Beethoven and Gill Concerts: First Time Program of Musical Genius

Mendelssohn Club Chorus, Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra and acclaimed soloist Ching-Yun Hu performing three works by Beethoven and the World Premiere of a new commission by Philadelphia-based conductor/composer Jeremy Gill

(Philadelphia) Four of Philadelphia’s musical treasures share the concert stage for the first time for two concerts in February. The two Beethoven and Gill concerts with Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra and soloist Ching-Yun Hu will feature Beethoven’s The Fantasy in C minor for Piano, Chorus, and Orchestra (Choral Fantasy) and Before the Wresting Tides, a premiere commission by Philadelphia composer-conductor Jeremy Gill. This unique blend of world-class talents promises to be one of the highlights of the 2013 classical concert season.

The Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jeri Lynne Johnson, will perform the Beethoven works, including Fidelio Overture and Symphony No. 2. Alan Harler will conduct Mendelssohn Club in the Choral Fantasy and the premiere performance of the new Gill commission. The concerts take place at the historic Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral (1855, 1906) on Saturday, February 23 (7:30
pm) and Sunday, February 24 (4 pm).

Saturday, February 23, 2013
7:30 pm
&
Sunday, February 24, 2013
4 pm

Beethoven and Gill
with Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra
Ching-Yun Hu, pianist

Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral
3723 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Tickets: www.mcchorus.org

The program evolved out of Jeremy Gill and Ching-Yun Hu desire to perform a concert together that was built around Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy. Gill and Hu had collaborated before when he conducted a concert of Rachmaninoff concertos featuring Ching-Yun as soloist. Both artists approached Alan Harler, now in his 25th year as Artistic Director of Mendelssohn Club. Harler, in turn, was eager to work with Jeri Lynne Johnson and her Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, which includes some of the very best, most highly trained players in the region, a majority of which are people of color.

“Fiery, passionate, and technically brilliant,” are some of the words Jeremy Gill uses to describe the Tiawanese-born concert pianist Ching-Yun Hu. Even though she performs for audiences in major halls all over the world, Hu is especially excited about performing this program with Mendelssohn Club and Black Pearl. “My character as a pianist will shift and change at various points in this concert,” say Hu.  “Sometimes I’ll perform as a soloist, sometimes with the orchestra and sometimes with the chorus. The contrast is very clear and poses some very unique challenges.” Hu added, “The audience for Beethoven and Gill will experience several very powerful waves of sound from different sources; waves that convey very distinct emotions and feelings.  In fact, this is a concert that will be fascinating to watch as well as hear.”

Gill’s new work is directly inspired by themes and qualities of the Choral Fantasy. The premiere performance of Before The Wresting Tides will feature all 140 members of the Mendelssohn Club chorus, as well as the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra and pianist Ching-Yun Hu as soloist. For the choral part, Gill set the second of six “Voyages” poems by American poet Hart Crane. (see Voyages II below)

Gill considers the new work “a serious piece about the basic human drive to know and love another person.” The composer added, “It’s relatively rare for this sort of work for piano and chorus to be commissioned these days. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to hear it performed by a pianist as gifted as Ching-Yun and a chorus of this scope and quality.”

Gill is not the only artist on the program who’s excited about what’s going to happen. Jeri Lynne Johnson, founder and conductor of the Black Pearl Orchestra is genuinely looking forward to this particular pair of concerts. “It’s really going to be fun doing this sort of double concert,” says Johnson. “But, more than anything, there is something magical about humans making music right in front of you. In our increasingly digital world, it is profoundly spiritual and viscerally powerful to witness 160 players and singers making this music together.” Johnson believes, “The pure human interaction between musicians and audience is irreplaceable! Each concert is a rare moment in time that will never come again.”

Beethoven and Gill once again demonstrates Mendelssohn Club’s ongoing commitment to commissioning and performing new music and to collaborating with the highest caliber players, soloists and composers, including those that call Philadelphia home. “This concert is as complete a package as we’re presenting all season,” observes Artistic Director Alan Harler.

“You have one of the most exciting new chamber orchestras in America bringing three of Beethoven’s most beautiful works to life including his beloved Choral Fantasy. And then, on top of that, we’re able to sing a major new work by Jeremy Gill and share the stage with one of the world’s best young piano soloists. How wonderful is that?!”

Harler is quick to add, “The fact that each of the musical collaborators on this program is a personal friend and a wonderful human being with a strong passion for life and a great sense of humor only makes it that much more special for me personally. Working with artists of this caliber who are performing music this rich and subtle and vital can only bring out the very best in all of us.”

 

Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra

Based in Philadelphia, the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra was founded in 2007 and is the only professional orchestra in the region, and one of few in the country, to champion ethnic diversity in classical music.

Founded by award-winning Music Director Jeri Lynne Johnson, one of the only African-American women conductors on the scene today, the BPCO is dedicated to normalizing diversity in classical music. This mission is achieved by offering innovative community and educational programs and presenting concerts of the highest artistic standard by musicians who represent all of Philadelphia’s rich cultural diversity.

Described by the Philadelphia Inquirer as “first-class on every level,” BPCO musicians were trained at many of the nation’s leading music conservatories, including The Juilliard School, The Curtis Institute, and The Eastman School of Music, among others.

Ching-Yun Hu – soloist

Declared a “…first-class talent…” and praised for her “…poetic use of color and confidently expressive phrasing…” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), Taiwanese pianist Ching-Yun Hu is a winner of the 2009 Concert Artists Guild International Competition. In 2008, she captured the top prize and the Audience Favorite Prize at the 12th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv. Ms. Hu’s final round performances of the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 and Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Israel Philharmonic were broadcast live to 38 countries.

Ms. Hu made her Philadelphia Orchestra debut in a sold out concert and has worked recently with the Aspen Concert Orchestra, New York Sinfonietta, Dupage Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan, Portgual’s Orquestra do Algarve, Johannesberg Philharmonic Orchestra, Wuhan Philharmonic Orchestra, Israel Symphony Orchestra, Orquestra Experimental de Repertorio at Theatro Municipal de Sao Paulo, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Taipei Chinese Orchestra, and tours with the National
Taiwan Symphony Orchestra.

Jeremy Gill – composer

Described as “an ambitious evocation of the ancient power of music’s most basic elements, rhythm and sound” (Fanfare Magazine, 2011), the music of Jeremy Gill has been performed throughout the United States and Europe by the Casal and Parker Quartets, singers Jonathan Hays and Sarah Wolfson, flutist Mimi Stillman, violinist Maria Bachmann, and pianists Stephen Gosling and Peter Orth, to name a few.

Premieres in the 2011–12 season included 8 Variations and Toccata on Betzet Yisrael by organist Mark Laubach, commissioned by the Harrisburg Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, Fantasy Etudes for four oboes, commissioned by Richard Killmer for the Eastman School of Music’s 2012 oboe class, and 3 Songs About Words by soprano Sarah Wolfson and pianist Renata Rohlfing, commissioned by Concert Artists Guild and Martin L. and Lucy Miller Murray in honor of the 30th Anniversary of Market Square Concerts, a gala event that also included commissioned world premieres by Jake Heggie and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec. Other performances of Jeremy’s music this season included several of his 2009 song cycle Helian with baritone Jonathan Hays, in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and New York, as well as the world premiere of Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet CEO and Resident Choreographer Alan Hineline’s work set to Jeremy’s 2006 string quartet 25, featuring Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Concertante.

2012–13 will see the premiere of Capriccio, an hour-long work commissioned by Chamber Music America for the Grammy-winning Parker Quartet, as well as a new work setting Hart Crane’s Voyages II for Rubinstein Prize-winning pianist Ching-Yun Hu and the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, commissioned by the Mendelssohn Club. Also this season, guitarist Peter Fletcher will premiere a new work he has commissioned at New York’s Carnegie Hall, followed by an extensive tour of the work throughout the United States.

Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia

For nearly fourteen decades, Mendelssohn Club Chorus has been devoted to sharing great choral music as a way to connect artists, audiences and communities. Mendelssohn Club, one of America’s oldest choruses, continues to expand its repertoire in the 21st century by collaborating with a wide range of musical organizations, each of which is devoted to representing, or reaching out to, new audiences in innovative ways. Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia performs choral music to create a shared transcendent experience among its singers and audiences. Through the excellence of its adventurous performances, Mendelssohn Club advances the development of choral music as an art form.

“Few organizations have so strategically embraced innovation and collaboration.” explains Tom Kaiden of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, “Mendelssohn Club constantly finds new ways to bring the audience into the experience. It’s why they are one of the most exciting choruses in America today.”

For information about Mendelssohn Club’s concerts and programs, or to order tickets for the 2012- 2013 season, visit www.mcchorus.org. You can also find Mendelssohn Club on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mcchorus.

Voyages II
by Hart Crane

And yet this great wink of eternity,
Of rimless floods, unfettered leewardings,
Samite sheeted and processioned where
Her undinal vast belly moonward bends,
Laughing the wrapt inflections of our love;

Take this Sea, whose diapason knells
On scrolls of silver snowy sentences,
The sceptred terror of whose sessions rends
As her demeanors motion well or ill,
All but the pieties of lovers’ hands.

And onward, as bells off San Salvador
Salute the crocus lustres of the stars,
In these poinsettia meadows of her tides,—
Adagios of islands, O my Prodigal,
Complete the dark confessions her veins spell.

Mark how her turning shoulders wind the hours,
And hasten while her penniless rich palms
Pass superscription of bent foam and wave,—
Hasten, while they are true,—sleep, death, desire,
Close round one instant in one floating flower.

Bind us in time, O Seasons clear, and awe.
O minstrel galleons of Carib fire,
Bequeath us to no earthly shore until
Is answered in the vortex of our grave
The seal’s wide spindrift gaze toward paradise.

“Voyages II” from COMPLETE POEMS OF HART CRANE by Hart Crane, edited by Marc Simon.
Copyright 1933, 1958, © 1966 by Liveright Publishing Corporation. Copyright © 1986 by Marc Simon.
Used by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.

 

2nd Half of the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia 2012 – 2013 Season

Saturday, February 23, 2013
7:30 pm
&
Sunday, February 24, 2013
4 pm

Beethoven and Gill
with Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra
Ching-Yun Hu, pianist

Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral
3723 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Mendelssohn Club joins forces with Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, Black Pearl conductor/founder Jeri
Lynne Johnson conducting the orchestral work and world-renowned pianist Ching-Yun Hu to honor
one of the world’s greatest composers. The centerpiece of the program is Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy
and Before The Resting Tides, the world premiere commission by composer Jeremy Gill inspired by this
Beethoven masterpiece. Also featuring Beethoven’s Fidelio Overture and Symphony No. 2.

Sunday, March 10, 2013
6 pm

BIG SING//Schubert
with the Philadelphia Master Chorale
and the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Chancel Choir

Delaware County Community College
Marple Campus (Large Auditorium)
901 S. Media Line Rd.
Media, PA 19063

Witness the transformational power of music connecting communities as Mendelssohn Club welcomes the
Philadelphia Master Chorale, led by Changho Lee, and the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Chancel Choir,
led by Dr. Jay Fluellen, in the 3rd annual BIG SING. The concert will explore the music of the Korean and African
Episcopal traditions and invite hundreds of local singers to perform Schubert’s Mass in G. Audience members who
participated in the first two BIG SINGs in 2010 and 2011 have compared this very unique musical experience to
being enveloped by cinematic surround sound where you literally feel the music vibrating all around you.

Sunday, April 7, 2013
2:30 pm

Fall of the Berlin Wall: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9
presented as part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA)

with The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia
Ignat Solzhenitsyn, conductor laureate
Layla Claire, soprano
Marietta Simpson, mezzo-soprano
Norman Reinhardt, tenor
Sam Handley, bass-baritone

Meine Wind of Change
Smirnov Epitaph for the Victims of Repression
Beethoven Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, Choral

Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
260 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102

This epic program, under the baton of conductor laureate Ignat Solzhenitsyn, commemorates the mass
protests at the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent demolition of the Wall and the entire Iron Curtain.
This historic moment directly led to the reunification of Germany and the end of the Cold War. This
concert is presented as part of PIFA 2012 and is co-produced by the Kimmel Center for the Performing
Arts in collaboration with The Center for Emerging Visual Artists and features photography by James B.
Abbott.

For tickets for this concert at 2:30 pm on Sunday, April 7, please contact The Chamber Orchestra of
Philadelphia at 215-545-5451.

Saturday, May 11, 2013
8 pm

The Creation
with Symphony in C , conducted by Maestro Rossen Milanov

Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts
Gordon Theater
Third & Pearl Streets
Camden, NJ 08102

Sunday, May 19, 2013
4 pm

Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral
3723 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

The Creation, Haydn’s masterpiece, depicts and celebrates the creation of the world as based on the Book
of Genesis and Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost.” This concert, conducted by Maestro Rossen Milanov
will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Symphony in C.

For tickets to this concert at 8 pm on Saturday, May 11, 2013 at the Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts in
Camden, NJ, visit http://symphonyinc.org

Sunday, June 2, 2013
7:30 pm

Mahler’s Symphony No. 2
with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra
Louis Scaglione, conductor

Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
260 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102

A magnificent opportunity to hear Mendelssohn Club Chorus with Philadelphia’s best young
instrumentalists! The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra and Mendelssohn Club join forces in Mahler’s
dramatic Symphony No. 2 with Maestro Louis Scaglione conducting.

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