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Rhapsody in Blue, for Piano and Orchestra…..George Gershwin (1898-1937)
Sumi Onoe, Piano soloist
Idyllwild Arts Academy Concerto Competition Winner
Afro-American Symphony (Symphony No. 1)…..William Grant Still (1895-1978)
I. Longing: Moderato assai
III. Humor: Animato
IV. Aspiration: Lento, con risoluzione — Vivace
I N T E R M I S S I O N
A special performance by Seahawk Mojo Modern Jazz Orchestra
Featuring music from Duke Ellington, Thelonious Sphere Monk & Daniel Jackson
George Gershwin (1898-1937) – Rhapsody in Blue, for Piano and Orchestra
George Gershwin, his brother Ira, and the songwriter “Buddy” De Sylva were killing time in a pool-hall on January 3, 1924, when Ira, engrossed in the New York Tribune, happened on an article announcing that the bandleader Paul Whiteman, a one-time violist with the Denver and San Francisco symphonies but now a leading light of popular music, would shortly present a concert in New York that promised to broaden concert-goers’ conception of what serious American music could be. Neither Ira nor his brother were prepared for the article’s revelation that “George Gershwin is at work on a jazz concerto, Irving Berlin is writing a syncopated tone poem, and Victor Herbert is working on an American suite.” A new jazz concerto was news to Gershwin.
A phone call to Whiteman the next day elicited the explanation that the bandleader had been planning such a concert for some time in the future; but a rival conductor had suddenly announced plans for a similar program of pieces drawing on both classical and jazz styles, a development that forced Whiteman to move up his schedule if he didn’t want to look like a copycat.
Given the short lead-time (not to mention the novelty of such a piece), a full-length concerto was out of the question. But Gershwin would commit to a free-form work, a rhapsody of some sort, which would spotlight him as the soloist backed by the Whiteman band. As Gershwin was accustomed to the Broadway practice of leaving the instrumentation to an arranger, Whiteman promptly informed his staff arranger Ferde Grofé to clear his desk for a new project.
On January 7, Gershwin began setting down notes for his rhapsody, which he notated in a score for two pianos—one representing the solo part, the other the orchestra (including certain suggestions about possible instrumentation). It was Ira Gershwin who came up with the title, inspired in part by James Abbot McNeill Whistler. Whistler was drawn to titling his paintings with completely abstract titles. The Gershwin brothers took a shine to the concept, and found a musical equivalent in the title Rhapsody in Blue. The word “blue” naturally evokes “the Blues,” and, by extension, jazz. Various aspects of jazz vocabulary certainly are prominent in the Rhapsody in Blue but at heart this is a symphonic work, and its ancestry lies more in the direction of Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, and Liszt than Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, and W.C. Handy.
Gershwin devoted about a month to writing the piece, but it shared his schedule with other projects, including a trip to Boston for the premiere of his musical Sweet Little Devil. Gershwin recalled: “It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattlety-bang that is often so stimulating to a composer. . . . And there I suddenly heard—and even saw on paper—the complete construction of the rhapsody, from beginning to end. . . . I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America—of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our metropolitan madness. By the time I reached Boston I had a definite plot of the piece, as distinguished from its actual substance.”
Gershwin notated the work’s opening as a low clarinet trill followed by a scale rising rapidly through seventeen notes. At a rehearsal, Whiteman’s clarinetist Ross Gorman—perhaps out of boredom, perhaps as a joke—elided the notes into a sweeping ribbon of uninterrupted pitches, after which there was no turning back. That opening glissando became an iconic sound of American music. After that, Gershwin presents forthright thematic material: an oscillating bluesy tune, then a brazen march-like melody, finally a grandly romantic theme in the strings.
Program Notes by James M. Keller
William Grant Still (1895-1978)- Afro-American Symphony (Symphony No.1)
William Grant Still, whom Nicolas Slonimsky in his authoritative Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians called “The Dean of Afro-American Composers,” was born in Woodville, Mississippi on May 11, 1895. His father, the town bandmaster and a music teacher at Alabama A&M, died when the boy was an infant, and the family moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, where his mother, a graduate of Atlanta University, taught high school. In Little Rock, she married a man who was an opera buff, and he introduced young William to the great voices of the day on records and encouraged his interest in playing the violin. At sixteen, Still matriculated as a medical student at Wilberforce University in Ohio, but he soon switched to music. He taught himself to play the reed instruments, and left school to perform in dance bands in the Columbus area and work for a brief period as an arranger for the great blues writer W.C. Handy. He returned to Wilberforce, graduated in 1915, married later that year, and then resumed playing in dance and theater orchestras.
In 1917, Still entered Oberlin College, but he interrupted his studies the following year to serve in the Navy during World War I, first as a mess attendant and later as a violinist in officers’ clubs. He went back to Oberlin after his service duty, and stayed there until 1921, when he moved to New York to join the orchestra of the Noble Sissle–Eubie Blake revue Shuffle Along as an oboist. While on tour in Boston with the show, Still studied with George Chadwick, then President of the New England Conservatory, who was so impressed with his talent that he provided his lessons free of charge. Back in New York, Still studied with Edgard Varèse, and ran the Black Swan Recording Company for a period in the mid-1920s. He tried composing in Varèse’s modernistic idiom, but soon abandoned that dissonant style in favor of a more traditional manner.
Still’s work was recognized as early as 1928, when he received the Harmon Award for the most significant contribution to black culture in America. His Afro-American Symphony of 1930 was premiered by Howard Hanson and the Rochester Philharmonic (the first such work by a black composer played by a leading American orchestra), and it was heard thereafter in performances in Europe and South America. Unable to make a living from his concert compositions, however, Still worked as an arranger and orchestrator of music for radio, for Broadway shows, and for Paul Whiteman, Artie Shaw and other popular bandleaders. A 1934 Guggenheim Fellowship allowed him to cut back on his commercial activities and write his first opera, Blue Steel, which incorporated jazz and spirituals. He continued to compose large-scale orchestral, instrumental and vocal works in his distinctive idiom during the following years, and, after moving to Los Angeles in 1934, he supplemented that activity by arranging music for films (including Frank Capra’s 1937 Lost Horizon) and later for television (Perry Mason, Gunsmoke).
Still received many awards for his work: seven honorary degrees; commissions from CBS, New York World’s Fair, League of Composers, Cleveland Orchestra and other important cultural organizations; the Phi Beta Sigma Award; a citation from ASCAP noting his “extraordinary contributions” to music and his “greatness, both as an artist and as a human being”; and the Freedom Foundation Award. Not only was his music performed by most of the major American orchestras, but he was also the first black musician to conduct one of those ensembles (the Los Angeles Philharmonic,at Hollywood Bowl in 1936) and a major symphony in a southern state (the New Orleans Philharmonic in 1955).
Still’s Afro-American Symphony is one of the landmarks of 20th-century music, though less as a racial artifact — when Howard Hanson conducted the work’s premiere with the Rochester Philharmonic on October 29, 1931, it became the first symphony by a black composer played by a major American orchestra — than as a masterful piece of music that speaks eloquently of its creator, its era and its national roots. The Afro-American Symphony is music that could have been written nowhere but in this country during the Jazz Age by a musician perfectly attuned to America’s voice and spirit. “I knew I wanted to write a symphony,” Still explained. “I knew that it had to be an American work; and I wanted to demonstrate how the blues, so often considered a lowly expression, could be elevated to the highest musical level.” The work follows the standard symphonic plan — large sonata form, Adagio, scherzo, uplifting finale — whose moods Still summarized in the movements’ titles: Longing, Sorrow, Humor and Aspiration. The composer inscribed two further thoughts of his own in the score — “With humble thanks to God, the source of inspiration” and “He who develops his God-given gifts with view to aiding humanity, manifests truth” — and appended evocative verses by the Ohio-born African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872- 1906) to each of the four movements:
All my life long twell de night has pas’
Let de wo’k come ez it will,
So dat I fin’ you, my honey, at last,
Somewhaih des ovah de hill.
It’s moughty tiahsome laying’ ’roun’
Dis sorrer-laden earfly groun’,
An’ oftentimes I thinks, thinks I
’Twould be a sweet t’ing des to die
An’ go ’long home.
An’ we’ll shout ouah halleluyahs,
On dat mighty reck’nin’ day.
Be proud, my Race, in mind and soul.
Thy name is writ on Glory’s scroll
In characters of fire.
High mid the clouds of Fame’s bright sky
Thy banner’s blazoned folds now fly,
And truth shall lift them higher.
Program notes by Dr. Richard E. Rodda
Biography of Sumi Onoe
Sumi Onoe began her piano studies with Ryoko Nakata at the age of 6 in Tokyo, Japan. While in Japan, she was the 3 rd place winner in the Yokohama 150 the Anniversary Piano Competition in 2009 and the Honorable Mention Award winner in the Suganami Piano Competition in 2009. Along with her classical piano studies, she also started her guitar studies with Miz Fukuda in 2012. In 2014, Sumi came to the United States to study jazz and classical music at Idyllwild Arts Academy in California. Her teachers at Idyllwild Arts include Jeanette Louise Yaryan (classical piano), Tom Hynes (jazz guitar), Marshall Hawkins (jazz piano), and Mark Massey (jazz piano). She has played and performed in the Marshall Hawkins Jazz Combo, the Paul Carman Jazz Combo, and in chamber ensembles at IAA. In 2016, Sumi won an Outstanding Musician Award at the Reno Jazz Festival, received the Special Recognition of Outstanding Contribution Award from the Music Department, and was also a winner of the Idyllwild Arts Annual Concerto Competition. Sumi will be attending Swarthmore College in Philadelphia from fall 2017.
Biography of Scott Hosfeld
Acclaimed Conductor and Music Director of the award-winning Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra (MCCO), and the Director and Conductor of the Malibu Coast Silent Film Orchestra, Scott Hosfeld is a favorite among his professional colleagues and students. Hosfeld has been principal conductor of the Icicle Creek Chamber Orchestra, the Kairos Festival Orchestra, the Dorian Festival Orchestras, the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival Orchestras, the Icicle Symphony Orchestra, the Central Washington University Chamber Orchestra and the Eastern Sierra Symphony Chamber Orchestra. Hosfeld has led concerti for premiere international concert soloists Nathaniel Rosen, Camilla Wicks, Andrew Shulman, Paul Coletti, Delores Stevens, Steven Doane, Darol Anger, David Perry, Peter Longworth, Hal Ott, Eric Kutz, Miko Kominami, Denise Dillenbeck, Spencer Martin, John Michel, Carrie Rehkopf and Mike Marshall.
As a Conducting Fellow of the esteemed conductor of the New York City Ballet, George Manahan; and a viola and chamber music protégé of the late great concert artist, composer and pedagogue, Lillian Fuchs, Mr. Hosfeld earned his BM and MM from New York City’s Manhattan School of Music with the Highest Honors. Grand Prize Winner of Young Artists International, Hosfeld made his Carnegie Recital Hall Debut in 1980 as violist and founder of the Riverside String Quartet, and won a coveted Aspen Music Festival Fellowship. With the Val Coeur String Quartet, Mr. Hosfeld has toured Russia, Western Europe and Central and South America.
As an entrepreneur, Mr. Hosfeld served as the founding executive and artistic director of the Icicle Creek Music Center (ICMC) in Leavenworth, Washington. Hosfeld’s vision enabled ICMC to grow from an international annual summer festival into a year round Chamber Music and Arts Center, complete with 15 buildings dedicated to serious classical arts teaching and performance (including a gorgeous concert hall) on a 9-acre campus. Hosfeld’s decade-long tenure at ICMC made possible that organization’s still flourishing curriculum of intense chamber music and orchestral programs for elite professional and highly qualified student musicians in a unique alpine setting.
In great demand as an educator, Mr. Hosfeld has served as Faculty/Artist-in-Residence for the University of Arizona, Eastern Mennonite University, James Madison University, Louisiana State University, Central Washington University, Omaha Conservatory of Music at the University of Nebraska and Creighton University, and California State University at Long Beach, and continues to direct his popular conducting and chamber music clinics across the continent. Also dedicated to the education of highly qualified pre-college musicians in inspirational environs, Scott Hosfeld founded two exceptionally successful and now long-standing youth orchestras in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, one in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia (Shenandoah Valley Youth Symphony), and the other in Washington’s Cascade Mountains (Icicle Youth Symphony). Hosfeld is founder and conductor of the Malibu Coast Youth Symphony, established in 2009.
Biography of Marshall Hawkins
Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines co-creator and Musical Director Marshall Hawkins is a multi-instrumentalist, although best known as a bassist. A native of Washington D.C., Marshall moved to Idyllwild and in 1986 he founded the jazz program at Idyllwild Arts Academy. Over the years, he has mentored hundreds of talented young people, (Casey Abrams, Jason Jackson, Evan Christopher are performing at this festival), all of whom he still considers to be “his kids.” In 1994, Marshall co-founded Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines to raise scholarship funds for deserving young musicians. He is best known for his work with Miles Davis, Shirley Horn, Roberta Flack, and Donny Hathaway, to name just a few. Marshall is deeply committed to teaching and exposing children to the uniquely American art form of jazz. In 2002, he organized the Seahawk Modern Jazz Orchestra (MoJO), bringing unforgettable jazz and educational programs to promising young musicians in elementary and secondary schools.
Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra – Scott Hosfeld, Conductor
**Idyllwild Arts Faculty
Meng Ge Eva Zhang
Can Olivia Xu
*Christine Massey Warren
Tian Sky Qin
Fanghao Howard Xiang
*Alex Rosales Garcia
Keyi Carina Zhang
* Mark Berres
* Brett Sanders
Yilin Kevin Du
Anjelina Jeleva, Concertmaster
Jeong Yun Lauren Lee
Zhengnan Eric Wang
Haitian Christy Liu
Yun-Chieh Jenny Sung
Weizhi Will Yang
Daniela Beck Ortega
Qingrui Catherina Li
Boyang Leonard Kang
Seahawk Mojo – Modern Jazz Orchestra
Special Guest Alvin Paige – Tenor Saxaphone
Student of Daniel Jackson International Academy of Jazz San Diego
Marshall Hawkins – Founder, Conductor, Arranger, Composer
John Rodby – Conductor, Arranger, Composer / Piano
Sherry Williams – Vocals
Bob Boss – Guitar
Robin Ross – Viola
Tamara Paige – Viola
Emma McMunimen – Flute
Mitch Manker – Trumpet
Paul Carman – Alto Saxophone
Ken Dahleen – Baritone Saxophone
Jonathan Tower – Trombone
Paul J. Fultz – Trombone
Jeff Towers – Bass Trombone
Brett Sanders – Drums
Leland Collins – Spoons
Rural Barber – Body Percussion / Slap Jazz
Najite Agindotan – African Percussion
Roy Gonzales – Latin Percussion
Marshall Hawkins – Bass
Arsel Kalemoglu – Tenor Saxophone
Mark Beebe – Alto Saxophone
Moe Fienberg – Trumpet