Saturday, March 18, 2023 | 7:30 pm
Antoine T. Clark, guest conductor
Janice Carissa, piano
Viet Cuong: Bullish
Franck: Symphonic Variations
Andrée: Andante quasi Recitativo
Avner Dorman: Concerto in A
Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1 “Classical”
Join us on March 18 for a concert that features a selection of incredible works written by composers in their early years! For this performance, we are excited to welcome guest conductor Antoine T. Clark. Praised by the Chicago Tribune for his “balletic poise” on the podium, Mr. Clark will make his West Coast premiere with us. An award-winning conductor known for his engaging stage presence and advocacy for arts education, Mr. Clark is the founding artistic and music director of Ohio’s Worthington Chamber Orchestra and assistant conductor of both Wheeling Symphony Orchestra in West Virginia and the Gateway Music Festival in Rochester, New York. He is an avid supporter of new music and interdisciplinary artistic collaborations, making him a perfect fit for this multifaceted performance.
Leading off the program is a short piece by contemporary composer Viet Cuong who was featured in The Washington Post’s “21 for ’21: Composers and Performers who Sound like Tomorrow.” Mr. Cuong enjoys exploring the unexpected and whimsical which he demonstrates in Bullish with its opening tango with muted trumpets that morphs into rhythms with increasingly irregular patterns. As the piece progresses, many of the orchestral elements are pared away, exposing several instruments in solo lines.
Next on the program is a piece by an incredible woman. An early pioneer for women’s rights in Sweden, in 1867 Elfrida Andrée became organist of Gothenburg Cathedral at the young age of 26, the first woman in Europe to hold such an appointment. Two years later, her first symphony was performed in Stockholm, and two years after that, she herself conducted an orchestra in Gothenburg. Over her lifetime, Andrée composed works for piano, for choir (both with and without orchestra), and two major orchestral works. Her Andante quasi Recitativo is a lyrical miniature, characterized by long arching melodies and unsettled Wagnerian harmony.
César Franck’s Symphonic Variations is one of the most beautifully conceived works for piano and orchestra of the late Romantic period. A blending of soloist and orchestra, it is a continuously evolving dialogue between equal partners, with the melodic and rhythmic fingerprints of a Belgian folk dance. Performing the soloist role will be Gilmore Young Artist Janice Carissa. Ms. Carissa began her musical journey at the age of five in her native Indonesia. In 2013, she entered the Curtis Institute of Music with full scholarship and is currently studying at The Juilliard School of Music. She has been praised for radiating “the multicolored highlights of a mature pianist” (The Philadelphia Inquirer) and for her artistry that “conveys a vivid story rather than a mere showpiece” (Chicago Classical Review).
Ms. Carissa will also perform Avner Dorman’s Concerto in A. Mr. Dorman composed the piece in 1994 at the age of 19 while serving in the Israeli Army. Described as “hilariously using a simple scale as a theme to poke fun at showy virtuosity” (The Dallas Morning News), Mr. Dorman was inspired to write the piece after hearing Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in A Major on the radio. He wanted to create something new while also keeping the transparency and directness of the classical style very appealing. “I realized that using the traditional harmonic vocabulary enabled me to effortlessly integrate jazz, pop and rock elements into the piece. Even though [it] is dedicated to Vivaldi, one can also find in it allusions to Nina Simone, The Police, The Cure, Stravinsky and, of course, to Bach.”
Closing the concert is Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1 “Classical,” which he composed at the age of 26 in the style of Haydn. In his autobiography, Prokofiev mused “if Haydn had lived in our day, he would have retained his own style while accepting something of the new at the same time.” The work is in the traditional four movements of its 18th-century prototype, with the influence of Mozart apparent in the light, airy scoring and the fast-paced bustle of the outer movements. Prokofiev’s own style is noticeable, however, in the way the themes step upward or downward into the neighboring keys before returning to the first one.