Tuesday, October 13, 2015

In His Own Words: James Lee III on Piano Trio No. 2, "Temple Visions"

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The Montrose Trio’s program on Sunday, October 25 brings the first of three works newly co-commissioned by Shriver Hall Concert Series: the Piano Trio No. 2, “Temple Visions,” by James Lee III, a highly regarded young composer who is also Associate Professor of Composition and Theory at Morgan State University. Previously commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony — his Chupshah! Harriet’s Drive to Canaan was heard there in 2011 and his Thurgood’s Rhapsody is scheduled for this season — Lee has also written works for the Baltimore Choral Arts Society and the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra (Alas! Babylon’s Final Sunset premiered in March 2014). However, Lee’s music has also been performed by chamber and symphonic ensembles throughout America, including the Detroit, National, and Cincinnati symphonies and The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Raised in Benton Harbor, MI, Lee began composing at age 16 and, after studying piano at Andrews University, went on to earn three degrees in music at the University of Michigan. Two highly eclectic composers directed his graduate studies there: William Bolcom for his Master’s and Michael Daugherty for his Doctorate. Lee also studied at the Boston Symphony’s Tanglewood Institute under Osvaldo Golijov and Kaaija Saariaho and in 2003 received the Charles Ives prize for music composition from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has also been a Fulbright scholar in Brazil.

            Lee explains his new trio with these words:

            “Piano Trio No. 2, ‘Temple Visions’ is a four-movement work that serves as musical commentary on various scenes depicted in the biblical book of Revelation. The scenes portrayed are quite vivid and involve both locations in the heavens and the earth. The temple referred to is the heavenly sanctuary in the third heaven where God dwells.

            “The first movement, Internal Conflict, begins with a vigorous upward ascent in all three instruments. This title has a double meaning. First, the twelfth chapter of Revelation mentions a war in heaven between the archangel Michael, the dragon, and their respective angels. The second refers to the individual’s internal conflict with himself/herself as to whether to choose the side of Michael or the dragon. Loosely organized with hints of sonata form, this movement’s initial theme is played by all three instruments. After an energetic exchange that is quite agitated, a secondary theme is introduced by violin and piano over the cello’s ostinato-like figure. The development section utilizes primarily the first-theme material.

            Galactic Districts serves as the scherzo of the trio. This movement is lighter and more playful in nature. The title suggests various communities of intelligent beings in other worlds or galaxies. As one imagines traveling to distant galaxies, various images capture the attention, and the music of different districts produces harmonies that fly by in a whimsical manner.

            “The third movement, A City Mourned, is a musical commentary on the lament of those grieving the eventual fall and destruction of the city of Babylon (actually spiritual Babylon) as mentioned in Revelation Chapter 18. The cello opens in the Phrygian mode, but the melody is gradually modified until it is not distinguishable as being in any particular key. The violin enters with a countermelody that serves as another lament until the piano presents delicate comfort. Aggressive chords depict spiritual Babylon’s demise. The movement ends with an open fifth that expresses the void resulting from the destruction.

            “Final Resolutions has musical material that refers back to the ascending gestures of the first movement, representing the individual’s need to decide to whose side he/she will give allegiance. The rest of the movement has elements that almost appear to be in rondo form. Throughout, there are various references back to the first movement until the work ends in a more recognizable major tonality.”

Notes by James Lee III and Janet Bedell © 2015

Click Here for Tickets to The Montrose Trio Performance on October 25!


Friday, September 25, 2015

Tim Smith and Charles Downey Review Opening Night Performance with Yefim Bronfman!

Posted by: dmaloney

"Shriver Hall Concert Series has good reason to celebrate these days -- 50 years of  presenting the city with a sterling assortment of soloists and ensembles. The roster from those first five decades reads like a who's-who of classical stars. " 

-- Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun

Read the full review here!

"In the exquisite slow movements of the second and fourth sonatas, which were the best of the evening, he separated onion-thin layers of delicate voicing and produced countless gradations of gossamer-soft sound."

--Charles Downey, The Washington Post

Read the full review here!


Tuesday, July 07, 2015

SHCS Names New Director

Posted by: a.h.s. boy

SHCS is excited to announce the appointment of Catherine Cochran as our new Executive Director!  Catherine worked previously at New York City’s 92nd Street Y and brings her experience, enthusiasm, and innovation as she begins her leadership of the Series.  We’re thrilled to welcome her to Baltimore ahead of our 50th Anniversary Season.  For more information about Catherine’s appointment, read our Press Release below:



Catherine Cochran Served as Executive Producer at New York City’s Famed 92nd Street Y


BALTIMORE, July 7, 2015: The Board of Directors of Shriver Hall Concert Series—one of the nation’s preeminent classical music presenting organizations—has named Catherine Cochran as the Series’ new Executive Director, beginning July 20, 2015. 

Ms. Cochran comes to Shriver Hall from the renowned 92nd Street Y in New York City, where she served in a variety of roles over the past 14 years, most recently as Executive Producer for New Initiatives and Director of Music Programming.  Succeeding Stephen Jacobsohn, Ms. Cochran will be responsible for the artistic direction and administrative management, promotion, and continued growth of the Shriver Hall Concert Series. 

“I am thrilled and honored,” she says, “to be joining the Shriver Hall Concert Series team. As we celebrate the Series’ 50th anniversary this coming season, I look forward to furthering its remarkable record of presenting today’s most compelling artists, while deepening its engagement with Baltimore’s communities.”

“We are extremely fortunate to have attracted a new Executive Director with so many skills and such a depth of knowledge to take us to new heights,” emphasizes Geoffrey L. Greif, Chair of Shriver Hall Concert Series’ Board of Directors.

The Series marks its 50th season in 2015/16 with three specially commissioned works from composers with Baltimore connections: James Lee III, Timo Andres, and Jonathan Leshnoff. The season opens on September 20 with pianist Yefim Bronfman in recital.  



Sunday, April 26, 2015

Richard Goode Review

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"Goode delved into the eight pieces of Brahms' Op. 76 and extracted their poetry and drama to vivid effect, and did the same in Schumann's bipolar "Humoreske." The latter inspired some of the most gripping pianism of the evening, filled with wonderful nuances of dynamics and compelling turns of phrase."

See Tim Smiths full review here.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hamelin & Les Violons Review

Posted by: sjacobsohn

"Just for the record, last Sunday's program by Les Violons du Roy, the excellent Quebec-based chamber orchestra, and another notable French-Canadian, pianist Marc-André Hamelin, for the Shriver Hall Concert Series was a thorough charmer."

Read the full review here!


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