Philharmonia Northwest presents…
“The Old and the New”
November 22nd, 2:30pm in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church (4805 NE 45th St., Seattle)
Concert Prelude at 2:00 pm
Caputo: A Trip Takes Us (2015)
1. by design
Outreach Performance Featuring…
Mercer Island High School Brass Quintet
First place at Washington State Solo and Ensemble’s Large Brass Division
Trumpet (12th)- Kira Newell
Trumpet (12th)- Zeke Larsen
Horn (10th)- Kathryn Ristuben
Trombone (12th)- Alison Rosenman
Tuba (12th)- Nabeel Gaber
Director – Parker Bixby
The Mercer Island Brass Quintet is made up of five members of the Mercer Island High School band program. This select group has been chosen as the winners of the Washington State large brass ensemble category in each of the last three years of the WMEA State Solo and Ensemble Contest. The quintet is proud to be performing the world premiere of the new work for brass quintet entitled “A Trip Takes Us” written by MIHS alum Dan Caputo. The brass quintet would like to extend its thanks to Philharmonia Northwest for its support of music education in the public schools.
Meet the Composer…
Dan Caputo (b. 1991) is a composer of instrumental and electronic works that explore influences ranging from other visual, written, and performing arts to the human cognition of musical structure. His music is further inspired by physical location, with numerous works intended to evoke or be performed in environments outside of the concert hall.
About the Quintet…
A Trip Takes Us for brass quintet uses a two-movement formal structure to create a musical metaphor for the ways in which people plan. The first movement, “by design,” acts in a modus operandi where some force attempts to urge musical materials to behave in specific ways. Opening fanfare gestures make way for a rhythmically active music that attempts to reach a satisfying peak before falling apart. The second movement, “emergence,” employs a more humble approach; simple musical materials are allowed to run their course until a desirable destination is reached. Similar to a theme and variations, this music uses repeating phrase structures to generate organic growth.
Commissioned jointly by Mercer Island High School Band Boosters and Philharmonia Northwest, A Trip Takes Us was completed in the fall of 2015 to be performed by the MIHS Brass Quintet during Philharmonia Northwest’s 40th anniversary season.
Poulenc: Suite Française (1935)
Meet the Composer…
Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) began his musical journey with piano lessons from his mother at five years old. Later, while living through WWII, he composed antiwar and anti-Nazi works. His works included inspiration from banned authors and freedom hymns.
Poulenc also belonged to Les Six. Les Six was a group of 20th-century French Composers. Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger, Georges Auric, Louis Durey, and Germaine Tailleferre were the other five members of this group.
Their music was devoted to turn away from the heaviness of German Romanticism, evident in compositions by Richard Wagner and Strauss, and chromaticism, evident in compositions by Claude Debussy.
About the Suite…
Originally written for solo piano, Suite Francaise was composed through the transcription and re-imagining of Claude Gervaise’s six Renaissance dances from Livre des Danceries, written in 1545.
Each of the seven movements highlights a French dance form. Below are three examples:
(1) Bransle de Bourgogne
Bransle, or Branle, was the name of a popular couples French dance. It was typically danced in a swaying line or circle in duple meter. Variations in choreography were specific to region. This particular Bransle is influenced by Bourgogne, the east-central region of France.
This dance evokes a playful mood. Poulenc captures this quality with a constant back-and-forth interplay between woodwind instruments. In the opening, trumpet and oboe share the first conversation. Then, more brass, oboe, and eventually bassoon join in on the fun!
The Pavane is another couples dance, typically in a duple meter. This dance is greatly contrasted from the playful Bransle as the Pavane tempo is typically quite slow.
The hymn-like use of brass instrumentation creates a dignified atmosphere. Despite the slow tempo, the Pavane is not trudging and dull.
(3) Petite Marche Militaire
This marching dance movement is greatly animated with Poulenc’s composition of pointed articulation. He also highlights the militaristic nature of the march through the opening instrumentation, brass and snare drum.
Translated from French, complainte means “lament”. Though also slow like the pavane, the complainte supports less forward motion. The melody remains very circular, repetitive, and static. The lament does not last long, however, as Poulenc quickly transitions moods back to the animated Bransle de Champagne.
(5) Bransle de Champagne
Similar to the first dance, this Bransle is influenced by Champagne, the northeast region of France.
Unique to all the other dance movements, the sicilienne exhibits itself in a compound meter. Though slow, the lilting and dotted rhythms give life to the dance. Though the movement could be interpreted as almost jig-like, the lush colors of Poulenc’s instrumentation definitely suggest a pastoral mood as well.
Translated from French, carillon means “bells” or “chimes”. This dance is one of the most rambunctious and fun. Couples dance in circles, clap their hands, stamp their feet, all while trading partners when the time is right!
Meet the Composer…
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975), born in St. Petersburg, lived during the reign of Stalin. His compositions led him to fear imprisonment, as they caught the attention of soviet censors. After his opera, The Nose, Shostakovich’s work was stamped as an appeal to the bourgeois aesthetic. Shostakovich had no choice but to make reparations. For a time, he resulted to composing pieces that outwardly glorified Soviet life and history.
Looking to avoid any more troubling attention from the government, Shostakovich avoided commenting on the meaning of his works. His comments would only glorify the state. As he is quoted in an issue of Sovetskoye Iskusstvo: “I am a Soviet composer. Our age, as I perceive it, is heroic, spirited and joyful. This is what I wanted to convey in my concerto. It is for the audience, and possibly the music critics, to judge whether or not I succeeded.” Though many of the true reasons behind his writing are unknown, it is implied that under his cloak of state compliance hides the tragic realities and tantalizing struggles of his country.
About the Concerto…
On October 15, 1933, Shostakovich premiered the piece himself on piano and with trumpet player Alexander Nikolaievich Schmidt. The piece was imagined at first as a trumpet concerto with supporting piano and orchestra. As he composed the concerto, the score involved a more prominent solo piano part with an accompanying trumpet and orchestra.
Compositionally, this concerto blends a mixture of different styles. It especially carries classical motivic inspirations from composers like Haydn, Beethoven, and Mozart. The instrumentation of solo trumpet and piano accompanied by strings almost suggests a Baroque concerto grosso ensemble. Shostakovich also adds sprinkles of popular Russian songs and jazz riffs. These are particularly interesting in their ability to catch the audience’s ear. Noticing familiar vernacular melodies through national songs, and catchy memorable melodies through jazz, ultimately rewards the audience’s aural participation.
Though the piece is made up of four movements, there is no indication that Shostakovich wanted a break between them. Within the movements, dance patterns are emphasized. In the Lento, for instance, critics often point it out as a melancholy waltz. The melancholy atmosphere is especially highlighted with the muted trumpet.
After a short introductory duo between piano and trumpet, the piano then goes into its own wandering melody. This cyclic and traveling motive is then answered by the upper strings. Then the piano interrupts the answer with jagged rhythms and growing rambunctious dynamic. As this movement continues, the piano dominates in a conversation with the strings while the trumpet briefly interweaves its voice into the texture. Sometimes the trumpet enters with light bubbling support, playful outbursts, and lyrical phrases. When the movement winds down, the beginning wandering motive appears again in the piano and is carried to a final close with pedal tones in the trumpet.
This movement begins with a lyrical, dance-like upper string melody. The transparent texture and minor key evokes a mysterious sonority right before the piano enters for the first time. The piano begins to wander in a more vulnerable way than in the allegretto. The melody cannot seem to find its way to a pinnacle destination, constantly swimming in the same range.
The movement then begins a new mood as the piano melody suddenly climbs with a sudden buoyant flurry into a higher register. The melody glides more confidently, while the string accompaniment is momentarily suspended in silence. Then, as the upper strings enter again, they introduce a new, lush tonality. The piano melody becomes inspired, introducing more depth of sound and theatrical rhythms. Eventually, the movement winds its way back down, but never loses its earlier gained confidence.
The piano gets started right away, without accompaniment, introducing a light, flourishing melody that grows with tension and weight until the orchestra entrance. The orchestra continues and expands upon the trudging, ominous melody. As if to lightly mourn their weight, the piano comes back with downward tinkering decorations.
(4) Allegro con brio
Without stopping between movements, the piano plays a quick flourish to introduce a different mood. This time, the orchestra springs back in forth with the piano in a ragged joking conversation. Suddenly, after two movements of silence, the trumpet comes back to jest. Mid-way, the trumpet finally gets its own feature! Less playful than the beginning of the movement, the trumpet introduces a light hearted cadenza-like passage. The piano then introduces jazz-like riffs, teasing the trumpet before its final entrance. Ending with an exclamation mark, the trumpet is accompanied by piano and strings in a last boisterous melody.
Meet the Soloists…
Yuliya Minina, piano
(1) How and why did you start playing the piano?
(2) What inspires your music?
Music itself is usually my biggest inspiration. Visual or sensual associations that music evokes in me inspire me to communicate these images to my audience. I cherish memories of sad and joyful events in my life and use these memories to make my performances more powerful and meaningful. Working with other musicians is another source of inspiration for me. I love adding to my music new and fresh ideas that I get from my colleagues.
(3) Beyond the piano, what do you like to do for fun? Do you have a favorite place to spend time in Seattle?
Brian Chin, trumpet
Dr. Brian Chin is an associate professor of music at Seattle Pacific University, where he serves as director of Instrumental Studies and coordinator of Music Theory. He teaches many of the core music degree classes, including freshman Aural Skills and Advanced Music Theory with courses in Chromatic Harmony, Form and Analysis, and 20th Century Composition Techniques. Dr. Chin also directs an innovative Learning Assistant Program connected to aural skills, which is helping to redefine music teaching in higher education.
As an international trumpet soloist and advocate for new music, Dr. Chin has commissioned and premiered many works for trumpet and is the creator of theUniversal Language Project, an organization committed to creating art music for the 21st century. He also performs on baroque trumpet and is a co-founder of an early music ensemble, the Seattle Trumpet Consort. He also serves as principal trumpet for the Tacoma Symphony, records for film studio projects, and performs regularly with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Seattle Opera Orchestra. His two solo recordings are titled Universal Language and Eventide.
Meet the Composer…
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) wrote over 100 symphonies over his life time. As a classical composer, Haydn was at the mercy of patron support throughout his career. He served Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy until Nikolaus’ death in 1790. Nikolaus was then succeeded by his son Anton. Prince Anton dismissed most of the court musicians. Though he did not unemploy Haydn, Prince Anton reduced Haydn’s compensation.
Not needed as much in Prince Anton’s court, Haydn traveled to London. There, he worked under Johann Peter Salomon’s offer to conduct his own symphonies. He then moved back to Vienna, and met Beethoven. In 1794, he took a second trip to England. Though he was in his sixties, Haydn composed some of his most famous works, 12 London symphonies: numbers 93-104.
About the Symphony…
Despite it’s number, Symphony No. 40 was actually composed well before the other symphonies in the 30-40 numbering range. Going in true chronology, Symphony No. 40 would be Symphony No. 13. The sonority of Symphony No.40 suddenly makes sense, matching the early classical style of Joseph Haydn’s hand.
Like many other classical concertos, the first movement of Haydn’s 40th symphony is in sonata form. Sonata form, also known as sonata-allegro form, was a typical 3-part structure used to begin a large work.
Typically, an exposition begins with the first theme in a tonic, or home, key. Then, there is a transition that typically helps modulate into a new key area where the second theme is introduced. Often, the exposition then cadences in the new key and is repeated for a second run through.
The development explores variations on previously introduced themes, new themes, and swims between any and all keys.
Finally, the recapitulation reestablishes the first theme in the tonic key, and transitions without modulation into the second theme. This time, however, the second theme is put into the tonic key as well.
- Coda (optional)
Coda, translated to “tail” from Latin, helps extend the cadence of the recapitulation, and or help put a close to other previously introduced themes.
(2) Andante piu tosto Allegretto
Fairly short, this movement is a great time to appreciate the very distinct roles each instrument carries within the classical orchestral style.
The upper strings and right hand of the harpsichord carry the main melody. Their role is to sing their line at the discretion of pacing established by the bass.
The harpsichord left hand and lower strings carry the bass line. They greatly control the forward motion of the piece. Their articulation is especially important to communicate their sense of pulse. The shorter the bass strokes, the more brisk and light the upper line is influenced to be. If the bass decides to play a more weighted tenuto, they greatly influence the melody to interact with them in a more sweeping and lush way. The influence of the bass on the upper strings are detectable throughout this movement.
Different with every orchestra and every performance, notice how repeating sections are nuanced to sound different through articulation. The eight note pickups in the bass are a sign to both the musicians and the audience what kind of articulative mood each melodic paragraph is going to prevail in.
(3) Minuet & Trio
The third movement is a great example of a typical classical third symphony movement, minuet and trio. Just like Poulenc’s Suite Fracaise, the third movement exhibits the dance roots of music.
The minuet, typically an aristocratic dance, is in three-four time. This meter creates a strong sense of down beat, influencing the strong-weak-weak foot patterns of this particular dance. (Comically referred to as the OOM-pah-pah pattern) Unlike the minuet, the trio is typically lighter in texture than the minuet.
(4) Finale- Fuga: Allegro
Haydn’s final movement is written in a fugue form. The final movement’s fugue structure is especially unique to Haydn himself. He did not typically end his symphonies in this manner.
Very generally, fugues are contrapuntal compositions that introduce a subject, some sort of melodic phrase. Then, different voices take up the subject one by one. Sometimes, the voices will take the subject and present it at the fifth of the key.
The following video provides a great visual example of how fugues are constructed. Bach’s “Little” Fugue in g minor for organ, is anything but little. It is utterly sophisticated and complex. Try to follow all of the lines!