Vaughan Williams' Fantasia

Vaughan Williams' Fantasia

 

Vaughan Williams' Fantasia

The 2021-2022 Paul and Linnea Bert Classic Accents Series

Robert Moody, conductor | Maxim Lando, piano

Friday, March 4, 2022 · 6:30pm · Crosstown Theater

Sunday, March 6, 2022 · 2:30pm · Germantown United Methodist Church
 

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RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS 
(1872- 1958)

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

Solo String Quartet:
Barrie Cooper, violin
Gaylon Patterson, violin
Jennifer Puckett, viola
Ruth Valente Burgess, cello

                     

FELA SOWANDE (1905 - 1987)

African Suite
I. Joyful Day
II. Nostalgia
III. Lullaby
IV. Onipe
V. Akinla

 

INTERMISSION


CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS (1835 - 1921)

Concerto No. 2 in G-minor for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 22
I. Andante sostenuto
II. Allegro scherzando
III. Presto
Maxim Lando, piano


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Meet the Musicians 

 

Music Director Robert Moody 

2021/2022 marks Maestro Robert Moody’s fifth season as Music Director of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.  Expanded and adventurous programming, the MSO’s first commercial recording in over three decades, and a new $25-million-dollar endowment have highlighted the past two seasons.  Moody is also Music Director of the lauded Arizona Musicfest, boasting one of the finest festival orchestras in North America.  Players hail from the top orchestras in the world, including the Vienna and New York Philharmonics, Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Memphis, and San Francisco Symphonies, and the San Francisco and Metropolitan Opera Orchestras.

In 2018 Moody completed eleven-years as Music Director for the Portland Symphony Orchestra (Maine), thirteen-years as Music Director of the Winston-Salem Symphony (NC).  Prior to that he served as Resident Conductor for the Phoenix Symphony, Chorus Master for Santa Fe Opera, and Associate Conductor for the Evansville (IN) Philharmonic Orchestra.

Moody recently guest conducted the three major orchestras of South Africa in Durban, Johannesburg, and Cape Town; he was immediately invited to return for more concerts in the Summer of 2020.  Other guest conducting this season includes the orchestras of Bogota, Colombia; Aachen, Germany; Sacramento, California; and a return to the Sewanee Music Festival in the mountains of Tennessee.  Prior Guest Conducting has included Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, and the orchestras of Toronto, Houston, Indianapolis, Detroit, Seattle, Ft. Worth, San Antonio, Buffalo, Columbus, Louisville, Minnesota, and Slovenian Philharmonic.  Festival conducting includes Santa Fe Opera, Spoleto Festival USA, Brevard Music Center, Sewanee Festival, Eastern Music Festival, Skaneateles Festival, Bowdoin International Festival, and the Oregon Bach Festival.

Equally at home in the opera pit, Moody began his career as apprentice conductor for the Landestheater Opera in Linz, Austria.  He conducted for the opera companies of Santa Fe, Brevard Music Center, and Hilton Head Opera.  He also assisted on a production of Verdi Otello at the Metropolitan Opera (NY), conducted by Valery Gergiev, and at The English National Opera, where he was Assistant Conductor for Kurt Weill Street Scene.  He made his Washington National Opera and North Carolina Opera debuts in 2014, and conducted Bartok Bluebeard’s Castle, Leoncavallo I Pagliacci, and Poulenc Dialogues of the Carmelites in the seasons following.  Debuts to rave reviews with Brevard Music Center for Weill Street Scene, Opera Carolina for Mozart Le Nozze di Figaro, and Des Moines Metro Opera for Strauss Die Fledermaus came in 2017 and 2018.

Moody is a champion of the works of his close friend Mason Bates, now Composer-in-Residence with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and prior in the same role with the Chicago Symphony.  Moody commissioned/conducted Bates’ first full orchestra composition, and has been instrumental in the commission and premiere performances of several of Bates’ important major works for orchestra, including OdeRusty Air in Carolina, and Desert Transport.

Moody’s work can be heard on several commercially released recordings.  He collaborated with the Canadian Brass for their Bach and Legends albums.  He is also the conductor for Native American artist R. Carlos Nakai’s Fourth World album.  In 2015 he was honored to conduct the “Cancer Blows” gala concert with Ryan Anthony, members of the Dallas Symphony, and a host of trumpet luminaries, to aid the fight against Multiple Myloma.  CD and DVD recordings of that live concert are also commercially available.  Fall of 2019 will see the release of Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s first commercial recording in several decades.  The works are Jim Stephenson’s Concerto for Hope featuring Ryan Anthony, and Song of Hope” by Peter Meechan – featuring Ryan Anthony and Scott Moore.

A South Carolina native, Moody holds degrees from Furman University and the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Donald Neuen.  He is a Rotarian, and serves/has served on the boards of AIDs Care Services, Winston-Salem YMCA, WDAV Radio, and the Charlotte Master Chorale.  Maestro Moody is an avid runner, swimmer, and snow-skier.

 

Maxim Lando, piano

Praised for both his “infectious exuberance” and “impressive delicacy” (The New York Times), Maxim Lando was awarded the prestigious 2020 Gilmore Young Artist Award, and was also named Musical America’s “New Artist of the Month”. He first received international attention in 2017, appearing on the piano bench alongside Lang Lang to perform the parts intended for Mr. Lang’s injured left hand at Carnegie Hall’s Gala Opening Night; they were also joined by Chick Corea for an unprecedented three-pianist version of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Maxim has performed with renowned orchestras around the world, including the symphonies of Pittsburgh, Toronto, Vancouver and Hawaii, and St. Petersburg, as well as Russia’s Mariinsky Theater Orchestra, the Russian National Orchestra, Bolshoi Symphony, Moscow Philharmonic, Kazakh State Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, and China’s NCPA Orchestra. This season, he will debut with solo concerts at Alte Oper Frankfurt and the Essen Philharmonic in Germany, perform a series of chamber music concerts at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, and appear with the Neubrandenburger Philharmonie, Memphis Symphony, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Kalamazoo Symphony, and Massapequa Philharmonic Orchestra. He will also appear with the Jupiter Chamber Players and perform in recitals at Arizona Friends of Chamber Music and the Lied Center of Kansas.

Maxim won First Prize at the 2018 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. He opened the 2019-20 Young Concert Artists Series with recital debuts in Washington, DC, at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, and in New York in the Peter Marino Concert at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, which made The New York Times's "10 Months of Classical Concerts You Won't Want to Miss!”.

Mr. Lando was also invited to play at the grand opening of Steinway and Sons in Beijing, and has performed at the National Center for Performing Arts in Beijing, Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, Samos Young Artist Festival in Greece, Rising Stars Munich, Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players in New York City, Ravinia and Aspen and Music Festivals, and Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Chicago’s Millennium Park.

Dedicated to making classical music accessible to his own generation, Maxim has been featured on CNN’s Best of Quest, NPR’s “From The Top,” BBC Radio 4 and WQXR. A proponent of Sing For Hope’s mission, he served as a last-minute replacement for Lea Salonga at its 2017 Gala.

Winner of the Gold Medal at the 2017 Berlin International Music Competition, Maxim has
participated in the Artemisia Akademie at Yale University, is an alumnus of the Lang Lang
International Music Foundation, and is a student of Hung-Kuan Chen (YCA Alumnus) and Tema Blackstone at The Juilliard School. Maxim Lando appears by arrangement with Young Concert Artists, Inc., www.yca.org.

 

Robert Moody's Notes

 I first worked with Maxim Lando in orchestral concerts in Palm Beach, FL when Maxim was all of 15 years old!  A true prodigy, his playing of the Saint-Säens concerto will leave you jaw-dropped!  Fela Sowande is the most well-known African composer of Classical music from the 20th Century, and his African Suite is a perfect blend of western European music and the music of his beloved homeland – Nigeria.  And I hold the Vaughan-Williams “Tallis Fantasia” as one of the most sublime and entrancing works ever written for strings.  The strings are divided into three separate groups on the stage, and the concept is that Thomas Tallis’ theme from the early 1600s is somehow “haunting” the present-day stage with it’s mesmerizing beauty.  You have to experience this live!

- Music Director Robert Moody
 

Program Notes

by Michelle Pellay-Walker 

One of the most gorgeous works ever written for string ensemble, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis was composed for the 1910 Three Choirs Festival in England, receiving its premiere performance at Gloucester Cathedral, with the composer conducting the strings of the London Symphony Orchestra.  It is scored for double string orchestra with solo string quartet (Orchestra One is large;  Orchestra Two consists of only nine players—which are ideally placed as far from the larger group as possible in order to reinforce the antiphonal sonorities that Vaughan Williams had in mind).  The Tallis theme used here, “The Third Tune,” was one of nine that he wrote for inclusion in the 1567 Psalter of the Archbishop of Canterbury (in the 1982 edition of the Episcopal Hymnal, it is listed as “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say,” Hymn No. 692).  The antiphonal interplay and polyphony between the three groups is as complex as it is beautiful, making this one of Vaughan Williams’ most enduring creations.        


The son of an Anglican priest of Egba descent, Nigerian composer Fela Sowande has incorporated two musical traditions into his African Suite:  those of West Africa, and those of England.  The Suite was composed in 1944, and later recorded by Decca Records in 1952.  The scoring is the same as Orchestra Two in the Vaughan Williams (four violins, two violas, two cellos, and one double bass), but also adds harp as the tenth instrument.  The five movements are an eclectic mix of different experiences, expressions, and moods, ranging from the joy of the dance, to the liveliness of a party, to the sweetness of a lullaby.  A Note By The Composer (from the original liner notes of Decca LM 4547 (1952) reads as follows:  “This Suite consists of five pieces for String Orchestra and Harp, representing five varying moods.  Two of the themes used in the Suite, "Joyful Day" and "Onipe," are melodies from the pen of Mr. Ephraim Amu, of Achimota College, Gold Coast, West Africa, to whom the composer is indebted for permission to use them.  "Lullaby" and "Akinla" are folk-melodies from Southern Nigeria, while "Nostalgia" is based on an original theme, and represents the nostalgic memories of "an African in England.””

 

French composer Camille Saint-Saëns wrote a number of important concertos over the course of his 70-year career, and the Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22, is generally acknowledged to be the most popular of the five that exist for that instrument.  It was written in 1868 over a period of less than three weeks;  it was dedicated to Madame A. de Villers, and received its premiere performance in May, with Saint-Saëns appearing soloist while Anton Rubinstein conducted the orchestra.  This concerto has a few unusual quirks.  The opening andante sostenuto begins with the soloist playing an approximately minute-and-a-half introduction that strongly calls to mind a typical Bach fantasia, before the entrance of the orchestra.  This movement, which is almost half the length of the concerto, is by turns dark and somber, with lighter moments of lyricism, along with a development that is slightly more agitated in its character.  The allegro scherzando, in a reversal of the typical fast-slow order of a concerto’s first two movements, is as delightful to hear as it is to perform, pairing a skittering theme with another that can best be described as “bouncy!”  Finally, it’s off to the races in the presto third movement, which recalls the saltarello, the Roman dance which will be familiar to most concertgoers thanks to its use in Felix Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony.  Polish pianist and composer Zygmunt Stojowski would in later years comment about this concerto that it “begins like Bach, and ends like Offenbach!”