Dvořák Discovery – “New World Symphony” and Violin Concerto
February 3, 2024 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm MST
Celebrate 100 years of exceptional music in Fort Collins with Dvořák’s beloved Symphony No. 9, “From the New World” and Violin Concerto.
Saturday, February 3, 2024
7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Pre-Concert Lecture at 6:30
Lincoln Center Main Stage
417 W. Magnolia St.
Fort Collins, CO 80521
(or via livestream)
$25-67 adult, $10 student/child
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Discover the roots of American classical music with “Dvořák Discovery.”
Dvořák’s beloved Symphony No. 9, “From the New World” is full of uplifting melodies and beautiful harmonies. Because of its unique structure and influences from American folk music, it is considered one of the most important American symphonies.
Then, violinist and Colorado Symphony Concertmaster Yumi Hwang-Williams will take you on an exhilarating journey with Dvořák’s Violin Concerto.
Finally, experience this rare opportunity to hear Florence Price’s Ethiopia’s Shadow in America. This pivotal work traces the journey of those who were enslaved and brought to the United States. It is an inspiring testament to the resilience of the human spirit.
Don’t miss this chance to discover the sounds of America with your Fort Collins Symphony.
On this concert:
Ethiopia’s Shadow in America, by Florence Price
Violin Concerto in A Minor, by Antonín Dvořák
Featuring Colorado Symphony Concertmaster Yumi Hwang-Williams
Intermission: 20 min
Symphony No. 9, “From the New World” by Antonín Dvořák
Guest Artist: Yumi Hwang-Williams
Yumi Hwang-Williams made her debut at the age of fifteen as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, six years after emigrating from South Korea. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, she is known today both for her stylish performances of the classics and her commitment to the works of present-day composers.
Strings magazine calls her ‘a modern Prometheus’ who has ‘emerged as a fiery champion of contemporary classical music.’ Her interpretations of concertos by Thomas Adès, Aaron Jay Kernis, Michael Daugherty, and Christopher Rouse have earned critical acclaim as well as enthusiastic approval from the composers.
Yumi is a frequent soloist with the Colorado Symphony and has soloed with other major orchestras both in the U.S. and abroad, including the Cincinnati Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, Sinfonieorchester Basel (Switzerland), and the Bruckner Orchester Linz (Austria), in collaboration with conductors Marin Alsop, Dennis Russell Davies, Hans Graf, Paavo Järvi, and Peter Oundjian. An avid chamber musician, she has performed with Gary Graﬀman, Ida Kavafian, Jeﬀrey Kahane, Christopher O’Riley, Jon Kimura Parker, and Andrew Litton.
Since 2000 Yumi has been Concertmaster of the Colorado Symphony. She was Concertmaster of the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra for twelve years and Guest Concertmaster for the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Ottawa, at the invitation of Music Director Pinchas Zukerman. She’s a frequent guest first violinist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and a faculty member at Denver University’s Lamont School of Music.
Recently, Yumi recorded #elijah for violin and orchestra by California composer, John Wineglass, with The London Symphony which was released in 2023.
Yumi plays on a violin made by GB Guadagnini in 1748 owned by The Guad Society.
Visit yumiviolin.com for more info.
Free week-of-concert events:
Join CSU professor Dr. K. Dawn Grapes on the Wednesday prior to most Signature concerts for an entertaining and informative lecture about the upcoming featured composers. Light refreshments. Sponsored by the Friends of the Symphony.
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
12:00 – 1:00 PM, at the Old Town Library
Learn firsthand what it takes for an orchestra to bring live music to the stage. Houselights remain on during this comfortable preview of each upcoming Signature concert. The rehearsal closes to the public at 8:30 p.m. intermission.
Thursday, February 1, 2024
7:00 – 8:30 PM, at the Lincoln Center
Prior to each Signature concert, join Maestro Wes Kenney for a pre-concert talk about the music you will hear.
Saturday, February 3, 2024
6:30 – 7:00 PM, at the Lincoln Center
Included with ticket purchase
FCS Sponsors and Advertisers:
Arts Without End Foundation
Dr. David and Alison Dennis
Dr. Ed Siegel
Dr. Peter Springberg
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Program Notes by Dr. K. Dawn Grapes
Ethiopia’s Shadow in America
Date of Composition: 1932
Duration: 14 minutes
Florence Beatrice Smith Price (1887–1953) is an American treasure whose music was almost forgotten due to her race and gender. Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Price’s family supported her musical and educational talents as best they could within Jim Crow segregation laws of the late nineteenth century. In 1902, she began organ performance and piano pedagogy studies at the New England Conservatory. She returned to the deep south after graduation to teach music at Atlanta University, the first Historically Black University established in the southern United States. Marriage brought about a Little Rock homecoming, but the horrendous 1927 lynching of John Carter and ensuing violence in the city compelled the family to move northward. In Chicago, Price quickly found a network of like-minded musicians. After divorcing her husband, Price supported herself and her children by playing the organ for silent films and writing advertising jingles, but also found time to compose. In 1932, Price’s Symphony No. 1 in E minor won first prize in Chicago’s Wannamaker Composition Competition and subsequently became the first symphony composed by a Black woman to be performed by a major U.S. orchestra. In ensuing years, she continued to produce compelling compositions, but faced discrimination, which impeded national recognition of her work. After her 1953 death, her music almost vanished completely from public perception.
Ethiopia’s Shadow in America took honorable mention in that same 1932 competition. While many of Price’s compositions draw upon traditional African American themes to evoke images related to the Black experience, Price provided an especially clear program for listeners in this continuous three movement orchestral work. Movement subtitles in the original manuscript outline the life journey of so many Africans who were transported to the United States and enslaved against their will. “The Arrival of the Negro in America when first brought here as a slave,” “His Resignation and Faith,” and “His Adaptation, a fusion of his native and acquired impulses” each contribute to the narrative of the almost cinematic score. No record of public performance of the work during Price’s lifetime is known. The piece might never have been preserved at all had it not been found in a large store of Price manuscripts discovered during a 2009 house renovation outside of Chicago. In recent years, Price’s compositions have been newly embraced. Since 2020, her first symphony has received more than 250 performances across the United States and around the world. Ethiopia’s Shadow in America, a much lesser-known work only just premiered in 2015, was programmed by no fewer than thirty-one university, community, and professional orchestras in 2023 alone.
Bohemian composer Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904) was born near Prague, where he received much of his musical training. His first jobs were playing in Czech dance bands and theatre orchestras. On the side, he wrote music, eventually turning to composition as a primary pursuit. At the time, nationalistic pride was growing throughout Europe, and by the late 1870s, Dvořák began incorporating Slavic musical styles into his compositions, resulting in works with titles such as Moravian Duets and Slavonic Dances.
Violin Concerto in A minor, op. 53
Date of Composition: 1879
Duration: 31 minutes
In 1879, one of the leading violinists of the time, Joseph Joachim, heard a Dvořák string quartet and went on to champion the composer’s chamber music. In return, Dvořák composed his Violin Concerto in A Minor for Joachim. As was his usual practice, he sent the violin part to the virtuoso for comments. Joachim had reservations about the work and took his time responding, but eventually offered multiple sets of suggestions. In 1882, Dvořák wrote a letter to his publisher proclaiming, “I played the violin concerto [in a reading] with Joachim twice. He liked it very much, and Mr. Keller, who was present as well, was delighted with it. I was very glad that the matter has finally been sorted out.” In the end, however, Joachim never fully embraced the composition. He bowed out of a hoped-for Berlin premiere. Thus, Dvořák’s concerto was not revealed to the public until 1883, when František Ondříček served as violin soloist at the Prague National Theatre. The concerto is a real performer showcase. Czech idioms simmer below the surface in the rhapsodic first movement, which segues immediately into the dramatic second. The finale then fully reveals the composer’s nationalistic tendencies in its combination of an introspective Czech dumka and a furiant-like dance theme.
Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, “From the New World”
Date of Composition: 1893
Duration: 41 minutes
By 1891, Dvořák was serving as composition professor at the Prague Conservatory. His achievements and status gained notice across Europe and even in the United States, where the very first U.S. music conservatories were being established. Jeanette Thurber, philanthropical founder of the National Conservatory of Music, decided to bring Dvořák to New York to oversee the relatively new school. Thurber hoped he would influence young American art music composers to establish a national sound, as he had done in his own Czech-inspired music. Dvořák accepted an exorbitant salary offer and started in the fall of 1892. As the new director, his ideas created a bit of a stir. He was quoted in the New York Herald, saying Americans should look to the traditional music of African Americans for material on which to build a national style. At the time, most classical musicians who lived and worked in U.S. urban centers had never experienced the music of any Black communities first-hand. They could not conceive of such a thing.
Still, Dvořák provided an example in his 1893 Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, “From the New World,” in which he replicates what he believed was representative of African American and Indigenous musical traditions. For inspiration, he looked to spirituals learned from his Black composition students and to Longfellow’s Hiawatha—which had had a profound, if inauthentic, influence on what U.S. citizens perceived as Native life. The composer’s resulting four-movement symphony retains an undeniably European style while referencing newly composed themes meant to sound as if they came from these American traditions. The most notable is found in the slow second movement, in which the English horn plays a spiritual-like tune. William Arms Fischer, one of Dvořák’s students, added words to the melody in 1922, resulting in the song “Going Home,” but the tune itself, like all the themes in the symphony, was composed by Dvořák. The work was a resounding success from its 1893 New York Philharmonic premiere and continues to be a favorite of audiences today.
© Dr. K. Dawn Grapes, 2023