Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Presents Leonard Bernstein's ON THE TOWN, Now thru 2/1
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Associate Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong present Leonard Bernstein's On the Town today, January 31-February 1, 2014 at 8:00 p.m. at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts with soprano Georgia Jarman. The program features Bernstein's Three Dance Episodes from On the Town and On the Waterfront Symphonic Suite, Foss's Time Cycle, and Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Opus 24.
Both concerts include Meet the Music, a free, interactive pre-concert discussion held in the Anello Atrium, beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Bernstein composed the Broadway show On the Town in 1944 with playwright Adolphe Green and lyricist Betty Comden in New York City. Of the plot, Bernstein wrote: "The story of On the Town is concerned with three sailors on 24-hour leave in New York, and their adventures with the monstrous city which its inhabitants take so much for granted." The three dance episodes presented in these performances vividly portray the visceral energy of New York in the 1940s, and they were first performed in concert in San Francisco in 1946.
Foss's Time Cycle was composed in 1959-1960 and premiered in October 1960. It was written for the New York Philharmonic and is a setting of four different texts: two in English and two in German. Though the work deals with many of the serious and dark connotations of time, there are many moments of comedic reprieve. Foss, who served as music director of the MSO from 1981 through 1986, stated: "Time Cycle was the transition point between my earlier and my recent style.... I invented a form of non- jazz ensemble improvisation. It was meant to change my students; well, it changed me."
Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Opus 24 was composed in 1947 and premiered in 1948. Barber was constantly searching for the ideal text for songs and vocal compositions. In the mid-1940s, Barber encountered the writing of James Agee and was struck by the vivid yet subtle directness of Agee's prose. When the soprano Eleanor Steber approached Barber in 1947 about writing a work for soprano and
orchestra, Barber immediately chose Agee's "Knoxville: Summer of 1915" from his anthology The Partisan Review. Barber set it to music without losing the natural speech-like characteristics of the text.
Bernstein's On the Waterfront Symphonic Suite was composed in 1954 and premiered in 1960. Hollywood producer Sam Spiegel approached Leonard Bernstein about composing music for a new film starring Marlon Brando. Though Bernstein initially turned down Spiegel's offer, Bernstein changed his mind and moved to Hollywood for three months to write the music for the film On the Waterfront. It was his only foray into the film music genre. The following summer, Bernstein used the musical material for a concert suite.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Francesco Lecce-Chong, currently associate conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, is active with the orchestral and operatic repertories on the international stage. In his role with the MSO, Mr. Lecce-Chong works closely with renowned Music Director Edo de Waart and is directly responsible for leading over forty subscription, tour, education, and community concert performances annually. During the MSO's 2012.13 season, Mr. Lecce-Chong took the podium for an acclaimed gala concert with Itzhak Perlman, led the orchestra through its statewide tour of Wisconsin, and conducted a special three-week series at Milwaukee's Basilica of St. Josaphat.
A list of Mr. Lecce-Chong's international appearances include leading the Hong Kong (China), Pitesti (Romania), and Ruse (Bulgaria) philharmonics and the Sofia Festival Orchestra (Italy). Equally at ease in the opera house, Mr. Lecce-Chong has served as principal conductor for the Brooklyn Repertory Opera and as staff conductor and pianist for the Santa Fe Opera. He has earned a growing reputation and critical acclaim for dynamic, forceful performances that have garnered national distinction. Mr. Lecce- Chong is a 2012 recipient of The Solti Foundation Career Assistance Award and The Presser Foundation Presser Music Award. He is also the recipient of the N.T. Milani Memorial Conducting Fellowship and the George and Elizabeth Gregory Award for Excellence in Performance.
As a trained pianist and composer, Mr. Lecce-Chong embraces innovate programming, champions the work of new composers and, by example, supports arts education. His 2012.13 season presentations included two MSO-commissioned works, two United States premieres, and twelve works by composers actively working worldwide. He brings the excitement of new music to audiences of all ages through special presentations embodying diverse program repertoire and the use of unconventional performance spaces. Mr. Lecce-Chong also provides artistic leadership for the MSO's nationally-lauded Arts in Community Education (ACE) program - one of the largest arts integration programs in the country.
Mr. Lecce-Chong is a native of Boulder, Colorado, where he began conducting at the age of sixteen. He is a graduate of the Mannes College of Music, where he received his Bachelor of Music degree with honors in piano and orchestral conducting. Mr. Lecce-Chong also holds a diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied as a Martin and Sarah Taylor Fellow with renowned pedagogue Otto-Werner Mueller. Follow his blog, Finding Exhilaration, at www.lecce-chong.com.
In the current season, Georgia Jarman has made her company debut with Malmo? Opera as Manon under Leif Segerstam and later sings her first Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes for Grange Park Opera under Stephen Barlow. Further ahead, Georgia makes her company debut with Ope?ra National de Bordeaux as Musetta in La Bohe?me. Highlights from the 2012.13 season included Georgia's critically acclaimed role debut as Maria Stuarda under Anthony Walker for Washington Concert Opera. Jarman has given many distinguished performances in bel canto repertoire throughout the United States and recently made an outstanding debut in the United Kingdom singing all four heroines in Richard Jones's acclaimed production of The Tales of Hoffmann for English National Opera. Other notable successes include the Heroines (Les contes d'Hoffmann) at Boston Lyric Opera and Teatr Wielki in Warsaw together with the roles of Violetta (La Traviata), Mimi (La Bohe?me), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Micaela (Carmen), and Nedda (Pagliacci) which have garnered invitations from Den Nye, New Orleans, Dallas, Florida Grand, and Palm Beach operas where she also added Massenet's Thai?s to her repertoire, with Manon following in 2012 in Bogota.
ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE
Leonard Bernstein - On the Town
Francesco Lecce-Chong, conductor
Georgia Jarman, soprano
Uihlein Hall, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts
Tickets range from $25-$105. For more information, please call 414.291.7605 or visit mso.org. Tickets may also be purchased through the Marcus Center Box Office at 414.273.7206.
The 2013.14 Classics Series is presented by UPAF.
Friday Classics Series is sponsored by Chase.
Saturday Classics Series is sponsored by Rockwell Automation.
ABOUT THE MSO
Ranked among the top orchestras in the country, the MSO is the largest cultural institution in Wisconsin. Since its inception in 1959, the orchestra has received critical acclaim for artistic excellence. The orchestra's full-time professional musicians perform more than 135 concerts each season. A cornerstone organization in Milwaukee's arts community, the MSO provides enrichment and education activities for audiences of every age, economic status, and background.