BWW Interview: David Bernard of THE PARK AVENUE CHAMBER SYMPHONY Discusses Their Exciting New Season!
The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony begins its new season this week with an eclectic program, including the New York Premier of a new work. We sat down to chat with with David Bernard, Music Director of the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony
PD: How did you come about honoring JFK as part of "Heroes and Legends" on November 10th.
DB: John F. Kennedy was a hero---not only as a war veteran, but also as our president--leading with erudition, compelling us through his speeches to see the world, and our place in it, with a new and broader perspective. I wanted to find a way to honor JFK, and I became aware that Steven Rosenhaus set a collection of JFK's quotes to music in a narrated work. Since JFK's words have meant so much to so many people, the NY premiere of this work would make an ideal part of this program.
PD: That is fascinating-- how are the text and music matched?
DB: To be sure, the music is profound and beautiful. But what makes this work so special is how Steven has fused JFK's words with music that is both uplifting and supportive. The words are, as they should be, the star of the show-but the music underscores the significance of these words, helping us fully experience the meaning expressed through them. A performance of this work is a profound experience for both the performers and for the audience.
PD: How did your collaboration with Elliott Forrest of WQXR-FM form?
DB: Elliott is not only a talented radio personality, he has a passion for building brilliant audio/visual presentations that are designed to be paired with live orchestral performances. We have discussed collaborating over the years. As I was developing this concert, it dawned on me that to make this performance come alive, Elliott could, in effect, have JFK himself narrate this performance through archived video footage and audio recordings. He is a master at this at this, and seeing and hearing JFK himself deliver these important words will be an unforgettable experience for our audience on November 10th.
PD: As a "reformed Clarinetist" (I think I'm going to trademark that phrase) I can certainly see how Weber's First Clarinet Concerto is legendary-it is a wonderful, and rather difficult piece.
Well, you and I share a clarinetist background, and also our affinity for this particular work. Weber wrote this concerto, along with several other pieces, for the legendary Heinrich Baermann, a 19th century virtuoso clarinetist. This concerto not only showcases the soloist's virtuosity, but also gives the player the opportunity to be poetic, lyrical and expressive. It is absolutely a wonderful piece---one of Weber's best. We are proud to feature Eli Goldberger, a 15 year old student of Larry Guy at the Juilliard School's Pre-College Division, as our soloist.
PD: You are ending the program with a lesser known Dvorak Symphony, his 6th
DB: I absolutely adore Dvo?ák's 6th Symphony, and its cousin the 7th. While his later symphonies inspire and delight us with beauty and innovation, it is his 6th and 7th symphonies that most clearly demonstrate Dvorak's brilliance in crafting narratives with such power and direct impact on listeners. Anyone who consumes them is instantly aware of their unique combination of brilliant episodes, riveting rhythmic tension and alluring lyricism. Most of all, the listener experiences countless breathtaking moments through a driving narrative that captivates from beginning to end---a combination I find to be irresistible and uniquely characteristic of these particular works.
PD: Dvorák composed his 6th Symphony for Hans Richter and the Vienna Philharmonic and it's said he composed it in less time than any of his other symphonies - reportedly under two months start to finish. Do you sense that in the piece anywhere?
DB: A work's brilliance is often inversely correlated to the amount of time a composer takes to write it. Compare Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, three versions written over the course of 10 years with Balakirev nipping at his heels, to the first movement of Tchaikovsky's Pathetique, written in just five days in a blinding stream of consciousness. One can make the case that the compelling narratives and unceasing brilliance of both Dvorak's 6th and 7th Symphonies can be attributed, in part, to the abbreviated period of composition-- just about 2 months for both works.
PD: Do you feel the influence of Brahms when you perform Dvorak's 6th Symphony?
DB: Absolutely. You can hear echoes of Brahms Second Symphony within Dvorak's Sixth Symphony, and of Brahms Third Symphony within Dvorak's Seventh Symphony. Dvorak certainly had Brahms' Symphonies in his ear and their relationship is evident to the listener, but they are incredibly original. Think of Dvorak's and Brahms' Symphonies as sharing the same DNA sequences.
PD: What are some of the highlights from the rest of your Park Avenue Chamber Symphony season?
DB: Our February Concert features a space themed InsideOut™ experience I've developed including Holst's The Planets and Ligeti Atmospheres. InsideOut™ is the approach I've developed over the past few years that develops classical music audiences by exposing them to the full music making process inside an orchestra. In addition to hearing, seeing and feeling Holst's The Planets and Ligeti's Atmospheres, to make the experience even more encompassing, I am working with Dr. Jackie Faherty, senior Scientist and Astrophysicist with the American Museum of Natural History and the Hayden Planetarium to bring the science of our solar system and the universe to the audience with presentations and imagery. We are offering two versions of this experience-one for adults, and one for families with children which also includes an instrument zoo sponsored by the Lucy Moses School, giving children the opportunity to try the instruments of the orchestra after they experienced the music from within.
In May, we are continuing our partnership with New York City's Special Music School featuring a winner of their concerto competition as a featured soloist in a program of Gershwin and Prokofiev. And we end our season with a concert of concerti featuring other winners of their competition. I am so excited deeply committed to creating opportunities for arts education throughout student's lives---from early opportunities for immersion to bringing concerto performance experiences on the highest level.
BWWClassical would like to thank David Bernard for sitting down and chatting with us and we wish him and the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony a fabulous season!
-Peter Danish, Classical Editor
HEROES AND LEGENDS
Saturday, November 10, 2018
8:00 PM 10:00 PM
CMT Auditorium of the Salvation Army
120 West 14th StreetNew York, NY, 10011