Stephen Dunlap, the 2013 Winner of the Yale Gordon Concerto Competition at The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University, is joined by pianist Choo Choo Hu for a program of music transcribed and originally written for saxophone. Dunlap’s program of works by Hersch, Rorem, Schumann, and de Falla will be sure to delight!
Saxophonist Stephen Dunlap has an expanding and varied soloist career, recently performing with the Annapolis and Castleton Festival orchestras, presenting solo recitals in Baltimore, and premiering new compositions as a member of diverse ensembles. Awarded First Prize in the 2013 Yale Gordon Concerto Competition, he will perform the Glazunov Saxophone Concerto this season with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra.
Dunlap frequently collaborates with composers and fellow performers to create and perform new music; he has premiered Marilyn’s Room, a short chamber opera by Kyle Rotolo, as well as Duet for Two Contrarians, a work for saxophone and piano by Natalie Draper. Additionally, he presented modern works in recital with cello and clarinet in 2013. Dunlap also frequently performs transcriptions in recital, bringing new light to works by Faure, Bach and Poulenc, among others. He recently played the minuets from Bach’s First Cello Suite at a symposium hosted by Dr. Andrew Talle, who described his playing as possessing “grace and aplomb that made many cellists in attendance wish they had taken up the saxophone instead.”
During the summers of 2011 and 2012, Dunlap was a member of the Castleton Festival Orchestra, where he played under the baton of Maestro Lorin Maazel. His performance during the 2013-2013 season with the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra in Prokofiev’s Suite from Romeo and Juliet was praised for “particularly fine solo turns” (David Lindauer, The Capital). Dunlap has been a member of the Peabody Wind Ensemble since 2007, and is featured on its Naxos recording of Johan de Meij’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony, in which he plays the “Gollum” solo on soprano saxophone.
Dunlap earned his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in saxophone performance from The Peabody Institute in Baltimore, where he also served as Teaching Assistant to the studio of Gary Louie. At Peabody, Mr. Dunlap received coaching from Phillip Kolker, Dr. Harlan Parker, Joe Burgstaller, David Fedderly, Roger Brunyate and Phyllis Bryn-Julson. Dunlap also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Neuroscience from The Johns Hopkins University and presented his fMRI research project, Neural Correlates of Musical Scale Perception, at the Midwinter Conference of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology.
Choo Choo Hu
Pianist Choo Choo Hu has quickly become recognized as one of the most versatile musicians of her generation. Praised by The Bethlehem Morning Call as “one of the finest musicians I’ve ever heard…her technique was as solid and smooth as could be wished…in addition, she managed to bring out the richness of Schubert’s music with impeccable phrasing and tempi.”
Born in China and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Choo Choo began taking lessons at the age of five with pianist John (Yiqiang) Sun. By the time she was sixteen she had already accumulated top prizes at competitions throughout the country such as the Missouri Southern International Piano Competition, the Biennial Lee Competition, the Washington University Young Artists Concerto Competition, and the St. Louis Symphony Youth Concerto Competition. At age seventeen she enrolled at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in piano performance, studying with renowned musicians Brian Ganz and Leon Fleisher. While at Peabody, Choo Choo was the recipient of the Albert and Rosa Silverman Memorial Scholarship, the Yale Gordon Chamber Music Fellowship, and the Grace Clagett Ranney Prize in Chamber Music.
Choo Choo has performed across the United States from New York to Los Angeles and a host of places in between, as well as in parts of Europe and Asia. Although she enjoys an active career as a soloist, Choo Choo is also a passionate chamber musician. She has worked with members of the Brentano, Tokyo, and Jupiter String Quartets. Recent performances include collaborations with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, musicians of the Baltimore Symphony, the JHU Choral Society, and appearances at the Strathmore Mansion, the TEDx MidAtlantic Conference, and TEDMED 2013 at the Kennedy Center. An avid proponent of contemporary music, Choo Choo is a member of the Sonar New Music Ensemble, a Baltimore-based group dedicated to promoting music written within the last century and premiering works by up-and-coming young composers.
During moments of leisure, Choo Choo can often be found reading, running, eating delicious vegetarian cuisine, and dabbling in food activism.
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
3 Romances, Op. 94
- I. Nicht schnell
- II. Einfach, innig
- III. Nicht schnell
Manuel De Falla (1876-1946)
Siete Canciones Populares Españolas
- I. El Paño Moruno
- II. Seguidilla Murciana
- III. Asturiana
- IV. Jota
- V. Nana
- VI. Canción
- VII. Polo
As an adolescent, Manuel de Falla, of Spain, became acquainted with the music of Edvard Grieg, and surprisingly, its strong Norwegian character inspired in him “an intense desire to create one day something similar with Spanish music.” However, after studying in Paris, he became so enamored with French culture he almost settled there permanently. Only the outbreak of World War I in August 1914 sent him back to Madrid in neutral Spain.
In his suitcase was a vocal work based on Spanish folksongs he had completed in Paris: Siete canciones populares españolas (Seven Popular Spanish Songs). It was the response to one of the singers in a production of his opera La Vida Breve at the Opéra Comique asking for advice about which Spanish songs she should choose for a concert. Drawing on already published collections of folksongs, de Falla chose to follow some of his folk melodies very closely (“El paño moruno” or “The Moorish Cloth,” “Nana,” and “Canción”) while in other cases (“Polo” and “Jota”) the original tunes became springboards for his own invention. To them he added superb piano accompaniments ranging from the impressionistic sensitivity of “Asturiana” to the flamenco passion of “Polo.”
Coming from the southern province of Murcia, “El paño moruno” (“The Moorish Cloth”) laments that a store’s fine length of cloth has become stained and now will sell for a lesser price. Also from Murcia, “Seguidilla murciana” warns that those who live under a roof of glass should not throw stones and decries the inconstancy of a lover who is like a coin that passes from hand to hand. The beautiful “Asturiana” is a lament from the northern Spanish province that gives the song its name; the singer who weeps beneath a green pine tree finds that it also weeps in sympathy. “Jota” is in the style of a traditional couples dance from Aragón and sings of clandestine love: “They say we don’t love each other/ because they never see us talking/ but they only have to ask/ both your heart and mine.” From Andalusia comes the gentle lullaby “Nana.” Rejected love is the theme of the last two songs. In the words of “Canción” (“Song”): “Because your eyes are traitors/I will hide from them … They say they don’t love me/ and yet once they did love me.” De Falla pulls out all the stops for “Polo,” a song in the Andalusian flamenco idiom: “Wretched is love … And he who made me understand it! Ay!”
Notes by Janet E. Bedell, copyright 2013
Ned Rorem (b. 1923)
Picnic on the Marne
- I. Driving From Paris
- II. A Bend In The River
- III. Bal Musette
- IV. Vermouth
- V. A Tense Discussion
- VI. Making Up
- VII. The Ride Back To Town