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Kronos
Violins: Alex Fortes,
Ariana Kim, Ashley Vandiver, Jae Cosmos Lee,
Keats Dieffebach,
Liesl Schoenberger,
Megumi Stohs Lewis,
Miki Sophia Cloud
Violas: Bryan Florence,
Frank Shaw, Jason Fisher
Cellos: Alastair Eng,
Loewi Lin, Michael Unterman
Bass: Karl Doty

Saturday March 9, 2013, 8 p.m.
Southern Theatre

A Far Cry

About the Artists

A Far Cry stands at the forefront of an exciting new generation in classical music.  A Far Cry was founded in 2007 in Boston by a tightly-knit collective of 17 young professional musicians – the "Criers" – and since the beginning has fostered those personalities, developing an innovative structure of rotating leadership both on stage and behind the scenes.  Longtime NPR producer and director of the distinguished Dumbarton Oaks Concert Series in Washington, DC, Valerie Stains, wrote of A Far Cry:  "In my many years of presenting and attending concerts, I have rarely (if ever) been more powerfully moved by the quality of an ensemble's presence in performance — the Criers' energy, focus, musicianship, and musicality have the capacity to captivate the audience's heart and mind with every note they produce and every breath they take."  By expanding the boundaries of orchestral repertoire and experimenting with the ways music is prepared, performed, and experienced, A Far Cry has been embraced throughout the world with more than two hundred performances across the United States, three albums, and a powerful presence on the internet.  Recent collaborations include performances and recordings with cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Matt Haimovitz, Austrian pianist Markus Schirmer, ukulele sensation Jake Shimabukuro, guitarist Jason Vieaux, and clarinetist David Krakauer.  In 2012, the Criers made a triumphantly successful European début at Vienna's Musikverein, as part of a seven-concert European tour.  Their 2012-13 season includes more than 50 concerts at home and on the road, with repertoire ranging from 12th century monophony to four newly-commissioned world premieres.  A Far Cry is Chamber Orchestra in Residence at the Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and maintain an educational partnership with the New England Conservatory.  For more information, check out their Web site at http://www.afarcry.org.
 A Far Cry appears by arrangement with Lisa Sapinkopf Artists, 9 Commodore Drive, Suite A309, Emeryville, California 94608 (http://www.chambermuse.com).

Program: "Fiddlers"

Einojuhani Rautavaara (born Helsinki, Finland, October 9, 1928)

Pelimannit (“The Fiddlers”) (composed 1952; arranged 1972)

Although born in Helsinki, Einojuhani Rautavaara had ancestral ties to the northern coast of Finland known as Ostrobothnia, the folk music of which captured the young composer’s imagination.  In 1952, he composed a suite of piano pieces based on five of the tunes.  Revisiting and rewording his own music being a common Rautavaara practice, two decades later he fashioned a string orchestra arrangement.  The prominent Finnish accordionist Matti Rantanen arranged it for his instrument in 1994.  The Helsinki Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of Leif Segerstam, premiered the string orchestra version in Helsinki on November 11, 1973.
 
Program notes by Kathryn J Allwine Bacasmot:

A work from the student days of Finnish composer, Einojuhani Rautavaara, The Fiddlers is an ode to both the folk music, and also the stories of the musicians—the fiddlers—he found in a book, Album of Tunes, by Samuel Rinda-Nickola.  An ebulliently dissonant opening illustrates the arrival of the fiddlers.  “Kopsin Jonas,” portrays the fiddler who preferred to practice out in the woods, alone.  “Klockar Samuel Dikström” (“Bell-Ringer Samuel Dikström”) was not only a fiddler, but also an organist.  Here, we find him practicing Bach.  “Pirun polska” (“Devil's Schottische,” a dance like the polka) is both foreboding, and melancholic.  “Hypyt” (“Jumps”) is a playful dance, brief but packed with vivacity.

Antonio Vivaldi (born Venice, March 4, 1678; died Vienna, July 27 or 28, 1741)

Concerto for Four Violins in B minor, RV 580 (L’estro armonico, op. 3, no. 10) (composed 1711)

In the history of the concerto, Antonio Vivaldi looms large, having written over 580 such works.  In the process, he helped establish the format (three movements), character (fast-slow-fast), and sound (differentiation between orchestral tutti and solo parts) of the genre.  The current work, his “Concerto for Four Violins in B minor, RV 580,” served as the basis of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Concerto for Four Harpsichords in A minor, BWV 1065,” composed around 1730.
 
Program notes by Kathryn J Allwine Bacasmot:

Vivaldi’s L'Estro Armonico (“Harmonic Inspiration”) op. 3, was one of the more influential collections of concerto form, and further elevated Vivaldi’s reputation from the music teacher at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, a home for orphaned and abandoned girls.  Johann Joachim Quantz, flute instructor and court composer for Frederick II of Prussia, “The Great,” reportedly praised the set with the statement, “as musical pieces of a kind that was then entirely new, they made no small impression on me.  I was eager to accumulate a good number of them, and Vivaldi's splendid ritornelli served as good models for me in later days.”  Johann Sebastian Bach, an admirer of Vivaldi’s work, transcribed six of the twelve Vivaldi’s L'Estro Armonico concertos for keyboard.
 
The Concerto in B minor for four violins is the tenth (no. 10) of the twelve concertos (all of which are written for numbers of soloists ranging from 1, 2, or 4).  The Italian Baroque concerto grosso (“big concert”) form featured in a small group of soloists (concertino) pitted against the larger ensemble (ripieno).  This brilliant gem of a piece sparkles in agile, elegant strands of melody that each soloist guides, weaving in and out between each other and the ensemble like ribbons around a maypole.

Ástor Piazzolla (born Mar del Plata, Argentina, March 11, 1921; died Buenos Aires, July 5, 1992)

Two Tangos for String Orches (composed 1952)

In the eyes and ears of many, tango history is divided into the era before Piazzolla and the era since Piazzolla.  No composer had a more profound influence on transforming and reinvigorating the tango through the infusion of both jazz and European classical elements.  No composer was as successful in spreading the tango throughout the world.  And few composers of our own time left a legacy as vital, important, accessible, and fascinating.  Not to mention danceable.
 
In addition to well over 200 individual tangos, Piazzolla wrote a number of orchestral works (among them several concertos), chamber works (including his “Five Tango Sensations” for bandoneón and string quartet), solo works, song cycles, and works for stage and film.
 
Program notes by Kathryn J Allwine Bacasmot:
Ástor Pantaleón Piazzolla was born March 11 1921 to Italian parents living in Argentina.  At age 3 he moved with his family to New York City where he experienced listening to all kinds of music including jazz and the compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach.  At age 13 he acquired and began to master the bandoneón, an instrument related to the accordion (it features buttons rather than a keyboard), which is a standard, and prominent, instrument in a tango orchestra.
 
In the late 1930’s the Piazzollas returned to Buenos Aires.  While there the pianist Artur Rubenstein suggested Ástor study music with Alberto Ginastera (who had studied with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood).  Between going to observe orchestra rehearsals during the day and playing in tango clubs at night with his own newly formed Orquestra del 46, Piazzolla composed the score for the film Bólidos de acero (1950) a romantic comedy revolving around tango, and eventually won a grant in 1954 to study composition in Paris with the renowned Nadia Boulanger.  She encouraged him to develop his compositional style incorporating his tango background. Piazzolla recalls:

…She kept asking:  “You say you are not pianist.  What instrument do you play, then?”  And I didn't want to tell her that I was a bandoneon player, because I thought, “Then she will throw me from the fourth floor.”  Finally, I confessed and she asked me to play some bars of a tango of my own.  She suddenly opened her eyes, took my hand and told me: “You idiot, that's Piazzolla!”  And I took all the music I composed, ten years of my life, and sent it to hell in two seconds.

Béla Bartók (born Nagy-szent-miklós, Hungary, March 25, 1881; died New York, September 26, 1945)

Romanian Folk Dances (composed 1915; orchestrated 1917)

Originally entitled “Romanian Folk Dances from Hungary,” this suite of seven tunes lost its Hungarian reference when Romania annexed Transylvania in 1918, after which Bartók changed the title.  “Stick Dance” was introduced to Bartók by two Romany (“Gypsy”) violinists.  “Sash Dance” derives its title from the use of a sash or waistband in its traditional performance.  “Stamping Dance,” often referred to as “In One Spot,” has a strong Middle Eastern flavor.  “Horn Dance” derives from Bucium, in what is now Romania’s Alba province.  “Romanian Polka” is from Bihor province, near the present-day border with Hungary.  The final two melodies are found in the “Fast Dance.”
 
Program notes by Kathryn J Allwine Bacasmot:

One of the greatest contributions Bartók made to the music world, besides his own array of works, was the magnitude of field recordings of traditional folk music he gathered, collected, and organized over the course of his life.  His discovery of their tonal world also was reflected in the scope of his output:  “The outcome of these studies was of decisive influence upon my work because it freed me from the tyrannical rule of the major and minor keys.  The greater part of the collected treasure, and the more valuable part, was in the old ecclesiastical or old Greek modes, or based on more primitive (pentatonic) scales, and the melodies were full of the freest and most varied rhythmic phrases and changes of tempi.  It became clear to me that the old modes, which had been forgotten in our music, had lost nothing of their vigor.  Their new employment made new rhythmic combinations possible.”
 
Realizing that much of the folk music that had found its way into the Romantic music of Liszt, for example, had little to do with the original songs, Bartók set out to write simple accompaniment for the songs, altering the original tunes as little as possible.  Thus, rather than dismantling them and repurposing the parts, he simply provided frames in which to showcase the content.  Originally written as for piano in 1915, he arranged them for string orchestra in 1917.

William Walton ((born Oldham, England, March 29, 1902; died Ischia, Italy, March 8, 1983)

Sonata for String Orchestra (composed 1947; arranged for string orchestra 1971 by the composer and Malcolm Arnold)

In the years that followed World War II, English composer William Walton went on something of a chamber music binge, composing his “String Quartet in A minor,” “Sonata for Violin and Piano,” and “Two Pieces for Violin and Piano” between 1945 and 1950.  With the assistance of composer Malcolm Arnold, Walton transcribed the Quartet as the “Sonata for String Orchestra” in the summer of 1971.  Arnold contributed considerably to the work on the final movement, but Walton was chiefly responsible for the rest.  The opening “Allegro” differs most from the original, with a change of key, several cuts and condensations, and even a bit of new material.  Throughout the four movements, the original quartet texture has been retained, prompting some listeners to think of the “Sonata” almost as a concerto for solo string quartet with string orchestra accompaniment.
 
Program notes by Kathryn J Allwine Bacasmot:

The Sonata for Strings was written as an expanded version of Walton’s second string quartet, at the suggestion of the conductor Sir Neville Marriner.  The work is a study in concentration and diffusion, portrayed through Walton’s unique musical language (a result of his own endless curiosity toward genre and style), which here blends lush, English pastoral sonorities with Wagnerian tension/resolution, and injects it all with sharply modern gestures.  It opens like sheets of organza, billowing, aligning, entangling, sometimes transparent, other times thick with rich tonal color.  Then, the reveries crystallize into a ferociously urgent journey through passion, jabbing, and angular—suddenly evaporating, disappearing like an apparition back into the opening material.  The work then tumbles forward on a wave of energy over a pedal tone of anxious, obsessive staccato.  Following is a melancholic third movement.  Elegant, and dark, like a black orchid, or porcelain the shade of deepest night, undulating with a force field tension of magnets held at a minor distance.  It concludes in a frenetic haze out of which occasionally emerge gorgeous threads of melody pulled out from the fabric.

Program notes by Jay Weitz, Senior Consulting Database Specialist for music, OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Dublin, Ohio. He is a contributing performing arts critic for the weekly alternative newspaper “Columbus Alive” (http://www.columbusalive.com).

-- A Far Cry has provided program notes by Kathryn J Allwine Bacasmot.  Bacasmot is a pianist/harpsichordist, musicologist, and freelance writer.  She received her Masters in Musicology at the New England Conservatory of Music with her thesis on Björk Guðmundsdóttir and aspects of the female experience in her fifth studio album, Medúlla.