We invite you to a grand affair featuring Tchaikovsky’s Serenade in C Major and Reno Phil concertmaster, Ruth Lenz, as a featured soloist. Considered one of Tchaikovsky’s best works, the composer himself described Serenade for Strings as a “piece from the heart.” Opening with an homage to Mozart, it is a graceful and poised composition with a memorable waltz melody that has been used in a variety of movies and ballets. The program also includes Chevalier de Saint-Georges’s Violin Concerto No. 2, a showcase for violinist Ruth Lenz. The performance will burst to life with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Procession of the Nobles (from Mlada), which features a brass quintet performing a rousing and festive march tune that will have you envisioning an ornate gathering of royalty.

Livestreaming:
Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 4:00 pm

SERENADE FOR STRINGS - PROGRAM NOTES

By Chris Morrison
Procession of the Nobles From Mlada

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Born: March 18, 1844, Tikhvin, Russia
Died: June 21, 1908, Lyubensk, Russia

Rimsky-Korsakov originally chose a naval career – as a sailor, he visited the United States, Brazil, Spain, England, Scandinavia, and more. But music, in which he was largely self-educated, lured him away, and by his mid-twenties he was hired at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he continued teaching to the end of his life. As a teacher, he worked with the likes of Igor Stravinsky, Ottorino Respighi, and Sergei Prokofiev, and authored one of the authoritative textbooks on orchestration. He also became a leading light in the “Mighty Five” of Russian nationalist composers that also included Mily Balakirev, Alexander Borodin, César Cui, and Modest Mussorgsky. Rimsky-Korsakov was fascinated with folklore and exoticism, evident in many of his fifteen operas, like The Tale of Tsar Saltan (the source of two of the most famous minutes in music, “The Flight of the Bumble Bee”), as well as his best-known work, the symphonic suite Scheherazade.

Procession of the Nobles from Mlada

Composed: 1889
Duration: 4 minutes
Instrumentation: brass quintet

Mlada, with its rather convoluted plot but frequently lovely music, began life in 1872 as a collaborative project involving Rimsky-Korsakov and fellow composers Alexander Borodin, Modest Mussorgsky, Cesar Cui, and Ludwig Minkus. That project was abandoned, unfinished, and only in 1889 did Rimsky-Korsakov decided to carry on with work on that same libretto, completing it the following year. Set a millennium ago in an imaginary Slavic kingdom on the Baltic Sea called Rethra, the opera tells the story of a princess, Mlada (a danced rather than sung role), who has been poisoned by Voyslava so that she can have Princess Mlada’s husband Yaromir for herself. As Eric Bromberger continues, “The story involves magic, evil spirits, and trips into the underworld, and at the climax an entire village is submerged by an overflowing lake and Yaromir and Mlada are seen ascending on a rainbow.”

Rimsky-Korsakov extracted from the opera’s music a suite of five instrumental pieces. The fifth of those is the Cortège titled Procession of the Nobles, which served as the introduction to the opera’s second act and portrays a lively midsummer festival. A short fanfare leads to the first statements of the rousing march theme. After a short interlude, the march returns for an exciting conclusion.

Violin Concerto in A major, Op. 5/2

Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Born: December 25, 1745, Baillif, Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe
Died: June 10, 1799, Paris, France

Joseph Boulogne’s father was a wealthy plantation owner, and his mother one of his father’s slaves. Educated in Paris, Boulogne first gained notoriety in his teens as a fencing master. He was made an officer of the king’s bodyguard and a chevalier at age 21. Little is known about his musical training, although he became famous as a virtuoso violinist. Saint-Georges later became the music director of Le Concert de la Loge Olympique, perhaps Paris’s most famous orchestra, and was responsible for the commissioning of Franz Josef Haydn’s “Paris” Symphonies, Nos. 82-87. During the French Revolution, Saint-Georges served as a colonel of the first all-black regiment in Europe, and later took part in the Haitian slave rebellion and independence movement. He composed eight operas, two symphonies, and around ten violin concertos and many string quartets, songs, and other works. U.S. President John Adams called him “the most accomplished man in Europe in riding, shooting, fencing, dancing, music.”

Violin Concerto in A major, Op. 5/2

Composed: 1775
Duration: 25 minutes
Instrumentation: strings, solo violin

Although the evidence is uncertain, Saint-Georges may have studied with one of the great violinists of his day, Jean-Marie Leclair. In 1769, Saint-Georges became the concertmaster of the Concert des Amateurs orchestra, which was led by another of his teachers, Françoise Joseph Gossec. When Gossec moved on to direct the Concert Spirituel in 1773, Saint-Georges went with him to serve again as concertmaster. Over the years, Saint-Georges also became increasingly known as a solo performer. Along with his own ten concertos, composers like Gossec and Karl Stamitz wrote works for him.

Saint-Georges’s abilities as a virtuoso are evident in all his concertos, including the Concerto in A major. Its longest movement is the first, in something like sonata allegro form with ideas that are developed and then repeated in their original form. The movement opens with a graceful tune. Lively and more introspective passages alternate in quick measure, as Saint-Georges shows off his facility with melodic writing. When the solo violin enters with its frequently decorative melodic line, ideas pass freely back and forth between the soloist and orchestra, as each of them also develops its own material. A few passages move into a more urgent minor key.

Beginning with a stately, melancholic tread, the slow movement, while still in a major key, plumbs some emotional depths. When the string orchestra completes its unfurling of the opening, the violin enters with a gesture repeated from the first movement, holding a lengthy single note that eventually extends in a lyrical outpouring. The texture is light throughout, and at several points, Saint-Georges restricts the accompaniment to just a small group of violins, making the return of the lower strings that much more dramatic. Opportunities for virtuoso display, plentiful throughout the first two movements, become even more pronounced in the Finale, a rondo, with wonderfully varied textures, based on a playful recurring opening theme.

Serenade for Strings in C major, Op. 48

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Born: May 7, 1840, Votkinsk, Viatka district, Russia
Died: November 6, 1893, St. Petersburg, Russia

Tchaikovsky has become one of music’s iconic figures, the composer of world-famous works such as the 1812 Overture, The Nutcracker, and Romeo and Juliet that even non-classical music fans recognize and love. These compositions as well as his symphonies, especially the “Pathétique,” his other ballets Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, and the Piano Concerto No. 1 are among the most-performed works in the repertoire. Tchaikovsky showed great musical talent as a youngster, but was groomed for a career in law. Music ultimately won out, and after completing his studies, in 1866 he took a post teaching at the brand new Moscow Conservatory. Within a decade he was famous as a composer, but his unhappiness in an ill-advised marriage led to a suicide attempt. He won the financial support of Nadezhda von Meck, with whom he carried on a long correspondence without ever meeting her face-to-face. Tchaikovsky had many more great musical successes, traveling the world and meeting most of the major musical figures of his day. But anxiety and depression continued to plague him, and he died in 1893, a still-discussed death by cholera that may have been accidental or a suicide.

Serenade for Strings in C major, Op. 48

Composed: 1880
Duration: 30 minutes
Instrumentation: strings

Within a week of his brief, disastrous marriage to Antonina Milyukova in 1877, Tchaikovsky suffered something of a breakdown. Wanting to avoid his friends and the bustle of large cities, he retreated to Kamenka, an estate outside Kiev belonging to his sister and her husband. There, in 1880, he set to work on two very different compositions. One was the boisterous 1812 Overture – which Tchaikovsky hated, describing it as “noisy” and of “no great artistic value,” despite its quickly becoming one of his most popular compositions. The other was the Serenade for Strings, of which he admitted, “I’m terribly in love.” The Serenade was written in a matter of weeks during September and October of 1880 – “it poured from the heart,” he wrote. From its first performance, on October 30, 1881 in St. Petersburg by Eduard Napravnik and the Russian Musical Society, the Serenade was a great success. Tchaikovsky himself conducted it often, including during his 1891 tour of the United States.

Tchaikovsky’s favorite composer was Mozart, of whom he once wrote “I don’t just like Mozart, I idolize him.” Discussing the String Serenade in a letter to his friend and patroness Nadezhda von Meck, Tchaikovsky wrote, “The first movement is my homage to Mozart, it is intended to be an imitation of his style, and I should be delighted if I thought I had in any way approached my model.” Belying its relatively innocuous title “Piece in the form of a Sonatina,” that first movement is lush and passionate. Its Andante introduction, marked “sempre marcatissimo” (“always very accented”) features double-stopping from both the violins and violas, enhancing the richness of texture. Two themes dominate the faster main section of the movement – one with a hint of yearning, the other fast and fleet, with pizzicato accompaniment. The slow introduction is recalled at the movement’s end.

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS

Ruth Lenz is generously sponsored by Heidemarie Rochlin

The Brass Quintet is graciously sponsored by a Friend of the Reno Phil

Maestro Laura Jackson is graciously sponsored by Jason & Rochelle Katz

 

Corporate Support:

         

Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Email Director of Development, Michael Hicks or call 775.323.6393

MUSICIANS

Reno Phil Orchestra

FIRST VIOLIN
Ruth Lenz*, Concertmaster
Olga Archdekin*, Acting Associate Concertmaster
Laura Ahn*
Makena Clark*
Ellen Flanagan*
Alison Harvey

SECOND VIOLIN
Calvin Lewis*, Acting Principal Second
David Haskins*, Acting Assistant Principal Second
Sarah Coyl*
Claire Tatman*
Laurentiu Norocel

VIOLA
Dustin Budish*, Principal
Tiantian Lan*, Assistant Principal
McKayla Talasek*
Catherine Matovich

CELLO
Peter Lenz*, Principal
Eileen Brownell* Acting Assistant Principal
Luciana Gallo*

BASS
Scott Faulkner*, Principal
Mark Wallace*, Assistant Principal

HORN
John Lenz*, Principal

TRUMPET
Paul Lenz*, Principal
Jon Bhatia

TROMBONE
James Albrecht*, Principal

TUBA
Russ Dickman*, Principal

*denotes contract player

FEATURED SOLOIST

RUTH LENZ, CONCERTMASTER
Photo by Jeramie Lu Photography | www.JeramieLu.com

Photo by Jeramie Lu Photography | www.JeramieLu.com

Learn more about Ruth Lenz.

Ruth Lenz is concertmaster of both the Reno Philharmonic and Reno Chamber Orchestra, and a member of the Classical Tahoe Orchestra. She has also served as concertmaster for the Sunriver Festival Orchestra, Nevada Opera, and Fresno Philharmonic. Dr. Lenz appears regularly with La Musica International Chamber Music Festival, Nevada Chamber Music Festival, Apex Concerts, Festival Napa Valley, Aurelia Chamber Players, and the Tahoe Chamber Music Society. Past performances include: Spoleto Festival, Telluride Chamber Music Festival, Carpe Diem String Quartet, Kammermusiktage in Barth, Germany, and the Mayshad Festival in Morocco.

She has had the honor of collaborating with such distinguished artists as Noah Bendix-Balgley, James Buswell, Natalie Cole, Pamela Frank, Bruno Giuranna,Robert Levin, Johnny Mathis, Edgar Meyer, Luciano Pavarotti, Itzhak Perlman, Pascal Rogé, Peter Wiley, and Carol Wincenc. She has appeared as a soloist with the Reno Philharmonic, the Reno Chamber Orchestra, Classical Tahoe, the Ruby Mountain Symphony, the Carson City Symphony, the Lake Tahoe Summer Music Festival Orchestra, the Toccata Orchestra and the Reno Baroque Ensemble. She recently led the Reno Chamber Orchestra in a conductor-less performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Ruth began her violin studies at age two with her mother, Paula Lenz. Other formative childhood teachers include Roy Malan, Suzanne Beia, Won Bin Yim, and Cynthia Lang. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Performance from the University of Nevada, Reno studying with former Reno Phil concertmaster Phillip Ruder. She then went on to earn her Doctorate at the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana, studying with SherbanLupu and Danwen Jiang. In addition to performing, Ruth enjoys teaching her lively studio of violin students, hanging out with her kids, and being in the wilderness on foot or horseback.