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February 2022 Concert

2:30 pm
Sunday, February 13, 2022

TCHAIKOVSKY 4

Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony is among his greatest works, and combines festive Russian folk tunes with a hidden program based upon Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and the struggle against fate. This symphony is fittingly preceded by the sunny 23th piano concerto of Tchaikovsky’s favorite composer, Mozart, which features the ESO debut of rising star Hyejin Joo. William Grant Still was a pioneering African-American composer, and his Festive Overture was named the winner of a 1944 overture competition sponsored by the Cincinnati Symphony.

Program

Go To Program Notes

Musical Insights Free Pre-Concert Preview the Friday before this concert.
Learn How to Attend!

  • Still
  • Festive Overture
  • Mozart
  • Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major

    Hyejin Joo, piano

  • Tchaikovsky
  • Symphony No. 4 in F Minor

Pick-Staiger Concert Hall

50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston
See map.

TICKETS

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All tickets are assigned seating.

All patrons are required to be fully vaccinated and may be required to show proof to attend our 2021-22 subscription-series concerts. Masking requirements will follow current CDC and local guidelines/mandates. The ESO may make changes to vaccination/masking policies depending on future events.

All tickets are general unassigned seating.

All patrons are required to be fully vaccinated and are required to show proof of vaccination (read more detail) to attend our 2021-22 subscription-series concerts. Masking requirements will follow current CDC and local guidelines/mandates. The ESO may make changes to vaccination/masking policies depending on future events.

Advance Sales

$34 Adult, $29 Seniors, $5.00 Full-Time Student

At the Door Sales

$39 Adult, $34 Seniors, $5.00 Full-Time Student

Children Free

Children 12 and younger are admitted absolutely FREE, but must have an assigned seat.
Please call 847.864.8804 or email tickets@evanstonsymphony.org for all orders with children’s tickets.

Buy Mid-Season Subscription

SERIES SUBSCRIPTION

Subscribers get first choice of the best seats in the section they desire.

Three-concert Subscription

$90 Adults, $78 Seniors, $15 Students

Soloist

Hyejin Joo, piano

Hyejin Joo

A native of South Korea, Pianist Hyejin Joo was the gold medalist of the Seattle International Piano Competition and has won various awards from the Wideman International Piano Competition, Chautauqua International Competition, Indiana University Concerto Competition, Seoul National University Concerto Competition, Thaviu-Isaak Competition, and the Kumho Art Foundation Audition. Also an avid chamber musician, she is a member of the Stellio Piano Trio, prizewinner of Plowman Chamber Music Competition, semi-finalist at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition and guest artist for the Peninsula Music Festival ChamberFest.

Joo earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Seoul National University, receiving a prestigious scholarship for selected top students and was granted the position of Associate Instructor upon entering Indiana University. She received her Master of Music degree and Performer Diploma there with a full scholarship under the tutelage of Arnaldo Cohen. Most recently she earned a doctorate at Northwestern University with program honors.

She has performed at the Banff Centre, Benaroya Hall, Chautauqua Fletcher Hall, St. Petersburg (Florida) Art Museum, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Gilmore Masterclass Series, Palais Altenstein, Schloss Hallenburg in Germany and at various venues in the Chicago area. Hyejin performed with the Northwestern Symphony Orchestra as the winner of the annual Concerto/Aria competition and was invited to perform with the Bienen String Orchestra, both under the baton of Maestro Victor Yampolsky. She was also the featured soloist in the opening concert of the 67th Peninsula Music Festival in Door County, Wisconsin. She performs actively in the Chicago area both as a soloist and a collaborative pianist.

Musical Insights

Free Pre-Concert Preview Series!

Friday, February 11 at 1:30 pm

Enhance your concert experience with a sneak preview — Composers come alive and their passions take center stage when ESO General Manager David Ellis and ESO Maestro Lawrence Eckerling take you on an insider’s tour of the history and highlights behind the music.

Meet our soloist, Hyejin Joo, at Musical Insights. She and our Maestro Lawrence Eckerling and David Ellis will explore the February concert program in depth.

The Merion
Friday, February 11 at 1:30 pm,
The Merion Crystal Ballroom at
1611 Chicago Avenue at Davis Street, Evanston.
FREE and open to the public.
Please RSVP to 847-570-7815.

Light refreshments will be served and casual tours of newly renovated apartments will be available after the program.

Program Notes

FESTIVE OVERTURE

William Grant Still (1895–1978)                                                                                      10 minutes (1944)

A COMPETITION WINNING OVERTURE. In 1944 the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) marked the occasion of its 50th anniversary by sponsoring a nationwide competition for “Best Overture.” More than 39 American composers composed overtures: the winning entry was the Festive Overture by William Grant Still. Still was already well established as a composer with three Guggenheim Fellowships and two symphonies, the first of which, his famous “Afro-American Symphony” remains his most enduring addition to the repertory. Still eventually composed five symphonies and nine operas; his Troubled Island was the first opera by an African-American to be performed by a major company (the New York City Opera).

The Festive Overture is scored for a large orchestra, and was described by CSO Music Director Eugene Goosens: “It bespeaks the pride of the composer in his native land, the warmth of the American people, and the grandeur of Scenic America.”

 

PIANO CONCERTO NO. 23 IN A MAJOR, K. 488

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791)                                                                                      26 minutes (1786)

A MAJOR CONCERTO. Today’s concerto is one of only three of Mozart’s 21 concerti for solo piano to include the clarinets in their scoring; this A Major Concerto is the middle of the three in chronological order. The omission of oboes , trumpets and timpani adds to the prominence of the two clarinets, one flute, two bassoons and two horns which comprise the wind band of this concerto. The natural key of the clarinet is A Major, which is also the key of Mozart’s Clainet Concerto and Clarinet Quintet.

I. Allegro. This serene and sunny movement is composed in the standard “sonata form” of the classical concerto, with an exposition by the orchestra followed by the soloist’s exposition, a short development, and a recapitulation. Mozart composed a cadenza, the piano solo close to the end of the movement, and that cadenza is played in this performance.

II. Adagio. This remarkable slow movement is the heart of the work, the only movement by Mozart in the key of F Sharp Minor. The opening solo piano melody possesses an operatic quality, possibly due to its contemporaneous composition with The Marriage of Figaro.

III. Allegro assai. The infectious finale returns to the “sunny” key of A Major. Its form is that of the rondo, with a profusion of propulsive melodies alternating rapidly one after another.

 

SYMPHONY NO. 4 IN F MINOR, OP. 36

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893)                                                                                     44 minutes (1877)

TCHAIKOVSKY’S ANSWER TO BEETHOVEN’S FIFTH. Tchaikovsky was among the most versatile of the great composers. Richard Taruskin’s Oxford History of Western Music states that Tchaikovsky “was surely the only major composer of the nineteenth century to be equally known for his symphonies and his ballets…and to be adjudged an outstanding producer of both.” Tchaikovsky also composed 10 operas, chamber music, solo piano pieces and choral works, many of very high quality. The year 1877 was among the most important in Tchaikovsky’s career: it included the premiere of the Swan Lake ballet and composition of both the Fourth Symphony and the opera Eugene Onegin, all masterpieces of the highest order in their respective genres. In that same year he married, split up, and gained a benefactress, Nadezhda von Meck, who supported financially his composing beginning with the Fourth Symphony.

The Fourth Symphony is notable for its inner narrative, which led Tchaikovsky to write two different explanations for its purported “program.” One was a long letter to von Meck explaining “our symphony;” it will be quoted in part below. The more interesting description came in a reply to a former student, Sergei Taneyev, who had hinted at a secret program: “In reality my work is a reflection of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. I have not of course copied Beethoven’s musical content, only borrowed the central idea.”

This central idea to which he refers is that of man’s struggle against fate and winning through to a hard fought triumph.  

I. Andante sostenuto- Moderato (in movimento di Valse) The opening brass fanfare in F Minor represents “Fate, the force of destiny…which hangs like the sword of Damocles over our heads.” This “motto” denotes the starts of the exposition, development, recapitulation, and  coda in this movement, and also returns in the finale. The exposition includes three themes, the first of which is in a waltz tempo, which contrasts with the polonaise rhythm of the fanfare “motto.” The juxtaposition of waltz and polonaise is also found in Swan Lake and Eugene Onegin.

II. Andantino in modo di canzona. The slow movement (B Flat Minor) “expresses a different aspect of sorrow, that melancholy feeling that arises in the evening as you sit alone, worn out from your labors. You’ve picked up a book, but it has fallen from your hands.”

III. Scherzo (Pizzicato ostinato): Allegro This F Major scherzo is a tour de force for the different groups of the orchestra: first pizzicato strings, then the woodwinds, and then the brass. “These are completely unrelated images that pass through one’s head as one is about to fall asleep.”

IV. Finale: Allegro con fuoco. This F Major finale of folk festivity adds the cymbals, bass drum and triangle for the first time. The grand opening flourish quickly gives way to the second theme, a Russian folk song “In the Fields a Birch Tree Stood.” The two themes alternate and at the peak of development of the “Birch Tree” the “motto” theme of Fate returns. But nothing can deter the festivities and the triumph of F Major. “Never say that all the world is sad. You have only yourself to blame. There are joys, strong though simple. Why not rejoice through the joys of others? One can live that way, after all.”