Opposites attract in this concert by the Oak Ridge Symphony Orchestra featuring lyrical and percussive music – but not always from the instrument families you expect. Music Director Dan Allcott conducts, and Principal Cellist Theodore Kartal performs Bloch's "Prayer." The concert is part of our Penny4Arts programming offering FREE attendance for youths 18 and under.
Oak Ridge Symphony Orchestra
Saturday, February 19, 2022 at 7:30 PM
First United Methodist Church of Oak Ridge
Dan Allcott, music director & conductor
Theodore Kartal, cello
Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta* Béla Bartók
- Andante tranquillo
- Allegro molto
~ intermission ~
Strum Jessie Montgomery
“Prayer” from Jewish Life Ernest Bloch
Theodore (Ihsan) Kartal, cello
Capriol Suite Peter Warlock
Romanian Dances Béla Bartók
- Jocul Cu Bâtӑ
- Pe Loc
- Poarga Româneascӑ
*Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta by Béla Bartók is presented with agreement by and between Boosey & Hawkes, Inc. Rental Library.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Theodore (Ihsan) Kartal
Theodore I. Kartal is currently principal cellist of the Oak Ridge (TN) Symphony and Bryan Symphony (Cookeville, TN) Orchestras. A previous soloist with the Oak Ridge Symphony and the Knoxville Symphony (1st desk), Kartal has also been a soloist with orchestras in Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir, and has made recordings for state TV and radio there.
Kartal joined the faculty of Lee University in 2011. Prior to moving to the United States in 1991, he was a professor of Cello at Mimar Sinan University of Istanbul.
Past performances include the Shreveport (LA) Symphony and Principal Cellist of the South Arkansas Symphony, Marshall Symphony (TX), Longview Opera (TX), Mimar Sinan Soloisti (Istanbul), and Spoleto Festival (USA & Italy). Festivals he has participated in include: the Peter Britt Festival, Oregon Coast Music Festival, Texas Music Festival, Round Top Music Festival, and the Chatauqua Music Festival (NY).
Kartal has performed with world-renowned performers including: Renata Scotto, Janos Starker, Leonidas Kavakos, Steven Doane, Edgar Meyer, Rinaldo Alessandrini, Dave Brubeck, and Luciano Pavorotti. Some of these performances were recorded and broadcast on live TV throughout all of Europe via Eurovision. His East TN performances are broadcast frequently on public radio as cellist with the Knoxville Symphony Concertmaster’s Series and the Oak Ridge Symphony Chamber Players.
Kartal started studying music at age three, playing piano and violin. He started the cello at the age ten in Istanbul with the great cello pedagogue Resit Erzin. He attended the Paris Conservatory, studying with Bernard Michelin; and Louisiana State University, studying with Dennis Parker. He performed in masterclasses for Anthony Elliott, Lynn Harrell, Maurice Gendron, Desmond Hoebig, Ron Leonard, Martin Lovett, Andre Navarre, Jeffrey Solow, and Janos Starker. Kartal holds two masters degrees in cello performance. In 1993, he won the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion prize in Houston, Texas. In 1982, he was the first prize winner of the Istanbul Cello competition. As part of this same competition, he won the best interpretation award for his performance of a new contemporary work by Necil Kazim Akses. His debut with the Istanbul State Symphony performing the Dvorak Cello Concerto followed.
Kartal enjoys bicycling and working on cars. As a former rally car driver, he follows WRC (World Rally Championship).
* Member of the Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra
PROGRAM NOTES BY MIKE CATES
Lyrical and Percussive
Sound sequences are what allow us to speak, to sing, and to make sense of what would otherwise be different vibrations with no connecting relationships. And when sound sequences are doing their jobs efficiently communication of boundless variety, intensity, and indeed profundity are ours to use in a nearly infinite number of ways. One could easily make the argument that sonic communication, speaking and music, is the evolutionary step that separated humans from the pack of great apes and gave us the tools, for better or worse, to reach out from the confines of natural order into a realm of experience that we are just barely beginning to understand.
And yes, music is an important part of this wondrous process. And its sound sequences can be thought of as lyrical – a smoothly flowing stream of sound – or percussive – a sequence of sound where there are distinct separations between the tones. We could think of these as opposites of a type. But, as the ORCMA website reminds us, “Opposites attract in this concert by the Oak Ridge Symphony Orchestra featuring lyrical and percussive music – but not always in the instrument families you expect.”
Béla Bartók (1881–1945) Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celeste
A Hungarian from a prominent family, Béla Bartók had a medical accident from an early small pox vaccination which gave him some facial disfigurement, which in turn made him a reclusive person, a sad fact that probably helped make him one of the most important composers of the twentieth century. His string quartets are often considered some of the greatest ever and his fascination with folk music led to marvelous results, part of which will be heard in this concert. His view of music is made clear from an interview in 1939 when he was asked about the music of Claude Debussy (1862–1918) and said “Debussy's great service to music was to reawaken among all musicians an awareness of harmony and its possibilities. In that, he was just as important as Beethoven, who revealed to us the possibilities of progressive form, or as Bach, who showed us the transcendent significance of counterpoint. Now, what I am always asking myself is this: is it possible to make a synthesis of these three great masters, a living synthesis that will be valid for our time?”
Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celeste was discussed in an article I read by Timothy Judd, a contemporary violinist and music writer. His review is so good I'll quote the beginning of it here:
“From an intricately woven spider web, to the crystalline perfection of a snowflake, to the proportions of a seashell, nature is filled with logical structures, pleasing mathematical ratios, and stunning symmetries. In the natural world, there is a sense that it could only be as it is. Nothing is wasted. The closer you look, the more you become aware of an infinite and awe-inspiring underlying order.
Listening to Béla Bartók’s ghostly Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, you get a similar sense. If you dig just beneath the surface and examine the structure of this monumental twentieth century work, you begin to discover a haunting sense of symmetry. Every note feels inevitable, as if the entire piece was composed by nature.”
Jessie Montgomery (b. 1981) Strum
Jessie Montgomery studied at the Julliard School and is a violinist, teacher, activist, and promoter of new and traditional music ideas. She grew up in New York City and says that she was “constantly surrounded by all different kinds of music.” Montgomery is another example of the amazing young people involved today in musical composition and performance, changing the face of what we like to call “classical” music.
Strum is a one-movement work commissioned by Community Music Works and premiered by the Providence String Quartet in 2006 and revised in 2012. As the name implies, strummed pizzicato lines are the basic of function of all four instruments, producing a rhythmic character that moves the piece from its gentle beginning to its vibrant and dramatic ending. It has a dancing spirit, is warm and leaves the listener with a genuine hopeful feeling.
Ernest Bloch (1880–1959) "Prayer" From Jewish Life, for Cello and Chamber Orchestra
Bloch was born in Switzerland to Jewish parents, studied in Brussels, came to the United States in 1916, and became an American citizen in 1924. He moved to Oregon in 1941 and lived there the rest of his life. He did, however, spend most of the 1930s in Geneva, where he wrote his most significant work Avodath Hakodesh ("Sacred Service"). He said that to write music that expressed his Jewish identity was "the only way in which I can produce music of vitality and significance." His famous “Prayer” is a beautiful illustration of this idea. It is the first of three pieces in From Jewish Life. Bloch completed the work in 1924.
The work is poignant and highly expressive, transporting the listener – religious or not – into a prayerful state. It has a simple four-note motif which forms the basis for the whole piece. In his scoring Bloch left the performer a lot of choice in timing, something which gives a kind of improvisational feel to the music. Bloch's way of putting it was that he wanted “to capture the complex, ardent Jewish spirit and soul … the most important thing is to write good and sincere music.” Sincere it is, and very touching.
Peter Warlock (1894–1930) Capriol Suite
There is a lot to be said about English composer Peter Warlock, but understanding who he was is probably not possible for most of us. He was born Philip Heseltine, the child of a upper-class family, and was educated at Eton and Oxford. In his youth he got interested in the occult, which became a dominant force in his life (and gave him a pen name). Here are his words. "I have traveled in the dark, often ignorant of the fact I was traveling at all. I have received very definite and detailed communications concerning music from sources which the ignorant and unheeding world call supernatural: and that there is unlimited power behind these sources.” He was famous for his wild parties and many girlfriends, for riding his motorcycle in the nude, and for his marvelous music. He died young under mysterious circumstances, probably brought on by use of recreational drugs.
The Capriol Suite is a set of renaissance-style dances. It was based on tunes of Renaissance dances compiled by the French priest Jehan Tabourot (1515–1595), and made up from of six contrasting movements, each in a different dance form. It is surely one of his most popular works. Each movement has a unique character and feel. The first is a formal stately dance, and it progresses through various other types, ending in a traditional sword dance.
Béla Bartók Romanian Dances
Bartók traveled extensively in Eastern Europe, where he transcribed, saved, recorded on an “Edison” phonograph, and classified thousands of folk tunes which became source materials for many of his compositions The original goal was to provide resource material for a renaissance of authentic Hungarian music. Among his trips was one to Transylvania, now a part of Romania, but which had been part of Hungary for many years. The composer was particularly drawn to Romanian folk traditions because he felt these had been more isolated from modifying influences and were consequently more authentic.
The Romanian Dances were written between 1915–1917, first for piano and later orchestrated. To give a sense of the composer's take on the tunes he used, the dances are listed as follows:
- Dance with Sticks: a solo dance for a young man, which includes kicking the ceiling
- Waistband Dance: derived from a spinning song with dancers holding each other’s waists, flowing directly into dance 3
- On the Spot: a dance in which the participants basically stamp on one spot.
- Hornpipe Dance: featuring the ancient Mixolydian mode and Arabian colors
- Romanian Polka: a children’s dance with changing meters, flowing directly into the final dance
- Fast Dance: fast, tiny steps are performed by couples, used as a courting dance.
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