Paganini dismissed early sketches of Hector Berlioz's Harold in Italy as unsuitable for the celebrated virtuoso. After hearing the final work years later, he pulled the composer on stage and knelt before him in front of a cheering audience. On a program with your DSO Principal musicians as featured soloists, Eric Nowlin performs the music depicting the melancholy traveler Harold, and Wei Yu returns as a soloist for Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto.
Saturday, October 21
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Loren Loiacono (b. 1989)
♪ Smothered by Sky (2017) (World premiere)
Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
♪ Cello Concerto in E minor, Op.85 (1919)
i. Adagio – Moderato
ii. Lento – Allegro molto
iv. Allegro – Moderato – Allegro, ma non troppo – Poco più lento – Adagio
Wei Yu, cello
Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)
♪ Harold en Italie / Harold in Italy, H.68 / Op.16 (1834)
i. Harold aux montagnes, Scènes de mélancolie, de bonheur et de joie
ii. Marche de pèlerins chantant la prière du soir
iii. Sérénade d'un montagnard des Abruzzes à sa maîtresse
iv. Orgie de brigands. Souvenirs des scènes précédentes
Eric Nowlin, viola
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Leonard Slatkin
Live from Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit
Saturday, October 21, 2017, 08:00 PM EDT (UTC-4) / Sunday, October 22, 2017, 03:00 AM EEST (UTC+3)
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Eric Nowlin (Principal Viola, Julie and Ed Levy, Jr. Chair, DSO member since 2016)
Eric Nowlin began his time with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as Principal Violist with the 2016-2017 season. He has performed extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Eric has been described by the Springfield (MO) News-Leader as "having a full, warm tone, expressive phrasing, and effortless technical command" and by the Santa Cruz Sentinel as "displaying the remarkable capabilities of the viola, with a rich tone and sensitive interpretive skills".
Past accomplishments include second prize in the 2006 Walter W. Naumburg competition; first prize in the 2003 Irving Klein International String Competition; first prize in the 2002 Hellam Young Artists Competition; grand prize in the 2001 Naftzger Young Artists Competition; and winner of the 2001 Juilliard Viola Concerto Competition.
Eric previously served as Associate Principal Viola in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and is a member of the New Orford String Quartet. Hailed by CBC as "Canada's top string quartet", the New Orford String Quartet has won several Opus awards, and was nominated for a Juno award in 2012. The quartet has recorded for Bridge records, Naxos Canada, and can be seen in a series of videos produced by CBC playing quartets by Beethoven, Brahms, and Haydn. The New Orford Quartet has recently had successful debuts in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Chicago, and Dallas, and performs throughout Canada and the United States on a yearly basis.
Eric's performances have included solo engagements with the Juilliard Orchestra, Springfield Symphony in Missouri, Santa Cruz Symphony, Peninsula Symphony, and the Kumamoto Symphony in Japan, as well as recitals in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, and Mexico. He has been featured as soloist or chamber musician on radio on NPR, CBC, WQXR in New York, WGBH in Boston, WFMT in Chicago, and on television programs in Wisconsin and California. He has participated in festivals such as the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont and the Steans Institute for Young Artists at Ravinia. Previous chamber music appearances include performances with the Jupiter Chamber Players in New York City, plus tours with Musicians from Marlboro and Musicians from Ravinia's Steans Institute.
Eric has served as a guest principal with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Cleveland's Citymusic, and New York City's Metropolis Ensemble; and played as an extra with the New York Philharmonic from 2005-2008.
In addition to solo, chamber music, and orchestral performances, Eric enjoys teaching at a variety of institutions. He is an Assistant Professor of Viola at the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, and has taught at the Phil and Eli Taylor Academy at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He spends time during the summer months teaching at the Orford Arts Centre in Quebec, as well as several other festivals in Canada.
Eric was chosen as the recipient of a Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation Grant in 2004 – an award intended for the advancement of young artist's performance careers. He received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from The Juilliard School, as a scholarship student of Samuel Rhodes.
Eric plays on a Neapolitan viola from 1910 made by Giovanni Pistucci.
Wei Yu (Principal Cello, James C. Gordon Chair, DSO member since 2015)
Wei Yu was recently appointed Principal Cello, the James C. Gordon Chair, of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He made his subscription debut performing Dvorak's Cello Concerto. Before joining the DSO, Wei was a member of the New York Philharmonic for seven seasons.
Wei was a prizewinner at the Hudson Valley Philharmonic String, Holland American Music Society Cello, Music Teacher National Association (MTNA National Collegiate Strings), Canada's National Music Festival, Calgary's Kiwanis Festival and China's National Cello competitions.
An avid chamber musician, Wei has been invited to the Marlboro and Ravinia music festivals, and has recently collaborated with musicians such as cellist David Soyer, pianists Richard Goode and Menahem Pressler, violinists Midori and Pinchas Zukerman, and members of the Guarneri and Juilliard Quartets. As a member of the New York Philharmonic Ensembles, he makes regular appearances at Merkin Concert Hall.
In the summers of 1998 through 2000, Wei participated in the Morningside Music Bridge program at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. He subsequently enrolled in the University's Gifted Youth program under the tutelage of John Kadz and is currently on the faculty of the Morningside Music Bridge program. He has given cello master classes at universities and festivals in the United States, Canada and China.
Born in Shanghai, China, Wei began studying the cello at age 4 and made his concerto debut at age 11, performing Elgar's Cello Concerto with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. He received his B.M. from North Park University in Chicago and M.M. from the Juilliard School. His principal teachers include Mei-Juan Liu, John Kadz, Hans Jørgen Jensen, and David Soyer. He performs on the 1778 "Ex-Soyer" Gagliano cello, on generous loan from the Marlboro Music Festival.
Edward Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op.85
Edward Elgar's Concerto for cello and orchestra in E minor, from the year 1919, is the last major work the composer penned (a Third Symphony remained in draft form at his death in 1934). While the instrumental forces remain basically equivalent to those used in the Violin Concerto, Elgar has amplified the tender, searching intimacy of that earlier work to such a degree that one might call the Cello Concerto not just introspective but searing and almost ascetic. It is an exceedingly complex but immediately touching work that makes a fitting epilogue to Elgar's lifetime in music.
The Concerto is poured into a four-movement mold, yet still takes only about half an hour to perform – far less than any of Elgar's other large instrumental works. This restraint is mirrored by remarkably transparent orchestration. The work begins with four bars of solo cello recitative that firmly outline the home key of E minor. The subsequent Moderato entrance of the orchestra offers little immediate support for that key, really winding down to the tonic only after six bars of restless 9/8 melody built on a single rhythmic cell. During the 12/8 middle section Elgar makes good use of the contrast between E minor and E major. A recapitulation of the opening is made, but soon enough the movement has dissolved into a handful of uncertain pizzicati.
Elgar brings back the opening recitative, much altered (and buoyantly beginning where the first movement's pizzicati left off), to begin the following Scherzo. After twice pleading with the orchestra to join its cause, the cello finally rouses the group into an eighth note driven perpetual motion (Allegro molto). Elgar paints a miniature portrait of his own very characteristic lyric style in the relatively brief E flat major second theme.
A wonderful melody in B flat major is sung by the soloist throughout the Adagio third movement. Here Elgar's indebtedness to Schumann, the slow movement of whose own cello concerto also employs this song without words approach, is clearly evident. The life span of this one melodic strand is a bare 60 bars, yet it conveys deeper passion than do five times that many bars of the composer's earlier music. The movement ends on the dominant, paving the way for an attacca opening of the Finale.
After initially falling in with the B flat major of the Adagio, the Finale makes an eight-bar move back to its rightful E minor tonal center. The main idea of the movement (marked, like so many of the composer's favorite thoughts, "nobilmente") is given out first by the soloist in half-recitative and then, after a rude tutti interruption and a brief pause, by the entire ensemble, Allegro non troppo. A second theme recalls both the G major tonality and the impish sentiment of the Scherzo movement. As the Finale draws near its finish, Elgar undertakes an extended and very moving reminiscence: first on the melody of the Adagio movement and then reaching back to the recitative that began the entire half-hour journey. Two terse chords re-energize the movement's fast-twitch muscle fiber, and 16 bars later the curtain comes down.
Source: Blair Johnston (allmusic.com)
Hector Berlioz: Harold en Italie / Harold in Italy, H.68 / Op.16
Though the work was originally intended as a vehicle for the virtuoso violinist Nicolo Paganini to exhibit his considerable skill on the viola, Berlioz's Harold in Italy (1834) eventually became a four-movement symphony which Paganini, who wanted to be "playing all the time", eventually declined to perform. Somewhat akin to the Symphonie fantastique (1830) in its quasi-autobiographical cast and employment of a unifying idée fixe, Harold finds Berlioz imagining himself in the role of Byron's Harold for the purpose of recounting his own experiences in Italy.
The first movement, entitled "Harold in the Mountains", outlines a progression from melancholy into happiness and ultimately, into joy. The sobering fugato which opens the movement soon gives way to an uncertain melody in the woodwinds, which blossoms until the viola presents it in full as Harold's theme, the idée fixe. The movement continues its ascent into joy with an effervescent, unrelenting allegro which eases up only to allow the viola to restate the idée fixe, now fitted into another fugato, before the accelerating momentum brings the movement to an end.
Like Mendelssohn, Berlioz made the second movement of his "Italian" symphony a "Pilgrim's March". Essentially restricted to a strophic march structure, the movement is notable for its daring modulations, each marked by the tolling of two bells. The viola enters again in the middle section, lyrically presenting the idée fixe in the periphery of the passing march before taking on an accompanying role as the procession moves off into the distance.
The third movement, "Serenade of an Abruzzi Mountaineer", begins with an accurate replication of Italian bagpipes, or piferari. The rustic affect is made complete with the introduction of the serenade's main melody by the English horn. The viola restates the melody in conjunction with the idée fixe, and the movement develops as Berlioz expounds upon the counterpoint between the two melodies. A somewhat resigned coda, comprising all three elements, ends the movement on a misleadingly peaceful tone.
"The Orgy of Brigands", as the finale is titled, opens with the viola revisiting several thematic ideas from prior movements before it is unceremoniously interrupted by the brash, rhythmic power of the orgy itself. Following this brass-fueled, slightly demented fury, the viola briefly returns with the "Pilgrim's March" and a final statement of Harold's theme as the composer's nostalgic reminiscence comes to a close.
Source: Graham Olson (allmusic.com)
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