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October 2018 Concert

2:30 pm
Sunday, October 21, 2018

THE VIRTUOSO CLARINET

Our 73rd season featuring great virtuosos, all Chicago area residents, begins with the talents of John Bruce Yeh, the longest serving clarinet player in the history of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He will perform the clarinet solo in a piece composed for him by Lake Forest resident James Stephenson. The concert opens with orchestral dances from the first great Czech opera, by the “father” of Czech music, and closes with the most popular of all Czech compositions, Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony.

Program

Go To Videos

Musical Insights Free Pre-Concert Preview the Friday before this concert.
Learn How to Attend!

  • Smetana
  • Three Dances from The Bartered Bride
  • Stephenson
  • Liquid Melancholy

    John Bruce Yeh, clarinet

  • Dvorák
  • Symphony No. 9 in E Minor
    “From the New World”

Pick-Staiger Concert Hall

50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston
See map.

TICKETS

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All tickets are assigned seating.

Advance Sales

$32 Adult, $27 Seniors, $5.00 Full-Time Student

At the Door Sales

$37 Adult, $32 Seniors, $5.00 Full-Time Student

Children Free

Children 12 and younger are admitted absolutely FREE, but must have an assigned seat.
Please call 847.864.8804 or email tickets@evanstonsymphony.org for all orders with children’s tickets.

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SERIES SUBSCRIPTION

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Soloist

John Bruce Yeh, clarinet

John Bruce Yeh

The first Asian musician ever appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as the longest-serving clarinetist in CSO history, John Bruce Yeh joined the CSO in June of 1977, having been appointed solo bass clarinet of the Orchestra at the age of 19 by Sir Georg Solti. Two years later, he was named assistant principal and solo E-flat clarinet. He served as acting principal clarinet of the CSO from 2008–2011. He has also performed as guest principal clarinet of the Philadelphia Orchestra as well as of the Seoul Philharmonic in Korea.

Yeh has performed concertos with the CSO on several occasions, including the 1998 American premiere of Elliott Carter’s Clarinet Concerto with Pierre Boulez conducting and the 1993 performance of Carl Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto with Neeme Järvi. An enthusiastic champion of new music, John Bruce Yeh is the dedicatee of new works for clarinet by numerous composers, ranging from Ralph Shapey to John Williams.

A prize winner at both the 1982 Munich International Music Competition and the 1985 Naumburg Clarinet Competition in New York, Yeh continues to solo with orchestras around the globe. His more than a dozen solo and chamber music recordings have earned worldwide critical acclaim. He recently released a disc titled Liquid Melancholy: Clarinet Music of James Stephenson.

Yeh is director of Chicago Pro Musica, which received the Grammy Award in 1986 for Best New Classical Artist. He frequently appears at festivals and on chamber music series worldwide. Yeh has performed several times with Music from Marlboro; the Ying, Colorado, Pacifica, Calder and Avalon string quartets; as well as the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. With his wife, clarinetist Teresa Reilly, erhu virtuoso Wang Guowei and pipa virtuoso Yang Wei, Yeh formed Birds and Phoenix, an innovative quartet dedicated to musical exploration by bridging Eastern and Western musical cultures.

Passionately committed to music education, Yeh served for 26 years on the faculty of DePaul University’s School of Music, and he joined the faculty at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College for the Performing Arts in 2004. He has taught master classes at many universities and conservatories including the Juilliard, Eastman and Manhattan Schools of Music, the Cleveland Institute of Music, Northwestern University and University of Michigan. In addition, he is on the faculty of Midwest Young Artists in Fort Sheridan, Illinois.

Born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Los Angeles, John Bruce Yeh pursued premedical studies at UCLA, where he also won the Frank Sinatra Musical Performance Award. He entered the Juilliard School in 1975 and attended music schools in Aspen, Marlboro and Tanglewood. He cites Gary Gray, Michele Zukovsky, Harold Wright, Ray Still, Marcel Moyse, Allan Dennis and Mehli Mehta as influential mentors.

John is the proud father of three daughters.

 

Musical Insights

Free Pre-Concert Preview Series!

Friday, November 8 at 1:30 pm

Enhance your concert experience with a sneak preview — Composers come alive and their passions take center stage when ESO General Manager David Ellis and ESO Maestro Lawrence Eckerling take you on an insider’s tour of the history and highlights behind the music.

Meet our soloist, Mindy Kaufman, at Musical Insights. She and our Maestro Lawrence Eckerling and David Ellis will explore the November concert program in depth.

The Merion
Friday, November 8 at 1:30 pm,
The Merion Crystal Ballroom at
1611 Chicago Avenue at Davis Street, Evanston.
FREE and open to the public.
Please RSVP to 847-562-5318.

Light refreshments will be served and casual tours of newly renovated apartments will be available after the program.

Videos

The Evanston Symphony Orchestra is proud to provide videos to educate you about the pieces we perform and, at times, the soloists who will be performing. The video(s) below are examples only and do not represent performances by the Evanston Symphony Orchestra unless noted.

Stephenson

James Stephenson's Liquid Melancholy with our soloist John Bruce Yeh.

Dvořák
New World Symphony (No 9)

The famous Largo begins at 10:10.

Program Notes

THREE DANCES FROM THE BARTERED BRIDE                                                                                                                 

13 minutes        (1870)                                                                               Bedřich Smetana (1824-1884)

THE FATHER OF CZECH MUSIC. Bedřich Smetana is generally considered the first great Czech composer. In the words of biographer John Clapham, he “forged a national style which is indistinguishable from his personal style. He provided his country with a basic repertory of music that holds an esteemed position beside some of the finest masterpieces of his European contemporaries, and at the same time he crystallized the spirit of his nation in his art.” Ironically, Smetana had to admit in 1860, just six years before the premiere of his most famous opera, The Bartered Bride, that he could not express himself nor write correctly in Czech due to his upbringing in German (his name at home was Friedrich).

Smetana’s most famous composition, the Moldau (German for the Czech river Vltava), is one of the six symphonic poems which comprise Má Vlast (My Fatherland). However, his operas, which include The Brandenburgers in Bohemia, Dalibor, and Libuše are the most consequential part of his artistic legacy. The Bartered Bride, the most popular Czech opera of all, was not a success at its premiere in 1866, achieving widespread acclaim only in 1870 after multiple revisions including the addition of the three dances performed today. The Polka ends Act 1; the Furiant is the second number of Act 2, and the Dance of the Comedians accompanies a traveling circus troupe in Act 3.

 

LIQUID MELANCHOLY FOR CLARINET AND ORCHESTRA                                                                                                                        

 16 minutes      (2011)                                                                                     James Stephenson (1969- )

THE VERSATILITY OF THE CLARINET.  “Liquid Melancholy” is a phrase from the famous novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, in which it refers to a sleep- inducing medication. Lake Forest composer James Stephenson found it a perfect description of the abilities of the clarinet to play with the characteristics of both words, so he used it as the title for a work for clarinet and orchestra commissioned by a consortium of three ensembles for three clarinetists, including today’s soloist, John Bruce Yeh.

Liquid Melancholy is a four movement concerto in which the first movement emphasizes the clarinet’s liquid aspects and the second movement the more intimate melancholic ones. The third movement is a brief cadenza for the soloist with orchestral accompaniment and leads without pause into the playful finale.

James Stephenson has been called “The Concerto King” by John Bruce Yeh in recognition of the breadth of his compositions, which include concertos and sonatas for nearly every instrument of the orchestra. Mr Stephenson majored in trumpet performance at the New England Conservatory of Music and performed for 17 seasons in the Naples Philharmonic (Florida) before turned to full time composing. His arrangements have also received many performances, including several at the Evanston Symphony Holiday Concert.

 

SYMPHONY NO 9 IN E MINOR, “FROM THE NEW WORLD” OP 95                                                                                                                

45 minutes      (1893)                                                                                   Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)

THE MOST POPULAR CZECH SYMPHONY. Antonín Dvořák was born in the Bohemian countryside, disliked cities, and was fond of pigeons, playing cards and watching trains. He was also one of the most versatile composers of the nineteenth century, whose body of work included nine operas in a style influenced by Wagner, symphonic poems and “national” pieces such as his Slavonic Dances, and most importantly, purely instrumental works following his friend and mentor Johannes Brahms. They include 14 string quartets, “the most impressive such achievement since Beethoven” according to Richard Taruskin; piano trios, quartets and quintets; string quintets and a string sextet, and nine symphonies.

In 1892 Dvořák received an invitation from Jeannette Thurber to move to New York City and assume the directorship of her National Conservatory of Music at an annual salary of $15,000, a sum impossible to resist. One of his duties was to compose works on American themes, preferably an opera based on Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha, a poem which had been translated into Czech and one which Dvořák admired. However, after a few sketches for the opera Dvořák decided on a new symphony, which he wrote in New York City between January and May of 1893. Premiered in Carnegie Hall on December 16 (Beethoven’s birthday) of that year, the symphony “From the New World” was the greatest public triumph of Dvořák’s life. It is also Dvořák’s most extensive use of “cyclic” form, in which themes from earlier movements reappear in later ones. In the case of the “New World”, each movement includes at least one theme from each of the preceding movements.

I. Adagio-Allegro molto. A brief string introduction, followed by dramatic timpani notes, leads to the instantly memorable principal theme on the horns. This theme recurs in all succeeding movements and thus may be called a “motto” of the symphony. The secondary theme, first stated by the woodwinds, is a close relative of the spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”. The exposition of these themes is repeated; the development and recapitulation lead to a fierce ending.

II. Largo. This is the most famous movement of the symphony; its English horn solo theme was turned into the spiritual “Goin” Home” with the addition of words. The first soft chords of the movement provide a transition from the previous movement, but the sequence of seven chords recurs twice later in the movement as if to say “Once upon a time”. Near the end is a woodwind episode evocative of bird song which culminates in the recall of the “motto” theme.

III. Molto vivace. This vigorous scherzo is almost certainly based on Indian dances from Hiawatha, but its prominent timpani part is similar to that in the scherzo of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and its use of the triangle recalls the scherzo of Brahms’ Fourth Symphony (also in E Minor).

IV. Allegro con fuoco. This fiery finale provides a grand summation of the entire symphony, starting with its bold initial theme on the brass. Near the end, a loud recall of the “Once Upon a Time” chord sequence is followed by the famous Largo theme on clarinets punctuated by the scherzo theme on strings. Finally, the first movement “motto” theme and the main theme of the finale collide in a grandiose, deliciously dissonant manner.

 

THREE DANCES FROM THE BARTERED BRIDE                                                                                                                 

13 minutes        (1870)                                                                               Bedřich Smetana (1824-1884)

THE FATHER OF CZECH MUSIC. Bedřich Smetana is generally considered the first great Czech composer. In the words of biographer John Clapham, he “forged a national style which is indistinguishable from his personal style. He provided his country with a basic repertory of music that holds an esteemed position beside some of the finest masterpieces of his European contemporaries, and at the same time he crystallized the spirit of his nation in his art.” Ironically, Smetana had to admit in 1860, just six years before the premiere of his most famous opera, The Bartered Bride, that he could not express himself nor write correctly in Czech due to his upbringing in German (his name at home was Friedrich).

Smetana’s most famous composition, the Moldau (German for the Czech river Vltava), is one of the six symphonic poems which comprise Má Vlast (My Fatherland). However, his operas, which include The Brandenburgers in Bohemia, Dalibor, and Libuše are the most consequential part of his artistic legacy. The Bartered Bride, the most popular Czech opera of all, was not a success at its premiere in 1866, achieving widespread acclaim only in 1870 after multiple revisions including the addition of the three dances performed today. The Polka ends Act 1; the Furiant is the second number of Act 2, and the Dance of the Comedians accompanies a traveling circus troupe in Act 3.

LIQUID MELANCHOLY FOR CLARINET AND ORCHESTRA                                                                                                                        

 16 minutes      (2011)                                                                                     James Stephenson (1969- )

THE VERSATILITY OF THE CLARINET.  “Liquid Melancholy” is a phrase from the famous novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, in which it refers to a sleep- inducing medication. Lake Forest composer James Stephenson found it a perfect description of the abilities of the clarinet to play with the characteristics of both words, so he used it as the title for a work for clarinet and orchestra commissioned by a consortium of three ensembles for three clarinetists, including today’s soloist, John Bruce Yeh.

Liquid Melancholy is a four movement concerto in which the first movement emphasizes the clarinet’s liquid aspects and the second movement the more intimate melancholic ones. The third movement is a brief cadenza for the soloist with orchestral accompaniment and leads without pause into the playful finale.

James Stephenson has been called “The Concerto King” by John Bruce Yeh in recognition of the breadth of his compositions, which include concertos and sonatas for nearly every instrument of the orchestra. Mr Stephenson majored in trumpet performance at the New England Conservatory of Music and performed for 17 seasons in the Naples Philharmonic (Florida) before turned to full time composing. His arrangements have also received many performances, including several at the Evanston Symphony Holiday Concert.

SYMPHONY NO 9 IN E MINOR, “FROM THE NEW WORLD” OP 95                                                                                                                

45 minutes      (1893)                                                                                   Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)

THE MOST POPULAR CZECH SYMPHONY. Antonín Dvořák was born in the Bohemian countryside, disliked cities, and was fond of pigeons, playing cards and watching trains. He was also one of the most versatile composers of the nineteenth century, whose body of work included nine operas in a style influenced by Wagner, symphonic poems and “national” pieces such as his Slavonic Dances, and most importantly, purely instrumental works following his friend and mentor Johannes Brahms. They include 14 string quartets, “the most impressive such achievement since Beethoven” according to Richard Taruskin; piano trios, quartets and quintets; string quintets and a string sextet, and nine symphonies.

In 1892 Dvořák received an invitation from Jeannette Thurber to move to New York City and assume the directorship of her National Conservatory of Music at an annual salary of $15,000, a sum impossible to resist. One of his duties was to compose works on American themes, preferably an opera based on Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha, a poem which had been translated into Czech and one which Dvořák admired. However, after a few sketches for the opera Dvořák decided on a new symphony, which he wrote in New York City between January and May of 1893. Premiered in Carnegie Hall on December 16 (Beethoven’s birthday) of that year, the symphony “From the New World” was the greatest public triumph of Dvořák’s life. It is also Dvořák’s most extensive use of “cyclic” form, in which themes from earlier movements reappear in later ones. In the case of the “New World”, each movement includes at least one theme from each of the preceding movements.

I. Adagio-Allegro molto. A brief string introduction, followed by dramatic timpani notes, leads to the instantly memorable principal theme on the horns. This theme recurs in all succeeding movements and thus may be called a “motto” of the symphony. The secondary theme, first stated by the woodwinds, is a close relative of the spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”. The exposition of these themes is repeated; the development and recapitulation lead to a fierce ending.

II. Largo. This is the most famous movement of the symphony; its English horn solo theme was turned into the spiritual “Goin” Home” with the addition of words. The first soft chords of the movement provide a transition from the previous movement, but the sequence of seven chords recurs twice later in the movement as if to say “Once upon a time”. Near the end is a woodwind episode evocative of bird song which culminates in the recall of the “motto” theme.

III. Molto vivace. This vigorous scherzo is almost certainly based on Indian dances from Hiawatha, but its prominent timpani part is similar to that in the scherzo of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and its use of the triangle recalls the scherzo of Brahms’ Fourth Symphony (also in E Minor).

IV. Allegro con fuoco. This fiery finale provides a grand summation of the entire symphony, starting with its bold initial theme on the brass. Near the end, a loud recall of the “Once Upon a Time” chord sequence is followed by the famous Largo theme on clarinets punctuated by the scherzo theme on strings. Finally, the first movement “motto” theme and the main theme of the finale collide in a grandiose, deliciously dissonant manner.