Season Finale: RI Philharmonic Orchestra’s features Mendelssohn, Mahler and Montgomery conducted by Edwin Outwater, May 5

TACO Classical concert includes Violinist Elena Urioste performing
Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto

Orchestra to play former Providence String Quartet member
Jessie Montgomery’s composition 

For the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra’s season finale, the Orchestra welcomes guest conductor Edwin Outwater to The VETS for Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst, Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 (Titan) and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, featuring Elena Urioste on violin. The TACO Classical Concert is on Saturday, May 5, 8:00pm. The Open Rehearsal is on Friday, May 4, 5:30pm.

“We are thrilled that Edwin Outwater and Elena Urioste will make their Rhode Island debuts for the finale of our season-long search for a new music director. Edwin joins us as he concludes his tenth and final season as music director of Ontario’s Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. Elena is an inspiring young performer and has won numerous awards including the Sphinx Competition. We are also excited to open the concert with Starburst by Jessie Montgomery. A former member of the Providence String Quartet, most in Providence know her as a violinist. Jessie recently exploded onto the composition scene and has established herself as one of the unique voices of her generation. We’re honored to welcome her back to Providence as a composer, alongside Mahler and Mendelssohn.”

David Beauchesne
Executive Director
RI Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School

***At a Glance ***

Mahler & Mendelssohn
TACO Classic Concert
Saturday, May 5, 8:00pm
The VETS, One Avenue of the Arts, Providence

Edwin Outwater, conductor
Elena Urioste, violin

MENDELSSOHN: Violin Concerto
MAHLER: Symphony No. 1 (Titan)

Tickets start at $15 (including all fees), and can be purchased: online at; in person from the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Box Office in East Providence; or by phone 401.248.7000 (M-F 9am-4:30pm). On day of concerts, tickets are also available at The VETS’ Box Office (Friday, 3:30pm–showtime; Saturday, 4:00pm-showtime). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.

Open Rehearsal
Friday, May 4, 5:30pm

General Admission is $15. Tickets are available at or 401.248.7000 (M-F 9 am-4:30pm).

About Edwin Outwater, guest conductor

“Headed for a top-tier future”—San Francisco Classical Voice

This is Outwater’s tenth and final season as music director for Ontario’s Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony (KWS). He also serves as director of summer concerts for the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) and was recently appointed artistic director of the Eastern Sierra Symphony. From 2001-2006, Outwater was resident conductor for SFS where he worked closely with Michael Tilson Thomas. He has collaborated with such artists as Kurt Masur, Yo-Yo Ma and Evelyn Glennie. In 2008, his SFS recording of music by Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate was released to wide acclaim.

From 2001-2005, Outwater was the Wattis Foundation’s music director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, leading all its concerts and European tour. Before joining the SFS, he served as resident conductor and associate guest conductor for the Florida Philharmonic, principal conductor for the Adriatic Chamber Music Festival in Italy, and assistant conductor for the Tulsa Philharmonic.

Outwater holds a degree in English literature from Harvard University, where he was music director for the Bach Society Orchestra and the a cappella group Harvard Din and Tonics. He wrote the music for the 145th annual production of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals. He received his master’s in conducting from University of California, Santa Barbara.

About Elena Urioste, violin

 “Plays with equal parts passion, sensuality, brains and humor”—The Washington Post

From 2012 to 2014, violinist Elena Urioste was a BBC New Generation Artist, and a first-place laureate in both the junior and senior divisions of the Sphinx Competition. She has given acclaimed performances with major orchestras throughout the United States.

Elena made her debut at Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium in 2004 and has returned frequently as soloist. Other accomplishments include first prize at the Sion International Violin Competition, the inaugural Sphinx Medal of Excellence, presented by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and articles in Symphony, Latina and La Revista Mujer magazines. She is the founder and artistic director of Chamber Music by the Sea, and co-founder and artistic director of Intermission Sessions & Retreat, a new program that combines music and yoga.

She is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and completed graduate studies with Joel Smirnoff at The Juilliard School. The instruments being played by Elena are an Alessandro Gagliano violin, Naples c. 1706, with a Nicolas Kittel bow. Both are on extended loan from the private collection of Dr. Charles E. King through the Stradivari Society of Chicago.

About the concert: stories behind the music

J Montgomery Photo


Jessie Montgomery

Eclectic approach: Composer-violinist-educator Jessie Montgomery (1981-) hails from New York’s Lower East Side, where her father managed a music studio. She was, in her words, “constantly surrounded by all different kinds of music.” Thus, her own compositions have drawn from many diverse influences, such as African-American spirituals, civil rights anthems, improvisational styles, modern jazz and film scores. From 2004-2009 Jessie was a member of the Providence String Quartet, a pioneering ensemble in community-based music education.
A thoughtful piece: Starburst was commissioned by the Sphinx Organization and premiered by its resident Sphinx Virtuosi in 2012. She said, “I wrote the piece with their dynamic in mind.”
Listen for this: This brief one-movement work for string orchestra is a play on imagery of rapidly changing musical colors. Exploding gestures are juxtaposed with gentle fleeting melodies to create a multidimensional soundscape. A common definition of a starburst, she added, “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.”

Felix Mendelssohn
Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op.64

Born from a friendship: Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) studiously avoided any comparison with Beethoven. Mendelssohn’s concerto was born of a long and deep friendship between him and Ferdinand David, a professional violinist. Repeatedly, David had asked Mendelssohn for a concerto, but it was frequently put off due mainly to the composer’s many professional commitments. In July 1838, Mendelssohn wrote to David, “I would like to write you a violin concerto for next winter. One in E minor keeps running through my head, and the opening gives me no peace.”
The long game: The concerto did not come to fruition for nearly seven years. When he showed a partly complete score to David, the violinist exclaimed, “This is going to be something great!” David contributed many ideas to the work. Finally, it premiered in March 1845 at the Gewandhaus (Leipzig).
Listen for this: The violin has a ravishing melody played right at the beginning. The cadenza is controlled virtuosity—in spirit, a blend of Spohr’s classical reserve and Paganini’s flashy display. When the orchestra re-enters with the main theme, roles are reversed with the violin accompanying the orchestra. A single note in the bassoon joins the first movement to the second.

Gustav Mahler
Symphony No.1 (Titan)

Radical score: The First Symphony of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) originated as a five-movement work under the generic title, Symphonic Poem. In that form, it had its 1889 premiere in Budapest. The work was not a critical success. Before the next performance in Hamburg in 1893, Mahler revised the score, renaming it Titan, a Tone Poem in the Form of a Symphony, and added programmatic titles and comments to all the movements. For the 1899 publication, the composer also reduced the number of movements to the more traditional four.
Fairy tale inspired: The third movement begins oddly as a grotesque parody of the children’s round Frère Jacques scored for some solo instruments with brief sarcastic comments from others. Mahler explains this strange opening and unusual later developments in his note. “The composer received the external stimulus to this movement from the parodical picture, The Huntsman’s Funeral, well known to all children of Austria from an old book of fairy tales. The animals of the forest accompany the coffin of the dead hunter to its tomb.”
Listen for this: Without pause, a cymbal crash announces the opening of the fourth movement. Full of dramatic contrasts and orchestration wizardry, this movement has themes of its own but is noteworthy for reminiscences and transformations of melodies from the previous movements. The length and power of this concluding essay shows Mahler at his best, tying up the ends of the symphony’s portrayal of innocence.