Saturday, October 28, 2023, 7:30 p.m.
Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts, Hope College
Johannes Müller Stosch, Music Director and Conductor
Aaron Berofsky, violin
Strange Pandemic Times
A Ray of Hope
Allegro molto appassionato
Allegretto non troppo - Allegro molto vivace
Aaron Berofsky, violin
Allegro con brio
Experience an intimate and reflective piece by Emmy-winning composer John Wineglass and the dazzling and expressive virtuosity of Aaron Berofsky in Mendelssohn’s violin concerto. The evening will culminate with the powerful emotion of Brahms’s third symphony.
Tickets are $28 for adults and $5 for students through college.
We will be hosting not only the Classical Chat series at Freedom Village, but also Pre-Concert Talks! Details below:
Classical Chats at Freedom Village: These informative and fun talks are led by Johannes Müller-Stosch and take place at 3:00pm on the Thursday before each Classics concert. (Freedom Village, 6th Floor Auditorium, 145 Columbia Ave.)
Pre-Concert Talks: These talks, led by Johannes Müller-Stosch and Amanda Dykhouse, are online under the "Pre-Concert Talk" Tab.
Parking Map at the Miller Center
Holland Symphony Orchestra will reserve and monitor Lot 40 for handicapped parking. The faculty parking lots are available for parking after 5pm
Born: 1973, Washington, DC
Approximate Duration: 11 minutes
Instrumentation: harp, timpani, percussion (bass drum, glockenspiel, sizzle cymbal, suspended cymbal, tamtam, tubular bells, 2 vibraphones), strings
John Christopher Wineglass was born in Washington DC, played viola in the DC youth orchestra, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in composition from American Univeristy. He also earned a master’s degree in Music Composition: Film Scoring for Motion Pictures, Television and Multi-Media at New York University. He has written several scores for documentaries, shows on MSNBC, CNN, NBC, CBS and ABC, independent films, and several of his nationally syndicated commercials. He is a recipient of three Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for a Drama Series (for All My Children), and three ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards.
Wineglass’s compositions are inspired by the beauty of creation and the splendor of nature, as well as bringing to light social issues of the past and present. He has received major commissions from orchestras, festivals, and foundations in the US and Europe. Mr. Wineglass is currently serving as Composer-In-Residence with the Monterey Symphony where both of his pandemic response works, Alone for Solo Violin, Live EFX and Electronica and Alone Together for Percussion, Harp and Strings have been curated to be included in the permanent collection of the COVID-19 response art at the Library of Congress.
Wineglass provides the following notes about “Alone Together”:
Initially a zoomed brainchild collaboration between composer John Wineglass, Maestra Barbara Day Turner (San Jose Chamber Orchestra) and Maestra Rei Hotoda (Fresno Philharmonic) - this work was ultimately co-commissioned by two more additional California orchestras as well - Monterey Symphony where Wineglass is in residency and with great support of the subject matter from Maestro Carl St. Clair of Pacific Symphony - all coming together to express a shared interest of new music that responds to the extraordinary nature of life during the 2020 pandemic and the catastrophic circumstances accompanying this global crisis.
In a joint-statement from Wineglass and Fresno Philharmonic conductor Rei Hotoda in the San Francisco Classical Voice, Alone Together addresses the social issues we are all facing during this pandemic - from not being able to perform together ot even the systemic racial disparities given a world stage due to shelter-in-place. Despite all the setbacks of our present limitations, we are moving forward. This work is allowing us to continue our work as performers - to never lose sight of just how important the arts are and have always been. By creating this work, we are providing a way to connect to one another which is so valuable and something most of us probably once took for granted. We may feel alone at this moment but we as four performing arts organizations are coming to move forward together as one.
Additionally, this very work can also be aptly summed up in a few excerpt journal entries by the composer during the creation of this work. In his own words…
Alone Together (Journal entry)
November 20th, 2020 8:08 pm
As i sequestered “alone” quite literally to finish writing this work in walking to a market store near my sponsored beachfront quarters, I was verbally accosted by two laughing males who thought it would be funny with a bullhorn on top of their sport Audi SUV to go around this pristine neighborhood and spew out expletives in, of ALL places, where I normally do a lot of writing–Shell Beach, CA–a beautiful central coastline between LA and San Francisco. Truly–what world are we living in? Let me rephrase that–what world are some of us living in and others (millions, in fact) choose to turn a blind eye?
As I dwelled heavily into this work this particular week–there were parts of America that I recognized and parts that I knew were always there BUT certainly didn’t recognize… in this extremely politically divided time and in the midst of a global pandemic. Was I still in the times of my just recently deceased parents last year of the 60s and the riots during MLK or was this 2020? Have we NOT as a nation grown… at all? It was dreamlike for me–an unbelievable seeping dystopian euphoria in a way…. Indeed, “Strange Pandemic Times”... my working title of the first movement. And this is just personally what was happening to me in composing this work… with everyday MAJOR unstable shifts in the temperature of this country. This present-day world of 2020 without tonality… without centeredness… swelling major-minor chords in the strings without times of possible brilliance–yet brought back to a current dismal reality. A longing for common ground but finding no footing… no continuity. Abrupt silences… alone… many intubated. No foundation… lost in a midst of unbelief of what I was witnessing with my very own eyes in this land of “equality. The universe repeatedly brings this up… again… and again before our very own eyes–until we learn.
But… I still believe in and have hope… A Ray of Hope (working title for 2nd movement)... A hope deferred at the moment but a hope nonetheless. A hope that in this struggle together–we will come out TOGETHER somehow and in some way–stronger, more wise and vigilant.
Program note by John Wineglass
There is no recording of this piece. To listen to an interview with Wineglass, including some excerpts from "Alone Together," click here.
Born: February 3, 1809, Hamburg
Died: November 4, 1847, Leipzig
Composed: 1844, revised 1845
Premiered: March 13, 1845, Leipzig
Approximate Duration: 26 minutes
Instrumentation: two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two French horns, two trumpets, timpani, strings
Music donated by Diane Lewis
In 1838 Mendelssohn wrote to his friend Ferdinand David, one of the leading violinists of the mid-nineteenth century: “I should like to write a violin concerto for you next winter. One in E minor runs through my head, the opening of which gives me no peace.” Mendelssohn worked closely with David while composing the concerto. Both men disliked the “empty showpiece concerto” of the early Romantic era that contained little more than what Mendelssohn called “juggler’s tricks and rope dancer’s feats.” The two sought to produce a serious musical piece in the manner of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. The result is a piece wonderfully suited to the violin, both musically and technically.
Unlike Classical concertos, with long orchestral introductions, Mendelssohn’s work begins with the soloist presenting the initial soaring theme that “haunted” the composer. This melody is contrasted with a tender second theme, introduced by the woodwinds. Mendelssohn took an innovative approach to the cadenza; instead of putting it at the end of the movement, he used it as a bridge leading from the development into the restatement of the movement’s opening themes. Furthermore, instead of leaving it to the soloist to improvise or write his or her own cadenza, Mendelssohn provides a cadenza, probably written by David.
A single thread—a note sustained by one bassoon—provides the seamless bridge to the lyrical second movement, an endearing song. The melodies are harmonized and scored beautifully—sometimes peacefully, sometimes restlessly. Another brief transition, which recalls the impassioned first movement, introduces the Finale, a brilliant and sunny scherzo that recalls Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. The soloist is called upon to display light-hearted virtuosity alternating with long, lyrical passages, leading to a rousing conclusion.
To listen to the Mendelssohn, click here.
Born: May 7, 1833 Hamburg
Died: April 3, 1897, Vienna
Composed: Summer 1883, Wiesbaden
Premiered: December 2, 1883, Vienna
Approximate Duration: 33 minutes
Instrumentation: two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four French horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, strings
Music donated by Mark Dykstra
Johannes Brahms was recognized for his compositional skill at a young age. In his young twenties, Robert Schumann described him in Europe’s most important journal of music as “the one . . . chosen to express the most exalted spirit of the times in an ideal manner, one who [sprang] fully armed from the head of Jove... [A] youth at whose cradle the graces and heroes of old stood guard.” As much as Brahms appreciated the recognition, the high expectations were almost paralyzing. Brahms was his own harshest critic. He had incredibly high standards for himself.
Brahms is well-known among musicologists and music history students for his reluctance to write a symphony. In 1872, he famously stated, “I shall never write a symphony! You can’t have any idea what it’s like to hear such a giant marching behind you.” That giant was Beethoven, who had taken the symphony structure introduced by earlier composers and had pushed it to new limits of complexity, refinement, and emotional depth. Many late nineteenth century composers thought that Beethoven’s symphonies were so perfect that subsequent composers shouldn’t try to innovate further, instead turning to new genres. Brahms fundamentally disagreed, exploring the forms of the past and discovering new layers, colors, and complexity. He wanted to make sure the symphony remained a relevant genre. After writing a couple orchestral serenades, a concerto, and the German Requiem, he ultimately conquered his feelings of intimidation and composed his first symphony in 1876–a work raw with power, sound, and emotion. He wrote his second, a joyful and optimistic work, in 1877. His third, the most introspective, came in 1882-3.
Brahms was very fond of this symphony, and his good friend Clara Schumann said that “all the movements seem to be of one piece, one beat of a heart.” The first movement opens with three broad chords that have been called “heroic,” even causing some to label this symphony Brahms’s “Eroica.” The chords also suggest the tonal ambiguity that Brahms weaves through this symphony–is it in F major or F minor? The opening “F-A-flat-F” tonality spells Frei aber fröh (Free, but happy), Brahms’ adaptation of his friend Joseph Joachim’s personal motto, Frei aber einsam (Free, but lonely). After the enticing opening, Brahms presents a broad melody that leaps, builds, and pushes forward before transforming into an intimate second theme introduced by woodwinds. This gentle dance-like melody encounters a brief song and then proceeds to a dense development section. When Brahms recaps this material it becomes more tense, complicated, and dissonant before the movement ends in peace.
The second movement begins with a folk-like melody in the clarinet that forms the basis for the entire movement. The character is rocking and gentle, with occasional call-and-response moments in the strings. The third movement is also based on a single melody, a melancholy tune introduced by the cellos set to gentle triplets that gradually build momentum. There is a short dance-like section in the middle, the only part that sounds like most symphonic scherzo movements.
The final movement begins with quiet, nervous energy. A chorale from the second movement is heard before Brahms unleashes his turbulent, yet heroic, melodic energy. Much of the movement is in a stormy F minor, but this alternates with hushed themes. The movement resolves into a calmer F Major section, ending with three chords on F-A-F, as the music settles into peaceful silence.
To listen to the Brahms, click here.
Violinist Aaron Berofsky has toured extensively throughout the United States and abroad, gaining wide recognition as a soloist and chamber musician. As soloist, he has performed with orchestras in the United States, Germany, Italy, Spain and Canada. He has performed the complete cycle of Mozart violin sonatas at the International Festival Deia in Spain and all of the Beethoven sonatas at New York’s Merkin Concert Hall. His 2011 recording of the complete Beethoven sonatas with Phillip Bush has been met with great acclaim.
France’s Le Figaro calls his playing “Beautiful, the kind of music-making that gives one true pleasure”. He has appeared in such renowned venues as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the 92nd Street Y, the Corcoran Gallery, Het Doelen, L'Octogone, Seoul National University, the Teatro San Jose and the Museo de Bellas Artes. Mr. Berofsky has been featured on NPR's Performance Today and on the Canadian Broadcasting Company. His acclaimed recordings can be found on the Sony, Naxos, New Albion, ECM, Audio Ideas, Blue Griffin and Chesky labels. Recent recital tours have taken him to Germany, Italy and Korea, and he was featured soloist on the 2009 NAXOS recording of music by Paul Fetler, performed by the Ann Arbor Symphony, including the debut recording of his Concerto No. 2. His recording of the complete chamber music of Franz Xavier Mozart was released in 2013 on Equilibrium.
Mr. Berofsky was the first violinist of the Chester String Quartet for fifteen years. The quartet has been acclaimed as "one of the country's best young string quartets" by the Boston Globe. Tours have taken them throughout the Americas and Europe and the quartet members have collaborated with such artists as Robert Mann, Arnold Steinhardt, Franco Gulli, members of the Alban Berg quartet, Andres Diaz, Eugene Istomin and Ruth Laredo. Some notable projects over the years have included the complete cycles of the quartets by Beethoven and Dvorak, and numerous recordings by such composers as Mozart, Haydn, Barber, Porter, Piston, Kernis and Tenenbom. The Chester Quartet has served as resident quartet at the University of Michigan and at Indiana University South Bend.
An alumnus of the Juilliard School, Mr. Berofsky was a scholarship student of Dorothy DeLay. Other important teachers have included Robert Mann, Felix Galimir, Glenn Dicterow, Lorand Fenyves and Elaine Richey. Mr. Berofsky is known for his commitment to teaching and is Professor of Violin at the University of Michigan and served as visiting Professor at the Hochschule fur Musik in Detmold, Germany. He taught at the Meadowmount School of Music for many summers and is currently on the violin faculty of the Chautauqua Institution. He has also given masterclasses throughout the world, including a 2013 tour of Korea which included classes at Seoul National University, Ewha Women’s University, Seoul Arts High School and many others. He has also given class at the Cleveland Institute, Oberlin, Eastman, the Peter de Grote festival in the Netherlands, Domaine Forget in Quebec, Interlochen, the Adriatic Chamber Music Festival and the Conservatorio Palma Mallorca.
Mr. Berofsky's interest in early music led him to perform with the acclaimed chamber orchestra Tafelmusik on period instruments, also making several recordings with them for the Sony label. He co-runs University of Michigan’s Baroque Chamber Orchestra with harpsichordist Joseph Gascho. With a strong dedication to new music as well, he has worked extensively with many leading composers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, performing, commissioning and recording music by John Cage, William Bolcom, Zhou Long, Michael Daugherty, Aaron Jay Kernis, Susan Botti, Morton Subotnick, Paul Fetler and Bright Sheng.
Aaron Berofsky has been concertmaster of the Ann Arbor Symphony since 2003. He has also served as guest concertmaster for many orchestras throughout the US and Europe.
To listen to the pre-concert talk, click here.