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Yolanda Kondonassis, harp
- March 8-9, 2013 7:00 PM
- where: Dell Hall directions
- conductor: Peter Bay
Yolanda Kondonassis is celebrated as one of the world’s premiere solo harpists and is widely regarded as today’s most recorded classical harpist. Hailed as “an extraordinary virtuosa” and “sheer luminescence at the harp,” she has performed around the globe as a concerto soloist and in recital, bringing her unique brand of musicianship and warm artistry to an ever-increasing audience.
March is national “Orchestras Feeding America” month. Bring your canned goods to the ASO Box Office at 1101 Red River St. or to Watkins Insurance Group at 3834 Spicewood Springs #100 before March 9th, 2013, and receive a “Buy One, Get One” ticket to the March 8th or 9th performance! You can even purchase online and use the code “FOOD.” Tickets will be held at Will Call at the ASO Box Office before the performance (till 5pm) and at the Long Center the night of the performance (starting at 7pm). Bring your canned goods and your ID to pick up your tickets.
All proceeds will benefit Capital Area Food Bank of Texas. To learn more about Orchestras Feeding America Month click here. Help us combat hunger in Central Texas.
Cannot be combined with any other special offer. Good for single ticket purchases only.
|Beethoven||Leonore Overture No. 2 Op. 72a|
|Ginastera||Harp Concerto, Op. 25|
|Sibelius||Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 43|
Ludwig van Beethoven
b. December 17, 1770 in Bonn, Germany; d. March 26, 1827 in Vienna, Austria.
Leonore Overture No. 2, Op. 72a.
Beethoven spent more time writing the overture to Fidelio than Rossini and Donizetti spent on entire operas, overtures included. But then Beethoven did write a total of four overtures to his only opera, which itself underwent several revisions.
To make a potentially interminable story short: Beethoven was dissatisfied for various reasons, practical and aesthetic, with the first three versions of the overture. All three are today referred to as “Leonore,” after the opera’s protagonist – and the working title of the first version (1805) of the opera itself – a woman who, disguised as a man, Fidelio, rescues her husband, Florestan, from political imprisonment and imminent death.
Leonore No. 1 was regarded by the composer as too slight to bear the burden of the drama that was to follow; No. 2, in his estimation, possessed the right ideas but too roughly worked-out; and No. 3 was too grand to be anything but self-sufficient. So Beethoven shelved them all and started from scratch to produce in 1814 what we know as the Fidelio Overture: a compact, energetic curtain-raiser that, unlike its three predecessors, avoids themes from the opera proper.
As far back as the early 1920s Arturo Toscanini was already a champion of the terse, until then rarely-encountered No. 1 (every conductor programmed the gigantic, symphonic No. 3 and the Fidelio Overture). No. 2, on the other hand, has had to wait until very recently, for the occasional revival of Leonore, i.e., the first version of Fidelio, to arouse more than passing interest. Like Leonore itself, the present overture doesn’t represent a final destination, but a way-station, although one decidedly worth visiting.
Leonore No. 2 is hugely dramatic, mirroring the intensity of the darkest events of the opera it was once intended to precede. It is largely derived from the scene that opens the second act in both versions of the opera: a depiction of Florestan’s dungeon, to which we are led via dark, descending octaves and dissonant harmonies. The theme of Florestan’s aria, “In des Lebens Frühlingstagen” (In the springtime of my life), follows and serves as the springboard for a free-form tour of the opera’s action, capped by roughly the same tumultuous finale as that of No. 3.
b. April 11, 1916 in Buenos Aires, Argentina; d. June 25, 1983 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Harp Concerto, Op. 25. Premiered in 1965 with Nicanor Zabaleta and the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Ormandy
The Harp Concerto marked a significant turning point in the development of Ginastera’s musical style. The composer categorized his works before the mid-1950s as “Nationalistic,” drawing inspiration and material from the rhythms and melodies of Argentine folksongs and dances. His second style (“Neo-Expressionism”) began around 1958, and encompassed most of his later compositions, works in which he employed such avant-garde techniques as polytonality, serial writing, quarter-tones and other micro intervals, and an extension of instrumental resources. The Harp Concerto stands at the threshold between Ginastera’s two musical idioms, blending the vibrant rhythms and characteristic melodic leadings of indigenous Argentine music with the expanded harmonic, textural and coloristic resources of his gestating later manner.
The opening movement follows the sonata-allegro pattern: a close-interval main theme is presented by the harp; the second theme follows after some soft timpani taps, a brief silence and a sentence of simple prefatory chords from the soloist. The second movement consists of a large central section framed at the beginning and end by strongly contrasting music. A dramatic and virtuosic cadenza serves as the gateway to the finale, a rondo whose structure is marked by the sharp reports of the tom-toms heralding the appearances of the main theme.
b. December 8, 1865 in Hämeenlinna, Finland; d. September 20, 1957 in Järvenpää, Finland.
Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 43. First performed by the Helsinki Philharmonic Society on March 8, 1902, with the composer conducting.
Jean Sibelius is one of the few composers from the Scandanavian north to become a musical figure of worldwide importance. There was a time when serious critics, especially in England and the United States, described his seven symphonies in terms usually reserved for those of Beethoven and Brahms, but a later generation assigned him a place with the finest national composers of Europe: Tchaikovsky, Dvorák, and Grieg, for example.
The old idea of Sibelius as a solitary figure, alone and separate from Europe on the distant Karelian peninsula, was never correct. He studied in Berlin and Vienna, and was published in Leipzig. He made concert tours to the principal cities of Europe and he went to England, where his works were very popular, quite often. He taught for a while at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, and was awarded an honorary degree by Yale. He was a cosmopolitan musician and an international figure.
When Sibelius wrote his First Symphony, in 1899, he was experimenting with a form that was a new means of musical expression for him. It is clear that he looked backward for models and found them in the symphonies of Tchaikovsky. With his Second Symphony, Sibelius set out on a new and independent path. He began to write music of greater individuality, with a strong Nordic flavor and only a nod in the direction of Tchaikovsky and his other symphonic forbears.
Sibelius uses a musical technique in the Second Symphony that reverses classical procedures. Instead of starting with long themes and then breaking them up in a development section, he often presents the listener with short melodic fragments that he then assembles into large organic wholes. His biographer Cecil Gray wrote of the Allegretto first movement of this Symphony, “Nothing is more remarkable than the way in which Sibelius here presents a handful of seemingly disconnected scraps of melody, and then breathes life into them, causing them to grow in stature and significance with each successive appearance, like living things.”
The slow second movement, Tempo andante ma rubato, opens with an accompaniment figure and a profusion of bits of melody that assemble themselves into two themes, one melancholy and one lyrical. Though closely related to sonatina form (sonata without development), is best heard as a series of dramatic paragraphs whose strengths lie not just in their individual qualities but also in their powerful juxtapositions. The third movement is a comparatively conventional but tumultuous scherzo, Vivacissimo, with a contrasting middle section, Lento e suave, whose main theme starts, astonishingly, with a single note repeated nine times. The slow music of the trio returns as a bridge to the closing movement. There is no pause before the finale, Allegro moderato, begins its stately and ceremonious course.
Sibelius scored his Second Symphony for pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani and strings.
Yolanda Kondonassis is celebrated as one of the world’s premiere solo harpists and is widely regarded as today’s most recorded classical harpist. Hailed as “an extraordinary virtuosa” and radiating “sheer luminescence at the harp,” she has performed around the globe as a concerto soloist and in recital, bringing her unique brand of musicianship and warm artistry to an ever-increasing audience.
Since making her debut at age 18 with the New York Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta, Ms. Kondonassis has appeared as soloist with numerous major orchestras in the United States and abroad such as The Cleveland Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Dallas Symphony, New York Chamber Symphony, Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfonica de Puerto Rico, Phoenix Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, New World Symphony and Florida Orchestra, to name a few. Other solo appearances include engagements at Lincoln Center, the 92nd St. Y and Taiwan’s National Concert Hall.
Solo Harp: The Best of Yolanda Kondonassis, released this past spring, is Yolanda’s 16th recording. It is a collection of music featuring a wide sampling of her favorite works and interpretations by Carlos Salzedo, J. S. Bach, Gabriel Pierné, Marcel Grandjany, Camille Saint Saëns, Erik Satie, George Gershwin, and Alphonse Hasselmans. She returns to the studio this fall to record her 17th album, The American Harp, which will feature original works for solo harp by contemporary American masters such as John Cage, Elliot Carter, Norman Dello Joio, John Williams, and Lowell Liebermann, among others. Her 15th album on the Telarc label featured the world premiere recording of Bright Sheng’s Never Far Away: Concerto for Harp and Orchestra, written for and premiered by Ms. Kondonassis. She has sold over 100,000 albums worldwide, including the Grammy®-nominated Air featuring the music of Debussy and Takemitsu. Her recordings have earned universal critical praise as she continues to be a pioneering force in the harp world, striving to make her instrument more accessible to audiences and to push the boundaries of what listeners expect of the harp. “Certainly, the harp can be heavenly – and should be at times – but that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this incredible instrument,” Ms. Kondonassis said in a recent interview.
Ms. Kondonassis’ extensive discography includes Salzedo’s Harp, Debussy’s Harp, The Romantic Harp, her own (and the first-ever) harp transcription of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with the Orchestra of Flanders, an all-Hovhaness album, featuring the world premiere recording of his Spirit of Trees, Quietude, A New Baroque, Pictures of the Floating World, Dream Season, Sky Music, and her debut album, Scintillation. Her recording of Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp, with flutist Renee Krimsier and the English Chamber Orchestra was released on the Channel Classics label.
Chamber music is a passion for Ms. Kondonassis and she enjoys every opportunity to indulge. This year ClevelandClassical noted Yolanda’s debut duo performance with partner, guitarist Jason Vieaux as “a close partnership, maintaining fine balances of sound and sonority; excellent collaborators.” This season the duo will perform the world premiere of Keith Fitch’s composition for harp and guitar written for them. Last season Ms. Kondonassis joined flutist Mark Sparks in a performance hailed by Sarah Bryan-Miller as “Beautifully and stylishly played…an intimate performance by tow extraordinary artists.” Recent seasons included a tour of New Zealand with the Still/Chase/Kondonassis Trio, frequent appearances on chamber music series throughout the United States, and as half of the Zukerman/Kondonassis Flute and Harp Duo. She has appeared at numerous festivals such as the Marlboro, Spoleto, Tanglewood, Vail, Bay Chamber, Strings in the Mountains, Innsbrook, Great Lakes, and Mainly Mozart Festivals and has collaborated with members of the Alban Berg, Guarneri, Shanghai, Biava, and Vermeer string quartets. She also appears regularly in concert with the Rossetti String Quartet and violinist Chee-Yun.
As an author, composer, and arranger, Ms. Kondonassis has published three books to date: On Playing the Harp, a comprehensive guide to harp technique and methodology that has quickly become a standard in the harp pedagogy literature, The Yolanda Kondonassis Collection, a compilation of her many original transcriptions, arrangements and compositions for the harp, and The Yolanda Kondonassis Christmas Collection, featuring Ms. Kondonassis’ most popular arrangements from her acclaimed disc, Dream Season: The Christmas Harp. Carl Fischer Music publishes all of Ms. Kondonassis’ works.
Her long list of national and international honors includes top prizes in the Affiliate Artists national Auditions in New York and the Maria Korchinska International Harp Competition in Great Britain. The first harpist to receive the Darius Milhaud Prize, she is committed to the advancement of contemporary music through both the performance and commissioning of new works for the harp. The recipient of two Solo Recitalists Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ms. Kondonassis has been featured on CNN and PBS television as well as National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, St. Paul Sunday Morning, Tiny Desk Concerts and Performance Today. In addition to her active performing and recording schedule, Ms. Kondonassis heads the harp departments at The Cleveland Institute of Music and Oberlin College Conservatory, and presents master classes around the world.
Ms. Kondonassis carries her passionate artistic commitment to issues regarding the protection of natural resources, air quality, and climate change. Royalties from several of her projects are donated to earth causes and she is the founder and director of Earth at Heart, a non-profit organization devoted to earth literacy and inspiration through the arts. Her first children’s book, entitled Our House is Round: A Kid’s Book About Why Protecting the Earth Matters was released this spring by Skyhorse Publishing.
Ms. Kondonassis was born in Norman, Oklahoma and attended high school at Interlochen Arts Academy. She continued her education at The Cleveland Institute of Music, where she received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees as a student of Alice Chalifoux.
Yolanda Kondonassis plays a Lyon & Healy Salzedo Model harp. For more information on Yolanda Kondonassis, visit YolandaHarp.com
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