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This evening's concert showcases the luminous home-grown talent that exists in our community-both on our campus and in the greater STL area. Beginning with Korngold's sweeping and cinematic Theme and Variations, to the three contest winners' chosen gems, the repertoire for this evening reflects the power and vitality of the arts, which courses through this city.  We are honored and thrilled to share our collective artistic work with you tonight.

Thank you for joining us, 

- Dr. David Wacyk 

ERICH KORNGOLD Theme and Variations, op.42 (1952) 

Erich Wolfgang Korngold (his middle name honored Mozart) was the younger son of Julius Korngold, one of Vienna’s most influential music critics at the turn of the 20th century. By age five, Erich was playing piano duets with his father; two years later he began composing, and at nine  his father to enroll him at the Vienna Conservatory. When Gustav Mahler heard Erich play his cantata the following year, he proclaimed the boy “a genius” and arranged for him to take lessons with Alexander Zemlinsky. Korngold matured into a master composer (gaining the respect of the world's foremost composers, including Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss), owing partly to his opera "Die Tote Stadt."  In 1934, Austrian director Max Reinhardt was conscripted by Warner Brothers in Hollywood to film a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He chose to use Mendelssohn’s incidental music as background, and took Korngold along to arrange the score. Korngold, who, as a Jew, felt increasingly uneasy in Austria, accepted other offers for film scoring, and became a permanent resident of Hollywood.


His Theme and Variations, one of his last works, reflects his love of the cinematic style, or, more accurately, reflects his influence on the cinematic style of the 20th century. On display in this short work, is Korngold’s beautiful sense of sonority, harmonic sophistication and lyrical invention. He said that he wrote the theme “like an Irish folk song” and then worked out seven variations of complementary nature, from graceful to martial, from nostalgic to majestic. 

CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS Violin Concerto no. 3, op. 61 (1880)

Saint-Saëns' first two violin concertos were relatively early works, but the third was written in 1880, when he was forty-four, at the top of his game, and during the period of his most successful works: Samson et Dalila, the “Organ” Symphony, the Fourth Piano Concerto, the “Carnival of the Animals,” and others.  It is dedicated to the great virtuoso, Pablo de Sarasate, soloist at the work’s première.


While cast in the three traditional movements, with the usual forms, the concerto doesn’t hew dogmatically to convention. In the first movement, Saint-Saëns sets aside the traditional orchestral introduction, with the soloist entering emphatically after just a few bars of tremolo in the orchestra.  In the best Classical fashion, the main theme is composed of just four bold strokes, and it will be easy to track them in the rest of the movement.  The solo part is full of the expected virtuosic figurations, double stops, and the like, but after an orchestral transition, a lyrical second theme in E major ensues.  The development continues the happy mood for a while, but the dark, emphatic first theme is soon fodder for a working out.  The end of the movement is signaled by a return to the opening material, with busy virtuoso figures heralding the end.  Another surprise awaits, for the composer also eliminates the conventional cadenza for the soloist, obviously because the exciting and challenging material in the solo part has pretty much taken care of the need for further technical display in this abbreviated recapitulation.

-note adapted from William E Runyun

EDWARD ELGAR Cello Concerto, i. and ii. (1919)

“I am more alone and the prey of circumstances than ever before...Everything good and nice and clean and fresh and sweet is far away, never to return.”


By the time of Elgar's Cello Concerto (1919), the composer had been deeply troubled by World War I. He was also financially insecure and in ill-health. His lament and state-of-mind is reflected in the Cello Concerto, perhaps more than as possibly in any of this other pieces.

It is not only the musical materials of the Concerto which bespeak his despairing frame of mind, but also the concise structures housing them and the sparse orchestration in which they are clothed.

The work begins with a short cello passage marked with one of Elgar’s favored performing directives, Nobilmente. This assertive but morose musical gesture (two climbing chords from the soloist), which returns briefly in the second movement and also at the end of the Concerto, contrasts sharply with the austere, long-limbed main theme of the movement proper given by violas alone. Resignation and bitterness seem to mingle here, with only flickering moments of hope entering the autumnal atmosphere.

The first movement is linked to the second by rhapsodic material in the cello that begins with a pizzicato allusion to the first movement’s opening, and then goes on to a perpetual motion, virtuosic course as a Scherzo.

-note adapted from the LA Phil. 

MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto, op. 64, i.  (1838-1844)

Mendelssohn’s masterful Violin Concerto, composed between 1838 and 1844, is the fruit of his maturity. The work owes its existence thanks to the special working relationship that the composer enjoyed with the leader (concertmaster in today’s terms) of the Gewandhaus Orchestra, Ferdinand David. While at work on the Violin Concerto, Mendelssohn was invited in 1840 by Friedrich Wilhelm IV, the King of Prussia, to head the Royal Academy of the Arts in Berlin, a post that at first the composer was reluctant to accept. Mendelssohn preferred Leipzig to Berlin, the city in which he was raised, and he did not wish to part company from his friends at the Gewandhaus Orchestra, chief among whom was David. Nevertheless, Mendelssohn took up the new post in 1841, a move that he grew to regret. He was unable to extract himself from Berlin until 1844, by which time he was able to complete work on the Violin Concerto.

Mendelssohn himself played the violin and had much earlier in life composed another Concerto for Violin (in D Minor, rarely performed) as well as a Concerto for Violin and Piano (also a rarity in symphony concerts), but neither work can compare to the present one.  The Concerto for Violin is filled with inspired moments and wonderful themes. The first inspiration comes at the very beginning of Allegro molto appassionato, where the soloist enters almost immediately over an undulating figure in the orchestral violins and the insistent pulse of the timpani and lower strings. Upon David’s recommendation, the soloist sings its soaring melody on the E string, the violin’s highest. Another such moment comes with the superbly crafted and fully written out cadenza at the end of the development section. Towards the end of the cadenza, the solo violinist plays a series of arpeggios over all four strings, as the orchestra stealthily returns with the opening theme, marking the onset of the movement’s recapitulation.

-note adapted from David B. Levy


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, coordinates the “Triton Sound” Pep band, and teaches courses in graduate and undergraduate conducting. 


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 the 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. In October 2023, David travelled to the CRR Paris Conservatory to present on Gotkovsky's music, and in January 2024 David led a pre-concert discussion for the SLSO. He has been named a finalist- and awarded second place- for the American Prize in conducting. 

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 acclaimed summer institution, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. He resides in Clayton, MO with his wife Laurel, and son Roger.


Zoe Baldwin is a freshman at Clayton High School and studies with Angie Smart.  Zoebegan studying the violin at age four with Renita Luehrman, and was a member of the Webster Community Music School’s SO, YPCO, and YPSO.  In 2021, she was a YPSO Concerto Competition winner and soloist.  For the past two years, Zoe has been a member of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Webster CMS Chamber Music Preparatory Program.  For the past two summers, Zoe has been a Young Artist at the Arianna Chamber Music Festival, and in 2023, the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in Vermont.  This year, Zoe was the First Prize Runner-Up in the Alton Symphony’s Marie Stillwell Young Artist Competition, First Prize Winner of the University of Missouri-St. Louis Junior Division Concerto Competition, and First Prize Winner of the St. Louis Civic Orchestra’s Florence Frager Young Artist Competition.

In her free time, Zoe enjoys reading, playing soccer, and hanging out with her friends. Zoe would like to thank her private teacher, Angie Smart, for her wisdom, mentorship, and constant inspiration. She would also like to thank Renita Luehrman, Daniel Henderson, Patrick Jackson, and the Arianna String Quartet for their guidance as well as her friends, family, and her dog Miles for their support.


Emma Cheng is a cello performance major at UMSL studying with Kurt Baldwin. As a kid, she was inspired by her older brother, Joseph, who first started playing piano when she was 3, and was inspired again when he picked up the double bass a few years later. Following suit, Emma started playing piano at 4, and cello in 4th grade (with the encouragement of her parents) not knowing where it would take her. Today, Joseph is finishing his masters in piano at Truman, and Emma is finishing her first year of cello at UMSL. While making music has developed her love and appreciation for all kinds of music and the relationships she's formed with playing different instruments is incredibly important to her, she also credits learning the most crucial lessons of her life to learning cello with Kurt Baldwin.


This past summer, Emma attended her first summer music intensives: Arianna Chamber Music Festival and International Cello Institute, and will be returning this year as well.


Aiden Moon is a sophomore at Parkway Central High School. Before he began to play the violin, Aiden first studied piano when he was 5 years old.  He started learning the violin at the age of 8 and currently studies with Joo Kim of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Aiden has been a member of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra for three seasons and is currently a participant in the Gateway Music Outreach’s Peer-to-Peer program.

He is also in his school’s Symphonic Orchestra and Tri-M Music Honor Society. Additionally, Aiden was a member of 2023 and 2024 Missouri All-State orchestra and has been studying chamber music in the Preparatory Program at the Community Music School of Webster University. 

In his freshman year, Aiden soloed with various orchestras including the Town and Country Symphony Orchestra, the Belleville Philharmonic Orchestra, and the St. Louis Civic Orchestra, as a winner of their corresponding concerto competitions. This spring, Aiden was honored to appear as a soloist with the Alton Symphony Orchestra as the winner of the Marie Stillwell Young Artist Competition. In the summer of 2023, Aiden studied at the Meadowmount School of Music under the direction of pedagogues Paul Kantor and I-Hao Lee. 

Apart from violin, he is a black belt in Taekwondo, enjoys video games, solves Rubik’s cubes, loves to read mystery books, and serves as the Vice President of his class student council.  Aiden is incredibly grateful for the endless and dedicated support of his family and all his teachers.


UMSL Orchestra

Violin 1

      G Schmedecki

      Paula Carter

      Tobias Gamiño

      Matthew Lucy 

      Andy Mai

      Ryder Sink   

      John McGrosso

Violin 2

Anna Fildes

      Madison Weicht

      Emily Blackwell

      Julia Sakharova*

      Nyla Robinson

      Amanda Meyer


       Maya Combs

       Reese Rich

       Jessy Baldwin

       Jessica Rains 

       Megan Heithaus

       Joanna Mendoza*


      Emma Cheng     

      Olivia Edwards     

      Mike Todd

      Connor Travers     

      Christian Okeke

      Hannah Barrow

      Kurt Baldwin*


      Victoria Driver 

      Anita Hagerman


Jennifer Lloyd

Pam Herendeen 


Andrew Pulliam

Joy Floyd


Mark Lauer*

Dave Metzger



Joey Brown 

Jake Phillipak

Tyler Teague


Bernadetta Newkirk-       Sommer

Sara Mullins

Allison Felter


Cristian Fudge

Seth Peters

Abby Pearce


Bailey Kayser 


Jacob Brewer

* UMSL Faculty

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