February 23 & 24, 2013
Robert Franz, conductor
Emily Newton, soprano
Michele Detwiler, mezzo soprano
Christopher Bengochea, tenor
Boise Philharmonic Master Chorale
College of Idaho Chorale
Northwest Nazarene University Chorale
Ludwig van Beethoven- Symphony No. 1
Ludwig van Beethoven- Symphony No. 9 "Choral"
Sunday, February 24, 2:00 pm
Tickets available at the door starting at 12:30 on the day of the concert!
Praised for her “full voice and striking presence” soprano Emily Newton has been a member of the Metropolitan Opera since 2010. Described as “able to coordinate beautiful, flexible and authoritative singing while projecting vulnerability and youthful emotion,” she has performed a wide range of operatic and concert repertoire. In the upcoming season she will be heard as Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s Macbeth at Opera in the Heights as well as in recital at Ithaca College. In 2013 she will return to the Met to cover Ortlinde in Die Walküre. Last season Ms. Newton was heard as Mimi in La Bohème with Amarillo Opera, as well as both Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte and the title role of Anna Bolena with Opera in the Heights. She covered both Ortlinde and Emma in Khovanschina at the Met during the 2011-2012 season.
Recent appearances include Micaëla in Carmen at Opera Saratoga, Mimì in a concert performance of La bohème with Sherman Symphony and Elisabetta in Don Carlo with Opera in the Heights. Critics celebrated her company and role debut as Elisabetta, calling her a “real beauty, and absolute revelation as Elizabeth, a true Verdian soprano with effortless power, control and radiant tone.”
As a charter member of the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute at the North Carolina School of the Arts, Ms. Newton received her Professional Artist Certificate and Masters Degree as a Fletcher Fellow. She completed her Bachelor of Music degree at University of North Texas, where she also studied Jazz Arranging, Saxophone, Flute and Clarinet and was a member of the Division IA Women’s Swim Team.
In competition she has won awards from the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, the Connecticut Opera Guild Competition, the Marcella Sembrich Competition, as well as the Oratorio Society of New York Solo Competition. Emily Newton was a winner of the New York District Met Competition in 2006.
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Since 2000, Ms. Detwiler has sung nearly two dozen roles with regional
companies on the West Coast, favoring Mahler, Strauss, Bel Canto and French
repertoire. Critics have described her instrument as "amber-voiced", "a velvety
mezzo soprano voice with excellent range", with performances being cited as
"riveting" and holding "center stage commandingly".
This past season found her debuting with Opera Coeur d’Alene as Siebel (Faust), with Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra as Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), with Stockton Opera as Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi, and with Seattle’s Sunset Club for a King and I Gala. Recently, the mezzo returned to Opera Idaho for her first Augusta (The Ballad of Baby Doe), where she was Artist-in-Residence for the 11-12 season, and to the Boise Philharmonic as Soloist in Mahler’s Second Symphony and Gershwin: Picnic at the Pops. So far in the 2012-2013 season, she will sing with the Boise Baroque and Boise Philharmonic in Bach’s Magnificat and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
The mezzo has sung with Sacramento Opera, Opera Idaho, Livermore Valley Opera, West Bay Opera, Trinity Lyric Opera, San Francisco Lyric Opera, Mission City Opera, Apollo Sierra Opera, the Boise Philharmonic, Auburn Symphony, the Boise Master Chorale, and Symphony Silicon Valley.
Currently, Ms. Detwiler resides in Boise, Idaho with her husband, baritone Jason Detwiler, and their two children.
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The critically acclaimed and prize winning international opera tenor, Christopher Bengochea, is quickly being sought after by opera houses, concert venues, and audiences alike. Mr. Bengochea has been heralded as having “power, sure intonation, and fine diction that come in a package tied with a ribbon of ‘natural sound.’ Tenor, Christopher Bengochea has delighted audiences with his unique combination of vocal and dramatic interpretations in performances ranging from oratorio to opera. It is a unique, broadly-projected “wide” sound that can serve lyrical or heroic music equally well.”
Bengochea’s operatic repertoire embraces a wide range of roles, including Ruggero in La Rondine, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana, Erik in Alva Henderson’s Nosferatu, and Cavarodossi in Tosca. Companies with which he has performed include: Opera San Jose, Atlanta Opera, Opera Idaho, Opera Canada, da Corneto Opera, Center City Opera, Opera Company Brooklyn, Jarvis Conservatory, Intermountain Opera, Townsend Opera, Rimrock Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Pacific Repertory Opera, Livermore Valley Opera, West Bay Opera, Teatro Felice, Caramoor Opera, and the Tigulio Festival Opera, Stockton Opera Association, Opera Santa Barbara. At home on both the operatic and concert stages, he was heard as the tenor soloist in Verdi’s messa da Requiem for the Modesto Symphony and the Symphony Silicon Valley.
This Basque American tenor began his musical career as a pianist then moved into the study of opera during his time at Montana State University and later the University of Montana. After becoming an award winner at the Northwest Regional Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and winning third prize at the Internationale Societa Concertistica Vocal Competition in Santa Margherita-Ligure, Italy, he decided to pursue singing entirely. It was in Italy where Bengochea had the opportunity to study and work with renowned tenor, Gianni Raimondi who described Bengochea as “having a voice most brilliant and romantic: that will become very important in the future of opera”.
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Hailed by Opera News for his "vividly flavored vocalism" and "tall and commanding" presence, Derrick Parker's engagements in the 2011-12 season include his first performances of Banquo in Macbeth with Anchorage Opera and Mephistopheles in Faust as a guest artist at the University of Denver. Also in this and coming seasons, he returns to the Baltimore Symphony for a solo concert program commemorating July 4th and to the Memphis Symphony Orchestra to reprise Handel's Messiah as well as sings Porgy in Porgy and Bess with Marin Alsop conducting performances of the Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de Sao Paulo. Last season he sang Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera Africa as well as performances of Tippett's A Child of Our Time in a return to the Utah Symphony, Handel's Messiah with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and Bach's Mass in B minor with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir. He also returned to Houston Grand Opera for their production of Lucia di Lammermoor.
He recently sang his first performances of Haydn's Creation with Robert Spano conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Also on stage, he has previously sung A Child of Our Time with the Santa Rosa Symphony and Jeffrey Kahane and with the Santa Cruz Symphony. He has joined both the Dallas Symphony and Pacific Symphony for Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, Utah Symphony for Mozart's Requiem and Bernstein's Mass, Evansville Philharmonic for Shostakovich's Symphony No. 13, Rochester Philharmonic for Bach's Magnificat and a concert of Gilbert & Sullivan highlights, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop as well as Poland's Sinfonia Cracovia for Gershwin's Porgy & Bess Suite, Santa Barbara Symphony for Haydn's Paukenmesse, New Choral Society for Beethoven's Missa solemnis and Bach's Mass in B minor, and both the National Symphony Orchestra and Houston Symphony for concerts of opera favorites.
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Ludwig Van Beethoven | December 16, 1770 – March 26, 1827
Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21
Symphony No. 9
To 21st Century ears, Beethoven’s First Symphony sounds like something that could have been written by Joseph Haydn, Beethoven’s teacher. By 1800, the year of Beethoven’s maiden effort, Haydn had perfected the four movement classical genre with its widely-copied patterns and conventions, amassing 104 symphonies to his credit. We now know him as the “father of the symphony,” and his music was received with universal acclaim. Who could fault Beethoven for emulating the revered master?
Yet, the reaction of Beethoven’s audience was hardly laudatory. One person at the premiere complained about “the most barbaric dissonances and a noisy use of all the orchestral instruments. . . . Alas, the ear is stabbed, but there is no appeal to the heart.” Another lamented the “confused explosions of the outrageous effrontery of a young man.” A critic called the piece “a danger to musical art.”
What explains the critical reception of this piece? The answer lies in Beethoven’s off-beat innovations to Haydn’s formula.
Four examples suffice to highlight Beethoven’s fresh and unconventional excursions outside Haydn’s comfortable envelope. First, the very opening of the music. Although the symphony is in C major, Beethoven starts off-key with unusual dissonances in the key of F. No one starts a symphony with harmonic ambiguity, tension, and instability, but he did. The first 12 measures are a mystery, but if you listen carefully, they foreshadow the themes to come. To quote Donald Tovey, this was the beginning of Beethoven’s “fitting farewell to the 18th Century,” and to the niceties of classicism. By the third movement, the revolution is in full revolt.
Ordinarily, the third movement of a classical symphony was a courtly minuet, the favorite dance of kings and queens. Not with Beethoven. He jettisons the elegant style and writes the first “scherzo,” or “joke” in history. He double times the tempo and laces it with syncopated accented beats that make it impossible to dance. So much for the royals and their preening friends. Robert Greenberg calls this movement a “victim of Beethoven’s conviction that musical form must be used contextually, not diagnostically.”
The coup de grace then arrives at the beginning of the fourth movement when Beethoven gleefully plays with incomplete scales in a display of his wit and good humor. Then, he explodes with a joyous romp.
George Grove said of this symphony that it was the farthest point Beethoven could go in the classical tradition “before he burst into that wonderful new region into which no man had before penetrated, of which no man had ever dreamed, but which is now one of our dearest possessions and will always be known by his immortal name.” Pairing the First with the Ninth shows how far Beethoven traveled during his musical life.
As Beethoven matured, his music began to manifest the travails his life’s journey, including his descent into total deafness, a stressful five-year battle in the courts over the custody of his teenage nephew Karl, and repeated failures to form a lasting relationship with a woman who was not already married to someone else.
“To be, or not to be,” that was the Shakespearian question forced upon Beethoven at a young age by his progressive loss of hearing. For Beethoven’s answer, listen to any of his symphonies. He embraced the battle. His music is life affirming, exploding with energy and joy. His unflinching resolve to live his life by design, not by default marks every one of his symphonic compositions. No other music ever written is more inspirational.
From these trying circumstances, his music begins to take on a refined quality, one concerned with a better world. In his earlier Third and Fifth Symphonies, written between 1803 and 1808, Beethoven wrote about himself, about fate knocking at his door. But in the Ninth Symphony, finished three years before his death, he writes music not about his own fate, but about the fate of humanity. His reference is elevated from the personal to the universal, from the subjective to the metaphysical.
In the Ninth, Beethoven transforms the symphony into an act of transcendent philosophy, ending in the final movement with joy in the embrace of brotherhood, and awe in the presence of the Creator of the Universe.
Beethoven wrote this Symphony in narrative form, intending his music from the first movement to the last note to tell a story, a spiritual story of birth, struggle, retreat, and finally glorious rebirth.
The first movement begins in tonal ambiguity and reflects despair and the desperate condition of mankind. “In the beginning, there was chaos.” The ambiguity dissolves immediately into the key of D minor, the key of angst and pain. As the movement progresses, however, the music moves inexorably toward the key of D major, a bright key reflecting optimism.
The second movement, a Scherzo, depicts a somewhat frantic and distracted search for worldly happiness. The music is pure energy.
The third movement is a sublimely serene song that represents a retreat, a sort of calm resignation -- a noble acceptance of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
The fourth movement abruptly destroys the harmony of the third movement with what Wagner called “a fanfare of terror,” and then one by one, the music quotes, recapitulates, and rejects the thematic essence of the first, second, and third movements as insufficient answers, only to have the terror fanfare return. Then, a human voice -- the first human voice to be heard -- announces in Beethoven’s words, “Oh friends! Not these sounds! But let us strike up sounds more pleasant and joyful.”
The remainder of this colossal movement is the instrumental and vocal celebration -- in the form of an immense theme and variations -- of Johann Schiller’s poem “Ode to Joy,” the last two stanzas of which of which read,
Embrace each other now, you millions!
This kiss is for the whole wide world!
Brothers – above the starry firmament
A beloved Father must surely dwell.
Do you come crashing down, you millions?
Do you sense the Creator’s presence, world?
Seek Him above the starry firmament,
For above the stars he surely dwells.
This jubilant humanitarian declaration, of course, is a return to Eden. The choir singing with the orchestra is a symbol of this utopian message. Despair and pessimism are banished.
Beethoven passed away on March 26, 1827, fittingly during a thunderstorm. According to witnesses, his last words spoken in Latin: “Plaudite, amici, comoedia finita est” – “Applaud, friends, the play is over.” The voice of Beethoven the man may have fallen silent, but the immortal voice of Beethoven the inspiring philosopher and composer lives on.
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 was first performed by the Boise Philharmonic on November 1, 1977.
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 was first performed by the Boise Philharmonic on April 22, 1964. It was most recently performed on November 19, 2005.