Spend Saturday with the Symphony as we bring you the magical Jabberwocky by Anthony DiLorenzo, Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto with soloist/violinist Dylana Jenson, and Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 2.
DiLorenzo – Jabberwocky
Barber – Violin Concerto with Dylana Jenson, violin
Schumann – Symphony No. 2
Pre-Concert with Maestro Willis
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The music underscores Alice’s journey through the looking glass back to Wonderland. When the piece begins, I wanted to portray a feeling of mystery, as if we (the audience) were opening a book knowing that adventure lays just a few pages away.
While spending just a few moments in the “real world”, DiLorenzo wastes no time and start the teleportation process, through her looking glass. The low woodwinds start their low trembling burbles that quickly build to a full orchestra crescendo, signaling her arrival back to Wonderland. The wondrous world is just as she remembered. Alice looks on with amazement and curiosity before stumbling upon an intriguing book of poems. The poem is written in mirror text, which appears completely backwards. Since the world of Wonderland is inverse and upside-down in just about every way, Alice carries her own mirror to help navigate her way through Wonderland.
Shortly into the music, a strange boy spies Alice as she catches just a glimpse of him through the corner of her eye. The boy quickly runs away and she pursues him through the fantastic mazed gardens of Wonderland.
I used a few percussion instruments and techniques to simulate the odd creatures of wonderland. One of which, are metal brushes being played on a cigar box (or similar) to create the wings of flying nymphs.
Eventually the boy leads Alice to a part of wonderland she’s never explored. She finds herself at the edge of a thick denseforest where she hesitates. Eventually, Alice builds the courage to enter. Before her eyes is wondrous world of beauty and color. The music builds with melodic strings and orchestration as Alice pulls back the thick foliage to uncover a new magical world deep within the forest.
While Alice familiarizes herself with her new surroundings, the boy keeps his distance. In fact, she never really gets a good look at him. Surrounding Alice are many oddly shaped and quirky creatures that will eventually come to be known as Mome Raths, Bandersnatches, Borogoves, and few others that will follow.
Night falls quickly and soon later, Alice’s imagination starts to play tricks on her. Or does it? Across the lake, an eerie murmur of sound is heard. Before she can make up her mind to investigate, the mysterious boy steers her astray where she runs into the Jubjub bird. Here the contra bassoon begins, with low tones quickly crescendoing one after another, as if to mimic a ghastly outburst of, “who goes there!?” After his squawking is finished, the Jubjub bird prances around in a clumsy gallop, circling and pacing around Alice.
The music builds, as does Alice’s anxiety. Whilst the Jubjub’s intentions weren’t clear, a more menacing foe awaits just beyond sight. The sound of ferocious clawing on the forest trees gets the best of both of them. The Jubjub and Alice run. The use of the scraped washboard seemed appropriate here.
Confused and disoriented, Alice is luckily navigated from harms way through and out of the forest to a triumphant escape. As Alice catches her breath, she thanks the boy and asks who he is. The boy does not answer, but simply smiles and disappears into the nearby brush just before Alice catches a glimpse of a large claw tied around his neck, like a trophy. “Could this be the boy in the poem?” Alice thinks to herself.
The story concludes with the reading of Lewis Carroll’s inventive and whimsical poem. Here, I chose the music to be slightly more serious, haunting and thought provoking.
The poem she fixates on is called “Jabberwocky.” Holding her mirror up to the poem, She reads it. Alice is utterly confused by its meaning and comprehension. It is utter nonsense! The music underscores a sense of mystery, foreshadowing events to come.
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves, did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun the frumious Bandersnatch!
“He took his vorpal sword in hand: Long time the manxome foe he sought — So rested he by the Tumtum tree, And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood, The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, Came whiffling through the tulgey wood, And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!_He left it dead, and with its head He went galumphing back.
“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms, my beamish boy! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’ He chortled in his joy.
Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.
Violin Concerto with Dylana Jenson, violin
Samuel Barber, Violin Concerto
“It is lyric and rather intimate in character and a moderate-sized orchestra is used: eight woodwinds, two horns, two trumpets, percussion, piano, and strings. The first movement — allegro molto moderato — begins with a lyrical first subject announced at once by the solo violin, without any orchestral introduction. This movement as a whole has perhaps more the character of a sonata than concerto form. The second movement — andante sostenuto — is introduced by an extended oboe solo. The violin enters with a contrasting and rhapsodic theme, after which it repeats the oboe melody of the beginning. The last movement, a perpetual motion, exploits the more brilliant and virtuoso characteristics of the violin.”
– Samuel Barber, in 1944
Symphony No. 2
Robert Schumann, Symphony No. 2
Schumann’s Second Symphony began to take shape at the end of 1845, shortly after his recovery from a nervous breakdown. His comment then to Felix Mendelssohn, “drums and trumpets have been sounding in my mind for some time now,” might strike us as a wry reflection on his disturbed mental condition, replete with aural fantasies, of the year preceding.
Dylana Jenson, Violin
Dylana Jenson has performed with most major orchestras in the United States and traveled to Europe, Australia, Japan and Latin America and Asia for concerts, recitals and recordings. After her triumphant success at the Tchaikovsky Competition, where she became the youngest and first American woman to win the Silver Medal, she made her Carnegie Hall debut playing the Sibelius Concerto with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Following her most recent Carnegie Hall performance, Jenson again electrified both audience and critics in her performance of Karl Goldmark’s violin concerto. According to Strad Magazine, “In Jenson’s hands, even lyrical passages had an intense, tremulous quality… a sizzling performance.” Harris Goldsmith of the New York Concert Review said, “I can give no higher praise than to say that her excellent performance brought to mind, and was a loving tribute to, the great Nathan Milstein… who was one of Jenson’s mentors.”
In tandem with her solo career Jenson has been busy giving Masterclasses and teaching at summer music festivals. In her teaching she uses the Russian technique taught by Leopold Auer and championed by great artists such as Nathan Milstein, David Oistrakh, Isaac Stern and Jasha Heifetz. This method develops a natural physical relationship to the instrument.
Ms. Jenson was made an Honorary Citizen of Costa Rica at the age of 12 for her artistic contribution to her mother’s homeland. Dylana Jenson started the violin at the age of two and a half with her mother. She then studied with Manual Compinsky, Nathan Milstein and Josef Gingold.
Aha! With Alastair: DiLorenzo, Barber, Schumann
Thank you to our generous series sponsors; Jack M. Champaigne Masterworks Series.
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