Past Performances: 2016-17 Season

Finding the Key

Date: October 29, 2016
Time: 8 PM
Venue: Tsai Performance Center at Boston University

CLICK HERE FOR THE PROGRAM NOTES

Andy Vores Xylophonic (2016) WORLD PREMIERE

Yehudi Wyner Piano Concerto “Chiavi in mano” (2004)
….Geoffrey Burleson, piano

Carl Ruggles Evocations (1934–43)

Béla Bartók Concerto for Orchestra (1943)

Andy Vores’s Xylophonic salutes the NEP on its 40th anniversary; Yehudi Wyner puts “keys in the hand” of the soloist in his colorful Pulitzer Prize-winning concerto; Carl Ruggles creates four evocative musical portraits; and Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra builds from Hungarian folk music into a vibrant celebration.

About Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra
When Serge Koussevitzky commissioned the gravely ill Bartók to write a work for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he could not have expected that it would result in the Hungarian composer’s most celebrated symphonic work, in which brilliant virtuosic writing for each section of the orchestra leads from a somber opening, through a showpiece game of instrumental duets, a brass chorale, and a delicate elegy, to a rousing, rhythmic, and life-affirming finale.

Annual Family Concert
The Big Bad Wolf

Date: December 11, 2016
Time: 3 PM
Venue: Tsai Performance Center at Boston University

William Schuman
Newsreel in 5 Shots (1942)

Bernard Hoffer
Nocturne: The Timber Wolf (2016) WORLD PREMIERE

Andy Vores
Big Bad Wolf (1996)

Paul Patterson
Little Red Riding Hood Song Book (1994)
…. WBZ-TV’s Eric Fisher, Narrator
     Boston City Singers, Joshua DeWitte, Director

Khoi Le, NEP Young Artist Competition Winner
Will perform the first movement of Camille Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor

The NEP’s 40th anniversary season continues with a visit from the Big Bad Wolf. The annual family concert features Paul Patterson’s Little Red Riding Hood Song Book and unveils another side of the hooded one you won’t find in the classic fairy tale we’ve all come to love. For this piece the NEP will be joined by the Boston City Singers and WBZ’s Eric Fisher as our narrator. Andy Vores’ Big Bad Wolf and Bernie Hoffer’s Nocturne: The Timber Wolf – a world premiere – give us two very different looks at a complex character. Finally, William Schuman’s Newsreel in 5 Shots takes us on a whirlwind tour around a race track, a fashion show, a tribal dance, the zoo, and finishes with a grand parade. The afternoon will also showcase Khoi Le, the winner of the NEP’s 22nd Annual Young Artist Competition, an instrument petting zoo from Johnson Strings, and a gift drive to benefit Cradles to Crayons.

40th Anniversary Concert:
A Child of Our Time

Date: March 4, 2017
Time: 8 PM
Venue: Tsai Performance Center at Boston University

Richard Cornell
Melospiza melodia (2017) WORLD PREMIERE

Gunther Schuller
Vertige d’Eros (1945)

Michael Tippett
A Child of Our Time (1939-41)
….Sarah Pelletier, soprano;
….Krista River, mezzo-soprano;
….Charles Blandy, tenor;
….Sumner Thompson, bass
….Chorus pro Musica,
………Jamie Kirsch, Director

On ‘A Child of Our Time’

“We cannot have them in our empire. They shall not work nor draw a dole. Let them starve in No-Man’s-Land! Away with them! Curse them! They infect the state!” Familiar words?

More than 75 years after its composition, A Child of Our Time is unfortunately all too relevant to audiences of our time. Though rooted in the ideas and politics of the era of the World Wars and the rise of Nazi Germany, the oratorio was written as a broader meditation on man’s inhumanity to man. It is a call for unity; the frustration at its core reflects that of its composer, who was appalled by Nazi atrocities yet also an uncompromising pacifist who was jailed for his beliefs.

Michael Tippett (1905–1998) was one of the great British composers of the twentieth century. He was born into a well-to-do and progressive family, his father a successful lawyer and mother a social activist and suffragist. True to that background, Tippett annoyed his teachers by advocating atheism and rejecting any kind of military service. He was drawn to music early, but took some time to find his own voice—it was not until 1935, at age 30, that he permitted any of his works to be published. Tippett’s musical associations were close to the people: he conducted an amateur choir in the village of Oxted, performing a variety of madrigals, oratorios, and, with a local theater group, folk-inflected operas. He also led a London orchestra composed of unemployed musicians, and in 1940 he became music director at Morley College, an adult education institute in London.

Tippett had been searching for a topic for a major work when, in October 1938, Hitler’s government decided to solve an “immigrant problem” by expelling 17,000 Polish Jews who had been living in Germany. The Polish government refused to accept them, and many were placed in a refugee camp on the border. Among the refugees was the family of Zindel Grynszpan, whose 17-year-old son, Herschel, had been sent to live with relatives in Paris. Herschel, distraught at his family’s suffering, went to the German embassy in Paris, where he shot the Third Secretary, Ernst vom Rath, who died two days later. The Nazis capitalized on the affair by orchestrating massive “spontaneous” demonstrations which quickly turned into the looting and destruction of Jewish businesses throughout Germany, a pogrom that was called Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass.”

Tippett took the incident as the core of an oratorio. His model was Handel’s masterwork, Messiah, which is divided into three parts, characterized by Tippett as “prophecy and preparation”; “history from the birth of Christ to the Last Judgment”; and “meditation.” In Tippett’s oratorio, the parts are: (1) “the general state of oppression” (the suffering of the people); (2) “a young man’s attempt to seek justice and the catastrophic consequences;” and (3) a search for a meaning or moral. The music has the form of a J. S. Bach Passion, with a narrator, dramatic choruses and contemplative arias, and, importantly, chorales, or “congregational hymns.” Tippett’s choices for those “hymns” give A Child of Our Time its most distinctive feature.

Tippett wanted chorales that could unite the concert audience in a “congregation of the faithful,” but felt that Christian liturgical hymns could not speak to agnostics or Jews. Deeply moved by a radio broadcast of “Steal Away,” he realized that “the Negro spiritual presented no expressional barriers anywhere in Europe. Nor maybe anywhere in the world.” He obtained a book of spirituals and selected five for crucial points in the oratorio.

The spirituals affected the harmonic structure of the whole work: Much of the composition is based on the interval of the minor third, and Tippett, for example, adapted the minor third–fifth–dominant seventh pattern spelled out in “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” into a sliding chromatic fugue for the “Chorus of the Oppressed;” a Kurt Weill-like tango in “I have no money for my bread;” and a dance-like accompaniment to “The Soul of Man.” Tippett gave the spirituals themselves simple, unsentimental settings, making them “a place of rest.”

There are thirty movements in A Child of Our Time, each is intentionally short and precise, a style Tippet called “lapidaric.” He was strongly influenced by two poets: Wilfred Owen, whose words formed the basis of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem (and whose poem, “The Seed,” inspired the oratorio’s opening) and T. S. Eliot, whom Tippett called his “spiritual father.” He asked Eliot to write the libretto; but after seeing the extensive work he had already done, Eliot advised him to simply finish what he had started.

The text draws heavily on concepts from the psychologist Carl Jung, who saw enduring patterns in human thought and behavior and who attributed conflict to the separation in the modern world of different aspects of the self—dark vs. light, evil vs. good. A Child of Our Time argues that injustice and ultimately war result from people projecting their own inner darkness onto others—creating scapegoats for their suffering and resorting to violence against them. The violence simply begets more violence, solving nothing. The only solution is a painful reconciliation of opposites; from the cold winter of the opening we must go still deeper, “into the icy waters, where lies the jewel of great price”—which, for Jung, was the reunification of the divided self, the “gift of our forefathers.” Both the dark and the light have essential roles; Tippett takes as an epigram a quotation from T. S. Eliot’s play Murder in the Cathedral: “the darkness declares the glory of light.”

“Behold the man! The scapegoat! The child of our time!” For Tippett, the demonization of the “other” was the deepest evil of his day. Has anything changed? A Child of Our Time directly addresses that evil by exposing its futility, and by encouraging compassion, tolerance, and the absolute refusal of any stereotype of division that prevents the expression of our total humanity. While the oratorio can’t change human nature, it does give us the power of insight, and, with that, hope.

—Peter Pulsifer (February 2017)

A Fanfare and Fireworks

Date: April 29, 2017
Time: 8 PM
Venue: Tsai Performance Center at Boston University

The New England Philharmonic will close out its 40th anniversary season with a program that illustrates what the NEP does best—performing rarely heard works of the last two centuries and championing local composers by commissioning new works.

Six works in total make up the program—three from the 20th century (Copland’s Orchestral Variations, Currier’s Microsymph, Kodály’s Peacock Variations) and three from the 21st century. Two of the latter were commissioned by the NEP; Flourish: A Fanfare for Orchestra from former Composer-in-Residence Peter Child, and Violin Concerto No. 2, from present Composer-in-Residence, David Rakowski. The piece was written for NEP’s concertmaster, Danielle Maddon, who will perform it. The final piece of the evening Oblivion, a Boston premiere, is from composer Liliya Ugay, winner of the NEP’s 31st annual Call for Scores.

Peter Child
Flourish! Fanfare for Orchestra (2017)
WORLD PREMIERE

Aaron Copland
Orchestral Variations
(1957)

David Rakowski
Violin Concerto No. 2  (2017)
NEP COMMISSION, WORLD PREMIERE

….Danielle Maddon, violin

Sebastian Currier
Microsymph (1997)

Zoltán Kodály
Peacock Variations (1939)

Liliya Ugay
Oblivion (2015)
BOSTON PREMIERE
Winner, NEP Call for Scores

Past Performances: 2015-16 Season

STEPPING STONES OF THE 20TH CENTURY

Date: October 25, 2015
Time: 3 p.m.
Venue: Tsai Performance Center

Irving Fine  Toccata Concertante
Anton von Webern Six Pieces for Orchestra
Maurice Ravel Shéhérazade
     Sarah Pelletier, soprano
Dmitri Shostakovich  October 
Gunther Schuller The Past is in the Present (Boston premiere)

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MUSICAL CHARACTERS: Family Concert

Date: December 13, 2015
Time: 3 p.m.
Venue: Tsai Performance Center

John Harbison Remembering Gatsby
George Antheil Tom Sawyer Overture
2015 Young Artist Competition Winner TBD
Rob Kapilow Elijah’s Angel
David Kravitz, baritone
Dana Whiteside, baritone
Boston City Singers, Jane Money, Director

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MIRACLES & RHAPSODIES

Date: February 27, 2016
Time: 8 p.m.
Venue: Tsai Performance Center

Roy Harris Symphony no. 3 
Sergei Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, op. 43
Randall Hodgkinson, piano
Brian Robison In Search of Miraculous (Boston premiere)
Bernard Hoffer MacNeil Lehrer Variations (Boston premiere)

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FROM THE SEAS TO THE HEAVENS

Date: April 30, 2016
Time: 8 p.m.
Venue: Tsai Performance Center

David Hertzberg Spectre of the Spheres
30th Annual Call for Scores Winner (Boston premiere)

Alban Berg Violin Concerto (To the Memory of an Angel)
    Danielle Maddon, soloist

Jean Sibelius The Oceanides 
David Rakowski Symphony no. 6 (world premiere, NEP commission)

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2014-15 Season

SHALL WE DANCE?

Date: October 25, 2014
Time: 8 p.m.
Venue: Tsai Performance Center

György Ligeti Ramifications
Bernard Hoffer Ligeti Split (world premiere)
Igor Stravinsky Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra
   Randall Hodgkinson, piano
David Rakowski Dance Episodes Symphony No. 5 (world premiere, NEP commission)
Maurice Ravel La Valse
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ALL ABOARD! Family Concert

Date: December 14, 2014
Time: 3 p.m.
Venue: Tsai Performance Center

Michael Gandolfi Night Train to Perugia (Boston premiere)
Arthur Honegger Pacific 231
Heitor Villa-Lobos Little Train of Caipira & Toccata from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 2
2014 Young Artist Competition Winner Austin Kwoume
Rob Kapilow Chris van Allsburg’s Polar Express
David Kravitz, baritone
Newton Public Schools All City Treble Singers, Kathryn Denney, Director
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SPRING AWAKENING

Date: March 1, 2015
Time: 4 p.m.
Venue: MIT’s Kresge Auditorium

John Harbison Darkbloom: Overture for an Imagined Opera
Aaron Copland Appalachian Spring
Benjamin Britten Spring Symphony
Sarah Pelletier, soprano
Krista River, mezzo-soprano
Ray Bauwens, tenor
Chorus pro Musica, Jamie Kirsch, Music Director
Boston Children’s Chorus, Anthony Trecek-King, Artistic Director
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Odysseys

Date: May 2, 2015
Time: 8 p.m.
Venue: Tsai Performance Center

Matthew Browne How the Solar System Was Won (Boston premiere, 2014 Call for Scores Winner)
Gunther Schuller Meditation (Symphonic Study)
Andy Vores Drive (Violin Concerto no. 2) (world premiere, NEP commission)
   Danielle Maddon, soloist
Sergei Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances
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2013-14 Season

Dreams & Legends

Date: October 26, 2013
Time: 8 p.m.
Venue: Tsai Performance Center

Boston University Trumpet Ensemble Library Fanfare
Elliott Carter Pocahontas
John Harbison Cello Concerto
Jan Müller-Szeraws, soloist
Boston University Trumpet Ensemble Dedicatory Fanfare
Carl Schimmel Woolgatherer’s Chapbook 2013 NEP Call for Scores winner

Leos Janacek Sinfonietta
With the Boston University Trumpet Ensemble

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A Distant Journey

Date: December 15, 2013
Time: 3 p.m.
Venue: Tsai Performance Center

Richard Wagner Prelude to Act III,Lohengrin
John Adams Tromba lontana
Silvestre Revueltas Janitzio
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto first movement
Performed by NEP’s 2013 Young Artist Competition Winner Sammy Andonian
Richard Cornell Umai’s Journey featuring the Boston Children’s Chorus
Narrated by Renée T. White, Dean of Simmons College

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An American Anthem

Date: March 1, 2014
Time: 8 p.m.
Venue: Tsai Performance Center

Michael Gandolfi Chesapeake: Summer of 1814 Simmons College and MIT Concert Choirs
Bernard Hoffer  Violin Concerto
Danielle Maddon, soloist World premiere
Dmitri Shostakovich  Symphony no. 1

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Firsts & Fantasies

Date: May 3, 2014
Time: 8 p.m.
Venue: Tsai Performance Center

Gunther Schuller, NEP Composer Laureate  Dramatic Overture
Boston premiere
David Rakowski, NEP Composer-in-Residence   Zephyrs from Dance Episodes Symphony no. 5
World premiere
Roy Harris  Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra
Steven Drury, soloist
Sergei Prokofiev  Symphony no. 7

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