Kawasaki, Storgårds & Mozart

with the NAC Orchestra

2023-03-29 20:00 2023-03-30 22:00 60 Canada/Eastern 🎟 NAC: Kawasaki, Storgårds & Mozart


In-person event

NACO Concertmaster and world-renowned violinist Yosuke Kawasaki takes centre stage in Southam Hall for an electrifying performance of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4. Mozart, who was himself a superb violinist, was still a teenager when he wrote this concerto in Salzburg, but his brilliance was already clearly on display.  Joseph Haydn, one of the fathers of classical music and arguably the inventor of the string quartet, cast a long shadow over the composers who followed him...

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Southam Hall,1 Elgin Street,Ottawa,Canada
March 29 - 30, 2023

≈ 1 hour and 45 minutes · With intermission

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Last updated: March 24, 2023


RUTH CRAWFORD SEEGER Rissolty Rossolty for orchestra (3 min)

RUTH CRAWFORD SEEGER Andante for strings (4 min)

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K. 218 (24 min)
I. Allegro
II. Andante cantabile
III. Rondeau: Andante grazioso – Allegro ma non troppo


JOSEPH HAYDN Symphony No. 31 in D major, “Hornsignal”, Hob. I/31 (28 min)
I. Allegro
II. Adagio
III. Menuet– Trio 
IV. Finale: Moderato molto

SEBASTIAN FAGERLUND Chamber Symphony* (25 min)

*Canadian Premiere; co-commissioned by the NAC Orchestra and Tapiola Sinfonietta



Rissolty Rossolty for orchestra

Ruth Crawford Seeger (1901–1953) was one of 20th-century American music’s significant figures, active as a composer, folk music transcriber and arranger, and educator. Whilst enduring prejudice against women composers, she had a burgeoning career as a creator of abstract modernist music in the late 1920s and early 1930s, guided by her composition teacher (and later, husband) Charles Seeger. In 1930, she became the first female composer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship, on which she went to Berlin and Paris. The works she composed out of that experience, such as her critically acclaimed String Quartet (1931), elevated her to prominence among the avant-garde music circles in the U.S. and in Europe. 

In 1933, Ruth stopped composing to take on new responsibilities as a mother (both she and Charles, with whom she’d have four children, felt that motherhood was incompatible with a composer’s lifestyle.) But her desire to have a meaningful musical career never ceased, as she sought to balance those ambitions while raising a family. One defining moment came on April 6, 1938, when she appeared as guest composer at a Composers Forum-Laboratory concert in New York City, where four of her works, including her String Quartet, were featured in the first half. In the intermission during which the audience could ask her questions, she was forced to defend her position as a composer of modernist music: 

Question: Won’t you please write some music that a greater number of people can listen to? This seems like music for the very few.

Answer: I will. I have become convinced during the past two years that my next music will be simpler to play and to understand. At the same time, we should not forget that it is also important to write music for the few. 

Crawford Seeger, thus, had no plans to abandon her direction as a composer of experimental, “complex” music. Yet, she was pondering a new direction, and it was to be shaped by those “past two years” during which she was working for the Archive for American Folk Song, transcribing the field recordings of Alan Lomax and his father John Lomax. The material greatly interested her, and she became preoccupied with finding a style that “combines my two desires: to make use of the old technique [dissonant counterpoint], but to make use also of folk material.”

The orchestral fantasy Rissolty Rossolty was the result. Ruth’s first new composition since 1932, it was one of 12 commissions by Alan Lomax for orchestral arrangements of folk songs to feature on his program “The Wellsprings of America”, which was broadcast on CBS Radio Network. She completed it at the end of 1939, and it was premiered on January 23, 1940, in New York, on the program. 

Though only three minutes long, Rissolty Rossolty is appealing as it is complex, using no less than three different melodies. As musicologist Judith Tick has pointed out, Crawford Seeger pursued a modernist approach with the themes, in taking their fragments and recombining them to create a “sophisticated polyphony”: 

The playful repeated-note figure that opens the piece comes from the title tune. “Phoebe” emerges briefly in a solo flute section and then as countermelody in string pizzicato, and later in the horns. The final section of the piece is based on the fiddle tune, “The Death of Callahan,” a tour-de-force transcription she published in the Lomax anthology, Our Singing Country

As the piece progresses, “Callahan” is “overtaken” by elements from “Phoebe” and “Rissolty, Rossolty”, eventually culminating in a climactic mash-up of all three tunes, with “Callahan” in the woodwinds and upper strings; “Rissolty, Rossolty” sounding in the brass; and “Phoebe” played by the lower strings. Suddenly, it shuts down, ending with a recall of the figure that opened the work. Here, Crawford Seeger, according to Tick, was paying homage to the performance practice of folk musicians to “keep the tune going” by eschewing a formalized ending, thus giving it a modernist twist as well. 


Andante for strings

Besides the composition of Rissolty Rossolty, that April 6 concert in 1938 seemed to have spurred Crawford Seeger to return to an earlier project: her String Quartet from 1931. It was originally premiered by the New World String Quartet on November 13, 1933, for an “All North-American Concert” of the Pan American Association of Composers, organized by the composer Henry Cowell, a champion of Crawford Seeger’s music. As a whole, the work was successfully received, but it was the Andante third movement that was singled out as especially remarkable. Cowell, who gushed in the annual Americana Encyclopedia of Current Events that it was “perhaps the best thing for quartet ever written in this country,” facilitated a recording of it, as the inaugural release of his landmark project, the New Music Society Recording Series. (He successfully convinced Charles Ives, who wondered if the Andante was “mansize” enough, to fund the recording.) 

Despite the acclaim she received, Crawford Seeger was dissatisfied with these early presentations of the Andante. She was particularly frustrated that the movement’s internal melodic line was not really coming through in performance, such as in the 1933 recording with the New World Quartet, in part because they played it too slowly. After hearing it again in 1938, she revised the Andante to clarify her intentions, notably in the work’s climactic point, in preparation for its publication. Believing that a conductor could best guide the interpretation, she also decided to create a standalone arrangement of the revised version for string orchestra, adding a new line for the double bass in the process. Tonight’s performance uses a recently corrected edition of the piece from 2017, based on Crawford Seeger’s original sketches for the double bass line, discovered within the work’s files at the Library of Congress by Columbia University PhD student Ian Sewell.

The Andante’s significance lies in Crawford Seeger’s innovative approach to melody, using its horizontal shape—the tones it outlines—as a structural element. Around this basic design, each of the instrumental parts has an independent line, for which each note is to be played a crescendo and diminuendo (to the ear, a swell), which are coordinated with changing meters. The melody's notes are thus to pop out from this texture; in the score, they are indicated by a line above or below the pitch at the loudest point of its swell.

The overall impression, as music theorist Joseph Straus aptly describes, is that these lines are like “living organisms, like amoebas that change shape as they move. They expand and contract, surge forward and hold back, twist and turn, move forward and shrink back, and all the while their intervallic identity shifts and changes.” Emotionally, the Andante has a heart-rending power: from the beginning, it builds gradually but inexorably, reaching an intense climax, after which all that tension is released in a tumbling cascade of overlapping pitches.


Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K. 218

I. Allegro
II. Andante cantabile
III. Rondeau: Andante grazioso – Allegro ma non troppo

As the musically precocious son of violinist and composer Leopold Mozart, Wolfgang (1756–1791), perhaps not surprisingly, became an exceptionally accomplished violin player himself. Indeed, for over a decade during his childhood, he demonstrated his fine talent on the violin (as well as on the harpsichord) to Europe’s noble families, as his father toured him and his sister Nannerl across the continent. He completed five violin concertos during his lifetime, the latter four in 1775, when he was establishing himself as the chief composer of instrumental music in Salzburg. 

K. 218 in D major is the fourth of the concertos. Like K. 216 in G major and K. 219 in A major, it demands much of the solo violinist in terms of purity of intonation, natural finesse in articulation, and beauty of tone. In the first movement, following the orchestral exposition, the solo violin enters with the main theme way up in the instrument, bright and delicate—one of the high-wire acts of the repertoire. After adding new material, it introduces a contrasting idea in the sonorous low register, which then flows out into vigorous passages of leaps and arpeggios. This contrast between the brilliant heights and the mellow depths of the instrument continues throughout the movement, interspersed with virtuosic running episodes. After a pause for a cadenza, the orchestra concludes the movement with an energetic finish.

The Andante cantabile has the feel of a scene from one of Mozart’s operas, with the solo violin as the musing protagonist singing an aria of exquisite tenderness. Later, a playful theme with skipping rhythms emerges over lightly bouncing string accompaniment. These ideas, by turns flowing and prancing, are reprised; after a cadenza, the violin briefly ruminates further, before the orchestra rounds off the movement.

The Rondeau finale has a pastoral atmosphere and features two main dance-like themes: one, graceful in a stately duple time, the other, lively in a brisk triple time. They alternate accordingly, with the solo violin developing the material in the lively section more extensively each occasion it reappears. In the middle section, the violin introduces a new rustic dance tune, with a characteristic “bagpipe” drone, after which the main dances return. Following a final reprise of the lively section, a witty fadeout closes this charming movement. 


Symphony No. 31 in D major, “Hornsignal”, Hob. I/31

I. Allegro 
II. Adagio 
III. Menuet – Trio 
IV. Finale: Moderato molto 

Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) is often regarded as the “father” of the symphony, credited for elevating the musical genre to greater levels of sophistication and importance alongside the emergence of public concert life. He honed his symphonic writing skills when he was Vice Kapellmeister—in charge of all the instrumental, secular, and stage music—of the Esterházy court, beginning in 1761. One of the wealthiest and most influential families among the Hungarian nobility, the Esterházys had an orchestra, at this time, of about 15 players of excellent ability. Between 1761 and 1765, Haydn composed mostly instrumental music for the ensemble’s performance, completing about 25 symphonies in this period. 

In 1765, Prince Nikolaus decided to expand the horn section of his orchestra from two to four players. Consequently, Haydn took advantage by incorporating the horn quartet into several symphonies. Of these, Symphony No. 31 is perhaps the most striking, as well as distinctive for featuring several virtuosic solos spotlighting musicians of the ensemble, including violin, cello, flute, and remarkably, double bass. 

Why “Hornsignal” is the subtitle of this symphony becomes immediately apparent in the first movement’s opening: a mighty fanfare by all four horns in unison. A single horn then plays a leaping phrase, after which the strings take off with energetic running passages. Later, solo flute pipes delicate ascending scales; strings pick this up and expand on it briefly, and a recall of the horn’s leaping phrase closes the exposition, which is then entirely repeated. In the development section, Haydn juxtaposes these various motifs in new ways to ratchet up the tension. In a surprise twist, an anxious melody in D minor played by the first violins becomes the transition into the reprise, which goes straight to the solo horn’s leaping phrase. The mighty four-horn call returns instead at the end of the movement, wrapping it up with dramatic flair.

The Adagio is an elegant siciliano, its lilting rhythm plucked by the strings. Over top, solo violin spins out an elaborate melody to which solo cello later joins in conversation; they come together in a duet in the middle section. Throughout, a pair of horns also have their say with warm phrases complemented by supple arpeggios. The whole orchestra participates in the ensuing Minuet, which is spirited and refined. By comparison, the Trio has a pastoral feel, featuring two oboes, gently supported by horns that subsequently take up the melody, together first with violins, then the flute. 

The Finale begins with a prim little theme, presented by the violins accompanied by a simple bass line. Seven inventive variations follow, each highlighting musicians in the orchestra: pairs of oboes and horns (Var. 1); solo cello (Var. 2; this was written for Joseph Weigl, principal cellist of the Esterházy orchestra, for whom Haydn had also composed his first cello concerto); solo flute (Var. 3); horn quartet (Var. 4); solo violin (Var. 5); flute, oboe, and first violins in a richly harmonized version of the theme (Var. 6); and solo double bass (Var. 7). After a pensive transition in D minor (echoing the one in the first movement), an exuberant Presto bursts forth, and the symphony closes with a final statement of the mighty four-horn fanfare.

Program notes to Crawford Seeger, Mozart, and Haydn works by Hannah Chan-Hartley, PhD


Chamber Symphony

Sebastian Fagerlund(b. 1972) has established himself as one of the most prominent European composers of his generation. He studied composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki under the guidance of Erkki Jokinen and received his diploma in composition in 2004. Important aspects of Fagerlund’s work are his interest in large-scale forms and a profound view of music expressing fundamental questions and existential experiences. A highly virtuosic instrumental feel and strong sense of musicianship is noticeable in all of his works, creating musical dramas in which powerful expression is combined with intensity and vivid communication, as well as an openness towards different musical traditions.  

Works by Fagerlund have been commissioned and performed by numerous major orchestras, outstanding conductors, and musicians all over the world. His output spans opera to chamber and solo works, the most significant pieces being his operas and works for orchestra. In 2011, Fagerlund was awarded Finland’s renowned Teosto Prize for his orchestral work Ignite. Most recently, he was Artist in Residence with Tapiola Sinfonietta (2021–22), and for the 2022–23 and 2024–25 seasons, he is Composer in Residence with the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra.

All of Sebastian Fagerlund’s many orchestral works to date have descriptive titles referring to the mood or essence of the works, with the exception of Partita (2009) written for string orchestra and percussion. However, this new orchestral work is simply titled Chamber Symphony (2020–21). For Fagerlund, the idea for a symphonic work came to mind as soon as the discussions started for his appointment as a residency artist for the Tapiola Sinfonietta and the offer of writing a related commission for a large-scale work. The National Arts Centre Orchestra then joined the commission; tonight, it performs the Canadian premiere of the piece. The world premiere was given on March 4, 2022, by Tapiola Sinfonietta and John Storgårds.

According to Fagerlund, the concept of a symphony is related to both form and the way material is handled, and he emphasizes the “logically advancing and evolving structure” of a symphonic work. In the Chamber Symphony, this emerges in the strong internal context of the work, in how each movement reaches deeper into the world of the work, as if the inner essence of the music could be seen more closely. The tension between the long melodic line that starts the work and the faster musical material that interrupts it can also be considered a symphonic feature. Since writing the opera Autumn Sonata (2014–16), melody has taken an even more central role in Fagerlund’s music.

Fagerlund’s Chamber Symphony is a three-movement work in which the movements follow each other without interruption. The symphony begins with a slow movement that starts with the melodic material that contains the core material of the work—in Fagerlund’s words, its “musical DNA,” which also returns and develops in the second and third movements. Contrasting fast-moving material interrupts the slow music twice before the melodic line really starts to evolve. The first time, this faster material is rhythmically powerful and syncopated, and the second time, an arpeggio-like flowing material. The encounters and developments of these two fast-moving musical materials then rise to the forefront in the fast second movement, which develops into a scherzo episode. According to Fagerlund, “it appears in the middle of the movement like a character that seems to momentarily take shape and then again evaporate.”

The culmination of the second movement is followed by a slow third movement. Fagerlund has said he is interested in a slow, almost imperceptible transformation, and that comes true in the concluding movement, where music begins to grow from a standstill toward new relationships between the basic musical materials, in Fagerlund’s words, “like musical components floating and rearranging in a new order.”

Program note by Kimmo Korhonen (translation by Edition Peters)


  • Conductor John Storgårds
  • violin Yosuke Kawasaki
  • Featuring NAC Orchestra

NAC Orchestra

First Violins  
Yosuke Kawasaki (concertmaster) 
Jessica Linnebach (associate concertmaster) 
Noémi Racine Gaudreault (assistant concertmaster) 
Emily Kruspe 
Marjolaine Lambert 
Frédéric Moisan 
Carissa Klopoushak 
Zhengdong Liang 
*Erica Miller 
*Martine Dubé 

Second violins 
Mintje van Lier (principal) 
Winston Webber (assistant principal) 
Jeremy Mastrangelo 
Emily Westell 
Manuela Milani 
Leah Roseman 
Karoly Sziladi 
Mark Friedman 
**Edvard Skerjanc 
*Andréa Armijo Fortin 
*Renée London 

Jethro Marks (principal) 
David Marks (associate principal) 
David Goldblatt (assistant principal) 
Paul Casey 
David Thies-Thompson 
*Sonya Probst 

Rachel Mercer (principal) 
**Julia MacLaine (assistant principal) 
Marc-André Riberdy 
Timothy McCoy 
Leah Wyber 
*Karen Kang 
*Desiree Abbey 

Double basses 
Max Cardilli (assistant principal) 
Vincent Gendron 
Marjolaine Fournier 
**Hilda Cowie 
*Travis Harrison 

Joanna G'froerer (principal) 
Stephanie Morin 

Charles Hamann (principal) 
Anna Petersen 

English Horn 
Anna Petersen 

Kimball Sykes (principal) 
Sean Rice 

Darren Hicks (principal) 
Vincent Parizeau 

Lawrence Vine (principal) 
Julie Fauteux (associate principal) 
Elizabeth Simpson 
Lauren Anker 
Louis-Pierre Bergeron 
*Olivier Brisson 

Karen Donnelly (principal) 
Steven van Gulik 

*Steve Dyer (guest principal) 
Colin Traquair 

Chris Lee (principal) 

*Michael Kemp (guest principal) 

Jonathan Wade 
*Robert Slapcoff 

* Thomas Annand 

* Frederic Lacroix 

Principal Librarian 
Nancy Elbeck 

Assistant Librarian 
Corey Rempel 

Personnel Manager 
Meiko Lydall 

Assistant Personnel Manager 
Laurie Shannon 

*Additional musicians 
**On leave 

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees