November 3, 2019 – 3 PM Young Artist Concert

WELCOME TO THE [R]EVOLUTION!

Dear friends,We hope Sunday, November 3 is circled on your calendar – and that you will be attending our special Virtuosi Young Artist Concert at 3 PM that afternoon.

Since 2016, you have played an important role in helping us to nurture all the young artists who successfully auditioned to perform at each Virtuosi Concert. Many of you have made generous donations to strengthen the sustainability and success of the program. Your donations went directly into the Young Artists’ program for their honoraria and to help make this Sunday’s concert a reality. They are all hard-working students, grateful for your support.

And now, a separate jury comprised of soprano Lara Ciekiewicz and pianist Shirley Elias has selected four of them for a specially designed concert on the theme of [R]EVOLUTION. Their applications took the form of a concert program reflecting a moment of shift in a musical landscape and a supporting short essay expanding on the rationale for their program.

The four winners and their concert themes are:

Thomas Ingram, clarinet
“Eckhardt Gramatte and the Evolution of
Manitoban Compositions”

David Liam Roberts, cello 
“Kodaly – Impressionism to Folk”

Sawyer Craig, soprano
“Womxn Composers and Art Song”

Albert Chen, piano  
“Russian Revolution”

Each winner will have the opportunity to show you how they have grown since their last appearances and will receive a $500 concert fee.

Thus, Virtuosi’s Young Artist Program is presenting a professionally-designed concert on November 3 with each musician revealing a personal artistic vision of their art.

Pre-Concert Chat with the Young Artists hosted by Sarah Jo Kirsch takes place at 2:15 pm in the classroom beside our Hall.

Each artist’s programme essay reflecting the theme of [R]Evolution concludes this High Note.

Please call today to reserve your tickets to this special event celebrating the next generation of Manitoba artists.
204-786-9000

Musically yours,

 

 

 

 

 

ESSAY-APPENDIX

Thomas Ingram, clarinet – Eckhardt Gramatte and the Evolution of Manitoban Compositions

The 1950s were an important transitional period in Canadian music. Helmut Kallmann, one of the foremost scholars of Canadian music, described this era as “the heroic years.” Early in the twentieth century, Canada was seen as a pleasant place for a provincial British church organist to spend the waning days of his career as a composer and teacher. Despite the stultifying atmosphere of the Canadian music school in the 1940s, young Canadian musicians flocked to the adventurous styles of composers like Stravinsky, Hindemith, Bartok, and Schoenberg, belatedly establishing a foothold for modernism in Canada. As these composers grew to be young professionals, they began to form societies to represent them. The Canadian League of Composers was founded at the beginning of the 1950s, and toward the end, Canada established a federal arts council that provided funding for Canadian musical institutions.
One of the major events in Canadian music of this period was the 1954 arrival in Winnipeg of a Viennese couple. He was an art historian. She was Sophie Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté, a virtuoso pianist, violinist, and composer who had toured across Europe and the United States. The appearance of such a distinguished musician in a place that was very much off the cultural map had an energizing effect on Manitoba musicians—at a time when they were also attempting to form a society to represent them. Eckhardt-Grammaté was an important figurehead and inspiration for Manitoba composers and musicians of the 1950s and 60s.
This piece is pure Eckhardt-Gramatté: witty, fun, and rhythmic with sharp neoclassical harmonies, light-hearted with flashes of seriousness. The sonata is unfortunately not well-known by Canadian clarinetists, and Eckhardt-Gramatté’s music is not well-known by Canadian audiences in general. But Eckhardt-Gramatté’s name can be found all across the Manitoba musical landscape: on concert halls, music libraries, and the annual national competition for young Canadian performers. I want to perform this piece because I want to put sound to that name and show why this remarkable woman was so important to the history of music in Manitoba.

 

David Liam Roberts, cello – Kodaly-Impressionism to Folk

In 1905, Zoltán Kodály began embarking on a bold and unique quest, travelling the Hungarian countryside to record and assimilate old Magyar folksongs. A revolutionary ethnomusicologist who is renowned for his use of folksongs in his compositions, Kodály was a close colleague of Béla Bartók, whom he took under his wing and to whom he introduced his techniques for folksong collecting. Kodály also introduced Bartok to the music of the French Impressionist composer Claude Debussy, having visited France around 1907 and returned to Hungary with some of Debussy’s music. Debussy’s Impressionist style influenced Kodály in his writing, and this non-Hungarian style combined with the Hungarian folk style created Kodály’s distinct, trademark idiom.

Kodály’s Solo Cello Sonata is a great example of a piece that displays the influences of both Impressionism and Hungarian folksong, and as such I am proposing to perform the first and third movements of this sonata. The first movement explicitly states the Magyar roots of this piece, as the first beat of each bar is almost always accented, like it is in the Hungarian language. Further to this, however, Kodály often surprises the listener by also accenting the second beat of several bars, creating unexpected hemiolas. In the exciting third movement, folk melodies are frequently apparent and are often accompanied by a drone. Both of these movements also feature contrasting sections reminiscent of Debussy, contributing to Kodály’s unique style. An aspect of the third movement that surely makes it revolutionary is that it demands the use of an extraordinary variety of cello techniques such as triple steps, left-hand pizzicato, repeated pizzicato chords, melodies over drones, etc. In addition, it is written scordatura, with the lower two strings of the cello tuned down a semitone. Although J.S. Bach’s 5th Cello Suite calls for scordatura of the A string, scordatura for two strings was unusual and Kodály’s use of it was revolutionary.

The Kodály Solo Cello Sonata, then, embodies the theme [R]Evolution perfectly, since Kodály was not only influenced by and building on previous styles such as Impressionism and folksong, but also revolutionized Western music history by inserting old folksongs in his otherwise Western style music. The Solo Cello Sonata was written in 1915, during the Great War, in which many of the villages he visited a decade prior were destroyed and many of the people from whom he collected folksongs were displaced or killed. Presumably, many of the folksongs of these people would have forever been lost if Kodály had not recorded them by journeying to those remote villages. This auspicious act on the part of Kodály is an invaluable preservation of humanity, and both Kodály and his music are all the more worthy to be called revolutionary because of it.

 

Sawyer Craig, soprano – Womxn Composers and Art Song

This program is designed to focus on womxn composers in the medium of art song.
Art follows society, and as strides were made by feminists, these artists slowly gained greater freedoms, and the pressures society placed on them changed. And yet, there is a historical tendency to frame female artists as ‘muses’. Their own artistic voices are often eclipsed by their role as inspirations, that is, supportive figures to their male counterparts. However, with just a little digging, it is possible to discover a rich well of repertoire, that has been seemingly glossed over.
The first few pieces are from Clara Schumann’s Op. 13: Ich stand in dunklen Träumen and Die Still Lotosblume, respectively. Despite the songs’ immediately apparent lyrical appeal and sensitivity, Clara herself did not assign her compositions much value, feeling much more at home championing the works of her husband Richard. She once said of herself:
“I once believed that I possessed creative talent, but I have given up this idea; a woman must not desire to compose—there has never yet been one able to do it. Should I expect to be the one?”
And yet, she is now perhaps the best-known female composer in western art music, and not without good reason. I’ve selfishly chosen my two personal favourites from her body of work: the first mourning a lost love, and the second a philosophical treatment of the image of a swan singing on a lake covered in lotus flowers. The pieces sing beautifully, with an introspective quality and emotional depth in their depiction of the poetry.
In stark contrast to Clara Schumann, the works of Czech composer Vítežslava Kaprálová exist in relative obscurity. Recognized as a prodigy during her life, she was actually discouraged by her mentors from writing in the song idiom. This was because they believed that if she dabbled in smaller ‘feminine’ forms, her larger scale orchestral works wouldn’t be given the respect they deserved. I’m grateful that Kaprálová did indeed choose to dabble, because the songs are uniquely vibrant additions to the song literature. They combine Czech nationalism with a distinctive talent for prosody and emotionally resonant word painting. The three songs I’ve chosen are from her set Jablko s klína, or ‘An apple from the lap’, with poetry by Nobel Prize laureate Jaroslav Seifert. These are ‘Song on a a willow fife’, ‘lullabye’, and ‘Spring fair’.
Finally, I’ve chosen Amore by Canadian composer Jocelyn Morlock. Written in 2005 for the Montreal International Music Competition, the piece is an expansive, atmospheric exploration of the words “Amore nihil mollius nihil violentius” or “nothing is more tame, or wild, than love”. The piece follows the structure of that sentence in form: first depicting love, then the gentleness of love, and then the more aggressive, active qualities of love. The song tells a full story with just one Latin sentence, and is an incredible example of the empathic nature of the human voice. I’ve chosen to end the program with this song because it stretches the boundaries of what art song can be. The freedom of expression and experimentation that Morlock demonstrates puts hopeful punctuation on this story: that of womxn composers achieving increased artistic freedom and agency through time.

 

Albert Chen, piano – Russian Revolution

To provide a context for the theme of revolution, I will open the program with Rachmaninov’s Etude-Tableau op. 39 no. 5. The Russian Revolution in 1917 was a period of rebellion, defiance, and social unrest that dismantled the Tsarist autocracy. During this time, Rachmaninov decided to move to the United States and composed a set of etudes, including his Etude-Tableau op. 39 no. 5. This piece contains a vast sea of dense harmonic chords that surrounds a soaring tenor melody and expresses a sense of yearning, unease, and catharsis. The climax epitomizes the oppression and hardships endured by the people during the revolution, making this etude an emotional mirror to how Rachmaninov felt towards this political situation.
For the main work of the program, I will perform Shostakovich’s Prelude and Fugue no. 24, op. 87. While the Rachmaninov etude depicts the Russian Revolution, this prelude and fugue by Shostakovich portrays the result of it; the Soviet Union. Shostakovich was denounced by the government two years before this composition, which dismissed him from his conservatory and took away his artistic liberty. Therefore, there is a dark undertone throughout the entire work. This composition is unique because it completely revolutionizes the style of the traditional prelude and fugue as if the form itself had undergone evolution since the time of Bach. When the theme is introduced in the prelude, there is a sense of utmost tranquility with a faint undertone of desolation. The fugue utilizes the same theme; starting with the tenor voice and later joined by the chorus. This sorrowful tune is derived from the D Dorian mode rather than conventional keys, which creates a sense of antiquity and transports the listener all the way back to the Middle Ages. By the end of the “A” section, however, the piece begins to deviate from the Dorian mode and chromatics are introduced. What began as an ancient melancholic melody is now being twisted into something more dissonant and modern. I often imagine this section as looking at a desolate scene through shards of broken glass; the sorrow is still there, but with something deeper and more painful underneath. The following “B” section is where Shostakovich completely abandons the traditional style and revolutionizes the fugue into something astounding. Starting at a slow tempo, Shostakovich utilizes a string of descending eighth-note appoggiaturas as a cohesive thread throughout this latter section and gradually expands the fugue with a steady accelerando and crescendo all the way to the triumphant ending. The entire work depicts the desolation, pain, sorrow, and defiance associated with revolutions against oppressive authorities. I feel like this is especially relevant today as there are numerous tragic political events happening around the world such in Venezuela, Hong Kong, and China. Therefore, I believe that this prelude and fugue embodies the sentiments of tough political times that resonate with audiences worldwide and revolutionizes the landscape of music by transforming the form and style of the prelude and fugue into something grand and monumental.