NEC Symphonic Winds + William Drury: Martino, Gounod, Firsova, Liu, Maconchy

NEC: Jordan Hall | Directions

290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA
United States

NEC Symphonic Winds opens its season with a concert led by William Drury and Rachel Brake '24 MM.  Tonight's repertory includes the premiere of Three Portraits, composed for William Drury by Elena Firsova, and the first performance of the 2021 revision of The Torment of a Flower by Da-Yu Liu ('24 DMA).

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

  1. Bruno Martino (arr. Dave Rivello) | Estate

    Sam Childs, tenor saxophone
    George Maclaurin, piano
    Daniel Mayer, double bass
    Caleb Montague, drums

  2. Charles Gounod | Petite Symphonie for Wind Instruments

    Adagio et allegretto
    Andante cantabile

  3. Elena Firsova | Three Portraits, op. 153 (2022)

    World Premiere - composed for William Drury


    Elena Firsova

    Elena Firsova was born in Leningrad into a family of physicists. She made her first attempts at composition at the age of twelve, and began her formal studies in 1966 at music college in Moscow and continued from 1970 to 1975 at the Moscow Conservatoire where her teachers were Alexander Pirumov (composition) and Yury Kholopov (analysis).
            In 1975 she established contact of a crucial importance with Edison Denisov, one of the leading figures of Soviet contemporary music. Her music was first featured outside the Soviet Union in 1979.
            Earthly Life, one of many works by Firsova setting the verse of Osip Mandelstam, was commissioned by the BBC and premiered by Penelope Walmsley-Clarke and the Nash Ensemble. The work established Firsova's reputation in the UK and has led to two further Mandelstam cantatas written for the Nash Ensemble: Forest Walks (1987) and Before the Thunderstorm (1994).

           Firsova's music has been included in Soviet seasons at the Bath Festival in 1987, the Almeida Festival in 1989, the South Bank Centre's Russian Spring Festival in 1991, and the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Music of Today series in 2001. Recent orchestral works include Augury commissioned by the BBC Proms for the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Andrew Davis, and Cassandra written for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and recorded on BIS Records. Recent chamber works have included the latest in her series of ten string quartets written for the Britten, Danish, Smith and Brodsky Quartets.
            Elena Firsova was married to the composer Dmitri Smirnov (1948–2020). Since they took up residence in the UK in 1991 they have become increasingly active in the British musical scene, combing composing with teaching.

    • Nicholas Ottersberg Enriquez '24, baritone
    • William Drury, conductor

  5. Da-Yu Liu '24 DMA | The Torment of a Flower (rev. 2021)

    World premiere

    Program note

    Composed originally in 2018 for choral ensemble, this work draws its inspiration from a traditional Taiwanese Hokkien melody “The Torment of a Flower” (雨夜花) published in 1934. Lyrics written by Chiu Thiam-ōng (周添旺) and original melody written by Teng Yu-hsien (鄧雨賢), the song employs the metaphor of petals enduring the ceaseless torrents and gusts of a tempestuous night:

    Rainy night flower, rainy night flower,
    Succumbed by the storm and fell to the ground.
    No one understood my never-ending sorrow.
    A flower withered is gone forever.

    The flower withered, the flower withered.
    Who could come to look after?
    Ruthless storm had stepped upon my future.
    The blossom is in the dirt, what could I do?

    The rain is ruthless, the rain is ruthless.
    It cares not about my future,
    It doesn’t look after my soft heart,
    Cause my future to shine no light.

    The rain is falling, the rain is falling,
    Drowning me in the pool of suffering.
    It tears me apart like leaves severed from the branches,
    Yet no one shall ever see.

    Shortly following the completion of this work, my grandparents passed away. This deepened the personal significance of the text and music in the work. Hopefully, the music serves as a sanctuary where souls may find repose. The piece was revised for wind octet in 2021.                                                                              
    – Da-Yu Liu

    • Rachel Brake '24 MM, conductor
  6. Elizabeth Maconchy | Music for Woodwind and Brass (1965)

    Program note

    Music for Woodwinds and Brass was conceived to make use of the architecture of the church, with the trombones processing up the aisle and the horns entering from the Lady Chapel. Liturgical, thematic material is stated by the trombones and trumpets in a gently moving 5/4, interspersed with trumpets building to a climax. Out of this are suspended pianissimo chords from the horns, slowly moving under expressive wind and trumpet solos. The third section is a fleet scherzando with a central lyrical meno mosso, leading into and providing a counter-subject to a restatement of the first theme before the final elegiac code.

    • Rachel Brake '24 MM, conductor
  7. NEC Symphonic Winds

    Isabel Evernham
    Anna Ridenour
    JouYing Ting
    Nina Tsai

    Yuhsi Chang
    Robert Diaz
    Corinne Foley
    Rebecca Mack
    Victoria Solis Alvarado

    Sarah Cho
    Evan Chu
    Xianyi Ji
    Adlemi A. Zambrano


    Yerin Choi
    Seth Goldman
    Wilson Lu
    Carson Meritt

    French horn
    Elijah Barclift
    Mattias Bengtsson
    Graham Lovely
    Mauricio Martinez
    Xiaoran Xu

    Maxwell DeForest
    Sebastián Haros
    Matthew Mihalko
    Justin Park
    Alexandra Richmond

    Cody York

    Becca Bertekap
    Devin Drinin
    Jaehan Kim
    Allie Klaire Ledbetter

    Bass Trombone
    Ki Yoon Park
    Shin Tanaka

    Masaru Lin
    Hayden Silvester

    Ngaieng Lai

    Brian Choy

    Shaylen Joos


    Wind Ensemble Graduate Assistants
    Weizhe Bai
    Rachel Brake