Friday, March 15, 2019 | Regent University, Virginia Beach | 8PM

Saturday, March 16, 2019 | Crosswalk Church, Williamsburg | 8PM

This concert is a celebration of innovation, examining works in which each composer borrows classic forms and makes them new. The concert opens with Brahms’ Variations on a Theme of Haydn – often said to be the first independent set of variations for orchestra in the history of music. The concert then shifts to Mozart’s lovely Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra, featuring VSO principal musicians Debra Wendells Cross and Barbara Chapman. The second half opens with Puccini’s dark-hued, melodic Chrysanthemums. We close with Stravinsky’s neoclassical masterpiece, Pulcinella. This suite is from a one-act ballet with original costumes and sets designed by Pablo Picasso.

JoAnn Falletta , conductor
Debra Wendells Cross , flute
Barbara Chapman , harp

Brahms : Variations on a Theme of Haydn
Mozart : Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra K. 299
Puccini : Chrysanthemums
Stravinsky : Pulcinella Suite

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Joanne Falletta, Music Director, Conductor - Virginia Symphony OrchestraJoAnn Falletta

Music Director

JoAnn Falletta is internationally celebrated as a vibrant ambassador for music, an inspiring artistic leader, and a champion of American symphonic music. An effervescent and exuberant figure on the podium, she has been praised by The Washington Post as having “Toscanini’s tight control over ensemble, Walter’s affectionate balancing of inner voices, Stokowski’s gutsy showmanship, and a controlled frenzy worthy of Bernstein.” Acclaimed by The New York Times as “one of the finest conductors of her generation”, she serves as the Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Center and music advisor to the Hawaii Symphony.

Ms. Falletta is invited to guest conduct many of the world’s finest symphony orchestras. Recent guest conducting highlights include debuts in Belgrade, Gothenburg, Lima, Bogotá, Helsingborg, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, a European tour with the Stuttgart Orchestra, return engagements with the Warsaw, Detroit, Phoenix, and Krakow Symphony Orchestras and a 13 city US tour with the Irish Chamber Orchestra with James Galway.

She has guest conducted over a hundred orchestras in North America, and many of the most prominent orchestras in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. Her North America guest conducting appearances have included the orchestras of Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Seattle, San Diego, Montreal, Toronto and the National Symphony and international appearances have included the London Symphony, Czech Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Korean Broadcast Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, China National Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, Liverpool Philharmonic, Manchester BBC Philharmonic, Scottish BBC orchestra, Orchestra National de Lyon and Mannheim Orchestra among others. Ms. Falletta’s summer activities have taken her to numerous music festivals including Aspen, Tanglewood, the Hollywood Bowl, Wolf Trap, Mann Center, Meadow Brook, OK Mozart Festival, Grand Teton, Eastern, Peninsula and Brevard Festival.

Falletta is the recipient of many of the most prestigious conducting awards including the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award, the coveted Stokowski Competition, and the Toscanini, Ditson and Bruno Walter Awards for conducting, as well as the American Symphony Orchestra League’s prestigious John S. Edwards Award. She is an ardent champion of music of our time, introducing over 500 works by American composers, including more than 110 world premieres. Hailing her as a “leading force for the music of our time”, she has been honored with twelve ASCAP awards. Ms. Falletta served as a Member of the National Council on the Arts during both the George W Bush and Obama administrations.

Under Falletta’s direction, the VSO has risen to celebrated artistic heights. The VSO, which made critically acclaimed debuts at the Kennedy Center and New York’s Carnegie Hall under Falletta and entered into their first multinational recording agreement with Naxos, performs classics, pops and family concert series in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News and Williamsburg.

In addition to her current posts with the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Virginia Symphony, Brevard Music Center and Hawaii Symphony, Ms. Falletta has held the positions of principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Phoenix Symphony, music director of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, associate conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and music director of the Denver Chamber Orchestra.

Ms. Falletta received her undergraduate degree from the Mannes College of Music in New York and her master’s and doctorate degrees from The Juilliard School.

JoAnn Falletta on NPR | The Innovative Mosaic Of American Symphonies

Debra Wendells Cross, Principal Flute

Debra Wendells Cross has held the position of Principal Flute in the Virginia Symphony and Virginia Opera, and made Norfolk her home since 1980.  The Seattle native graduated with honors from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she studied with Boston Symphony member James Pappoutsakis.  From there she went on to study with Michel Debost in Paris, France under the auspices of the Harriet Hale Woolly Scholarship.

Ms. Cross serves on the faculty of Old Dominion University, and for many summers was Principal Flutist of the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina. She spent the 2004-2005 season as interim Principal Flutist of the Buffalo Philharmonic. She has participated in many other festivals including Tanglewood, the Colorado Philharmonic, the Music Academy of the West, the Skaneateles Festival, and the Virginia Arts Festival. She is a founding member of The Virginia Chamber Players, a chamber music group that has released several recordings of the works of American composers, and has been broadcast on NPR's Performance Today.

With the Virginia Symphony's Principal Harpist, Barbara Chapman, she recorded American Mosaics for Flute and Harp, a Christmas CD entitled Love’s Pure Light, and a lullaby CD called Dream Sweet Dreams.  She can also be heard with JoAnn Falletta and Robert Allemany on a two recordings of chamber music entitled Schubert’s Guitar and Borrowed Treasures, and with the Miami String Quartet on a Musical Heritage Society recording of two Mozart Quartets. Her solo appearances with the Virginia Symphony include Mozart's Concerto in G, Mozart's Flute and Harp Concerto, the Faure Fantasy, Halil by Leonard Bernstein, and the Flute Concertos of Carl Nielsen, and Lowell Lieberman.

Ms. Cross is interested in musical research and has prepared several concerts of historical significance including a program called American Flute Music of the 1920's for the National Flute Association, and a chamber concert of American composers for the Jamestown 2007 Celebration. Debbie's other interests include yoga, and her Labrador Retrievers, Rusty and Charlie whom she enters in dog sports trials, and takes on pet therapy visits to nursing homes and schools. She is married to Virginia Symphony Principal Percussionist and Virginia Arts Festival Director, Robert W. Cross.

Barbara Chapman, Principal Harp

Barbara Chapman has held the position of Principal Harp for the Virginia Symphony since 1988. She has performed with the Virginia Opera since 1986 and performs regularly on the Chamber Music and Organ Swell series of the Virginia Arts Festival.  An active recitalist, she has performed on the Virginia Wesleyan and Old Dominion University Recital series, the Vocal Arts and Music Festival of Virginia Tech and as guest artist with the Virginia Chorale and the Virginia Children’s Chorus. Barbara has held the position of Principal Harp with the Glimmerglass Opera of NY, New York Grand Opera and toured the United States with the American Harp Society’s Concert Artist Program. She has performed with numerous musical theatre productions in the New York City metropolitan area and was harpist for the long-running original New York production of “The Fantasticks”.

A founding member of the Virginia Chamber Players, Ms. Chapman has performed with Catherine Cho, Paul Neubauer, Richard Stoltzman, as well as commissioned, premiered and recorded chamber music by composer, Adolphus Hailstork.  With flutist Debra Wendells Cross, she has concertized extensively, recorded 4 compact discs and has been broadcast nationally on NPR’s Performance Today.  

Ms. Chapman maintains a small private teaching studio. She has served on the faculty of The College of William and Mary and has led workshops at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and the Eastman School of Music, New York. A graduate of St. Olaf College in her home state of Minnesota, Ms. Chapman studied with Anne Adams in San Francisco and Kathleen Bride in New York City. Ms. Chapman lives in Norfolk with her husband Jonathan Miller.

Johannes Brahms was born May 7, 1833 in Hamburg, Germany. His father, Johann Jakob Brahms, was an innkeeper and a double bass musician with moderate ability. He taught his son violin and piano at an early age, and later hired Otto Cossel to tutor his sons growing piano skills. At just six years old, created his own style and method of writing music to achieve the melodies he composed. He played his first private concert at age ten.

To help his family with tight finances, Brahms gave lessons and performed at local pubs, streets, and dance halls. The constant work strained his mental and physical health, so he took an opportunity for rest by conducting a small, male choir for whom he gave his first choral compositions. He enjoyed a steady success, but after failing to achieve the recognition for his works, he returned to his hometown to continue giving inexpensive lessons and performances. 

Brahms made his name as an accomplished musician, despite wanting to compose full time. He met violinist Reményi, and they went on several successful concert tours. During which, the two acquired several introductions through violinist Joachim. Franz Liszt was highly impressed with Brahms compositions, but Brahms declined the invitation to join Liszt’s group because he disliked Liszt’s music. Reményi sent a letter to composer Schumann, praising Johannes Brahms. Schumann and Brahms enjoyed a strong friendship with each other, and Brahms stayed with the Schumann’s during the middle part of his life and career. Brahms insisted on performing his own pieces, rather than the music of any other historical or modern composer of the day.

Stubborn and uncompromising, Brahms was wholly committed to his craft. Unfortunately, he would destroy pieces he deemed unworthy, including some 20 string quartets. Even though he was a perfectionist, he never gave up on composing. Brahms wrote four Symphonies, each massive in structure and the result of long periods of work and many revisions. In addition, Brahms completed two serenades, and several other orchestral works. Many of Brahms orchestral music contains its own unique charm and enjoy enormous popularity. Brahms composed a large number of other musical pieces during his lifetime. Some two dozen pieces of chamber music has captured the attentions of musicians around the world. The composer always showed particular talent for the piano and for the compositions of variations. One such Variations on a Theme by Handel, made his name in Vienna.
After doctors discovered Johannes Brahms had cancer of the liver, his health quickly began declining. His last performance was in March, 1896 in Vienna. He died a month later, on April 3, 1897.

VSO Performances
The Virginia Symphony will be performing Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture in the Classics season during Pictures at an Exhibition, and Variations on Theme of Haydn in the Williamsburg and Regent University Classics season during performances of Classics Reborn.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born January 27 1756. Mozart was born in Salzburg to a musical family. From an early age, the young Mozart showed all the signs of a prodigious musical talent. By the age of five he could read and write music, and he would entertain people with his talents on the keyboard. By the age of six he was writing his first compositions. During his childhood, he would frequently tour various palaces around Europe playing for distinguished guests. Aged 17, he accepted a post as a court musician in Salzburg; although this did not suit him very well, the next few years were a time of prolific composition. In Vienna, he became well known and was often in demand as a composer and performer.

Mozart was generally considered to be a rare musical genius, although he was also diligent in studying other great composers such as Haydn and Bach. He composed over 600 works, including some of the most famous and loved pieces of symphonic, chamber, operatic, and choral music. In London Mozart met, among others, Johann Christian Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach’s youngest son and a leading figure in the city’s musical life, and under his influence Mozart composed his first symphonies—three survive (K 16, K 19, and K 19a—K signifying the work’s place in the catalog of Ludwig von Köchel).

Two more followed during a stay in The Hague on the return journey (K 22 and K 45a). Perhaps his best-admired work is in opera, the piano concerto, sonata, the symphony, the string quartet, and string quintet. Mozart also wrote many pieces for solo piano, other forms of chamber music, masses and other religious music, and numerous dances, divertimentos, and other forms of light entertainment.

Mozart died December 5 1791, he was one of the most influential, popular and prolific composers of the classical period.

VSO Performance
The Virginia Symphony will perform Mozart’s Symphony No. 39, Sinfonia Concertante, and Overture to The Magic Flute in the Classics season during A Mozart Celebration, and Mozart’s Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra in the Williamsburg and Regent University Classics seasons during Classics Reborn.

Puccini was the last descendant of a family that for two centuries had provided the musical directors of the Cathedral of San Martino in Lucca. Puccini initially dedicated himself to music, therefore, not as a personal vocation but as a family profession. He first studied music with two of his father’s former pupils, and he played the organ in small local churches. A performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida, which he saw in Pisa in 1876, convinced him that his true vocation was opera. In the autumn of 1880 he went to study at the Milan Conservatory, where his principal teachers were Antonio Bazzini, a famous violinist and composer of chamber music, and Amilcare Ponchielli, the composer of the opera La gioconda.

Puccini’s conception of diatonic melody is rooted in the tradition of 19th-century Italian opera, but his harmonic and orchestral style indicate that he was also aware of contemporary developments, notably the work of the Impressionists and of Stravinsky. Though he allowed the orchestra a more active role, he upheld the traditional vocal style of Italian opera, in which the singers carry the burden of the music. After the death of both parents, Puccini fled his life with a married woman, Elvira. He spent many years secluded away until her husband died. During this time, a son was born. This home was to become Puccini’s refuge from life, and he remained there until three years before his death, when he moved to Viareggio. However, living with Elvira proved difficult. Tempestuous rather than compliant, she was justifiably jealous and was not an ideal companion. Puccini was always interested in contemporary operatic compositions, Puccini studied the works of Claude Debussy, Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg, and Igor Stravinsky.

From this study emerged Il trittico (The Triptych; New York City, 1918), three stylistically individual one-act operas—the melodramatic Il tabarro (The Cloak), the sentimental Suor Angelica, and the comic Gianni Schicchi. His last opera, based on the fable of Turandot as told in the play Turandot by the 18th-century Italian dramatist Carlo Gozzi, is the only Italian opera in the Impressionistic style. Puccini did not complete Turandot, unable to write a final grand duet on the triumphant love between Turandot and Calaf. Suffering from cancer of the throat, he was ordered to Brussels for surgery, and a few days afterward he died with the incomplete score of Turandot in his hands.

Puccini died November 29, 1924, Brussels, Belgium. The Italian composer, was one of the greatest exponents of operatic realism, who virtually brought the history of Italian opera to an end. His mature operas include La Bohème (1896), Tosca (1900), Madama Butterfly (1904), and Turandot, left incomplete.

VSO Performance
The Virginia Symphony will perform Puccini’s Chrysanthemums in the Williamsburg and Regent University Classics seasons during Classics Reborn.

Igor Stravinsky was born on June 17, 1882, in Oranienbaum, Russia. He was raised in St. Petersburg by his father, a bass singer named Fyodor, and his mother, Anna, a talented pianist. Not wanting Stravinsky to follow in their footsteps, his parents persuaded him to study law after he graduated from secondary school. However, after enrolling at the University of Saint Petersburg, Stravinsky became friendly with a classmate named Vladimir Rimsky-Korsakov, whose father, Nikolai, was a celebrated composer. Stravinksy soon became Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's pupil, as he was granted the freedom to pursue his artistic career upon the death of his father in 1902.

In 1909, the founder of the Ballets Russes, Sergei Diaghilev, invited Stravinsky to orchestrate a couple of Chopin works for his ballet Les Sylphides. That, in turn, led to the commission of The Firebird; a collaboration with choreographer Michel Fokine, the ballet turned Stravinsky into a household name upon its premiere in Paris in June 1910. The outbreak of World War I forced Stravinsky to flee Russia with his family and settle in Switzerland. He dealt with his homesickness by using Russian folklore as inspiration for his work, while other compositions from this time exhibited a jazz influence.

He rose to fame in the early 1900s for his compositions for the Ballets Russes, including the controversial The Rite of Spring. Stravinsky brought his family to Switzerland and then France, continuing his output with such works as Renard and Persephone. In 1920 Stravinsky moved his family to France, where they lived for the next two decades. During that time, his notable works included a comic opera, Mavra (1922), an opera-oratorio Oedipus Rex (1927) and the "white" ballet Apollon Musagète (1928). He continued his prolific output into the 1930s, composing such works as Symphony of Psalms, Persephone, Jeu de Cartes and Concerto in E-flat. After moving to the United States in 1939, he completed his famed Symphony in C and became an American citizen. He delivered a series of lectures at Harvard University, and in 1940 he married artist and designer Vera de Bossett. Stravinsky was nearly arrested for his rearrangement of the national anthem during a performance in Boston in 1944, but otherwise he found a welcome reception in his new country.

Stravinsky died in New York City on April 6, 1971, with more than 100 works to his name. A Russian-born composer whose work had a revolutionary impact on musical thought and sensibility just before and after World War I, and whose compositions remained a touchstone of modernism for much of his long working life.

VSO Performance
The Virginia Symphony will perform Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite in the Williamsburg and Regent University Classics seasons during Classics Reborn.