Happy Birthday, Bernstein Program Notes
Celebrating the centennial of Leonard Bernstein and Steve Reich’s 80th birthday, this all-American program features a variety of chamber works in compelling instrumental combinations. Enjoy coffee, tea and pastries in the intimate coffee-house atmosphere of the Samueli Theater.
There is no Preview Talk before this performance. Orli Shaham will introduce the program from the stage. Doors open at 2 p.m.
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BERNSTEIN: Sonata for Clarinet and Piano
HANSON: Pastorale for Oboe and Piano
REICH: Quartet for 2 Pianos and 2 Vibraphones
SCHOENFIELD: Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano
EWAZEN: Trio for Trumpet, Cello and Piano
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Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990)
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano
Joseph Morris, Orli Shaham
Howard Hanson (1896–1981)
Pastorale for Oboe and Piano
Jessica Pearlman Fields, Orli Shaham
Steve Reich (b. 1936)
Quartet for Two Pianos and Two Vibraphones
Orli Shaham, Kenneth McGrath
Molly Morkoski, Robert Slack
I N T E R M I S S I O N
Paul Schoenfield (b. 1947)
Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano
Joseph Morris, Paul Manaster, Orli Shaham
Eric Ewazen (b. 1954)
Trio for Trumpet, Cello and Piano
Barry Perkins, Timothy Landauer, Orli Shaham
This concert is generously sponsored by Sandy Smart-Ashburn and Harry Ashburn.
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano
LEONARD BERNSTEIN (1918–1990 )
Celebrations of the life of Leonard Bernstein are everywhere this year. The ubiquity of the Bernstein centennial is a sign of how much we love him and value his legacy, of course, but it is also a chance to learn more about him in works such as the Sonata for Clarinet and Piano.
About ten minutes in length and comprised of two movements, this chamber piece occupies a special place in the Bernstein catalog: it is his first published composition. Bernstein had graduated from Harvard in 1940, and spent the following two summers at Tanglewood working with the conductor Serge Koussevitzky, music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and a leading champion of new music. There he met the clarinetist David Oppenheim, developing what must have been an inspiring friendship: He composed the sonata in 1941 and ‘42, dedicating it to Oppenheim.
Bernstein was pianist in the sonata’s premiere performance in 1943 at Boston’s Institute of Modern Art, performing alongside clarinetist David Glazer. Bernstein performed it again at the New York Public Library later that year with dedicatee David Oppenheim taking the clarinet part.
Early press assessments were mixed, and can be read as classics of unripe cultural reporting: writers for the Boston Globe and Herald, unaccustomed to aspects of the Bernstein style that we now take for granted, grappled with the sonata’s jazzy American sound (which they liked) and the influences of composers such as Copland and Hindemith (about which they were less enthusiastic).
With World War II underway, the influence of the German Hindemith—although he had left Germany and spoken out against the horrors of Nazism—were heard with suspicion. But Hindemith’s ambition to bring classical music down from its pedestal into the homes of working families was one that would remain important to Bernstein throughout his life. (Hindemith was composer-in-residence at Tanglewood while Bernstein was there.)
Some critics also claimed that the sonata seemed to favor the piano, since Bernstein himself was a pianist; but this is more a matter of the piano being an equal partner rather than merely accompanying the clarinet. By 1943, with Bernstein suddenly a new star among the world’s foremost conductors at age 25, the sonata began receiving more appreciative notices.
The voice of Hindemith is particularly evident in the sonata’s first movement, a lyrical grazioso. The second movement, which opens in a mood of serenity, opens into a fast-paced vivace a leggiero. Its quicksilver rhythmic changes give it a sense of energy and flash, then calm down to a lingering passage that precedes a vigorous finale.
Many listeners hear a Latino influence in this section that the young Bernstein may have absorbed on a trip to Key West during its composition. (He also knew that Aaron Copland was deeply affected by the time he spent listening and studying in Mexico during the 1930s.)
The energy and exuberance of the sonata make it hard to describe without using the word “theatrical.” In writing about this and other early chamber works by Bernstein, the writer Thomas May says these works show “incredible promise,” and laments there aren’t more of them for us to enjoy. “[Bernstein’s] Sonata for Clarinet and Piano from 1941-42 … has become a mainstay in that sparse repertory, and with good reason,” he notes.
As for its theatricality, Bernstein knew there was no reason to apologize for that aspect of his style. In his introductory note for his symphony The Age of Anxiety, he wrote, “I have a suspicion that every work I write, for whatever medium, is really theatre music in some way.”
The sonata has entered the standard repertory. It has been arranged for solo clarinet and full orchestra (by Sid Ramin), for cello and piano (by Yo-Yo Ma), and for solo violin.
Pastorale for Oboe and Piano
HOWARD HANSON (1896–1981 )
Born four years before Aaron Copland, Howard Hanson joined him as an esteemed international presence in classical music with a distinctly American voice. His importance as a composer, conductor and music theorist was anchored by his role as director of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, a position he held for 40 years, developing the school into a worldclass conservatory.
His many awards and accolades included the 1944 Pulitzer Prize in music, honoring his Symphony No. 4.
Hanson’s parents, Swedish immigrants, settled in the college town of Wahoo, Neb., where Hanson’s mother, Hilma, was his first music teacher.
After staying in Wahoo and earning his diploma at Luther College in 1911, Hanson moved to New York for studies at the Institute of Musical Art, predecessor institution of The Juilliard School. His studies there with the composer Percy Goetschius were followed by graduate work at Northwestern University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music in 1916.
Throughout this period, Hanson received instruction in piano, cello and trombone, acquiring broad practical knowledge of instrumental technique and orchestration. It didn’t take long for Hanson to find a full-time position teaching music theory and composition, relocating shortly after graduation to the College of the Pacific in Stockton.
Thus, at a time when travel and residential relocation were far more difficult than now, Hanson had seen and lived in American regions as diverse as Nebraska, New York, Illinois and California—a fact that may have helped him develop his deeply American musical voice. He became dean of the college’s Conservatory of Fine Arts in 1919, at age 23.
Two years later, at age 25, Hanson won the first Prix de Rome in music, a prestigious award conferred by the American Academy in Rome. He considered his three years in Rome to be the most fertile period in his artistic development, and returned as a confident young musical artist and thinker; his portfolio in both composition and music education was impressive.
When George Eastman, wealthy inventor of the Kodak camera and roll film, endowed the establishment of a new music conservatory, he chose Hanson—who impressed Eastman when he conducted his own first symphony in Rochester—to lead the school. His tenure there is one of the most distinguished in American music education.
Hanson estimated that more than 2,000 works by 500 American composers were premiered at the Eastman School during his career there.The exquisite Pastorale for Oboe and Piano, also arranged for oboe and harp, resulted from the unexpected following gained by Hanson’s Serenade for Flute, Harp and Strings, which he had composed as a wedding gift for his wife in 1946.
The plangent, contemplative tone of the oboe gives this work an even more inward quality than the Serenade; both are flowing and poetic. Hanson’s use of unique scales of his own invention gives both works a distinctive combination of simplicity and exoticism.
Quartet for Two Pianos and Two Vibraphones
STEVE REICH (B. 1936)
In decades past, Steve Reich was readily described as one of the founders of minimalism and, with Terry Riley and Philip Glass, one of the leading practitioners of the style. But that was back in the 1960s. In the years since then, Reich has established himself as one of music’s true visionaries, whose compositions defy categorization and whose thought has influenced composers and listeners throughout the world. His 60th, 70th and 80th birthdays have been marked by international celebration and press coverage.
On the occasion of his 80th (in 2016), journalist Andrew Clements of The Guardian (London) wrote, “The succession of utterly distinctive works Reich has composed in the last half century includes some of the most remarkable music of our time, their influence continues to cross continents and almost all musical boundaries.” In the American press, he has been called “our greatest living composer” (New York Times) and “the most original musical thinker of our time” (New Yorker).
His path has embraced not only Western Classical music, but the structures, harmonies and rhythms of non-Western and American vernacular music, particularly jazz. “There’s just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history and Steve Reich is one of them,” states The Guardian. In April 2009 Steve Reich was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his composition Double Sextet.
Reich has found riches in unusual combinations of four instruments that include pairs of percussion, including the Quartet for Two Pianos and Two Vibraphones. In comments for his record label, Nonesuch, he writes, “In my case, the quartet that has played a central role in many of my pieces (besides the string quartet) is that of two pianos and two percussion.
It appears like that or in expanded form with more pianos or more percussion in The Desert Music; Sextet; Three Movements; The Four Sections; The Cave; Dance Patterns; Three Tales; You Are (Variations); Variations for Vibes, Pianos and Strings; Daniel Variations; Double Sextet; and Radio Rewrite. In “Quartet, “ there is just this group alone: two vibes and two pianos.”
He continues, “The piece is one of the more complex I have composed. It frequently changes key and often breaks off continuity to pause or take up new material. Though the parts are not unduly difficult, it calls for a high level of ensemble virtuosity. The form is one familiar throughout history: fast, slow, fast, played without pause. The slow movement introduces harmonies not usually found in my music.”
Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano
PAUL SCHOENFIELD (B. 1947)
For an esteemed composer who wrote his first piece of music at age 7 and studied with luminaries including Rudolf Serkin, Paul Schoenfeld describes himself in some pretty surprising ways.
“I don’t consider myself an art-music composer at all,” he insists. “The reason my works sometimes find their way into concert halls is [that] at this juncture, there aren’t many folk music performers with enough technique, time or desire to perform my music. They usually write their own anyway.”
The long list of orchestras that have performed his compositions includes the New York Philharmonic, the Seattle Symphony, the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano and the Haifa Symphony Orchestra. He has received numerous commissions and been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Fund, the Bush Foundation, Meet the Composer and Chamber Music America.
Schoenfeld has been compared to George Gershwin, whose exposure to Jewish music at home and to every other kind of music on Tin Pan Alley helped him master a broad range of styles; like Gershwin’s, Schoenfield’s compositions often wed Jewish stylistic traditions to a broad range of modern and classical techniques.
“I don’t deserve the credit for writing music—only God deserves the credit, and I would say this even if I weren’t religious,” he says. His inspiration has been ascribed to popular styles both American and foreign, to vernacular and folk traditions, and to the “normal” historical traditions of cultivated music making, often treated with sly twists.
In a single piece he frequently combines ideas that evolved in entirely different worlds, delighting in the surprises elicited by their interaction. This, as Schoenfield has proclaims, “is not the kind of music for relaxation, but the kind that makes people sweat; not only the performer, but the audience.”
On the occasion of Schoenfield’s receiving the Cleveland Art Prize’s 1994 Music Award, music commentator Klaus George Roy summarized his career warmly:
Paul Schoenfield writes the kind of inclusive and welcoming music that gives eclecticism a good name.
In the tradition of Bach, who never left German soil but wrote French suites, English suites and Italian concertos, and in the tradition of Bartók, who absorbed and transformed not only Hungarian music, but that of Romania, Bulgaria and North Africa, Paul draws on many ethnic sources in music, assimilating them into his own distinctive language.
As Donald Rosenberg wrote in the [Cleveland] Plain Dealer, reviewing Paul’s recent and nationally cheered compact disc recording of three concertos, “the composer’s grasp of music history joins hands with popular and folk traditions of America and beyond. This is cross-over art achieved with seamless craftsmanship.”
Trio for Trumpet, Cello and Piano
ERIC EWAZEN (B. 1954)
Cleveland native Eric Ewazen received his bachelor of music degree at the Eastman School of Music, and M.M. and D.M.A. teachers included the influential modernist Milton Babbitt, as well as Samuel Adler, Warren Benson, Joseph Schwantner and the eminent Gunther Schuller, who demonstrated the possibilities in combining disparate sources such as jazz and classical styles. This eclectic range of instruction seems to have suited Ewazen, who has developed a distinctive style all his own.
Ewazen has received numerous composition awards and prizes. His works have been commissioned and performed by many soloists, chamber ensembles and orchestras in the U.S. and overseas. His works are recorded on Summit Records, d’Note Records, CRS Records, New World, Clique Track, Helicon, Hyperion, Cala, Albany and Emi Classics. Two of his solo CD’s featuring his chamber music are available on Well-Tempered Productions.
Three additional solo CD’s, one featuring his orchestral music, another his music for low brass instruments, and a third, his music for string orchestra, are available on Albany Records. A sixth solo CD of his music for percussion is available on Resonator Records.
New World Records has released his concerto Shadowcatcher for brass quintet, with the American Brass Quintet and The Juilliard Wind Ensemble, conducted by Mark Gould of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
Individual works by Ewazen have recently been released by the Ahn Trio, Julie Giacobassi of the San Francisco Symphony, Charles Vernon of the Chicago Symphony, Koichiro Yamamoto of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Ronald Barron of the Boston Symphony, Doug Yeo of the Boston Symphony, Steve Witser of the Cleveland Orchestra, Joe Alessi and Philip Smith of the New York Philharmonic, the Horn Section of the New York Philharmonic, the Summit Brass Ensemble and the American Brass Quintet.
Ewazen’s music seems modern in sound yet Bachian in its praise of a beautiful, benign universe. It can be heard on over 60 commercially released CDs, and—as his website notes—in over 400 YouTube clips. Brass players have special enthusiasm for Ewazen’s compositions, possibly because of his uncanny ability to make brass instruments sing in beautiful legato lines.
Michael Clive is a cultural reporter living in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut. He is program annotator for Pacific Symphony and Louisiana Philharmonic, and editor-in- chief for The Santa Fe Opera.
Orli Shaham: Piano and Host
A consummate musician recognized for her grace, subtlety and vitality, Orli Shaham has established an impressive international reputation as one of today’s most gifted pianists. Hailed by critics on four continents, Shaham is in demand for her prodigious skills and admired for her interpretations of both standard and modern repertoire. The Chicago Tribune recently referred to her as “a first-rate Mozartean” and London’s Guardian said Ms. Shaham’s playing at the Proms was “perfection.”
Shaham has performed with major orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Boston, Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia symphony orchestras; and internationally with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and Orchestre National de France, among many others.
Concert highlights of the 2017–18 season include performances with the Indianapolis Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony and Orlando Philharmonic among others. Shaham continues to serve as the artistic director for Pacific Symphony’s chamber music series in Costa Mesa, a position she has held since 2007. She is a featured performer on each of the chamber recitals in the series. In addition, Shaham serves as the artistic director for the interactive children’s concert series, Baby Got Bach, which she founded in 2010.
Shaham’s acclaimed 2015 recording, Brahms Inspired, is a two-CD set of new works by Brett Dean, Avner Dorman and Bruce Adolphe alongside works of Brahms and his compositional forefathers. The New York Times praised Shaham’s “beautiful performances” on the recording, calling it “a treasurable album.”
Molly Morkoski: Piano
Molly Morkoski has performed as soloist and collaborative artist throughout the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean, and Japan. Her playing has been recognized by The New York Times as “strong, profiled, nuanced … beautifully etched … an energetic and focused player … with flexibility and warmth …” and The Boston Globe called her “outstanding.” She has performed with the New York Philharmonic Ensembles, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, New World Symphony, Speculum Musicae, Brooklyn Chamber Music Society and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Morkoski was a Fulbright Scholar to Paris, where she was an apprentice with the Ensemble Intercontemporain.
Kenneth McGrath: Percussion
Kenneth McGrath regularly performs with many of Southern California’s leading ensembles including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, San Diego Symphony, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and New West Symphony.
He has contributed to many recordings including John Adams’ Naïve and Sentimental Music, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Philip Glass’ The Passion Ramakrishna, as well as the broadcast of “The Inaugural Concert: Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.” His work with the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group has included concerts at Lincoln Center, the Ojai Music Festival and the Green Umbrella Series.
Joseph Morris: Clarinet
Joseph Morris is the principal clarinet of Pacific Symphony. He has participated in festivals including the Token Creek Chamber Music sFestival, Aspen Music Festival and School, Music Academy of the West, National Orchestral Institute and the National Repertory Orchestra. Morris received a professional studies certificate from The Colburn Conservatory of Music in 2014 where he studied with the renowned professor Yehuda Gilad. He graduated from the USC Thornton School of Music in May 2012. Morris has performed in masterclasses for Martin Fröst and has studied extensively with Yehuda Gilad, Richie Hawley, Bil Jackson, Mark Brandenburg and Fred Rast.
Jessica Pearlman Fields: Oboe
Jessica Pearlman Fields currently holds the position of principal oboe for Pacific Symphony. She moved to Southern California after completing her master of music degree in 2009 at The Juilliard School. While in New York, she performed and toured with some of the city’s most esteemed ensembles, including the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the New York City Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera. Intrigued by both science and music, she earned bachelor’s degrees in oboe performance and neuroscience from Oberlin College as a pre-med student. Pearlman Fields teaches at California State University, Long Beach and resides in Los Angeles with her husband Josh and their rescue dog Nadia.
Barry Perkins: Trumpet
In his 10-year tenure as principal trumpet with Pacific Symphony, Barry Perkins has been hailed by critics as “fearless,” “first rate” and “phenomenal.” Throughout his career, he has performed live with many famous classical and jazz artists and esteemed conductors. While touring extensively with great orchestras like Pacific Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Mexico City Philharmonic, he has performed on some of the world’s most prestigious concert stages including those of Munich, Frankfurt, London, Paris, Essen and Vienna, as well as Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Orange County.
Robert Slack: Percussion
Robert Slack is presently Principal Percussionist of Orange County’s Pacific Symphony and has been a member since 1990 after winning a national audition. Mr. Slack also serves as Percussion Instructor at Chapman University and freelances with many orchestras in the Los Angeles/ Orange County Area. He is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia PA and was an Orchestral Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Festival in 1989. He also holds a degree from S.U.N.Y at Stony Brook. Before joining the Pacific Symphony he was a member of the Naples Philharmonic in Florida.
Paul Manaster: Violin
Paul Manaster has been the associate concertmaster of Pacific Symphony since 1998. He is almost a native Californian, having grown up in San Diego from a young age. Manaster has performed with a variety of groups in the Southern California area, including the San Diego Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has performed as concertmaster of the Riverside Philharmonic and the San Diego Chamber Orchestra.
Prior to his move to Orange County, Manaster lived in Texas for eight years, playing with the San Antonio Symphony. He received a bachelor of music degree from Northwestern University. In addition to performing, Manaster teaches violin privately and has served on the faculty of Trinity University and other institutions. Manaster lives in Irvine with his actress/oboist wife Dianne, their daughter Stephanie and three cats.
Timothy Landauer: Cello
Pacific Symphony Principal Cellist Timothy Landauer was hailed “a cellist of extraordinary gifts” by The New York Times when he won the coveted Concert Artists Guild International Award in 1983 in New York. Landauer is the winner of numerous prestigious prizes and awards, among them the Young Musicians Foundation’s National Gregor Piatigorsky Memorial Cello Award, the Samuel Applebaum Grand Prize of the National Solo Competition of the American String Teacher’s Association and the 1984 Hammer-Rostropovich Scholarship Award.
Landauer’s extensive engagements include his highly acclaimed recitals at Carnegie Recital Hall, the Ambassador Auditorium in Los Angeles, the Orford Arts Center in Montreal, the City Hall Theater in Hong Kong and in Hanover, Germany. He has performed as a soloist with orchestras across three continents. They include the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Taiwan National Symphony, the Beijing Symphony and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. In the United States, he has appeared with the Maryland Symphony and the Grand Teton Festival Orchestra.
Landauer was born in Shanghai, the son of musician parents. He first studied with his father and later attended the Shanghai Conservatory Middle School, a pupil of Ying-Rong Lin. He continued his studies in the United States with Eleonore Schoenfeld at the University of Southern California where, upon receiving his master’s degree, he was immediately invited to join the faculty as a lecturer and assistant to Piatigorsky Chair Professor Lynn Harrell. Landauer was the recipient of “The Outstanding Individual Artist Award 2004” presented by Arts Orange County.