7:30 p.m. — Saturday, November 5, 2022
Centennial Auditorium – Sterling High School
Violinist Sirena Huang is the 2022 winner of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, and was the 2017 first prize winner of the Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition. She is one of her generation’s most celebrated violinists, praised by The Baltimore Sun for her “impeccable technique….deeply expressive phrasing….and poetic weight.” She will play the Dvořák “Violin Concerto” with us. Also on the program is Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll” and Mendelssohn’s “Symphony No. 3 (Scottish Symphony)”.
Tickets are available online, or at the door. Students are always admitted free, and the Symphony would also like to extend a half price ticket to one adult the student brings with them. Ask at the ticket table for this offer.
In partnership with Community State Bank, we offer a bus from Clinton, through Fulton and Morrison to the concert in Sterling. Reservations: 563-219-8084
Learn more about Ms. Huang’s recent win, and enjoy video of the competition, including the Dvořák piece she will play with the Clinton Symphony. https://theviolinchannel.com/violinist-sirena-huang-1st-prize-indianapolis-international-violin-competition-2022/
Praised by The Baltimore Sun for her “impeccable technique…deeply expressive phrasing…and poetic weight,” Sirena Huang is one of her generation’s most celebrated violinists. She brings not only technical brilliance and powerful artistry to the stage, but also a profound sense of connection to her audience.
Sirena made her solo debut with the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra in 2004 at the age of nine, and, since then, has performed in seventeen countries across three continents. She has been featured as a soloist with more than fifty prestigious ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, the Symphony Orchestras of Cleveland, Baltimore, Shanghai, Russia, and Singapore, and the Staatskapelle Weimar in Germany. She has appeared as a guest artist at the Verbier Music Festival, Ravinia Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Eastern Music Festival, Sarasota Arts Series, Albuquerque Chamber Music Festival, “The Great Music for a Great City” series in New York City, and many others.
Motivated by a deep wish to inspire peace and harmony with her music, Sirena has performed before world leaders, thinkers and humanitarians. At age eleven, she gave a TED talk that garnered more than 2.5 million views. In 2006, she received the honor of playing for thirty Nobel Prize Laureates at the World Peace Conference held in Petra. In 2007, she played in the Opening Ceremony of the “Forum 2000 World Conference” in Prague. In 2008, she was invited to perform during the ceremony in which the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity presented its Humanitarian Award to President Sarkozy of France.
Please enjoy the following Program Notes:
Richard Wagner 1813-1883
One of the world’s most famous and controversial composers, Richard Wagner is famous for
his epic operas, including the four-part, 18-hour Ring Cycle. He is also known for his tumultuous
love life involving several scandalous affairs.
Born Wilhelm Richard Wagner in Leipzig, Germany, he displayed none of the expected
musical genius of major composers, but apparently quickly made up for that with confident
ambition. Although an early piano teacher said he “tortured the piano”, at 11 he wrote his first
drama and at 16 he was already composing music. On his death, a New York Times obituary
noted that “even in the face of mortifying failures and discouragement, he never lost
confidence in himself.”
Attending Leipzig University, his first symphony was performed in 1833, inspired by
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony which Wagner called “that mystic source of my highest ecstasies.”
Th following year he became chorus master of the Wurzburg Theater and wrote his first opera,
Die Feen. In 1836 he married the singer and actress Minna Planer, and his Das Liebesverbot was
produced. Wagner called his concept “Gesamtkunstwrek” (total work of art) – a method he
often used of weaving German myths with larger themes of love and redemption.
After moving to Russia, he began work on his next opera, Rienzi, but had to flee to avoid
creditors. In Paris he took whatever work he could find and became part of the revolutionary
“young Germany” movement, his leftist politics reflected in his opera. He sent his score to
Dresden, Germany, where it premiered successfully. The Flying Dutchman followed the next
year to great critical acclaim and he was on his way. Appointed director of the Dresden Opera,
in 1845 Wagner completed Tannhauser and began Lohengrin. Politically vocal, Wagner was
forced to flee to Switzerland, unable to return to Germany for 11 years. He began work on his famous
Ring Cycle which anticipated the future of film by combining literature, visual elements, and music.
His use of leitmotifs would influence composers including John Williams and film scores such as
Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
In 1862 Wagner was invited to return to Germany by King Ludwig II, an ardent admirer who
financially supported him. Separating from his wife, he famously conducted several notorious
affairs, finally marrying Cosima van Bulow in 1870 after they had two children together while
she was still married to her conductor husband Hans. The first two operas of the Ring Cycle, Das
Rheingold and Die Walkure, were presented in Munich by 1870, and the entire 18-hour
performance was staged in 1876 – all 18 hours. His last opera, Parsifal, was performed in 1882
followed by Wagner’s death in 1883 at age 69.
Because Hitler was such a fan, Wagner’s legacy became all the more controversial, leading a
New York Times article to write, “How did such sublime music come from such a warped man?
Maybe art really does have the power to ferret out the best in us.”
Tribschener Idyll, the original name, is a symphonic poem for chamber orchestra presented to
Wagner’s second wife after the birth of their son Siegfried in 1869. It was first performed in
typical Wagnerian elan by a small ensemble on the stairs outside the new mother’s room. His
opera Siegfried premiered in 1876, incorporating the Idyll’s theme sung by Brunhilde in a love
duet with Siegfried. Also incorporating a German lullaby, the piece first intended as a tender,
private tribute was later sold to help cover the composer’s many debts.
Most of the musical themes in Siegfried Idyll relate to pastoral passages in the third act of
the opera Siegfried, although far differently in an untraditional three-part sonata form.
Wagnerian fans will recognize Familiar horn calls, bird songs and bucolic contours. Ecstatic and
flowing, it begins at sunrise with beautiful shades of tone using clever combinations and bold,
simple colors. Unlike operatic Wagner, the mighty, heroic melodies are transformed here into
gentle, intimate poetry.
A brief motif in the first entrance of the flute in counterpoint against the main theme recalls
Brunhilde’s magic sleep from the opera as she awaits Siegfried. A gentle refrain in the horn
against the upper strings leads into the second theme group. A new theme, introduced by the
oboe, is from a German lullaby. After further theme development, the clarinet introduces yet
another theme portraying the lovers in their final duet. Next is the theme of the forest bird who
leads Siegfried to Brunhilde’s rock protected by a magic ring of fire, combined with one of
Siegfried’s horn motifs. The Idyll ends by very gradually and dramatically slowing down and
fading to a whisper.
Felix Mendelssohn 1809-1847
A German composer, pianist, conductor and teacher, Felix Mendelssohn is one of the most
celebrated figures of the early Romantic period. Born into a prosperous middle-class family,
Felix had already composed four operas, 12 string symphonies and many chamber and piano
pieces by the age of 12. Four years later he had written an accomplished String Octet and, only
a year later, the magical overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, considered two of the most
stunning displays of youthful talent in western music.
He traveled widely, and often to Britain. In 1829 Mendelssohn conducted his Symphony No. 1
at the London Philharmonic, visiting Scotland that summer. Merging pictorial and musical
elements, he described the waves breaking on the Scottish coast in the opening bars of The
Hebrides. Between 1830 and 1832 he traveled in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland,
publishing his first book of piano music, Song Without Words. In 1842 he enjoyed his first
personal contact with Queen Victoria, dedicating his ‘Scottish’ Symphony to her. Britain loved
him, and in 1846 he directed the first performance of his oratorio Elijah as the chief attraction
of the Birmingham Festival. The Queen referred to him as “the greatest musical genius since
Mendelssohn gradually became the most popular of 19 th century composers in England. The
fashion for playing the Wedding March from his Midsummer Night’s Dream originated from its
performance at the wedding of the Princess after Mendelssohn’s death. He was the first to
conduct Beethoven’s Emperor and was among the first to play a concerto from memory as well
as becoming known for his organ works. The popularity of his oratorio Elijah established him as
a composer equal to George Frederic Handel. In 1843 he founded a conservatory of music in
Leipzig where he taught composition along with Schumann. After the death of his beloved
sister his energies deserted him and he died at only 38 of a ruptured blood vessel.
Symphony No.3 ‘Scottish’
Dedicated to Queen Victoria, the symphony opens with a dark and brooding introduction in
the rich, mid-range orchestration of the oboe, clarinets, bassoons, horns, and violas. The violins
enter, then the full orchestra with impassioned strains, at the same time, quiet, yet simmering
with loud outbursts. The introduction fades, then builds volume and texture into a full gallop.
The Scherzo features repeated staccato strings until the winds enter with fanfare-like outbursts.
A solo clarinet takes up the main theme. The Adagio movement mixes Mendelssohn’s signature
sweet, songlike melodies with darker passages. A breathless, energetic Finale switches to a
brighter A major near the end as low woodwinds, horns, and violas conclude with a hymn of
Antonin Dvorak 1841-1904
One of the best-known composers of all time, Antonin Dvorak contributed to the
dissemination and appreciation of Czech music throughout the world. Applying the Romantic
tradition, he used the rhythms and other aspects of his country’s familiar folk music. His
portfolio includes around 200 works in all genres including 9 symphonies, 14 string quartets and
Born September 8, 1841, in Bohemia, his early musical talent was recognized and nurtured;
by the age of six he had begun violin, and at 12 he moved in with an aunt and uncle to begin his
formal musical studies of harmony, piano and organ. His first professional years were lean as he
played viola in inns and theater bands and took on private students to augment his small salary.
But even in those early years he had composed 2 symphonies, an opera, chamber music and
numerous songs, yet to be heard. The first public performance of his work in Prague was in
1872, impressing Johannes Brahms who became a close personal friend.
As an adult, he eventually earned worldwide attention with his Moravian Duets and Slavonic
Dances. Although suffering from an unrequited love, Dvorak eventually married and settled in
the small village of Vysoka where he composed some of his best-known works. His fame spread
quickly abroad, leading to successes in England, Russia and eventually the United States where
he famously made his way to Spillville, Iowa, the inspiration for his New World Symphony. He
had become director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York in 1892 but became
homesick and returned to Czechoslovakia in 1895.
Dvorak’s nationalist movement in music quickly came to rank in popularity with those of his
great German contemporaries, his talent for melody and fresh character in music offering a
welcome contrast to the heavier fare of many other composers.
Violin Concerto in A Minor
Composed in 1879, Dvorak’s Violin Concerto in A Minor finally premiered in Prague in 1883.
Written in the classic concerto structure, it features three movements: fast – slow – fast. The
Allegro opens with a bold orchestral fanfare introducing the first half of the movement’s theme,
followed by the soloist who enters with the graceful second portion. The Adagio follows
without pause as the soloist introduces the flowing, expressive principal melody, contrasting
with episodes of bravura passages. The Finale most reflects the spirit of Czechoslovakian folk
music. The soloist sings the principal theme, a vigorous dance taken up by the orchestra. The
piece concludes with a solo flourish and four emphatic chords to a vibrant finish.
Compiled by Karin Anderson-Sweet