Symphonic Spectacular: Yefim Bronfman, Peter Oundjian, Orchestra of St. Lukeís at Caramoor
Saturday June 20, 2015 8:30pm

Opening Night

70th Anniversary Celebration

Overview

Caramoor’s 70th anniversary, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s 40th anniversary, smashing choral symphonies, and an exciting, co-commissioned world premiere ensure that this year’s Summer Music Festival will start with a bang.

The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, conducted by Peter Oundjian, will perform the new composition by Christopher Theofanidis. Known for his intense and rhythmically complex work, Theofanidis’ new piece commemorates Caramoor’s longstanding and fruitful collaboration with Orchestra of St. Luke’s and celebrates their milestone anniversaries.

Rebecca Nash, soprano
Jennifer Feinstein, mezzo-soprano
Noah Baetge, tenor
Jeffrey Beruan, bass
Peter Oundjian, conductor
Orchestra of St. Luke’s
The Collegiate Chorale
Ted Sperling, Artistic Director

Theofanidis Making Up for Lost Time (world premiere)
Beethoven  Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125


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Caramoor International Music Festival 2006Peter Oundjian

Toronto-born conductor Peter Oundjian, noted for his probing musicality, collaborative spirit, and engaging personality, has been an instrumental figure in the rebirth of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra since his appointment as Music Director in 2004. In addition to conducting the Orchestra in dynamic performances which have achieved outstanding artistic acclaim, he has been greatly involved in a variety of new initiatives which have strengthened the ensemble’s presence in the community and attracted a young and diverse audience. In 2004 he established an annual celebration of new music, showcasing new and premièring commissioned works. Now an audience favourite, the New Creations Festival celebrates the best in contemporary orchestral music and attracts celebrated contemporary composers and guest artists. During his tenure, Oundjian has also released eight recordings on the Orchestra’s self-produced record label TSO Live and signed a multi-disc recording contract with Chandos Records. He recently led the TSO on a tour of Europe which included a sold-out performance at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and the first performance of a North American orchestra at Reykjavik’s Harpa Hall.

Oundjian was appointed Music Director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in 2012. Few conductors bring such musicianship and engagement to the world’s great podiums—from Berlin, Amsterdam, and Tel Aviv, to New York, Chicago, and Sydney. He has also appeared at some of the great annual gatherings of music and music-lovers: from the London Proms and the Prague Spring Festival, to the Edinburgh Festival and The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Mozart Festival where he was Artistic Director from 2003 to 2005.

Peter appeared at Caramoor with the Tokyo String Quartet numerous times from 1981-1994.  He made his conducting debut at Caramoor in 1995, and served as Caramoor’s Artistic Director from 1997-2003 and Artistic Advisor and Principal Conductor from 2004-2007

Oundjian was Principal Guest Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra from 2006 to 2010. Since 1981, he has served as a visiting professor at the Yale School of Music, and was awarded the university’s Sanford Medal in 2013. In May 2009 Mr. Oundjian received an honorary doctorate from the San Francisco Conservatory.

 

Orchestra of The Caramoor Summer Music Festival Finale with Alisa Weilerstein, Pablo Heras-Casado, and the  Orchestra of St. Luke'sSt. Luke’s

Orchestra of St. Luke’s (OSL) is one of America’s most versatile and distinguished orchestras, collaborating with the world’s greatest artists and performing approximately 70 concerts each year—including its Carnegie Hall Orchestra Series, Chamber Music Series at The Morgan Library & Museum and Brooklyn Museum, and summer residency at Caramoor Music Festival. OSL has commissioned more than 50 new works, including four this season; has given more than 170 world, U.S., and New York City premieres; and appears on more than 100 recordings, including four Grammy Award winners and seven releases on its own label, St. Luke’s Collection. Pablo Heras-Casado, named 2014 Conductor of the Year by Musical America, is OSL’s principal conductor.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this season, OSL began as a chamber ensemble based at The Church of St. Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village. Today, St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble consists of 21 virtuoso artists who perform a diverse repertoire and make up OSL’s artistic core.

OSL owns and operates The DiMenna Center for Classical Music in Midtown Manhattan, where it shares a building with the Baryshnikov Arts Center. The DiMenna Center is New York City’s premier venue for rehearsal, recording, and learning, having quickly gained a reputation for its superb acoustics, state-of-the-art facilities, and affordability. Since opening in 2011, The DiMenna Center has welcomed more than 50,000 visitors, including more than 300 ensembles and artists such as Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Valery Gergiev, James Levine, James Taylor, and Sting.OSL hosts hundreds of neighbors, families, and school children at its home each year for free community events.

Through its Community & Education programs, OSL has introduced audiences across New York City to live classical music. OSL brings free chamber concerts to the five boroughs; offers free interactive music programs at The DiMenna Center; provides chamber music coaching for adult amateurs; and engages 10,000 public school students each year through its Free School Concerts. In 2013, OSL launched Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s (YOSL), an intensive in- and after-school instrumental coaching program emphasizing musical excellence and social development, in partnership with Police Athletic League (PAL) and public schools in the Clinton / Hudson Yards neighborhood.

Christopher Theofanidis

CHRISTOPHER THEOFANIDIS (b. 12/18/67 in Dallas, Texas) has had performances by many leading orchestras from around the world, including the London Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Moscow Soloists, the National, Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit Symphonies, and many others. He also served as Composer of the Year for the Pittsburgh Symphony during their 2006-2007 Season, for which he wrote a violin concerto for Sarah Chang.

Mr. Theofanidis holds degrees from Yale, the Eastman School of Music, and the University of Houston, and has been the recipient of the International Masterprize (hosted at the Barbican Centre in London), the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, six ASCAP Gould Prizes, a Fulbright Fellowship to France, a Tanglewood Fellowhship, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Charles Ives Fellowship. In 2007 he was nominated for a Grammy for best composition for his chorus and orchestra work, The Here and Now, based on the poetry of Rumi. His orchestral concert work, Rainbow Body, has been one of the most performed new orchestral works of the last ten years, having been performed by over 100 orchestras internationally.

Mr. Theofanidis’ has recently written a ballet for the American Ballet Theatre, a work for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra as part of their ‘New Brandenburg’ series, and he currently has two opera commissions for the San Francisco and Houston Grand Opera companies. He has a long-standing relationship with the Atlanta Symphony, and has just had his first symphony premiered and recorded with that orchestra. He has served as a delegate to the US-Japan Foundation’s Leadership Program and is a former faculty member of the Peabody Conservatory and the Juilliard School. He currently teaches at Yale University.

Christopher Theofanidis Making Up for Lost Time (2015)

Christopher Theofanidis (born in Dallas, Texas, December 18, 1967)  has become one of the most-watched (and heard!) younger composers in the United States. He earned degrees at Yale, the Eastman School of Music, and the University of Houston and has received a number of awards including fellowships that have allowed him to study or work at Tanglewood, at the American Academy in Rome, and elsewhere. He currently teaches both at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and at the Juilliard School in New York City.

His works range from chamber scores to opera and ballet, and the sources of his inspiration run from ancient Greek poets (Sophocles) or the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi to the modern humorist James Thurber. Thurber provided the material for his full-length opera The Thirteen Clocks and Rumi the texts for a choral-orchestral work entitled The Here and Now, for soloists, chorus, and orchestra. He has written concertos for alto saxophone, cello, piano,  and violin.

His rhythmic drive naturally leads to works for the dance, including the ballet Artemis, performed by the American Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera, and the Sophocles-inspired The Cows of Apollo, or The Invention of Music, for the unusual combination of soloist, chorus, and orchestra, with rock singer, band, and optional dancers. In 2003 Rainbow Body, the score to be performed here, won the Masterprize award in London, having been picked from among 1000 submissions of new compositions from all over the world. In the following season, Rainbow Body was performed by twenty orchestras, making it the most frequently-performed score by a living composer.

Christopher Theofanidis has not rested on his laurels. In 2014 his opera The Refuge, dealing with a topic of immigrants to this county—a subject that has always aroused contrasting emotions, never more than today—had its premiere in Houston.

Regarding his newest piece, he writes:

Making Up for Lost Time is an upbeat twelve minute piece in three short movements, each of which focuses on an internal struggle for establishing primacy of a felt sense of time. In the first movement, a simple motivic idea is pitted against a fractionally displaced version of itself rhythmically, and a sense of pulse disorientation ensues; in the second movement, a long, lyrical line has an embedded flaw which causes it to ‘trip’ over itself and spin off new tempi and ideas; and in the third movement, there is a kind of contrapuntal layering of speeds which creates a warped and multi-dimensional sense of the flow. I am grateful to the wonderful musicians of Orchestra of St. Luke’s, to whom the piece is dedicated.

—Christopher Theofanidis

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Opus 125

Ludwig van Beethoven was baptized in Bonn, Germany, on December 17, 1770, and died in Vienna on March 26, 1827. Though one theme from this symphony appears in a sketchbook of 1815 and some sketches for the first movement were undertaken in 1817 and early 1818, Beethoven only began concentrated work on the score in 1822. It occupied him throughout the following year, and he completed it in February 1824. The first performance took place at the Kärntnertor Theater in Vienna on May 7, 1824, in an all-Beethoven concert. The deaf composer stood on the stage beating time, but the real conductor was Michael Umlauf. The score calls for two flutes and piccolo, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons and contrabassoon, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, triangle, cymbals, bass drum, strings, soprano, alto, tenor, and bass solos, and four-part mixed chorus. Duration is about 65 minutes.

Friedrich Schiller’s ode An die Freude (“To Joy”), written in 1785 and published the following year, spoke directly to the new desire for spiritual freedom and secular reform that followed the spread of Enlightenment ideals to German-speaking countries. Its vision of world brotherhood and its message of reconciliation expressed in quasi-religious terms appealed to the young and idealistic. Almost immediately composers began setting it to music—more than forty settings are known, mostly songs for voice and piano.

In 1793 Schiller received word from a friend in Bonn that a young composer there was undertaking his own setting of the poem. But this one was different; the friend noted, “I expect something perfect, for as far as I know him he is wholly devoted to the great and sublime.” The young friend, then in his early twenties, had already deserted Bonn for Vienna, but the description of his high artistic aims was certainly correct. He was, of course, Ludwig van Beethoven. Three full decades elapsed before Beethoven was satisfied that he had found the way to deal with Schiller’s text, but certainly the resulting work—his final symphony—was indeed “great and sublime.”

After completing his Seventh and Eighth Symphonies in 1812, Beethoven turned totally away from the symphony for five years, and only began thinking about a Ninth when he received an invitation to come to London in the winter of 1817‑18 and to bring two new symphonies with him. The invitation must have been attractive—it was just such a trip to England that had made Haydn a wealthy man—but in the end nothing came of it except a few sketches for two symphonies, and one of these was never finished.

Several more years passed. Beethoven returned to his sketches in the summer of 1822, still planning to compose a pair of symphonies. But by the following year he had settled on a single work in the key of D minor. For a long time he was torn between two possible endings—one purely instrumental, the other a choral setting of Schiller’s ode, which had captured his interest already in his youth.

The problem, as he saw it, was how to motivate the sudden appearance of a chorus after three lengthy instrumental movements. Even after he had invented the familiar hymnlike tune of the finale and drafted the instrumental variations that mark its first appearance, he could not find a solution to the vocal problem. One day he was struck by the idea of having a soloist simply sing the announcement, “Let us sing the song of the immortal Schiller,” before starting the ode itself.

In the end he settled on slightly different wording, but the point was the same: to disavow the past and turn with a conscious welcome to something new and liberating. Once he actually started setting Schiller’s words, he treated them very freely, taking the passages that particularly stimulated his muse, making cuts and repetitions as the musical development required. In the end, he actually set less than half of Schiller’s entire text and freely rearranged the rest.

The planning for the first performance was complicated by the fact that Beethoven wanted to conduct the entire concert, an embarrassment on account of his advanced deafness. In the end he stood on stage next to Michael Umlauf, ostensibly to set the tempi, and, though he kept beating through the work, the players had been instructed to pay attention only to Umlauf’s beat. The remainder of the all‑Beethoven program included the overture Consecration of the House and three movements of the Missa solemnis. The plan to perform part of the Mass ran into legal entanglements when Church authorities refused permission for liturgical music to be heard in the unsanctified precincts of a theater. In the end, that music was billed (in a mild subterfuge) as “Three Grand Hymns with Solo and Choral Voices.”

The music was of unprecedented difficulty,  a challenge to both performers and listeners. Nonetheless, the crowd in the Kärntnertor Theater on May 7, 1824, responded with enthusiasm, cheering and applauding energetically, though the deaf composer, still turning the pages of the score and hearing the music in his mind, was unaware of it until one of the soloists pulled him by the sleeve to get his attention and pointed to the audience.

Like the Fifth Symphony, Beethoven’s Ninth moves from tragedy to triumph, symbolized by a move from the minor-key opening to a close firmly in the major key. But the Fifth seems to be the triumph of an individual hero, while the Ninth, with a chorus singing Schiller’s text, becomes a universal triumph for human aspiration. Though the text makes explicit the message of the symphony, Beethoven’s musical architecture reinforces that message with unusual force.

He planned the entire symphony in such a way that for the first three movements it remains locked in the realm of D minor and its closely related keys F and B‑flat (pitches that are part of the scale of D‑minor). Only near the end of the last movement does he oust F and B‑flat in favor of F‑sharp and B‑natural, notes that characterize the scale of D major. On paper this sounds like a purely theoretical change, but in performance it achieves unparalleled force. Rarely in the history of music has simple harmonic relationship between major and minor modes generated greater power, feeling, or sheer excitement.

The symphony opens with its first theme gradually appearing out of a mysterious introduction hinting at indescribable vastness. No orchestral beginning was more influential throughout the nineteenth century, though no composer ever surpassed Beethoven in the suggestive power of this particular gambit. Throughout the lengthy first movement, Beethoven never allows us to stray for long from powerful reminders that this music is in a minor key.

The demonic scherzo of the second movement, too, fiercely reiterates the minor-mode feeling of the first movement. For a moment in the middle section, Beethoven projects pure human joy in the work’s first extensive passage in D major, but it is canceled by the return of the scherzo.

The richly evocative lyricism of the third movement sings a pensive song in B‑flat, alternating with a second, slightly faster theme in D major. But on every occasion the second theme ends up slipping helplessly back to the first key, though the variations become ever more lush and sweetly consoling. In spite of their sheer beauty, they cannot reach the world of D major.

The first sound of the finale is a “fanfare of terror” introducing Beethoven’s public search for a way to turn minor‑key darkness into a firm major‑key conclusion. Cellos and double basses sing an operatic‑style recitative (for which Beethoven originally wrote words, later cut) calling up and summarily rejecting themes from each of the earlier movements. Finally a new idea appears, simple, singable, hymnlike, emphatically in D major (its melody circles around F‑sharp, the characteristic third step of the D‑major scale). The orchestra welcomes it with a set of variations. Real progress seems to be underway when this theme, too, is swept away by a renewed “fanfare of terror,” brutal and consciously ugly, containing almost every note of the D minor scale!

Here, at last, the baritone intervenes with Beethoven’s introduction to Schiller’s poem. The soloist, echoed by the chorus, sings confidently in D major, and all seems well through three stanzas of Schiller’s poem.

But one more crisis remains.

At the end of the third stanza (on the words “vor Gott”—“before God”), Beethoven undercuts his modulation to the expected dominant key and throws the following passage into B‑flat—once again threatening that the minor mode may prevail, with no escape. The “Turkish” march of the tenor’s solo is actually the “Ode to joy” theme varied in rhythm and turned into a heroic aria, but in B-flat, which lies in the realm of the minor mode.

An extended orchestral development follows with major and minor engaged in a last furious harmonic combat. Finally the orchestra settles on a dotted rhythm repeating the note F‑sharp through three octaves—the single note that most strikingly emphasizes the main theme and its major‑mode harmony. After two tentative beginnings in the “wrong” key, the composer changes a single note in the bass part and suddenly “realizes” that this music is, emphatically, in D major.

The chorus returns in one of the most thrilling moments in all of music. From here on out, everything we hear—the prayerful invocation of a “loving Father” who “must live above the stars” and who makes all men brothers, the vigorous double fugue that was one of Beethoven’s first sketches for this movement, the soloists’ last quietly sustained singing—all this is in D major or its closely related major keys, effectively wiping out memory of the conflict and struggle that had gone on before. Then, gradually pulling itself together out of a grand pause, the orchestra cues the chorus for a final outburst of ecstatic joy, asserting Beethoven’s sturdy, confident answer to the questions posed by the symphony’s opening almost an hour earlier.

TEXT & TRANSLATION

 

Baritone Solo:

 

Freunde, nicht diese Töne!

Sondern lasst uns angenehmere

anstimmen,

Und freudenvollere.

[Beethoven] O friends, not these sounds!

Rather let us tune our voices

more pleasantly

and more joyously.

Baritone Solo and Chorus

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,

Tochter aus Elysium,

Wir betreten feuertrunken,

Himmlische, dein Heiligtum.

Deine Zauber binden wieder

Was die Mode streng geteilt,

Alle Menschen werden Brüder,

Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt. Joy, fair divine spark,

daughter of Elysium,

intoxicated with fire, we enter,

O Heavenly One, your sacred shrine.

Your magic once again unites

all that Custom had sternly divided.

All men become brothers

where your gentle wings abide.

Soloists & Chorus

 

Wem der grosse Wurf gelungen,

Eines Freundes Freund zu sein,

Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,

Mische seinen Jubel ein!

Ja—wer auch nur eine Seele

Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!

Und wer’s nie gekonnt, der stehle

Weinend sich aus diesem Bund. Whoever has won in that great gamble

of being friend to a friend,

whoever has found a goodly woman,

let him add his jubilation!

Yes—even he who can call just one soul

on earth his own!

And he who has never done it, let him

steal, weeping, from this company.

Freude trinken alle Wesen

An den Brüsten der Natur,

Alle Guten, alle Bösen

Folgen ihrer Rosenspur.

Küsse gab sie uns und Reben,

Einen Freund, geprüft im Tod,

Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben,

Und der Cherub steht vor Gott. All creatures drink of joy

at Nature’s breast,

All, whether good or evil,

follow her rose‑strewn path.

She gave us kisses and vines,

a friend, proved faithful unto death.

Delight was given even to the worm,

and the cherub stands before God.

[“Turkish” March]

 

Tenor Solo & Male Chorus

 

Froh wie seine Sonnen fliegen

Durch des Himmels prächt’gen Plan,

Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,

Freudig wie ein Held zum Siegen. As joyously as His suns fly

across heaven’s splendid map,

follow, brothers, your appointed course,

gladly, like a hero to the victory.

[Orchestral development]

 

Chorus

 

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,

Tochter aus Elysium,

Wir betreten feuertrunken,

Himmlische, dein Heiligtum.

Deine Zauber binden wieder

Was die Mode streng geteilt,

Alle Menschen werden Brüder,

Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt. Joy, fair divine spark,

daughter of Elysium,

intoxicated with fire, we enter,

O Heavenly One, your sacred shrine.

Your magic once again unites

all that Custom had sternly divided.

All men become brothers

where your gentle wings abide.   Seid umschlungen, Millionen!

Diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt!

Brüder‑‑überm Sternenzelt

Muss ein lieber Vater wohnen. Be embraced, ye millions!

This kiss to the whole world!

Brothers‑‑above the canopy of stars

surely a loving father dwells.   Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen!

Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?

Such ihn überm Sternenzelt!

Über Sternen muss er wohnen. Do you fall headlong, o millions?

Do you sense the Creator, World?

Seek Him above the canopy of stars!

Above the stars He must dwell.

 

[Double Fugue]

 

 

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,

Tochter aus Elysium,

Wir betreten feuertrunken,

Himmlische, dein Heiligtum. Joy, fair divine spark,

daughter of Elysium,

intoxicated with fire, we enter,

O Heavenly One, your sacred shrine.   Seid umschlungen, Millionen!

Diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt! Be embraced, ye millions!

This kiss to the whole world!

 

Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen!

Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?

Such ihn überm Sternenzelt! Brüder‑‑überm Sternenzelt

Muss ein lieber Vater wohnen. Do you fall headlong, o millions?

Do you sense the Creator, World?

Seek Him above the canopy of stars!

Brothers‑‑above the canopy of stars

surely a loving father dwells.

 

Soloists & Chorus

 

Freude, Tochter aus Elysium!

Deine Zauber binden wieder

Was die Mode streng geteilt,

Alle Menschen werden Brüder,

Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

Seid umschlungen, Millionen!

Diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt!

Brüder‑‑überm Sternenzelt

Muss ein lieber Vater wohnen.

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,

Tochter aus Elysium,

Freude, schöner Götterfunken!

[adapted from Friedrich Schiller] Joy, Daughter of Elysium!

Your magic once again unites

all that Custom had sternly divided.

All men become brothers

where your gentle wings abide.

Be embraced, ye millions!

This kiss to the whole world!

Brothers‑‑above the canopy of stars

surely a loving father dwells.

Joy, fair divine spark,

daughter of Elysium,

Joy, fair divine spark!

[translation by Steven Ledbetter]

© Copyright Steven Ledbetter (www.stevenledbetter.com)