Monday, January 9, 2012

University of Florida Performing Arts Presents Ritz Chamber Players Sun. Jan. 15, 2012 2 PM

[Ritz Chamber Players]

Ritz Chamber Players
Sunday, January 15, 2012, 2 p.m.
University Auditorium

The Ritz Chamber Players

Trio No. 3 in G Major for Flute, Violin and Cello (“London”) Franz Joseph Haydn
Sonata for Flute and Piano Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson
Andante — Allegro — Meno mosso
I’m a Soldier in the army of the Lord” Spiritual Suite for Baritone and Sextet Lena McLin


Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat Major for Piano and Strings, Op. 87 Antonín Dvorák
Allegro con fuoco
Allegro moderato, grazioso
Finale: Allegro, ma non troppo

Program Notes
Trio No. 3 in G Major for Flute, Violin and Cello (“London”)
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Composed in 1794.
Patronage – the custom of kings, queens, dukes, earls, princes and princesses retaining musicians and composers on their house staff – benefited Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn like few others. He spent his entire early and mid-career in the employment of the Esterházy family, a family that “stood at the very top of the powerful Hungarian nobility,” according to musicologist Karl Geiringer.

Lucky for him and for us. Though Haydn’s position in the royal household was certainly not that of equals with the family, he was respected as a musician and given plenty of freedom to create. And create he did: during his 30 years in their employment, Haydn composed more than 85 symphonies, at least 40 string quartets, sacred choral works a plenty, not to mention songs, masses, oratorios, cantatas, harpsichord sonatas, concertos and a slew of chamber works for many various combinations of instruments.

And this was not the end of his prolific composing. After leaving the Esterházy estate, north ofVienna, Haydn was already a household name in music circles throughout Europe. He would triumph in public concerts in London and soon became an international “star” of Classical era music.

The Trio No. 3 in G Major for Flute, Violin and Cello (“London”) is among the many works that Haydn composed after Esterházy, this particular one in 1794 in London. Originally written for two flutes and cello, it is now also popular in its present instrumentation.

The first movement, marked Spirituoso (“spiritedly”), is a typical opening movement in the so-called “gallant” style of the Classical era. Nothing over-the-top emotionally: rather, it is stately, elegant and refined. Imagine a conversation among friends that never gets out of hand. The slower second movement (Andante) is languid and sensual, yet still polished and polite. The Allegro finale, by comparison, is an enthusiastic – and cheerfully chirpy – conclusion.
Program note by Dave Kopplin.

Sonata for Flute and Piano
Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (1932-2004)
Composed in 2003. Premiered in June 2003 by the Ritz Chamber Players.

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson was born in 1932 into a musical family in New York City — his mother was a professional pianist, organist and director of a local theater — and he seemed destined to musical prominence by his very name, given after the London-born composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), the son of a white English woman and a physician from Sierra Leone, who became a cultural hero to American audiences (New York orchestral players  described him as the “black Mahler” on his visit to that city in 1910).

Perkinson demonstrated musical gifts early, and he was admitted in 1945 to New York’s prestigious High School of Music and Art; his mentor there, Hugh Ross, once introduced him to Igor Stravinsky. Perkinson began composing while still a teenager, and he received the LaGuardia Prize from the school for his choral work And Behold upon his graduation in 1949. He entered New York University as an education major in 1949, but transferred to the Manhattan School of Music two years later to study composition with Charles Mills and Vittorio Giannini and conducting with Jonel Perlea. He received his baccalaureate in 1953 and his master’s degree the following year.

The life-long influence of jazz on Perkinson’s musical personality was nurtured at Manhattan by his classmates Julius Watkins, Herbie Mann, Donald Byrd and Max Roach — from 1964-65 he played piano in the Max Roach Quartet and at various times served as arranger and music director for such eminent popular artists as Marvin Gaye, Lou Rawls, Barbara McNair, Melvin Van Peebles and Harry Belafonte. Perkinson took further advanced training in conducting at the Berkshire Music Center (1954), Netherlands Radio Union in Hilversum (1960-1963), Mozarteum in Salzburg (1960) and privately with Dimitri Mitropoulos, Lovro von Matacic, Franco Ferrara and Dean Dixon, and in composition with Earl Kim at Princeton University (1959-1962).

He went on to teach at Brooklyn College and Indiana University; hold conducting positions with the Dessoff Choirs and the Brooklyn Community Symphony Orchestra; serve as music director for Jerome Robbins’ American Theater Lab, Dance Theatre of Harlem and Alvin Ailey’s American Dance Theater; and co-found the Symphony of the New World, the first integrated symphony orchestra in the United States and serve as both its associate conductor (1965-70) and music director (1972-73).

In 1998, Perkinson was appointed artistic director of the performance program at the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago. At the time of his death, in 2004, Perkinson was also serving as composer-in-residence for the Ritz Chamber Players of Jacksonville, Fla. Perkinson composed his three-movement Sonata for Flute and Piano in 2003 during his residency with the Ritz Chamber Players.

I’m a Soldier in the Army of the Lord” Spiritual Suite for Baritone and Sextet
Lena McLin (b. 1928)

The distinguished educator, minister of music, performer, composer and arranger Lena McLin was born in Atlanta in 1928 to the Reverend Benjamin J. Johnson and his wife, Bernice Dorsey Johnson, who directed the music at her husband’s church. “We didn’t know anything but music,” McLin remembered of her early years.

Lena was sent to live with her uncle in Chicago when she was 5, Thomas A. Dorsey, after her mother died in childbirth. Often called “the father of black gospel music” for his performancesand early recordings of both traditional and new gospel songs, his establishment of the first black gospel music publishing company, his founding of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses and his pioneering use of gospel music in two of Chicago’s most influential churches – Dorsey was a seminal influence for young Lena, who became thoroughly grounded in the spirit and traditions of gospel and occasionally served as an accompanist for her uncle’s Pilgrim Baptist Church choir.

McLin returned to Atlanta to attend Booker T. Washington High School, where her friends included Martin Luther King, Jr. She graduated in 1947, received her undergraduate degree from Spelman College in 1951 and went for advanced study to Chicago’s American Conservatory of Music and Roosevelt University. She taught in the Chicago Public Schools for 36 years, where she touched hundreds of students, including Metropolitan Opera baritone Mark Rucker and soprano Nicole Heaston; Lyric Opera of Chicago soprano Jonita Latimore; Broadway and television star Mandy Patinkin; and R&B artist R. Kelly.

McLin has also served as Pastor and Minister of Music at the Holy Vessel Baptist Church in Chicago since she founded the congregation in 1982; authored Pulse: A History of Music; and published hundreds of arrangements and original compositions ranging from art songs to orchestral works and liturgical Masses. McLin’s contributions to education and musical and American culture have been recognized with the Outstanding Teacher Award from the Chicago Public Schools and honorary degrees from Spelman College and Virginia Union University. Her spiritual suite” for baritone and sextet takes its title and inspiration from the traditional gospel song I’m a Soldier in the Army of the Lord.

Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat Major for Piano and Strings, Op. 87
Atonín Dvorák (1841-1904)
Premiered on November 23, 1890 in Prague by Hanus Trnecek (piano), Ferdinand Lachner (violin), Petr Mares (viola) and Hanus Wihan (cello).

Czech composer Atonín Dvorák felt himself a man of the people, and indeed he was: his father was a butcher, and he thought his son would naturally follow in his footsteps. Luckily, Atonín’s musical talent was recognized early on and his career path set. He was a full-time musician in his late teens, but that is not like being a full-time accountant or a full-time butcher. He cobbled together a meager living as a freelancer, playing violin and viola in various local orchestras in and around his hometown of Nelahozeves (north of Prague). He supplemented his income teaching piano lessons on the side. From there he got a gig playing organ at St. Adalbert’s in Prague while also securing an Austrian government stipend directed to impecunious young artists. The committee that decided who was to receive these stipends included well-known music critic Eduard Hanslick, as well as celebrated composer Johannes Brahms. Both men championed Dvorák’s career and set him on a path to international success. His first piano quartet came from the period right after being awarded that money.

Also as a result of this recognition, he secured a deal with a publisher, Fritz Simrock of Berlin, also Brahms’ publisher, who published Dvorák’s first piano quartet. Based on the popularity of that work, Simrock himself asked the young composer to deliver a second quartet. That was 1885. It was slow in coming, not completed until 1889.

Dvorák was enamored with the folk musical tradition. As a youngster, he was taken with the music of his native Bohemia, and later on after his career was established, he made a visit to the United States and was captivated by the folk music of African Americans he heard there (his New World Symphony, in fact, was inspired by the spirituals he heard in America).

The opening of the Quartet’s Allegro con fuoco (Quick, with fire), though not specifically Bohemian or Czech in nature, certainly displays a boldness more fitting a Bohemian dance than a concert hall. Not to say that this work is all bluster and bravado: the second movement opens with the cello’s mournful wail. Each instrument, in turn, spins out a similar melancholy tune until they all join in a forceful musical conversation, five mini-themes in all. The third movement returns to the dance-infused style of the first movement, though it starts with a waltz over which an exotic melody floats in and out. An up-tempo middle section follows that is more mad dash than waltz. The finale begins with an upbeat and vivacious dance. Though there is the occasional menacing interjection, the cheerfulness prevails in the end.
Program note by Dave Kopplin.
Additional notes/biographies by Dr. Richard E. Rodda.

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