A program of cityscapes by cosmopolitan composers and a night of sophistication and big-city swagger, as Bill Eddins is joined by superb Canadian soloists. From movie scores to a Prokofiev concerto, this is a night of uptown masterpieces. YYYY/MM/DD
Enmax Hall, Winspear Centre
William Eddins, conductor (pictured)
André Laplante, piano
P.J. Perry, saxophone
This performance is available as part of a six-concert Masters Applause subscription starting at just $156. Single tickets are available beginning Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at 10am.
A program of cityscapes by cosmopolitan composers and a night of sophistication and big-city swagger, as Bill Eddins is joined by superb Canadian soloists. From movie scores to a Prokofiev concerto, this is a night of uptown masterpieces.
Bernstein – On the Waterfront: Suite
Prokofiev – Piano Concerto No. 3
Ives – Central Park in the Dark
Herrmann – Taxi Driver
Carpenter – Skyscrapers
Arrive early for Symphony Prelude, an in-depth presentation about musical works to help make the most of your concert experience, starting at 7 pm in the Upper Circle (Third Level) Lobby, free to all ticket holders.
$79 Dress Circle (A)
$69 Terrace (B)
$59 Orchestra (C)
$39 Upper Circle (D)
$29 Gallery (E)
Tickets subject to applicable service charges.
JOHN ALDEN CARPENTER
Skyscrapers – A Ballet of Modern American Life (16’)*
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Opus 26 (28’)*
Andante - Allegro
Tema con variazione
Allegro ma non troppo
Central Park in the Dark (7’)*
Taxi Driver – A Night Piece (Arranged by Christopher Palmer) (8’)*
On the Waterfront: Symphonic Suite (23’)*
*indicates approximate performance duration
Program subject to change
Skyscrapers – A Ballet of Modern American Life
John Alden Carpenter
(b. Park Ridge, Illinois, 1876 / d. Chicago, 1951)
First performed: February 1926 in New York
This is the ESO premiere of any work by John Alden Carpenter
John Alden Carpenter was more highly regarded during his lifetime than in posterity. He received, among other honours, the French Legion of Honour in 1921, and the Gold Medal of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1947, while today he is chiefly remembered as having written one of the first orchestral scores with the word “jazz” in the title (his ballet based on the comic strip, Krazy Kat: A Jazz Pantomime), and for the music we will hear tonight.
Skyscrapers premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, but has at least as much to do with the skyline of his hometown of Chicago as it does New York. In the 1920s, Chicago was the “city of skyscrapers,” as many were constructed during this time. Carpenter originally conceived a different scenario for his score, which he hoped would be staged by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets russes in France. But Diaghilev declined, and the work’s subject matter also changed. Nevertheless, Stravinsky’s ballets for Diaghilev were certainly an influence on Carpenter.
The original ballet score calls for a chorus, and it is noteworthy that the work’s Met premiere featured the first appearance of African-American singers at a production there. While the reception accorded the work at both its American and European premieres was enthusiastic, it achieved even more celebrity when it was banned by the Nazis as “undesirable” in 1938. Musicologist Tim Mahon has said, “Skyscrapers remains an icon of 1920s urban Americana and a classic example of the ‘machinist’ compositional aesthetic that enjoyed currency in the early part of the twentieth century. “
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op.26
(b. Sontsovka, 1891 / d. Moscow, 1953)
First performed: December 16, 1921 in Chicago
Last ESO performance: December 2006
Prokofiev’s most popular concerto was begun in Russia and finished in France – and the influence of both of these contrasting environments is obvious. Coupled to the Russian folk-flavoured themes that dominate the melodic material, particularly of the two outer movements, is a wit, sparkle, and urbanity that was the hallmark of music in Paris at the time.
Prokofiev’s First Piano Concerto was a student work, but enough of a cause celebre that he re-presented it as his farewell to the Conservatory. By contrast, his icier Second Concerto, in which the piano was aggressively to the forefront, proved unsuccessful at its 1913 premiere. His third, therefore, was a bit of a tactical retreat, composed in a conventional three-movement format, and with a much more equal role for the orchestra.
The lyrical opening, on clarinet and strings, is interrupted by the exuberant piano’s own take on the opening material. The second theme is much more “modern” less folk-like, with cross-hand piano passages, all leading to an orchestral statement of the opening clarinet theme. The recapitulation involves piano re-statements of both of these main themes, and the movement ends bitingly.
The second movement is a theme followed by five variations and a concluding section. The main theme is presented first as a slow-paced procession in gavotte rhythm, the variations which follow span a gamut of pace and drama, though a sense of cheeky sarcasm seems always present. The finale is, in Prokofiev’s own words, “an argument” between the soloist and the orchestra, with an opening orchestral theme in the concerto’s home key relative minor, interrupted by a contrasting idea from the piano. A slower idea is also introduced, shunted aside as the “argument” takes over, in increasingly virtuosic piano, building to an extensive and brilliant coda.
Central Park in the Dark
(b. Danbury, Connecticut, 1874 / d. New York, 1954)
First “official” performance: May 11, 1946 at Columbia University, New York
Last ESO performance: March 2007
As a man, Charles Ives was a conservative to the point of closed-minded intolerance. Yet his music was so radically progressive – even if he didn’t feel it was – that it is still regarded as decidedly "modern," one hundred years later. He loved piling disparate sounds on top of each other – as a boy, he was fascinated by events such as the simultaneous sound of two parade bands playing at the same time – and that amalgam of sound featured into a lot of his orchestral works – including tonight’s, to a certain extent. Central Park in the Dark was written in 1906, but describes a time even before that. It was one of two pieces Ives wrote that summer, and he eventually grouped them together with a title that lasts about as long as the actual pieces. He called them: Two Contemplations: A Contemplation of a Serious Matter, or The Unanswered Perennial Question; and A Contemplation of Nothing Serious, or Central Park in the Dark in The Good Old Summertime. The first piece has become known more popularly as The Unanswered Question, and the second as simply Central Park in the Dark.
But its full descriptor gives a better sense of what we’ll be hearing. The piece harkens back to Ives’ bachelor days as a young man in New York, back to the 1870s, a musical “photograph,” if you will, of a hot, humid Manhattan night. The first few minutes are very moody, unsettled – it creates the atmosphere of the whole work. About 3 and a half minutes in there is a piano, but its notes are unsure, as if the distance between listener and piano makes it hard to discern a tune. At the same time, the restlessness grows in the orchestra. Another minute in, another piano “from a nearby window” sort of thing, and you hear quite plainly the song "Hello Ma Baby." As if passers-by are taken with it, instruments in the orchestra play it too, like people on the street whistling a hit tune.
The work’s climax comes when a horse breaks loose from its hansom cab, heard in the drums as the cab crashes – then we’re very suddenly cast back to the moody night, and the work fades away to silence.
Taxi Driver – A Night Piece (arr. Palmer)
(b. New York, 1911 / d. Los Angeles, 1975)
The movie premiered on February 8, 1976
This is the ESO premiere of the piece
Bernard Herrmann, the legendary film composer who, among his nearly 90 film-scoring credits, had set so many Hitchcock films alight with his superbly apt scores, thought that his best days were behind him by the early 1970s. So he was extremely surprised when director Martin Scorsese insisted that Herrmann was the only man he had even considered to create the music for his bleak vision of urban alienation and mental breakdown, Taxi Driver. “New York gothic,” was how Scorsese described the film, and Herrmann crafted distinct soundscapes for each scene of the film. Christopher Palmer, who assisted the now-ailing composer, later arranged some of the music into a concert suite.
The Prelude’s uncertain mood matches the night mists which are our first images of the city. The music becomes increasingly brittle and removed from reality, matching the devolving mental state of the film’s protagonist, Travis Bickle (played by Robert DeNiro). Over it all, a solo saxophone captures Bickle’s last fragments of contact with humanity and longing with its haunting, ultimately forlorn music. Herrmann was not well when he travelled from London to Los Angeles to conduct the recording. He finished the work on December 23, 1975 – and died in his sleep that night. The movie’s credits contain the following title card: “Our gratitude and respect, Bernard Herrmann, June 29, 1911 – December 24, 1975.”
On the Waterfront: Symphonic Suite
(b. Lawrence, Massachusetts, 1918 / d. New York, 1990)
The movie premiered on July 28, 1954
Last ESO performance of the suite: January 1992
Leonard Bernstein was a prolific composer for the concert hall. Yet many of the works which have become staples are rooted in his many other works written for the stage, or the screen. The suite he compiled from the music he wrote for Elia Kazan’s classic 1954 film On the Waterfront is, in some ways, an exception. Unlike, for example, his overture to Candide, or the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, which are filled with familiar melodies, tonight’s suite deliberately contains music that was not heard in the film.
On the Waterfront, of course, was not a musical, and when it was released, Bernstein was only 36, and still making a name for himself. The film would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, and while it was nominated, Bernstein’s score did not win. But it was an important step up in his growing career.
But the suite Bernstein arranged for concert performance was done, he said, “so salvage some of the music that would otherwise have been left on the floor of the dubbing-room.” Bernstein wrote a lot of music that did not end up in the film’s final version, but he liked it well enough to ensure it a place in his catalog. The music unfolds with no breaks in it, beginning with a melodic main theme, followed by a “barbaric-tinged” section dominated by percussion. A “love theme,” of sorts, is next. Then, a pseudo-Scherzo bridges to a Finale which calls to mind the opening theme once more.
Program notes © 2017 by D.T. Baker
Virtuoso pianist André Laplante garnered international attention after winning prizes at the Geneva and Sydney International Piano Competitions, then capturing the silver medal at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. In 2005, Laplante was honored to be named an Officer of the Order of Canada. That same year, he was awarded the Prix Opus for Best Performer of the Year. He has received two Opus Awards for live performances (1999): "Best Concert in Montréal" and "Best Concert in Québec Province." And In 2010, another Prix Opus, this time for Best Concert of the Year.
Laplante has appeared as orchestral soloist with the Montréal, Toronto, Québec, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver, Chicago, Columbus and México City symphonies, with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Club Musical de Québec, Dewan Filharmonik Petronas in Malaysia, with orchestra and quartet in an all-French Festival with the Buffalo Philharmonic, with the Czech Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, with the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Sir Neville Mariner, and with the Royal Philharmonic and the late Sir Yehudi Menuhin. Recent seasons included a major concert tour of China, recital tours of the Far East, Australia and North America, and appearances at major international music festivals.
Laplante's recordings on the Analekta label include works by Ravel and Rachmaninov, an award-winning Brahms album (Félix 1996), and a Liszt recording (Félix 1995) which was voted best solo classical album of the year by the Toronto Star. He has also recorded for CBC and Melodia: his performance of Jacques Hétu's Piano Concerto No. 2 for CBC Records won the 2004 Juno award for orchestral recordings, as well as the Western Canadian Music Award. His recording of Tchaikovsky No. 1 with Joav Talmi and l'Orchestre Symphonique de Québec was nominated for the 2001 Felix Award; and in 2010 his recording of Liszt's Années de Pèlerinage was awarded a Felix Award for Best Classical Solo Album of the Year.
P.J. Perry, who turned 75 this past December, has shared the stage with countless jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Shaw, Michel LeGrand, Pepper Adams, Kenny Wheeler, Tom Harrell, Rob McConnell, Slide Hampton, Herb Spanier, Bobby Shew, Fraser McPherson, Tommy Banks, Joe LaBarbera, Clarence “Big” Miller, Red Rodney, and many more. Recently made a member of the Order of Canada, he was a featured soloist on the hit 2010 Broadway production of Come Fly Away, highlighting the songs of Frank Sinatra and the choreography of Twyla Tharpe. In 2007 P.J. was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Alberta. In autumn 1999 Justin Time Records released a Juno nominated recording of P.J. and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. P.J. Perry has become recognized by critics, colleagues and listeners as being one of North America’s premier saxophonists.
Winner of a 1993 Juno Award for Best Jazz Recording for his album My Ideal, P.J. has received Jazz Report magazine’s Critic’s Choice Award for Best Alto Sax for a record seven years from 1993 to 1999. P.J. continues to record, and perform at clubs across the country. He has also performed with the Edmonton Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony, Saskatoon Symphony, Kamloops Symphony, Hamilton Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony, Kitchener-Waterloo, and the Vancouver Island Symphony.
Mr. Perry last appeared as a soloist with the ESO in November 2014, although he is frequently engaged as an extra musician for ESO performances.
Enmax Hall, Winspear Centre
#4 Sir Winston Churchill Square
The Francis Winspear Centre for Music is on the corner of 102nd Avenue and 99th Street, in the heart of The Arts District in downtown Edmonton. It is readily accessible by car, Edmonton Transit (bus and LRT), and the Pedway system.
The City of Edmonton provides over 1500 convenient parking stalls within a 5-minute walk from Winspear Centre, The Citadel Theatre and Shaw Conference Centre. The Library, Canada Place and City Hall Parkades provide heated underground parking with pedway connections to the event venues. Parking is also available at on-street meters in the vicinity.
Nearly every level of the Winspear Centre is able to accommodate patrons with wheelchairs. Please advise our Box Office staff when you purchase your tickets that access to wheelchair seating will be necessary.
The Winspear Centre can provide an assistive listening device if you require one. Please visit the concierge desk in the main lobby.
Dining Near the Winspear
The Winspear Centre's downtown location is ideally situated for some of the best dining experiences Edmonton has to offer. Whether you're seeking dinner before the show or a late night treat after, you can find it at one of these restaurants located within a few blocks of the Winspear Centre.
At the Event
What to Wear
For some, an event at a world-class facility like the Winspear Centre is a great excuse to dress to the nines. But it’s hardly necessary. If that’s your style – go for it! If it’s not – hey, you paid for the ticket, so do what makes you feel comfortable. You’ll see a wide range of dress, from casual to pretty classy, depending on the kind of event it is. Business casual is probably a great middle ground for most Edmonton Symphony Orchestra concerts.
Perfume & Scents
In consideration to your fellow patrons who may have sensitivities or allergies to scented products, we ask that you use such products with great discretion. If, as a patron, you experience difficulty due to another patron’s use of fragrance, please alert our front of house staff, who will do everything possible to accommodate you.
Food & Beverage
The Winspear Centre has a number of stations in operation pre-show and during intermission. Bars, coffee bars, dessert stations and a martini bar are waiting for you. A good bet for intermission is to pre-order your drink before the show, and it will be waiting for you, so you can avoid lining up during the break.
Click here for more information on planning your experience.