photo by Mike Canale

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Beethoven Coriolan Overture, Op. 62

Jonas Tarm Headline Hues: Concerto for Strings

Sibelius Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 43

Paul Biss conducts the NEC Symphony in a program that features the American premiere of a work by composer Jonas Tarm '16 (in photo), a student of John Mallia.

Tarm's work was selected through NEC's first annual Orchestra Composers Competition. Works submitted by NEC composition students were reviewed by a panel consisting of Richard Cornell, David Dzubay, and David Rakowski.

For a tantalizing sample of the work, check out the performance below by the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra. It will whet your appetite for more!

Jonas Tarm has provided these notes on his work:

Headline Hues is in concerto form. The Oxford Music Dictionary says the word ‘concerto’ likely derives from the Latin word concertare, meaning both ‘to dispute and debate,’ but also ‘to work together.' In this sense, the form lends itself to an exploration of Revolution, which has been NEC’s concert-season theme.

In the typical concerto of the classical-period, the orchestra represented society; the single soloist was the hero, and the music was the interaction of the two. But throughout history, the relationship between the orchestra and soloist — like the relationship between society itself and the hero — has always been in flux.

At the dawn of the 20th century, the concerto gained a new meaning: there was no single soloist, and so no single hero. Instead, whole sections of the orchestra were treated as soloists. In Headline Hues, there are elements of all these concerto traditions, with one innovation: each and every member of the orchestra must be a soloist.

The movements are presented as the three primary colors — Bright Blue Light, Red Silence and Yellow Media. The original version also includes a prelude.

Headline Hues: Concerto for Strings was commissioned by the Estonian Composer’s Union and premiered in the Estonian capital, Tallinn. It was performed at the finale concert of the Estonian Music Days Festival on April 7, 2013, by the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra under the direction of conductor Risto Joost. It is dedicated to the casualties of the Arab Spring.

Conductor Paul Biss has also provided notes on the remainder of his program. Biss explains how these works by Beethoven and Sibelius—much-loved standard orchestral repertoire—also both fit into the theme of "Music: Truth to Power" that has suffused much of this year's concert programming at NEC.

Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture is based on Heinrich Joseph von Collin’s 1804 tragedy, Coriolan. In the play, Gaius Marcius Coriolanus was an ancient Roman leader who attempted to invade Rome with his army. His mother pleads with him to stop the fighting, and the conflicting emotions overwhelm Coriolanus, leading him to kill himself before his army enters through the city gates. The overture mirrors the story in its general shape: the stormy music in C minor is counterbalanced by the lyricism of the second subject in E-flat major (appearing later in C major), representing the love and entreaties of Coriolanus’ mother. Beethoven wrote his overture in 1807, and it received its first performance on a program which also included the premieres of his Fourth Symphony and Fourth Piano Concerto.

Sibelius wrote his Second Symphony in 1902 at a time of rising Finnish nationalism and a yearning for independence from Russia. Finland had been occupied for centuries by Sweden and then in 1809 by Russia. At the end of the nineteenth century, the Czarist regime was attempting to severely limit political freedom as well as the use of the Finnish language. During this period, a fine music school was founded in Helsinki which Sibelius attended (and which is now named after him). At an early age, he became the most famous composer in Finland and a symbol of the musical life of the Finnish people. When the Second Symphony was performed, its grandiose finale immediately became identified with the desire for independence. Other works written around this time (c. 1900), including Finlandia, were the most patriotic of his compositions. Sibelius never actually said that he intended his symphony as a call for independence, but it is undeniable that it was immediately linked with this cause.

Jonas Tarm Biography

Estonian-American Jonas Tarm, 20, has drawn widespread recognition for his compositions,including a prestigious National YoungArts Foundation award, a first place in the American Music Teachers National Association Composition Contest, an ASCAP Morton Gould Award and other awards.

Tarm’s works have been performed throughout the United States, Estonia and Germany. He is currently an undergraduate at NEC studying with composer John Mallia. Tarm’s music has been commissioned by the Chicago Beethoven Festival, Music Institute of Chicago and many others and has been broadcast on Chicago’s 98.7 WFMT classical radio station and Estonia’s ERR Classical Radio.

The music bug first bit Tarm in Estonia, where he was born. At age seven, he started violin studies at Tallinn’s Vanalinna Haridus Koleegium and sang in one of the school’s selective boys choirs. When he was ten, his family moved to Chicago, where his musical education kicked into high gear, including violin studies with Portuguese virtuoso Gerardo Ribeiro. Tarm began collecting scores at age twelve, with an early fondness for Mahler and Shostakovich. He began composing his own works at thirteen.

Date: April 9, 2014 - 8:00:PM
Price: Free
Location: NEC’s Jordan Hall

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YOU PLAY BACH YOUR WAY, AND I'LL PLAY HIM HIS WAY. WANDA LANDOWSKA