Tchaikovsky: Rare and Well-Done
March 14, 2019 - The Mariposa Symphony Orchestra's 2019 Spring Concerts will exclusively feature the music of Tchaikovsky, ranging from very rare works to the most beloved violin concerto ever written. The concerts feature renowned guest solo violinist Dr. Ann Miller in the concerto, performing in Mariposa on Saturday, April 6 and in Yosemite National Park on Sunday, April 7.
Dr. Ann Miller, soloist (pictured) for the MSO's April 6 & 7 Spring Concerts.
MSO Founder/Conductor Les Marsden has programmed music by Russia's most famous composer spanning nearly the entirety of his composing career. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's familiar "Romeo and Juliet Overture" will open the program, but in its rarely-heard first version from 1869. "Though Tchaikovsky radically revised the piece in 1870 and again in 1880, that first inspiration of 1869 is pretty remarkable," states Marsden. "The famous love themes, the fight music - it's all there, but utilized differently. Different opening, different ending, different development sections - and it makes for a fascinating experience." The program will also feature one of the composer's earliest orchestral successes, written when he was only 26 years old: the 1866 "Overture on the Danish National Hymn." Composed on commission to commemorate the marriage of Russia's Tsar-in-waiting Alexander II to Denmark's Princess Dagmar, this rare piece will sound curiously familiar to listeners. According to Marsden, "there's a reason for that: Tchaikovsky cleverly quotes not only that Danish tune, but also "God Save the Tsar," interweaving the two together. And 15 years later in 1881, when the by-now seasoned composer was writing his "1812 Overture," he re-visited the "Danish Overture" borrowing from it both in content and style." As late as 1892, the year before his death, Tchaikovsky proclaimed the rare "Danish Overture" to be far better music than "1812," a piece known the world over today.
The prelude to Tchaikovsky's penultimate opera "The Queen of Spades" (1890) shows the master at the height of his mature powers. The program will close with the 1878 Violin Concerto in D, rejected by violinists for years as too difficult to ever be played. The piece was composed in a flurry of inspiration over a very brief window of time, with the famed "Canzonetta" second movement composed in only one day. Championed by 30-year-old virtuoso violinist Adolf Brodsky and finally premiered by him in Vienna in 1881, the piece caused a sensation, instantly establishing itself as a remarkable crowd-pleaser. Though at that time, Vienna's most powerful critic Eduard Hanslick scorned the piece as the "...brutal and wretched jollity of a Russian holiday. We see plainly the savage, vulgar faces; we hear curses, we smell vodka..." He claimed it was music which forced its violinist to "tear the instrument to bits, to beat the violin black and blue" and music which ultimately "stinks to the ear." Hanslick also panned the music of Verdi, Liszt, Wagner, Bruckner and particularly despised the Russians, so Tchaikovsky was in good company. Today Hanslick's place in history rests chiefly on his being so wrong about Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto.
International virtuoso violinist Dr. Ann Miller last appeared with the MSO in 2013, performing Brahms' "Double Concerto" with celebrated cellist Ira Lehn. While the standing-ovation audience was still applauding that performance in Yosemite's Ahwahnee Hotel, Dr. Miller turned to Marsden to express her pleasure at their collaboration and desire to return to play with the MSO again. Marsden suggested the great Tchaikovsky Concerto and they agreed on the spot.
Ann Miller has appeared in concert halls throughout North America, Europe, and Asia and enjoys a varied career as a chamber musician, soloist, and educator. She made her New York debut as a soloist with the New Juilliard Ensemble in Alice Tully Hall in the North American premiere of David Matthews’ Concerto No. 2. She has participated in an exchange program between the Juilliard School and the Lucerne Festival Academy that culminated in performances in Switzerland and New York under the direction of the late Pierre Boulez. As a recitalist, Ann Miller frequently collaborates with pianist Sonia Leong and their debut album of music by Beaser, Ysaÿe, and Bartók was released in 2015. An avid chamber musician, Ann Miller is a member of Trio 180; in addition to performing in Canada, Mexico, Maryland, Oregon, and Nevada, the trio has concertized throughout California in such venues as the Mondavi Center, Dinkelspiel Auditorium at Stanford University, and the Center for New Music in San Francisco. Trio 180 has also performed Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the St. John’s Chamber Orchestra.
Ann Miller is an associate professor of violin at the Conservatory of Music of the University of the Pacific. She holds her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the Juilliard School, and she received her Bachelor of Music, summa cum laude, from Rice University. Her biographic details may be found here: http://www.annmillerviolin.com/biography- (hyphen included in URL.)
The MSO's Spring Concerts 2019 featuring Ann Miller are scheduled for Saturday, April 6 at 7:00 P.M. in the Fiester Auditorium of Mariposa County High School with a matinee performance on Sunday, April 7 at 2:00 P.M. in the Great Lounge of the Majestic Yosemite (Ahwahnee) Hotel in Yosemite National Park. The April 7 Yosemite Concert (only) is free, with seating first-come, first seated. That concert is made possible by the generous cooperation and assistance of Michael Reynolds – Superintendent of Yosemite National Park, the National Park Service, Yosemite Hospitality – a division of Aramark, Michael Boyer – Manager of the Majestic Yosemite Hotel and the musicians of the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra.
Tickets for the MSO’s 7:00 P.M. Saturday, April 6 Spring Concert in Mariposa at the Fiester Auditorium of Mariposa County High School are now available at the following prices: General Admission: $10 Adults, $6 Students. Special prices for Mariposa County Arts Council Members: $8 Adults, $5 Students. Tickets may be safely, securely purchased online by visiting http://tinyurl.com/MSOTickets. Tickets are also available in person at the Mariposa County Arts Council’s office and Treetop Gallery on the top floor of the Chocolate Soup store (5009 Highway 140) at the southern entrance to the town of Mariposa. Call (209) 966-3155 for tickets and information. The MSO is a program of the Mariposa County Arts Council, Inc. Information including Marsden's extensive program notes and composer bios/photos for each piece is available at http://tinyurl.com/MariposaSO.