40th ANNIVERSARY SEASON OPENING CONCERT
Sunday, October 16, 3:00 pm
Purchase Performing Arts Center

Jayce Ogren, conducting
Ran Dank, piano

(click the artists’ names above to read their bios)


Program

Jessie Montgomery: Banner

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2
    I. Allegro con brio
    II. Adagio
    III. Rondo. Molto allegro

    Mr. Dank

INTERMISSION

Montgomery: Strum

Mozart: Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K.550
    I. Molto allegro
    II. Andante
    III. Menuetto
    IV. Allegro assai

 

Screen Shot 2022-10-10 at 5.32.35 PM.png

The Westchester Philharmonic’s programs are made possible, in part, by support from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.

Screen Shot 2022-10-10 at 5.38.02 PM.png

The Westchester Philharmonic’s programs are made possible, in part, by ArtsWestchester with support from County Executive George Latimer and the Westchester County government.

PROGRAM NOTES

By Laurie Shulman

Banner

Jessie Montgomery

Born 8 December 1981 in New York City

 

  • Our national anthem is the basis for this free rhapsody.

  • Montgomery composed it in observance of “The Star Spangled Banner” centennial.

  • A violinist herself, Montgomery understands writing for strings.

  • Listen for bits and snippets of the familiar tune, in varying tempos.

  • Jazz, ragtime, bluegrass, and square dance styles all make an appearance.

 

Music is my connection to the world. It guides me to understand my place in relation to others and challenges me to make clear the things I do not understand. I imagine that music is a meeting place at which all people can converse about their unique differences and common stories.

– Jessie Montgomery

So reads a statement on the home page of Jessie Montgomery’s web site. A violinist and educator as well as a composer, she grew up in a musical household on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Her parents worked in music and theater and were active in neighborhood arts initiatives. Montgomery earned her undergraduate degree from the Juilliard School in violin performance, and subsequently completed a master’s in Film Composition and Multimedia in NYU. She is currently a Graduate Fellow in Music Composition at Princeton.

 

Montgomery composed Banner in 2014 on commission from the Sphinx Virtuosi, a self-conducted string orchestra comprising 18 Black and LatinX musicians. The commission was inobservance of the 200th anniversary of our national anthem. Montgomery’s composer’s note explains further.

 

Banner is a rhapsody on the “Star Spangled Banner” theme. Drawing on musical and historical sources from various world anthems and patriotic songs, I’ve made an attempt to answer the question: “What does an anthem for the 21st century sound like in today’s multi-cultural environment?” The structure is loosely based on traditional marching band form where there are several strains or contrasting sections; I have drawn on the drum line chorus as a source for the rhythmic underpinning in the finale.

 

As a culture, we Americans are perpetually in search of ways to express our ideals of freedom, to proclaim, “we’ve made it!” as if the very action of saying it aloud makes it so. And for many of our nation’s people, that was the case: through work songs and spirituals, enslaved Africans promised themselves a way out and built the nerve to endure the most abominable treatment for the promise of a free life. Immigrants from Europe, Central America and the Pacific have sought out a safe haven here and though met with the trials of building a multi-cultured democracy, continue to find roots in our nation and make significant contributions to our cultural landscape. A tribute to the U.S. national anthem means acknowledging the contradictions, leaps and bounds and milestones that allow us to celebrate and maintain the tradition of our ideals.

 

Montgomery’s 9-minute rhapsody deconstructs phrases from the familiar tune, re-thinking them and combining them with snippets of other musical Americana. Collectively, they feel like a jumbled kaleidoscope, or perhaps a crowded fairground. The piece has some of the patchwork crazy exuberance of Charles Ives, who drew on America’s diverse musical cultures more than a century ago. But the immediacy, string agility, and quicksilver mood changes are Montgomery’s own.

 

We hear the original version of Banner, for solo string quartet and string orchestra.

 

Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 19

Ludwig van Beethoven

Born 16 December, 1770 in Bonn, Germany

Died 26 March, 1827 in Vienna, Austria

 

  • In the early 1790s, Beethoven was a brilliant pianist newly arrived in Vienna and determined to impress.

  • The Second Piano Concerto is a splendid snapshot of the youthful Beethoven.

  • The concerto gives us an idea of his style when he improvised

  • Listen for a dramatic first movement followed by a lyrical and beautiful adagio

  • Beethoven’s finale is bright and witty, revealing his sense of humor

 

Beethoven's career in Vienna in the 1790s garnered him more prestige as a performer and keyboard improviser than as a composer. Wishing to promote his pianistic talent, he wrote many pieces for himself. Opus 19 falls into this category. In fact, it was the first major work for piano and orchestra he completed. Despite its numbering as "Concerto No. 2" and its later opus number (which reflects a later publication date) than the C major Concerto, Op. 15, the B-flat concerto is the earlier work. Recent scholarship indicates that Beethoven may have composed parts of it as early as 1785, when he was still a teenager in Bonn!

 

Beethoven himself did not consider either of the first two piano concerti to be among his finer works, but both pieces show him having graduated from gifted student to Viennese master. And the Viennese public received him with delight. He may have played the B-flat concerto in public as early as March 1790 (contemporary reports do not specify the key of the concerto). That performance is thought to have been his orchestral début in the Austrian capital. Beethoven is known to have played this concerto in Prague as late as 1798. The Viennese house of Hoffmeister published the Second Concerto in December 1801.

 

Op. 19 adheres to the Mozartean concerto model, with an extensive orchestral exposition in the first movement preceding the soloist's entrance. Listeners more familiar with Beethoven's C-major concerto will be pleasantly surprised by the intimate, chamber-music like quality of this work. Scored without trumpets or timpani, it permits more focus on the interaction of the piano with the delicate wind instruments. The outer movements, especially the finale, have an irresistible rhythmic vitality that encourages aural memory of their themes. The B-flat Concerto is the forgotten jewel among Beethoven's piano concerti, and its cadenzas – Beethoven’s own – give us tantalizing glimpses of the young genius's improvisatory technique.

 

The score calls for flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, solo piano and strings.

 

 

 

Strum for string quartet (2006, rev. 2012)

Jessie Montgomery

 

  • Montgomery’s title refers to members of the guitar family.

  • Strum celebrates American folk idioms.

  • Traditional and popular elements figure into the musical tapestry.

  • Listen for varied textures showing off the many colors possible from string instruments.

 

The fact that Jessie Montgomery’s music appears twice on this program is an indication of how prominent her voice has become in American music. Only 40, Montgomery has rocketed to the top of the most-frequently-performed list, writing powerful and accessible music for chamber ensemble, chorus, solo instruments, and orchestra.

 

As its title suggests, Strum alludes to plucked strings, specifically those of the guitar family. Montgomery describes this piece as a celebration of American folk idioms and the spirit of dance and movement. In her seven minute score, she evokes multiple styles, freely migrating between traditional techniques and popular elements. Her composer’s note states:

 

Strum is the culminating result of several versions of a string quintet I wrote in 2006. It was originally written for the Providence String Quartet and guests of Community MusicWorks Players, then arranged for string quartet in 2008 with several small revisions. In 2012 the piece underwent its final revisions with a rewrite of both the introduction and the ending for the Catalyst Quartet in a performance celebrating the 15th annual Sphinx Competition.

 

Originally conceived for the formation of a cello quintet, the voicing is often spread wide over the ensemble, giving the music an expansive quality of sound. Within Strum I utilized texture motives, layers of rhythmic or harmonic ostinati that string together to form a bed of sound for melodies to weave in and out. The strumming pizzicato serves as a texture motive and the primary driving rhythmic underpinning of the piece. Drawing on American folk idioms and the spirit of dance and movement, the piece has a kind of narrative that begins with fleeting nostalgia and transforms into ecstatic celebration.

 

The movement opens with upper strings playing pizzicato. Cello introduces a mournful theme, presently joined by first violin. The mood shifts to a more upbeat tempo, introducing jazzy syncopations and flights of fancy. In some passages all four players use their bows, including in chorale-like rhythmic unison; however, Montgomery’s layered, pulsating rhythms are never far off. Diverse in textures and rhythmically complex, Strum is a joyous paean to string colors.

 

 

Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K.550
Wolfgang Amadè Mozart

Born 27 January, 1756 in Salzburg, Austria

Died 5 December, 1791 in Vienna·

 

  • The first glimmers of musical romanticism are embedded in this symphony.

  • Restlessness and tragedy are the overriding emotions.

  • With customary genius, Mozart gives us an island of serenity in the slow movement. 

  • The minuet/trio and finale return to turbulence and drama. 

 

Few works in the classical symphonic literature are more beloved than Mozart's great G-minor Symphony. How ironic that the music should be so familiar, while we have so little information about the circumstances of its composition! We only know that Mozart composed his final trilogy of symphonies, No. 39 in E-flat, K.543; No. 40 in G-minor, K.550, and No. 41 in C, K.551 (“Jupiter”), in a mere six weeks in 1788. Such a combination of quantity and superior quality is almost unparalleled in music history. But why did he compose them? There is no mention of any of the three symphonies in Mozart's letters to give us a clue as to their origin. One theory holds that Mozart was planning to present these works at a series of subscription concerts, but no such series came to fruition that year. More recently, scholars have hypothesized that a performance of the three final symphonies may have taken place in 1790.

 

If the Viennese public heard the G minor symphony, they must have been baffled. Works in minor keys were unusual in the late eighteenth-century, and Mozart's symphony is singularly dark throughout its four movements. The nervous agitation that introduces the opening movement was a radical departure from the norm, for accompaniment momentarily supersedes melody, and when we hear the theme it is piano. These observations may seem parenthetical to us, but they were bold departures for Mozart. Audiences today hear this symphony as balanced and refined. To late eighteenth-century ears, the music would have been deeply disturbing. Nineteenth-century romantics seized on the G minor symphony as evidence that Mozart was the harbinger of musical romanticism.

 

Mozart expands the emotional boundaries of the classical symphony in this work through his expressive, intensely personal musical language. Particularly lovely is the lengthy slow movement, which explores nuances of the delicate wind scoring and the persuasive pull of subtly irregular rhythmic patterns. Though in E-flat major, this Andante is hardly a respite from the tragic overtones of G-minor. Chromatic lines in the winds remind us of the broad emotional paintbrushes Mozart used. The finale is harmonically adventurous and as dramatic as anything Beethoven composed. The daring extremes of dynamics and high emotional charge argue persuasively for categorizing K.550 with the early romantics. At the same time, the G-minor symphony's perfection of form and elegant proportions are a constant reminder that in Mozart, the classical era reached its pinnacle.

 

Mozart's score calls for flute, oboes, bassoons, horns and strings.

 

Program Notes by Laurie Shulman ©2022

First North American Serial Rights Only

 

 

 

 

MUSICIANS OF THE WESTCHESTER PHILHARMONIC

Click here to view our roster of musicians. 

 

BOARD & ADMINISTRATION

Click here to view the Westchester Philharmonic’s Board and Administration 

 

 

FRIENDS OF THE PHIL

Join the "Phil Family" by supporting the Westchester Philharmonic today!

 

Contributions from friends like you play a vital role in our ability to bring you the great musical works you love, the world-class performers you admire, and the music in the classrooms that our children so richly deserve.

 

The easiest way to support the Phil is to have your credit card handy and make a secure contribution online here.

 

You may also mail a check made out to Westchester Philharmonic to:

Westchester Philharmonic

170 Hamilton Ave, Suit 350

White Plains, NY 10601

 

The Westchester Philharmonic is an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Tax ID #22-2474284.

 
 
 
 

It is with great respect and admiration that we acknowledge the support of those corporations and individuals who helped to make this season possible. We are grateful for your long-standing dedication and service to the Westchester Philharmonic. 

BECOME A FRIEND OF THE PHIL TODAY. 


Donations are always welcome and much appreciated. To make a gift today, please use the envelope enclosed in this program and return it to the information table in the lobby, visit our website or call (914) 682-3707. 

Thank you for your vision and generosity in supporting the Westchester Philharmonic. The following list represents gifts totaling $75 or more made between October 1, 2019 to October 12, 2022. To make a contribution, call (914) 682-3707, donate online at westchesterphil.org, or mail your gift to: 
 

 Westchester Philharmonic 
170 Hamilton Ave, Suit 350
White Plains, NY 10601 

$50,000 and above

ArtsWestchester

Mario J. Gabelli

Emily Grant

Horizon Kinetics

Hannah Shmerler

Murray and Teddi Stahl

 

$20,000 - $49,999

Arnow Family Foundation

New York State Council on the Arts

Nataly Ritter

Westchester County Business First

Sherry and Robert Wiener

 

$10,000 - $19,999

Neil and Gayle Aaron

Barbara and H. Rodgin Cohen

Jandon Foundation

Leona Kern

Numa and Kaaren Rousseve

St. Vincent De Paul Foundation

Lisa Tibbitts

Steve Ucko

David E. Worby

 

$5,000 - $9,999

Jo-Ann Graham

Marty and Millicent Kaufman

Sylvia and Leonard Marx

Lisa Robb

 

$2,500 - $4,999

Mr. & Mrs. Warren A. Breakstone

Robin Bushman & Dr. Robert Fried

Barbara Dannenberg

Mr. & Mrs. Jeff Elliott

Phyllis Honig

Linda & Paul Landesman

The Peckham Family Foundation

Kirsti Prochelle

Esther Robbins

S&P Global

 

$1,000 - $2,499

Gloria Fields and Andy Seligson

Franklin Templeton

Marilyn and John Heimerdinger

Joy Henshel

Tom and Libby Hollahan

IBM International Foundation

Keith Kearney and Debby McLean

Mr. & Mrs. Jerry Kohl

Mary Ann and Peter S. Liebert, M.D.

Leonard Lowy

Mr. & Mrs. Harris Markhoff

Jean and Henry Pollak

Cyndy Shmerler and Ford Levy

Yvonne Tropp

Mr. & Mrs. John Werner

Rory and Joshua Worby

$500 - $999

Liz and Tony Aiello

Richard Bobbe and Jocelyn Schuman

Rena Finkelstein

Juliet Gopoian

Dr. & Mrs. Gerald Greitzer

Martin Grossman

Mr. & Mrs. Robert Kearney

Barbara Klauber

Marjorie Lee

Julie and Dick Leerburger

Vivienne Levenson

Mr. & Mrs. Raina Lindholm

Christina Maurillo

Cheryne and David McBride

Pfizer Foundation

Irving and Sharon Picard

Douglas Plath

Denise A. Rempe

Lucille Werlinich

 

$200 - $499

Anonymous

Mr. & Mrs. Stephen Bear

Mr. & Mrs. Anthony Bloomberg

Carole M. Boccumini

Jane Bridges and Robert Dennard

Mr. & Mrs. Frank Caputzal

Ron Carran

Harry Chu

Mark Cohen

Jed Feuer

Susan Greene

Andrew and Deborah Jagoda

Kristina Kaufman

Ellen and Jonathan Litt

Peggy G. Marx

Joel and Sandy Meyers

Therese M. Nagai

Mr. & Mrs. Robert S. Olsen

Daniel Politi and Cecily Gottling

Marianne and Arnold I. Rich

Andrea Ritchin

Rosalind Schulman

Elon and Patrice Schwartz

Stan and Barbara Selbst

Robert Silverson

Ruth B. Toff

Susan and Larry Tolchin

Russel Watsky

Fred and Beth Weiler

Paula M. Wittlin

Dorothy J. Young

$50 - $199

Shawn Amdur

Robert Baensch

Felipe Cabello and Lieselotte Hott

Anthony Checetto

Edith Holly Cocuzzo

Mr. & Mrs. Lloyd Cort

Kathy Dornbush

Miriam and Paul Douglas

George and Theresa Edwards

Adam Eggleston

Rosalie Ferrillo

Mr. & Mrs. James J. Flood

Karen Gennaro

Mr. & Mrs. Dennis Granata

Ruth Grant

Ruth Greer

Nathan Heidelberger

Philip and Ellen Heidelberger

Robert J. Herbert

Mr. & Mrs. Seth Jacobs

Stanley Josephson

Rita Kaplan

John and Ann Kaufman

Sally Kellock

Dr. & Mrs. Harold Keltz

Kings County Hospital Psych Dept.

Jane Kramer

Harriet Leibowitz

Richard and Diane Lert

Mark and Ann Lewis

Victor Mason

Helen F. Mecs

Janet and Steve Meyers

Mr. & Mrs. Daniel Miller

Mr. & Mrs. Sean O`Donnell

Judith Peck

Chuan Qin

Karen Ragins

Joan and Mills Ripley

Richard and Ann Marie Schneeman

Robert Sherman Pearl Anne Schwartz

Francine Shorts

Bill and Margaret Slattery

Rita Stewart

Inger Tallaksen

David and Moira Tobey

Kathleen Vaughan

Susan M. Wackerow

Marcia Wallace

Elaine Weiss and Mr. William Weil

Mr. & Mrs. Albert Weil

Barbara Wenglin

Myron Winson

Peter D. Wolfson and Laura L. Butterfield

Mr. and Mrs. Xiangjian Zhang

Dorothy and Arthur Zuch