Winds on Wednesdays: Stravinsky, Schuller, Reinecke, Brant, & Mozart
Welcome to Winds on Wednesdays, a musical tapas of winds, brass, and percussion. This 5-week series features short digital mini-concerts, each just 20-30 minutes in length, in celebration of the bold music-making of NEC's Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Winds, and Saxophone Ensemble during the Fall semester of 2020.
In each mini-concert, hear a selection of contemporary and classic works, recorded live in Jordan Hall and presented unedited.
"COVID inspired us to think anew about how we bring music to you. In spite of the limits in musical preparation posed by the pandemic, we are bringing you live and unedited performances; not full concerts, but in smaller portions – musical tapas.
Just as with that Spanish delight, the tastes and flavors are varied and more delightful for being served in smaller bites. So, pour a glass of cava and enjoy our musical Tapas. Buen Provecho."
ABOUT THE ENSEMBLES:
NEC Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Winds have established reputations as premier presenters of woodwind and brass repertoire from the Renaissance through the present day, performing works for small and full ensemble. The ensembles highlight classics and new works, including those that are sometimes neglected because of unusual instrumentation, and have commissioned and premiered new works by Pulitzer Prize composers Michael Colgrass, John Harbison, and Gunther Schuller, plus other distinguished composers such as Sir Michael Tippett, Daniel Pinkham, and William Thomas McKinley.
WATCH CONCERT STREAM:
- NEC Wind Ensemble
- NEC Symphonic Winds
- NEC Saxophone Ensemble
Igor Stravinsky | Excerpts from "Suite from L'Histoire du soldat"
I. The Soldier's March
IV. Royal March
Despite his artistic achievements with the Firebird (1910), Petroushka (1911) and The Rite of Spring (1913), 1919 found Stravinsky stranded in Switzerland in dire financial straits. World War I had made a shambles of Europe, sapping any hope for staging large concerts or obtaining new commissions. The Russian Revolution cut Stravinsky off from his family fortune as well as ongoing royalty payments. Rising to the occasion, Stravinsky and his writer friend Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz schemed a new work to be “narrated, performed, and danced” by a small troupe that could easily be mounted at modest cost in smaller, makeshift venues. The scenario was a Faustian tale derived from Alexander Afanasiev’s collection of Russian folk tales: a soldier returning home from the front with a magic violin which he foolishly trades with the devil for a book promising great riches.
While a chamber septet suggests a profound contrast to Stravinsky’s large orchestral scores, his musical personality remains intact. The very first bars of the opening march reveal some of Stravinsky’s chief compositional traits: bitonality, rhythmic disruption, dislocation, and asymmetry; as well as the prevalent diversity of short motifs repeated in layered ostinatos of shimmering stasis. The intimate “Petit Airs Au Bord du Ruisseau” (Airs by the Stream) showcases the violin as both the central musical and narrative object of the piece. In the Royal March, with its swirling trumpet quintuplets and pompous melody, Stravinsky creates a freer structure that represents the Soldier’s newfound freedom within the Faustian story. The suite ends before the original work’s ultimate dark denouement. Here, the soldier, still in possession of his violin, performs the “Danse du Diable” (The Devil's Dance) that torments the devil into contortions and physical collapse, a temporary victory for the soul.
– Luke Camarillo
- members of NEC Wind Ensemble
- Luke Camarillo '21 MM, conductor
Gunther Schuller (arr. Joseph Bozich) | "Arioso" from Concerto for Alto Saxophone (1983)
The version for Saxophone and ensemble of saxes is a homogenous setting, much as a string orchestra. Tonight is the first performance in that setting, with many thanks to the arranger, Joseph Bozich.
Gunther was indefatigable, a 24/7 ally to all who approached music with hard work, musical honesty and integrity. Charles Peltz was Gunther’s greatest advocate in the last 10-15 years of Gunther’s life, and we formed the Gunther Schuller Society with John Heiss and son George Schuller to carry on and support that tradition in the future, as well as to preserve Gunther’s legacy. Please visit the website: Guntherschullersociety.org
Happy Birthday Gunther! We miss you.
— Ken Radnofsky
“I wrote my Saxophone Concerto in 1983 at the instigation of Kenneth Radnofsky, in honor of his teacher, Joseph Allard, who was active in New York (at The Juilliard School), in Boston (at New England Conservatory), and at many other music schools. He was the superb, inspiring mentor of hundreds of clarinetists and saxophonists. I first heard of Joe Allard when he played with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, and I have known him personally since the mid-1940s. The deep respect and love that all his students have for him is evidenced by their collective commission of the Concerto.
It is in three contrasting movements, of which the second, Arioso, is for saxophone and strings only. This movement carries the further markings Molto adagio—Quasi recitativo—Sempre flessibile, and it exploits the lyric character of the saxophone.”
— Gunther Schuller
Kenneth Radnofsky and the Pittsburgh Symphony gave the first performance of the Concerto on January 18, 1984, under the direction of Gunther Schuller
About Megan Dillon
Megan Dillon is a saxophonist and music theorist in the Boston area. After graduating from Interlochen Arts Academy, she studied at Texas Tech University where she achieved a bachelor's degree in music theory with a minor in French. She then went on to study under Kenneth Radnofsky and Roger Graybill at New England Conservatory, earning two master's degrees in saxophone performance and music theory, with a concentration in music-in-education. She currently works as a Teaching Assistant for NEC’s saxophone studio, music theory, and Music-In-Education department and is a member of the Huntington Quartet. She is continuing her studies at NEC towards a Doctorate of Music in Saxophone Performance. She is a member of the North American Saxophone Alliance and has performed at NASA regional conferences, the World Saxophone Congress, and premiered many works by new composers.
About Joseph Bozich
Conductor, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Joseph Bozich currently serves as artistic advisor and associate conductor to the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra (BYSO). In 2019-20, he served as teaching fellow and assistant to the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra and was a teaching fellow for the Harvard Italian Opera Conducting Intensive. 2019-20 engagements included guest conducting the HUST Symphony Orchestra (Wuhan, China) and serving as assistant conductor and chorus master at the Pittsburgh Festival Opera. His compositions have been commissioned and performed by Departure Duo, the Sinta Quartet, and Latitude 49. Bozich holds a Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Michigan.
NEC Saxophone Ensemble
Alexis Aguilar, soprano and tenor saxophone
Rayna DeYoung, soprano and alto saxophone
Megan Dillon, soprano and alto saxophone
Jordan Roach, tenor saxophone
Lila Searls, baritone saxophone
Chuze Sun, alto saxophone
Juchen Wang, baritone saxophone
- NEX Saxophone Ensemble
- Joseph Bozich, guest conductor
- Megan Dillon, alto saxophone soloist
Carl Reinecke | from Octet in B-flat Major, op. 216
II. Scherzo: Vivace
Reinecke’s Octet in B-flat Majorwas written possibly at the request of Paul Taffanel for his “Société de musique de chambre pour instruments à vent” in 1892. This romantic work for winds is set in four movements. The first movement takes us on an exploration through various contrasting moods, from a contemplative beginning, through a rising, joyful B-flat major first theme, to a darker, falling second theme in D minor. Reinecke develops the work through stretching and changing both themes through various keys and moods, ending with a sudden jolt of energy back in the tonic key. The scherzo second movement is based on the saltarello (to jump) dance rhythm. This movement includes a more relaxed, pastoral trio in the middle, before returning to the sprightly dance. The third movement is a calm, lyrical conversation between the clarinet and the flute in 9/8 time. The final movement, in the key of B-flat and marked Allegro molto e grazioso, is a spinning flute solo with accompaniment, perhaps a nod to the flautist Taffanel. Reinecke uses playful hocketing in this movement, and explores chromatically distant keys in the development, such as G-flat major and D-flat major, before returning to the opening theme in B-flat. Reinecke finishes his octet with a rousing accelerating cabaletta.
Hailing from the Danish province of Altona, Carl Heinrich Carsten Reinecke was a prodigious performer, composer and conductor. He was first trained in music by his father Johann Peter Rudolf Reinecke, a music teacher and critic. Reinecke began composing at the age of seven and had his first public piano appearance at twelve. After moving to Leipzig in 1843 Reinecke studied with Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, and Franz Liszt. He became a professor at the Cologne Conservatory in 1851, later becoming musical director of the Gewandhaus Orchestra and professor of piano and composition at the Conservatorium. Some of his most famous pupils include Edvard Grieg, Leoš Janáček, and Isaac Albéniz.
– Nicolás Ayala Cerón
- members of NEC Symphonic Winds
- Nicolás Ayala Cerón '22 DMA, conductor
Henry Brant | from "Ghosts and Gargoyles" (2001)
I. Elena Rubin, solo flute; Chase McClung, solo bass flute
III. Zoe Cagan, solo piccolo
In 1939 Henry Brant composed a flute ensemble piece titled Angels and Devils – before there were flute ensemble pieces. It is a large work for thirteen flutes and is a classic of the genre and in the canon of modernism.
Brant was one of the 20th century musicians who was as much an innovator in music as a composer. His passion was for exploring how sound came to the listener. As with Giovanni Gabrieli, whose cori spezzati (spaced choirs) exploited the cavernous spaces of St Mark’s in Venice, Brant wanted to exploit the spaces in which music was heard. To do so he would space apart players within venues, creating varied perspectives for the listener.
Brant’s 2001 mini-masterwork, Ghosts and Gargoyles for 9 flutes, is the book end to Angels and Devils. In ten short movements, Brant asks his players to be placed about the hall in groups of two. He then has them play as antiphonal ghosts in various styles: jazz and bebop, collages of motives, unison gestures of bells or the blowing of wind.
The piece was intended to have one soloist plus octet. The soloist would play piccolo and the standard C and bass flutes. We have chosen to award those to different soloists in the ensemble. The piece is to end with one soloist walking offstage. We will simply end in a darkening twilight of the ghosts.
– Charles Peltz
Hyo Jin Park
Hui Lam Mak
Gavin Connolly, guest artistEnsembles
- members of NEC Wind Ensemble
W. A. Mozart | Excerpts from "Suite from The Magic Flute"
IX. Wie stark ist nicht dein Zauberton
XI. Wenn Tugend und Gerechtigkeit
Eighteenth-century Europe saw the rise of a monied elite who, in an attempt to further their social standing, hired musicians to accompany their meals, soirées, and large social events. The wind octet proved to be a perfect ensemble for this purpose. Dubbed the Harmonie, these musicians (two oboes, clarinets, horns, and bassoons) played reductions of famous operas, symphonies, and folk tunes for their well-to-do patrons. Many of the best arrangements were created by the composer of the original work. In July of 1782, Mozart wrote this note to his father: “I am up to my eyes in work, but next Sunday I have to arrange my opera (Abduction from the Seraglio) for wind instruments. If I don't, someone will get to it before I do and reap the profits. You have no idea how difficult it is to arrange a work of this kind for wind instruments, so that it suits these instruments and yet loses none of its effect."
In an effort to capture the spirit of the opera, Joseph Heidenreich wrote this harmonie version of Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) with an ear to both the charm of the score and the sumptuous legato required of Mozart’s singers. In every number except the overture, the solo oboe and clarinet reflect the timbre and expressive quality of Mozart’s original vocal vision. In keeping with the technical limitations of the instruments of Heidenreich’s time, the development within the Overture is removed to avoid any key change that would not have been possible. In order to cover for essential string parts, the horns are often called to play dolcissimo in their most difficult, clarino register. The illusion of a complete orchestra is rounded out by the bassoons who drive the harmonic and rhythmic movement of the overture, group numbers, and arias.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Holy Roman Empire on January 27, 1756 and, after a prodigious performing and composing career, died on December 5, 1791 only two months before his 36th birthday. He began work on Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) in 1789 with the help of librettist and baritone Emanuel Schikaneder. Schikaneder would later sing the role of Papageno at the opera’s premiere at Vienna’s Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden on September 30, 1791. This arrangement for winds was written by composer and oboist Joseph Heidenreich (1753-1821).
– Riley Vogel
- members of NEC Symphonic Winds
- Riley Vogel '21 MM, conductor