Horowitz, Bak, Wang Trio
Mount Gretna, PA, United States
Three of classical music's brightest young talents - violin, viola, and piano
- Time 7:30 PM Admission $5-$28 This concert is open seating by section. Premium Section is the first 10 rows. Standard Section is rows 11-19. First Listen program at 6:45 pm. See below for details. Buy Tickets
Mt. Gretna Playhouse 200 Pennsylvania Avenue, Mount Gretna, PA 17064, United States
(717) 361-1508 gretnamusic.org
Three of classical music’s brightest and most innovative young talents put together an “only in Mt. Gretna” program just for you, highlighting the masterful and moving Piano Trio in b minor, Op. 2 by Max Reger. Most piano trios don’t have a viola, and the instrument’s inclusion here helps this lovely late Romantic gem to shine.
Janacek, Piano Sonata, ‘1.X.1905, From the Street’
Clarke: Untitled Work for viola and piano
Bridge: Two Pieces for viola and piano
Schumann: 3 Romances for violin and piano, Op. 22
Brahms: Scherzo in c minor from the ‘FAE Sonata,’ WoO 2
Reger: Piano Trio No. 1 in b minor, Op. 2
Piano Sonata, ‘1.X.1905. From the Street,’ by Leoš Janáček
In 1905, Janáček attended a demonstration in support of a Czech university in Brno and saw the police kill a young carpenter. The act gave birth to this work. Janacek wrote: “The white marble of the steps of the Besední dům in Brno. The ordinary laborer František Pavlík falls, stained with blood. He came merely to champion higher learning and has been slain by cruel murderers.” This music might remind contemporary listeners of Sandy Hook or Salman Rushdie at Chautauqua, NY.
Son of a schoolmaster, Janáček was born in Moravia (then part of the Austrian Empire). He was a gifted child in a family of limited means and showed early talent in choral singing. His father initially wanted him to follow the family tradition and become a teacher, but Janáček’s musical abilities carried him far beyond to become a composer, musical theorist, folklorist, publicist, and teacher. He was inspired by Slavic and Moravian music, including Eastern European folk music, and influenced by contemporaries like Antonín Dvořák. His mature works are thus a highly original modern synthesis, first evident in the opera Jenůfa, premiered in 1904 in Brno. He became one of the most important exponents of musical nationalism of the 20th century.
Untitled movement for viola and piano by Rebecca Clarke
Rebecca Clarke, a British-American whose mother was German, was born in Harrow, UK. She began studies on violin at the Royal Academy in 1903, but her father withdrew her in 1905 after a teacher proposed to her. Later, her father beat her and turned her out of his house when she criticized his extramarital affairs. She later received the amorous teacher’s Strad violin at his death. She also attended the Royal College of Music in London where another of her teachers was Ralph Vaughan Williams. Changing to viola at the suggestion of her composition teacher Charles Stanford, she become internationally known as a violist and also one of the first female professional orchestral players.
She settled in the US after World War II, was reasonably happy for 33 years after marriage at age 50, but suffered from periods of depression. She died at her home in New York at the age of 93, after working as a nanny to support herself still feeling that her music had never been taken seriously. Her memoir was never published. Sale of the Stradivarius still funds a prize for cellists at the Royal Academy. We might wonder today whether she suffered from Borderline Personality disorder related to her troubled relationship with her father.
Clarke’s roughly 100 works, many featuring the viola, were largely forgotten after marriage seemed to end her composition career, but are now gaining recognition. Some were only recently published after discovery in an attic. She experienced “my one little whiff of success” in 1919 when her viola sonata tied for first place in a competition sponsored by Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, the only female winner ever. Scholarship and interest in her compositions revived in 1976 and the Rebecca Clarke Society (rebeccaclarke.org) was established in 2000 to promote her legacy of music.
Clarke wrote this untitled movement in 1917-1918 but it was not published until 2002. None of her choral music, much of it sublime, was published during her lifetime (it recently has been and we can expect to hear more). She stands as an important and particularly tragic example of the neglect of women and minority composers whose works we have only recently begun to explore and perform. The beauty of this untitled work speaks for itself.
Two Pieces for viola and piano – Frank Bridge
This next work on tonight’s program continues one of the two themes that seem to comprise part of the program’s structure: the under-appreciated, as in
1) instruments, like the viola and 2) composers, especially women
Like his younger contemporary, Rebecca Clarke, Frank Bridge was a British violist who studied at the Royal College of Music in London. Both Clarke and Bridge studied with Charles Villiers Stanford there. Bridge played the viola in string quartets, most notably the English String Quartet, and conducted before devoting himself to composition. Like Clarke, he too enjoyed the patronage of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge.
A student of Bridge, Benjamin Britten spoke very highly of his teaching, saying famously in 1963 that he still felt he hadn’t “yet come up to the technical standards” that Bridge had set for him. When Britten left for the United States with Peter Pears in 1939, Bridge handed Britten his Giussani viola and wished him bon voyage and bon retour. Bridge died in 1941 without ever seeing Britten again.
The two short works tonight date from about 1905 and 1907.
Three Romances for violin and piano, Op.22 by Clara Schumann
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?
Clara, one of the best pianists of the 19th Century, wife of Robert Schumann, muse for Brahms, and mother of 8 children, needs little introduction. Her life and relationships with her husband Robert and dearest friend Brahms have been the subject of countless books and films. As much as any artist, she personifies Romanticism.
Robert also expressed concern about her composing:
Clara has composed a series of small pieces, which show a musical and tender ingenuity such as she has never attained before. But to have children, and a husband who is always living in the realm of imagination, does not go together with composing. She cannot work at it regularly, and I am often disturbed to think how many profound ideas are lost because she cannot work them out.
Nevertheless, like Rebecca Clarke, Clara’s works, most dating to her early life, remain worthy to be played and heard. The long courtship of Robert and Clara was epic, partly a result of her father’s steadfast resistance. After their marriage in 1840, she turned to lieder and choral works. The couple wrote and published one joint composition in 1841, setting a cycle of poems by Friedrich Rückert called Liebesfrühling (Spring of Love) in Zwölf Lieder auf F. Rückerts Liebesfrühling, her Op. 12 and his Op. 37. Her chamber works include the Piano Trio in g minor, Op. 17 (1846) heard more than once in these concerts, and these Three Romances for Violin and Piano, Op. 22 (1853), inspired by her husband’s birthday. Clara dedicated them to another very dear friend, violinist Joseph Joachim, who, touring with Clara, performed them for George V of Hanover. The King declared them a “marvelous, heavenly pleasure.” A critic wrote, “Lush and poignant, they make one regret that Clara’s career as a composer became subordinate to her husband’s.” A few comments like those would certainly have cheered Rebecca Clarke 65 years later!
Scherzo in c minor from FAE Sonata, WoO 2, by Johannes Brahms
Urged by Joachim, the 20-year-old Brahms introduced himself at the home of Robert and Clara Schumann in Düsseldorf in September 1853. Both Robert and Clara were impressed with Brahms’ music and they welcomed him wholeheartedly. He met with them nearly every day, played music, and accompanied them on walks. For this short time, Brahms lived in an artistic environment highly conducive to his development as a musician.
Joachim was set to perform in Düsseldorf in October. Schumann had the idea of writing a composition for Joachim in collaboration with his student Albert Dietrich and Brahms. Each would contribute a different movement. Thus was born the “F-A-E” Sonata for violin and piano. Its title is based on the acronym for Joachim’s personal
motto Frei aber einsem (Free but lonely). The idea was for all of the movements of the sonata to use the musical notes F-A-E.
Joachim received the work on his arrival and played through it with Clara. Asked to guess who had written each movement, Joachim had little difficulty. Schumann had given his best in the Intermezzo and Finale, which he later incorporated into his own Violin Sonata No. 3. Dietrich had provided the expansive first movement. Brahms contributed the most unique portion of the work, a scherzo. This scherzo, along with the Scherzo in e-flat minor and those of his piano sonatas, is another example of the early mastery Brahms achieved in this particular idiom.
Unlike so many other collaborative works, this work was successful. Joachim retained the original manuscript and it was not published until 1935. He did allow Brahms’ scherzo movement to be published in 1906, nearly ten years after Brahms’ death.
Piano Trio No. 1 in b minor, Op. 2 by Max Reger
Max Reger grew up in Weiden, Germany, where he studied organ, violin, and cello. Fifty miles away was Bayreuth where he first heard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger and Parsifal at the age of 15. He wrote this trio in 1891 when he was 18 years old. But this was not his first composition (Opus 1 is a violin and piano sonata). Other earlier compositions did not receive opus numbers. Among them, is the Scherzo for flute and string Quartet from 1889, the year he graduated from preparatory school (preparatory for teachers like his father). Contrary to his father’s initial desire, like Janáček, he went on to study music theory in Sondershausen and piano and theory in Wiesbaden.
During a relatively short 43-year life, Reger served as musical director at Leipzig University Church, professor at the Royal Conservatory in Leipzig, music director at the court of Duke Georg ll of Saxe-Meiningen and of the Meinigen Court Theater. He was active internationally as a conductor and pianist. Among his students were Rudolf Serkin and George Szell. Reger died prematurely of a heart attack while staying at a hotel in Leipzig in May 1916 (photos testify that he was more than a little overweight!).
It’s hardly necessary to wonder why this obscure work is included as a finale on tonight’s program of rarely heard compositions. It also stands as one of few works for this combination of instruments, another disadvantage to its inclusion on programs. Reger wrote his Second Piano Trio for the more traditional combination of violin, cello, and piano.
Notes by Carl Ellenberger, author of Theme and Variations: Musical Notes by a Neurologist
Ariel Horowitz, violin, Hailed by The Washington Post as “Sweetly Lyrical,” violinist Ariel Horowitz cannot remember life before loving music. In October of 2020, Ariel won the Concert Artists Guild Ambassador Prize and joined the Concert Artists Guild roster. A recent graduate of the Yale School of Music under the tutelage of Ani Kavafian, Ariel previously studied with Itzhak Perlman and Catherine Cho at The Juilliard School. Ariel is a prizewinner of the Grumiaux, Stulberg, and Klein International Competitions as well as the Salon De Virtuosi Career Grant. In the Fall of 2019, Ariel joined the faculty of Mount Holyoke College, teaching violin and chamber music.
Ariel enjoys an active concert schedule, frequently programming beloved staples of the classical canon alongside both lesser-known works by composers from backgrounds historically underrepresented in classical music as well as her original songs for violin with voice. She has performed as a soloist with orchestras such as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Kammerphilharmonie Hamburg, and the Santa Fe ProMusica Orchestra, and in recitals across the United States, Europe, Israel, and South America. In recent seasons, Ariel premiered her original works at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall and the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater. In 2017, Ariel traveled to Auschwitz with with Eva Kor, a survivor of both the Holocaust and the medical experiements performed on twins by the infamous Dr. Joseph Mengele. During this trip, she performed a short concert alongside bassist Sebastian Zinca featuring an original co-composition for violin, bass, and spoken word for Kor on the selection platform, or in Eva’s words, “the final place that I saw my family.” This performance was broadcast on The Violin Channel, and the duo performed this music across Poland. Alongside several of her friends, Ariel performed compositions by the students of Daniel’s Music Foundation – an NYC based organization providing music education to the disability community – with DMF students in both the DMF 2017 NYC Gala and at a concert organized by Ariel and her friends at The Juilliard School. In 2013, Ariel and two of her colleagues organized a concert and food drive during their first semester at The Juilliard School to benefit the Food Bank For New York City.
Ariel is the Founder and Artistic Director of The Heartbeat Music Project, a tuition-free program providing instruments, music, and Navajo (Diné) cultural knowledge to young people in grades K-12 living in the Navajo Nation. Central to HMP’s mission is the acknowledgment of the impact of past and present colonialism to Indigenous peoples and respectful engagement with Diné music, cultures and customs. Since its inception in 2016, the Heartbeat Music Project has grown to serve over sixty students and their families with year-round music education, including the annual Summer Academy, Winter Program, and lessons for students in violin, piano, guitar, oboe, recorder, voice, jazz band, and cultural learning with Diné Cultural Knowledge Holder, Executive Director Sharon Nelson. During the era of COVID-19, the Heartbeat Music Project shifted its focus to address the dire pandemic-related needs of the Navajo Nation. Through HMP’s efforts, including a benefit concert featuring HMP students and teachers as well as the music of both European and Diné composers generously streamed by The Violin Channel, HMP has raised nearly eight thousand dollars for Navajo Nation COVID-19 Relief efforts. In 2020, The Heartbeat Music Project became the home of the American Indian Musicians’ Scholarship, a program founded by HMP Teaching Artist Renata Yazzie, Diné pianist and ethnomusicologist. AIMS seeks to provide funding for college-aged Indigenous music students, and in November of 2020, HMP and AIMS hosted a benefit concert performed entirely by Indigenous musicians and was successful in raising over five thousand dollars for the first round of scholarship awards in 2021. The Heartbeat Music Project is a grateful recipient of The Lewis Prize for Music COVID-19 Community Response Fund, The Mockingbird Foundation Prize, the From the Top Alumni Leadership Award, and The Juilliard School Community Engagement and Entrepreneurship Grants.
Jordan Bak, viola, Award-winning Jamaican-American violist Jordan Bak is building an exciting international career as a trailblazing artist, praised for his radiant stage presence, dynamic interpretations, and fearless power. He is frequently in demand as a concerto soloist, recitalist, chamber musician and educator. The 2021 YCAT Robey Artist and a top laureate of the 2020 Sphinx Competition, Bak is also a Grand Prize winner and Audience Prize recipient of the 2019 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition, the recipient of the 2019 Samuel Sanders Tel Aviv Museum Prize and the 2019 John White Special Prize from the Tertis International Viola Competition. In addition, Jordan Bak is a member of the celebrated New York Classical Players and is a featured artist for WQXR’s Artist Propulsion Lab.
Highlights of the 2021-2022 season include recital debuts at Wigmore Hall, Merkin Concert Hall & Baltimore’s Shriver Hall Concert Series, chamber music tours with Musicians from Marlboro and CAG on Tour, and new music commissions from such composers as Tyson Davis, Shawn Okpebholo & James Ra. He has been heard as a recitalist and chamber musician in the United States at such venues as Alice Tully Hall, Bruno Walter Auditorium, Jordan Hall, and Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, among others, and in Europe at the Verbier Festival, the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève, the Centre de Musique Hindemith, and the Helsinki Musiikkitalo.
A proud new music advocate, Bak gave the world premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Du gick, flög for viola and mezzo-soprano and the viola premiere of Jessica Meyer’s Excessive Use of Force. Bak also gave an acclaimed performance of the Druckman Viola Concerto with The Juilliard Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall in New York. He has additionally championed works by such composers as H. Leslie Adams, Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, Quinn Mason, Jeffrey Mumford, Caroline Shaw & Alvin Singleton.
Wynona Wang, piano, Chinese pianist Wynona Wang was selected as First Prize winner of the 2018 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, which is just the latest in a series of impressive first prize performances, along with the 2017 Wideman International Piano Competition in Louisiana. Wynona was also awarded the 2019 “Charlotte White” Career Grant awarded by the Salon de Virtuosi in New York City.
An active performer in China, Europe and the United States, Wynona recently earned her Performer’s Diploma under the tutelage of the eminent pianist Alessio Bax at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. While at SMU, she appeared in multiple concerto performances as well as numerous recitals and chamber music concerts, including collaborations with cellist Andres Diaz and with the Escher String Quartet. She had made her New York debut recital in Carnegie Weill Hall in the 2019-2020 season, and she had also performed in the prestigious concert halls in North America including David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, Krannert Center, and Merkin Hall. Her 21-22 season highlights include Merkin Hall, La Grua Arts Center, Kravis Center, Pinedale Performing Arts, the Whitney Center and Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts.
Other recent North American performances include the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, North State Symphony in California, and the Meadows Symphony Orchestra of SMU in Dallas, and such major festivals as [email protected], PianoTexas, Morningside Music Bridge in Calgary, Canada, the International Keyboard Institute & Festival in New York City, and the Chautauqua Institution. Internationally, Wynona has been a featured soloist with the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the National Philharmonic Society of Ukraine, and the Romanian Mihail Jora Philharmonic Orchestra in Italy. She has also given numerous solo piano recitals in China—including cities such as Beijing, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Shenzhen, Kunming, Ningbo, and Dalian—as well as in Spain (Madrid) and Indonesia (Jakarta).
In addition to her most recent first prize successes, she has also garnered top honors at numerous competitions: the Meadows Concerto Competition at SMU; the Artist Recognition Scholarship Awards Competition at NYC’s International Keyboard Institute & Festival; the Hamamatsu International Piano Academy Competition in Japan; the First Indonesia Pusaka International Piano Competition in Jakarta; IX International Competition for Young Pianists in Memory of Vladimir Horowitz in Ukraine; and the Chautauqua Piano Competition.
Born in Beijing, Wynona Wang began playing piano at age 4, and went on to study at both the Music Elementary and Secondary schools at the prestigious Central Conservatory of Music (CCOM) in Beijing. In fall 2016, she was awarded a full scholarship for her Performer’s Diploma at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and she now lives in New York while pursuing her undergraduate degree at The Juilliard School as a student of Dr. Robert McDonald.
[tabby title=”First Listen”]6:45 pm, free
David Graff, marimba
David Graff, percussion, is a sophomore at Lebanon Valley College where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an instrumental concentration in percussion performance, under the tutelage of Dr. Matt Keown. At LVC, David performs with the Pride of the Valley Marching Band, Symphonic Band, Symphony Orchestra, and Percussion Ensemble. David has performed throughout central Pennsylvania and is an active member of the Lancaster Marimba Ensemble.