Monday, January 19, 2009

Hire VSO small ensembles for your event!

Did you know you could hire the VSO's musicians in small ensembles to play at your special event? From weddings to dinner parties to memorial services, the VSO's strings, woodwinds, brass, and harp will add an element of class and beauty to any event. Click below to watch a fifteen minute video of Executive Director Alan Jordan talking with Ensemble Coordinator Rebecca Kopycinski about the possibilities available to you. Visit our website for more info, or e-mail Rebecca at Rebecca(at)vso(dot)org.

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31st Annual Waltz Night and Silent Auction

Click below to watch a video of Executive Director Alan Jordan chatting with Waltz Night Co-Chair Tony KVedar about "Vermont's most elegant evening."

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Farmers' Night this Wednesday - FREE CONCERT!

David M. Wilson Memorial Farmers’ Night Concert
Wednesday January 21, 2009, 7:30 p.m.
Statehouse Chambers, Montpelier

It takes two to tango, but we are in good hands! Music Director Jaime Laredo conducts and his wife, cellist Sharon Robinson, solos in José Bragato’s Graciela y Buenos Aires. Also on the program: Haydn’s Symphony No. 8 (“Le Soir”), selections from Grieg’s Holberg Suite, and Gershwin’s lovely Lullaby for Strings.

Free and open to the public. Don't be late, seats fill quickly! Keep reading!

The VSO asks Jorge Martín five questions

Jorge Martín's "Romance for Orchestra" will be performed on the January 24 and 25 concert programs. Originally commissioned for our Made in Vermont Music Festival Statewide Tour, Mr. Martín has reorchestrated it for a larger ensemble. Read on for an interview with the composer about how he got where he is, fitting in, and getting everything done!

VSO: Here you sit with an established career in your field, but you had to start somewhere. What first inspired you to pursue a career in music? Was it an epiphany? Perhaps a certain teacher, performer, or performance?

JM: I knew from the time I was three in Cuba that classical music was going to be my life. My oldest sister, who was then almost 20, bought a classical LP for the first time and when she played it on the record player, I was totally captivated, and my family could see it. It was Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. I was also in love with my toy blue piano, so my parents took the hint and had me take piano lessons. This was unusual in Cuba, because it was considered then that piano was for girls, but my mother had had a fantasy of being a concert pianist in her youth, and I guess she was living vicariously through me, and my father was quite open minded. But I knew that what I wanted was to be a composer, not a concert pianist. In typical child's fashion, I sneakily led her on to believe I was going down that path, all the while intending otherwise. But I didn't start formally to study composition until my senior year of college at Yale. Frankly, my parents didn't really understand how a composer could make a living -- which was what they worried about -- unless he wrote a big popular hit tune. It was difficult to explain....

VSO: Did you have one big “break” early in your career that served as a springboard into a more recognized and respected career?

JM: Not one break, but some small breaks along the way. I realized that opera was really my thing sometime in college -- I did my junior year abroad in Munich and there I could go to the opera sometimes 3-4 times a week cheaply as a student, and that was quite an education. I wrote a comic one-act chamber opera, "Tobermory," based on the story by Saki (H. H. Munro), and that won first prize in a competition and has since been produced a number of times. I got a couple of awards along the way, one from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which permitted me to make a great recording released on Koch of an hour- long song cycle, "The Glass Hammer," (poems by Andrew Hudgins) performed brilliantly by baritone Sanford Sylvan and pianist David Breitman. My latest and possibly biggest break is that the Fort Worth Opera Festival in Texas is going to premiere my full-length full- rochestra opera "Before Night Falls," based on the memoir by Reinaldo Arenas, the Cuban poet (and which was turned into a movie in 2000 by Julian Schnabel, starring Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp). I got the rights to the book before the film rights were handed out, so I was lucky. I told the estate (which granted me the rights) it would take about 15 years to get it on stage, which they found unbelievable -- a movie gets made so much more quickly! -- and from 1995 when we signed to 2010 will be exactly 15 years! Of course, it was a struggle because I'm not a well-known composer, there was no commission, and the story might be considered "challenging" by some, as it is about a gay man who dies of AIDS and is set in the Cuban revolution.... "The Merry Widow" it is not. But then, "Tosca" isn't exactly light and cheerful either....

VSO: How do you balance the joy of creating with the business side of things?

JM: Right now I'm a composer and my own secretary, publicist, agent and publisher, which is not at all unusual but can be crazy. When I'm in the middle of composing something, in the heat if it, all else tends to fall by the wayside, and my desk becomes an enormous pile. You have to be terribly organized -- which I thought I was, but now I'm realizing, I'm really not organized enough..... I go to New York City regularly, where I used to live, and keep up my friendships and contacts. The internet is an amazing tool also for keeping in touch.

VSO: The world of classical music is stereotyped as being populated with a mature crowd, yet you are youthful. Do you think that having young people in the orchestra, on the podium, and composing the music will serve to draw a younger set to the concert hall?

JM: This has always been a weird issue for me, because I never thought of classical music being about one's age -- remember, I was THREE when I was turned on to it. I think the young/old division vis-a-vis classical music is a cultural construct, although I may be wrong. I was forever the youngest one in a room of classical music lovers, and now as I grow older, I can still be among the younger in the room.... But I still maintain that the cultural component is important. As a young person I was constantly being made aware that it was NOT COOL to like classical music, that I was a WEIRDO for playing classical music (although I don't deny I was in fact an outsider). Young people want to be cool and be accepted by their peers. Until it is COOL to like classical music the age gap will stay in place. Perhaps that's why some folks think that as people age -- and are less in the grip of needing to be COOL and accepted -- they open up to possibilities formerly excluded by that need, and among the new possibilities is the exploration of classical music.

Furthermore, "Classical" music is an enormous umbrella term: there are SO MANY STYLES!!!!! Perhaps the only thing to do is to make sure that young people are EXPOSED to these musics by setting aside tickets for them, and for them to see lots of other young people at concerts, so that they don't feel they're WEIRDOS, which is poison for most young folk.

VSO: For those of us not familiar with the compositional process, how did you go about reorchestrating "Romance for Orchestra?"

JM: The Vermont Symphony Orchestra commissioned "Romance" in 1999 for their "Made in Vermont" tour in the fall, and since the group was traveling around the state, going to ten different towns, not all of which can accommodate a full orchestra -- and it being economically unfeasible to feed a house such a large group, the VSO typically tours what we call a "Mozart" sized orchestra, which is about 30 bodies. When they told me they'd like to bring it back, but this time on a concert with Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" which has a huge orchestra, they said I could expand the orchestration. I thought I could do this -- without using ALL of Prokofiev's orchestra. Originally I had no clarinets and only one flute, so I added a flute and 2 clarinets enriching the wind ensemble -- and having a larger complement of strings, producing a fuller sound, I also added 2 more horns to the original 2. I also added harp -- a very "romantic" instrument -- but no percussion. The big stroke was to add some brass -- trumpets and trombones, adding oomph and edge. But to give this new dimension some expression I added about a minute of music, expanding the stormy episode in the middle. I can't wait to hear it!
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The VSO asks David Ludwig five questions

David Ludwig, the VSO's composer-in-residence and New Music Advisor, lovingly crafted a double concerto for husband-and-wife team Jaime Laredo, violin, and Sharon Robinson, cello, to be premiered this weekend. Saturday's performance will take place Saturday, January 24 at the Flynn Center in Burlington, followed by another performance on Sunday, January 25 at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland. Read on for an interview with David Ludwig about his compositional process, how he got where he is, and how he balances work and play.

VSO: Here you sit with an established career in your field, but you had to start somewhere. What first inspired you to pursue a career in music? Was it an epiphany? Perhaps a certain teacher, performer, or performance?

DL: Well, I come from a musical family, but then one can find discouragement in that--especially if you come from an accomplished musical family. There was a great deal of resistance within my immediate family to me becoming a musician as a profession, which makes sense to me. If I ever have kids, I think I would encourage them to look into other paths to follow as well. To be a musician is a tough row to hoe, even if you have success. The psychological and physical demands can be great, and the schedule difficult. And this is the price one pays to do something they love deeply--it is a privilege to be able to make a living in the arts, a gift.

I had always "done" music one way or another, and wrote my first pieces when I was eight. I wouldn't say I was serious about it specifically until I was in high school. I had a little music theory and realized that I could put notes and sounds together and was just consumed by it. I gave up weekends to compose into the wee hours. I suppose I had wanted to be a writer forever, too, and I believe that being a composer is pretty much being a writer. So I don't know if there was a "moment," per se...

I started Oberlin as an Art History major, and I remember my advisor wondering aloud why I wasn't just in the conservatory as he looked at my schedule. I had one teacher--Conrad Cummings--who is a wonderful composer, and he asked me the same. This gave me a kind of "permission" I hadn't had before--I think part of growing up in such a musical family is that you think you're not allowed the keys to the kingdom. So with that, I became a composition major and never looked back. I went and lived in Vienna for the better part of a year and studied with Richard Hoffmann there, who is an absolute force as a teacher and is a composer who should be better known. He was one of Schoenberg's last students, and is one of the great artists I've ever met. He taught many important composers and musicians--Pierre Jalbert, Christopher Rouse, Bob Spano, and so many others. He was an influence in my life that I feel I can never repay, other than to say it publicly what he was for me as a student.

VSO: Did you have one big “break” early in your career that served as a springboard into a more recognized and respected career?

DL: I would say the biggest break for me was going to Curtis after getting a Masters degree from MSM. I remember some colleagues saying "why would you want to go there? Why not just get a doctorate?" But the chance to work with top top players and make those friendships in my time there--this was the best thing for me as a composer. I learned more from friends playing my music than I possibly could of from books or lessons, no matter how great the teacher. I wouldn't have gone to Curtis if Richard Danielpour hadn't encouraged me to apply. He is another person whom I can never repay. I wouldn't have met him unless I had run into the choral conductor Judith Clurman at a dinner party at my Uncle John's house. She urged me to be in touch with Richard, rather than to look at studying at other schools (I really had no idea what was what coming out of college). So when I hear about people talking about needing luck to get places, I understand that. Everything seems both like it fits together and like it's chance, all at once. My hope is to keep being lucky!

VSO: How do you balance the joy of creating with the business side of things?

DL: You just keep them separate, but acknowledge that there are always practical concerns. I don't know how much art would have been made in history if artists didn't have to pay bills or worry about getting exposure. Creating is a many-faceted thing, and sometimes there is inspiration in the deadline, or the paycheck, or in the act of wanting to write something that gets played a lot. A composer who never worries about these things might not be too motivated to write. We have this fairly destructive image of the starving artist, moved by his passions to create, a candelabra on the piano as a lightning storm rages outside--insert tousled hair and temper tantrums here. But if you really look at the history, you'll see that all the greats had two primary concerns: getting paid and getting their music performed. The act of creation, and holding oneself to the highest standard, is hopefully a given.

For me, I spend the morning composing, lost in that fantasy world where nothing on the outside matters. I try to keep the phone off, Facebook closed, and so forth. I get very ornery if that time is compromised in any regular way. The afternoon, then, I'll spend on the phone with who I need to be on the phone with, or perhaps getting materials together to send off. Then I'll spend the evenings engraving my music on the computer or doing things like answering blog questions. Teaching, which I do quite a bit, is peppered in there.

George Tsontakis, a great great composer who lives in upstate NY, taught me a trick of taking a nap around 4PM. You make a cup of coffee and start working again at 5PM, and you get what he calls (tongue-in-cheek) a "miraculous hour of invention" to keep writing until 6. This is because for many of us we start to peter out after a whole day of composing, and you try to squeeze as much concentration and focus on your music as you can. It's a good trick, and that hour can be very worthwhile!

VSO: The world of classical music is stereotyped as being populated with a more mature crowd, yet you are youthful. Do you think that having young people in the orchestra, on the podium, and composing the music will serve to draw a younger set to the concert hall?

DL: I'm less...ahem..."youthful" than I was, and if I was a violinist and still "emerging," I'd be in trouble! But the really wonderful thing about being a composer is that you can do it forever--as long as you can hold a pencil. So even though we are now collectively on the back burner of music--paid less and paid less attention to than pretty much any well-known performer--we can continue to improve and refine our work as long as we want.

As for the "aging" audience, I had a very interesting discussion with Jaime Laredo about this subject as I was campaigning at dinner for getting younger crowds in to hear our concerts. He said he had seen a photograph from the earlier part of the 20th century of the audience at a major symphony concert. They were all older people. There's a lot of debate about this--are our audiences going to die out with this generation, or is it a cyclical thing, that people tend to come to concert music later in life, and so we will keep having this renewed audience of older folks. I don't know that the age of our listener matters in terms of having an audience in number, but I think it can affect other things like programming.

I absolutely want to see younger people in these concerts, and I think they'll come if we step out of our collective shells a little bit. The VSO this year is only doing music since it's been extant--about 75 years. I know there was a lot of trepidation about doing a season like this, with no Beethoven or Brahms. But instead of those guys we have Copland, Barber, Bernstein, Bartok, and Gershwin, not to mention pieces written by folks who are actually alive! You can't commend the artists and management in this orchestra enough for taking a leap of faith to program like this--it's unbelievably exciting.

But the fact that it's so exciting speaks to a big big problem we have in concert music. I can't think of any other art form that is so rigidly attached to its own past. Can you imagine a playhouse that almost only did plays from before 1900? How about a dance company that only used the likes of Balanchine and Graham and was afraid institutionally to program choreography by living choreographers? And imagine if the New York Times bestseller list was all Dickens and Hawthorne? Doesn't that seem backwards? Yet so many of our biggest musical ensembles are like this.

I don't know what exactly has changed in the past hundred years, but something has definitely happened. I read about Strauss conducting at Wannamaker's here in Philly, or about the hordes of reporters that gathered around Stravinsky to get his opinion on a new piece by this or that young composer. I see Bernstein's brilliant television show for kids or think about all of the composers who met with presidents and heads of state. You can't help but think that this music has become very distant from the daily experience of most people, and it's been overwhelmed by an extremely powerful commercial culture. Not to be too outwardly partisan, but what Obama has said about bringing classical musicians into the White House, along with commissioning a new work for the inauguration, is terrific. Our president can be a cultural leader, as well, and that's just...well, I think it's just an incredible thing for us as a country.

But getting back to the issue of the institutional culture of concert music, I'll mention that my Uncle Peter did an interview where he talked about musicians programming Bartok as their "nod" to contemporary music. He said these artists are "decadent and perverse." I thought at first that this was a little much, but I get it now. For me, there is little exciting about going to a recital and hearing the same piece I've heard a thousand times played yet again. I don't mean to sound like a Philistine, but I may as well be honest about it. I love Mozart and Bach as much as anything, but this literature becomes so much more vital when it's programmed with contemporary work. Having a good understanding of pre-20th Century musical literature is just a part of cultural literacy, I think. But thinking that it all stops there is downright bizarre to me.

We can use contemporary music to bring in younger audiences. We can use it to bring audiences closer to the masters, as well. I've observed throngs of college-aged people who are dying to be challenged by their music, and so they've turned to all sorts of interesting popular music that is produced very artfully. They've turned to so-called "world music" as well to hear new sounds. Then there's all the electronica that has risen in the past twenty years. This is all great, but I want to approach this demographic and say "You want to hear something new? Come to this concert with music written by living composers!" I call it "concert music," because unlike pop or commercial music, it's best represented live. We all love a live listening experience when it's exciting--there's something intangible to it you can never get from listening to a recording. And this, I believe, is what will be attractive to a younger audience uninitiated in the literature--coming to our orchestra concerts and hearing contemporary music. Frankly, I think something a living composer writes is much more relevant to their lives than something written by a guy who lived in the middle of Europe and died two hundred years ago.

So in the end, I want to see absolutely everyone in that concert hall: the young people wanting to be challenged or stimulated with new music, and the older folks who want to hear pieces they already know and love. And then I also want to see older folks coming to be challenged and stimulated with new music, and young people to hear music they already know and love. We can program in this way to bring in a pluralistic crowd. Concert music has never been the music of "the people," but why can't we bring in a wide and diverse group that just wants to hear great live music performed by extraordinary musicians? We can do this, and we can do it better and more effectively by stepping outside the box. I am entirely convinced of that.

The VSO is a very special orchestra in a very open-minded part of the world, and I think the people who run it recognize this. This orchestra has gone directions that others are afraid to, and I think it shows vision and a willingness to be different that should put this organization in the national spotlight as one of the really interesting and exciting ensembles in the country right now. I can't say enough about this.

VSO: Was your creative process affected by knowing that your double concerto would be recorded?

DL: I hope not!
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Program Notes: January 24 & 25

"Winter Romance" is the theme of this concert, to be performed Saturday, January 24 at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington and again on Sunday, January 25 at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland. Sarah Hicks will lead soloists Jaime Laredo, violin, and Sharon Robinson, cello, with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra in pieces by Jorge Martín, our own composer-in-residence David Ludwig (pictured, with Sarah Hicks), and Sergei Prokofiev. Read on for program notes....

Jorge Martín
Romance for Orchestra

In 1999, the VSO commissioned me to write a short piece of music for the “Made in Vermont Music Festival” fall statewide tour. The performing ensemble was a "Mozart orchestra;” that is to say, a few winds, a bunch of strings, no brass or percussion. But I set out to make the ensemble sound not like a "Mozart orchestra"--lush rather than lean. So when the VSO decided to program the work in the Masterworks season and asked me if I could expand the orchestration, it was not a big stretch to do so (to unleash its inner lushness, as it were), and I agreed. Although I was told I had the resources of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet orchestra, I only added a few more winds, horns, brass, and harp, but no percussion. I added a few measures to the middle section to give the brass a moment to make themselves felt.

To Mozart “Romanze” meant a lyrical slow movement with a stormy middle part. In my piece the storm passes quickly, like a spasm of anger or regret. The work is a meditation on a short melodic motif that floats throughout in many guises, mostly beatific and sweet. The title “Romance” suggests a story, but I did not have a specific one in mind as I wrote. I encourage the listener to hear a story made up as the music unfolds!

-- Jorge Martín

Jorge Martín (born in Cuba, 1959) has received numerous awards and commissions. Concert Artists Guild, Close Encounters With Music, Cantori New York and the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble are among those who have commissioned works; he won the 2003 Vermont Music Teachers commission award. In 2001 he was one of the featured composers in New York City Opera's "Vox: Showcasing American Composers." In 1999 he received a generous Cintas Fellowship for creative artists of Cuban descent, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Academy Award in Music in 1998, which included a stipend and a recording grant. In 2005 Mr. Martín was awarded a fellowship by the Bogliasco Foundation for a month-long residency at a villa near Genoa on Italy's Ligurian coast. Mr. Martín was awarded an artist's residency at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs in 1993 and again in 2003.

Mr. Martín has recently composed a full-scale opera, Before Night Falls, based on the memoir by Reinaldo Arenas, presently in development. His prize-winning one-act opera Tobermory has been performed in Eugene, New Orleans, Kansas City and at the Lake George Opera Festival. Beast and Superbeast, a set of four one-act operas, based on Saki short stories with libretti by Andrew Joffe, was presented in 1996 in both Washington D.C. (Bethesda) and New York City to critical acclaim. His chamber music has been performed around the US and Europe. His piano music is available on CD, "Steps" (on the Albany label) performed by Jeanne Golan.

In the spring of 2000, baritone Sanford Sylvan toured the premiere of The Glass Hammer, an hour-long song cycle on poems by Andrew Hudgins, with pianist David Breitman; Carnegie Hall presented them in May of 2000 at Weill Recital Hall in a performance of that work. The duo has recorded the cycle and is available on the Koch International Classics label. The work was performed last year in Brooklyn and Chapel Hill by Jonathan Hays and Craig Ketter.

This season Cantori New York will be presenting the world premiere of "Fatso," a large cantata for soprano, chorus and ensemble, commissioned by the group. The Vermont Philharmonic has also commissioned a new work from Mr. Martín to celebrate their 50th anniversary this season. For more, please visit

David Ludwig
Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra

My Double Concerto is about three kinds of love: Eros, Agape, and Philia, as told in three ancient stories. The music of the first movement is based on a tale from Homer’s Odyssey, imagining the last night Odysseus and Calypso spend together before he leaves her after ten years of living on a desert island with each other. The music is sensual and rhythmic, and the solo instruments play together in almost every measure. The second movement is based on the medieval story of Tristan and Iseult, dwelling in forbidden courtly love as the two characters are not permitted to be together in love until they finally meet in death. The soloists play separately in this slow music until the very end of the movement. The third and last movement is about love of brotherhood and mankind as it embodies the story of the life of Buddha. The music becomes bright and celebratory, with ringing bells and chimes returning in its dancing rondo form.
-- David Ludwig

The Philadelphia Inquirer has called David Ludwig’s music “entrancing,” noted that it “promises to speak for the sorrows of this generation,” and the New York Times has praised it for its “expressive directness.” His works (many commissioned by prestigious artists and ensembles) have been widely performed in the U.S. and abroad.

Born in Bucks County, P.A., Ludwig received a B.M. from the Oberlin Conservatory with Richard Hoffmann and his M.M. from the Manhattan School of Music. He continued post-graduate work at The Curtis Institute of Music with Richard Danielpour, Jennifer Higdon and Ned Rorem, and at the Juilliard School where he studied with John Corigliano. He is now in the PhD degree program at UPenn as the George Crumb Fellow in Music. Ludwig joined the musical studies faculty of The Curtis Institute in 2002 and the composition department in 2005. He is the artistic director of the Curtis 20/21 New Music Ensemble

Recipient of the First Music Award, an Independence Foundation Fellowship, a Theodore Presser Foundation Career Grant, The Stott Award, The Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings competition award, and the Fleischer Orchestra Award, he has been twice nominated for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Stoeger Award. Ludwig has further been awarded a Meet the Composer Music Alive! residency grant, an American Composers Forum Community Partners and Subito grant and a Composers Assistance Program award from the American Music Center.

Ludwig was the Young Composer in residence at the Marlboro Music School for three consecutive years. In addition to Marlboro, he has been in residence at the Yaddo and MacDowell artist colonies. He is currently a resident artist at the Gardner Art Museum in Boston and is the resident composer and permanent New Music Advisor of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. This summer, he continued festival residencies as a composer-in-residence at the acclaimed Newburyport Chamber Music Festival. Ludwig is also the composer-in-residence at the New York Summer Music Festival where he is the director and instructor of the NYSMF Young Composers Workshop.

Sergei Prokofiev
Romeo & Juliet Suite

The idea for Romeo and Juliet was first suggested to Prokofiev by the Kirov Theater in Leningrad, which was eager to stage a new ballet by the composer. The project fell through and was then taken up by the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. Although it was the longest ballet he had ever written, it took Prokofiev only four months to compose, and at the end of the summer of 1935, he presented the piano score to the theater directorate. It was rejected as unsuitable for the dance.

Adopting the well-used fallback ploy of many frustrated composers whose work encounters difficulty of an extra-musical nature (petulant choreographers, producers, patrons, and the like), Prokofiev developed from his score two orchestral suites and ten piano pieces which were performed in Russia in 1936 and 1937. The ballet itself continued to be, in his words, “rather unlucky.”

Part of the problem lay in Prokofiev’s insistence on a happy ending, with Juliet being found alive in the tomb by Romeo. This, he said, was purely choreographic: “living people can dance, the dying cannot.” He was convinced to alter his stance by a remark made to him which pointed out that even his own music expressed no real joy at the end, and by choreographers who assured him that a tragic ending could be expressed in the dance.

The ballet made its debut in the Brno Opera of Czechoslovakia in 1938 and was performed two years later at the Kirov Theater and in 1946 by the Bolshoi. For the ballet performances, certain changes were made in the score in terms of heavier orchestration and some additional music.

The complete ballet is rarely heard in concert form due to its length, but the suites from the original score (and a third suite dating from 1946) are often performed. As Prokofiev explains his suites in his autobiography, “Some numbers were taken directly from the ballet without alteration; others incorporated diverse other material.”

Suite 2, No. 1 The Montagues and the Capulets: The Duke forbids further fights between the warming families; the Capulet knights perform a heavy-footed dance; Juliet participates in a coldly formal dance with Paris, the fiancé chosen for her by her family.

Suite 2, No. 2 The Young Girl Juliet: Juliet laughingly resists the Nurse’s efforts to get her dressed for the ball; her mother tells her of the plan to marry her to Paris.

Suite 1, No. 1 Folk Dance: In the full ballet, this dance opens the second act, and is followed by public merrymaking. The dance is marked by slapping tambourines and jaunty brass solos.

Suite 2, No. 5 Romeo and Juliet Before Parting: The lovers bid farewell after their first and last night together.

Suite 1, No. 7 The Death of Tybalt: Tybalt fatally wounds Mercutio in a duel; Romeo duels with Tybalt, killing him; Tybalt’s funeral procession.

Suite 2, No. 7 Romeo at Juliet’s Tomb: Juliet’s funeral procession; a grieving Romeo arrives and poisons himself.

Suite 3, No. 6 The Death of Juliet: A sleeping Juliet awakens to find her lover dying, and joins him in death.

--Hilary Hatch

Sarah Hicks, conductor

Noted in the New York Times as part of “a new wave of female conductors in their late 20’s through early 40’s”, Sarah Hatsuko Hicks‘s versatile and vibrant musicianship has secured her place in “the next generation of up-and-coming American conductors.” She joined the Minnesota Orchestra as Assistant Conductor beginning in the 2006-2007 season, where she is lead conductor of the new “Inside the Classics” series, and concurrently holds the position of Staff Conductor at the Curtis Institute of Music. She completed a two-year tenure as Associate Conductor of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra in June of 2007. A cover conductor for the National Symphony Orchestra since 2003, she has guest conducted on their Family Concerts, Millenium Stage and summer series. She has collaborated with numerous soloists, including Nigel Kennedy and Hilary Hahn; in addition, she has acted as assistant conductor to such luminaries as James Levine, Sir Neville Marriner, Zubin Mehta and Yuri Temirkanov.

Ms. Hicks’s past positions include Resident Conductor of the Florida Philharmonic, Assistant Conductor of the Reading Symphony Orchestra and Assistant Conductor of the Philadelphia Singers, the chorus of the Philadelphia Orchestra, whom she has led in radio broadcasts heard nationwide. She has also been Music Director of the Hawaii Symphony, an ensemble she founded in 1991 in her hometown of Honolulu, which she led for five seasons. Ms. Hicks has guest conducted extensively both in the States and abroad, including the Milwaukee Symphony, Detroit Symphony, South Carolina Philharmonic, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Silesian State Philharmonic and the Charleston Symphony. In November 2007, she made her South Korean debut with the Prime Philharmonic, conducting the premier of Solbong Kim’s “War Requiem”, which was also recorded by EMI Korea and broadcast live on Korean television.

Ms. Hicks was invited to Japan by the New National Theatre Tokyo, where she acted as assistant conductor to a production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflote and has performed Verdi’s Aida with the East Slovak State Opera Theater. Her extensive work with the Curtis Opera Studio include performances of Poulenc’s Dialogue des Carmelites and numerous vocal concerts; she led the Opera Studio in a production of Handel’s Alcina in April 2005.

A committed proponent of the performance of new music, Ms. Hicks regularly leads the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in readings, recordings and performances of contemporary works. In addition to premiering works by young composers from both the Curtis Institute and the University of Pennsylvania (as coordinator and conductor of the Penn Composers Project), she has collaborated with Ned Rorem, Richard Danielpour and Jennifer Higdon. She has also conducted performances with Composers in the Shape of a Pear (Cleveland), premiering avant-garde works, and has been a guest conductor of the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. Her most recent collaborations include the premiere and recording of John Hedge’s chamber opera, “The Invitation.”

In Ms. Hicks was a member of the Faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music from 2000-2005 and continues her affiliation with Curtis as Staff Conductor. She has prepared the Symphony Orchestra of the Curtis Institute for readings and concerts with leading conductors including Wolfgang Sawallisch and Sir Simon Rattle. Her work with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra led to a one-season appointment as assistant conductor to the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra, an ensemble that she trained intensively for Music Director James Levine.

Sarah Hatsuko Hicks was born in Tokyo, Japan and raised in Honolulu, HI. Trained on both the piano and viola, she was a prizewinning pianist by her early teens. She received her BA magna cum laude from Harvard University as a composition major; her AIDS Oratorio was premiered at Harvard University in May of 1993 and received a second performance at the Fogg Art Museum. She holds an Artists’ Degree in conducting from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with renowned pedagogue Otto-Werner Mueller. Ms. Hicks’s talents have been recognized with numerous prizes and scholarships; she received the Thomas Hoopes Prize for composition and Doris Cohen Levy Prize for conducting from Harvard University, and she was the recipient of the Helen F. Whitaker Fund Scholarship and a Presser Award during her time at Curtis.

In her spare time, Ms. Hicks enjoys running, yoga, her two large dogs and singing in garage bands.

In the January 11 Reno Gazette-Journal, Forrest Hartman writes, "The Reno Philharmonic continues its conductor search today when Sarah Hatsuko Hicks leads the orchestra through the first of two concerts featuring guest pianist Frederick Moyer. Hicks -- one of five finalists competing for the philharmonic's open music director job -- is assistant conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra and staff conductor at the Curtis Institute of Music. She is also a self-confessed 'pop culture maven.' Says Hicks, 'I think I have a greater willingness to delve into other things and to look at what we do differently. I work with a lot of pop artists. I have a relationship with Ben Folds, who's a big rocker. I do a lot of shows in that realm as well, which I find is important. I also bring that to the classical stuff I do. When I was at the Richmond Symphony, we did a series called 'Kick Back Classics,' which were concerts in a club, and the audience members brought me shots of Wild Turkey between pieces. It was a really different way of looking at how you can present classical music.'"

Jaime Laredo, violin

“…music-making of unusually high quality – the sort of playing which comes only from understanding, love, painstaking care, and, quite simply, great ability.”

- The Guardian, London

Approaching his 50th year before audiences across the globe, Jaime Laredo has excelled in the multiple roles of soloist, conductor, recitalist and chamber musician. Since his stunning orchestral debut at the age of eleven with the San Francisco Symphony, he has won the admiration and respect of audiences, critics and fellow musicians with his passionate and polished performances. That debut inspired one critic to write: 'In the 1920's it was Yehudi Menuhin; in the 1930's it was Isaac Stern; and last night it was Jaime Laredo.' His education and development were greatly influenced by private coaching with eminent masters Josef Gingold, Pablo Casals, Ivan Galamian and George Szell. At the age of seventeen, Jaime Laredo won the prestigious Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Competition, launching his rise to international prominence.

The upcoming season (2008-09) will include several conducting engagements, including appearances Fort Wayne Philharmonic, where he is the Artistic Advisor, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, and the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, in addition to his Music Directorship with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Laredo will continue to collaborate with his wife Sharon Robinson in several Duo performances, as part of an ambitious project to premiere and record newly commissioned double concerti across the U.S. The Duo will open their season in with Miklos Rozsa’s Sinfonia Concertante, with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, and the world premiere of David Ludwig’s Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orchestra will be performed with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra under the baton of guest conductor Sarah Hicks. As a special celebration of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s 70th birthday, Ms. Robinson and Mr. Laredo will perform her Double Concerto, which was written especially for the Duo, with the Detroit Symphony under the baton of Hans Graf. They will also be performing The Muse and the Poet by Saint-Saens.

During the past season, Mr. Laredo conducted the Seattle Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Alabama Symphony, and the New York String Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. As the violinist of the Laredo-Robinson Duo with cellist Sharon Robinson, he appeared with Nashville Symphony, Delaware Symphony, and Sacramento Philharmonic in the world premiere of Daron Hagen’s Double Concerto; as a chamber musician, he presented multiple chamber music concerts at the 92nd Street Y in New York where he’s also the Artistic Director of the Chamber Music Series, including a special Beethoven Trio marathon with the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio. Other chamber music engagements throughout the season included concerts in Massachusetts, Arizona, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C. (Kennedy Center), Detroit, Miami, Indianapolis, Albuquerque, and back to 92nd Street Y for the New York premiere of Richard Danielpour’s piano quartet Book of Hours – a special commission for the Trio’s 30th anniversary two years ago.

The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio celebrated its 30th anniversary with major concerts at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the 92nd Street Y in New York, and was also heard in Boston, Philadelphia, Fort Worth, Tucson, La Jolla, El Paso, and Lisbon, Hamburg, Copenhagen in Europe and Calgary, Canada. They commissioned the stellar American composer Richard Danielpour for a new Piano Quartet, performed in 10 cities nationwide in 2006-’07 and 2007-’08. On the recording front, KOCH International Classics released the Trio’s new recording of Arensky & Tchaikovsky trios, as well as re-releases from their vast existing discography. Their most recent project includes a complete 4-Disc Brahms Cycle of the complete trios, scheduled to be released in the fall of 2008.

As a highly sought after conductor and solo violinist, Mr. Laredo appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia Festival in August 2006, followed throughout the season by engagements with the Seattle Symphony, the Vermont Symphony where he’s the Music Director, the Utah Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Hall and the 92nd Street Y. He also appeared in recitals with legendary pianist Leon Fleisher at UCLA Royce Hall and New York’s Zankel Hall, among other venues.

In 2005 Mr. Laredo accepted a chaired position at the Indiana University School of Music. During the same year, Mr. Laredo balanced solo and conducting dates with the intense chamber music schedule of the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, Winner of Musical America's Ensemble of the Year 2002.

With his wife, cellist Sharon Robinson, who also joined the faculty of Indiana University School of Music, Jaime Laredo performs and records extensively. Highlights of the celebrated Duo’s past seasons have included the New York premiere at Carnegie Hall of In the Arms of the Beloved, Richard Danielpour's 2002 Concerto for Violin and Cello written for the Duo to celebrate 25 years of marriage. The April 2005 performance in New York as well as a subsequent performance in Philadelphia were led by Michael Stern, who conducted the world premiere and the recently released recording. To commemorate the Duo’s 30th anniversary, Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson commissioned a new work from composer Andy Stein as well as a new double concerto from Richard Danielpour. In addition, Naxos released the Double Concerto by Ned Rorem, also written for Laredo-Robinson, with the Iris Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Michael Stern.

Mr. Laredo is in demand worldwide as a conductor and a soloist. He has been Music Director of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra since 1999 and is also the Artistic Director of the Brandenburg Ensemble. The 2005-06 season saw him leading the Detroit Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, New York String Orchestra and Virginia Symphony, as well as soloing with the St. Louis Symphony in October 2005.

Mr. Laredo has recorded close to one hundred discs. He has received the Deutsche Schallplatten Prize and has been awarded seven Grammy nominations. He won the Grammy Award for a disc of Brahms Piano Quartets which he performed with his close colleagues and frequent chamber music collaborators, renowned pianist Emanuel Ax, celebrated violinist Isaac Stern, and distinguished cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

As Artistic Director of New York's renowned Chamber Music at the Y series, Mr. Laredo has created an important forum for chamber music performances which has developed a devoted following. His stewardships of the annual New York String Orchestra Seminar at Carnegie Hall and the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis have become beloved educational pillars of the string community. A principal figure at the Marlboro Music Festival in years past and more recently with the Aspen Music Festival, he has also been involved at Tanglewood, Ravinia, Mostly Mozart, and the Hollywood Bowl, as well as the festivals in Italy, Spain, Finland, Greece, Israel, Austria, Switzerland and England.

Born in Bolivia, Jaime Laredo resides in Vermont and Indiana with his wife Sharon Robinson.

Sharon Robinson, cello

“Sharon Robinson was the cello soloist,and her performance was simply masterful.”
- Washington Post

Winner of the Avery Fisher Recital Award, the Piatigorsky Memorial Award, the Pro Musicis Award, and a Grammy nominee, cellist Sharon Robinson is recognized worldwide as a dynamic artist and one of the most outstanding musicians of our time. Whether as a recitalist, soloist with orchestra, or a member of the renowned Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, critics, audiences and fellow musicians worldwide respond to what the New York Times called “an artistic personality that vitalizes everything she plays.” Her guest appearances with orchestra include the National Symphony, the Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Boston, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and San Francisco Symphonies, and in Europe, the London Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, Zürich’s Tonhalle Orchestra, and the English, Scottish and Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestras.

Appointed to the renowned cello faculty of Indiana University School of Music in 2005, Ms. Robinson divides her time between teaching, solo engagements, performing with her husband, violinist and conductor Jaime Laredo, and touring with the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio. Throughout the 2008-‘09 season, Ms. Robinson will continue to collaborate with her husband Jaime Laredo in several Duo performances, as part of an ambitious project to premiere and record newly commissioned double concerti across the U.S. The Duo will open their season with Miklos Rozsa’s Sinfonia Concertante, with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra. The world premiere of David Ludwig’s Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orchestra will be performed with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra under the baton of guest conductor Sarah Hicks. As a special celebration of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s 70th birthday, Ms. Robinson and Mr. Laredo will perform the Double Concerto, which was written especially for the Duo, with the Detroit Symphony under the baton of Hans Graf. They will also be performing The Muse and the Poet by Saint-Saens. Additionally, Ms. Robinson will be featured this season in Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra, and Mr. Laredo conducting.

During the 2007-‘08 season Sharon Robinson and violinist Jaime Laredo performed the world premiere of Daron Aric Hagen’s double concerto Masquerade with the Sacramento Philharmonic. The Duo also presented a recital in New York City featuring Suite for Two by Andy Stein, a work written for their 30th anniversary, while the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio played the New York premiere of Richard Danielpour’s piano quartet Book of Hours at the 92nd Street Y– a special commission for the Trio’s 30th anniversary, which was celebrated during the 2006-‘07 season.

Past seasons have included performances commemorating Ms. Robinson’s and Mr. Laredo’s 30th wedding anniversary, including a newly commissioned work from composer Andy Stein as well as a new double concerto from Richard Danielpour. In addition, Naxos released the Double Concerto by Ned Rorem, also written for Laredo-Robinson, with the Iris Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Michael Stern. The husband-wife team also appeared with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony, the Nashville Symphone, the Austin Symphony, as well as at Carnegie Hall and the Mostly Mozart Festival. 2001 marked the beginning of the tenure of Sharon Robinson and Jaime Laredo as co-artistic directors of the Hudson Valley Chamber Music Circle, the beloved annual summer series at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.

Ms. Robinson's television appearances have included The Tonight Show, The Today Show, The Kennedy Center Honors on CBS, and a profile on CBS Sunday Morning and the Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor on NPR. Equally impressive are her festival engagements, which have included Spoleto, Mostly Mozart, Aspen, London's South Bank, Madeira, Granada, Edinburgh and Prague's Autumn Festival where she performed the Dvorák Cello Concerto at the famous Dvorák Hall.

Born into a musical family (her father was a bass player, her mother a violinist and all her siblings are string players), Ms. Robinson gave her first concert when she was seven and has since received numerous honors and awards. As winner of the Avery Fisher Recital Award, Ms. Robinson appeared on Lincoln Center's Great Performers series, giving the premiere of Ned Rorem's After Reading Shakespeare, a work she commissioned and performed on the Dick Cavett Show, and recorded for Naxos. Ms. Robinson's close relationships with today's composers have led to numerous commissions for solo and chamber works as well as concerti from Leon Kirchner, Arvo Pärt, Stanley Silverman, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, David Ott, Katherine Hoover, Richard Danielpour, Andy Stein, Darin Aric Hagan and Ned Rorem.

Renowned for her chamber music performances, Sharon Robinson co-founded the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio thirty-two years ago and has collaborated with Rudolf Serkin and Alexander Schneider at the Marlboro Music Festival, Leon Fleisher, Rudolf Firkušný, Yo-Yo Ma, Eugene Istomin, Itzhak Perlman, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Mstislav Rostropovich, Isaac Stern, Pinchas Zukerman, and the Emerson, Guarneri, Miami, Juilliard, Orion and Tokyo Quartets. In December 2001, Musical America named the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio the 2002 Ensemble of the Year.

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