WolfGANG Session #20

Free livestream

2023-05-20 21:00 2023-05-20 22:45 60 Canada/Eastern 🎟 NAC: WolfGANG Session #20

https://nac-cna.ca/en/event/33551

NAC Livestream

20th Edition!
Get ready for some surprises

WolfGANG Sessions at Club SAW is a night of music that is sure to entertain. Grab your adventurous friends and take them out for a wild night of Chamber Music with some of your favourite musicians from the NAC Orchestra.   Yuhwa (The Goddess of the Willow Trees) for solo flute, by Adolphus Hailstork - Copyright © 2020 by Theodore Presser Company. - All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

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Online
Saturday, May 20, 2023
9 PM EDT
NAC Livestream

Program

Last updated: May 15, 2023

ADOLPHUS HAILSTORK Yuhwa (The Goddess of the Willow Trees) for solo flute

JOCELYN MORLOCK Blue Sun for violin and viola

SEAN RICE New work for bass clarinet

KATHERINE HOOVER Kokopeli for solo flute

ELEANOR ALBERGA Succubus Moon for oboe and string quartet

Repertoire

ADOLPHUS HAILSTORK

Yuhwa (The Goddess of the Willow Trees) for solo flute 

American composer Adolphus Hailstork (b. 1941) has a long-established reputation for works that masterfully blend eclectic elements from European, Euro-American, and African American music traditions, often emphasizing melody. A native of upstate New York, he earned degrees in composition from Howard University, the Manhattan School of Music, and Michigan State University. In 1963, Hailstork attended a course at the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, France, taught by notable composer and pedagogue Nadia Boulanger. He currently resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and is professor emeritus of composition at Old Dominion University.

Hailstork composed Yuhwa (The Goddess of the Willow Trees) for solo flute in 2020, and it was given its world premiere online during the Covid pandemic by flutist Mimi Stillman in August of the same year. According to the piece’s accompanying description, it was inspired by the legend of the goddess Yuhwa in Korean mythology. “The daughter of a River God, Yuhwa was tricked into marrying the Sun God. She escaped back to her homeland and gave birth to a son who became the founder and monarch of Korea’s northern kingdom. The symbolic willow tree is considered a source of healing in Korean folklore and elsewhere around the world.”

Hailstork’s elegant piece highlights the lyrical and expressive possibilities of the flute, as it plays catchy melodic motifs that alternate with florid arpeggios and cascading notes.

Jocelyn Morlock

Blue Sun for violin and viola

Musicians have found that many of Morlock’s compositions allow them a certain expressive autonomy that makes them satisfying to play. Her piece Blue Sun for violin and viola, composed in 1998, is written in a way that encourages interpretative freedom between its two players, thereby creating a special kind of intimacy in its performance. As she instructed in the score:

This piece is in seven short sections, which are to be played without pause. Both players read from the score. At times proportional notation is used; sometimes one player has notated rhythms while the other plays more freely. Do not be too concerned about exactly where to play the proportionally notated music, just fit it in vertically between the other player’s notes.

As to the subject of the piece, Morlock says,

The name “Blue Sun” is a reference to the lingering image or ghost sun that persists in your field of vision after looking at the real one. These pieces were written after I’d encountered some folk music that wouldn’t let me be; although they are not based on folk music, the moods of that music permeate them nonetheless, lingering like the after-image of the sun.

SEAN RICE

New work for bass clarinet

WolfGANG host and NACO Second Clarinet Sean Rice performs a new work for bass clarinet, which he created especially for this concert. He will introduce the piece from the stage.

KATHERINE HOOVER

Kokopeli for solo flute 

American flutist Katherine Hoover (1937–2018) had a multifaceted career, active as a performer, composer, and a conductor in New York City. Following studies at the Eastman School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music (where she later taught), she began writing music in the early 1970s, at a time when few women attained success in the male-dominated world of contemporary classical composition. Her output ranges from solo and vocal pieces, chamber music, and orchestral works, in which she considered herself a storyteller—to evoke imagery, and stimulate listeners’ emotions and senses through her music. The flutist Zara Lawler has said Hoover’s music, “is challenging and satisfying for musicians to play, and yet at the same time beautiful and meaningful for audiences to hear. Her music leaves you lots of room to express yourself, and yet any performance of her music is indelibly hers.”

Several of Hoover’s works are inspired by the landscapes and the indigenous American cultures of the southwestern part of the United States, such as Arizona and New Mexico, having been drawn, she’s said, to the area’s “quiet spirituality, the colours of the sky, and the unusual topography.” Kokopeli for solo flute is one such piece; it’s probably her best-known work, and a contemporary classic of the flute repertoire since its composition in 1990.

In Hoover’s words,

Kokopeli, the flute player, was a great mahu, or legendary hero of the Hopi, and of other Native Americans living in the Southwestern area of the United States. He is said to have led the migrations through the mountains and deserts, the sound of his flute echoing through the great canyons and cliffs. In this piece I have tried to capture some of this sense of spaciousness, and of the Hopi's deep kinship with this land. This piece has also been influenced by Native American flute songs and sounds.

The soloist is given substantial freedom to shape the performance of Kokopeli, which has an open, improvisatory quality about it. This is fostered, in part, by the lack of barline divisions in the score. In a 2002 interview with Flute Talk, Hoover noted that “I wanted long flowing phrases to be performed freely without the walls that barlines create. With freedom from barlines musicians respond to the sounds of the piece, as well as the acoustics of the hall, which should influence the tempo, interpretation, and length of rests and fermatas [pauses].”

ELEANOR ALBERGA

Succubus Moon for oboe and string quartet

Born 1949 in Kingston, Jamaica, Eleanor Alberga is a highly regarded mainstream British composer with commissions from the BBC Proms and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. With a substantial output ranging from solo instrumental works to full-scale symphonic works and operas, her music is performed all over the world. She studied piano and singing at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and a budding career as a solo pianist was soon augmented by composition with her arrival at the London Contemporary Dance Theatre in 1978, where she later became the company’s Musical Director—conducting, composing, and playing on LCDT’s many tours. After leaving LCDT, Alberga fully embarked on her calling as a composer, and since then, interest in her music across all genres has accelerated. In 2015 her commissioned work ARISE, ATHENA! for the opening of the Last Night of the BBC Proms cemented her reputation as a composer of significant originality and consummate skill. Alberga was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in 2020, and was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021 for services to British music.

Succubus Moon for oboe and string quartet was commissioned by the City of London Festival and was premiered there in 2007 by Alexei Ogrintchouk and the Psophos Quartet. In an interview on Sound Currents on 91.9 Classical Kansas City, Alberga said she was inspired to write the piece to help her overcome her childhood fears of the dark, which had resurfaced when she and her husband violinist Thomas Bowes had moved from London to a place in the English countryside. “It’s about the allure and beauty of night and the beauty of the moon, but also the fears, I think, that a lot of children and adults have about the dark and not knowing what’s out there.”

Here’s her description about Succubus Moon:

The romantic and the demonic lie side by side in this work. Over centuries, man has interpreted his fear of the dark and unknown as caused by beings and superstitions outside himself; one of these interpretations became Incubi and Succubi, evil presences doing harm to humans. The piece juxtaposes the ethereal, tranquil, and reflective moon against the impenetrable darkness of the night where the demonic and seductive Succubus reigns. The oboe is the main protagonist, leading the mood or taking over what the strings have set up. The strings have their own episodes, and sometimes join with the oboe in main material.

The music goes from sparse to more driven rhythmic sections, to dreamy moonstruck moments, and finally drifts away. Towards the end there is, unusually, a C major chord—a ray of hope as the moon shines out amidst the primal terror.

Program notes compiled and edited by Hannah Chan-Hartley, PhD

Artists

  • paul-casey
    viola Paul Casey
  • flute Joanna G’froerer
  • anna-petersen-2
    oboe Anna Petersen
  • violin Marjolaine Lambert
  • mintje-small
    violin Mintje van Lier
  • zane-liang
    violin Zhengdong (Zane) Liang
  • cattroll-312-xl
    cello Leah Wyber
  • sean-rice-2
    Host and bass clarinet Sean Rice