Digital Playbill

String Theory

Table of Contents
Premiering April 17, 2021
Music Director: Eric Garcia

Program

Bohuslav Martinů
(1890 – 1959)
Serenade No. 1 for clarinet, horn, 3 violins & viola
in A Minor, H. 217

I. Allegro moderato
II. Larghetto
III. Allegro

Luigi Boccherini
(1743 – 1805)
String Quintet No. 1 in B-flat Major, op. 39, G. 337
I. Andante lento
II. Allegro vivo – Tempo di Minuetto
III. Rondeau. Allegro ma non tanto

Jessie Montgomery
(b. 1981)
Source Code

Franz Joseph Haydn
(1732 – 1809)
String Quartet No. 53 in D Major “Lark”
I. Allegro moderato
II. Adagio
III. Minuet. Allegretto – Trio
IV. Finale. Vivace

Musicians

Carmen Izzo, Principal Clarinet
sponsored by Phil and Jennifer Jensen

Brian Vance, Principal Horn
SPONSORED BY ANNE AND BOB HAY

Katherine Jarvis, Assistant Concert Master

Katie Clark, Violin

Erin Held, Violin

Jennifer Drake, Viola
Sponsored by Mikel and John Ward

Geoffrey Hill, Principal Second Violin
sponsored by philip gordon

Rebekah Desta, Assistant Principal Second Violin

David Johnson, Principal Viola
sponsored by Jodi Reynolds

Doug Lawrence, Cello
Sponsored by Cathleen Hurwitz

Brenton Viertel, Bass

Anna-Marie Vargas, Violin

Heather Calkins, Violin
sponsored by Jack Gjording and Trudy Fouser

Marcia von Huene, Viola

Stephen Mathie, Cello
Sponsored by Carolyn and Charles Yochum

Dawn Douthit, Violin
Sponsored by FRED & PHOEBE BOELTER

Debra Ellis, Violin

Emily Jones, Viola

Heidi Nagel, Cello


Carmen Izzo

Geoffrey Hill

Brian Vance

Katherine Jarvis

Erin Held

Jennifer Drake

Geoffrey Hill

Rebekah Desta

David Johnson

Doug Lawrence

Brenton Viertel

Anna-Marie Vargas

Heather Calkins

Marcia von Huene

Stephen Mathie

Dawn Douthit

Debra Ellis

Emily Jones

Heidi Nagel

Sponsors

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Program Notes
The Basque Block

Camille Saint-Saëns / October 09, 1835 – December 16, 1921

The Carnival of the Animals

Harold Schoenberg, a renowned music critic and scholar, considered Saint-Saëns to be “the most remarkable child prodigy in history, and that includes Mozart”. Saint-Saëns wrote his first composition at 3½ years old. If you find this hard to believe, the manuscript is on display in the Paris Conservatory. At five, in a public concert, he accompanied a Beethoven violin sonata on the piano, and at 10, he offered at a recital to play any one of Beethoven’s piano sonatas – by memory!

And what is Saint-Saëns best remembered for today? The Carnival of the Animals, a piece written just for close friends in two days in 1886 which he would not allow to be published until after his death in 1921. Why? Because he feared that its lighthearted and humorous character would detract from his image as a serious composer. During his lifetime, he permitted it to be performed only in a private setting.

In 1950, the conductor Andre Kostelanetz came up with the inspired idea of adding verses to Saint-Saëns’s score, and the great American humorist Ogden Nash was his choice to be the poet. Each of Nash’s fourteen verses were designed to be read before Saint-Saëns’s corresponding movement.

In this concert, new verses by Jack Prelutsky will be used to supplement Saint-Saëns’ amusing music.
WRITTEN BY THE HONORABLE STEPHEN S. TROTT

Luigi Boccherini / February 19, 1743 – May 28, 1805

String Quintet No. 1 in B-Flat Major

Luigi was one of Europe’s foremost cellists. As a composer, he began with string quartets, but he soon added an additional cello to the ensemble and perfected the string quintet. By the time he was through, he had written 141. His style is described as “galante”, a type of music popular between 1720 – 1770. Galante music represented a purposeful reaction against the intricate complexity of the late Baroque period. By comparison, galante music is simple, elegant, refined, and features a single melody. This style appeared not just in music, but also in the visual arts (Watteau, Fragonard) and even fashion. Perfumed handkerchiefs and powdered wigs were characteristics of this trend.

Now here’s one for Ripley and Believe It or Not. Boccherini would be surprised to learn that one of his galante quintets (not this one) would end up with a prominent role in 1955 in one of the best British movies ever filmed, The Ladykillers, featuring Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers. The plot is pure comedic genius. A group of dodgy robbers planning a daring heist from an armored car needs a place from which to launch their audacious caper. Guinness (the sinister Professor Marcus) finds rooms for his crew in the home of the sweet, elderly, and unsuspecting widow Mrs. Wilberforce. Behind her back they call her “Mrs. Lopsided”. As cover, they masquerade as a string quintet needing a place to practice. And what piece are they practicing behind closed doors as part of their zany hoax? The celebrated minuet from Boccherini’s String Quintet in E Major. Actually, once they close the door, they put a record on a record player to complete the deception. (Anyone under 50 probably won’t know what a record player is.) Surrounded by her raucous parrots, Mrs. Wilberforce listens with rapt attention from another room. That’s the setup. The plot from there is wild. I won’t tell you who ends up with the loot, but it’s not Professor Marcus and his louts. It’s on Amazon Prime should you care to watch it, and if you wonder where the Coen brothers got the idea for Fargo, look no further.

Who knew that music written in 1770 in a milieu occupied by powdered wigs and perfumed handkerchiefs would enjoy a revival in the 20th century in a dark British comedy.

Jesse Montgomery / 1981

Source Code

Jesse is an acclaimed composer, violinist, and educator, a winner of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) Foundation. Her music interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, language, and social justice, placing her squarely as one of the most relevant interpreters of 21st century sound and experience. The Washington Post called her works “turbulent and colorful”. She describes music as her “connection to the world. t guides me to understand my place in relation to others and challenges me to make clear the things I do not understand. I imagine that music is a meeting place where all people can converse about their unique differences and common stories.”

Here is her description of Source Code: “The first sketches of Source Code began as transcriptions of various sources from African American artists prominent during the peak of the Civil Rights era in the United States. I experimented by re-interpreting gestures, sentences, and musical syntax (the bare bones of rhythm and inflection) by choreographer Alvin Ailey, poets Langston Hughes and Rita Dove, and the great jazz songstress Ella Fitzgerald into musical sentences and tone paintings. Ultimately, this exercise of listening, re-imagining, and transcribing led me back to the black spiritual as a common musical source across all three genres. The spiritual is a significant part of the DNA of black folk music, and subsequently most (arguably all) American pop music forms that have developed to the present day. This one-movement work is a kind of dirge, which centers on a melody based on syntax derived from black spirituals. The melody is continuous and cycles through like a gene strand with which all other textures play.”

Joseph Haydn / March 31, 1752 – May 31, 1809

String Quartet in D Major, Op. 64, No. 5, The Lark

Papa Haydn wrote sixty-nine string quartets during his lifetime. Is it any wonder that he is considered to be the Father of the genre? Over the years (230), one of them has emerged as the most popular with audiences and considered by pundits to be his best: The Lark. He wrote it in 1790 at the height of his artistic powers but during one of the worst years of his life. For thirty years, he had been Prince Nicholas’s esteemed and feted music director at the Prince’s opulent palace east of Vienna. But both the Prince and his wife died that year, leaving everything to their clueless son, Prince Anton. No friend of the arts or music, Anton disbanded one of the best orchestras in Europe and sent Haydn packing, albeit with a handsome pension. What at first looked like a spate of bad luck turned into an invigorating chapter in his career. He went to London where he became an instant celebrity. Moreover, he composed 12 exquisite symphonies, his London Symphonies to go with his 92 others for a total of 104. By comparison, Mozart wrote 41, Beethoven 9, and Brahms just 4.

Haydn did not attach The Lark to this quartet. No one knows who did, but we know why. The violin melody that opens and dominates the first movement soars and sings like a bird on the wing. Why a lark? Because unlike most birds who sing only when perched, larks sing while in flight, and their cheerful song is extraordinarily melodious. Think of the second movement as a meditation with a momentary twinge of sadness. The third is a witty minuet, a dance full of unexpected rhythmic and harmonic tricks and turns. One observer called the finale a “hectic hubbub, a romp that races through the countryside at breakneck speed.” Hang on, he wasn’t kidding.

If you want to know where Beethoven came from, study Haydn, Beethoven’s teacher until teacher caught student cheating on his homework. Some call Beethoven “Haydn on steroids”, and with good reason. Others say that Beethoven is “Haydn gone mad”. I think they’re all right. Haydn is subtle, Ludwig in your face.

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