NEC Philharmonia + Tristan Rais-Sherman '21 AD: Memories and Echoes
The four works on this program all explore memory and dreamlike recollections of the past. Kodály’s Dances of Galánta is a wild reimagination of the composer’s childhood memories of local musicians, Debussy’s quietly revolutionary adaptation of Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem L’après midi d’un faune about a faun’s fever dream, Missy Mazzoli’s Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) with its captivating reimagination of Baroque florid ornamentation, and Brahms’s Third Symphony, featuring one of his most striking intermezzos—a delicate and transparent vision of a distant memory, gone forever.
This performance is open to in-person audiences, and can also be viewed below via livestream.
View livestream from Jordan Hall:
- NEC Philharmonia
- Tristan Rais-Sherman '21 AD
Missy Mazzoli | Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres)
Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) is music in the shape of a solar system, a collection of rococo loops that twist around each other within a larger orbit. The word “sinfonia” refers to baroque works for chamber orchestra but also to the old Italian term for a hurdy-gurdy, a medieval stringed instrument with constant, wheezing drones that are cranked out under melodies played on an attached keyboard. It’s a piece that churns and roils, that inches close to the listener only to leap away at breakneck speed, in the process transforming the ensemble turns into a makeshift hurdy-gurdy, flung recklessly into space. Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
– Missy Mazzoli
Zoltán Kodály | Dances of Galánta
Allegro con moto, grazioso
Galánta is a small Hungarian market-town known to the travelers from Vienna to Budapest. The composer has passed there seven years of his childhood. There existed at that time a famous Gypsy-band which has disappeared in the meantime. Their music was the first orchestral sonority which came to the ear of the child. —Zoltán Kodály
Just like his compatriot, Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály was driven by a love of the music, spirit, and folklore of his home country of Hungary. The Dances of Galánta represent one of the greatest crystallizations of his compositional craft, combined with a deep influence of folk music and history.
Claude Debussy | Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
Completed in 1894, Debussy’s Prélude à l'après-midi d'un fauneis one of the composer’s most important early masterpieces and public triumphs. The Prélude shows that Debussy’s nickname, “the quiet revolutionary,”was well deserved.Concealed by a ceaselessly surreal, gorgeous, and sensuous exterior, Debussy wrote a groundbreaking piece of music that completely upended the status quo of Wagnerian Austro-German music.
Much of the European classical music from the mid 1700s until the late 1800s was driven by thematic development and the juxtaposition of key centers. The genius of Debussy in this piece was to write music that seems to float in a state somewhere between waking and sleeping, conscious and unconscious. Debussy is much less concerned with these “classical” stylistic traits, and much more concerned with color, atmosphere, and evocation. He seeks, and achieves, to create an enchanting new style of music: one that seems to drift and float through the air. That being said, a close analysis of the score reveals that this dreamy exterior is built upon a framework of motivic development that is mind boggling in its rigor, discipline, and mastery.
Johannes Brahms | Symphony No. 3 in F Major, op. 90
Allegro con brio
Brahms's four symphonies are undoubtedly some of the most performed and cherished orchestral compositions ever created. They are remarkable for their richness of sound, compositional mastery, and profound emotional impact. The First, Second, and Fourth Symphonies end in a blaze of glory—triumphant in the First and Second, apocalyptic and rageful in the Fourth. However, the Third is by far the most enigmatic of the group, with each movement ending quietly.
The symphony opens in a striking fashion, with two massive wind chords as if pillars placed in the ground. The first chord is radiant and pure; the second is dissonant and intense. This juxtaposition of moods will resound in every bar of the symphony. These two chords outline a guiding musical cipher, the notes F-A-F, which represents the phrase “Frei aber Froh” (Free but happy). This is both a musical motto and an autobiographical motto as well.
The intensity and creativity with which Brahms explores this motto is stunning in its complexity. The first movement opens with a spirit of heroic defiance and moves to a pastoral and lovely clarinet solo. Eventually, the movement concludes with a coda of wild exuberance giving way to a glorious sunset. The second movement is a blissful interlude, full of glorious moments for the wind soloists. It is a song praising the beauty of the natural world. The third movement features a soulful melody for the cello, and the music is suffused with an air of nostalgia and regret. The final movement is a wild journey, featuring some of Brahms’s most intense, explosive, and propulsive music. The climax of the movement has a call and response between the winds and brass consisting of musical material borrowed from the second movement. The music grows in majesty before reaching an almost unbearably bright and triumphant moment before being immediately plunged into anger and frustration by the trombone changing from an A-Ab. The symphony ends by coming full circle, with the melody of the symphony’s opening drifting back down to earth in a radiant F major.
– Tristan Rais-Sherman
Cheng-Hsuan Ethan Chen
Chae Lim Yoon
Sae Rheen Kim
John Harry Clark
Aixin Vicky Cheng
Jeong Won Choe*
Hui Lam Mak
Nathalie Graciela Vela*
Tyler J. Bourque‡
John Fulton §
Sophie Steger §
Ryan O’Connell §
Matt Vezey §
Pei Hsien Lu+
Pei Hsien Lu*
Hannah Cope Johnson
Morgan Mackenzie Short^
*Mazzoli (§ harmonica)
About Tristan Rais-Sherman
Tristan Rais-Sherman is a multi-dimensional artist exploring the intersection of technology and music. His aim is nothing less than to blaze a new path for the future of classical music—one that is exciting, inclusive, and engaging.
A recent recipient of the inaugural Artist Diploma in Orchestral Conducting at New England Conservatory, Tristan returns as a Guest Conductor of the NEC Philharmonia in the 2021–2022 season.
In previous seasons, Tristan has served as Cover Conductor with the St. Louis Symphony, Tulsa Opera, and Syracuse Opera. He has appeared with orchestras across the United States as well as internationally—including the Aurora Festival (SWE), the Dartington Festival Orchestra (UK), St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic (RUS), Berlin Sinfonietta (DE), Lamont School of Music Orchestra (CO), University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra (MI), and the Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra (NY).
In addition to an active performance career, Tristan has an intense passion for sharing the magic of orchestral music making with the next generation. He has served as Director of Orchestras at the Kaufman Music Center’s Special Music School, as well as Conductor of the West Connecticut Youth Orchestra String Ensemble. From 2015–2017, he served as Assistant Conductor of the New York Youth Symphony. He was also conductor of the Harmony Program Youth Orchestra, leading the group in high-profile performances alongside Joyce DiDonato and as a part of Gustavo Dudamel's Residency at Princeton University.
Tristan has worked with esteemed mentors such as Hugh Wolff, Kenneth Kiesler, Neil Varon, Johannes Gustavsson, Sian Edwards, and Jeffrey Meyer. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Cello Performance from Ithaca College, a Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Michigan, and an Artist Diploma from New England Conservatory.