events - Thursday, 6 October 2016

Grace Lutheran Church
Destin, Florida
Thursday, 6 October 2016 - 7:30 PM
Multiple Grammy Award-winning guitarist Sharon Isbin joins Sinfonia Gulf Coast for the Southeast U.S. premiere of Chris Brubeck's "Affinity: Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra." Also on the program are works by Vivaldi, Ginastera and Mozart's "Symphony no. 40 in G minor K. 550.
Presenter: Sinfonia Gulf Coast
Mozart: Symphony no 40 in G minor, K 550
Ensemble: Sinfonia Gulf Coast
Conductor: Demetrius Fuller
Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 – the middle one of the great final trilogy that he composed in the space of three months in the summer of 1788 – is a work that has always made a strong impact on its listeners.

The 40th Symphony’s most miraculous music occurs at the very opening, an unusual one for the time, in which the accompaniment precedes the tune (the impression this made on later composers can be heard in such works as Beethoven’s ‘Choral’ Symphony, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and several Bruckner symphonies). Within Mozart’s own works there is a faint similarity to Cherubino’s breathless aria of adolescent longing in ‘The Marriage of Figaro, but the restless melody which enters here is of an altogether nobler cast, a moment of uniquely Mozartian inspiration which on its own is enough to make this work an unforgettable and haunting one. It also has a generating role, however, particularly in an insistence on the pairing of adjacent notes which, with its yearning, ‘leaning’ character, becomes a telling feature of the movement – and of much of rest of the work as well. The movement’s second theme, a drooping one introduced by the violins and answered by the woodwind, introduces a more cheerful flavor – this passage really could come from a comic opera – but, almost before the listener notices, the material of the opening returns to round off the first section, drive on into the central development and later round the movement off on a note of unresolved urgency.

The Andante opens in a mood of relative repose, but soon (and with a growing sense of disquiet) the tripping paired notes which have appeared briefly in its initial theme begin to emerge as the movement’s propelling force, assuming many guises as the music progresses, from jaunty to angry and from achingly beautiful to frivolous.

After this the Minuet is darkly driven, with only temporary relief offered by the pastoral calm of the central Trio section, before the work plunges into its headlong finale.

The rocketing main theme of the concluding Allegro is a stock device of ‘stormy’ 18th-century symphonies, but this movement is far from a stereotypical creation. Mozart uses the theme to point the music in all directions, the most remarkable being at the beginning of the central development, where the theme’s rhythm is disjointed and its melodic outline distorted almost to breaking-point. It is a shattering moment, yet it grows organically from what has preceded and leads naturally into what follows. Such is genius.
Program note © Lindsay Kemp
Vivaldi: Lute Concerto in D major RV 93
Artist: Sharon Isbin (Guitar)
Ensemble: Sinfonia Gulf Coast
Conductor: Demetrius Fuller
Ginastera: Variaciones concertantes, Op. 23
Ensemble: Sinfonia Gulf Coast
Conductor: Demetrius Fuller
The Variaciones concertantes were composed in 1953, during a difficult period for Ginastera, as political conflicts with the Perón government forced him to resign as director of the music conservatory at the National University of La Plata. He supported himself by scoring films, as he had been since 1942, and accepting commissions such as the Variaciones, which came to him from the Asociación Amigos de la Música in Buenos Aires, where Igor Markevitch conducted the premiere in June 1953.

This was a central work of the “subjective nationalism” of Ginastera’s second stylistic period, in which folkloric and traditional materials are idealized and sublimated in a personal way. One characteristic musical symbol of this is harmony derived from the open strings of the guitar, as heard in the harp under the solo cello statement of the theme at the beginning, and again before the final variation. (These pitches – E, A, D, G, B – also supply variation material and represent the main key areas of the whole set.)

Two interludes (the first for strings, the second for winds) then frame seven character variations featuring different solo instruments with the orchestra. The first is a spunky scamper for the flute (Variazione giocosa), which leads directly into an edgier romp, featuring clarinet (Variazione in modo di Scherzo). The haunting elegy for the viola (Variazione drammatica) is much the longest of the group. Its modal chords seem to spill over into the next variation, a dusky duet for oboe and bassoon (Variazione canonica). The brief, brilliant variation for trumpet and trombone (Variazione ritmica) is basically a splashy fanfare for the ensuing violin whirlwind (Variazione in modo di Moto perpetuo). To close this central group of variations, the horn offers a lyrically poised take on the original theme (Variazione pastorale).

Ginastera rounds this off with a reprise of the main theme, again accompanied by the harp but this time with double bass taking up the tune. A final variation, for the full ensemble, ensues (Variazione in modo di Rondo). This is a high-voltage malambo, the competitive gaucho dance that was another prime symbol for Ginastera. The steady repeated notes represent tapping feet, with virtuosic and jazzy flourishes coming from all instrumental points.
Brubeck: Affinity: Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra
Artist: Sharon Isbin (Guitar)
Ensemble: Sinfonia Gulf Coast
Conductor: Demetrius Fuller

I am very excited about the concerto I have written for guitar virtuoso Sharon Isbin. This new piece has had a long gestation period. Sharon called me about a decade ago after seeing a PBS Broadcast of a piece I had written called "Interplay for Three Violins and Orchestra." She has toured and recorded with many great guitarists from different musical backgrounds and consequently has created interesting musical collaborations that delved into Jazz, Rock, Folk, Classical, and Brazilian genres to name a few. After our initial discussions, our busy road lives as touring musicians, and my composition schedules created a hiatus of quite a few years.

Sharon and I met and listened to my recent compositions and her more recent recordings to hear how we both had evolved over the last decade. Sharon wanted a new concerto that had a global approach to the guitar and wasn't confined to one particular style. You will hear that desire realized in how I approached the creation of this new work, "Affinity: Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra." I struggled to find a title we both liked and thankfully my wife, Tish, came up with this appropriate name. In plain English, Sharon and I share an affinity for embracing and exploring different musical styles. As I learned from watching the recent PBS special about Sharon's remarkable career, she wanted to be a scientist as a young girl. With that in mind I wanted to include in these notes the scientific definition of affinity: An attraction or force between particles that causes them to combine.

This is an appropriate description of the concerto as many genres are combined to create this 14-minute piece. There are no separate movements --- instead there are simply flowing, contrasting musical areas that we chose to explore. This concerto jumps out of the starting gate with the energy of a downhill ski race. Sharon has great facility on her instrument and I wanted to feature her fingers flying from the first measure. After a few minutes the piece travels into an early Jazz style with syncopated rhythms that almost harken back to Ragtime. Then the music transforms into a romantic waltz with oceanic qualities.

In the middle of this concerto there is a very heartfelt section that evolved from a suggestion by Sharon. She knew that my father had recently passed on and that he and I were very close and wrote a lot of music together over the years. She called me from New York and sensitively asked if there were any melodies my father had written that were particularly "guitaristic." She thought it would be wonderful to honor him by including some of his musical spirit in this piece.

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