To celebrate the start of a new musical and academic year, the Grahamstown Music Society and Rhodes Music Department are offering a free-ticket bonanza.
To celebrate the start of a new musical and academic year, the Grahamstown Music Society and Rhodes Music Department are offering a free-ticket bonanza.
Not only are there free tickets for two Grocott's Mail readers for each organisation's opening concert, but there are also free tickets for the first two Rhodes students who present their student cards at the door for both the Rhodes Music Department and GMS opening concerts.
In the Chameleon Trio concert on Monday 16 February, Bridget Rennie Salonen (flute), Sarah Burnett (bassoon), and Catherine Foxcroft (piano) present a programme of trios ranging from Baroque to contemporary style periods.
Offering a unique variety of exquisite timbres, textures and styles that appeal to music lovers and connoisseurs alike, the Chameleon trio performs a combination of well-known repertoire seldom heard on the concert platform.
The trio will be performing in East London, George, Grahamstown and Cape Town during February 2015.
The concert is in the Beethoven Room, Rhodes Department of Music and Musicology at 7.30pm. Tickets at the door are R50 (R20 concessions).
For their first concert of 2015, the Grahamstown Music Society presents Yi-Jia Susanne Hou (violin) and Bryan Wallick (piano) on Wednesday 18 February.
The duo will play Johannes Brahms' Scherzo in C minor, Franz Schubert's Fantasy in C major, Brahms' Violin Sonata No 3 in D minor, Prokofiev's Masks, Mychael Danna's Adoration, Yi-Jia Susanne Hou's Taste of Canada and Camille Saint-Saëns' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.
The concert takes place in the Beethoven Room, Rhodes University Music Department at 7.30pm. Tickets available at the door. Schoolgoers and GMS members free.
Yi-Jia Susanne Hou (violin) and Bryan Wallick (piano) – FREE TICKETS!
For the chance to receive a free ticket for the GMS concert on Wednesday 18 February email email@example.com by midday Monday 16 February with the answer to this question:
In 1999, Walt Disney Animation Studios incorporated the 'Finale' of Carnival of the Animals into the popular movie Fantasia 2000. Which composer, featured in Wednesday's concert, wrote the work?
* No Grocott's Mail staff or their families may enter. Winner selected by random draw. Terms and conditions apply. Answer to firstname.lastname@example.org
Chameleon Trio – FREE TICKETS!
For the chance to receive a free ticket to the Chameleon Trio concert at the Rhodes Music Department on 16 February, answer this question by 3pm today: What is the name of the South African bansuri player who will play in a concert at the Rhodes Music Department in April, and who collaborated with guitarist Steve Newman and Pretoria-based tabla player Ashish Joshi in a project called the Nirvana Performing Arts Circle last year?
* No Rhodes Music Department staff or students, or Grocott's Mail staff and their families may enter. Winner selected by random draw. Terms and conditions apply. Answer to email@example.com
Yi-Jia Susanne Hou (violin) and Bryan Wallick (piano)
Scherzo (Sonatensatz) in C minor
Johannes BRAHMS (1833 – 1897)
Brahms’s knowledge of the violin as an instrument came through his association with Eduard Reményi, the fiery Hungarian violin virtuoso he met at a party in Hamburg, where both musicians had been engaged to provide musical entertainment.
Brahms was still a teenager. Reményi, just 21 years of age, was already a renowned performer with an exciting career.
The two began to perform together as a duo, Brahms being fascinated by the ‘gypsy’ music that Reményi included in his programmes.
Eventually, they began touring together and Reményi happened to introduce Brahms to a friend from his student days – Joseph Joachim.
Although the relationship with Reményi eventually faltered, Brahms had learned to understand the violin’s techniques and sonorities, and he had also gained a life-long interest in fiery Hungarian-influenced music. (His friendship with Joachim was also to endure a lifetime.)
Joachim introduced Brahms to the Schumanns in Dusseldorf, thus setting in motion another intense relationship.
It was Schumann who suggested that a suitable gift for Joachim would be a collaborative sonata, with movements written by Albert Dietrich, Schumann and Brahms. They called the sonata the FAE Sonata in homage to Joachim, whose personal motto was Frei Aber Einsam (Free But Lonely).
Dietrich wrote the first movement, Brahms the Scherzo and Schumann wrote an intermezzo and finale. On Joachim’s arrival in Dusseldorf, he was presented with the score, asked to play the sonata and then asked to guess who had composed each section – a task he accomplished with complete ease.
Brahms’s Scherzo is the only movement that has remained in the repertoire. Its punchy rhythmic opening, its syncopations and cross-rhythms and its lyrical trio section, are all suffused with the composer’s youthful sense of exuberance and well-being, expressing in embryo all the characteristics of ‘the young eagle’, as Schumann called him.
Fantasy in C Major Franz Peter SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828)
Andante moderato -Allegretto – Andantino – Tempo primo – Allegro vivace – Allegretto – Presto
The Fantasy in C Major was composed in 1827, the year which also saw the birth of the great song cycle, Winterreis, a time during which Schubert’s health deteriorated and he became weakened by illness and exhaustion.
It was written for the virtuoso Czech violinist Josef Slavik and the outstanding pianist Karl Maria von Bocklet.
Like the Rondo Brillant in B Minor it is something of a showpiece, designed to show off the brilliance of the performers and to dazzle the listener.
An elaborate composition, the Fantasy is ingeniously organised into one continuous whole, with the thematic material being carefully linked.
Despite this, it was coldly received at its first performance in 1828, one critic even leaving before the piece had ended and commenting that ‘the Fantasy occupied rather too much time’.
The opening Andante makes rather stern demands on the pianist (who is called upon to imitate tremolando string effects!), while allowing the violin much warmth of expression.
This section soon leads into the Allegretto, which swings from major to minor and has a decidedly Hungarian flavour.
The third section uses the modified theme from one of Schubert’s own songs (Sei mir gegrusst), and which he then subjects to various showy elaborations. A brief reminder of the introductory Andante then connects with the final Allegro vivace.
Here, there are references to the theme of the song-like Andantino section, before the work ends with a brilliantly exhilarating and almost orchestral coda.
Violin Sonata No 3 in D Minor, Opus 108
Johannes BRAHMS ( 1833 -1897)
Allegro * Adagio * Un poco presto e con sentiment * Presto agitato
Brahms’s music – like that of Beethoven, with whom he shared many character traits (both were often irascible, sarcastic and impatient with social niceties) – has a foundation of solid ethical and musical values.
The poet Widmann, who heard him play in 1865, remarked that ‘the total effect was of consummate strength, both physical and moral’.
Despite an ability to express great tenderness, his work also reveals a sense of humour – again like Beethoven’s – that is earthy rather than refined.
As he grew older, Brahms's reserve grew more pronounced, and it is perhaps significant that in later years he chose to obscure his handsome and sensitive features under an abundant beard.
Like Beethoven, he loved nature and spent many of his summers in the countryside, where his creative genius responded to the stimulus of natural beauty.
From 1886 to 1888, Brahms spent three idyllic summers in a small Swiss village on the banks of Lake Thun. During the first summer there his creativity flowed, and he produced a cello sonata, a piano trio, several wonderful songs and the almost-complete violin sonata in D minor.
The violin sonata was, however, not finished until Brahms put the final touches to his manuscript during the last of his Swiss visits in 1888.
Only then did he send it to Clara Schumann.
As always, he was concerned with her opinion of the work for she was, as he said ‘…the most beautiful experience of my life, its greatest wealth and its noblest content.’
The sonata gives potent voice to the composer’s inner life, his reserved yet deeply passionate and tender nature, for it exudes an enigmatic romanticism, a sense of opportunity lost, of what might have been.
Unlike the other two violin sonatas, which have three movements only, Opus 108 has four. Yet it is the shortest of the group and the most compact in the way it sets out its material.
Despite its concision, the work has an immense feeling of breadth. It opens with a long exhalation from the violin.
Peter Latham (1962) notes, very aptly, that the Allegro begins ‘with a great sigh and ends with an even greater one’.
This wonderful opening theme is heard again, in sotto voce discourse on the violin, in the development section (over the soft insistence of the repeated dominant note A on the piano) and then again in the coda, as the movement subsides into quietude.
The Adagio’s profoundly moving song gives us a glimpse into the warmth that lay beneath Brahms’s shaggy exterior. It is an excellent foil to the Scherzo which follows and in which Brahms manages to suggest levity with an underlying suggestion of seriousness and drama.
The Presto agitato is possibly the most impassioned and vehement music that Brahms ever wrote. Despite the chorale-like second theme, the movement surges relentlessly forward until it ends in a thunderous coda that recalls the opening and demands great strength from both players.
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891 – 1953) ( arr. Jascha Heifetz (1901 – 1987)
Prokofiev began his career as a concert pianist, and spent five years touring the world as a virtuoso pianist, exciting both wonder and dismay with his sensational ‘Bolshevik’ music and the brilliant and percussive nature of his pianism.
During these ‘years of wandering’ he made contact with the great impresario Diaghilev, a meeting which inspired him to write a great deal of ballet music. The Buffoon, The Scythian Suite, Le Pas d’acier and The Prodigal Son were all conceived in collaboration with Diaghilev, in an exceptionally productive working relationship between a ballet troupe and a composer.
The music for Romeo and Juliet, however, was written in Russia for the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre.
Although Prokofiev worked closely with the choreographer and discussed matters of ballet technique, the ballet was initially pronounced largely ‘undanceable’.
Prokofiev did, however, make a 10 movement piano suite of music which he extracted from the score, and which he himself premiered in 1937 to a favourable reception.
Masks (or Masquerades) is a true character piece, using insistent rhythm and acerbic harmonies to capture the grotesquery of the fantastically masked and costumed dancers.
Virtuoso violinist Jascha Heifetz transformed the piece still further, arranging it for violin with piano accompaniment – yet losing none of its inherently quirky character.
Mychael DANNA (born 1958)
Canadian Mychael Danna has written music for some of the most illustrious film directors of our time, such as Atom Egoyan, Ang Lee, Deepa Mehta and Terry Gilliam.
His music is uniquely evocative, and he is adept at combining non-Western musical sounds with the traditional orchestral sounds of the West, as well as with electronic sounds.
He won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for the music he wrote for Life of Pi, and has garnered numerous other awards for his film scores.
Danna is a graduate of the University of Toronto, where he won the Glen Gould Scholarship in 1985 and where he was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate for his musical achievements.
He himself says that ‘the most gratifying experiences are the ones that take effort to unpeel the layers surrounding the heart of the story…. "These are always the film scores that I am most proud of." Adoration is one of Atom Egoyan’s most complex and perplexing films, in which one of the central characters is a violinist.
The film won the ‘Prize of the Ecumenical Jury’ at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Palme d’Or. In the same year it won ‘Best Canadian Feature Film’ at the Toronto International Film Festival. Danna’s score creates a richly embroidered sound world that adds dimension and insight to the director’s vision.
Taste of Canada
Yi-Jia Susanne Hou
Susanne Hou will talk about this work at the concert.
Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Opus 28
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835 – 1921)
Saint-Saëns wrote the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso for violin virtuoso Pablo Sarasate in 1863, when Sarasate was 19 years of age.
(Four years earlier, when Sarasate was a mere 15 years of age, he had approached Saint-Saëns with the request for a violin concerto, and Saint-Saëns had complied with his Violin Concerto No 1.)
Since its successful première in Paris in 1867, the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor has remained one of the most popular works in the concert repertoire.
The work was originally scored for solo violin and orchestra, but its popularity ensures that is often heard in arrangements suitable for the recital hall. (This arrangement is, in fact, by Georges Bizet, the composer of the opera Carmen.)
The introduction to the rondo proper opens with a dark-toned and haunting Andante malinconico, which soon gives way to more animated passagework.
A series of trills presages the commencement of the rondo’s first theme, a lilting tune with a distinctly Spanish flavour and syncopated rhythms.
This theme returns several times, interrupted by more rhapsodic and lyrical sections in which the emotional intensity is heightened by the use of double-stopping (or multiple strings).
The main theme’s final appearance is showcased not by the violin but by the accompanying instrument, while the soloist executes a series of elaborate and shimmering arabesques around the theme.
Finally, a brilliant, scurrying coda in the tonic major brings the piece to an exhilarating conclusion.
* All notes prepared by Dr Arthur Rubenstein.
YI-JIA SUSANNE HOU International Violinist Yi-Jia Susanne Hou is the first ever violinist to capture three gold medals with unanimous Juries at three International Violin Competitions: Concours International Long-Thibaud (France, 1999), Lipizer International Violin Competition (Italy, 1999) and Sarasate International Violin Competition (Spain, 1997.)
Hou has collaborated with world-renowned Directors and Artists such as Mstislav Rostropovich, Pinchas Zukerman, Alan Gilbert, Cho Liang Lin, Vladimir Spivakov, Marcello Viotti, Marek Janowski, Lan Shui, Boris Brott, Robert McDuffie, Ralph Kirschbaum, Lawrence Dutton, Joseph Kalichstein, Alain Trudel, Bernhard Gueller, Gregory Vajda, Ling Tung, and Li Xin Cao, among others.
Hou’s new music video ‘The Devil’s Delight’, produced by Rhombus Media, just premiered on Bravo!TV.
She also stars in a new documentary on the 'Canada Council Instrument Bank', A Rotating Planet Production which is Directed by Ari Cohen for Bravo!TV.
She performed the violin solo in the Atom Egoyan film Adoration which won the Ecumenical Jury Prize at Festival de Cannes, featuring music composed by Mychael Danna, and was the subject of CBC’s ’The National’ Documentary: Shanghai Sensation, revisiting her childhood in Shanghai, with her father, Alec Hou, a renowned violin pedagogue in China.
Most recently, Yi-Jia Susanne Hou – ’little miss violin’ was commissioned by CPA, Boca Raton to produce her very own Classical Musical: Around the World of Music in 80 Minutes reaching over 13 000 audience through nine sold-out world premiere performances.
She will continue on with CPA to produce an annual six-concert series aboard Celebrity Cruises ‘Reflection’ beginning in winter, 2012.
As a solo violinist, Hou has traveled the world, touring in Canada with Debut Atlantic and Prairie Debut, and throughout the United States, England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Croatia, China, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, and Hong Kong.
Her numerous solo appearances include the London Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre Nationale de l’Île de France, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, SWR Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, WDR Cologne, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, Chicago Sinfonietta, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Tokyo Philharmonic, Osaka-Kansai Philharmonic, Shanghai Broadcasting Orchestra, Czech National Orchestra, and Slovenia Radio-Television Orchestra.
Festival appearances include the Aspen Music Festival, La Jolla Music Society, Grand Teton Music Festival, Rome Chamber Music Festival, Bordeaux Musique en Graves, and Amis de Mozart, among others.
At 17, Hou performed the most challenging pieces ever written for the violin: Paganini’s Twenty-four Caprices for Solo Violin, in live recitals in Toronto at the Royal Conservatory of Music, and the Aspen Music Festival.
Hou has also performed all 10 of Beethoven’s Piano and Violin Sonatas in New York as well as the complete collection of Brahms Violin and Piano Sonatas and Piano Trios.
Born into a musical family, Hou had music surrounding her all her life. Both her mother and father are violinists, and thus at the tender age of 4, Hou began studying violin with her father, Alec Hou.
Less than a year later, she gave her first public performance and was received with a standing ovation.
At nine, the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto invited her as a scholarship student.
Since then, Hou has had scholarships and fellowships at the Aspen Music Festival for nine summers, as well as The Juilliard School where she received her Bachelor of Music as a student of Dorothy DeLay and Naoko Tanaka in 2000.
She then went on to do a one-year Masters programme, and completed the highly acclaimed Artist Diploma Program in Juilliard with Cho Liang Lin and Naoko Tanaka.
The outstanding violin being used by Yi-Jia Susanne Hou is the ex Mary Portman, Fritz Kreisler Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, Cremona, c. 1735 on extended loan from Clement and Karen Arrison through the generous efforts of The Stradivari Society of Chicago.
The Stradivari Society is a unique organisation that supports the very highest level of string playing by assisting patrons who own the most precious antique Italian instruments and choose to make them available to artists of exceptional talent and ability.
Yi-Jia Susanne Hou wishes to share these thoughts with her audiences:
“My parents were both great violinists of a different time and world. Their career growth was stunted due to unforgiving world circumstances and they did not have the opportunities I have always had.
"Their life experiences have had a deep impact on me and have been an unwavering source of inspiration. I have never taken for granted my ‘gift’ of being able to pursue what I love.
"Too often people take opportunities for granted because we live in such a free world, but growing up knowing both my parents nearly died for what they believed in gives me the utmost appreciation and respect for our gift of life and freedom of dreams…
"In my lifetime, I hope to share with my audiences my passion and love for what I do. I hope to encourage everyone to pursue their own dreams and I hope to actively advocate cultural exchange and musical education in young and old alike.
"It is a grand and humble service to be an artist in our world and I merely hope to do my part.”
“She’s absolutely phenomenal…” —Lord Yehudi Menuhin
"I was overwhelmed by the sensitivity of her playing…she is an extraordinary artist. The violin plays a huge part in the soundtrack of the film, and her detailed and highly charged performance is full of emotional nuance." —Atom Egoyan, Director of ’Adoration’
“The binding ingredient of “Adoration” is its rich, violin-soaked musical soundtrack by Mychael Danna. Its mood of sorrowful sensuality evokes the troubled histories of flesh-and-blood people whose complicated personal stories, if we knew them, might or might not provide reasons for heinous crimes against humanity.” —The NY Times
“Hou’s performance was of the greatest and highest international level. She is fragile, but only at first sight. Her sound is crafted and rich; the g-string getting under your skin… Hou reminds me of Kyung Wa Chung at the height of her career…” —Christophe Huss, Le Devoir, Canada
“Hou is remarkable, her playing an idealistic dream of perfection, her sound full of humanity, sweetness and musical understanding and projected on her superb Guarneri del Gesu violin with heart-stopping purity in her uppermost register and a richly resonant sound on the lowest strings. Playing such as this, flawless, filled with light and meaning, makes you feel shy, as if you were witnessing a miracle, something for which there is no explanation, only highly sensitized awareness.” —Stephen Pedersen, Chronicle Herald, Halifax, Nova Scotia
“It sometimes seems that the world is mass-producing great instrumentalists. What sets Yi-Jia Susanne Hou apart from her many brilliant contemporaries is a style of playing that combines the executant skill of today’s best with the expressiveness of violinists 50 to 150 years ago…I cannot recall hearing a violinist in a live performance who could coax as big a tone out of a violin; she can also draw a fine-spun pianissimo.” —Robert McColley, Fanfare Magazine USA
“Her sound is strangely strong yet delicate; her technique near flawless…” —The Strad
“Wearing an elegant gown, Hou, making her fifth appearance with the orchestra, demonstrated an admirable ability to put the audience at ease, as if guests in her living room, yet still convey the depth and gravity of emotion in Bruch’s music…this concerto makes great use of double-, triple-, even quadruple-stops, and Hou sailed through them clearly and seemingly without effort…(the 2nd movement was) lyrically beautiful, it felt as if each note was given individual care…and hearing Kreisler’s music (encore) played on his violin was indeed a pleasure.” —Keila Huss, Daily Breeze Los Angeles, California
“From the very first phrase, Hou demonstrated that she is the possessor of a gigantic sound, a perfectly centered tone, and a deep understanding of musical structure. She showed absolute confidence and mastery in every respect of her program, which extended from Beethoven to Kreisler, and easily exuded the star quality that has put her in the spotlight as a lead violinist…” —Greg Stepanich, Palm Beach Arts Paper, Florida
Bryan Wallick is gaining recognition as one of the great American virtuoso pianists of his generation.
Gold medalist of the 1997 Vladimir Horowitz International Piano Competition in Kiev, he has performed throughout the United States, Europe, and South Africa.
Wallick made his New York recital debut in 1998 at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall and made his Wigmore Hall recital debut in London in 2003.
He has also performed at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall with the London Sinfonietta and at the St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church with the London Soloists Chamber Orchestra.
In recent seasons, Wallick has performed with the Boise Philharmonic, Brevard Symphony, Capetown Philharmonic, Cincinnati Pops, Durban Philharmonic, Evansville Philharmonic, Illinois Philharmonic, Johannesburg Philharmonic, Kentucky Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, and the Winston-Salem Symphony; and collaborated with Erich Kunzel, Marvin Hamlisch, Yasuo Shinozaki, Vladimir Verbitsky, Victor Yampolsky, Josep Vicent, Leslie Dunner, Robert Moody, Alfred Savia, Christopher Confessore, and Carmon Deleon among others.
Wallick has performed recitals at the Chateau Differdange in Luxembourg, on the Tivoli Artists Series in Copenhagen, Ravina's Rising Star Series, Xavier Piano Series (Cincinnati), Scottsdale Center’s Steinway Series, Sanibel Island Music Festival, and the Classics in the Atrium Series in the British Virgin Islands.
In March 2002, Wallick played two solo performances at LedreborgPalace for HRH Princess Marie Gabrielle Luxembourg, and HRH Prince Philip Bourbon de Parme.
Wallick’s 2013-14 highlights included a solo recital debut at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, debut performances with the Portland Symphony, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Pretoria Symphony Orchestra, and a last minute cancellation with the Johannesburg Philharmonic.
He also performed solo recitals throughout South Africa and performed chamber recitals with violinist Sergey Malov, cellist Anzel Gerber and soprano Hanli Stapela.
In 2014-15 he will return to perform with the Johannesburg Philharmonic, the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and will also perform solo and chamber recitals throughout South Africa with violinist Yi-Jia Susanne Hou and soprano Hanli Stapela. Wallick has performed on National Ukrainian Television and Radio, on Danish National Radio, on Chicago’s WFMT Fazioli Series, on BBC's radio show 'In Tune' and on NPR's 'Performance Today'.
He was recently given a grant by the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts to explore his synesthetic realities in a multimedia project that allows the audience to see the colours he experiences while performing.
Synesthesia is the ability to experience two or more sensory experiences with one stimulus.
Bryan Wallick sees colours with each musical pitch and has created a computer program that projects images of his coloured visions to the audience.
Wallick studied with Jerome Lowenthal in New York City where he was the first Juilliard School graduate to receive both an undergraduate Honors Diploma (2000) and an accelerated Master's Degree (2001). He continued his studies with Christopher Elton in London at the Royal Academy of Music where he was the recipient of the Associated Board International Scholarship, receiving a Postgraduate Diploma with Distinction, and previously studied with Eugene and Elizabeth Pridonoff at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.
George Plimpton's feature article on Bryan Wallick appears in the March 2002 edition of Contents magazine.
* See more at: http://www.bryanwallick.com/bio/#sthash.BDGLyaRK.dpuf