Okanagan Symphony Orchestra – Melodic Spirits

Rosemary Thomson, Music Director


Melodic Spirits
A program of Masterworks by Beethoven, Mozart and Dvorak

With Special Guest Artist, Yi-Jia Susanne Hou, Violin

In Concert

Friday, March 2, 2012 8:00 pm at Kelowna Community Theatre, Kelowna
Saturday, March 3, 2012 7:30 pm at Cleland Community Theatre, Penticton
Sunday, March 4, 2012 7:00 pm at Vernon & District Performing Arts Center, Vernon

Ticket information:

Kelowna:     by phone, Ticketmaster at 1 855 985-5000, online at www.ticketmaster.ca, in person at Towne Centre Mall, 565 Bernard St.
Penticton:    by phone, Ticketmaster at 1 855 985-5000, online at www.ticketmaster.ca, in person at Wine Country Information Centre, 533 Railway St.
Vernon:    by phone, Ticket Seller at 250 549-7469, online at Ticketseller.ca, in person at Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre, 33rd St at 38th Ave.

Pricing:    Adult $48    Senior $42    Youth $22    Music Student $10


Concert Program:

Beethoven:    Overture to Egmont, Op. 84
Mozart:    Violin Concerto No 5 in A Major, K 219 “Turkish”
Dvorak:    Symphony No. 6 in D Major, Op. 60


Internationally celebrated violinist Yi-Jia Susanne Hou is the first ever violinist in history to capture 3 Gold Medals with unanimous decisions at 3 International Violin Competitions: Concours International Long-Thibaud (France, 1999), Lipizer International Violin Competition (Italy, 1999) and Sarasate International Violin Competition (Spain, 1997.)
Hou has collaborated with world-renowned Directors and Artists such as Mstislav Rostropovich, Pinchas Zukerman, Alan Gilbert, Cho Liang Lin, Vladimir Spivakov, Marcello Viotti, Marek Janowski, Lan Shui, Boris Brott, Robert McDuffie, Ralph Kirschbaum, Lawrence Dutton, Joseph Kalichstein, Alain Trudel, Bernhard Gueller, Gregory Vajda, Ling Tung, and Li Xin Cao, among others.
Hou’s new music video ‘The Devil’s Delight’, produced by Rhombus Media just premiered on Bravo!TV; she also stars in a new documentary on the “Canada Council Instrument Bank”, A Rotating Planet Production which is Directed by Ari Cohen for Bravo!TV. She performed the violin solo in the Atom Egoyan film “Adoration” which won the Ecumenical Jury Prize at Festival de Cannes, featuring music composed by Mychael Danna. Hou was the subject of CBC’s ’The National’ Documentary: Shanghai Sensation, revisiting her childhood in Shanghai, with her father, Alec Hou, a renowned violin pedagogue in China. Hou has also been seen on PBS, Bravo! and the TODAY SHOW with BOWFIRE.

Hou has traveled the world, touring in Canada with Debut Atlantic & Prairie Debut, and throughout the United States, England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Croatia, China, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, and Hong Kong. Her numerous solo appearances include the London Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre Nationale de l’Île de France, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, SWR Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, WDR Cologne, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Tokyo Philharmonic, Osaka-Kansai Philharmonic, Shanghai Broadcasting Orchestra, Czech National Orchestra, and Slovenia Radio-Television Orchestra. Festival appearances include the Aspen Music Festival, La Jolla Music Society, Grand Teton Music Festival, Rome Chamber Music Festival, Bordeaux Musique en Graves, and Amis de Mozart, among others.
At 17, Hou performed the most challenging pieces ever written for the violin: Paganini’s Twenty-four Caprices for Solo Violin, in live recitals in Toronto and Aspen. Ms. Hou has also performed all 10 of Beethoven’s Piano and Violin Sonatas in New York as well as the complete collection of Brahms Violin and Piano Sonatas and Piano Trios.
Born into a musical family, Ms. Hou had music surrounding her all her life. Both her mother and father are violinists, and thus at the tender age of 4, Hou began studying violin with her father, Alec Hou. Less than a year later, she gave her first public performance and was received with a standing ovation. At nine, the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto invited her as a scholarship student. Since then, Hou has had scholarships and fellowships at the Aspen Music Festival for nine summers, as well as The Juilliard School where she received her Bachelor of music as a student of Dorothy DeLay and Naoko Tanaka in 2000. She then went on to do a 1-year Masters program, and completed the highly acclaimed Artist Diploma Program in Juilliard with Cho Liang Lin and Naoko Tanaka.
The outstanding violin being used by Yi-Jia Susanne Hou is the ex Mary Portman, Fritz Kreisler Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, Cremona, c. 1735 on extended loan from Clement and Karen Arrison through the generous efforts of The Stradivari Society® of Chicago. The Stradivari Society® is a unique organization that supports the very highest level of string playing by assisting patrons who own the most precious antique Italian instruments and choose to make them available to artists of exceptional talent and ability.

For interviews please contact OSO General Manager Scott Wilson at (250) 763-7544 or scott@okanagansymphony.com


Program Notes:
Egmont, Op. 84: Overture
Ludwig van Beethoven
b. Bonn, Germany / December 15, 1770; d. Vienna, Austria / March 26, 1827

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the celebrated author of Faust, completed his play Egmont in 1778. He specified that it be accompanied by music, and even indicated precisely where he wished it to be heard. In 1809, the directors of Vienna’s Burgtheater shrewdly approached Beethoven to provide music for a revival of Egmont. He accepted the offer eagerly, Goethe being one of his favourite writers. He worked on the score from October of 1809 until June of the following year, eventually creating nine pieces: entr’actes, songs, melodramas (music heard under speech) and an overture. The introductory music was the last to be finished – too late, in fact, for the revival’s first performance in May. The initial reading with Beethoven’s complete score took place on June 15.

He and Goethe shared interests in personal independence, integrity, and resistance to tyranny. These are the very issues that Goethe deals with in Egmont. It takes place in Brussels during the sixteenth century, when the Netherlands lay under Spanish occupation. The Duke of Alba, King Philip II of Spain’s representative, has the local resistance leader, Count Egmont, imprisoned and condemned to death. His grief-stricken wife takes her own life. The night before Egmont’s execution, she appears to him in a dream, transformed into the goddess of freedom. She foretells that his death will inspire his countrymen first to rebellion, then to the re-establishment of their liberty. Heartened by this vision, Egmont is able to face his execution with dignity.

Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219 “Turkish”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
b. Salzburg, Austria / January 27, 1756; d. Vienna, Austria / December 5, 1791

Mozart, the greatest of all child prodigies in music, received from his father Leopold a thorough education in composition and performance. The latter included learning to play the piano, harpsichord and violin. In his maturity, Wolfgang focused his performing skills on the piano. As a young man, he appeared most often as a soloist on the violin, beginning with the concert tours his family made during the 1760s. His father once wrote to him that, “You yourself do not know how well you play the violin…when you play with energy and with your whole heart and soul, yes indeed, it’s just as though you were the finest violinist in all of Europe.” This was no small compliment, coming from a renowned authority on the instrument. He published his widely used violin method in the year of Wolfgang’s birth. Wolfgang also became a viola player of fully professional skill. During his later years in Vienna, the viola was the instrument he usually played in a string quartet. It was in just such a situation that he met Joseph Haydn, with whom he developed a deep and mutually inspiring friendship.

In 1769, he was awarded the post of Honorary Concertmaster in the Salzburg Court Orchestra. His duties included leading it from the first desk of violins (this being before the rise of the conductor, as we know the role), playing solos, and writing new music for it to perform. Three years would pass before he began receiving a salary for these considerable responsibilities.

Between April and December 1775, he composed the last four of the five violin concertos that can be unquestionably attributed to him. He probably wrote at least some of them to play himself. He completed Concerto No. 5 on December 20. It is not only the most accomplished of the series but also the most unusual. The soloist’s first entry, for example, is remarkable for being quite different in tempo and mood – quiet and dreamy – from the preceding orchestral introduction. It’s as if the violinist were saying to the orchestra, “catch your breath while I introduce myself.” The second movement is a true Adagio, slow and heartfelt, in contrast to the easy, flowing Andante that was typically of the era. Its lyrical intensity borders on the operatic. The finale, a rondo in the style of a minuet, is the source of the concerto’s nickname. In the delightfully startling minor key episode mid-way through, Mozart instructs the cellos and basses to strike their strings with the wood of the bow, and asks the soloist for virtuoso pyrotechnics. These practices recall the Turkish military music that was all the rage in Austria at the time.

In 1777, Mozart and his mother left Salzburg for Paris, in search of a position more appreciative of the young man’s genius. While they were away, his father Leopold wrote to him, “Always on my way home a feeling of melancholy steals over me. And as I come near our house I seem to hear you still – playing the violin.”

Symphony No. 6 in D Major, Op. 60
Antonín Dvořák
b. Nelahozeves, Bohemia / September 8, 1841; d. Prague, Bohemia / May 1, 1904

Dvořák blended the standard practices of European concert music with his deep roots in Czech folk music, thus developing an irresistible style that satisfied both the intellect and the emotions.

He traveled to Vienna in November 1879. He was at last able to meet Johannes Brahms, who had done much to encourage him and to promote his music. He also had a most congenial encounter with Hans Richter, the distinguished conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic. They got along so well that Dvořák agreed to compose a new symphony for Richter to perform the following year.

In typical fashion, he wrote Symphony No. 6 quickly, from August and October, 1880. He played it through at the piano for Richter, who embraced him joyfully after every movement, and felt honoured to accept the Symphony’s dedication. Various delays cropped up, however, and the premiere was postponed several times. Richter claimed an overworked orchestra and illness in his family as the reasons for these setbacks. The suspicious composer discovered that the real obstacle was a political one: the orchestra felt they were playing too much Bohemian music! Dvořák turned to Adolf Čech to direct the premiere, which took place in Prague on March 25, 1881.

Richter made amends by programming Dvořák’s Sixth on several occasions. The symphony proved an instant hit wherever it was played. It does so even now, often coming as a pleasant surprise to listeners familiar only with Dvořák’s three later, more frequently performed symphonies.

It opens in leisurely fashion, establishing its pastoral character right from the outset. The first movement’s themes are expansive, as is their treatment. The slow second section is dominated by the wistful theme stated at the outset by the violins. Dramatic climaxes crop up, but by movement’s end, the initial sense of tranquility is restored.

The scherzo is Dvořák’s first fully symphonic version of a Bohemian folk-dance called the furiant. This vigorous step is characterized by crossrhythms. The tranquil central section gives the piccolo one of its finest moments to shine in the entire symphonic literature. At the premiere, the audience demanded an immediate encore of this brilliant movement. The finale is as joyful as the balance of the work. Dvořák crowns it with a dynamic transformation of the movement’s opening theme.

Program Notes by Don Anderson © 2011

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