A Swashbuckling Adventure
7:30 pm Emens Auditorium
Bohuslav Rattay, conductor
Mihoko Wantanbe, flute
First Merchants Bank
The Hamer D. & Phyllis C. Shafer Foundation
Jody Nagel World Premiere
A Swashbuckling Adventure . . . From Days of Yore
Concerto for Flute and Orchestra (2010-2011)
Part 1. Sea Voyage in Search of the Fairy Queen
Part 2. The Enchanted Castle, The Dungeon, and the Beast
Part 3. The Battle for Virtue and the Celebration Feast
Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 in d minor, op. 47
Allegro non troppo
Flutist Mihoko Watanabe, a native of Japan, is Assistant Professor of Flute at Ball State University. Prior to joining the School of Music, Dr. Watanabe taught at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, the Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Windsor, Canada.
A celebrated and versatile international performer, Dr. Watanabe has won competitions sponsored by both the Japan Flute Association and the National Flute Association (NFA), and has appeared in Japan, Israel and Canada as a recitalist, chamber musician, and concerto soloist. She is a member of the faculty woodwind quintet at Ball State University, the Musical Arts Quintet (MAQ). The MAQ has been awarded the prestigious 2010 American Masterpieces: Chamber Music grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. They will be releasing a CD entitled “American Breeze, ” in Spring 2012. Also, she is a founding member of TRIO PIACERE (flute, cello, piano), which has performed nationally and internationally, and a member of DUO VIVA (two flutes), with whom she recorded “Doppler Effect,” a CD released in 2006 by Little Piper. As an orchestral player, she has held several principle flute positions and performed with American and Canadian orchestras. Currently she is the principal flutist of the Muncie Symphony Orchestra and is performing with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
A very active teacher, Dr. Watanabe travels widely as a clinician, presenting masterclasses throughout the United States, Canada, and Japan. She has adjudicated at international music festivals and competitions. In 2005, she served on the faculty of the Brevard Music Center summer festival and was featured in the December 2009 issue of Flute Talk magazine.
In addition to being a gifted flutist, Dr. Watanabe is also devoted to the field of ethnomusicology, which she studied at the University of Michigan. Her interest in Japanese traditional music led to a faculty development grant in order to research Kazuo Fukushima’s Mei for solo flute in Japan. Her research resulted in a feature article in the Spring 2008 issue of the Flutist Quarterly (the official journal of the National Flute Association), and led to lecture recitals at the 2007 NFA Convention and the 2010 British Flute Association Convention in England. In 2011, the article was translated into Dutch and published in Fluit, the official journal of the Dutch Flute Association.
Currently, Dr. Watanabe serves as the president of the Greater Indianapolis Flute Club and is a member of two NFA committees (the Cultural Outreach committee and the Archives and Oral History committee).
Dr. Watanabe received her Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Michigan, her Master of Music and Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, and her Bachelor of Music from the Musashino Academia Musicae in Tokyo.
Jody Nagel (b. 1960) joined the Ball State University School of Music
faculty in 1992 and is now professor of music theory and composition. His
compositions have been performed all over the United States, including at
conferences of theSociety of Composers, Inc.(SCI) and the Society for
Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS), and his music has
been played in quite a few other countries, as well. He was the recipient of an
ASCAP Young Composers Award (1988) and was a Fulbright Fellow in
Sydney, Australia (1993). Nagel was born and raised near Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, and attended North Allegheny High School in Wexford. He received his
D.M.A. in composition from the University of Texas at Austin in 1992
where he had been the recipient of a doctoral fellowship. He received his
M.A. degree in theory and composition from the University of Pittsburgh (1985)
and a B.A. degree from Marietta College (1982). His principal composition
teachers have included Eugene Kurtz, Dan Welcher, Donald Grantham, Russell
Pinkston, Karl Korte, Morton Subotnick, Peter Sculthorpe, Stephen Montague,
Wayne Slawson, John Peel, William Buelow, and David Berlin. Nagel is a
member of Phi Beta Kappa. He is married to EunHee Yoon Nagel, and has two
daughters: Ashley Gaia SeoHyon and Athena Gretchen SeoJeong.
A Swashbuckling Adventure. . . From Days Of Yore
A Concerto for Flute and Orchestra (2010-11) was written for Ball State University’s faculty
flutist, Mihoko Watanabe. I had the goal, for this piece, of combining the
flute concerto genre with the character of an epic adventure film score. I
particularly had in mind scores by Erich Korngold (1897-1957), such as Captain
Blood (1935), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), and The Sea
Hawk (1941). (I explored Korngold’s music for a time, after I had
discovered we were both born on May 29!) I did not try to write specifically in
”his style,” but I did attempt to imagine the relationship between the music
and the visual scenes in a similar manner as he did. There the similarity
ends, however, since I actually had no particular scenes in mind. The titles
of the four movements are offered to the audience members as a springboard
for their imagination. The titles suggest archetypal ideas, and the listener
is free to develop his or her own story line while the music is played.
Part 1, Sea Voyage in Search of the Fairy Queen (Composed June 28 -
July 12, 2010). This movement begins with shimmering woodwinds playing the
pitches C, G, D, & A, a segment of the “Circle-of-Fifths.” A big boisterous
theme in the low strings and bassoons, also based on the same segment, is
played next. I wanted to create a sunny day for an old-style sailing vessel
leaving port and beginning its optimistic journey. This theme is used
throughout the movement in different guises, and, as the ship sails on, the
pitches gradually circle around the Circle-of-Fifths, always emphasizing three- or
four-tone segments of the circle, and eventually completing the circle’s
twelve pitches. In the middle of the piece, a gentle harmonic progression of
its own character occurs twice, offering contrast, and allowing for the idea
that we have finally entered the private realm of the graceful fairy queen.
Part 2, The Enchanted Castle, The Dungeon, and the Beast (Composed
August 27-30, 2010). A repeating 3+2+3 grouping of quarter notes, played
quietly in parallel fifths, is used to introduce the second movement’s opening
scene of our band of heroes marching towards a distant castle. Two modal
variants, both with a G tonal center, alternate in an ostinato, while another
tune is introduced in the clarinets. As the men round a bend, the castle s
uddenly looms before them in all its grandeur. The tonality modulates a
tritone to C-sharp and the ostinato becomes very loud. As the story progresses,
it eventually leads us to the dungeon and a hideous beast. The trombone
plays a sinuous 13-note line that uses all 12 pitches, and which represents
the voice of the beast, out of sight, in the shadows. A second call, with the
trombone coupled with the bassoon and bass clarinet in parallel major
thirds, is sounded. After this, we sense the movement of the beast as the low
strings slowly accelerate on a frightening wedge-like figure. (I freely
confess that, for a moment, I was slightly imitating Wagner’s Fafner in The
Ring !) After this, a conflict erupts. The original ostinato again
appears, now twice as fast, and underlying the tense upper parts. Eventually the
flute has a solo cadenza, and the movement concludes with the cellos, and
then the basses playing pizzicato, successively sounding the ostinato theme
four times as fast as the opening. The last thing heard is the flute playing
the ostinato theme eight times as fast as the opening.
Part 3, The Hero’s Three Impossible Deeds (Composed July 25 – August
2, 2011). This movement is quite fast and continuos. The flute is
definitely the hero in this movement and it faces serious opposition. After being
introduced to the “main idea” of this movement, the listener will eventually
hear what I call “the royal theme” played by the Flugelhorn and the
strings. One might imagine the hero being charged by the king to accomplish three
very difficult tasks. No sooner commanded, the flute is then batted down by
a sharply struck orchestral chord (including a slapstick). The flute
flutters downwards, as if destroyed. With a little help from some of the other
woodwinds and the horns, the flute picks itself back up and, even more
aggressively, manages to emerge victoriously. The flute is brought down twice
more, next by becoming entangled with a solo violin, and finally by being
crushed by the weight of the full brass section. As with the first time, the
flute emerges even stronger, and is thrice the victor. The royal theme is
heard once again as the flute proclaims its victory, and the now-nervous king
realizes the hero is indeed not dead. The final whimsical flourish is the
flute’s way of saying at the close of the story:
Part 4, The Battle for Virtue and The Celebration Feast (Composed
August 20-31, 2011). The fourth movement is the longest movement and is in
two large sections: the battle (for 6.5 minutes) and the celebration (for a
little more than 4 minutes). The piece begins with the snare drum playing a
march-like rhythm. This rhythm then becomes the rhythm of a low-register,
gradually unfolding melody that repeats over and over, each time more fully
orchestrated, and gradually moving through all twleve keys in a series of
modulations by tritone and by perfect-fifth, alternately. The steady crescendo
depicts one side of an army getting closer and closer to the place of
battle. After this massive build-up, the texture then thins considerably, and the
listener is eventually introduced to the much less organized opposition.
This idea is suggested by the quirky melody in the baritone saxophone, which
plods along without a clear direction. Eventually, the two sides collide.
The original theme is played half as fast as before, while the latter
saxophone melody continues relentlessly. I consider this to be the most dramatic
part of the whole concerto, and the entire sequence takes almost two minutes
before ending with a climactic dissonance. The flute has a small forlorn
cadenza, and one might imagine that the flute is the sole survivor of the
confrontation. The scene eventually changes. The first violins introduce a
new melody, which I think of as the “Celebration Tune.” Gradually, this tune
is repeated with increasingly fuller orchestration as the feast partakers
gather and give praise to the hero. The flute finally adds the movement’s
opening melody, now played twice as fast, as an obligato over the rest of the
orchestra. The flute is the story teller, and is here breathlessly relaying
the events of the battle to the excited audience. The movement ends
The difficult thing about this piece was trying to write adventurous music
with the tiny little flute as the story’s hero. I somewhat abandoned that
original notion, and you will sometimes believe the flute is the hero,
sometimes the fairy queen, sometimes an attendant in the castle, and sometimes a
foe and sometimes an ally in battle.
I originally planned for the movements
to have durations of 8.5, 6.5, 5, & 10 minutes, adding up to 30 minutes, and
with the first two movements balancing the last two movements, each pair
adding up to 15 minutes. Though the proportions turned out about as I had
hoped, each of the four movements was slightly longer than anticipated, and the
entire four-movement work will require about 35 minutes overall. The four
movements respectively begin with the tonal centers C, G, F, &
B-flat. These four pitches form a segment of the “Circle-of-Fifths,” which was
shown to have a large role in the sounds of the first movement. To some
extent, the interval of the perfect fifth is important in each of the movements.
The four movements respectively end with tonal centers of D, B, F, &
A-flat. These four pitches complete a minor-3rd cycle. This causes each
of the movements to end well within its own “pitch-space,” minimizing the
connection from one movement to another. (Only the third movement begins and
ends in the same key.) I invite the listener, therefore, to imagine four
different fairy tales or legends; one need not attempt to make a single
continuous story out of the four movements combined. Have fun imagining, and I
hope you like it!
Notes by the composer, February 19, 2012
Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 in d minor, op. 47
Shostakovich originally sub-titled his 1937 symphony, “the creative reply of a Soviet artist to justified criticism.” In the previous year, 1936, Pravda, the official newspaper of Soviet Russia, criticized his opera Lady MacBeth of Mtensk:
The composer apparently never considered the problem of what the Soviet audience looks for and expects in music. As though deliberately, he scribbles down his music, confusing all the sounds in such a way that his music would reach only the effete “formalists” who had lost all their wholesome taste. He ignored the demand of Soviet culture that all coarseness and savagery be abolished from every corner of Soviet life (from here: http://www.arnoldschalks.nl/tlte1sub1.html
Criticism such as this was serious business under Stalin. Beginning in 1932, artists were expected to go along with Stalin’s ideals of “Soviet Realism.” Musicians joined the “Union of Composers,” which implemented Stalin’s ideals and controlled the music profession. Musicians who earned official disapproval were disappearing to prisons or worse, including some of Shostakovich’s friends. In his memoirs, Shostakovich reflected on the prewar years: “The war brought much new sorrow and much new destruction, but I haven’t forgotten the terrible prewar years. That is what all my symphonies, beginning with the Fourth, are about” (p. 155)
At one point he even considered suicide, but he found the strength to go on, and points to the Fourth Symphony for this change in direction as well. Still, he sympathized with the people who were losing loved ones to the tyranny of Stalin’s regime.
So in 1937, Shostakovich had to be careful to stay within the guidelines of Socialist Realism, which emphasized folk idioms over “functionalist” focus on technique. Though Shostakovich was able to redeem himself with this work, he used it to express the horrors experienced by the “folk” that Stalin romanticized more than to display folk music in a symphonic idiom. At the Leningrad premiere, people in the audience wept, and Shostakovich credits those who wept with understanding the piece: “Of course they understood, they understood what was happening around them and they understood what the Fifth was about.” Of the people of Leningrad he said:
Even before the war, in Leningrad there probably wasn’t a single family who hadn’t lost someone… Everyone had someone to cry over, but you had to cry silently, under your blanket, so that no one would see. Everyone feared everyone else, and the sorrow oppressed and suffocated us.
Shostakovich gave his Leningrad audience the opportunity to weep openly, yet mirroring his own personal experience, to find a reason to continue on. An ethereal, mournful theme dominates the First Movement. The second movement takes inspiration from peasant dances with a scherzo that has more pathos than playfulness. In the Third Movement, lyrical themes and a slow tempo belie a battle between submission and resistance, ending with hymnlike chords that can be heard as restful or defeated.
There is no question of defeat as the Fourth Movement opens, with an enthusiastic yet martial fanfare followed by somewhat folksy themes in the strings and brass. Shostakovich shows Russian mastery of orchestration as he takes the audience on a wild ride with crystal clear themes passed from section to section. A victorious second theme sounds most clearly in the French horn, as if Shostakovich wants to give his Leningrad audience hope through their tears.
The Fifth Symphony remains one of Shostakovich’s most popular works, reaching people who never lived under the yoke of Soviet repression. Why? Because we have all experienced loss and yet persevered. This symphony reflects heartache and hope alike, despair and determination.
by Amy Edmonds