How do sounds and music define a sense of place? Journey with Dan Allcott, the Oak Ridge Symphony Orchestra, and the music of composers Jennifer Jolley (photo credit Elizabeth Glenn Photography), Takuma Itoh (photo credit Ben Ferrari), Gabriela Lena Frank (photo credit Mariah Tauger), and J. S. Bach as their musical soundscapes take you around the world, throughout time, and wherever your imagination takes you. Maybe it's a ride on Mr. Roger's Neighborhood Trolley! Soloists Shelby Shankland, flute; Karen Kartal, violin; and Malcolm Matthews, harpsichord add to the adventure. The concert is part of our Penny4Arts programming offering FREE attendance for youths 18 and under. Listen here to Melony Dodson's introductory interview with Music Director Dan Allcott. Thank you to WUOT 91.9 FM. And come ready to bid on fun auction items for our end-of-the-year Silent Auction Fundraiser. Great for your holiday shopping!
Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout by Gabriela Lena Frank is presented under license from G Schirmer Inc. and Associated Music Publishers, copyright owners.
A Knoxville Native, Malcolm Matthews previously appeared with the Oak Ridge Symphony as Organ Soloist in 2013, performing Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ, Timpani, and Strings. He is an award-winning organist, and was a featured artist at the 2018 convention of the Organ Historical Society. Other accomplishments include: First Place, 2013 Westfield International Organ Competition and Second Place, 2012 National Young Artist’s Competition in Organ Performance; Semi-finalist, 2016 International Bach Competition; Second Place, 2016 OSM Manulife Competition; First place, 2005 South-Eastern Region IV Young Organists Competition; and Semi-finalist, 2009 Concours international d’orgue de Lyon.
Matthews holds both a Doctoral Degree in Organ Performance and the Artist’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music. Currently he is the Associate Organist and Choirmaster of Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville, TN. In addition to his organ related studies with David Higgs, he completed a Master’s Degree in harpsichord performance in the studio of William Porter and a minor field in Collaborative Piano under Jean Barr. Matthews has performed in masterclasses and participated in summer programs led by such organists as Jacques van Oortmerssen, Harald Vogel, Hans Davidsson, Ken Cowan, and Edoardo Bellotti. He particularly enjoys collaborative work and frequently answers calls to accompany both ensembles and soloists on a wide range of repertoire. He has appeared as a soloist with the Maryville Symphony Orchestra, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, and Rochester’s Philharmonic Orchestra. Matthews has also discovered a passion for pedagogical work; his teaching experience includes both organ and harpsichord at Eastman and the Eastman Community School.
Matthews was a featured artist at the 2018 convention of the Organ Historical Society and his accomplishments include: First Place, 2013 Westfield International Organ Competition and Second Place, 2012 National Young Artist’s Competition in Organ Performance; Semi-finalist, 2016 International Bach Competition; Second Place, 2016 OSM Manulife Competition; First place, 2005 South-Eastern Region IV Young Organists Competition; and Semi-finalist, 2009 Concours international d’orgue de Lyon.
Mr. Matthews is performing on a harpsichord from his personal collection - a Flemish double built by Keith Hill that was made for him in 2012. Its design is based on one by Johannes Ruckers of the mid 17th century.
Karen Kartal began her violin studies at the age of 9. After living in Switzerland for three years, she returned to her home state to attended lllinois State University, and Western Illinois University followed by graduate studies at Louisiana State University where she won first prize in the concerto competitions at all three schools. Her primary teachers include Almita Vamos, Camilla Wicks, Sally O’Reilly, and Arthur Lewis. She completed her Suzuki teacher training at WIU with Lois Shepheard and has participated in masterclasses and coaching with Jorja Fleezanis, Yair Kless, Glenn Dicterow, Janos Starker, and Martin Lovett.
In addition to full time positions with the Shreveport and Knoxville Symphonies, Karen has held the position of concertmaster of the Baton Rouge Opera, and the Lake Charles Symphony, principal second with the Baton Rouge Symphony, and assistant concertmaster of the Louisiana Symphonietta, Marshall Symphony, Longview Opera, and South Arkansas Symphony. As assistant concertmaster of the Classical Symphony in Chicago, she performed several concerts in Taiwan and Japan as part of their Far East Tour. Karen has been concertmaster of the Oak Ridge Symphony since 2004, and is a regular performer on the Oak Ridge Chamber series with the Cumberland Piano Trio and the Concertmaster and Friends series.
Her true passion has always been playing chamber music and in 1991, her piano trio won first prize in the MTNA National Chamber Music Competition. Karen has performed chamber music concerts throughout the US at music festivals and as first violinist of the Oak Ridge String Quartet. Summer music festivals include Spoleto Italy, Round Top International, Sewannee Summer Music Festival, Chautauqua Institute, Britt Festival and Oregon Coast Music Festival. She has been featured as soloist with several orchestras including the Oak Ridge Symphony, Lake Charles Symphony, and the South Arkansas Symphony.
Before moving to Tennessee, Karen taught at McNeese State University in Louisiana where she was concertmaster for the world premiere of Keith Gate’s opera Evangeline and recorded a CD of Gate’s compositions for Summit Records. Karen is currently on the faculty at Pellissippi State College and she also maintains a large private studio. Her students frequently hold principal positions in the local youth orchestras, and several have been featured as soloist with the Knoxville Youth Symphony, the Knoxville Symphony and the Oak Ridge Symphony. Karen also performs jazz and blues, and when she’s not performing or teaching, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, kickboxing, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.
Shelby Shankland started begging for flute lessons at five years old after seeing a performance by her piano teacher's son, Gary Schocker, a flute prodigy in Easton, PA. Gary is now the most prolific writer of flute music alive today, and Shelby got her wish and began taking lessons from his father at the age of seven. She went on to study with Robin Kani at Moravian College, and then with Tim Day, Principal Flutist of the Baltimore Symphony and then the San Francisco Symphony. She graduated with her Bachelor's in Music in Flute Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Shelby played second flute, piccolo, and alto flute for the Marin Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Alasdair Neale from 1996-2010, only leaving the orchestra to relocate from the Bay Area to East Tennessee. She has been playing professionally in this area since then, taught flute at Maryville College from 2018–2020, and has been playing with the Oak Ridge Symphony since 2012 and in the principal flute role since 2015.
Shelby also works from home managing an organization development consultancy, and at Cove Mountain Counseling as a practicing life coach and reiki master. She lives in Maryville, TN, with her husband, Scott, two children, Jack (9) and Zoe (14 - also a flutist!), and two big, sweet dogs.
Program Notes by Mike Cates
We are peculiar creatures, living in a physical world but immersed in a different world of the mind, a place where we build our own image of reality partly to live effectively in that physical world. Music, which comes from that world of mind, cannot help being imposed upon by the physical world around those who are creating, performing, or listening to it. Composers of what we call classical music, like all creators of new things, are inspired by both their worlds. We hear sounds from all over the planet which make us happier or more fulfilled. Soundscapes are the worlds our ears hear, while landscapes are what we see, but into that which we hear will always creep that which we see, and smell, and touch. We are peculiar, yes, but isn't it wonderful?
Takuma Itoh Adaptation Variations
Itoh is Japanese by birth, but grew up in Northern California. His “brashly youthful and fresh” music (as reported by the New York Times) has gotten him a number of honors and commissions. He has moved his world to Hawaii, a beautiful state with ties to his birth country. Since 2012, Itoh has taught at the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he serves as an Associate Professor of Music. Here are his words about Adaptation Variations.
“When talking about evolution, biologists often use the musical term "theme and variations" as an analogy of how a single species can evolve to become a diverse array of species over time. With Adaptation Variations, I wanted to raise awareness of Hawaii's incredible honeycreepers (forest birds) which performed this theme and variations over many millennia, evolving from one species that flew over to Hawai'i to over 50 distinct species at one point–but now fewer than 20 still remain, many of which are critically endangered. The work starts off with a brief storm before arriving at a clear melodic theme. The rest of the work is a loose set of theme and variations that use some of the various honeycreepers' distinct features as starting points for musical inspiration: the long curved beaks of the i'iwi resulted in the glissandi section; the seed-eaters like the palila led to the percussive, rhythmic variation; the repeated notes of an 'amakihisong or the distinctive intervals that an 'apapane sings became rhythmic and intervallic motives throughout the work; and so on.”
Photo Credit: Ben Ferrari
Gabriela Lena Frank Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout
Here are Frank's comments about herself, a wonderful summary that she expresses beautifully: “Currently serving as Composer-in-Residence with the storied Philadelphia Orchestra and included in the Washington Post's list of the 35 most significant women composers in history (August, 2017), identity has always been at the center of composer/pianist Gabriela Lena Frank's music. Born in Berkeley, California (September, 1972), to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Gabriela explores her multicultural heritage through her compositions.”
She is a dedicated environmentalist and every bit a modern, cultured American and citizen of the 21st century. Her compositions are sound pictures of beautiful and important places she's experienced.
Here are the composer's comments about Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout.
“Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout for string quartet draws inspiration from the idea of mestizaje as envisioned by the Peruvian writer José María Arguedas, where cultures can coexist without the subjugation of one by the other. As such, this piece mixes elements from the western classical and Andean folk music traditions.
"Toyos" depicts one of the most recognizable instruments of the Andes, the panpipe. One of the largest kinds is the breathy toyo which requires great stamina and lung power, and is often played in parallel fourths or fifths.
"Tarqueada" is a forceful and fast number featuring the tarka, a heavy wooden duct flute that is blown harshly in order to split the tone. Tarka ensembles typically also play in fourths and fifths.
"Himno de Zampoñas" features a particular type of panpipe ensemble that divides up melodies through a technique known as hocketing. The characteristic sound of the zampoña panpipe is that of a fundamental tone blown flatly so that overtones ring out on top, hence the unusual scoring of double stops in this movement.
"Chasqui" depicts a legendary figure from the Inca period, the chasqui runner, who sprinted great distances to deliver messages between towns separated from one another by the Andean peaks. The chasqui needed to travel light. Hence, I take artistic license to imagine his choice of instruments to be the charango, a high-pitched cousin of the guitar, and the lightweight bamboo quena flute, both of which are featured in this movement.
"Canto de Velorio" portrays another well-known Andean personality, a professional crying woman known as the llorona. Hired to render funeral rituals even sadder, the llorona is accompanied here by a second llorona and an additional chorus of mourning women (coro de mujeres). The chant Dies Irae is quoted as a reflection of the comfortable mix of Quechua Indian religious rites with those from Catholicism.
"Coqueteos" is a flirtatious love song sung by gallant men known as romanceros. As such, it is direct in its harmonic expression, bold, and festive. The romanceros sing in harmony with one another against a backdrop of guitars which I think of as a vendaval de guitarras (storm of guitars).
Photo Credit: Mariah Tauger
Jennifer Jolley Spielzeug Strassenbahn
Jennifer Jolley grew up in Southern California. Her work involves subjects that are political and even provocative. She has a strong sense of the relationship created between composers and the communities with whom they necessarily collaborate. This is because, at least in part, she was composer-in-residence at Brevard College, University of Toledo, the Vermont Symphony, the Central Michigan University School of Music, the Alba Music Festival in Italy in 2018, and the Women Composers Festival of Hartford in 2019. She now is in the faculty of music at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Jolley speaks of herself: “ Jennifer Jolley (b. 1981) is a composer, blogger, and professor person. She is also a cat lover and part-time creative opera producer … Jennifer deeply values the relationship that is created between composers and the communities with whom they collaborate.
Spielzeug Strassenbahn means “toy tram.” This work of about nine minutes is truly tram-like, in a sense, with a feel of perpetual motion. It has flute and violin interchanges and a persistent rhythm. The second part of the music is more introspective and quieter, losing some of the established drive. The ending has a taste of jazz influence with unusual chords. It's a work that can make you wish it had not ended, a fine tribute to the composer's art.
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Glenn Photography
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) Brandenburg Concerto No. 5
There is so much to say about Johann Sebastian Bach that words always fail us. The father of Western music in a real sense, he was a composer that has had no equal. As it turned out for Bach, his time in Köthen (1717-1723), where he worked for the fun-loving Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Köthen (1694-1728), was probably the happiest of his life, and certainly the time when he had the most freedom of composition. He was not required to write church music during this period, and took the opportunity to experiment with many forms, writing often for the court orchestra that represented the favorite hobby of the dilettante Prince Leopold. But Bach – as always, despite his relative comfort in Köthen – continued to press for improved employment situations, and in 1721 sent such an application to Christian Ludwig, the Margrave of Brandenburg in Berlin. To illustrate his musical capabilities, he enclosed a collection of scores he had written (over a period of several years) for six instrumentation compositions for small orchestra. Bach, as usual, didn’t get a job offer, but at least the manuscripts were not destroyed. Those “Brandenburg” concertos are available to us today and carry the old principality’s name because of that fortunate storage of the scores. They are among Bach’s most famous compositions, and in fact are among the most famous compositions in all Baroque music. The six Brandenburg Concertos, BWV 1046-51, are not solo concertos (where a featured soloist is accompanied by an orchestra), but two distinct types of what might be called an “ensemble concerto.” Numbers 1, 3, and 6 are structured as two evenly balanced instrumental choirs in conversation. Numbers 2, 4, and 5 are more typical concerti grossi, works for a small group of soloists (concertino) in dialog with the full orchestra (ripieno or tutti) – but of course for these, with Bach's unique twist. In addition to the standard two-tiered hierarchy, concertino and ripieno, he adds another layer. Each concerto gives a single concertino instrument the most responsibility for virtuosity. In Number 5, it's the keyboard.
The concerto is in the typical fast-slow-fast structure. The first movement opens with a theme expressed by the whole ensemble, eventually giving way to the trio of soloists. Ideas are passed around, with occasional surprises from the violin and flute. The real star, of course, is the harpsichord. While the harpsichord is used in all of the Brandenburgs, in this one the harpsichord draws the entire piece together, especially the first movement, which ends with a lengthy cadenza-like section for the harpsichord, finally transitioning to the opening tutti theme that ends the movement. This keyboard cadenza, as you will hear, is truly amazing, a tour de force that has become a kind of model for such things over the years since.
The second movement offers a gentle intermission between the frenetic first and third movements. It is scored just for the trio of soloists and no string accompaniment. The third movement is in 6/8 time, bracing and highlighting of the compositional genius of Bach.
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