Winter Concerts, 2016

The Nashua Chamber Orchestra, David Feltner, music director, will present their winter concert, “From Shore to Shore”, on February 20th and 21st, featuring the talented young soloist, Yasmin Soorayah Myers, performing Vieuxtemps’ Violin Concerto No. 5. The program also includes Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave), Molly on the Shore, by Percy Grainger, Camille Saint-Saëns' Prelude to Le Déluge, and Variations on an American Folk Song, by living composer Robert Edward Smith. The two performance dates are:

SATURDAY, FEB. 20th, 7:30PM; Nashua Community College, Judd Gregg Hall; 505 Amherst Street

SUNDAY, FEB. 21st, 3:00PM; Milford Town Hall, 1 Union Square on the Milford Oval

Tickets can be purchased at the door, or in advance at Darrell’s Music Hall in Nashua, and the Toadstool Bookstore in Lorden Plaza, Milford, or on line at the web site: www.nco-music.org. Prices are $18 adult, $15 senior, and $8 student; children under 12, free. For more information, check the web site at www.nco-music.org or phone (603) 582-5211.

Percy Grainger (1882--1961), a colorful, controversial figure who defied convention, moved to the U.S. from London in 1914, establishing himself as a concert pianist and composer. As Dean of Music at New York University (1932), he built a reputation as an experimenter, putting jazz on the syllabus. Molly on the Shore (1907) is an arrangement of two contrasting Irish reels, written for string orchestra. The fiddlers take turns playing the themes and bouncing them off one another, creating a variety of sonorities and textures with intertwined voices. As the fiddlers play, Molly comes into view, skipping to the jazzy beat, dancing on the sandy shore with exuberance and abandon, red hair flying.

Camille Saint-Saëns’ (1835--1921) Prelude to Le Déluge (The Flood), Opus 45, continues the water theme, but with a stark contrast from playful to serious. Saint-Saëns’ oratorio, Le Déluge, is based on the biblical story of Noah and the flood. Written in 1875 for string orchestra, chorus and soloists, it is rarely performed today. The Prelude begins with a slow introduction in minor, followed by a fugue in the style of Bach, establishing a mood of gravitas. The final contrasting section in major features a solo violin weaving warm, lyrical melody as the mood changes to hope and optimism.

Camille Saint-Saëns was one of the great child prodigies in music, performing all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas at age ten. A prolific composer of Romantic works, he chose lyric forms in the Germanic tradition. He established the importance of instrumental music in France. A student of humanistic and scientific disciplines, he published writings on philosophy, botany, biology and history.

Belgian composer Henri Vieuxtemps (1820--1881) was a nineteenth century musical archetype that no longer exists: the virtuoso instrumentalist composer. Of his seven violin concertos, the fifth is the most popular, with its soulful melodies and bursts of fiery virtuoso displays. Vieuxtemps wrote his Violin Concerto No. 5 in A minor, Op. 37 (1858--59) as the test piece for a competition at the Brussels Conservatory. A synthetic work, it has a one-movement structure, divided into an opening allegro with cadenza, a brief adagio and a minuscule finale. From melancholy musings to passionate exuberance, the sweet voice of the violin hearkens back to that lost world of nineteenth century Romanticism.

Yasmin Sooraya Myers of Amherst, New Hampshire, is hardly your typical eighth grader. Beginning her violin studies at age 3, she was winning awards and competitions by age nine. Yasmin has performed at the Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall, in Symphony Hall, Boston, and for the Governor of New Hampshire. She has served as concertmaster or assistant concertmaster in various youth orchestras in Boston. She attends the summer program of the Meadowmount School of Music, studying with internationally acclaimed teachers. She is currently a student of Elliott Markow. Yasmin also enjoys swimming, reading, art and dance. Her lush, beautiful tone and sparkling virtuoso technique bring luster and nuance to this favorite Vieuxtemps concerto.

Picture a sea grotto off the stormy, grey coast of Scotland: a cavern in which the massive forms of basalt pillars resound with tempestuous swells of waves. This forbidding ambience etched itself into Felix Mendelssohn’s mind, and emerged transformed into the realm of music as The Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave). The instrumental parts with their rising and falling lines seem to paint the rolling seas. Mendelssohn (1809--1847) received early musical training at the Berlin Singakademie, thanks to his affluent parents who recognized his talent. A precocious young composer, he had over forty works to his credit by age eleven. At sixteen, he composed his overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, immediately recognized as a work of genius. In 1829, on a trip to Britain, Mendelssohn and his friend, the poet Carl Klingemann, visited the Hebrides archipelago and braved choppy seas to row to the mouth of Fingal’s Cave, with its imposing basalt pillars, inspiring him to write a theme that would evolve into the famous concert overture. This genre, of which Mendelssohn is the acknowledged master, stands as a work alone that depicts a mood and sets a scene, a musical tone poem. The Hebrides Overture with its contrasting themes evokes the stunning beauty of the scene, along with mystery and solitude.

Robert Edward Smith’s Variations on an American Folk Song was inspired by the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. “...like most Americans, I was in a mixed emotional state of patriotic fervor, fear and anger. ... I... wanted to... compose a piece that was typically American, and which expressed the unique kind of determined optimism Americans possess, even in the face of disaster.” He decided to write a set of variations on an American folk song. Searching through volumes of American folk songs, the composer found one listed simply as “folk song from Kentucky”, that appealed to him. “I am very fond of this tune. I like it because it is beautiful and strange.” Through imaginative orchestration and tonal colors, Smith imbues the tune with a life of its own. “The variations are like events in that life, some cheerful, others sorrowful.” After the tune has been through all its experiences, it emerges “confident and strong, and ... ends with an expression of triumphant joy.”

This work received its world premiere in 2005, by the Nashua Chamber Orchestra.