Prokofiev Overture on Hebrew Themes, Op. 34
Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2 in g, Op. 63
Dvořák Excerpts from Cypresses for String Quartet
Dvořák Symphony No. 7 in d, Op. 70, B. 141
Inspired by the folk music in their homelands, Dvořák and Prokofiev each drew on folk music in many of their compositions, sometimes for intimate expression and at other times for high drama. This program presents The Knights in both small and large groups within the same concert with surprising contrasts of intimate expression from the full ensemble and dramatic intensity from a chamber group—a hallmark of the depth of artistry in the classical genre. Joining them is the great violinist Gil Shaham, an engaging performer known for his athleticism, emotional delivery and musicianship.
2:00pm – 3:00pm FUN! Family Activities: Music Conservatory of Westchester faculty and students will be scattered around the Caramoor grounds demonstrating different musical styles. Learn how to play the drums, accompany a clarinet trio, and get up close and personal with the violin!
2:15pm MORE FUN! I Spy Tour of the Rosen House (child friendly; sign up required)
2:15pm–3:45pm SPECIAL FUN! Roll with Sisyphus 2.0 (Friends’ Field)
2:00pm–3:00pm FUN! Music demonstrations with Music Conservatory of Westchester / Not Just for Kids!
Woodwinds in the North Gate Circle (North Gate Circle)
Sunken Garden Jazz (Sunken Gardens)
Strings Under the Tent (Center Walk Tent)
2:45pm ENLIGHTENING! Rosen House Tour (Space on this tour is limited. Please sign up online or at the Welcome Tent when you arrive at Caramoor.)
3:00pm FUN! I Spy Tour of the Rosen House (child friendly; sign up required)
4:00pm MUSIC!The Knights and Gil Shaham
The Knights are an orchestral collective, flexible in size and repertory, dedicated to transforming the concert experience. Engaging listeners and defying boundaries with programs that showcase the players’ roots in the classical tradition and passion for musical discovery, The Knights have, as the New Yorker observes, “become one of Brooklyn’s sterling cultural products, [and] are known far beyond the borough for their relaxed virtuosity and expansive repertory.”
After a summer residency at the Ojai Music Festival, return appearances at both the Ravinia Festival with Yo-Yo Ma and Dawn Upshaw and Central Park’s free Naumburg Orchestral Concerts, and a Tanglewood debut, The Knights kick off the 2014-15 season in September with a performance at Brooklyn’s Roulette, the first of a series of New York City residencies to be undertaken by the ensemble over the next three seasons with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. These residencies will further the orchestra’s mission to transform the concert experience and engage new audiences at home in New York.
Other season highlights include the Caramoor Fall Festival, where The Knights serve as curators and give three performances featuring saxophonist Joshua Redman and violinist Gil Shaham; the ensemble’s debut at Carnegie Hall in the New York premiere of the Steven Stucky/Jeremy Denk opera The Classical Style; a collaboration with The National’s Bryce Dessner, broadcast on WNYC’s New Sounds Live; and a residency at the University of Georgia. In the new year, The Knights tour the East Coast with banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck before embarking on a European tour with soprano Dawn Upshaw, featuring performances in Salzburg, Baden-Baden, Darmstadt, and at Vienna’s legendary Musikverein.
Recordings include an all-Beethoven album released in January 2013 by Sony Classical, The Knights’ third project with the label; 2012’s “smartly programmed” (NPR) A Second of Silence on Ancalagon; a live recording with cellist Jan Vogler of Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto alongside arrangements of the Russian composer’s waltzes and Jimi Hendrix’s “Machine Gun”; and New Worlds, which comprises works by Copland, Dvorák, Ives, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Osvaldo Golijov. In 2010, Orange Mountain Music released Lisa Bielawa’s Chance Encounter, recordedwith The Knights and soprano Susan Narucki. Mozart, the ensemble’s recording of the master composer’s Sinfonia concertante and Violin Concertos Nos. 1 and 3 with Lara and Scott St. John for Ancalagon, received the 2010 JUNO Award for Classical Album of the Year, and prompted Strings magazine to declare, “These gifted young players have created a flawless recording.” The Knights can also be heard on the soundtrack for Francis Ford Coppola’s film Twixt.
The ensemble frequently collaborates with such leading artists as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, soprano Dawn Upshaw, violinists Itzhak Perlman and Gil Shaham, flutist Paula Robison, singer-songwriter (and Knights violinist) Christina Courtin, tenor Nicholas Phan, Iranian neyvirtuoso Siamak Jahangiri, cellist Jan Vogler, and fiddler Mark O’Connor. Praised for “polished performances and imaginative programming” (New York Times), the ensemble performs in a wide range of concert venues, from Lincoln Center, Tanglewood, Caramoor, and Baryshnikov Arts Center to Central Park’s Naumburg Bandshell, Le Poisson Rouge, and The Stone. Also in demand on the international stage, The Knights have appeared at the Dresden Music Festival, Cologne Philharmonie, Tonhalle Düsseldorf, and National Gallery in Dublin.
The Knights evolved from late-night chamber music reading parties with friends at the home of violinist Colin Jacobsen and cellist Eric Jacobsen. The Jacobsen brothers, who are also founding members of the string quartet Brooklyn Rider, serve as artistic directors of The Knights, with Eric Jacobsen as conductor. In December 2012, the Jacobsens were selected from among the nation’s top visual, performing, media, and literary artists to receive a prestigious United States Artists Fellowship.
The Knights’ roster boasts remarkably diverse talents, including composers, arrangers, singer-songwriters, and improvisers, who bring a range of cultural influences to the group, from jazz and klezmer to pop and indie rock music. Members are graduates of Juilliard, Curtis, and other leading music schools, and have performed as soloists with leading orchestras worldwide. The unique camaraderie within the group retains the intimacy and spontaneity of chamber music in performance.
“The outstanding American violinist of his generation.” – Time
Gil Shaham is one of the foremost violinists of our time: his flawless technique combined with his inimitable warmth and generosity of spirit has solidified his renown as an American master. The Grammy Award-winner, also named Musical America’s “Instrumentalist of the Year,” is sought after throughout the world for concerto appearances with leading orchestras and conductors, and regularly gives recitals and appears with ensembles on the world’s great concert stages and at the most prestigious festivals.
Shaham headlines a Parisian-themed opening-night gala with the Seattle Symphony this fall, launching a new season that sees him rejoin the San Francisco Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas for Mozart’s “Turkish” concerto, and, on the orchestra’s 20th-anniversary tour, for Prokofiev’s Second at venues including Carnegie Hall. The Prokofiev also serves as the vehicle for his collaboration with The Knights at the Caramoor Fall Festival, and is one of the works showcased in his long-term exploration of “Violin Concertos of the 1930s.” Now entering its sixth season, this project takes him back to the Philadelphia Orchestra for Berg’s concerto, and to both the Berlin Radio Symphony and the London Symphony Orchestra for Britten. Besides giving the world premiere performances of a new concerto by David Bruce with the San Diego Symphony, the violinist’s upcoming orchestral highlights also include Mendelssohn in Tokyo, Canada, and Luxembourg, and two Bach concertos with the Dallas Symphony. In recital, he presents Bach’s complete solo sonatas and partitas at Chicago’s Symphony Center, L.A.’s Disney Hall, and other venues in a special multimedia collaboration with photographer and video artist David Michalek.
Last season saw the release of 1930s Violin Concertos (Vol. 1), the first double album to be yielded by Shaham’s long-term programming project, which was recorded live with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, BBC Symphony, Staatskapelle Dresden, and Sejong. In live performance, he played 1930s concertos by Bartók, Prokofiev, Barber, Berg, and Britten with such eminent ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Berlin Radio Symphony, Bavarian Radio Symphony, and Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the USA, which he joined as guest soloist on its inaugural national tour.Amonghis other orchestral collaborations, Shaham reprised Korngold’s concerto, of which he has long been recognized as one of the foremost exponents, with the Vienna Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall and with orchestras including the National Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, and France’s Orchestre de Paris, as well as giving the world, Asian, and European premieres of a new concerto by Bright Sheng.Shaham also gave his signature recitals of unaccompanied Bach in Baltimore, Cleveland, and on tour in Italy.
Gil Shaham already has more than two dozen concerto and solo CDs to his name, including bestsellers that have ascended the record charts in the U.S. and abroad. These recordings have earned prestigious awards, including multiple Grammys, a Grand Prix du Disque, Diapason d’Or, and Gramophone Editor’s Choice. His recent recordings are issued on the Canary Classics label, which he founded in 2004. They comprise Haydn Violin Concertos and Mendelssohn’s Octet with the Sejong Soloists; Sarasate: Virtuoso Violin Works with Adele Anthony, Akira Eguchi, and Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León; Elgar’s Violin Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and David Zinman; The Butterfly Lovers and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Singapore Symphony; Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A with Yefim Bronfman and cellist Truls Mork; TheProkofiev Album and Mozart in Paris, both with his sister, pianist Orli Shaham; The Fauré Album with Akira Eguchi and cellist Brinton Smith; and Nigunim: Hebrew Melodies, also recorded with Orli Shaham, which features the world premiere recording of a sonata written for the violinist by Avner Dorman. Upcoming titles include Bach’s complete works for solo violin.
Shaham was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, in 1971. He moved with his parents to Israel, where he began violin studies with Samuel Bernstein of the Rubin Academy of Music at the age of seven, receiving annual scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. In 1981, while studying with Haim Taub in Jerusalem, he made debuts with the Jerusalem Symphony and the Israel Philharmonic. That same year he began his studies with Dorothy DeLay and Jens Ellermann at Aspen. In 1982, after taking first prize in Israel’s Claremont Competition, he became a scholarship student at Juilliard, where he worked with DeLay and Hyo Kang. He also studied at Columbia University.
Gil Shaham was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1990, and in 2008 he received the coveted Avery Fisher Prize. In 2012, he was named “Instrumentalist of the Year” by Musical America, which cited the “special kind of humanism” with which his performances are imbued. He plays the 1699 “Countess Polignac” Stradivarius, and lives in New York City with his wife, violinist Adele Anthony, and their three children.
The Knights and Brooklyn Rider are thrilled to return to Caramoor in its Fall Festival Incarnation. Autumn traditionally being a time to celebrate the bounty of nature and the community it brings, we wanted to share with you some of the fruitful musical relationships and collaborations we’ve been able to cultivate over the last couple of years.
We kick off the weekend with banjo virtuoso, composer, and musical explorer Béla Fleck and Brooklyn Rider. This is a musical partnership that grew out of a piece Béla wrote for us and that we recorded, Night Flight Over Water. In this piece he stakes out a beautiful and relatively unexplored sound world – that of the string quartet and banjo. We’ve discovered that that sound is warm, textured, and capable of traveling to many different musical worlds. Friday’s program is built around Béla’s original music and arrangements, Brooklyn Rider repertoire in which Béla has found a place for the banjo, and some other surprises.
Saturday’s concert, featuring The Knights alongside jazz saxophone great Joshua Redman and his Quartet, is based partly on music from his most recent orchestral album, Walking Shadows, in which he references the lush Hollywood sound of recordings like Charlie Parker With Strings, but also includes music as diverse as Bach and The Beatles. We are delighted to have Joshua sit in on two original songs by Christina Courtin, who is an incredible singer/songwriter as well as a Knights violinist – you may have heard her at last year’s Fall Festival in The Knights’ original composition, …the ground beneath our feet. The rhythms and melodies of Brazil will be represented through Colin’s arrangement of Joao Gilberto’s hypnotic “Undiu” and Darius Milhaud’s surrealist ballet Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit, based on Brazilian popular tunes of the 1920s.
Finally, on Sunday we get to share our love of two orchestral greats, Antonin Dvorák and Sergei Prokofiev, and hear the virtuosity of violinist Gil Shaham. We’re thrilled to play both intimate and large-scale works by both of these composers for all ages at the Family Concert and the Fall Festival finale.
We hope you enjoy the musical feast!
Colin and Eric Jacobsen
Artistic Directors, The Knights
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 21
Dvořák: Symphony No. 7
Antonin Dvořák (1841-1904) began work on his seventh symphony in 1884 and it received its premiere in 1885. It was to become one of his greatest achievements and is widely regarded as one of the best symphonies ever written. Because art music defies interpretation and allows each listener to have their own experience unfettered by visual imagery or words, and because it exists in a forced moment in time, when approaching a piece like this it’s enough to deal with the notes on the page. Dvořák’s writing is so clear and emotionally direct that what we talk about in rehearsal is often not the meaning of the music (which is so clear to each one of us despite the fact that we might have totally different ideas!) but the way to make the impact as big as possible and the details as defined as we can. We don’t need to search for a programmatic reading of the work but some of us nerds want to. And I think that desire is especially potent when it’s a burst of energy and a breakthrough for the composer, as this work is. The question becomes, “What were the circumstances that led to this work being created?” instead of, “What was he trying to say?”
Turns out there’s a lot of stuff happening here.
Maybe his friend and champion Johannes Brahms writing to him, “I imagine your symphony will be quite unlike this one [Symphony No. 6],” was a little kick in the pants. Certainly he lets the audience know from the beginning that he’s not messing around with the low rumble in the basses and timpani at the start of the first movement, Allegro Maestoso. When the cellos and violas present the the theme with it’s 6/8 lilt and Slavonic snap, we know we’re in for a “different” kind of symphony.
Two years before this piece was written, Dvořák’s mother died. Maybe that’s what he was referring to when he put a footnote on the manuscript to the second movement, “From the sad years.” This absolutely exquisite second movement with the tempo marking Poco Adagio has an air of melancholy even with the sweet pastoral writing for the solo winds and solo French horn. Somehow you can hear the silver lining peeking through. Taken in the light of his footnote we could interpret it as a nostalgic longing for happier times, or maybe a prayer for all of our lost loved ones to rest in peace.
Right before he started work on the piece, he heard Brahms’ third symphony; maybe that was what inspired him to push harder and soar higher. With Dvořák’s bittersweet yet groovy third movement Scherzo, there might be a bit of one-upmanship in response to Brahms’ painfully beautiful Poco Allegro.
Dvořák’s seventh was commissioned by the London Philharmonic society. Maybe he felt the need to raise his game to ensure his international stature. This definitely would have tied into his politics, which were deeply felt. His desire for the Czech people to have a homeland informed much of his style and his incorporation of Czech folk themes into so much of his music. You can hear it throughout the work, but especially in the Finale: Allegro, with its rustic pounding rhythms under great melodies.
We also have the evidence of what Dvořák wrote in letters to friends and colleagues. He wrote to a friend, “What is on my mind is God, Love, Country,” which is about as explicit as you get. He also wrote that the last movement refers to the stubborn Czech people’s will to have their independence.
In The Knights we draw on all of this to form our interpretation, even if we lean more heavily on the notes than on the biography. We also try to connect the great music of the past to today. The world faces even more challenges today than in 1884, and the United States as much as any nation. Philip Glass supported the Occupy Wall Street movement, and Lauryn Hill has written a powerful protest song dedicated to Michael Brown. Many of our rap artists name-check Edward Snowden. How about an instrumental work? Who out there will use the struggles of the American people to inspire them to burst through to another level in their music writing? Can we get a Dvořák 7 for the USA in 2014?