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SRS @ Home - December 13

 

WATCH THE CONCERT LIVE WITH US!  |  December 13 AT 3 PM

This concert is available for viewing here on the SRS website, but for a more enriching experience, watch it on the Santa Rosa Symphony YouTube channel on your smart TV, computer or other device. Please visit our Ways to Watch page well in advance for ways to view on your TV, even if it’s not smart. Not yet subscribed to the SRS YouTube channel? It’s easy. Once you subscribe to the channel, you’ll receive notifications so you won’t miss the virtual performance!



Season Subscribers please note: After the live premiere, you will receive a special access link to watch the concert for up to 30 days. So, if you missed the premiere, or just want to watch it again, look for an email with your special access link.
 

CONCERT PROGRAM

This performance will be recorded on December 5, 2020 at Weill Hall at the Green Music Center.

Conducted by Francesco Lecce-Chong
 

JESSIE MONTGOMERY: Source Code for String Orchestra
VIVALDI: Concerto Grosso for Violin, Two Oboes, Two Horns and Continuo
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Fantasia on Greensleeves
BEETHOVEN:  Symphony No. 3, Eroica


The Extras

  • Pre-concert talk with Francesco, live on YouTube one hour prior to the concert.

  • During the concert, you'll have a virtual backstage pass! The camera crew will take you backstage and you’ll hear commentary from musicians and Francesco. 

  • Stay tuned immediately after the performance for a Q & A with Francesco.
     

Exclusive Symphony Season Ticket Subscriber Benefits!

To acknowledge the support of Symphony season subscribers, please read below for some new benefits, available only to you.

Only Season Ticket Subscribers will have the opportunity to re-watch the above virtual concerts, whenever they want, up to 30 days after the Live Stream dates on YouTube.

Only Season Ticket Subscribers will receive exclusive access to guest artist recitals and concert conversations with Francesco on YouTube.

Exclusive access link to view the 2012 historic Orchestral Opening concert of Weill Hall  Soon, all subscribers will receive an exclusive access link to watch the 2012 Orchestral Opening Concert of the Green Music Center on the Symphony’s YouTube Channel. This celebratory extravaganza featured Bruno Ferrandis and Corrick Brown conducting, plus Jeffrey Kahane performing on piano. The palpable excitement will move you to your feet. Relive that momentous event, or view it for the very first time. 

SUNDAY, December 27  @ 3 PM on YouTube—Symphony Season Subscriber Only Exclusive Access
Elizabeth Prior, viola—in recital with interview by Francesco Lecce-Chong

PAUL HINDEMITH: Trauermusik  [Music of Mourning] for Viola and String Orchestra

 

Information for 2020-2021 Season Ticket Holders

We understand that you purchased tickets for live concerts, but we are very excited for you join us on this virtual journey, experiencing a season like no other. Your subscription tickets are your access to Santa Rosa Symphony orchestral virtual concerts, special virtual soloist recitals and more! If access to these virtual performances is not possible, the SRS kindly asks that you convert your tickets to a donation which will allow us to sustain our ability to bring great musical performances to our community and music education programs to 30,000 young people annually. Thank you for your support and commitment—we are truly grateful. Please contact SRS Patron Services at (707) 546-8742 or by email. Symphony staff, working from home, continue to monitor voicemails, email and mail.

 

   

Ways to Watch

SRS @ Home Series will be available to watch on YouTube. With a little advance preparation, you can watch the virtual concerts on your TV, instead of the smaller screens of your laptops, phones and iPads. Visit our Ways to Watch page for specific guides for viewing on a variety of devices. We highly recommend doing all the prep work at least a few days in advance of the event or concert. That way, the day of, you'll be ready to watch. Click here for Ways to Watch.
 

Concert Sponsors

Classical Concert Series underwritten by Sara and Edward Kozel, in memory of Laura Tietz
SRS @ Home Series Lead Sponsor - Anderman Family Foundation
SRS @ Home Series Supporting Sponsor - The Stare Foundation and David Stare of Dry Creek Vineyard

Sponsored by Donald Green in memory of his beloved wife, Maureen Green                                
Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong underwritten by David and Corinne Byrd
Guest Artist Elizabeth Prior underwritten by Ava and Sam Guerrera
Supporting Sponsor - Linda and David Hanes
Pre-Concert talks sponsored by Jamei Haswell and Richard Grundy
Media sponsor The Press Democrat


  

PROGRAM NOTES

December 2020 PROGRAM NOTES by Elizabeth Schwartz

Jessie Montgomery
Source Code for String Orchestra

 
Composer: born December 8, 1981, New York City
Work composed: 2013. Commissioned by the Isaiah Fund for New Initiatives in partnership with Symphony Space.
World premiere: The Cassatt Quartet gave the premiere at Symphony Space in New York City in November 2013.
Instrumentation: string orchestra (originally for string quartet)
Estimated duration: 8 minutes

 
“Music is my connection to the world. It guides me to understand my place in relation to others and challenges me to make clear the things I do not understand. I imagine that music is a meeting place at which all people can converse about their unique differences and common stories.” – Jessie Montgomery

Acclaimed composer, violinist and educator Jessie Montgomery interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, language, and social justice, placing her squarely as one of the most relevant interpreters of 21st-century American sound and experience. Montgomery’s works have been described as “turbulent, wildly colorful, and exploding with life” by The Washington Post.
 
Since 1999, Montgomery has been affiliated with The Sphinx Organization, which supports young African-American and Latinx string players. She currently serves as composer-in-residence for the Sphinx Virtuosi, the Organization’s flagship professional touring ensemble. She was a two-time laureate of the annual Sphinx Competition and was awarded a generous MPower grant to assist in the development of her debut album, Strum: Music for Strings (Azica Records).
 
“The first sketches of Source Code began as transcriptions of various sources from African American artists prominent during the peak of the Civil Rights era in the United States,” Montgomery writes. “I experimented by re-interpreting gestures, sentences, and musical syntax (the bare bones of rhythm and inflection) by choreographer Alvin Ailey, poets Langston Hughes and Rita Dove, and the great jazz songstress Ella Fitzgerald into musical sentences and tone paintings. Ultimately, this exercise of listening, re-imagining, and transcribing led me back to the black spiritual as a common musical source across all three genres. The spiritual is a significant part of the DNA of black folk music, and subsequently most (arguably all) American pop music forms that have developed to the present day. This one-movement work is a kind of dirge, which centers on a [newly composed] melody based on syntax derived from black spirituals. The melody is continuous and cycles through like a gene strand with which all other textures play.”
 
Antonio Vivaldi
Concerto for in F major for Violin, Two Oboes, Two Horns and Continuo, RV 574

 
Composer: b. March 4, 1678, Venice – d. July 27/28, 1741, Vienna
Work composed: undocumented; this concerto was published in 1711 in Amsterdam as part of Vivaldi’s two-volume “L’estro armonico.”
World premiere: undocumented
Instrumentation: solo violin, 2 oboes, 2 horns, continuo (harpsichord and bass) and strings.
Estimated duration: 11 minutes

 
When it comes to concertos, nobody composed more than Antonio Vivaldi. Igor Stravinsky once famously quipped that Vivaldi hadn’t actually written more than 500 solo concertos; he’d merely written the same concerto 500 times.
 
Why so many concertos? Beginning in 1703, Vivaldi worked in various capacities for the Pio Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, where he taught violin and other instruments, and wrote music for the impoverished and/or orphaned girls who lived there. Vivaldi began his tenure at the Ospedale as violin master; in 1716, he took on the post of maestro di concerti (music director). Under Vivaldi’s guidance, the Ospedale’s orchestra and choir developed into first-rate ensembles whose concerts and sacred services attracted the attention and financial support of the Venetian nobility. As music director, Vivaldi had to provide either a concerto or a sacred work for the Church’s many feast day celebrations. After 1718, Vivaldi stepped away from his regular teaching duties, but he continued to write music for the Ospedale’s orchestra. Orphanage records document more than 140 concertos written by Vivaldi between 1723-29. 
 
In 1711, Vivaldi published a collection of 12 concertos titled “L’estro armonico” (The Harmonic Inspiration). The impact these concertos had on all the composers working in Europe at the time cannot be overstated. Vivaldi may not have “invented” the Baroque concerto, with its alternation of fast and slow movements and the back-and-forth between soloist(s) and ensemble, but he standardized the form; all of his contemporaries, including J. S. Bach and Georg Philipp Telemann, quickly adopted Vivaldi’s format into their own music.
 
“L’estro armonico” includes five concertos for solo violin, oboes, horns, and strings. RV 574 in F major begins with a rousing horn fanfare whose jaunty dotted rhythm recurs throughout the opening Allegro. In the manner of a jazz combo, the soloists take turns in the spotlight (the two horns duet together), and their solos are interspersed among “comments” from the orchestra. The oboes display their plaintive expressiveness in the central Grave section, in counterpoint with the solo violin. All soloists vie for attention in the closing Allegro, which reprises the joyous buoyancy of the first movement.
 
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55, Eroica

 
Composer: b. December 16, 1770, Bonn – d. March 26, 1827, Vienna
Work composed: 1802-04. Dedicated to Beethoven’s patron, Prince Franz Joseph Maximilian Lobkowitz.
World premiere: Beethoven conducted the premiere on April 7, 1805 in Vienna’s Theater an der Wien.
Instrumentation: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 3 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani and strings.
Estimated duration: 47 minutes

 
Ludwig van Beethoven was an early admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose early exploits as First Consul of France reaffirmed the motto of the French Revolution, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.” It had been Beethoven’s intention to dedicate his third symphony to Napoleon, but when Beethoven heard that Napoleon had declared himself Emperor in May 1804, he was outraged. So vehement was Beethoven’s desire to rid his third symphony of any association with the French general that he erased the words “intitulata Bonaparte” from the title page with a knife, which left a hole in the paper. When the score was first printed in 1806, the title page read only, “A heroic symphony … composed to celebrate the memory of a great man.”
 
Today, the Eroica is considered one of the groundbreaking musical events of the 19th century, but in Beethoven’s time it received a great deal of criticism. Its length alone challenged the audience (depending on the conductor’s tempos and observations of marked repetitions in the score, the Eroica runs 45 – 60 minutes). Beethoven acknowledged this, noting in the 1806 edition of the score, “This symphony being purposely written much longer than is usual, should be performed nearer the beginning rather than at the end of a concert … if it is heard too late it will lose for the listener, already tired by previous performances, its own proposed effect …”
 
One critic complained, “In this composition [there is] too much that is glaring and bizarre, hindering greatly one’s grasp of the whole.” Another reviewer, using words that today we would consider praiseworthy, criticized Beethoven’s “undesirable originality.” The critic went on to say, “Genius proclaims itself not in the unusual and fantastic but in the beautiful and sublime” and further, that the symphony as a whole was “unendurable to the mere music-lover.” From our vantage point at the beginning of the 21st century, we can recognize Eroica’s importance. Just as Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring left its mark on 20th century music, the influence of the Eroica reverberated in all the symphonic music of the century that followed it.
 
Beginning with the one-two punch of the opening chords of the Eroica, Beethoven obliterated the concept of the Classical-style symphony and earned for himself the adjective “revolutionary.” Everything about this lengthy first movement confounds expectation: its unexpected and continuous development of melodic fragments, its “wrong key” tonalities, and Beethoven’s idiosyncratic use of rhythm, which at times verges on the eccentric. Certainly this was shocking to audiences accustomed to the more predictable pace of Mozart and Haydn. Of particular note is the notoriously “early” entrance of the horn towards the end of the first movement. Beethoven’s student and biographer Ferdinand Ries recalled, “At the first rehearsal of the Symphony, which was terrible – but at which the horn player made his entry correctly – I stood beside Beethoven and, thinking that a blunder had been made I said: ‘Can’t the damned hornist count? – it sounds horribly false!’ I think I came pretty close to getting a box on the ear. Beethoven did not forgive that little slip for a long time.”
 
The solemn, majestic Marcia funebre (funeral march) can be heard as Beethoven mourning his disappointment in Napoleon, and his vanished dreams of heroism.
 
The buoyant Scherzo and trio leaves the intensity of the previous two movements behind. We hear Beethoven’s mocking sense of humor, particularly when the strings return with their signature theme and stomp all over their previously playful rhythm. The insistent pulse of the strings and the incessant bounce of this movement continue the Eroica’s enormous reserves of energy; the music is like a puppy chasing its own tail.
 
The final movement, a set of themes and variations, uses music from the Beethoven’s own Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus from 1801 and an 1802 solo piano work, known today as the Eroica Variations. A virtuoso blast from the horn section signals the symphony’s conclusion, a glorious reaffirmation of Beethoven’s heroic ideals.
 
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Fantasia on Greensleeves (arr. Greaves)

 
Composer: b. October 12, 1872, Down Ampney, England – d. August 26, 1958, London
Work composed: 1934
World premiere: Vaughan Williams conducted the premiere on September 27, 1934, in the Queen's Hall in London.
Instrumentation: 2 flutes, harp, and string orchestra
Estimated duration: 4 minutes

 
“The art of music above all arts is the expression of the soul of the nation.” – Ralph Vaughan-Williams
 
One can hardly imagine a more quintessentially English song than “Greensleeves.” Legend has it that King Henry VIII, a great lover of music, composed this famous tune, although its first documented mention dates to 1580, more than 30 years after Henry’s death.
 
Whatever its origins, Greensleeves has woven itself into the aural fabric of the English canon. Ralph Vaughan Williams incorporated Greensleeves’ haunting melody when he composed music for Shakespeare’s play, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and did so again in his 1929 opera, Sir John In Love, based on the plot of The Merry Wives of Windsor.
 
In 1934, another Ralph – Ralph Greaves – with Vaughan Williams’ permission, paired Vaughan Williams’ version of “Greensleeves” with “Lovely Joan,” another tune from Sir John in Love, to create the Fantasia on “Greensleeves.”

© 2020 Elizabeth Schwartz.
Elizabeth Schwartz is a writer and music historian based in the Portland area. She has been a program annotator for more than 20 years, and works with music festivals and ensembles around the country. Ms. Schwartz has also contributed to NPR’s “Performance Today,” (now heard on American Public Media).
 
NOTE: These program notes are published here by the Santa Rosa Symphony for its patrons and other interested readers. Any other use is forbidden without specific permission from the author, who may be contacted at www.classicalmusicprogramnotes.com.
 


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Banner photo by Susan and Neil Silverman Photography

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