NEC Lab Orchestra + Graduate Student Conductors: Brahms, Wagner, Kodály, Beethoven

NEC: Brown Hall | Directions

290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA
United States

NEC’s conducting students have ascended to some of the world’s most auspicious podiums, and here is your chance to see and hear them as they begin their careers. 

This is an in-person event with a private stream available to the NEC community here

  1. Johannes Brahms | Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn, op. 56a

    Theme: Chorale St. Antoni - Andante
    Variation 1: Poco più animato
    Variation 2: Più vivace
    Variation 3: Con moto
    Variation 4: Andante con moto
    Variation 5: Vivace
    Variation 6: Vivace
    Variation 7: Grazioso
    Variation 8: Presto non troppo
    Finale: Andante

    Program note

    T. S. Eliot writes the following in “Little Gidding”:

    “We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.”

    Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn bears witness to the claim that the new is often concealed in the old. Using a classical chorale falsely attributed to Joseph Haydn, Brahms composes a set of eight variations based on a slightly reimagined theme plus a grand finale. Completed in Bavaria in the summer of 1873, the work is in turn bucolic and introspective, but never overbearing or gloomy. The essential chamber-music-like atmosphere of the piece suggests a delicate and sensitive approach. The fleeting nature of each variation is not unlike Monet’s Haystack paintings in which the artist shows how the difference in light and atmosphere throughout the day (and seasons) enlivens an unadorned pile of hay. Unlike the fatalistic passacaglia of the finale of his 4th Symphony, its counterpart in this earlier work is gentle, self-assured, and brimming with hope. The sound of a triangle accompanies a work of superb craftsmanship and subtlety to its jolly, but unheroic conclusion.                                                                          
    – Timothy Ren

    • Timothy Ren '25 MM, conductor
  2. Richard Wagner | Siegfried Idyll

    Program note

    Premiered on Christmas morning in 1870, Richard Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll is imbued with intimacy and tenderness, serving as a heartfelt expression of Wagner's love and admiration for his wife, Cosima, and a celebration of the birth of their son, Siegfried.
            The work opens with a gentle, lullaby-like theme introduced by the strings, evoking a sense of serenity and domestic bliss. This tender melody serves as the foundation upon which the entire composition unfolds, weaving its way through various transformations and developments.
            As the music progresses, it builds to moments of exquisite beauty and passion, reflecting the overwhelming joy and love that inspired its creation. Wagner's use of chromatic harmonies and lush textures further enhances the work's emotional impact.                                                                                             
    – Jherrard Hardeman

    • Jherrard Hardeman '25 GD, conductor

  4. Zoltán Kodály | Dances of Marosszék

    Program note

    Lesser known than the enchanting Dances of Galanta, Kodály’s Dances of Marosszék is equally spirited and well-crafted. Premiered in 1930, this dance suite offers a glimpse of the musical identity of rural Transylvania—a “Fairyland of the past”, in the composer’s own words. The recurring, monophonic rondo theme first heard at the beginning of the piece is most definitely vocal in origin, colored with chromatic appoggiaturas and occasional modal jaunts. The first episode is a joyful duple dance accompanied by offbeat twitterings of the strings and woodwinds. Next comes a comfortably-paced yet virtuosic interlude, showcasing the oboe, flute, and piccolo soloists in sequence. The second episode is characterized by the use of fast trills and percussion, culminating in a whirlwind of timbres and rhythms played fortissimo. The pedal points and ground-bass nature of the final section is suggestive of bagpipe playing. The low instruments take a prominent role in this piece, as Kodaly deploys a contrabassoon to highlight the earthy nature of folk music despite only scoring for a compact woodwind section. Also worth noticing is Kodaly’s sensuous orchestration and superimposition of diatonic and modal-pentatonic scales.                 
    – Timothy Ren

    • Timothy Ren '25 MM, conductor
  5. Ludwig van Beethoven | Symphony No. 8 in F Major, op. 93

    Allegretto vivace e con brio
    Allegretto scherzando
    Tempo di Menuetto
            Jherrard Hardeman '25 GD, conductot

    Allegro vivace
            Timothy Ren '25 MM, conductor

    Program note

    Completed just months after his monumental Seventh Symphony, Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony, in many ways embraces a lighter, more playful tone, infusing the work with a sense of buoyancy and joy.
           The first movement bursts forth with exuberance, propelled by its spirited primary theme. Beethoven's trademark rhythmic drive is on full display here, as the music traverses a kaleidoscope of moods and textures.
           The second movement, a playful scherzo, is full of incredible wit and charm. Beethoven toys with the listener's expectations, weaving intricate counterpoint and rhythmic surprises into the fabric of the music.
           The third movement takes the form of a minuet, harkening back to the classical traditions of Beethoven's predecessors. Yet, even in this more traditional dance form, Beethoven infuses the music with his distinctive voice, blending the elegance of a minuet with unexpected rhythmic emphases.
           The finale explodes with energy and vitality as Beethoven unleashes a whirlwind of musical invention. Much like the finale of the Seventh Symphony, this finale embraces tireless repetition of its themes which seem to make their way to multiple dead ends. In true form, Beethoven always shows us the way out of any complicated compositional situation.
           One of the most notable aspects of this symphony is that there is not a single movement composed in a minor key. Even amidst the explosive joy of the Seventh and the reflectiveness of the Sixth, darkness and stormy weather still found its way into those works. The Eighth truly embraces joy, even if sometimes sardonic, from start to finish.                                                                          
    – Jherrard Hardeman


    Lab Orchestra

    Violin 1
    Mitsuru Yonezaki
    Yebin Yoo
    David Carreon
    Yeji Lim
    Jisoo Kim
    Kearston Gonzales

    Violin 2
    Rachel Yi
    Olga Kaminsky
    Yeji Hwang
    Jeremiah Jung
    Aidan Daniels
    Abby Reed

    Yi-Chia Chen
    Elton Tai
    Inácio Afonso
    Po-Sung Huang

    Rei Otake
    Jihyeuk Choi
    Joanne Hwang
    Nicholas Tsang Man To

    Yu-Cih Chang
    Lawrence Hall

    Flute, Piccolo
    Chia-Fen Chang
    Anne Chao
    Jeong Won Choe

    Abigail Hope-Hull
    Victoria Solis Alvarado

    Evan Chu
    Chasity Thompson

    Bassoon, Contrabassoon
    Abigail Heyrich
    Evan Judson
    Andrew Salaru

    French horn
    Rachel Brake
    Grace Clarke
    Noah Silverman
    Qianbin Zhu

    Daniel Barak
    Reynolds Martin

    Timpani, Percussion
    Isabella Butler
    Danial Kukuk