ABOUT THIS MUSIC
This evening's concert marks the first UMSLO Orchestra concert to feature the winners of the Young Artist Competition since before the COVID-19 Pandemic. Beginning with Sibelius' sparkling national portraiture, to the winners' chosen gems, the repertoire for this evening echos the determination and triumphant spirit that our soloists, the UMSL Orchestra, and indeed, all of us have experience while moving through and beyond the challenge of the past few years. This evening is a wonderful orchestral return to the stage for this concert featuring our concerto winners, and we are honored and thrilled to share our collective artistic work with you.
- Dr. David Wacyk
JEAN SIBELIUS Finlandia
During the 1890s Sibelius took on the challenge of writing music that stirred Finnish patriotism in the face of Czar Nicholas II’s Russification policies. The composer wanted to create something recognizably Finnish, but without resorting to direct imitation of folk music. As he wrote to his wife Aino, “I would not wish to tell a lie in art … But I think I am now on the right path. I now grasp those Finnish, purely Finnish tendencies in music less realistically but more truthfully than before.” Many of his early efforts in this direction were ephemeral – a composer in search of his voice – but the 1899 Finlandia has transcended both its local association and its political objective.
Like all successful symphonic poems, Finlandia’s extra-musical meaning generates the music’s formal shape. The composer described this meaning in stirring words: “We fought 600 years for our freedom and I am part of the generation which achieved it. Freedom! My Finlandia is the story of this fight. It is the song of our battle, our hymn of victory.” His genius is that this story functions simultaneously on both exterior and interior levels – capturing just that intersection where patriotism feeds personal identity and vice versa. Massive chords establish the music’s parameters of great depth and seriousness. Very slowly they yield to a woodwind choir, then to the strings; the judiciously restrained orchestration suggests that there is power held in check. The accumulated tension yields to more defiant strains, then to a resolute, even jaunty section before settling into the strains of the last reverent theme (later used for the hymn “Be still, my soul,” whose text emphasizes patience in the face of suffering), which Sibelius gradually builds into triumph.
— Susan Key (L.A. Phil)
ALEXANDER GLAZUNOV Concerto for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra
Born in 1865, Aleksandr Konstantinovich Glazunov was a musician and composer from a very early age. Glazunov studied the Russian romantic tradition under Rimsky-Korsakov. Glazunov’s skillful synthesis of Russian nationalism, lyricism, and contemporary styles in his symphonies and concertos have made them some of the grand works of this time. While he was revered and greatly celebrated in the musical community, he was also criticized for not employing the dissonant, atonal styles with which others were successfully experimenting. Glazunov remained firm in vision, and continued to compose lush, romantic pieces for much of his career.
The Saxophone Concerto in Eb Major was composed by Glazunov for German saxophonist Sigurd Raschèr, “under the influence of attacks rather than by (his) request.” Even by 1934, the year of the piece’s premiere, the saxophone had not yet entered the classical canon and was viewed as a ‘middle class instrument’. Glazunov, however, liked the saxophone’s rich, colorful timbre and it’s contrast against the strings. The Concerto begins in G minor, with the string orchestra introducing the melody and passing it to the soloist. The soloist develops the initial theme and several other musical ideas until the piece transitions into a slower, C-flat major section, which culminates in a cadenza. The Cadenza leads the piece to a quick Fugato which is a signature of Glazunov’s style. This concerto has become standard classical repertoire for saxophonists.
WILLIAM WALTON Concerto for Viola and Orchestra, I.
The English composer William Walton was just 26 years old when, in 1928, he composed the viola concerto, but for many of his admirers, it is the crown jewel of his output. The work’s premiere has a colorful back-story. The conductor Sir Thomas Beecham had identified Walton as a rising star, and hoped to tempt Lionel Tertis to join him in giving the premiere of the concerto. Tertis — one of the most famous musicians in Britain at the time — reviewed the score, declared the work “too modern,” and unceremoniously mailed it back to Walton!
The premiere performance was given instead by the German composer and violist Paul Hindemith — an artist who did not shy away from the modern. (Tertis would eventually come to regret his error; he embraced the concerto and performed it many times.)
The first movement revolves around a single melodic interval- the minor third- which is introduced in the opening strings, and then blossoms into the soloists' first theme. This theme forms the basis of the entire movement, and listeners can easily hear it progress throughout the orchestra as it shifts and morphs through different styles.
-Note adapted from NU.
DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH Piano Concerto No. 2, I.
This work was written in 1957 as a gift for the composer’s then-nineteen-year-old son Maxim (making it one of the more epic birthday gifts in recorded history). Maxim premiered the work at his graduation from the Moscow Conservatory.
The work is cast in a typical three-movement concerto form and orchestrated for a relatively small orchestra. The orchestra’s composition lends clarity and lightness of touch to the work, which is by turns playful, light-hearted, graceful, and undeniably charming. It is a stark contrast to many of Shostakovich’s more serious, angst-ridden works, and over the years has been the subject of much derision at the hands of critics. Happily, critics do not program concerts. Its appeal to audiences and pianists alike has endured, and it remains one of Shostakovich’s more popular works.
The elegant, almost puckish first movement begins with just the winds. The piano enters lightly and unassumingly, giving the beginning of the concerto an air of chamber music. The scoring is lean and rather athletic, allowing the melodic lines (often containing very surprising twists, reminiscent of Prokofiev) to take precedence. The piano part contains much of the melodic material, often doubled at the octave in both hands. This is certainly not a heavy-handed, thickly Romantic texture, but a more Classically oriented orchestration.
Note Adapted from the Redlands SO.
ABOUT THE MUSICIANS
David Wacyk, Conductor, Music Director
DR. DAVID WACYK is a conductor and educator dedicated to serving students, the community, and the profession through meaningful music making. David serves as Director of Instrumental Ensembles and Assistant Teaching Professor of Music at University of Missouri- St. Louis where he conducts the UMSL Orchestra, UMSL Wind Ensemble, chamber ensembles, and coordinates the “Triton Sound” Pep band.
Prior to his arrival at UMSL, David was Director of Instrumental Music at Saint Martin’s University, and previously taught instrumental conducting at Towson University. As a Doctoral student at the University of Maryland he served as Assistant Conductor of the Wind Orchestra and Wind Ensemble. Prior to his Doctoral work, David was Director of Bands at North Harford High School, where he directed instrumental ensembles and taught music theory.
David's scholarship focuses on modernist and avant-garde wind music of Twentieth-century composers, including Igor Stravinsky, Edgard Varese, and Ida Gotkovsky. Additionally David has led discussions related to re-evaluating existing systems of concertizing and programming, and addressing systemic inadequacies in the field of wind bands. Recently he has accepted invitations to present at CBDNA (Symphonies of Winds: toward a new understanding of pitch structure, and The Intelligence of Sound: matters of ethos and style in the wind music of Edgard Varese), IGEB (The Wind Music of Ida Gotkovsky), WMEA (The Future is Flexible: Small bands as leaders in creativity, and DNMC (New Music and New Paradigms: an honest conversation on the future of college ensembles). The Wind Music of Ida Gotkovksy was also presented as a national webinar. David has been named a finalist- and awarded second place- for the American Prize in conducting. From 2009-2015 David was the founding conductor of the Upper Chesapeake Wind Ensemble,
David holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree and Master of Music degree in Conducting from University of Maryland, and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Western Michigan University. David maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor and clinician throughout the United States, including as a conductor for the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. He resides in Clayton, MO with his wife Laurel, and son Roger.
Hannah Wolkowitz, Alto Saxophone
Hannah Wolkowitz, 16, lives in Chesterfield, MO and is a sophomore at Parkway Central High School. Hannah began playing the saxophone in sixth grade. She currently studies with Dr. Chris Bartz and previously studied with Mr. Jeffrey Collins. In addition to being the first place winner in UMSL’s Young Artists’ Competition, Hannah won the Alton Symphony Orchestra’s (ASO) Marie Stillwell Young Artists’ Competition and performed with the ASO this past February. Earlier this year, Hannah was the third place winner in the U.S. Navy Band’s Young Artist Solo Competition and will be playing alongside the U.S. Navy Band in Arlington, VA this May. She also performed at the U.S. Navy Band’s International Saxophone Symposium earlier this year in the High School Honors Recital. Last summer, Hannah held her first solo saxophone recital performing pieces on both the alto and soprano saxophone. Aside from playing the saxophone, Hannah has a passion for composing and was recently awarded the top prize at the University of Missouri’s Creating Original Music Project (COMP) competition in the high school notated music category.
Other saxophone and composition honors include first chair in the All-Suburban Honors Band for the past four years, second chair in the All-State band for the past two years, top honors at the 2022 and 2023 high school Solo & Ensemble contests, and third place award from the 2021 University of Missouri’s COMP for her very first musical composition. Hannah is also the saxophonist in Klezundheit! (a St. Louis Klezmer band) and has participated in both the MPulse Saxophone Institute at the University of Michigan and Indiana University’s (Jacobs Academy) Composition Academy.
Hannah was a competitive gymnast for ten years, but now enjoys focusing her time on her music as well as hobbies, such as spending time with her family, doing CrossFit, and reading.
Hannah is thankful to her teachers, musicians, friends, and family for their guidance, support, and encouragement over the years.
John Tobin, Viola
Violist John Tobin is currently a freshman at University of Missouri - St. Louis, studying viola performance with Joanna Mendoza and members of the Arianna String Quartet.
His musical journey began with violin, studying with such teachers as Alison Harney of the SLSO, Katie Lansdale of Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and Marc Thayer of Washington University in St. Louis. On viola, he has studied with Chris Tantillo of the SLSO in addition to his studies at UMSL.
John is currently the Assistant Principal of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. He has performed with the World Youth Symphony Orchestra in Interlochen, Michigan, and has worked extensively with the Arianna and Rolston String Quartets. John will be attending the Bowdoin International Music Festival this summer.
He would like to extend a thank you to his family for their unwavering support, as well as to all his teachers for their unending guidance.
Dasol Kim, Piano
Dasol Kim is a senior, music education major at UMSL. She is currently finishing her last semester, student teaching at high school. Dasol is extremely grateful for the opportunity to play with UMSL Orchestra under Dr. Wacyk.
This will be one of the most memorable moments at UMSL that she will take on forever. She hopes everyone will be light-hearted after listening to this wonderful Shostakovich Piano Concerto in F, 1st movement - a very fun and uplifting piece written by Dmitri Shostakovich for his son, Maxim Shostakovich.
Haydn Jones (principal)
Luke Hsieh Tung
Alexander Hsieh Tung
Emma Abernathy (principal)
John Tobin (principal)
Connor Travers (principal)
Finnegan Lindsay (principal)
Jennifer Mazzoni (Piccolo) *
Joey Brown (principal)
Sara Mullins (principal)
Cristian Fudge (principal)