NEC Philharmonia + Tristan Rais-Sherman '21 AD: Memories and Echoes

NEC: Jordan Hall | Directions

290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA
United States

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
  1. Missy Mazzoli | Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres)

    Program note

    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

  2. Zoltán Kodály | Dances of Galánta

    Allegretto moderato
    Allegro con moto, grazioso
    Allegro vivace

    Program note

    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. 

  3. Claude Debussy | Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

    Program note

    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. 


  4. Johannes Brahms | Symphony No. 3 in F Major, op. 90

    Allegro con brio
    Poco allegretto

    Program note

    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

  5. NEC Philharmonia

    First Violin
    Emma Carleton
    Haekyung Ju
    Esther Yang
    Qiyan Xing
    Grant Houston
    Cheng-Hsuan Ethan Chen
    Chloe Hong
    Jia-Ying Wei
    Jason Qiu
    Haerim Oh
    Jordan Hadrill
    Yeonsoo Kim

    Second Violin
    Eric Jiang
    Thompson Wang
    Eric Chen
    Victoria Pan
    Yilei Yin
    Wangrui Xu
    Isabella Gorman
    Liyuán Xiè
    Chae Lim Yoon

    Hanks Tsai

    Sae Rheen Kim
    John Harry Clark
    Anabel Tejeda
    Ray Wang
    Lydia Plaut
    Ayano Nakamura
    Steven Tse
    Anna Mann

    Yuri Ahn
    Dilshod Narzillaev
    Claire Park
    Hechen Sun
    Aixin Vicky Cheng
    Jungah Lee

    Jacob Kalogerakos
    Daniel Slatch
    Minyi Wang
    Alyssa Peterson

    Javier Castro
    Jeong Won Choe*
    Clara Lee
    Hui Lam Mak
    Chase McClung‡
    Mara Riley
    Elena Rubin^
    Aimee Toner+
    Megan Trach

    Megan Trach

    Izumi Amemiya‡^
    Corinne Foley
    Leo Kawai+
    Nathalie Graciela Vela*

    English horn
    Leo Kawai

    Tyler J. Bourque‡
    Benjamin Cruz^+
    Kevin Lin*

    Andrew Flurer^
    John Fulton §
    Evan Judson*§
    Daniel McCarty‡
    Julien Rollins+

    French horn
    Karlee Kamminga*§
    Xiang Li^
    Hannah Messenger
    Yeonjo Oh‡
    Tess Reagan
    Sophie Steger §
    Helen Wargelin+

    Cameron Abtahi+
    Michael Harms*§
    Ryan O’Connell §
    Dimitri Raimonde
    Alex Tung
    Wentao Xiao‡

    Puyuan Chen+
    Katie Franke
    Quinn McGillis*§
    Matt Vezey §

    Bass Trombone
    Changwon Park

    Colin Benton

    Pei Hsien Lu+
    Hayoung Song‡

    Taylor Lents^
    Pei Hsien Lu*
    Hayoung Song
    Yiming Yao‡

    Hannah Cope Johnson
    Morgan Mackenzie Short^


    Principal players

    *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.