in East Providence. We are the only high-level opportunity of this type beyond the Boston area. As part of the R.I. Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School, we rehearse at the Carter Center on Waterman Avenue in East Providence. We provide a high level, All-State quality musical experience all year long. Students accepted to RIPYWE are held to the highest performance standards, working on the finest musical literature available for concert bands and wind ensembles in a positive, supportive environment.”

David Neves
Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School
Youth Summer Wind Ensemble 

In addition to studying and performing stand-out music with peers from throughout the area, RIPYWE members also have the advantage of becoming part of the R.I. Philharmonic music family, which offers free master classes, workshops and discounted Orchestra tickets. RIPYWE also has special performances with guest conductors, composers, and local college and professional bands, such as Rhode Island College Wind Ensembles, University of Rhode Island Wind Ensembles and the American Band. There is still room for student musicians to be added to one of the ensembles, which include all wind instruments and percussion, with special emphasis this year on clarinet, French horn and percussion.

For more information or to schedule an audition, visit musicschool.riphil.org or contact Youth Ensembles Manager Chelsea Anderson at 401-248-7038 or canderson@riphil.org.