Welcome, and thank you for coming to our New Year Concert. The new year is a time of joy, of feeling new, and inspired. To celebrate the beginning of 2019, we’ve composed a program that celebrates the wide range and beautiful depth of classical music from the great masters of our past to the young composers of our future.
Our first half celebrates the virtuosic beauty of the viola, cello, and organ. New York-based composer Paul Wiancko’s "American Haiku" is at once a reflection on the composer's Japanese American identity and an ode to the evocative concision of haiku. The vivid colors of "American Haiku" prime our ears for Witold Lutoslawski’s “Bucolics,” a playful set of 5 Polish folk songs enhanced by unique rhythms and dissonant harmonies. We go even further back in history with Mendelssohn’s Organ Sonata that highlights the majestic qualities of the organ. Opening with a dignified chorale, the piece builds through each movement, until it spreads its mighty wings in the finale. We conclude the first half with none other than the great master of classical music, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Chorale arranged for cello and organ.
We’d like to present the second half as one unique experience without applause. Though written decades and sometimes hundreds of years apart, something magical seems to happen when the ending of one piece becomes the beginning of the next. We are able to transcend time as the music becomes a bridgebetween people, cultures, and backgrounds. We open the second half with Swedish composer Yngve Sköld’s Fantasia. An organist himself, it is rumored that many of Sköld’s works involve viola because his brother was an amateur violist. The majestic C Major chord at the end of the Fantasi transforms into the opening chord of American composer Nico Muhly’s “Chorale Pointing Downwards”, a contemporary piece written just 15 years ago. The piece is a harmonic and virtuosic study of what the the viola and cello are capable of. As it travels through various harmonic progressions, the piece keeps finding itself back to its home, the note “C,” grounding it to familiarity at key moments. The piece lifts us off the ground with a final G Major chord. As though suspended in air, we float gently into “Louange a l’Eternite de Jesus” from French composer Olivier Messiaen's “Quartet for the End of Time,” a piece written while Messiaen was held captive in a prisoner-of-war camp in Gorlitz, Germany. Messiaen drew inspiration from a quote in the Book of Revelation: “In homage to the Angel of the Apocalypse, who lifts his hand toward heaven, saying, ‘There shall be time no longer.’” During “Louange a l’Eternite de Jesus” time seems to stop, allowing us to escape reality and find paradise. As the last cello note hangs eternally in the air, Bach’s celebratory Trio Sonata in E flat Major brings us back to earth and sends us into the New Year with renewed hope and joy in our hearts.