This concert is sponsored in part by Robin & David Maupin

Strum

featuring

Jessie Montgomery

Born 1981 in New York, NY

Composed in 2006 | 7 minutes
Scored for strings

Concerto for Bassoon and Strings

Antonio Vivaldi

Born 1678 in Venice, Italy| Died 1741in Vienna, Austria

Composed between | 12 minutes
Scored for solo bassoon and strings

Bassoon Concerto

Lembit Beecher

Born 1980 in Santa Cruz, California

Composed 2024|
Scored for bassoon and strings

Serenade for Strings

Antonín Dvořák

Born 1841 in Nelahozeves, Czechia| Died 1904 in Prague, Czechia

Composed 1875| 27 minutes
Scored for strings

Program Notes: The Wonderous Bassoon

Strum

Strum is the culminating result of several versions of a string quintet I wrote in 2006. It was originally written for the Providence String Quartet and guests of Community MusicWorks Players, then arranged for string quartet in 2008 with several small revisions. In 2012 the piece underwent its final revisions with a rewrite of both the introduction and the ending for the Catalyst Quartet in a performance celebrating the 15th annual Sphinx Competition.

Originally conceived for the formation of a cello quintet, the voicing is often spread wide over the ensemble, giving the music an expansive quality of sound. Within Strum I utilized texture motives, layers of rhythmic or harmonic ostinati that string together to form a bed of sound for melodies to weave in and out. The strumming pizzicato serves as a texture motive and the primary driving rhythmic underpinning of the piece. Drawing on American folk idioms and the spirit of dance and movement, the piece has a kind of narrative that begins with fleeting nostalgia and transforms into ecstatic celebration.— Jessie Montgomery

Serenade for Strings

Antonín Dvořák’s Serenade for Strings is a work of exquisite beauty and charm, reflecting the composer’s mastery of orchestration and his deep connection to Czech folk music. Composed in 1875, during a period of burgeoning nationalistic sentiment in Bohemia, the Serenade captures the essence of Dvořák’s melodic richness and lyrical expressiveness.

The Serenade is scored for string orchestra, comprising four movements that showcase Dvořák’s gift for writing melodies that are both tender and robust, infused with Slavic warmth and vitality. The first movement, Moderato, opens with a graceful melody introduced by the violins, which sets the serene and pastoral mood of the Serenade. Dvořák weaves this melody throughout the movement, developing it with a sense of lyrical flow and harmonic richness. The second movement, Tempo di valse, is a lively and elegant waltz. Dvořák’s mastery of dance rhythms is evident here, as the strings engage in playful exchanges and melodic interplay, evoking the elegance and charm of a Viennese ballroom.

The third movement, Scherzo: Vivace, is marked by its rhythmic vigor and syncopated motifs. Dvořák infuses the movement with folk-like elements, incorporating lively dance rhythms and a playful spirit that contrasts with the more lyrical sections of the Serenade. The fourth and final movement, Larghetto, returns to the serene atmosphere of the opening, with a tender and introspective melody that unfolds against a backdrop of lush string textures. Dvořák’s use of rich harmonies and poignant melodies creates a sense of profound emotional depth, leading to a poignant conclusion that resonates with quiet beauty.

Guest Artists

Martin Kuuskmann

Estonian-born bassoonist Martin Kuuskmann belongs among the leading voices on his instrument, performing repertoire landmarks from across the entire scope of classical music and avant-garde as well as indulging the occasional foray into modern improvisation with some of the world’s most celebrated orchestras and conductors. As a soloist, Kuuskmann possesses an unmatched ability to draw rare expressiveness and brilliant timbre out of his reed, awarding him several bassoon concertos, written explicitly for Kuuskmann by A-list contemporary composers such as Erkki Sven Tüür, Christopher Theofanidis, Tõnu Kõrvits and David Chesky, among others. Regarding the quality of his artisanship on stage, The New York Times has gone as far as using the words “amazing” and “stunning” to describe his craft, confirming that Kuuskmann is one of the great bassoon virtuosos of our time.

Kuuskmann picked up the bassoon at the age of 15, leaving behind his earlier preoccupations on piano and clarinet for the versatile lower range aerophone, which he would subsequently study at the Tallinn Music High School before pursuing more elaborate music education under full scholarship at Manhattan School of Music and Yale School of Music stateside. From there, the reed-player built a career as a freelance musician, performing regularly with leading New York-based orchestras like the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra or the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he has occupied the bassoon solo position of the Kristjan Järvi-fronted Absolute Ensemble from 1995 onward. Since his move to the West Coast in 2003, Kuuskmann has kept busy as a performer, recording artist and avid educator, frequently giving masterclasses at international universities and festivals, while having worked closely with the Berlin-based Baltic Sea Philharmonic as woodwind coach. Currently Kuuskmann resides in Denver Colorado, where he holds a chair as Professor of Bassoon and Chamber Music at the University of Denver.

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