Drummer Louis Hayes pays tribute to hard-bop pioneer Horace Silver

Louis Hayes. Photo courtesy of the artist.

In 1956, teenage drummer Louis Hayes joined a new quintet led by pianist Horace Silver. While Hayes had found early success in Detroit playing alongside Kenny Burrell, Yusef Lateef, and Doug Watkins, Silver was in New York developing the hard-bop style, having already worked with the likes of Stan Getz, Miles Davis, and the Jazz Messengers with Art Blakey. The Washington Post described Silver’s stylistic leanings this way upon his 2014 passing:

When other jazz musicians were becoming more and more esoteric, reaching levels of musical abstraction where few listeners would follow, Mr. Silver remained grounded in the traditions of gospel and the blues. … ‘They got so sophisticated that it seemed like they were afraid to play the blues, like it was demeaning to be funky,’ Mr. Silver told Newsday in 1994, describing his populist musical approach. ‘And I tried to bring that. I didn’t do it consciously at first. But it started to happen.’”

Silver didn’t reimagine the jazz landscape alone. Those who played in his band were part of the new sounds. For Hayes, playing with Silver was an entrée to working subsequently alongside such iconic artists as Cannonball Adderley, Freddie Hubbard, and Oscar Peterson. The list of musicians with whom Hayes has worked is almost surreal and includes John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, Thelonious Monk, Wes Montgomery, and McCoy Tyner, among others. “Look who he’s played with,” Ellington Jazz Series Artistic Director Thomas Duffy said. “Everybody.”

“His oxygen was being breathed by all the greats,” Duffy said. Putting it another way, Duffy asked, “What do all these people have in common?”

Louis Hayes.

Hayes comes to Yale on Friday, November 15, to perform a program called Serenade for Horace, the name of the 2017 album its label, Blue Note Records, described as “his splendid tribute to his mentor and friend.” Hayes told Blue Note that Silver said, “Louis, you are a part of my legacy.”

Of Hayes’ 2017 tribute album, DownBeat said, “Serenade for Horace isn’t just homage paid to a jazz great; it’s also a testament to the vitality of Silver’s songbook.” All About Jazz offered, “(Hayes) brings together a group of seasoned, dedicated musicians to honor Silver, not by imitating or outdoing him, but by playing his music with great fidelity to Silver’s ideas and the hard bop period which he helped to innovate.”

On November 15, Hayes will be joined by tenor saxophonist Abraham Burton, vibraphonist Steve Nelson, pianist Anthony Wonsey, and bassist Dezron Douglas. Burton, Douglas, and Nelson played on Serenade for Horace.

Drummer Louis Hayes’ quintet will perform an Ellington Jazz Series program called Serenade for Horace on Friday, November 15, at 7:30 p.m., in Morse Recital Hall. Free student-rush tickets will be offered at the box office for students in college and K-12 with a valid ID. Tickets will be distributed starting 30 minutes before each concert. One ticket per ID, subject to availability.

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Published November 13, 2019
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Bernarda Fink to perform “kaleidoscope” of favorite works

Bernarda Fink

Mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink was born in Argentina to Slovenian parents. Her world, growing up, was a mix of cultures. Fink’s father often sang songs by Austrian composer Franz Schubert in the house, and Czech composer Antonín Dvořák’s music is “part of my Slavic roots,” Fink said. At the same time, Argentine composer Carlos Guastavino’s work is “mother earth,” a musical home as much as any other.

This semester, Fink’s physical home is here in New Haven. She’s serving as Visiting Lecturer in Voice (a joint appointment with the Yale Institute of Sacred Music) at a time when her career focus is shifting to include more teaching and a bit less performing. “I am in the privileged time,” she said, a career point at which she can share her experiences with younger artists and learn anew from them. “It is amazing how much we can learn from teaching and from knowing different personalities and different young people searching for themselves,” she said. “You rediscover things you know and forgot. It is a beautiful experience.”

While she’s performing less than she has in previous years, Fink remains a fixture on the concert stage, one whom The New York Times has described as “a master of the disarming, deceptive simplicity of the song recital.” On Friday, Fink will perform a program she described as “a kaleidoscope of all my most precious pieces.” The program, with pianist Anthony Spiri, includes music by Schubert, Dvořák, Guastavino, Austrian composer Hugo Wolf, and Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo.

While on paper the program looks long, Fink said it’s on the shorter side, a reflection of her shifting career focus. If there’s one thing Fink wants from an audience it’s “that they come with open hearts.” An artist “has to have empathy for different music types,” she said. The same goes for concertgoers.

Mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink will perform music by Schubert, Wolf, Dvořák, Rodrigo, and Guastavino, with pianist Anthony Spiri, on Friday, Nov. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in Morse Recital Hall. 

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Published November 5, 2019
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Yale Choral Artists to perform all-Brahms program

Tomorrow, the Yale Choral Artists will perform a program that “is intended to showcase Brahms’ mastery of the choral idiom and the incredible emotional range of his choral output,” the group’s founding director, Jeffrey Douma, said, “from the intricate counterpoint of the two a cappella motets Schaffe in mir, Gott and Warum ist das Licht gegeben, to the moving elegy Nänie, a work originally for chorus and full orchestra but performed this weekend in a piano four-hands reduction (a practice common in the era before recorded music).”

“We finish the program,” Douma said, “with the Liebeslieder, one of Brahms’ most popular works during his lifetime, adding a unique dimension by alternating between solo quartets and tutti choir from movement to movement, highlighting the individual character of each of the 18 exquisite miniatures that comprise the set.”

Douma founded the Yale Choral Artists, a professional project-based group, nearly a decade ago. “In recent years in the United States, the emergence of the professional project choir has added an exciting and rich new dimension to the choral landscape,” he said, “and I think it has been important to have that model as part of the range of ensemble singing at Yale.”

Many of the Choral Artists are products of Yale. “Just over half of YCA’s singers for this project are YSM alums from both the voice program and choral conducting program,” Douma, a professor of choral conducting at the Yale School of Music, said. “We also have two Yale College alums in the group this time.”

In addition to solo careers, members of the Choral Artists perform with such ensembles as Chanticleer, Conspirare, the Handel and Haydn Society Chorus, Seraphic Fire, the Trinity Wall Street Choir, and Voices of Ascension, among others. The vocalists’ successes are in large measure a reflection of the potential they brought to and realized during their time at Yale.

“We are fortunate to have some of the best young musicians in the world studying here,” Douma said. “Like all of my colleagues, I am so proud to be able to send them out into the world and am thrilled when we are able to invite them back to compose and perform both for the YSM community and for our broader audiences.”

Founding Director Jeffrey Douma will lead the Yale Choral Artists and faculty pianists Robert Blocker and Melvin Chen in an all-Brahms program on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 7:30 p.m., in Morse Recital Hall. The concert is free and open to the public.

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Published October 25, 2019
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Program notes offer insight into Yale Philharmonia’s Oct. 25 concert repertoire

By Rachel Glodo

On Friday, Oct. 25, guest conductor Ludovic Morlot will lead the Yale Philharmonia in a performance of Debussy’s Prélude à L’après-midi d’un faune, Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto, with Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition winner Jung Eun Kang, and Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony.

Here are the program notes that we’ll share with concertgoers and audiences watching online.

Claude Debussy

Debussy’s Prélude à L’après-midi d’un faune

The plot of Stéphane Mallarmé’s symbolist poem L’Aprés-midi d’un faune (The Afternoon of a Faun) cannot be called action-packed: “Faun awakens. Faun recounts seeing two nymphs. It may or may not have been all a dream.” The poem (translated in part below) is a series of indefinite but connected images that evoke the sensual pastoralism of Greek mythology:

These nymphs I would make last.
So rare
Their rose lightness arches in the air,
Torpid with tufted sleep.
I loved: a dream?

This was precisely the nebulous imagery that most appealed to Claude Debussy, who met Mallarmé in Paris’ salon scene in the 1880s. Like Mallarmé’s work, Debussy’s symphonic poem does not express a clear programmatic narrative. Instead, it uses orchestral and chromatic color to paint contours, suggest hazy images, and invite the listener to join the faun’s dreamworld. Debussy’s faun awakens to a sinuous flute melody, which returns throughout the piece like the nymphs’ elusive forms glimpsed through the trees.

While Debussy’s Prélude was generally well-received at its 1894 premiere, it was not until 1912 that it entered a different type of mythology. Presented by the Ballets Russes with dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky in the title role, the ballet shocked (and delighted) Parisian audiences: Nijinsky’s faun ended his afternoon with an intimate, luxurious orgasm.

Karol Szymanowski

Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 35

For 19th century listeners, a “concerto” meant a composition for a solo instrument and orchestra that highlighted the soloist’s virtuosity and artistry. It typically unfolded in three movements, each movement with its own prototypical patterns. This was, after all, what made concertos fun: everyone knew the “rules,” and it was exciting to see how a composer would play with and bend these rules. The early 20th century saw rules bent to a breaking point. Established norms—from concert attire to musical forms—were challenged and refashioned.

Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto (1916) exemplifies this tension. For example, the concerto is through-composed—that is, it is presented as a single movement. While there are five identifiable sections, one proceeds after another with a restless energy, without pause.

Szymanowski’s musical language fuses 19th century “Romantic” elements—cantabile violin melodies, a lush orchestral palette, and impassioned melodic sighs—with the traumas of the new century: jagged, sometimes wandering solo lines, anxious flutters from the woodwinds, and above all, perhaps, the final ambiguous whispers of the violin. Wistful and ironic, the concerto’s conclusion is reminiscent of T.S. Eliot’s famous line: “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but with a whimper” (1925).

Sergei Prokofiev

Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major, Op. 100

Like many well-known artists, Prokofiev was shuffled around the Soviet Union during the war years, spending time in the northern Caucasus, Tbilisi (Georgia), Alma-Ata (Almaty, Kazakhstan), and Perm (in the Urals) before returning to Moscow in 1943. Though the Second World War still raged, the tide had turned for the Allied forces. In the summer of 1944, Prokofiev departed war-time Moscow for the state-sponsored “Composer’s House” in rural Ivanovo.

Despite the temptation of pastoral beauty and a cohort of fellow composers—including Shostakovich, Khachaturian, and Kabalevsky—Prokofiev maintained a disciplined schedule and produced the piano score of his Fifth Symphony in a single month. (Khachaturian recalled, “The regularity with which he worked amazed us all!”)

The result is a symphonic journey that is simultaneously expansive and tightly designed, suggesting both the shared and private experiences of nations at war. As Prokofiev told Time magazine, a little dryly perhaps, his symphony was “about the spirit of man, his soul or something like that.” Prokofiev conducted the premiere in Moscow on January 13, 1945. As the composer raised his baton, the audience heard a celebratory artillery volley: the Red Army had begun the Vistula-Oder Offensive in Poland, Nazi forces were being pushed westward, and victory was only nine months off.

Rachel Glodo is the Assistant to the Associate Dean at the Yale School of Music. She has a bachelor of arts degree from Yale University and a master of music degree in musicology from Northwestern University.

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Published October 23, 2019
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Recital as reflection: pianist and Dean Robert Blocker tells a story through a concert program

Robert Blocker

Yale School of Music faculty pianist and Dean Robert Blocker was introduced to the music of Bach as an elementary school student in South Carolina, learning from and singing with part-time music teachers in the cafeteria. Today, in spaces created in a demanding administrative schedule, Blocker finds comfort and authenticity at the piano.

Tonight, Blocker will perform a program built on reflection and appreciation. Recounting a trip to Vienna during which he visited Beethoven’s and Schubert’s grave, Blocker lamented the absence of a place where admirers can pay similar respect to Mozart, whose exact burial site in Vienna’s St. Marx Cemeteryis unknown.

Blocker said Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 4 in E-flat major, K. 282, an early sonata that opens tonight’s program, is “one of my very favorites.” He’s performed Mozart’s music frequently, and tonight’s Horowitz Piano Series concert is another opportunity to pay respect to the composer and to share with audiences something of himself.

Perhaps thinking of his own experiences with those part-time music teachers in South Carolina, and about his own grandchildren, Blocker will follow the Mozart with Ravel’s Sonatine, Op. 40 and the fairy-tale based Ma Mère l’Oye (Mother Goose Suite) for piano four-hands. Ravel dedicated the Sonatine to his friends Ida and Cipa Godebski and the suite to their piano-playing children, Mimie and Jean. Faculty pianist Wei-Yi Yang will perform the second piano part, and faculty composer Martin Bresnick will read the text that accompanies the music. Programming Ma Mère l’Oye, Blocker said, was in part a reflection on what stories and sound can mean to a child.

Brahms composed his Liebeslieder Waltzes, Op. 52 for voices and piano four-hands. Tonight, Blocker will perform the composer’s arrangement for piano four-hands without voices (Op. 52a) with faculty pianist Melvin Chen. Blocker described the love-song waltzes as “incredibly joyful pieces” and said, “Without text you can take more liberties with how you want to express your music.” Brahms’ friend Clara Schumann described the pieces as “exceptionally fetching and delightful, even without the vocal parts,” according to notes in Blocker’s piano score.

Tying Blocker’s childhood to his place at the School of Music is a grouping of music that starts with and pays homage to Bach. “I’ve always loved the music of Bach,” Blocker said, “and I’m continually reminded of how adaptable it is.” He’ll perform “Wachet Auf, ruft uns die Stimme,” the opening chorus from Bach’s cantata of the same name, Busoni’s arrangement of the music (which Bach based on a hymn by Philipp Nicolai). and faculty composer Christopher Theofanidis’ Wake Up, Called the Voice, a piece that borrows from and reimagines “Wachet Auf” and was written for and premiered by Blocker in 2016. Blocker will close his recital program with a performance of the Modern Jazz Quartet’s “Rise Up in the Morning,” an arrangement of Wachet Auf, with percussionist Jisu Jung ’19MM ’20AD. “I was a devotee of (MJQ’s) music-making in the ’70s. What they did with Bach was just magical,” Blocker said.

It’s a program that reflects on youth, on the music that has informed Blocker’s life and work, and on the friends here at the School whom he considers family. Join us tonight in Morse Recital Hall or watch and listen to the performance online.

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Published October 2, 2019
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Brentano String Quartet to perform Martin Bresnick’s “The Planet on the Table”

Brentano String Quartet

The Brentano String Quartet, left to right: violinist Serena Canin, cellist Nina Lee, violinist Mark Steinberg, and violist Misha Amory. Photo by Ian Christmann

Faculty composer Martin Bresnick’s String Quartet No. 4 was inspired—instigated is perhaps a better word—by the poetry of Wallace Stevens, including The Planet on the Table. “In this string quartet, also entitled The Planet on the Table, my planet is made of the music and sounds of a remembered time or of something heard that I liked,” Bresnick explains, borrowing from and sharing the first stanza of the title poem’s text:

Ariel was glad he had written his poems,
They were of a remembered time
Or of something seen that he liked.

“The quartet has five movements, each headed by a quotation from one of Stevens’ poems as a point of departure or pathway into those remembered sounds and music,” Bresnick explains.

In The Planet on the Table, “Stevens … speaks through the character of Ariel from The Tempest,” Brentano String Quartet violinist Mark Steinberg writes in his program notes. “Martin Bresnick’s quartet is a ‘musical meditation’ on this poem, on the transformational value of art, the power of the creative act.” The piece was commissioned for the Brentano String Quartet and received its premiere in March.

Martin Bresnick. Photo by Nina Roberts

Bresnick tells us: “Stevens wrote [that] it was not important that his poetry survive, which is also true of my work.” Stevens’ poetry did survive, of course, as it was read and shared, just as Beethoven’s music has survived through performance and as Bresnick’s work will through the musicians, organizations, and audiences with whom it resonates.

The Brentano String Quartet, the Yale School of Music’s ensemble-in-residence, will perform The Planet on the Table on a September 24 Oneppo Chamber Music Series program that also includes Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132. The program will also feature readings of Stevens’ work by the poet (by way of a recording) and by writer and editor Christian Wiman, who teaches at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and the Yale Divinity School. During the Beethoven, lines of text from Steven’s poems will be projected above the stage.

Just as Bresnick has found inspiration in the work of Wallace Stevens, among others, Stevens, as countless artists have before and since, felt connected to Beethoven’s music. Thus the pairing on this concert program of The Planet on the Table with Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15. It’s a program that explores “the power of the creative act,” as Steinberg describes the artistic process—the reach, across time and discipline, of inspiration. Countless artists have lit fires under countless others. Here, the Brentano String Quartet presents three who are connected by, and connect us to, the “transformational value of art.”

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Published September 24, 2019
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Sofya Gulyak opens 2019-2020 Horowitz Piano Series

Sofya Gulyak

The 2019-2020 Horowitz Piano Series will introduce audiences to a number of ascendant artists, beginning with Sofya Gulyak, who opens the series with a recital on September 18. “This wonderful pianist became noticed through her winning of important competitions, most notably the Leeds International competition in 2009, when she became the first woman ever to take the first prize at this prestigious event,” series Artistic Director Boris Berman said.

Gulyak has appeared in recitals and concerts around the world and has performed as a soloist with such ensembles as the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. Gulyak’s performances and recital programs have been praised by the international music press. Her eagerly anticipated recital at YSM features a number of fascinating transcriptions. Gulyak’s program opens with Ferruccio Busoni’s virtuosic rendering of Bach’s famous Chaconne from the Violin Partita No. 2 in D minor and closes with Liszt’s transcription of the climactic “Liebestod” from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde and Ravel’s La Valse, the composer’s own transcription of his orchestral masterpiece. Brahms’ Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, a monumental composition that uses an unassuming movement from a suite by Handel as a point of departure, is also on the program, as is Cesar Franck’s Prélude, Fugue et Variation, a significant triptych dedicated by the composer to his teacher Camille Saint-Saëns.

In March, Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung will present a two-piano and piano four-hands program of music by Debussy, Stravinsky, Poulenc, and Lutosławski. The husband-wife duo has been praised by Gramophone for “[applying] their effortless synchronicity to unlocking the music’s pianistic potential.”

This year’s Horowitz Piano Series also introduces audiences to Boris Slutsky, YSM’s new Visiting Professor in the Practice of Piano, to the Morse Recital Hall stage. A “distinguished artist,” in Berman’s estimation, Slutsky will perform music by Haydn, Schumann, and Chopin in December. Slutsky joins faculty pianists Berman, Robert Blocker, Hung-Kuan Chen, Melvin Chen, and Wei-Yi Yang in presenting recitals during the 2019-2020 season.

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Published September 4, 2019
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Yale Choral Artists to perform at International Festival of Arts & Ideas

Yale Choral Artists

The Yale Choral Artists, led by founding Director Jeffrey Douma, will perform music by Yale composers on Friday as part of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas. The program will feature works by Yale School of Music faculty composers Aaron Jay Kernis ’83MM and Christopher Theofanidis ’94MMA ’97DMA, former faculty composer Ingram Marshall, and alumni composers Caroline Shaw ’07MM and Michael Gilbertson ’13MM ’21DMA.

“Much of the Choral Artists’ work is devoted to new music, and after our last project featuring the music of Heinrich Schütz and Herbert Howells, we wanted to delve again into some newer works,” Douma said. “It’s an understatement to say that we have an abundance of riches here at the Yale School of Music—some of the most exciting composers in the world have studied, taught, and made music here in our own community, and many have made important and innovative contributions to the choral repertoire. The works we (will) perform on Friday are … beautiful and highly evocative: the cascade of voices in Ingram Marshall’s Hymnodic Delays, Aaron Kernis’ virtuosic Ecstatic Meditations, Caroline Shaw’s intimate and heartfelt and the swallow, Michael Gilbertson’s elegant and beautifully crafted Three Madrigals After Dowland, and Chris Theofanidis’ brilliant setting of the (musically inspired) poetry of Denise Levertov for violin and a cappella choir.”

Douma, who also serves as Professor of Choral Conducting at the School of Music and Director of the Yale Glee Club, founded the Yale Choral Artists, a project-based professional ensemble, in 2011 to “enhance and enrich Yale’s strong commitment to the choral arts.” Members of the Choral Artists perform in the United States and around the world with such organizations as Chanticleer, Conspirare, the Handel and Haydn Society Chorus, Seraphic Fire, the Trinity Wall Street Choir, Voices of Ascension, and others.

The Yale Choral Artists will perform on Friday, June 21, at 8 p.m., in Morse Recital Hall.

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Published June 20, 2019
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A Menotti opera, from radio to the stage

Gian Carlo Menotti

On May 3 and 4, Yale Opera will stage Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief as part of a double bill in Morse Recital Hall. Menotti, who emigrated from Italy to the United States as a teenager in the 1920s, was among the first great composers of American opera. His operas, which set English libretti in a compositional style appealing to popular taste, found popularity across wide audiences. Many of his operas were produced to great acclaim on the Broadway stage. In addition to successful stage productions, Menotti was a pioneer of using the technology of the day to present his work. He is perhaps most famous for his Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, whose 1951 premiere introduced audiences to the first opera composed specifically for television. But even before the rise of televised operas, Menotti burst onto the popular operatic scene with The Old Maid and the Thief, composed at the height of popularity of the radio opera. In the late 1930s, having finished his studies at The Curtis Institute of Music and on the heels of the success of his first opera, Amelia al Ballo, Menotti was approached by NBC to compose an opera to be broadcast on the radio. The Old Maid and the Thief premiered on April 22, 1939, and was so well received by radio audiences that Menotti adapted it for the stage two years later.

The opera, a performance of which lasts about an hour, is organized in 14 short scenes. It has only four roles: Miss Todd, the spinster or old maid (mezzo-soprano); Laetitia, Miss Todd’s maid (soprano); Bob, the mysterious traveler (baritone); and Miss Pinkerton, Miss Todd’s gossipy neighbor (soprano). The plot explores the ambiguous morals and suspicious activity behind the seemingly sweet façade of a sleepy, small town. Menotti says, in the libretto, “The devil couldn’t do what a woman can—make a thief out of an honest man.”

Menotti (1911-2007) was an Italian-American composer and librettist. He is most well known for his numerous operas, for which he wrote his own libretti. He won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for his 1950 opera The Consul, and another for his 1955 opera The Saint of Bleecker Street. Menotti founded the Spoleto festivals in Spoleto, Italy, and in Charleston, South Carolina. His longtime romantic and professional partner was American composer Samuel Barber (1910-1981).

Yale Opera’s spring production pairs a fully staged version of Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief with Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol, directed by Dustin Wills, with music direction by Douglas Dickson and Timothy Shaindlin. Performed with piano accompaniment in the intimate Morse Recital Hall, this double bill showcases the ascendant young artists in the Yale Opera program.

Yale Opera presents Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief and Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol on May 3 & 4, at 7:30 p.m., in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Memorial Hall. 

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Published April 29, 2019
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Jungah Yoon ’19MM, on performing Reinecke’s Flute Concerto

Jungah Yoon

On April 26, flutist and Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition winner Jungah Yoon ’19MM will perform Carl Reinecke’s Flute Concerto in D Major, Op. 283, with Principal Conductor Peter Oundjian and the Yale Philharmonia. We spoke with Yoon about the challenges and rewards of performing such an important part of the flute repertoire.

Q: Why did you choose the Reinecke Flute Concerto as your competition piece?

A: The Reinecke Flute Concerto is unique in being the only flute concerto of the Romantic era, and many audience members will get to experience it for the first time. I feel a strong connection to this piece and believe that many aspects of it relate to my own life and personal experiences. When I perform this piece, I hope to share my story. I chose this piece especially because of the second movement, which is extremely nostalgic and heart-wrenching. Throughout the concerto, there are many passages of dialogue between the different voices—for example, between the solo flute, trumpet, and clarinet in the first movement, and a wonderful cantilena with the cello in the slow movement (or with the timpani, which features the same rhythm as the cello’s pizzicato passages). This rhythm sounds like a beating heart, or perhaps recalls a funeral march. The work encompasses a wide expressive scope, and it is an outstanding piece for the flute.

Q: Reinecke was a contemporary of Brahms and conducted several premieres of Brahms’ works. Do you hear the influence of this relationship in Reinecke’s Flute Concerto?

A: The Flute Concerto was written in 1908, and a key element to understanding the music is to consider its Romantic idiom, an old-fashioned style for its day. The work is rooted in the early 19th century language of Mendelssohn and Schumann, with whom Reinecke studied after settling in Leipzig in 1843, in stark contrast to the style and texture of some exemplary works composed during the same period—for example, Stravinsky’s Firebird (1910) and Petrushka (1911) ballets. Reinecke’s concerto shows him at his best and provides a milder taste of the early 20th century.

The work is in three movements, all rather different in character. The opening Allegro molto moderato is the most symphonic of the three and reflects the influence of Brahms. The first measures seem to emerge and join in on an already existing thought. The slow movement, Lento e mesto (“slow and sad”), is in the style of a bel canto aria, recalling Bellini, or the young Donizetti. The orchestra recedes to an accompanimental role, clearly giving front stage to the flute-as-protagonist, who sings mournfully in B minor. The finale is more upbeat than its Moderato marking might suggest. Reinecke’s keyboard influences are apparent in the overall texture, in which melody and accompaniment are clearly delineated yet rhythmically and gesturally interwoven.

Q: What have been the challenges of preparing and performing this concerto?

A: Personally, the most important aspect of my preparation is feeling that I truly know the work inside and out. Although the process is different for every performance of it, and new challenges arise, I always try to place focus on shaping the various lines, feeling comfortable with the technical elements, and, above all, sharing an expressive story with the audience.

The Romantic language of the Reinecke Flute Concerto has a lot to offer in terms of the expressive writing in the strings and the many colors in the winds and brass. The most challenging aspect of performing this piece is to project above and amid these textures, not just in the literal sense of projecting into the concert hall, but also the deeper manner of projecting my story and emotions to the audience. In this spirit, I hope to connect with the audience in a meaningful way.

Q: In what ways does your mindset change when you’re a soloist?

A: I have come to think about my sound more than I used to in the past. Playing with a big ensemble means that I have to project through the texture even in the softest dynamics, and that my sound needs to be clean and focused. Therefore, it requires a lot more energy compared to when I am playing solo, and I need to be aware of the balance and interaction as a soloist with the many textures and instruments of the orchestra.

Q: What are your thoughts on working with Principal Conductor Peter Oundjian, and on performing as a soloist with an orchestra of your peers?

A: I had the experience of working with Maestro Oundjian earlier this year, when we performed selections from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, as well as Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11, for which I was principal flute. I was inspired by his expressive approach and flexibility, always engaging the orchestra to actively listen better. His passion carries through to the vibe of the orchestra and encourages us all to keep an open mind to music-making. I feel grateful for the opportunity to work with Maestro Oundjian again, and to play with the Yale Philharmonia.

This experience is so meaningful to me, especially since it is my first time playing as a soloist with an orchestra. I am so happy to share the stage with my wonderful colleagues and beautiful musicians, who are so supportive and always give me positive energy. Coming to Yale was my first time studying abroad, and this enriching community of peers made me feel comfortable and at home. I look forward to playing with them and am excited for the concert!

Principal Conductor Peter Oundjian leads the Yale Philharmonia in a season-ending performance of Brahms’ First Symphony on a program that also includes Reinecke’s Flute Concerto in D major, with Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition winner Jungah Yoon ’19MM, and Joan Tower’s Made in America, on Friday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m., in Woolsey Hall.

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Published April 12, 2019
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