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A MUSICAL PASSPORT

Livestream and broadcast performance without in-person audience. 

Sarah Hicks conducts all works for string orchestra and full orchestra.

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This program series is made possible in part by a generous lead gift from
Kathryn and Charles Cunningham.
 

Additional support from Cathy and John Muggee. 

Sponsored by Best Buy.

Artists

Program

    • Georges Barboteu
    • Esquisse, Trio for Flute, Horn, and Harp
      • Adam Kuenzel, flute
      • Bruce Hudson, horn
      • Marguerite Lynn Williams, harp
    • ca. 4’
    • Chiayu
    • Selections from Voyage for Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon
      • Stockholm: Islands in the sea
      • London: Bagpipe time
        • Julie Gramolini Williams, oboe
        • Gregory T. Williams, clarinet
        • Kai Rocke, bassoon
    • ca. 6’
    • Paquito D’Rivera
    • Selections from Aires Tropicales for Woodwind Quintet
      • Vals Venezolano
      • Habanera
      • Contradanza
        • Adam Kuenzel, flute and piccolo
        • Julie Gramolini Williams, oboe
        • Gregory T. Williams, clarinet
        • Bruce Hudson, horn
        • Kai Rocke, bassoon
    • ca. 7’
    • Astor Piazzolla/arr. Leonid Desyatnikov
    • Verano Porteño, from The Four Seasons in Buenos Aires
      • Felicity James, violin
    • ca. 8’
    • Komitas Vardapet /arr. Sergei Aslamazian/adapt. Sarah Hicks
    • Vagharshapati par for String Orchestra
    • ca. 2’
    • Edvard Grieg
    • Norwegian, from Two Melodies for String Orchestra, Opus 53
    • ca. 4’
    • Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
    • Allegro moderato, from Four Novelletten for String Orchestra, Opus 52
    • ca. 5’
    • Gioachino Rossini
    • Overture to La scala di seta (The Silken Ladder)
    • ca. 7’
    • Wolfgang Amadè Mozart
    • Adagio – Allegro, from Symphony No. 38 in D major, K. 504, Prague
    • ca. 10’
    • Franz Joseph Haydn
    • Finale: Spiritoso, from Symphony No. 104 in D major, London
    • ca. 5’

Profiles

Minnesota Orchestra

The Grammy Award-winning Minnesota Orchestra, founded in 1903 and led since its centennial by Music Director Osmo Vänskä, is recognized for distinguished performances around the world, award-winning recordings, radio broadcasts, educational engagement programs, and commitment to building the orchestral repertoire of the future. The Orchestra tours regularly throughout Minnesota and nationally, and has also toured abroad in Australia, Canada, East Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and South Africa. Its 2020-21 concert season began in October with a series of Friday night concerts in Orchestra Hall featuring smaller ensembles of Minnesota Orchestra musicians performing for TV, radio and online audiences. Beginning with its June concerts, the Orchestra will welcome in-person audiences of limited size back to Orchestra Hall.

At Home Video Collection

Sarah Hicks, conductor and host

Sarah Hicks, the Minnesota Orchestra’s principal conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall, has led a broad range of programs since joining the Orchestra as assistant conductor in 2006. Her notable projects with the Orchestra have included co-creating the Inside the Classics and Sam & Sarah series with Orchestra violist Sam Bergman; conducting a live-in-concert recording with singer-rapper Dessa, released in 2019 on the Doomtree Records label; leading numerous original Orchestra programs including Home for the Holidays, A Musical Feast and A Scandinavian Christmas; and conducting many of the Orchestra's Movies & Music concerts. Away from Orchestra Hall, she recently conducted performances of Disney Pixar’s Coco at the Hollywood Bowl as well as the orchestra in ABC’s live televised production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

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Felicity James, violin

Felicity James, who joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 2018 as associate concertmaster, made her debut as soloist with the Orchestra in January 2020 in Marc Migó’s Nocturne as part of that year’s Composer Institute. She previously served as concertmaster of the Verbier Festival Orchestra, Colburn Orchestra and Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra. She has also played with the Seattle Symphony and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and has been a soloist with the Seattle Symphony and other orchestras across the U.S. She is an enthusiastic chamber musician, having performed frequently in ensembles at the Verbier, Sarasota and Aspen festivals, as well as the Colburn Chamber Music Society, the Los Angeles Da Camera Society and the Minnesota Orchestra’s chamber series, most recently performing Felix Mendelssohn’s Octet last November.

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Rick Steves, introduction

Rick Steves is a popular public television host, a best-selling guidebook author, and an outspoken activist who encourages Americans to broaden their perspectives through travel. He is the founder and owner of Rick Steves’ Europe, a travel business with a tour program that brings more than 30,000 people to Europe annually. He spends about four months a year in Europe, researching guidebooks, fine-tuning his tour program, filming his TV show and making new discoveries for travelers. To recharge, he plays piano, relaxes at his family cabin in the Cascade mountains, and spends time with his son Andy and daughter Jackie. He lives and works in his hometown of Edmonds, Washington, where his office window overlooks his old junior high school.

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Program notes

  • Esquisse, Trio for Flute, Horn, and Harp

    Georges Barboteu

    • Born
      April 1, 1924
      Algiers, Algeria
    • Died
      September 30, 2006
      Paris, France

    Esquisse, Trio for Flute, Horn, and Harp

    • Composed
      1940

    French composer Georges Barboteu had a parallel career as a horn performer, and many of his works feature that instrument, including his 1940 Esquisse (French for Sketch). The flute opens this piece with a miniature cadenza; the harp then provides an underpinning of up-and-down arpeggios above which flute and horn trade short musical thoughts. The horn is given a lyrical theme, and the flute comments with rapid figures and trills. Near the close, the flute and horn come together, stating the lyrical melody in unison.

  • Selections from Voyage for Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon

    Chiayu

    • Born
      1975
      Banciao, Taiwan

    Selections from Voyage for Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon

    • Composed
      2015

    Chiayu describes her woodwind trio Voyage as a “musical blog” reflecting on her 2015 trip throughout Europe. She notes: “In each movement, different elements from that particular culture are employed…[including] music, atmosphere, scenery and living style.” Known for her compositions that focus on the fusion of Eastern and Western styles, the Taiwan-born composer says that Voyage “expands this scope to encompass more styles, including the incorporation of music from different cultures.”

     

    Of the two movements performed at tonight’s concert, she comments: “The third movement, Stockholm, is based on the experience I had when I took a boat ride from Stockholm to Helsinki on the day of summer solstice. It was fascinating to see endless islands when the sun didn’t go down until midnight. The inspiration of the last movement, London, came from walking on a bridge in London as I heard a street musician playing Scottish bagpipe music. I thought ‘what an iconic scene’ and decided to write this movement to capture this moment.”

  • Selections from Aires Tropicales for Woodwind Quintet

    Paquito D’Rivera

    • Born
      June 4, 1948
      Havana, Cuba

    Selections from Aires Tropicales for Woodwind Quintet

    • Premiered
      April 17, 1984

    Cuban-born clarinetist, saxophonist, composer and bandleader Paquito D’Rivera has won 14 Grammy Awards and is known for straddling the Latin jazz and classical music worlds. His wind quintet Aires Tropicales premiered in 1984; three of its seven movements are performed tonight. Vals Venezolano is a lively Venezuelan waltz; Habanera is a movement for oboe, clarinet and bassoon in the style of Maurice Ravel; and Contradanza is an upbeat Cuban dance honoring Ernesto Lecuona.

  • Verano Porteño, from The Four Seasons in Buenos Aires

    Astor Piazzolla/arr. Leonid Desyatnikov

    • Born
      March 11, 1921
      Mar Del Plata, Argentina
    • Died
      July 4, 1992
      Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Verano Porteño, from The Four Seasons in Buenos Aires

    • Composed
      1970

    Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons in Buenos Aires, composed in the 1960s and early ’70s, is inspired by Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons of two centuries earlier, and showcases Piazzolla’s compositional voice that combines the tango dance style with jazz and classical music. Heard here in an arrangement for violin and strings, the first movement brings to life spring in the port of Buenos Aires, the birthplace of the tango, with music that is captivating, powerful and haunting.

  • Vagharshapati par for String Orchestra

    Komitas Vardapet /arr. Sergei Aslamazian/adapt. Sarah Hicks

    • Born
      October 8, 1869
      Kütahya, Ottoman Empire
    • Died
      October 22, 1935
      Paris, France

    Vagharshapati par for String Orchestra

    • Composed
      ca. 1940-1950 (string quartet arrangement)

    Komitas Vardapet, a central figure in the history of Armenian music, is often known simply as Komitas, the name he took upon being ordained in 1895 as a vardapet, or priest in the Armenian Christian tradition. He collected and transcribed more than 3,000 pieces of Armenian folk music, preserving a part of culture that may otherwise have been lost in the Armenian Genocide. The Vagharshapati par is a dramatic quick-tempo dance named for the city of Vagharshapat, built around repeating two- and four-measure phrases of increasing intensity.

  • Norwegian, from Two Melodies for String Orchestra, Opus 53

    Edvard Grieg

    • Born
      June 15, 1843
      Bergen, Norway
    • Died
      September 4, 1907
      Bergen, Norway

    Norwegian, from Two Melodies for String Orchestra, Opus 53

    • Composed
      1891

    Norway’s Edvard Grieg often found inspiration—though not always exact source material—from his home nation’s folk music. The first of his Two Melodies for String Orchestra of 1891 is titled simply Norwegian, and is based on an earlier song by Grieg for voice and piano. Its ABA form is bookended by outer sections built on short, repeated fragments characteristic of Norwegian folk music, often with a steady bass drone pitch, while the middle section is slow and reflective, with a passage for solo violin.

  • Allegro moderato, from Four Novelletten for String Orchestra, Opus 52

    Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

    • Born
      August 15, 1875
      London, England
    • Died
      September 1, 1912
      Surrey, England

    Allegro moderato, from Four Novelletten for String Orchestra, Opus 52

    • Composed
      1903

    Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Four Novelletten is scored for string orchestra, plus a small percussion “section” of tambourine and triangle adding extra color. Although the British composer lived only to age 37, his music found great success in his lifetime, particularly his Song of Hiawatha cantatas, and his popularity extended to the U.S., where he made three major tours. The Four Novelletten, which dates from 1903, begins with an Allegro moderato—graceful, ballet-like music in triple meter.

  • Overture to La scala di seta (The Silken Ladder)

    Gioachino Rossini

    • Born
      February 29, 1792
      Pesaro, Italy
    • Died
      November 13, 1868
      Paris, France

    Overture to La scala di seta (The Silken Ladder)

    • Composed
      1812

    Italian composer Gioachino Rossini’s cheery Overture to the 1812 opera La scala di seta (The Silken Ladder) has eclipsed the popularity of the opera from which it is drawn. The opera’s title refers to the secret point of entry to the personal quarters of the soprano protagonist, Giulia. The Overture, which includes numerous descending scales representing the titular ladder, is a perfect setup for a tale of romantic courtship, misunderstandings and a happy-for-all ending.

  • Adagio – Allegro, from Symphony No. 38 in D major, K. 504, Prague

    Wolfgang Amadè Mozart

    • Born
      January 27, 1756
      Salzburg, Austria
    • Died
      December 5, 1791
      Vienna, Austria

    Adagio – Allegro, from Symphony No. 38 in D major, K. 504, Prague

    • Premiered
      January 19, 1787

    Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 premiered in 1787 in Prague, where the Austrian composer’s music enjoyed consistent popularity. Cast in three movements rather than the typical four, the symphony is notable for its extensive use of wind instruments, often given extended passages without strings—a breakthrough in symphonic orchestration. After a long slow introduction, the opening movement jumps to Allegro and delivers a wealth of melodies: no fewer than six are introduced, developed and reprised.

  • Finale: Spiritoso, from Symphony No. 104 in D major, London

    Franz Joseph Haydn

    • Born
      March 31, 1732
      Rohrau, Austria
    • Died
      May 31, 1809
      Vienna, Austria

    Finale: Spiritoso, from Symphony No. 104 in D major, London

    • Premiered
      May 4, 1795

    Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 104, known as the London Symphony, was composed and premiered in 1795, and was the last of 12 symphonies the prolific Austrian composer wrote during his two stays in London—as well as his final symphony overall. The high-spirited, fast-paced final movement is built around an opening theme, first stated by violins, that may have come from Croatian folk music. Near the full-ensemble finale comes a surprise: a short passage for flute and oboes.

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