September 2016 Symphony

September Symphony: Rumba To Ravel

Scott Seaton | Conductor

  • Saturday, September 24, 2016 @ 7:30PM Laxson Auditorium, Chico, CA
  • Sunday, September 25,2016 @ 2PM Cascade Theatre, Redding, CA

Guest Artists:
North Valley Chamber Chorale | David Scholz, Director
Shasta College Choirs | Elizabeth Waterbury, Director
Olga Kopylova, Piano

Gershwin: Cuban Overture
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26
Hertzberg: Spectre of the Spheres
Ravel: Daphnis et Chloe: Suite No. 2

The tour de force that is Ravel’s boisterous vision of love between Daphnis and Chloe packs an extraordinarily large orchestra and wordless backstage chorus that will take us on a journey not-to-be-missed.  Pianist Olga Kopylova returns to the North State from Brazil to perform the brilliant third concerto of Sergei Prokofiev.  But first, Cuban dance rhythms of one of George Gershwin’s most famous overtures will have you dancing in your seats!

Free pre-concert talk one hour before each performance.

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Curriculum Vitae: Olga Kopylova

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Olga Kopylova, Piano

Olga Kopylova was born in 1979 in Uzbequistan and studied from 1986-1994 at the Uspensky Special Music School in Tashkent.

From 1994 through 1997, Olga studied at the Special College of Music (Moscou Conservatory College) in Moscou with Tatiana Galitzkaya, of the school of Samuil Feinberg. Olga also studied at the Moscou Conservatory with Liudmila Roshina (also of the Feinberg school) from 1997-2000.

In 2000, Olga assumed the post of principal pianist for the Sao Paulo State Orchestra in Brazil, where she currently works. During these years, Olga developed her musical activities in Brazil and Latin America as an orchestral pianist, playing and recording important orchestral piano and celeste parts (Berio, Stravisnky, Jolivet, Bernstein,Villa-Lobos, Shostakovich, Respighi, Prokofiev, Britten etc.). Olga is an experienced chamber musician, performing quintets, quartets, trios, and sonatas with varied ensembles. She is also a vocal accompanist, specializing in accompanying opera singers (Salome, Rosenkavalier, Elektra, Francesca da Rimini, Il Tabarro, Gianni Schicchi).

Olga frequently performs solo recitals and concertos with orchestras, including Prokofiev #3, Schostakovich #1, Mendelsohn double Concerto for piano and violin, Beethoven Triple Concerto, Mozart #19, Shnittke Concerto for piano and string orchestra, and Rachmaninoff #2.


Program Notes:

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George Gershwin

George Gershwin was enjoying tremendous success in his career prior to when the Cuban Overture was written, and with such hits as Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris already behind him, he continued to strive for an even greater music within himself. He aspired to write what he considered “serious music,” and toward that goal began orchestration and counterpoint studies with an eccentric Russian teacher, Joseph Schillinger, known for his rigid theoretical approach to pedagogy; among his students were such notables as Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman. About the same time, Gershwin was entranced by the complex rhythms of exotic percussion instruments he encountered while vacationing in Havana. That inspiration led to this impressionistic adaptation of Cuban dance to his unique sense of melody and harmony. The Cuban Overture, which he originally titled Rhumba, soon followed. Rhumba was premiered in 1932 at a sold-out all-Gershwin concert at New York’s Lewisohn Stadium with the New York Philharmonic and conductor Albert Coates. Gershwin is a defining figure in American music, and the Cuban Overture is recognized as one of his finest orchestral works. Delight in this glimpse of where Gershwin might have taken us had he survived longer than his brief 38 years. In addition to the large and colorful instrumentation, he indicated that the Cuban instruments - claves, maracas, guiro, and bongos - be prominently placed. The rest of the orchestra includes: three flutes (piccolo), two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, snare drum, xylophone, bells, bass drum, cymbals, wood block, and strings.

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Sergei Prokofiev

Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 is the modern favorite from among his five piano concertos. The composer himself was the soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Frederick Stock at the 1921 premiere. The early performances in the United States were disappointing, but the Concerto soon garnered international acclaim, especially in Paris. The Third Concerto is a close sibling to the First Symphony, and in both we can hear Prokofiev’s charismatic wit in the lively tunes, brilliant orchestration and creative harmony. A juxtaposition of contrasts gives rise to the characteristic affect of his music, a mix of sweet and sour, joy and sorrow, with occasional excess and unafraid of the grotesque. His orchestra requires two flutes (piccolo), two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, bass drum, castanets, tambourine, cymbals, and strings. Atypical of Prokofiev concertos, he used the traditional three-movement form; his smooth middle movement sandwiched between energetic ends. Immediately our ear is captured by the light-hearted and fanciful first movement martialing us along with the castanets. The clarinet introduces the primary theme and anxious strings anticipate the soloist’s grand entrance. Throughout, the piano and orchestra dialogue as equal partners. Listen for the second theme introduced quietly by the oboe, slightly dissonant, presenting a simple folk-like tune. The strings are magnificently lush, and the clarinets carry the melody until a spectacular exhibition by the soloist navigates octaves in triplets racing across the length of the keyboard to a high-voltage coda. The second movement is a gentle variation form, ending with an exhibition of beautiful harmony and orchestration. He had written the theme and variations and set them aside a few years prior. The main theme is a lively gavotte and the mood is sentimental. The movement opens with the flute and clarinet. The first variation, cued by a trill from the piano, preserves the placid mood, while the second variation bursts that bubble with a climactic surge. The tempo slows in the third variation, and the fourth has a serene quality that contrasts the pounding figures of the fifth. The coda ends nervously in a soft E minor. The final movement is the most virtuosic. Exquisite ornamentation is coupled with wild tonal clusters in arpeggio. The lines are angular and the rhythms frenetic, until finally the orchestra and soloist land together on a thunderous unison C. Think Stravinsky, without the complicated meters.

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David Hertzberg

David Hertzberg was born in 1990 in Los Angeles, California, and studied composition, violin, cello, and piano from the age of eight at the Colburn School. He went on to graduate with Scholastic Distinction from the Juilliard School where he worked with Samuel Adler. Throughout his short career he has garnered numerous awards and distinctions for his compositions, and his works are scheduled on programs at some of the premiere venues in America, e.g., Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall. Spectre of the Spheres was commissioned by Jeffery Meyer and the Colorado All State Orchestra and premiered in 2014. With this 12-minute single movement, he “sought to create something that moves and breathes like the mystical and unfettered Aurora, with a reckless vitality, inexorably, and of its own accord.” Herzberg wrote that “In the opening stanzas of ‘The Auroras of Autumn’ (the poem from which my work’s title is drawn), [Wallace] Stevens uses the image of a serpent thrashing after having shed its skin, glimmering and flashing as if possessed, as a metaphor for the majestic beauty of the Northern Lights. I found this idea, of something primordial that is at once terrifying and arrestingly beautiful, to be a very poignant one, and one ripe for musical expression.” Herzberg has a flair for melody, his music is highly textural, almost gluttonous; its delicate layers eventually take on a dense cast that bring it to an abrupt end. The orchestration calls for three flutes (piccolo, alto) two oboes, two clarinets (bass), two bassoons (contra), four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, three percussion, timpani, harp, celeste, and strings.

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Maurice Ravel

Maurice Ravel’s impressionist masterpiece, Daphnis and Chloé, was his largest undertaking, requiring an enormous orchestra augmented by a wordless chorus. The orchestration calls for three flutes (piccolo), alto flute, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, E-flat clarinet, bass clarinet, three bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, four trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, castanets, cymbals, glockenspiel, snare drum, tambourine, triangle, two harps, celesta, and strings. Ravel envisioned Daphnis et Chloe as “a vast musical fresco, … Imagined and depicted by late-18th-century French painters.” The 1912 ballet was largely unsuccessful, but Ravel’s music has endured to become a modern staple, especially this work, Suite No. 2, based on the final three dances. The music accompanies two lovers, Daphnis and Chloé. Chloé, a shepherdess, is abducted, and Daphnis dreams that the god Pan has come to save her, only to discover when he awakens that she has returned. In context, we enter following a night of terror, the sun rising over the countryside, realized as a simple ascending motif. Daybreak (Lever de jour), the first part of the Second Suite includes a wordless chorus, a touch of truly organic warmth. Bubbling cascades amid the sounds of morning give way to dynamic strings rising to a marvelously lyrical theme climaxing with our lover’s embrace totally enveloped in Ravel’s luxurious sound. The Pantomime section develops a beautifully "expressive and supple" flute solo, shared by the piccolo, two flutes, and alto flute - the irresistible music of Pan. The General Dance (Danse générale) is an all-out Dionysian celebration – a romp for the gods!

program notes by Theodore Bell.