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Program III:
Universal Resonance

Thursday, August 15, 2024 | 7:30 PM

Hannaford Hall, USM | Portland 

The East Coast Chamber Orchestra’s PCMF debut in 2022 drew raves from audiences: “The energy and artistry was astounding!” “Such virtuosic performances, and such wit and joy!” Well, they’re back, bringing with them Handmade Universe, a brand new work by Grammy nominated composer Vijay Iyer that blends jazz harmonies with intricate orchestrations. Bookending this Maine premiere are a rollicking set of variations on a popular Baroque dance theme, and the youthful vigor of Mendelssohn’s delightful Octet for Strings, written when he was just 16.

Francesco Geminiani (arr. Michi Wiancko) "La Follia" Variations (1729/2010)

Vijay Iyer Handmade Universe (2023)

Felix Mendelssohn String Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20 (1825)

I. Allegro moderato ma con fuoco

II. Andante

III. Scherzo: Allegro leggierissimo

IV. Presto


* Programs and artists subject to change

PCMF is delighted that Handmade Universe will also be performed at Salt Bay Chamberfest on Friday, August 16th at 7:30 PM.

Concert run time is approximately 90 minutes including a brief intermission. The concert will be live-streamed for free on our YouTube channel. The archived stream will be available to view for 24 hours.

Meet The Artists

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Nathan Farrington
bass

J Freivogel.jpeg

J Freivogel
violin

Rachel Henderson Freivogel.jpeg

Rachel Henderson Freivogel
cello

Nick Kendall, violin

Nick Kendall
violin

Kristin Lee (Lauren Desberg).jpeg

Kristin Lee
violin

Li Mei Liang.jpeg

Li-Mei Liang
violin

Anthony Marwood.jpg

Anthony Marwood
violin

Tai Murray glam credit Gaby Merz.jpg

Tai Murray
violin

Kenneth Olsen.jpg

Kenneth Olsen
cello

Susie Park (Zoe Prinds-Flash).jpeg

Susie Park
violin

Raman Ramakrishnan.jpeg

Raman Ramakrishnan
cello

Melissa Reardon (Lauren Desberg).jpeg

Melissa Reardon
viola

Dov Scheindlin.jpeg

Dov Scheindlin
viola

Jessica Thompson.jpeg

Jessica Thompson
viola

Shai Wosner.jpg

Shai Wosner
piano

Meet The Composers

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Francesco Geminiani
1687-1762

Francesco Geminiani was an Italian violinist, composer, and music theorist. Born in Lucca, he studied the violin under Arcangelo Corelli. Geminiani soon established his reputation as a brilliant performer in England, publishing his Op. 1 Sonatas for Violin and Continuo, which were widely acclaimed and famous for their technical difficulty. His other popular works include his Concerti Grossi, of which his Op. 2 and Op. 3 sets became extremely popular in England, holding a place in the repertory well into the next century. His theoretical writings, particularly The Art of Playing on the Violin, had considerable influence, and remains an important reference on the performance of late Baroque music.

Geminiani wrote several sets of Concerti Grossi modeled on Corelli's violin sonatas. In 1729 he crafted "La Follia," an arrangement of Corelli's Sonata, Op. 5, No. 12, which itself was inspired the folia, a Portuguese dance dating back to the 15th century. Geminiani's arrangement not only pays homage to his teacher, but also takes the solo violin work one step further by filling out the counterpoint and harmony for a larger ensemble.

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Vijay Iyer
b. 1971

Vijay Iyer an American composer, pianist, bandleader, producer and writer based in New York City. The New York Times has called him a "social conscience, multimedia collaborator, system builder, rhapsodist, historical thinker and multicultural gateway." Iyer has received a MacArthur Fellowship, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a Grammy nomination, and the Alpert Award in the Arts. In 2014, he received a lifetime appointment as Professor of the Arts at Harvard University, where he was jointly appointed in the Department of Music and the Department of African and African American Studies.

Iyer's Handmade Universe was commissioned for pianist Shai Wosner and the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, and makes its Maine premiere on this concert. According to the composer, the title "refers to the piece’s instrumentation: for pianists and string players, every sound is the result of a gesture. For me, this old and obvious truth still somehow unsettles music’s fundamentals. Lyricism, for example, amounts to an aural illusion, insinuating a voice that is absent; musical phrasing can simulate breathing without actually correlating to it; a walking beat is generated by fingertips rather than feet. Another organizing idea emerged in response to a simple question: What can this aggregate - a conductorless ensemble with a powerful existing rapport - do together? The piece became an exploration of different forms of group synchrony that can be felt from within, and different forms of independent expression in relation to it."

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Felix Mendelssohn
1809-1847

Felix Mendelssohn was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. Mendelssohn's compositions include symphonies, concertos, piano music, organ music and chamber music. His best-known works include the overture and incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Italian Symphony, the Scottish Symphony, the Violin Concerto, the String Octet, and the melody used in the Christmas carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words are his most famous solo piano compositions.

The String Octet in E-flat Major was written by 16-year-old Felix Mendelssohn during the fall of 1825 and completed on October 15. Written for four violins, two violas, and two cellos, this work created a new chamber music genre that gained increasing popularity (up until that point, the string quartet was king). In the score, Mendelssohn wrote that the piece should "be played by all the instruments in the style of a symphony." The Octet was one of the first works of Mendelssohn to be very well received.

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Michi Wiancko
b. 1976

Michi Wiancko is a composer, arranger and violinist whose work has been performed by ensembles, bands and orchestras around the world. She has collaborated with artists from across a wide musical spectrum and performed with some of the great musical artists of our time, including Rhiannon Giddens, Missy Mazzoli, Steve Reich, Silkroad, Yo-Yo Ma, Wye Oak, and Laurie Anderson. She also directs the summer music festival, artists’ retreat, and community organization, Antenna Cloud Farm.

Wiancko has written several compositions for the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, many of which fall into the genre of what she calls her “reimagining” works. These are arrangements of works from the past that she draws inspiration and source materials from, but ultimately fashions into something fresh and new. Through many layers of inspiration, from Portuguese folk dance to Baroque violin sonata to Concerto Grossi, Wiancko's dazzling arrangement was commissioned by the East Coast Chamber Orchestra in 2010.

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