The Nashua Chamber Orchestra with maestro David Feltner welcomes you to an outstanding program, featuring an extraordinary young soloist and a world premiere. Violinist Ilana Zaks, on the verge of becoming an international sensation, previews her prodigious talents with the NCO in Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy, and Yankee Doodle Variations by Vieuxtemps. The program opens with The Winds of Time Overture by Joseph Clark. Beethoven’s groundbreaking “Eroica” Symphony is the major work, a hallmark of the standard repertoire. Mark your calendars for February 16th and 17th: Saturday, Feb. 16th at Nashua Community College, 505 Amherst Street (Note the 7:30 starting time.), in the Judd Gregg Hall, and Sunday, Feb. 17th at the Milford Town Hall on the Milford Oval, at 3:00 PM. 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. Prices are $15 adult, $13 senior and $8 student; children under 12 are free. For more information, visit the web site, www.nco-music.org, or phone (603) 566-6024.
Joseph Clark is a freshman at the Eastman School of Music and the University of Rochester, pursuing degrees in clarinet performance, music education and mathematics. He began his musical career at age 7, studying classical piano, and more recently, jazz piano and clarinet. He currently plays with the Eastman Wind Orchestra and Eastman School Symphony Orchestra, and two chamber ensembles. Joe’s interest in composition began in seventh grade. At North Middlesex Regional High School, he came to the attention of music teacher and NCO first oboist, Deborah Hencke, who suggested that he contact David Feltner to write a piece for the NCO. The Winds of Time: A Concert Overture is his first work for full orchestra. His current projects include a wind quintet and a large-scale work for orchestra and chorus.
The Winds of Time: A Concert Overture begins with a tranquil, flowing flute duet. A gradual acceleration and layering of voices leads to the fast-slow-fast concert overture form. The first fast section is set in harmonic minor, lending an exotic, perhaps Spanish or Arabic flavor. The slow middle section returns to the initial flute melody, presented in solo brass voices above lush string harmonies. The final fast section transports the initial theme to the parallel major key. A culmination of presented themes brings the work to a triumphant close.
Ilana Zaks began studying violin at age three-and-a-half with her mother, Anna Korsunsky. She made her first solo appearance at age six. She has won numerous concerto competitions and participated in master classes. Among the highlights of her 2012—2013 season are solo appearances with a number of area orchestras, including the NCO. In March, 2012, she participated in the International Young Musicians Festival at Carnegie Hall. With her dazzling technique and fiery flourish, Ilana, a Needham seventh grader, is well on her way to achieving her ambition: “I would like to be a soloist like Jascha Heifetz and Isaac Stern, who will tour around the world playing lots of concerts, both with the orchestra and a pianist, for different audiences. It would be great to make music with the other musicians. I would like to be able to learn amazing violin repertoire, because it has so much for me to discover.” Ilana Zaks began studying violin at age three-and-a-half with her mother, Anna Korsunsky and is currently a student of Professor Donald Weilerstein.
Pablo de Sarasate’s (1844—1908) Carmen Fantasy, based on themes from Georges Bizet’s opera and created for Paris audiences, is one of the most challenging and technically demanding showpieces for the violin. Sarasate, the famous Spanish violin virtuoso and composer, wrote his Carmen Fantasy in 1883, just as Bizet’s opera was becoming popular. It consists of five movements, each related to a scene from the opera. Prodigy Ilana Zaks, like the great Sarasate, uses her sweet tone and acrobatic technique to communicate the drama and passion of the sultry Carmen.
Henri Vieuxtemps (1820—1881), the great Belgian violinist and composer of showpieces, was highly respected in Europe. On his first American tour at age 23, he was disheartened to find that his refined repertoire did not appeal to American audiences unschooled in classical music. So, he wrote the brilliant Yankee Doodle Variations, and, voila!: he achieved the desired success. Belying its folksy, populist title, the Variations on Yankee Doodle is a highly imaginative and complex work, beguiling audiences with its breathtaking virtuosity and spectacular fireworks.
Ludwig van Beethoven’s (1770—1827) Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55, is a masterpiece of the Romantic repertoire. Subtitled “Eroica”, it is a work of epic strength, struggle and triumph. With unfettered emotion, Beethoven shatters the bonds of the classical tradition. Like Napoleon Bonaparte, to whom Beethoven originally dedicated his heroic [“Eroica”] symphony, Beethoven was a revolutionary, staunch in his affirmation of humanism and freedom. Seized by fury, he assailed Napoleon’s self-proclamation as Emperor of France by ripping the dedication from the score. Encroaching deafness was driving Beethoven to the ragged edges of despair. But with the Eroica, he threw down the gauntlet: he would not be defeated. The battle was about to begin. Completed in November, 1804 and first performed on April 7, 1805 in Vienna, this avant-garde work was not warmly received. Someone in the gallery shouted, “I’d give another kreuzer if the thing would only stop!”; but one music journalist of the day described it as “A daring, wild fantasia of inordinate length and extreme difficulty of execution.” To be sure, the formal constraints and stylistic conventions of the classical symphony – as developed by the creative genius of Haydn and Mozart, and continued in Beethoven’s own first two symphonies – are gone forever. In one fell swoop, the Romantic Era had begun. The curtain rises. Two defiant E-flat major chords herald the drama that is about to unfold. The first movement with its heroic character is followed by the somber Funeral March in C minor, with grief and hope intermingled. The Scherzo with its explosive energy relegates the Minuet to a bygone era. The fourth movement Finale is a set of variations and fugue. With Beethoven’s tongue-in-cheek humor, the jazzy opening theme reveals itself as the bass line of the triumphantly lyrical main theme. The Symphony ends with a breathless coda and, coming full circle, a flourish of E-flat major chords. With its massive scope and intense outpouring of emotion – from defiance and despair to plucky humor, vibrant energy and lilting lyricism – we glimpse the inner journey of this musical genius: “I will seize fate by the throat!” His music erupted from within, and not even deafness could extinguish his spirit or stifle the vast creative musical expression of this towering master.