TICO features works of Dvorak, Alfven, Stern
Source: Jewish Website
David Amos did unusual programming at TICO’s recent concert at Tifereth Israel Synagogue by opening with the longest work of the evening, Dvorak’s New World Symphony. However, the orchestra musicians seemed warmed up enough to plunge into this iconic music and bring forth the familiar melodies with all the energy they could muster.
This work was written in 1893, while Dvorak was in the United States as the Director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. It was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Dvorak was inspired by the Negro Spirituals and Native American music which he heard. A fragment of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” can be detected in one of the first movement piccolo themes, although the other subjects were Dvorak’s original melodies. Nearly two decades after it was written, the second movement’s plaintive English Horn solo was set to words and entitled, “Coming Home,” by one of Dvorak’s students. Many mistook it for an authentic spiritual.
There were many beautiful moments in TICO’s symphony performance. The first stand strings did well in their solo stints. Noticeable, also, were the string bass pizzicatos and the principal trombone’s firm entrances.
Robert Zelickman, clarinet, called in at the last moment, was outstanding in his clarinet solos and Ron Fox, a San Diego Symphony retiree, played the second movement’s English Horn solo with soulful warmth.
The final movement reached exciting heights as themes from the previous movements came together in contrapuntal brilliance.
After intermission, the orchestra gave a convincing reading of Hugo Alfven’s Swedish Rhapsody No. 1. A less familiar work, it had some challenging passages.
The music seemed to tell a story of carefree, midsummer dancing, with a slower midsection and a concluding section similar to the beginning. It seemed influenced by the neighboring Scandanavian composer, Norway’s Edvard Grieg.
The concert concluded with a West Coast Premiere, David Stern’s Lincoln Speaks of Liberty with texts from Abraham Lincoln. This was a work for narrator and orchestra. Dave Scott, KUSI’s Broadcast Meteorologist and an Emmy award-winning Feature Reporter, served as the excellent narrator.
The music was an impressive setting of some of Lincoln’s most important utterances. The first movement, The Foundation of Liberty, included the sounds of a fife and drum accompanying the words, “The love of liberty is the heritage of all men.”
The second movement, All Men Are Created Equal, had the following quote, “There is a tendency of prosperity to breed tyrants.”
The third movement, Civil Liberty, opened with the cello section, and had the narrator speaking about “man’s birthright of civil and religious liberty.” It concluded with a musical setting of the entire Gettysburg Address.
Lincoln’s words seemed as timely and relevant today as when they were uttered 175 years ago. Stern’s work may well deserve a place beside other musical homages to Lincoln such as Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait and Earl Robinson’s The Lonesome Train.
Dr. David Stern earned his Ph.D. at CUNY and has taught music courses at The Mannes College of Music, The University of North Texas, Ball State University and the Claremont Colleges. His orchestral compositions have been performed throught the country by orchestras such as The New Haven Symphony Orchestra, the Utah Philharmonia, the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony and the Muscatine Symphony Orchestra. He was present at the concert and seemed pleased with the performance of his work.
Republished from San Diego Jewish World