Suite for Lower Strings
Johann Sebastian Bach
Concerto in A for Oboe d’Amore, BWV 1055
Allegro ma non tanto
Jennet Ingle, Oboe d’Amore
Le Tombeau de Couperin
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
Concerto in A major, BWV 1055
Johann Sebastian Bach was born March 31, 1685 in Eisenach, Germany, and died July 28, 1750 in Leipzig. The original composition date of the Concerto in A major is unknown but is believed to have been written for oboe d’amore in 1721. The concerto is scored for solo oboe d’amore and strings. The piece is approximately 15 minutes long.
With no existing original copies, Concerto in A major, BWV 1055 poses an interesting problem for scholars working toward a historical reconstruction of the piece. Bach’s autograph score contains a version of the concerto as the fourth of seven works written for harpsichord and string orchestra. During the mid-twentieth century, a chronological reworking of Bach’s oeuvre revealed that the concerto was likely composed originally for oboe d’amore (the lower-pitched cousin of the oboe) based on the nature of the writing for the solo instrument – the implication being that any original versions written for oboe d’amore and string orchestra were lost. A reconstruction of the concerto (believed to have been composed around 1721) for oboe d’amore and string orchestra, the version heard today, was prepared in 1970 for publication in the new Bach critical edition (Neue Bach Ausgabe).
It is difficult to imagine the course of music history had Bach not been appointed to the prestigious position of Kantor at the Thomasschule (held conjointly with the civic director of music) in Leipzig, a post associated with a thriving music tradition since the sixteenth century. While the social rank of Kantor was lower than that of Kapellmeister – the rank held by Bach previously in Cöthen – the responsibilities in Leipzig were varied and expansive. After assuming duties in Leipzig, Bach would spend the next several years consumed almost exclusively by the composition of sacred music. As the principal musician to oversee the musical activities of Leipzig’s four major churches, Bach was nearly exclusively dedicated to the production of vocal cantatas, performed weekly and mirroring the liturgical calendar. With practically unlimited access to musicians including the students of the Thomasschule, local professionals, and university students, Bach composed the majority of his large-scale vocal and instrumental masterpieces including the St. Matthew Passion, and the Mass in B minor.
It has recently become clear that the majority of Bach’s instrumental works, believed to have been primarily composed during his Cöthen period (1717-23), were in fact composed during his time in Leipzig (1723-50). In 1729, perhaps seeking a fresh direction after years of service as a church musician, Bach assumed the role of director for Leipzig’s collegium musicum, a voluntary group of local professional musicians and university students who rehearsed and performed weekly concerts around the city. Very little is known about the weekly activities of the group, although clues toward an understanding of Bach’s creative activities during this time exist in the form of various performance scores including orchestral suites, some concertos, and sonatas. Many of these scores represent clear reworkings of instrumental works performed, and likely originally composed, during the Cöthen years.
Halle McGuire Hobbins
Suite for Lower Strings
Clarice Assad was born February 8, 1979. Suite for Lower Stings was composed in 2009 and is scored for string orchestra. The work lasts approximately 16 minutes.
Suite for Lower Strings (2009) is a five-movement fantasy on well-known themes by J.S. Bach. The work emphasizes the string section’s lower voices, such as the viola, cello, and bass. Typically in Baroque music, the melody was given to the higher instruments — but the suite, commissioned by the New Century Chamber Orchestra, was specifically tasked to showcase the often under-used lower instruments. Each of the suite’s short movements presents Bach’s popular and recognizable melodies, often varying and combining them with elements from twentieth-century styles.
A prolific, Grammy nominated composer with over 70 works to her credit, Clarice Assad’s numerous commissions include works for Carnegie Hall, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Orquestra Sinfônica de São Paulo, Chicago Sinfonietta, San Jose Chamber Orchestra, the Boston Youth Orchestra, General Electric, Sybarite5, Metropolis ensemble, the Bravo! Vail Music Festival, Queen Reef Music Festival, and the La Jolla Music Festival, to name a few. Her work Danças Nativas was nominated for a Latin Grammy for best contemporary composition in 2009. Her compositions have been recorded by some of the most prominent names in classical music, including percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, and oboist Liang Wang.
Assad’s music has been performed by internationally acclaimed orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony, Queensland Symphony, and the Orquestra Sinfônica de São Paulo. Assad has served as a composer-in-residence for the Albany Symphony, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, New Century Chamber Orchestra, and the Boston Landmarks Orchestra. Her works are published in France (Editions Lemoine), Germany (Trekel), Criadores do Brasil (Brazil) and by Virtual Artists Collective Publishing, (VACP) a publishing company co-founded with poet and philosopher Steve Schroeder. Assad is currently writing the soundtrack to Devoti Tutti, a documentary by Bernadette Wegenstein, while composing the music for a ballet by award-winning choreographer Shannon Alvis.
Le Tombeau de Couperin
Maurice Ravel was born March 7, 1875 in Ciboure, near Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Basses-Pyrénées and died December 28, 1937 in Paris. Le Tombeau de Couperin was orchestrated in 1919. The four-movement orchestrated version premiered on February 28, 1920 by the Pasdeloup Orchestra of Paris. The work is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes and English horn, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, trumpet, harp, and strings, and lasts approximately 21 minutes.
Ravel began writing what he originally called a Suite Française for piano in July 1914. World War I interrupted his work, and he did not return to this project, now titled Le Tombeau de Couperin, until June 1917. He completed the work that November. Ravel orchestrated four movements of Le Tombeau de Couperin in 1919, after the piano version premiere. The war wholly preoccupied the composer and led to a creative hiatus as he explored any possible avenue to assist the war effort. But due to his frail health and diminutive stature, Ravel was consistently denied for duty. His tenacity proved fruitful when he was finally enlisted as a driver in the Army Motor Transport Corps, although his service was dashed by a case of dysentery which rendered him incapacitated and sent home to Paris. He returned to his military assignment briefly, only to be discharged – for good, this time – after experiencing another health episode.
Ravel recovered and spent the next several months in Normandy, desperately working to recharge his creative energy by revisiting works that he had begun earlier. The war, which had affected him deeply, inspired Le Tombeau de Couperin, a project that he described to his pupil Roland-Manuel in 1914:
“I’m beginning … a French Suite – no , it’s not what you think – the Marseillaise doesn’t come into it at all but there’ll be a forlane and a jig; not a tango, though.”
In his autobiographical sketch, Ravel remarked on Le Tombeau de Couperin in 1929:
“The homage is directed less in fact to Couperin himself than to French music of the eighteenth century.”
In its original iteration, Le Tombeau de Couperin was comprised of six suites for solo piano. Initially conceived to celebrate a legacy of French musical tradition, the work quickly took on new meaning as Ravel searched for a way to memorialize those who had perished in the war. In 1919, the six piano suites were reduced to four, reordered, orchestrated, and dedicated to friends who had been lost in combat. The framework of the piece – an homage to eighteenth-century French composer François Couperin (1668-1733), celebrated for his influential works for keyboard and astounding compositional clarity – combined with Ravel’s equal gift for clarity and orchestration creates a sparkling tribute to eighteenth and twentieth century French musical styles.
Halle McGuire Hobbins
Jennet Ingle loves the oboe. She has built an active career around performing, teaching, making reeds for and writing about it, and believes deeply that everyone else loves it, too. Perhaps they just don’t know it yet.
Jennet has been Principal Oboe and Cushwa Family Chair of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra since 2006 and also holds that position with the Northwest Indiana Symphony. She is a soloist at heart, joyfully taking over any stage that will have her.
Her lifelong interest in new music led to a recent commissioning project – Dreams and Visions (Searching the Shadows) by Marjorie Rusche is a triptych based on cards from the Tarot deck. In March 2007, she was honored to perform the world premiere of Doug Lofstrom’s Oboe Concertino, a work commissioned for her by the New Philharmonic Orchestra and the College of DuPage.
In 2020, the most isolating year of our lifetimes, Jennet has been working to build community for oboists. Her signature group program, the Invincible Oboist, demystifies instrumental skills and helps oboists to get past the STRUGGLE to find ease in their playing. She created a Reed Club that meets every Monday for social connection and to discuss details of the reedmaking process. She started a group program for reedmaking beginners, as well – Zero to Reedmaker – which teaches the process through a series of group classes and accountability.
As the owner and operator of Jennet Ingle Reeds, she makes and sells over two hundred handmade reeds every month to oboists all over the world and has helped hundreds of people with their own reed-making through her video series, The Five Minute Reedmaker, her weekly online Reed Club and annual live Oboe Reed Boot Camps.
In her spare time, Jennet pours her energy into Prone Oboe, a blog about her active life and a behind-the-scenes look at the process of learning, teaching, and performing music at a high level. She sends a weekly email newsletter filled with ideas for her community – about the intersections of oboe, life, and entrepreneurship.
Her first CD, “Music That SHOULD Have Been Written for the Oboe”, was released in December of 2016. It is available everywhere.
Jennet is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Richard Killmer. She can be found on the web at www.jennetingle.com.
Elizabeth M. Cullity Chair
Acting Associate Concertmaster
Barbara K. Warner Chair
Irene M. Siberell Chair
Wells Fargo Bank Chair
Anonymous Patron Chair
Barnes and Thornburg, LLP Chair
Dorothy and Herbert A. Schiller, M.D. Chair
Peg and Robert O. Laven Chair
South Bend Symphony Orchestra League Chair
Leo J. McKernan Chair
Christopher H. Wilson Chair
Jane and E. Blair Warner Chair
Cushwa Family Chair
Dr. and Mrs. James M. Wilson Chair
Jason E. Kramer
Shirley and Joseph Hennessy Chair
Linda and Bruce Bancroft Chair
Barbara J. Shields Byrum Chair
Thank you to our generous series sponsors; Jack M. Champaigne Masterworks Series and June H. Edwards Mosaic Series.