An Evening at the Movies

YUAN-QING YU + KENNETH OLSEN + WINSTON CHOI + CAROL COOK, VIOLA

COMPOSITIONS

Waltz No. 2 from Suite for Variety Orchestra
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Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975)
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Gabriel's Oboe
Once Upon A Time In The West
Sergio Leone Suite
Cinema Paradiso
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Ennio Morricone (1928–2020)
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Three Pieces from Schindler's List
Star Wars Suite Medley
Home Alone Medley

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John Williams (b. 1932)
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Auld Lang Syne Variations for Piano Quartet

Piano Trio No. 5 in D Major, Op. 70, No. 1, "Ghost"
       III. Presto

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Franz Waxman (1906–1967)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)
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+ Carol Cook, viola
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Bringing the healing power of music to those with limited access to live performance is an integral aspect of Civitas' mission.

To that end, we have regularly performed for patients in hospitals around Chicago since our formation in 2011. We share this passion for uplifting hospital patients with the Center for Food Equity in Medicine, which provides services and resources to navigate the complexity of food insecurity a person may encounter during and after their healthcare challenges. We are honored to partner with such an outstanding organization after a year when healthcare systems, patients and their families, and food resources city-wide have been strained by the Covid-19 pandemic. Until Civitas is able to safely enter hospitals to perform once more, we thank you for supporting our collaboration with the Center so that we can continue to support those in need.How we help

Program Notes

Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G Minor

Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor is one of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s (1873–1943) earliest compositions, written in just four days in January of 1892 when the composer was only 18 years old. It was a big year for the young Rachmaninoff: he made his formal debut in Moscow just a few weeks later on January 30, where he performed works by Chopin, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, and several of his own chamber works including the Trio élégiaque. Later that year, he graduated from the Moscow Conservatory with the highest honor in composition, the Great Gold Medal.

The single-movement work showcases both Rachmaninoff’s unique, emerging voice alongside the profound influence of his friend and unofficial mentor, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893). Rachmaninoff’s trio bears a resemblance to the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s 1882 Piano Trio in A minor, marked “Pezzo elegiaco,” which was written after the death of Tchaikovsky’s friend Nikolai Rubinstein. Both “elegiac” pieces follow a conventional sonata form and share many similarities, the most pronounced of which is the return of the main theme as a funeral march in the coda of both movements. When Tchaikovsky died of sudden illness less than two years after the premiere of the first Trio élégiaque (and before conducting the premiere of Rachmaninoff’s orchestral fantasy The Rock, as he had wished), Rachmaninoff returned to the piano trio form and wrote Trio élégiaque No. 2 in D minor, Op. 9 in memory of his mentor. The second trio, much larger in scope and length, often overshadowed the earlier trio of the same name, which was not even published until 1947. The first trio’s admirable qualities have become more well known in recent years, and the work stands as a powerful example of the young Rachmaninoff’s unmistakable voice.

Approximately 13 minutes
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Anechoic Rhapsody

Anechoic Rhapsody was written at the start of the COVID 19 pandemic as the world was being asked to shelter-in-place. The world changed overnight and brought with it an intense quiet and solitude never before experienced. Heartbeat and breath became audible and reflection was inevitable. It was enough to drive one mad and also a potential source of healing. The periodicity of breath and heartbeat are central to the work and take the form of repeating gestures that undulate and pulse. At times, the pulsing is even in nature and at other times it varies widely in speed progressing rapidly between slow and fast tempos. At other times, the pulses of the various instruments diverge from one another and there is something akin to a sense of drifting into reverie. The range of experience spans from meditative to untethered and the work ultimately climaxes with the piano alone, a voice that had remained relatively subordinate until this moment, as if consciousness itself was awakened and moved by a revelation.

The anechoic chamber, referenced by the title, is a completely soundproof environment used for testing audio products and it is reported that most people cannot stay within it for longer than 45 minutes at a time, some needing to leave immediately. The awareness of one’s own blood flowing through organs and the sound of bones moving at the turn of a head can bring awareness as to the fragility of life. A frightening prospect, but it is precisely this fragility that also makes life so precious and what causes us all to dream beyond the confines of our experience. There is beauty and healing in the quiet. This work was commissioned by the Civitas Ensemble and dedicated to Judy McCue, all of whom engaged in the process of developing the concept behind this work and to whom the composer is truly grateful.How we help

Approximately 7 minutes
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Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 67

Like Rachmaninoff’s elegiac trios and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A minor, Dmitri Shostakovich’s (1906–1975) Piano Trio in E minor was written to mourn the loss of a dear friend: Ivan Sollertinsky, a brilliant musicologist, music critic, and artistic director of the Leningrad Philharmonic who died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of forty-one in February 1944. Shostakovich was devastated by the loss, writing the following to Sollertinsky’s widow: “I cannot express in words all of the grief I felt when I received the news of the death of Ivan Ivanovich … who was my closest friend. … I owe all my education to him.”

The trio’s profundity no doubt comes in part from the backdrop of World War II against which it was written, commenting more broadly on the tenor of the times and suggesting an elegy for the tragic victims of war as well as for Sollertinsky. Though not Jewish himself, Shostakovich felt a strong affinity with what he considered the most persecuted people of Europe and was deeply affected by the discovery of the Majdanek and Treblinka death camps as the Nazis retreated from the eastern front. His edgy use of “Jewish” and other folk themes in this trio and other works can be traced to both the trauma of war as well as his fascination with the music of Gustav Mahler, whose work (loosely drawing on Jewish themes) had been championed in the Soviet Union by Sollertinsky.

The opening Andante begins very quietly in eerie high harmonics as a solo cello introduces a meditative subject that grows into a weighty fugue. The following scherzo, brisk and spiky, is unmistakably Shostakovich and constantly teeters on the edge between lively and frantic. The third movement Largo is a funeral dirge cast in the form of a Baroque passacaglia, based on the six-fold repetition in the piano of an 8-measure chord progression (in 1975, this movement was played as the public filed past the coffin of the composer lying in state in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory). Without pause, a quiet drumming figure in the piano leads us into the finale, which features several Jewish dances and juxtaposes joy and sorrow in such a way as to intensify emotions in both directions.

Approximately 30 minutes
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Air and Simple Gifts

John Williams (b. 1932) wrote the piano quartet Air and Simple Gifts for the first inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States of America. It was premiered by a virtuosic ensemble comprising Anthony McGill (clarinet), Itzhak Perlman (violin), Yo-Yo Ma (cello), and Gabriela Montero (piano) on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 20, 2009 and was the first classical quartet to be performed at a presidential inauguration.

John Williams is famous for his many symphonic film scores from a career spanning nearly seven decades. Air and Simple Gifts prominently features the traditional 19th century Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts” by Joseph Brackett, most famously heard in Aaron Copland’s 1944 ballet, Appalachian Spring. The use of the tune is doubly significant because of its familiar status in American traditional music and because Copland is noted as one of President Obama’s favorite classical composers. Structured roughly in three parts, the piece opens with a pensive, modal “Air” theme introduced by the violin and accompanied by the cello and piano. The clarinet enters later with the “Simple Gifts” theme, triggering an increasingly energetic series of variations leading up to the return of the “Air” melody and a final cadence in D major.

Approximately 5 minutes
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jin yin's relevance to our work

Zoltán Kodály’s duo for violin and cello is a masterpiece that showcases the two instruments in their most glorious forms, as the ultimate virtuosos and as communicators of folk musical language. The freedom and energy that flows through the entire piece is irresistible.How we help

A dominant figure in Hungarian music, Dohnanyi is regarded as the most versatile musician to emerge from that country since Franz Liszt. His compositional style is a delicious mix of Richard Strauss’s tone poems and Sergei Rachmaninov’s symphonies. This sextet was his last large scale chamber music, in which we are featuring two amazing guest artists, CSO (horn) Oto Carrillo and (viola) WeiTing Kuo.How we help

DePaul’s new performance venues have caught the attention of many performers and ensembles, and being in a university setting gives us greater access to students thus further our mission on education. This is a great way to kick off the 2019-2020 season.How we help

Program Notes

Shostakovich

Waltz No. 2 from Suite for Variety Orchestra, for piano trio - 4’

We are all familiar with Dmitri Shostakovich’s (1906-1975) orchestral, chamber and vocal music, but he also wrote a number of light-hearted works and film scores that were used in 36 movies during his lifetime. One such piece, the Suite for Variety Orchestra, is a sparkling work in eight short movements that, according to the composer, can be performed in any order. The “variety” in the orchestra comes from the composer’s addition of a full saxophone section, celeste, and two pianos. Although the exact year of composition is unknown, the Suite must have been assembled by Shostakovich at least post-1956 because of the use of the second waltz (movement seven) in the 1955 Soviet romance film The First Echelon

The Suite’s second waltz in c minor was an immediate success and has remained one of Shostakovich’s most enduring and popular short compositions. It is in ternary form (ABA), with the outer sections based on a minor mode tune of a particularly haunting beauty punctuated with a humorous toy soldier march. Since its introduction to the public in 1955, the waltz has been used frequently in televised commercials, particularly around the holiday season (perhaps because its mischievous character is reminiscent of young children trying to sneak a peek at their much-anticipated gifts). The most famous use of the waltz may be during the opening title sequence of the 1999 psychological drama Eyes Wide Shut. The film was directed by Stanley Kubrick, who frequently used classical music in his movies along with original scoring (Jocelyn Pook’s score for Eyes Wide Shut was nominated for Best Original Score by the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society). 

The arrangement heard tonight was completed by Pia Moon.

Ennio Morricone

Gabriel’s Oboe for violin and cello - 5’       
Once Upon a Time, for cello and piano - 4’       
Sergio Leone Suite, for cello and piano, arr. Alex Shor - 8-9’       
Cinema Paradiso, for piano trio - 5’

Ennio Morricone (1928–2020) was an Italian composer, orchestrator, conductor, and trumpeter who wrote music in a wide range of styles. With more than 400 scores for cinema and television, as well as more than 100 classical works, Morricone is widely considered one of the most prolific and greatest film composers of all time. His filmography includes more than 70 award-winning films, all of Sergio Leone's films since A Fistful of Dollars, all Giuseppe Tornatore's films since Cinema Paradiso, several major films in French cinema, as well as acclaimed films Once Upon a Time in America, The Mission, The Untouchables, Mission to Mars, Bugsy, Disclosure, In the Line of Fire, and The Hateful Eight

Gabriel’s Oboe is the main theme from Roland Joffé’s 1986 film The Mission and is one of Morricone’s most recognizable melodies. In the film, the theme is most prominently used when the protagonist, the Jesuit Father Gabriel, walks up to a waterfall and starts playing his oboe, aiming to befriend the natives with his music so he can carry his missionary work in the New World. The theme has been arranged and performed several times by artists including Yo-Yo Ma, and Morricone’s soundtrack won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.

Sergio Leone (1929–1989) is regarded as one of the most influential directors in the history of cinema. Morricone was his frequent musical collaborator and contributed innovative scores to some of Leone’s most popular films. The Sergio Leone Suite (arr. Alex Schor) includes recognizable tunes including “Deborah’s Theme,” “Cockeye’s Song,” and the “Main Theme” from Once Upon A Time In America (1984), the “Main Theme” from Once Upon A Time In The West (1968), and “The Ecstasy of Gold” from The Good, the Band and the Ugly (1966). Also included this evening is a solo arrangement of Once Upon A Time In The West (arr. Antti Hakkarainen) for cello and piano. 

Morricone’s score for Cinema Paradiso (1988) underscores the story of an aspiring director hoping to leave his wartorn hometown in post-WWII Sicily. The score won the BAFTA Award for Best Musical Score, and its lyrical opening measures have become one of the most iconic themes in the history of movie music, instantly conjuring nostalgia, romance, longing, and lost innocence. The version for piano trio was arranged by Yoanita Kartadihardja.

John Williams

Three Pieces from Schindler’s List, for violin and piano    
Home Alone Medley      
Star Wars Medley

Lauded American film composer John Williams (b. 1932) began studying music and piano at a young age in Queens, New York. After being drafted into the U.S. Air Force in 1951, he returned to New York to attend the Juilliard School, studying with famed teacher Rosina Lhevinne in pursuit of his dream of becoming a concert pianist. He began working in film music as a movie studio musician in Los Angeles, playing piano for films including Some Like It Hot (1959) and To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). He soon transitioned to writing his own music for television and film, his first movie being Daddy-O in 1959. Since then, he has scored more than one hundred films, winning five Academy Awards and garnering a record-breaking fifty-one nominations. He has also won three Emmys and over twenty Grammy awards for his work in film scoring. 

Two of his Oscar-winning films, Star Wars (1977) and Schindler’s List (1993), were the result of his work with frequent collaborator Steven Spielberg, whose films nearly always include an original score by Williams. Of his work on Schindler’s List, Williams says:

During the summer of 1993 it was my great privilege to compose music for Steven Spielberg’s brilliant film Schindler’s List. 

The film’s ennobling story, set in the midst of the great tragedy of the Holocaust, offered an opportunity to create not only dramatic music, but also themes that reflected the more tender and nostalgic aspects of Jewish life during these turbulent years.

For this part of the soundtrack I featured a solo violin, accompanied by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and our greatest good fortune was to have Itzhak Perlman as soloist for the recording. 

Included here are three pieces – “Theme from Schindler’s List,” “Jewish Town (krakow Ghetto  Winter ‘41),” and “Remembrances” – which embody the main thematic elements of the score, and it is especially gratifying to me that this music can now be available for performance independent of the film.

Tonight’s arrangement of Star Wars Medley (arr. Izzy De Leon for two violins) takes advantage of the violin’s sonorous open strings and double stops to imitate Williams’ original soaring orchestral score. The Medley features iconic themes including “The Force,” “Star Wars Main Theme,” “Cantina Band,” “Imperial March,” “Princess Leia Theme,” and “Duel of the Fates.” 

The score to Home Alone (1990) was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score, and the film's signature tune "Somewhere in My Memory" was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media. "Somewhere in My Memory" was written to "run alongside the film" by Williams and can be heard in numerous sections of the film, either in full length or fragments, forming the backbone for the film's soundtrack. "Somewhere in My Memory" is performed in many Christmas concerts in schools or professional orchestras and choirs alike across the globe. The arrangement heard this evening was done by the classical crossover ensemble Brooklyn Duo.

Franz Waxman

Auld Lang Syne Variations for Piano Quartet - 12’
Notes by John Waxman

For the traditional Jascha Heifetz New Years Eve party of December 31, 1947, my father composed Auld Lang Syne Variations. The music is based on Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik as it might have been composed by Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Shostakovich/Prokofiev.

The variations are four individual movements, each one presenting the theme in the style of a different composer – and each featuring the violin prominently. The first variation, “Eine Kleine Nichtmusik,” highlights Mozart’s trademark active bass line in the piano, and includes references to Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola, among other works. The second movement, called “Moonlight Concerto,” opens with a quote from Beethoven’s most famous piano sonata and the Second movement (Larghetto) of his Violin concerto set against a dramatic rendition of the “Auld Lang Syne” theme, and interpolates melodies from Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. The third movement, “Chaconne a son Gout” – a play on the French expression a chacun son gout, or “to each his own taste” – has the solo violin performing the theme in the style of Chaconne from Partita No. 2 by J.S. Bach. The last movement, titled “Homage to Shostakofiev,” parodies two of Waxman’s contemporaries, the “Auld Lang Syne” theme here transforms itself into a spinning-out melody from Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 1, F Major, Second Movement – Allegro (Scherzo) and Piano Trio, and then segues into a snippet of Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto before fading out in a bleak Russian style.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Trio No. 5 in D Major, Op. 70, No. 1, “Ghost,” III. Presto

Though he died nearly 60 years before the first moving picture was ever projected, the music of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) has graced the silver screen no less than 1,200 times according to IMDb. Many of his credits are for his well-known orchestral works, with Symphonies No. 5, 7, 9, and his “Emperor” Piano Concerto among the most popular. His chamber and piano works are featured prolifically as well, and scenes featuring a character who “hasn’t played the piano in years” fumbling through the opening measures of the ubiquitous Für Elise or the Moonlight Sonata are nearly a dime a dozen. 

The “Ghost” Trio’s eerie Largo second movement, from which the work gets its otherworldly nickname, has been featured in film multiple times. In Colonel Chabert (1994), it joins the ranks of other works by Mozart, Scarlatti, Schubert, and Schumann to paint a dim picture of a French soldier’s return home from war in post-Napoleonic France. The “Ghost” Trio also appears in the 1994 film Immortal Beloved, a biopic about Beethoven himself and the mystery surrounding the “Immortal Beloved” he wrote to in several letters. 

The Presto featured tonight is the jubilant and optimistic finale of the “Ghost” Trio, which was featured at Civitas Ensemble’s Beethoven at 250 concert in January, 2020. The all-Beethoven celebration was the Ensemble’s final live performance together before the Covid-19 pandemic swept through the U.S., forcing the shutdown of arts spaces all across the country. Tonight, the Ensemble performs this work again in their first live, in-person concert as a symbol of the collective resolve our communities have shown during this global crisis and as a beacon of optimism that the worst is behind us and we will feel a sense of normalcy soon once more.

Carol Cook

Viola

Carol Cook made her concerto debut at the age of sixteen and has appeared as both a soloist and chamber musician in concert halls worldwide. Born in Inverness, Scotland, into a musical family, Carol has performed as soloist with the Chicago Philharmonic, Champaign Urbana Symphony, Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra in Boston, Edinburgh Symphony, Guildhall Symphony, Cambridge Sinfonia, and Edinburgh Players.

As a chamber musician, Carol is a member of the Rembrandt Chamber Musicians in Chicago and has appeared at summer festivals in Banff, Verbier, Montreal, La Jolla, Caramoor, Chamber Music Northwest, Mimir Festival and Cactus Pear Festival in San Antonio. Carol was appointed Principal Violist with the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra in 2013, having been a member of the orchestra since 2003. She has also appeared as guest Principal Violist with numerous international orchestras, including the highly acclaimed Australian Chamber Orchestra with whom she has toured extensively throughout Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. She performs regularly with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and has also appeared with New York Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra.

Carol is also an LPGA teaching professional and enjoys giving golf lessons at the Cantigny Golf Academy in Wheaton. 

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