RI  Philharmonic Music School’s Youth Symphonic Wind Ensemble  joins the RI Wind Ensemble on stage, Nov. 15

 

RI Philharmonic Music School Youth Wind Ensemble
 
Cranston’s David Neves and Scituate’s Robert Franzblau
conduct at Scituate high school

 RI PHIL SYMPHONIC WINDS BY TOWN

Members of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School’s Youth Wind Ensembles (RIPYWE) Symphonic Winds join their counterparts in a side by side concert with the Rhode Island Wind Ensemble (RIWE), an adult community band based in Providence.

RIPWE Music Director David Neves, a Cranston resident, and the former Director of Music at Scituate High School, conducts the Youth Wind Ensembles in a concert featuring Gordon Jacob’s William Byrd Suite, Frank Ticheli’s Shenandoah and John Philip Sousa’s Sabre and Spurs. The RIWE, conducted by Robert Franzblau, a Scituate resident, performs Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Four Dances from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein.  

The ensembles combine to perform Henry Fillmore’s The Klaxon and The Circus Bee, Samuel Hazo’s Arabesque and Eric Whitacre’s Sleep. Franzblau and Neves will take to the podium to direct both the students and adults.

 “I am so excited to be partnering with the RI Wind Ensemble and their excellent director Rob. This concert gives our RIPYWE students an opportunity to partner with great adult musicians and live the fact that music making creates bonds among folks of all ages. In addition, getting a chance to conduct again at Scituate High School, where I spent 29 years developing my skills as a band director, is extremely exciting and meaningful. I have lots of great memories. I hope to see  many of my former students—now adults—and their children, attending this very special concert. I hope the concert will be a treat for the Scituate community, which will always hold a special place in my heart.”

Dr. David Neves
R.I. Philharmonic Music School

The concert, Generations United, is on Friday (Nov. 15) at 7:15 p.m. at Scituate High School.

“As a resident of Scituate for over 20 years, I’ve been in the audience at Scituate High School Auditorium many times to hear my children perform in the band, often under the direction of David,” said Franzblau. “It’s wonderful to be able to give something back to my town with this concert, and we are all looking forward to a very special night of musical community-building.”

Dr. Robert Franzblau
Rhode Island Wind Ensemble


At a Glance


Generations United
7:15 p.m., Friday, Nov. 15
Scituate High School
94 Trimtown Rd., North Scituate

 Tickets available at the door on the evening of the concert: $12 General Admission $7 Children, Students and Senior Citizens. For more information, call 401.248.7038, or email Cat Walsh, youth ensembles manager, cwalsh@riphil.org.

Dr. David Neves, who lives in Cranston, is currently the Director of Youth Wind Ensembles for the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and Music School and the Coordinator of Music Education at the University of Rhode Island. He is active as a music education clinician, conductor, performer, and private Instructor, providing workshops throughout New England. In 2017, Dr. Neves retired as Director of Fine and Performing Arts for the Needham Public Schools in Massachusetts. Prior to Needham, Neves served 29 years as the Director of Bands and Supervisor in Scituate, RI. While in Scituate, Neves also taught jazz ensemble, orchestra, chorus, general music, and strings. As Supervisor, he developed curricula and assessments that still serve as models throughout the region. Neves received his B.M. in Music Education from Berklee College of Music and his M.A.T. from Rhode Island College, with a concentration on saxophone performance. In 2006, he received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Johnson & Wales University.

Dr. Robert Franzblau of Scituate has lived and worked at the intersection of musical performance and music education for 40 years. He currently serves as coordinator of graduate programs in music education at Rhode Island College, the oldest public institution of higher education in the state. In addition to teaching courses in music education methods, music theory, and ear training, his duties include field placement and supervision of pre-service teachers. Previously, he served for 21  years as director of bands at Rhode Island College, conducting the wind ensemble and chamber winds. Under his direction, the Rhode Island College Wind Ensemble performed to enthusiastic reviews at regional conventions of the College Band Directors National Association and the National Association for Music Education. This fall, he begins his tenth year as conductor and artistic director of the Rhode Island Wind Ensemble, an adult community band based in Providence.

The mission of the RI Wind Ensemble is to preserve the classic American wind ensemble genre in the tradition of John Philip Sousa by presenting to audiences, music of the finest quality and variety with powerful and sensitive interpretations.

Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School’s Youth Wind Ensembles (RIPYWE): Founded in 2002, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Wind Ensembles was created to give advanced woodwind, brass and percussion students from Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut an outstanding opportunity to rehearse and perform high quality wind ensemble repertoire. RIPYWE offers these students a challenging and rewarding musical experience. Dr. David Neves, who lives in Scituate, is the Music Director of RI Philharmonic Youth Wind Ensembles and conducts the top-level Symphonic Winds for advanced middle and high school students, and John Knasas conducts the Wind Ensemble for intermediate to advanced middle and high school students. Both ensembles rehearse on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.

About The Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Ensembles: The Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Ensembles (RIPYO, RIPYWE, RIPYJazz, & Chamber) provide quality rehearsal and performance experience for talented young musicians from Rhode Island and nearby Connecticut and Massachusetts. Students range in grades from elementary school through high school.

 For more information on The Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School’s Youth Wind Ensembles (RIPYWE) or Youth Orchestras (RIPYO), call 401.248.7038, or email Cat Walsh, youth ensembles manager, cwalsh@riphil.org.Visit musicschool.riphil.org for information on more Philharmonic Music School activities and performances.

 

 

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Bramwell Tovey on Public’s Radio talking about the RI debut of his composition ‘Urban Runway’

bramwell tovy photo

Click here to hear Bramwell Tovey interviewed on the Public’s Radio

Bramwell Tovey conducts, women of the Providence Singers for Holst’s The Planets and premieres one of his award-winning compositions, October 18-19

Grammy winning violinist James Ehnes
makes his RI debut performing
Barber’s
Violin Concerto

Women of the Providence Singers featured in Holst’s The Planets

The TACO Classical Concert is on Saturday, Oct. 19, 8 p.m.
The Amica Rush Hour Concert is on Friday, Oct. 18, 6:30 p.m. 


 At a Glance


The Planets
TACO Classical Concert
Saturday, Oct. 19, 8 p.m.
The VETS, One Avenue of the Arts

Bramwell Tovey, Artistic Advisor
James Ehnes, violin
Women of the Providence Singers, Christine Noel, Artistic Director
TOVEY: Urban Runway
BARBER: Violin Concerto
HOLST: The Planets

The Planets
Amica Rush Hour concert
Friday, October 18, 6:30 p.m.
The VETS, One Avenue of the Arts
Bramwell Tovey, Artistic Advisor
Women of the Providence Singers, Christine Noel, Artistic Director
TOVEY: Urban Runway
HOLST: The Planets


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. Questions can be emailed to boxoffice@riphil.org.

 

 

Judith Lynn Stillman teams up with NASA’s first woman director Carolyn Huntoon, WaterFire’s Barnaby Evans and members of the RI Philharmonic Orchestra for Music Without Borders, Nov. 2

WaterFire’s Barnaby Evans and NASA’s Carolyn Huntoon of Barrington featured
 in Stillman’s composition in honor of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing,
called SMALL STEP, GIANT LEAP: A Lunar Fantasy

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School hosts Music Without Borders: Judith Lynn Stillman and Friends from the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. Pianist Stillman performs with Orchestra members Katherine Winterstein, violin, Abigail Cross, viola, and Steven Laven, cello, in a variety of works celebrating cultures from around the globe…and beyond!

The chamber music program includes special appearances by WaterFire’s Barnaby Evans and Barrington’s Dr. Carolyn Leach Huntoon, the first woman to serve as Director of NASA’S Johnson Space Center. Together they narrate Stillman’s SMALL STEP, GIANT LEAP: A Lunar Fantasy, commissioned in 2019 in honor of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing.

The event is at 8 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 2) at the Carter Center for Music Education & Performance, 667 Waterman Ave., East Providence. (On Oct. 30, at 1 p.m., there will be a preview performance at Sapinsley Hall, Rhode Island College.)

 “Showcasing composers from Spain to China, the evening encompasses ethnic, indigenous and folk idioms within classical frameworks, and music that intermingles cultural traditions. The audience will experience, firsthand, that music is an extraordinary, unifying force. Our program highlights diverse cultures and represents an eclectic amalgamation of music from around the world, seemingly disparate. Yet, inspired melodies, passionate harmonies, driving rhythms, and overarching organic structures connect us all under the boundless umbrella of musical creation.”

–Judith Lynn Stillman

 

 At a Glance

Music Without Borders: Judith Lynn Stillman and Friends from the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra
8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2
RI Philharmonic’s Carter Center for Music Performance & Education
667 Waterman Ave., East Providence

Judith Lynn Stillman, artistic director and pianist
Barnaby Evans, narrator
Carolyn Leach Huntoon, narrator
RI Philharmonic Orchestra members

Katherine Winterstein, violin
Abigail Cross, viola
Steven Laven, cello

Joaquín Turina: Piano Quartet in A Minor, Op. 67
Richard Strauss: Liebesliedchen for piano, violin, viola and cello,
Rabih Abou-Khalil: Arabian Waltz for Piano Trio
Judith Lynn Stillman: SMALL STEP, GIANT LEAP: A Lunar Fantasy
and works by Joaquín Rodrigo, Josef Suk, and more.


BUY TICKETS


Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for students 18 and under or with a college ID, $10 for RI Philharmonic Music School students and family members. Tickets 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.). Day of concert tickets will be available at the Carter Center starting at 7 p.m. Questions and for information email boxoffice@riphil.org.

Music Without Borders: Judith Lynn Stillman and Friends from the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra
1 p.m., Monday, Oct. 30

Sapinsley Hall, Rhode Island College
Admission is free with a suggested donation of $10, and tickets are available at the door.

About Judith Lynn Stillman, pianist, composer and filmmaker

Judith Lynn Stillman, hailed as an “artistic visionary,” is the Artist-in-Residence and a Professor of Music at Rhode Island College. She enjoys an active performing career nationally and internationally, including at the Marlboro, Tanglewood and Grand Teton music festivals, in world premieres at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, and at the Grammy’s celebration in honor of Rostropovich. Ms. Stillman has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Mark O’Connor, Carol Wincenc, Paula Robison, Andras Schiff, Richard Stoltzman, Borromeo, Shanghai, Muir, Cassatt and Lydian string quartets, the Beach Boys, in a BOSE commercial with Herbie Hancock, principals of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, as visiting guest artist at major conservatories in China, Russia, Scotland and the Czech Republic, and as music director in Rome and Verona, Italy. Winner of 18 piano competitions, the first Pell Award in the Arts, and the Christiana Carteaux Bannister Award for Civil Service in the Arts, Ms. Stillman holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from The Juilliard School, where she won the Juilliard concerto competition and the Dethier Prize for Outstanding Pianist. Ms. Stillman, as filmmaker-composer-pianist, has garnered awards including Grand Jury Prize: Best Music Video, Best Multimedia Film, Best Music Score and Audience Choice in international film festivals in Los Angeles, Montréal, New York and the United Kingdom and screenings in 48 countries worldwide. Her iconic duo recording with Wynton Marsalis on Sony Classical was on the Top Ten of the Billboard charts: “Stillman and Marsalis make an impeccable duo. The playing consistently dazzles.”

About RI Philharmonic Orchestra members

Praised by critics for playing that is “as exciting as it is beautiful,” and for “livewire intensity” that is both “memorably demonic” and full of “personal warmth and charisma,” violinist Katherine Winterstein enjoys a wide range of musical endeavors. Ms. Winterstein is the concertmaster of the Vermont Symphony, the acting assistant concertmaster of the Rhode Island Philharmonic, and performs regularly with the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. She is a member of the Hartt String Quartet, and this past summer was her 14th season with the Craftsbury Chamber Players. She has appeared as soloist with several orchestras including the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra, the Champlain Philharmonic, the Boston Virtuosi, and the Vermont Symphony. She has served on the performance faculty of Middlebury College in Vermont since 2002, and joined the faculty of the Hartt School of Music in September of 2011.

Born in Syracuse, N.Y., violist Abigail Kubert Cross started her musical career studying Suzuki piano at age four and, at age nine, picked up the viola in the public schools. In 1993 and 1995 respectively, Ms. Cross received her bachelor’s and master’s from Boston University where she studied with Steven Ansell, principal viola of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She spent her summers at Tanglewood, Kneisel Hall, Sarasota Music Festival, and one summer performing opera in Rome. She is currently principal viola of the Rhode Island Philharmonic, a position she has held for 21 years. In addition, she is a member of the Boston Lyric Opera Orchestra and performs regularly with the Boston Ballet, the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, Odyssey Opera, BMOP and the Boston Landmarks Orchestra. As a member of Walt Disney World’s All-American College Orchestra Alumni, Ms. Cross performs a yearly concert in Orlando.

Cellist Steven Laven appears with the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra (principal cellist), the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the Handel & Haydn Society, Boston Symphony and Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. He is also an adjunct instructor of cello and chamber music at Rhode Island College, performing in the faculty Proteus String Quartet. Previously, he has held titled positions with the Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera and Omaha Symphony Orchestra. He has earned cello performance degrees from the Eastman and Manhattan schools of music.

About the guest narrators

Dr. Carolyn Leach Huntoon, who lives in Barrington, spent 30 years on the frontiers of space exploration. Dr. Huntoon began her research into the human physiological aspects of space flight during the Gemini and Apollo programs as a graduate student. Today, she continues to participate in defining and developing experiments  to explain changes in the human body caused by space flight. Dr. Huntoon joined NASA in 1968 through a National Research Council post-doctoral research fellowship.

Her career has been broadened with a variety of assignments within the Agency. She was chosen as Chief of the Biomedical Laboratories Branch at the Johnson Space Center, responsible for all aspects of biochemical, hematological and physiological investigations of humans in space. From the start of the Shuttle program, Dr. Huntoon has participated in astronaut selection boards. Dr. Huntoon served as Associate Director of the Johnson Space Center from 1984-1987—sharing management responsibilities for the wide variety of activities at this large research and development facility. In 1987, she was named as Director of Space and Life Sciences with responsibility for managing medical research and operations as well as the physical sciences activities at Johnson  Space Center. In 1994, she was appointed Director of Nasa’s Johnson Space Center.

About Barnaby Evans, Artistic and Executive Director, WaterFire
Barnaby Evans is an artist, designer, developer, thought leader and consultant who uses his experience in many fields and media to create original solutions in planning, public art, public space, environmental resiliency and urban interfaces. Originally trained as a scientist focusing on environment and ecology, Mr. Evans creates original art works and design solutions involving major urban interventions, site-specific sculpture installations, photography, landscape, architectural/design projects, writing and conceptual works. Mr. Evans combines his technical and ecological expertise, an awareness of spatial psychology, his sensitivity as an artist and a design philosophy to create unique solutions to public art and urban issues.

Mr. Evans created WaterFire in Providence in 1994 as part of an effort to rebrand and re-establish Providence as a destination. Frustrated by the intense negativity of the local residents about their capital city and recognizing that the just finished award-winning river relocation plan and park would need pump priming to be an effective change agent, Mr. Evans designed WaterFire as a city-scale intervention that combines a design approach with aesthetics, land art, installation, site specific work, music, ritual and spectacle.  Read more

 

Matinee added to ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban™ in Concert’ with the RI Philharmonic Orchestra, Feb. 8

Harry potter photo

JUST ADDED: 2 p.m. showing of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban™ in Concert on Feb. 8 at the Providence Performing Arts Center, PPAC

Audiences will experience the next chapter of the Harry Potter Film Concert Series with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra performing John Williams’ music from the entire film live to picture

 WATCH TRAILER

 Tickets for both performances available at www.ppacri.org

The Harry Potter Film Concert Series with the R.I. Philharmonic Orchestra returns to the Providence Performing Arts Center with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Concert, the third film in the Harry Potter series. On Saturday, February 8, 2020, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra will perform this magical score live from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban while the entire film plays in high-definition on a 40-foot screen.

In 2016, CineConcerts and Warner Bros. Consumer Products announced the Harry Potter Film Concert Series, a global concert tour celebrating the Harry Potter films. Since the world premiere of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Concert in June 2016, more than 1.3 million fans have enjoyed this magical experience from J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, which is scheduled to include over 900 performances across more than 48 countries worldwide through 2019.

In their third year at Hogwarts, Harry, Ron and Hermione meet escaped prisoner Sirius Black and learn to handle a half-horse/half-eagle Hippogriff, repel shape-shifting Boggarts and master the art of Divination. Harry must also withstand soul-sucking Dementors, outsmart a dangerous werewolf and deal with the truth about Sirius and his relationship to Harry and his parents.

Earning an Oscar nomination for the score, the spellbinding and masterful music composed by John Williams became a celebrated classic, conjuring beautiful, soaring motifs continuing the adventures of Harry Potter and his friends on their magical journey.

Tickets are on sale at www.ppacri.org, (401) 421-ARTS (2787) or the Providence Performing Arts Center Box Office, 220 Weybosset St., Providence.

“The Harry Potter film series is a once-in-a-lifetime cultural phenomenon that continues to delight millions of fans around the world. It is with great pleasure that we bring fans for the first time ever an opportunity to experience the award-winning music scores played live by a symphony orchestra, all while the beloved film is simultaneously projected onto the big screen. This is truly an unforgettable event.”

Justin Freer, President of CineConcerts and Producer/Conductor

Harry Potter is synonymous with excitement around the world and we hope that by performing this incredible music with the full movie, audiences will enjoy returning to the Wizarding World.”

Brady Beaubien, CineConcerts and Concert Producer for the
Harry Potter Film Concert Series

 

For more information on the Harry Potter Film Concert Series, please visit www.harrypotterinconcert.com.

RI Philharmonic Music School Youth Symphony Performs Beethoven and Mozart, Nov. 3

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestras (RIPYO) presents its first concert of the season on Sunday (Nov. 3), 1 p.m., at Roberts Hall, Rhode Island College. The Symphony Orchestra performs Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, First Movement, Mozart’s Magic Flute Overture.

The concert features the top-level Symphony Orchestra conducted by Music Director Alexey Shabalin, Repertory Orchestra under the direction of Vincent Mattera and String Orchestra with Irina Naryshkova.

PARTICIPATING STUDENT LISTING BY TOWN

Tickets are $12 for adults, $7 for students, 18 and under, and senior citizens. Tickets are available through the RIC box office http://purchase.tickets.com/buy/TicketPurchase?orgid=21971&schedule=list or 401-456-8144.

**** At a Glance****

RI Philharmonic Youth Orchestras (RIPYO) Concert
1 p.m., Sun., Nov. 3
Roberts Hall, Rhode Island College

About The Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Ensembles: The Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Ensembles (RIPYO, RIPYWE, RIPYJazz, & Chamber) provides quality rehearsal and performance experience for talented young musicians from Rhode Island and nearby Connecticut and Massachusetts. Students range in grade from elementary school through high school. (For a full list of students and their home cities see attached document.)

 For more information or to schedule an audition, visit musicschool.riphil.org or contact Youth Ensembles Manager Cat Walsh at 401-248-7038 or cwalsh@riphil.org. For more information on the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Music School, visit musicschool.riphil.org.

 

 

Even Conductors are treated like Rock Stars!

Pictures courtesy of Tiffany Hogan

To uproarious applause, resident conductor Francisco Noya took to the podium on October 11 to lead the Rhode Island Philharmonic but this time it was backing up one of the greatest rock duos of the last 30 years, the Indigo Girls.

How did Francisco feel about playing as backing band to Amy Ray and Emily Saliers for a night? For any rock show, it’s about rolling with things and tonight was no different.

Noya joked: “If you’ve ever skied, it’s like that if you think about anything while skiing you will fall. Keep your focus and keep going.”

Throughout a set covering all the greatest hits from the Indigo Girls extensive catalog, Noya enjoyed seeing many in his orchestra singing along to their favorite songs.

“After the concert, many of our performers were backstage asking Amy and Emily to pose for photographs. They were performers first and then became fans after.” Francisco never expected to be treated like a rock star himself but that’s what happened after the show. Noya explained: “I waited for the crowds to leave before heading to my car, but as I approached the crowd of women waiting outside for the Indigo Girls, they gave me a warm round of applause.”  The Indigo Girls have a few more U.S. gigs before embarking on a quick European leg with stops in Dublin and London.

The Rhode Island Philharmonic continues its 75th anniversary season on October 18 & 19 with performances including The Planets, Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto played by world renowned violinist James Ehnes, and the Rhode Island Premiere of Urban Runway, written by the RI Philharmonic’s own Artistic Advisor Bramwell Tovey. Tickets are available at tickets.riphil.org.


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. Questions can be emailed to boxoffice@riphil.org.

Learn the story behind Holst’s ‘The Planets’, Tovey’s ‘Urban Runway’ and Barber’s Violin Concerto, Oct. 18-19

Grammy winning violinist James Ehnes
makes his RI debut

Performs Barber’s Violin Concerto

The TACO Classical Concert is on Saturday, Oct. 19, 8 p.m.
The Amica Rush Hour Concert is on Friday, Oct. 18, 6:30 p.m. 

Urban Runway
BRAMWELL TOVEY (1953– )

Bramwell Tovey is the new Artistic Advisor and Conductor of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and Music School. Tovey is also a very popular self-taught composer. Among his most successful works is the Requiem for a Charred Skull for large chorus and brass band. It has been widely performed in Canada. The recording of this work won a 2003 Juno Award for Best Classical Composition. In 2006, Tovey was made Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music (London, England).

Urban Runway (2008) bases its title on the “fashion shows” that may be seen on the sidewalks of Fifth Avenue (New York) and Rodeo Drive (Los Angeles). The idea is that the clothing that customers buy and wear influences how they walk and exhibit unique idiosyncrasies. (Urban Runway is also the name of an actual fashion show in Florence, South Carolina.) About Urban Runway, composer-conductor Tovey commented to the press, “I guess you would call it a very funky piece,” and “The whole thing is really a romp. It’s rather like music composed with one eyebrow raised.” In his own note on the music, Tovey writes:

Urban Runway is a co-commission of the New York and Los Angeles philharmonic orchestras. The concept for Urban Runway grew out of an amusing conversation with friends concerning the colorful idiosyncrasies of those who offer their patronage to the fashion houses on Fifth Avenue in New York or Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles. New clothes, even those unseen inside designer shopping bags, appear to influence the gait of shoppers as they strut along the sidewalk. With a little imagination the listener might care to speculate on the characters depicted in the music.

Based upon a simple ostinato figure housed in a cakewalk rhythm, the score is laced with jazz and minimalist flavors. A flugelhorn and marimba introduce distinctive elements, and perhaps characteristically, the violas take a moment to remind us of the benefits of the ‘pre-owned’ grunge look….

Violin Concerto, Op. 14
SAMUEL BARBER
(1910–1981)

In the years following his graduation from the Curtis Institute, Samuel Barber spent time traveling and composing in Europe under various stipends and grants. Between 1935 and 1937 he won the Prix de Rome and two Pulitzer Travel Scholarships. Barber worked on the development of his orchestral style during his European residencies. His First Symphony, completed in Rome, was premiered by the Cleveland Orchestra in 1937. Arturo Toscanini, whom Barber had met in 1935, premiered both his First Essay for orchestra and the now-famous Adagio for Strings on a program three years later.

The Violin Concerto also originated in Europe. In the summer of 1939, Barber began work on it in a small Swiss village. Before the end of summer he moved to Paris, where he hoped to finish the work. However, Americans were soon warned to leave the French capital because of the threat of war, so Barber returned to the United States with only the first two movements completed.

A wealthy patron had commissioned this concerto for a young virtuoso. When the violinist reviewed the two complete movements, he reportedly declared them to be too simple. Barber promised to give him a more challenging, virtuosic finale. Before that movement was completed, however, a controversy arose between the violinist and Barber concerning the music, possibly placing the commission in jeopardy. The upshot was the violinist’s dismissal from the project. The premiere was given in 1941 by Albert Spalding and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Barber’s Violin Concerto has been termed a pivotal work in his style development. The first two movements could be called the culmination of his neo-Romantic period of the 1930s. His gift for flowing lyricism can be heard right from the first theme announced by the violin. The rhythmic second theme, introduced by the clarinet, is picked up and embellished by the violin and orchestra. In place of a big virtuosic violin solo, Barber gives the violin a vocal-style “recitative.” The second movement continues and rhapsodically amplifies the work’s Romantic lyricism and rhythmic vitality. Two themes are heard, then a contrasting middle section, then the two themes return.

The final movement represents a major turning point in Barber’s style. Here the composer’s musical vocabulary becomes much more incisive, in the manner of his post-war “Capricorn” Concerto and Medea Suite. At the opening, a perpetual-motion figure is announced by the timpani and is then taken over by the violin. True to his promise to make the finale virtuosic, most of its music is a perpetual-motion challenge for the soloist. Themes are not clear cut, but rather are wispy and fragmented. We hear some key changes, but they are fleeting. The concerto ends in a dizzy blaze of excitement.

The Planets
GUSTAV HOLST (1874–1934)

 As a rule I only study things that suggest music to me. That’s why I worried at Sanskrit. Then recently the character of each planet suggested lots to me, and I have been studying astrology fairly closely.

Thus, in a letter to a friend in 1913, Gustav Holst revealed a growing interest that would lead to composing his symphonic suite The Planets (in the United States, his most popular work). However, he could not fully realize his idea immediately. Holst earned his living as a music teacher at St. Paul’s Girls’ School, and the only time he had for composing was weekends and holidays. For that reason, it took him two years to finish The Planets. Due to wartime problems, it was not until 1918 that conductor Balfour Gardiner arranged a private reading of five movements at the Queen’s Hall, using German prisoners of war to fill out the orchestra. The young Adrian Boult conducted. Biographer Imogen Holst remarks:

The two or three hundred friends and fellow musicians who had come to listen in the half-dark auditorium realized that this was no ordinary occasion: the music was unlike anything they had ever heard before.

After the war, The Planets received a proper premiere. “During the many years since it was written,” writes Imogen Holst (Gustav’s daughter), “The Planets has suffered from being quoted in snippets as background music, but in spite of all unwanted associations it has survived as a masterpiece, owing to the strength of Holst’s invention.”

When the audience of 1918 heard the clamor of the opening movement, Mars, they were sure Holst was describing World War I, then going on. However, it had been more of a prophecy, since Holst composed it before August 1914 when the war had begun. Through relentless rhythms come wave on wave of brassy, percussive presentments driving finally to a dissonant finish marked fortississimo (ffff).

 Venus opens in a mood of placid coolness. Though composed in an age of silent movies, Holst’s theme for solo violin anticipates the lush film scores of the late 1930s. Gently rocking repetitions quietly close the movement.

One of the suite’s scherzos is Mercury, whose fleet juxtaposition of unusual chord outlines whisks the music along. Shifting accents and mixed rhythms add extra vivacity.

The most memorable melodies of The Planets come in the Jupiter movement. After the spirited introduction, follows a theme that is the quintessence of English jollity. Close on its heels comes a noble hymn (which Holst later set to words) that gathers amazing strength. Later, a quick-march tune appears before an apotheosis of previous themes.

Saturn was Holst’s personal favorite. Of the first performance, Imogen Holst wrote that “the middle-aged listeners in the audience felt they were growing older and older as the slow, relentless tread came nearer and nearer.”

The suite’s second scherzo is Uranus. Though dubbed by Holst as “The Magician,” Uranus is more of a noisy prankster. Unexpectedly soft passages near the end sound truly magical.

Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote of the post-impressionistic finale, “The strange chords in Neptune make our ‘moderns’ sound like milk and water. Yet these chords never seem ‘wrong,’ nor are they incongruous. . . .” Neptune employs a wordless female chorus offstage. At the suite’s ending, two repeated chords gradually fade until no longer audible.

Program Notes by Dr. Michael Fink © 2018. All rights reserved

 


At a Glance


The Planets
TACO Classical Concert
Saturday, Oct. 19, 8 p.m.
The VETS, One Avenue of the Arts

Bramwell Tovey, Artistic Advisor
James Ehnes, violin
Women of the Providence Singers, Christine Noel, Artistic Director
TOVEY: Urban Runway
BARBER: Violin Concerto
HOLST: The Planets

The Planets
Amica Rush Hour concert
Friday, October 18, 6:30 p.m.
The VETS, One Avenue of the Arts
Bramwell Tovey, Artistic Advisor
Women of the Providence Singers, Christine Noel, Artistic Director
TOVEY: Urban Runway
HOLST: The Planets


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. Questions can be emailed to boxoffice@riphil.org.