NEC Symphony + David Loebel: Mozart, Stravinsky, Price
NEC Symphony, directed by David Loebel, performs Mozart's Symphony No. 32 in G Major, K. 318, the Stravinsky Concerto for Violin in D Major with Julian Rhee '24 MM, winner of the violin concerto competition, and Symphony No. 3 in D Minor by NEC alumna Florence Price.
This is an in-person event with a private stream available to the NEC community here: https://necmusic.edu/live
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Symphony No. 32 in G Major, K. 318
Allegro spiritoso - Andante - Tempo primo
Symphony No. 32 in G Major, K. 318 is a one-movement orchestral piece written and premiered in 1779 for the Salzburg court. It is scored for a standard orchestra of the time, featuring strings, timpani, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, and timpani. The symphony is in 3 sections: an Allegro introduction, an Andante interlude, and a recapitulation/conclusion of the first section.
Mozart’s 32nd symphony marks a period of unrest within the composer’s later years. Upon returning from his travels in Paris to his home in Salzburg in 1779, following the recent death of his mother in 1778, Mozart petitioned to be named Court Organist by the archbishop, a lofty title which was granted to him under contract. However only a year later, after writing numerous grand-scale instrumental pieces, the likes of which had gone out of fashion within the Salzburg court, Mozart was stripped of his title and replaced. This symphony was one of these pieces; and, as such, it serves as a testament to Mozart’s steadfastness and stubbornness when it came to maintaining his desired musical presence, even when faced with conflicting desires from a force as powerful as the court.
Though labeled as a symphony, the piece is written as a reprise overture, consisting of one movement split into three distinct sections. The first section introduces melodic material in a fast tempo, which is later restated in the final section. The two are separated by a contrasting Andante section, which introduces its own wholly self-contained theme, though remaining within the same key of G major throughout. Due to its structure, it is used as a placeholder overture in many modern performances of Mozart’s unfinished opera Zaide (another piece written during his time as court organist), despite the apparent lack of any real connection between the two pieces.
-- Charlie Picone
Igor Stravinsky | Concerto for Violin in D Major
Igor Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto in D is a four movement concerto written in 1931 and premiered by violinist Samuel Dushkin (for whom it was commissioned) with the Berlin Radio Symphony. It is scored for 2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, E-flat clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum and strings.
When Stravinsky was first commissioned to write a concerto for his good friend, renowned violinist Samuel Dushkin, he approached the project with apprehension due to his inexperience in writing virtuosic music for strings. However, with the aid and encouragement of both contemporary composer/violist Paul Hindemith and Dushkin himself, Stravinsky took to composing the piece over the summer of 1931, beginning roughly late-May. What truly kicked off his composition process, however, was the completion of the solo violin’s opening chord. Its incredibly wide span and unusual voicing create a unique, immediately striking sound that sets the overall tone of the rest of the piece quite effectively. Upon thinking of this chord during a friendly outing with Dushkin, Stravinsky had excitedly scribbled it out on a restaurant napkin and given it to the soloist to check if it was possible on a violin. As soon as Dushkin had confirmed that it was perfectly playable, Stravinsky’s work on the rest of the piece followed quite smoothly, with the composer himself describing the chord as “a passport to [the rest of] the concerto.” The piece was finished just a few months later, in mid-September.
The concerto is firmly neoclassical in style, sounding rigid and regal yet at the same time playfully modern and unconventional. The structure as well appears to be indicative of an older era, seemingly following that of a baroque concerto, with its progression from a brisk toccata to two consecutive slower arias before concluding with a faster, more intense capriccio finale, all of which are traits emblematic of this form. All four movements feel appropriately distinctive, yet at the same time similar enough in tone and tonality to keep a constant sense of flow. This is achieved in several ways, most importantly in the considerably light/upbeat tone pervasive throughout the whole piece, but most obviously in the aforementioned opening chord being repeated at the beginning of every movement. In an interview on his writing process, Stravinsky stated that he aimed to write something both traditionally virtuosic but with a unique spin, aided in part by his lack of familiarity with the instrument. This uniqueness was achieved by substituting constant traditional virtuosity in the solo part with a different kind of virtuosity, found in the complex relationship between the violin and the orchestra. Stravinsky states that the piece is “always more characteristic of chamber music than orchestral music", and that most of the true difficulty lies outside of the notes themselves and within exemplifying this characteristic by striking the delicate, constantly-shifting balance of importance between the solo and accompaniment.
-- Charlie Picone
Julian Rhee is quickly gaining recognition as an emerging artist and performer, praised for his "sophisticated, assured tone, superb intonation, and the kind of poise and showmanship that thrills audiences." (The Strad )
An avid soloist, Julian made his Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra debut at age 8, and has gone on to perform with orchestras such as the Santa Rosa Symphony, Eugene Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Aspen Philharmonic, Madison Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, East Coast Chamber Orchestra, and San Diego Symphony.
He is the Silver Medalist of the 11th Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, winner of Astral Artists’ National Auditions, and the first prize winner of the 2020 Elmar Oliveira International Competition, where he was also awarded the special Community Award.
A passionate chamber musician, Julian's performance on violin and viola earned him first prize in the Fischoff and the M-Prize Chamber Competitions. He has performed at and attended festivals including the Heifetz, Four Seasons, Ravinia Steans Institute, Rockport Music and North Shore Chamber Music Festivals. He has appeared alongside Time for Three, Jupiter Chamber Players, 98.7 WFMT's Introductions, and Milwaukee Public Television.
He studied with Hye -Sun Lee and Almita Vamos at the Music Institute of Chicago Academy and is currently pursuing a master’s degree with Miriam Fried at New England Conservatory.
Julian is the recipient of the outstanding 1699 “Lady Tennant” Antonio Stradivari on extended loan through the generosity of the Mary B. Galvin Foundation and the efforts of the Stradivari Society, a division of Bein and Fushi, Inc.Artists
- Julian Rhee '24 MM, violin
Florence B. Price | Symphony No. 3 in C Minor
Andante - Allegro
Andante ma non troppo
Scherzo. Finale: Allegro
NEC alumna Florence Price’s Symphony No. 3 in C Minor was written across the summer of 1938 to 1939 as a commission for the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Music Project, and was premiered on November 6, 1940 by the Detroit Civic Orchestra. It is scored for 3 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, celesta, harp, and strings.
Florence Beatrice Price was born in 1887 to a mixed-race family in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her mother, a music teacher, began giving her lessons in piano and composition at an incredibly early age; she gave her first public piano performance at the age of 4, and had her first original piece published when she was 11. A remarkably hard-working student, she graduated high school as valedictorian at the age of 14, after which she left Little Rock for Boston. Following her mother’s advice and passing herself off as Mexican to avoid discrimination for her African-American descent, she was admitted to New England Conservatory in 1902, where she pursued piano and organ performance (the only student in her class to graduate with a double major), while continuing her studies in composition with the Conservatory’s director, George Whitefield Chadwick.
In the years after her graduation in 1906—during which she taught both at the Cotton Plant-Arkadelphia Academy and Shorter College—she began to prioritize composition over music performance. Following her return to Little Rock in 1910 and subsequent departure in 1927 due to growing racial segregation in the Deep South, she settled into Chicago with her new family; there her composition career truly began to take shape. She began gaining relative renown as a composer, known primarily for her piano and organ pieces, and with the world premiere of her Symphony No. 1 by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933, she became the first black female composer to have a work performed by a major American orchestra. Her limited public recognition brought her several other instances of much-needed exposure, including many of her pieces being performed as part of the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Music Program, a branch of the administration dedicated to creating jobs for working orchestral musicians affected by the Great Depression. Most notably, her Third Symphony was commissioned specifically for this program.
However, though she saw relative success as a black composer, widespread racial discrimination throughout the country prevented her from achieving the same celebrity as her white contemporaries, and many of her pieces went mostly unplayed during her lifetime. As such, she was at a severe disadvantage when it came to composing for large ensembles, as convincing major orchestras to perform these pieces would have proved a near impossible task. Thus, most of her larger-scale pieces were either ignored or completely unpublished for decades. Only over half a century later, once many of these unpublished pieces were found in her old summer home in Illinois, did she begin to gain the renown she deserved. Among these newly discovered works were such grand pieces as her widely-played Fourth symphony, or the massive orchestral/choral piece Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight. These discoveries, as well as recent efforts organized by pianist Lara Downes, brought many of her other previously forgotten pieces into the spotlight, as orchestras across the country began featuring her music to make up for lost time. And now, over a century after her composition career began, works such as her Symphony No. 3 are slowly being accepted into the common repertoire.
The symphony begins with a slow, foreboding introduction in the woodwinds, before opening into a more traditionally romantic, rigid-sounding melody, interspersed with brief moments of surreal, floating whole tone scales, and most prominently featuring a central line introduced by a solo trombone that is reminiscent of spiritual melodies of the era. After crashing through a unique, bombastic conclusion, the first movement gives way to a much more peaceful second movement—an Andante—which builds itself around a sweet, flowing melody, with notable attention given to the often-underutilized celesta, which cements the piece’s firmly unique voice with its brief winding-down solo near the end. The symphony’s organization is rather unique, in that the last two movements—the Juba and the Allegro–are both scherzos. The former is named after a dance originated by slaves on Southern plantations who used rhythmic patting on their bodies as a substitute for prohibited drums. As it’s based on a loose, improvised dance, the movement has a very lighthearted, lively feel, which is carried over into the equally lively scherzo-finale. As such, the piece never feels like it loses energy; its upbeat nature presents itself strongly in the immediately-energetic 4th movement, and rides its own momentum through to the piece’s dramatic conclusion.
– Charlie Picone
Ru-Yao Van der Ploeg
Max Zhenren Zhao
Honor Hickman §
Anna Ridenour ‡
Jou Ying Ting *
Isabel Evernham ‡
Subee Kim §
Yuhsi Chang *
Robert Diaz §
Corinne Foley ‡
Yuhsi Chang ‡
Corinne Foley §
Sarah Cho ‡
Xianyi Ji §
Kangwei Lu ‡
Andrew Salaru §
Jialu Wang *
Graham Lovely *
Tess Reagan ‡
Jenna Stokes §
Michael Harms ‡
Allie Richmond *
Cody York §
Rebecca Bertekap ‡
Kevin Smith §
Jordan Jenifor ‡
Hayden Silvester §
Isabella Butler *
Doyeon Kim §
Nga ieng Sabrina Lai ‡
Rohan Zakharia §‡