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Posts Tagged ‘NEC’

Harvard and NEC: partners in music at Sanders

February 4th, 2011 No comments

“One of the most beautiful products in all of French music”

– Stravinsky on Daphnis et Chloé

Daphnis and Chloe, 1961, by Marc Chagall

Dance is at the heart of Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé (symphonie choregraphique), inspired by the commission of the work by the great impresario Sergei Diaghilev. Composed by Ravel between 1909 and 1912, and premiered by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on 8 June 1912 with Pierre Monteux conducting, the legendary Vaslav Nijinsky danced the role of Daphnis.  Daphnis et Chloé is based on a Greek pastoral fable by the author Longus (3rd c. B.C.), but for the story of Daphnis (a shepherd) and Chloe (a shepherdess), Ravel’s intention was to paint “a vast musical fresco, less concerned with archaism than with faithfulness to the Greece of my dreams, which is similar to that imagined and painted by French artists at the end of the eighteenth century.”

In Daphnis et Chloé, Ravel created one of the most memorable scores in the history of ballet repertoire, and indeed of the orchestral repertoire, characterized by the quintessentially Ravelian union of vigorous rhythmic diversity, motoric energy, and refined lyricism.  More immortalized now in the orchestral repertoire than the entire ballet score, Daphnis et Chloé, Suite No. 2, consists of Lever du jour (Daybreak), Pantomime, and Danse generaleSuite No. 2 was a symphonic fragment taken from the entire work by Ravel (from the Third Scene of Daphnis et Chloe) while he was creating the original ballet score.  It is Suite No. 2 that the New England Conservatory (NEC) Philharmonia will perform at 8pm, February 4, in Sanders Theatre, conducted by Hugh Wolff ’75, NEC’s Calderwood Director of Orchestras. Read more…

Harvard and NEC: Conducting expressivity

December 10th, 2010 No comments

Aram Demirjian '08 conducts the NEC Lab Orchestra under the incisive eye of Hugh Wolff '75. Photo: Andrew Hurlbut

Harvard conductors are pioneering the orchestral conducting program at New England Conservatory. With the vision of Maestro Hugh Wolff, NEC’s Director of Orchestras, the orchestral conducting program at NEC has taken on new form and new life with a highly selective, two-year graduate curriculum that is polishing the artistic leadership and musical character of talented young conductor, Aram Demirjian (Harvard ’08, NEC MM ’11). Aram is in the first class of conductors with only one other student, Joshua Weilerstein.

Photo: Andrew Hurlbut

Along with course work in score reading, instrumentation, orchestration, and performance practice, seminars and private lessons, Aram’s conducting skills are being developed to the fullest and will be on display 8:30 p.m. Friday, December 10 (tonight) at NEC’s Brown Hall in a concert free and open to the public, featuring Beethoven’s Overture to Leonore No. 3, Op. 72, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture (1870), and Schumann’s Symphony No. 1 in B-flat major, Op. 38, Spring. See Harvard’s own Aram Demirjian in action on the podium — with his focused expressivity achieved by economy of gesture that I remember even from his days conducting my chamber group in Music 93r in ’07-’08 — conducting the NEC Lab Orchestra in its culminating concert of the semester.

Continuing my series of conversations about music with Hugh Wolff, today’s post presents Maestro Wolff’s views about Harvard composers, John Adams ’69, MA ’72, and John Harbison ’60, who help to shape the future of music as composers, critics, and intellectual American voices.

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Hear Maestro Wolff’s insights into the music scene and orchestral concert audiences in Frankfurt, Germany compared to those in North America. Maestro Wolff propounds that John Adams has worldwide appeal, known to international audiences, and compares this to North American audiences’ reception of new music. Maestro Wolff shares his ethos of programming new music, earning the trust of your orchestra, and feeling that new music should be a part of the mainstream of what an orchestra does — completely integrated into the concert subscription series. Read more…

How Harvard formed Hugh Wolff ’75

October 14th, 2010 No comments

“[Wolff] always stays at the heart of the music”
                               — Anne Midgette in the Washington Post, November 20, 2009

 

Photo: Andrew Hurlbut/New England Conservatory

Hugh Wolff’s strengths as a conductor were aptly described in a 2009 review of a National Symphony Orchestra concert in the Washington Post, together with Wolff’s qualities as “an urbane host,” making his interpretation of Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony “an absolute delight.” Paris-born Wolff, director of orchestras at New England Conservatory, graduated in 1975 from Harvard College, where he concentrated in music composition and had the rare opportunity of the inspiration of Leonard Bernstein, who was a visiting scholar at the time.

Upon graduation, Wolff went to Paris, studying composition with Olivier Messiaen and conducting with Charles Bruck, a protégé of Pierre Monteux, from whom Wolff imbibed knowledge of Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky. After further piano study with Leon Fleisher, who stressed the German tradition, Wolff went to his first job as assistant to Mstislav Rostropovich at the National Symphony Orchestra in the nation’s capital. With Rostropovich, Wolff was immersed in the Russian repertoire and in the conductor’s legendary, emotional approach to music. All these musical strands, together with his exposure to the teaching of Harvard’s Leon Kirchner, the musical activism of Gerald Moshell (who was then a graduate student at Harvard) and the inspiring forum of the Bach Society Orchestra, provided Wolff with a profound musical background from which NEC and the Boston area now benefit.

In addition to concerts with the New England Conservatory Orchestras, Maestro Wolff will be conducting concerts in Belgium with the Orchestre National de Belgique this month, with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in November, and with the Utah Symphony in December, along with concerts in Tokyo and Yokohama with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in December.

In a series of video interviews coming to you throughout the autumn, Maestro Wolff provides insights into his musical philosophy and transatlantic experiences as a conductor.

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