Event Description

Principal Conductor Guillermo Figueroa leads us into another year of world-class performances in celebration of our exciting 36th Season! Our 2019-2020 season features something for everyone, offering ten exceptional and diverse performances at The Lensic. We kick off the season with “Double Chooi,” presenting 2018 Joseph Joachim Violin Competition winner, Timothy Chooi, alongside his brother and former concertmaster of New York’s MET orchestra, Nikki Chooi. We look forward to seeing you for an extraordinary season of music!

Vivaldi
Concerto for Two Violins
Nikki Chooi, violin • Timothy Chooi, violin

Seyfried
Concerto for Two Violins
Nikki Chooi, violin • Timothy Chooi, violin

The Seyfried Double Concerto was made possible through the generosity of Charles and Judith Freyer. It was premiered at the Lake George Music Festival in 2017.

Tchaikovsky
Symphony No. 4

Please be sure to join Maestro Guillermo Figueroa for a FREE preview talk one hour before the performance!

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Concert Notes

Concerto in A Minor for Two Violins
ANTONIO VIVALDI (1678–1741)

The Concerto in A Minor is from Vivaldi’s L’Estro armonico (“Harmonious Inspiration”), published in 1711. It is regarded as one of the most distinguished of all two-violin concertos, displaying all of Vivaldi’s virtues: brilliant writing for the soloists, sharp contrast between the solo instruments and the larger orchestra, and an endless supply of rhythmic energy.

The first instances of the opening Allegro establish the character of this concerto–this will be music of sweep and brilliance. The writing for the solo violins is varied: sometimes in unison, sometimes in thirds, and throughout the movement they exchange roles, taking turns leading and accompanying. He moves to D minor for the Larghetto e spiritoso, and here the opening unison will serve as the ostinato bassline for the entire movement. At one point, he subtly varies this ostinato, inverting some of its phrases, before the movement concludes with a final unison restatement. The concluding Allegro returns to the virtuoso manner of the opening movement. The music is brilliant throughout, almost throwing off sparks as it goes, though there is one surprise: along the way, he gives the second violin a theme all its own. The first violin never gets to play this melody, which soars with an aching expressiveness and then vanishes, never to return as the music powers its way to a fierce conclusion.

Double Concerto for Two Violins & Orchestra
SHERIDAN SEYFRIED (1984– )

Sheridan Seyfried studied violin as a boy and played in the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. He later studied composition with Richard Danielpour and Jennifer Higdon at the Curtis Institute of Music. He currently teaches music theory at the Mannes College of Music in NY and serves as organist and choir director at Grace Lutheran Church in Wyndmoor, P.A. His cantata Voices of the Holocaust; based on folk music sung during the Holocaust, has been performed around the world.

Perhaps because he trained as a violinist, Seyfried has written with distinction for stringed instruments. His 2001 String Quartet, titled Pro and Contra, won an ASCAP award, and his 2013 Violin Concerto was premiered in Finland by Dennis Kim. He composed his Double Concerto for Two Violins specifically for the Chooi brothers, who gave the premiere on August 24, 2017, with the Lake George Music Festival Orchestra under the direction of Roger Kalia.

The composer describes this concerto as “a musical exploration of the relationship between two brothers” and he treats the two soloists as equals throughout: each is given the opportunity to introduce themes, they share in the development of those ideas, and they must master similar technical challenges. The concerto is in the expected three movements. The first, marked Flowing; Moderato, introduces the two soloists, who share soaring, lyrical ideas above shimmering accompaniment. The development is active, with particularly brilliant writing for the soloists, and the music rises to a great climax before falling away to its gentle close. Pizzicato strings introduce the bassline of the passacaglia-like Lento, and woodwinds announce the theme of what will be a variation-form movement. The finale, marked Exuberant, bursts to life in a great rush of country fiddling. Full of driving energy and dance rhythms, it brings the concerto to an exciting conclusion.

Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, op.36
PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY (1840–1893)

The Fourth Symphony has all of Tchaikovsky’s considerable virtues—great melodies, primary colors, and soaring climaxes—and in this case they are fused with a superheated emotional content. The symphony opens with a powerful brass fanfare, which he describes as “Fate, the inexorable power that hampers our search for happiness.” The principal subject of this movement is a dark, stumbling waltz in 9/8 introduced by the violins. He builds the opening movement on three separate theme-groups which evolve through unusual harmonic relationships. Like inescapable fate, the opening motto-theme returns at key points in this dramatic music, and it drives the movement to a furious close.

After a turbulent opening, the two middle movements bring much-needed relief. The Andantino, in ternary-form, opens with a plaintive oboe solo and features a more animated middle section. Tchaikovsky described it: “Here is the melancholy feeling that overcomes us when we sit weary and alone at the end of the day.”

The scherzo has deservedly become one of Tchaikovsky’s most popular movements. It is a tour de force for strings, with crisp interjections from the woodwinds and then from brass. Tchaikovsky makes piquant contrast between these different sounds, combining all his forces only in the final moments of the movement.

Out of the third movement’s quiet close, the finale explodes to life. The composer described it as “the picture of a folk holiday.” Marked Allegro con fuoco, this movement alternates its volcanic opening sequence with a gentle little woodwind tune that is actually a Russian folktune. At the climax, however, the fate-motto from the first movement suddenly bursts forth.

The reappearance of the opening motto amid the high spirits of the finale represents the climax–both musically and emotionally–of the entire symphony, before Tchaikovsky rips the work to a close guaranteed to set every heart in the hall racing.
—Program Notes by Eric Bromberger

Conductors
& Musicians

Principal Conductor

Guillermo Figueroa

Violinist

Nikki Chooi

Violinist

Timothy Chooi

Meet The Composers