NEC Chamber Orchestra: Joseph Bologne (Saint-Georges), Mozart, Haydn
The NEC Chamber Orchestra was created to provide the students with an opportunity to apply the principals of chamber music in a small orchestral setting. The participants are chosen by audition at the beginning of the academic year and remain together throughout. As the ensemble rehearses and performs without a conductor, leadership responsibilities are rotated for every work performed. This affords the students an opportunity to develop communication skills, take responsibility for musical decisions and broaden their aural and score reading capabilities. Participation in the program also allows them to explore a wide range of the incredibly rich chamber orchestra literature. Donald Palma is Artistic Director.
Joining the Chamber Orchestra tonight as soloist in the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 14 in E-flat Major, K. 449 is Charles Berofsky '24 MM, winner of the NEC Piano Concerto Competition. Also on the program is the Symphony in D Major by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, and Haydn's Symphony No. 80 in D Minor.
This is an in-person event with a public live stream.
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges | Symphony in D Major, op. 11 no. 2
Joseph Bologne was born in the French colony of Guadeloupe to the plantation owner George Bologne de Saint-Georges and his African slave Nanon. They lived for some time on an estate on St. Domingue (now Haiti) before his family finally settled in Paris in around 1749. In the French capital, Joseph’s talents for music and athletics were realized. At the age of 13 Saint-Georges became a pupil of La Boëssière, a master of arms, and also had riding lessons with Dugast at the Tuileries and would become one of the finest swordsmen in Europe.
Little is known of his musical education but it has been suggested that he studied the violin with Leclair and composition with Gossec. 1769 is the year of his first professional engagement, as a violinist in Gossec’s orchestra, the Concert des Amateurs. He made his public début as a soloist with the Concert des Amateurs in 1772, performing two of his own Violin Concerti Op 2. When Gossec became a director of the Concert Spirituel in 1773, Saint-Georges succeeded him as musical director and leader of the Amateurs which rapidly won recognition as one of the finest orchestras in France. (It was Joseph Bologne de Saint-Georges who commissioned and premiered the six Paris Symphonies by Franz Joseph Haydn.)
The first performance of the symphony on our program today was given in Paris at the Hôtel de Soubise, by the Concert des Amateurs. The music is identical to the Overture to the opera L’Amant Anonyme first performed 8 March 1780.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Piano Concerto No. 14 in E-flat Major, K. 449
Allegro ma non troppo
Cadenzas by Charles Berofsky
The E-flat Major Concerto—completed on February 9, 1784, but probably begun in 1782 or ’83—was the first of Mozart’s so-called “great” concertos and the first work he entered in his own catalog of works. Something about the work’s significance must have triggered the idea that he needed to maintain a record of his compositions, a practice he kept up until a few weeks before he died. He composed the E-flat Concerto for Barbara (Babette) Ployer, a fine pianist who studied with Mozart and whose talents he greatly appreciated. It was for her that he also wrote his Piano Concerto in G major, K. 453, and the “Grand” Sonata for two pianos in D major. Her father, Gottfried Ignaz von Ployer, agent of the Salzburg court in Vienna, frequently presented evenings of music and had helped to pave the composer’s way in Viennese society.
By refraining from publishing the E-flat Concerto during his lifetime, Mozart granted Babette almost exclusive rights to the work. He did, however, play it himself on his benefit concert in March 1784, where “it won extraordinary applause,” as he reported to his father, and he did send a copy back to Salzburg for his sister Nannerl to perform. The work’s modest proportions in comparison with subsequent “grander” concertos later prompted Mozart to call it “a concerto in an entirely different style and written more for a small than a large orchestra.” As he had for the three piano concertos that immediately precede this work, Mozart suggested that the E-flat Concerto might be played “a quattro”—that is with string quartet accompaniment rather than full orchestra, in which version it works extremely well. History has tended to underrate this concerto, but its many imaginative features make the work deserving of more frequent performance.
Equally at home as a solo pianist, collaborator, and composer, Charles Berofsky seeks to engage audiences through a myriad of styles and genres of music. Charles grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and began piano lessons when he was six years old. He also developed an interest in composition from a young age and started organ lessons at age 14. Charles is currently studying with HaeSun Paik at the New England Conservatory, where he is pursuing his master’s degree. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music with a double major in composition and piano performance. He has studied piano with Alan Chow, Logan Skelton, and John Ellis.
In June 2022, Charles was awarded Third Prize at the 10th New York International Piano Competition, as well as the Stecher & Horowitz First Prize for the one piano, four-hands ensemble round with pianist Yuhang Wang. Other recent awards include First Prize, along with an audience favorite prize, at the 2021 Thousand Islands International Piano Competition (senior division); Second Prize at the 2021 Chautauqua piano competition; and Runner-Up in the 2021 New York MTNA piano competition (Young Artist Division). In January 2020 Charles became one of the youngest students ever to win a concerto competition at the Eastman School of Music, performing Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto during his sophomore year.
Charles is the pianist of the Newbury Trio, founded in August 2022 with violinist Helen Yu and cellist Anthony Choi. They were recently selected as an NEC Honors Ensemble for the 2022-2023 school year. He also enjoys playing with members of his family as the pianist of the Berofsky Piano Quartet, along with his father, violinist Aaron Berofsky; his mother, violinist/violist Kathryn Votapek; and his brother, cellist Sebastian Berofsky.Artists
- Charles Berofsky '24 MM, piano
Franz Josef Haydn | Symphony No. 80 in D Minor, Hob. I:80
Haydn composed his Symphony No. 80 at Eszterháza, probably in 1784. The work was part of a trio he sent to publishers in Vienna, London, Paris, and maybe even Lyon, proof of his spreading fame. Mozart programmed it at one of his concerts in Vienna in 1785, on the first half of a bill that also featured his cantata Davidde penitente, the first version of the Great Mass in C minor.
The Symphony opens with a dramatic, Sturm und Drangish gesture. The movement's second theme, a light-hearted dance tune played by flutes and violins over a pizzicato accompaniment, presents a shocking contrast, just the kind of thing that has gained Haydn a reputation as one of music's great humorists. Haydn focuses on this second theme in the movement's development, giving the movement an entirely different feeling than its opening portended.
The adagio continues in this sunnier vein, while the stern minuet returns the listener to the mood of the first movement's stormy opening. In the graceful trio, the winds intone a Gregorian chant over a gently rocking accompaniment in the strings. The finale, in D major, is not a pre-figuring of Beethoven's move from turbulent minor to triumphant major in his Fifth Symphony; rather, it is Haydn having a good old time with a main theme constructed from syncopation (giving it a sort of lurching, drunken character), letting comedy have the last word.
— John Mangum
Cameron Alan-Lee §
Harin Kang *
Hyun Ji Lee
Nikki Naghavi §§
Liyuan Xie ‡
Mitsuru Yonezaki ‡‡
Helen Yu **
Corley Friesen-Johnson §
Aadam Ibrahim ‡
Sachin Shukla *
Yuri Ahn ‡
Joan Herget *
Shannon Ross §
Kian Hirayama ‡
Alexander Lenser §*
Zoe Beck *
Logan Fischer §*
Willow Otten ‡
§ Bologne (Saint-Georges)
Double symbol for principal 2nd violin