Ignat Solzhenitsyn, on “Firebird” and working with young musicians

Ignat Solzhenitsyn

Principal conductor Peter Oundjian has said that guest conductor Ignat Solzhenitsyn, who’ll lead the Yale Philharmonia in a performance of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (1919 version, from the composer’s ballet score) on Friday, Jan. 26, “particularly wanted to do this piece with our students.” Solzhenitsyn recently pointed out that it’s “one of the very, very greatest orchestral paintings in our repertoire and a piece that, of course, is predicated upon the limitlessness of imagination.” Imagination, Solzhenitsyn said, is most fertile and open to influence during one’s youth. The Firebird Suite “is really a piece that, more than anything, is for young people,” he said. “It will showcase the Yale Philharmonia to beautiful effect.” The orchestra, in turn, will provide a capable vehicle for the stuff of Stravinsky’s imagination — and for the Russian legend that the composer explored — which will no doubt inspire the Woolsey Hall audience, just as it has long captivated audiences around the world.

With Solzhenitsyn, who serves as principal guest conductor of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and conductor laureate of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Yale Philharmonia will also perform Paganini’s Sonata per la Grand Viola, with 2017 Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition winner Josip Kvetek ’18MM, and Franck’s Symphony in D minor. Kvetek recently said that the Paganini is “not standard repertoire for the viola,” and that while it’s “very simple, harmonically and melodically,” it’s not a piece that on its own tells “one coherent story.”

“The part that helps with that,” Kvetek said, “is it’s very operatic.” Kvetek “nailed it,” Solzhenitsyn agreed, saying the Paganini is a show piece, one that’s very difficult for the soloist. What makes it fun, Solzhenitsyn said, is the very notion that Paganini, a virtuoso violinist, produced such a piece for the viola. “Charm, wit, teasing, easy grace — those kind of words inform this work,” he said.

Asked about the Franck being a piece that’s gone in and out of favor with orchestras, Solzhenitsyn bristled. “It’s a concept I still have trouble wrapping my head around,” he said, pointing to the obvious fact that “the intrinsic worth of ‘X’ has nothing to do with if it’s popular or not, or has very little to do with it.” He’s among those who don’t understand why the Franck symphony is not performed more frequently, give that it is, undeniably, a “touchstone of the Romantic symphonic repertoire.”

“The beauty, the power, the innocence, the honesty of this music, I think, speaks for itself,” Solzhenitsyn said.

Seeing Solzhenitsyn on the podium will be a new experience for members of the Philharmonia. And working with Yale students, for Solzhenitsyn, will present a different opportunity than the experiences he’s had leading ensembles of more seasoned musicians. A collective sense of wonder and discovery that is at times diminished in a professional ensemble, he said, is right there, in all its glory, for everyone to see in a young ensemble.

On Friday, Jan. 26, guest conductor Ignat Solzhenitsyn leads the Yale Philharmonia in a program that includes Stravinsky’s spellbinding Firebird Suite (1919 version), Paganini’s Sonata per la Grand Viola, with 2017 Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition winner Josip Kvetek ’18MM, and Franck’s inventive and affecting Symphony in D minor.

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Published January 17, 2018
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New videos: John Adams conducts the Yale Philharmonia

Phil-Adams_0136-webComposer and conductor John Adams visited the Yale School of Music in October 2014. His weeklong residency culminated in two concerts featuring Adams conducting the Yale Philharmonia. Each concert featured Adams’ own music alongside works by Stravinsky and Beethoven.

The program included Adams’ Beethoven-inspired piece Absolute Jest, performed alongside Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 and Stravinsky’s Orpheus. A concerto for string quartet and orchestra, Absolute Jest also featured the Brentano String Quartet in its debut year as YSM’s quartet-in-residence. MORE

Published March 18, 2015
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Yale School of Music, Yale School of Drama present Stravinsky’s ‘Soldier’s Tale’

cerverisNew Haven Register
By Joe Amarante

NEW HAVEN » Igor Stravinsky’s darkly comic “The Soldier’s Tale” is a real standard, says David Shifrin, artistic director of Yale in New York concert series. But a new version, to be performed Tuesday at Yale’s Morse Recital Hall and April 6 at Carnegie Hall, promises to be something pretty special.

“It’s very rarely done in the way that reflects its original traveling, theatrical, musical troupe beginnings,” Shifrin said in a phone chat Tuesday from a Vancouver, B.C., hotel room where he was on a Lincoln Center tour. “I’ve played this so many times in my career, but never in a production with this kind of depth.” MORE

Published March 28, 2014
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New Music World: Igor Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale (L’histoire du Soldat)

stravinskyansermet_700New Music World

The Yale School of Music and Yale School of Drama collaborated in creating this new production of Stravinsky’s 1918 masterpiece. They re-envisioned the playfully rhyming poetry of the libretto and the colliding and combining in the movement and dance from ballet to hip hop.

Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale (L’histoire du Soldat) was written in response to the events of World War I. It was premiered in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1918, conducted by Ernest Ansermet. Marking one hundred years since the outbreak of the war, the Yale Schools of Music and Drama bring a fresh perspective to the work with a lively new translation by Liz Diamond, OBIE Award winning Resident Director at Yale Repertory Theatre and Chair of the Directing Department at Yale School of Drama. Diamond will also stage the production.

This production also marks one of the largest collaborations between the Yale School of Music and Yale School of Drama. It brings together School of Music faculty and student musicians with the School of Drama faculty, student, and alumni designers, actors, and technicians.

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Published March 13, 2014
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POSTPONED: Violinist Sarita Kwok and pianist Wei-Yi Yang perform on Faculty Artist Series Feb. 3

Sarita KwokNOTE: This event has been postponed because of weather. It has been rescheduled for Sunday, March 2 at 8 pm.

The Yale School of Music’s Faculty Artist Series presents a recital by violinist Sarita Kwok and pianist Wei-Yi Yang on Monday, February 3rd at 8 pm. Kwok and Yang will perform selections by Janáček, Stravinksy, Prokofiev, and Ravel. The concert takes place in Morse Recital Hall, located in Sprague Hall at 470 College Street.

The concert will open with Janáček’s Sonata for violin and piano. Fittingly, in Frankfurt, Germany in 1923, Yale professor and composer Paul Hindemith was the first violinist ever to perform the piece. Next in the program will be Stravinsky’s neoclassical Duo Concertante.

The second half of the recital opens with Prokofiev’s Five Melodies for violin and piano, Op. 35b, composed for the Parisian chamber music society Triton. The evening concludes with Ravel’s Sonata for violin and piano. Stylistically very different from the composer’s earlier efforts, the sonata shows influences of Satie and Stravinsky, as well as a dose of American jazz.

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Published January 29, 2014
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New Haven Independent: “Rite” On Time

New Haven Independent
By Robert Heltzl

Spring brings with it birth, creation, change, and a sense of renewal. In Igor Stravinsky’s legendary work, “Rite of Spring,” all such sentiments are undoubtedly present, but his creation is accompanied with the sublime horror and forceful sense of composition that only a master artist can summon. When it debuted in Paris 100 years ago, the piece spawned a riot, to boot.

What a pleasure then that our city could behold RiteNow: A Centennial Celebration of Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”, a powerful tribute in which eight modern composers rendered the original piece in new form, with conducting by the graceful virtuoso Paolo Bartolameolli, the same man who commissioned this updated wonder to begin with. MORE

Published November 19, 2013
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NH Register: 8 composers’ take on Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ in Yale’s Woolsey Hall

New Haven Register

By Donna Doherty

NEW HAVEN >> One hundred years ago, the riot in the streets that greeted the Paris premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” ushered in a work now considered to be one of the most important pieces of 20th-century music.

It’s safe to say that there won’t be any rioting outside Woolsey Hall on Nov. 17 at 8 p.m., when the 85-member Zephyrus Project Orchestra pays tribute to the work with its only performance of “RiteNow: A Centennial Celebration of Igor Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring.’” Admission is free. MORE

Published November 12, 2013
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Yale in New York announces 2013–14 season

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Hindemith on the steps of Sprague Hall

The Yale School of Music announces its return to Carnegie Hall with the 2013–14 season of Yale in New York. The series—now in its seventh year at Carnegie—has garnered a reputation for its creative and diverse programming, with frequent collaborations between Yale’s distinguished faculty and its exceptional network of current students and alumni.

This season, two concerts focus on musical icons of the 20th century: The Legacy of Paul Hindemith on Friday, November 22, 2013 at 7:30 pm; and a fully staged original production and translation of Igor Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale, in collaboration with Yale School of Drama on Sunday, April 6, 2014 at 7:30 pm. Both events take place in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall. MORE

Published October 17, 2013
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Stravinsky centennial project receives funding

Yale Daily News
By Adam Varner, staff reporter

One hundred years after its controversial premiere, “The Rite of Spring” by Igor Stravinsky continues to be an inspiration to musicians, composers and conductors alike.

The RiteNow Project, a collaborative orchestral work commissioned and led by conductor Paolo Bortolameolli MUS ’13, raised over $10,000 through a 28-day Kickstarter campaign that ended on Aug. 31. The project features the work of eight composers, each of whom has written a “Rite of Spring”-inspired piece to commemorate the centennial of Stravinsky’s original composition. The pieces will be combined into one work, which will be performed at Woolsey Hall on Nov. 17. MORE

Published September 4, 2013
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Yale Philharmonia opens its 2013–14 season Sep. 20

This post was updated 9/8/2013 with a change of program.

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Yale Philharmonia with Shinik Hahm, conductor

The Philharmonia Orchestra of Yale opens its 2013–14 season with a concert of music by Stravinsky, Beethoven, and Wagner on Friday, September 20. Shinik Hahm will conduct the concert, which also features faculty pianist Boris Berman. The concert takes place at 8 pm in Woolsey Hall and is free and open to the public.

Wagner’s tempestuous Overture to The Flying Dutchman opens the concert, followed by Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, with piano soloist Boris Berman. MORE

Published September 3, 2013
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