March– Mélisse Brunet

MARCH 19-20

Buy Tickets for Saturday 3/19 at 7:30 or 3/20 at 3:00 Here

Conductor: Mélisse Brunet
Arnaud Sussmann, Violin

Joan Tower - Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, No. 1
Lalo - Symphonie Espagnole
Dvořák - Symphony No. 7

Concerts are held at the Performing Arts Center at Greenwich High School, 10 Hillside Road
Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 3 pm.

French conductor Mélisse Brunet is the Music Director of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, an orchestra made up of freelance musicians from the NYC and Philadelphia areas. A protégée of Pierre Boulez, she is one of the twelve conductors selected for the first Conducting Competition La Maestra. Ms. Brunet was one of the six conductors selected for the 2018 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview, chosen for their “experience, talent, leadership potential, and commitment to a career in service to American orchestras.” In 2017, she was one of six conductors chosen for the international Hart Institute for Women Conductors at the Dallas Opera, selected from 161 applicants from 33 countries. A native of Paris, Ms. Brunet began her studies on the cello, and also learned to play the trumpet, French horn, and piano. She holds diplomas from the Paris Conservatory and the Université la Sorbonne, as well as a Professional Studies diploma from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a Doctorate in conducting from the
University of Michigan. She studied French, English, German, and Italian lyric diction, and she speaks English, French, Italian, Chinese, and German.


Winner of a 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Arnaud Sussmann has distinguished himself with his unique sound, bravura and profound musicianship. Minnesota’s Pioneer Press writes, “Sussmann has an old-school sound reminiscent of what you'll hear on vintage recordings by Jascha Heifetz or Fritz Kreisler, a rare combination of sweet and smooth that can hypnotize a listener. His clear tone [is] a thing of awe-inspiring beauty, his phrasing spellbinding.”

A thrilling young musician capturing the attention of classical critics and audiences around the world, Arnaud Sussmann has appeared with the American Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Paris Chamber Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.


Program Notes

Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman,  No. 1
Joan Tower (1938 -)
One of music’s leading female voices in the current era, Joan Tower has come to epitomize the power of women to energize and achieve prominence in a field that had been male dominated since the earliest emergence of our musical traditions dating back to the Middle Ages.  From 1969 to 1984, she was pianist and founding member of the Naumburg Award-winning Da Capo Chamber Players, which commissioned and premiered many of her most popular works. Tower’s first orchestral work, Sequoia, quickly entered the repertory. Her tremendously popular six Fanfares for the Uncommon Woman have been played by over 500 different ensembles. Tower’s composer-residencies with orchestras and festivals include a decade with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Composer of the Year for their 2010-2011 season, as well as the St. Louis Symphony, the Deer Valley Music Festival, and the Yale/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. Tower is currently Asher Edelman Professor of Music at Bard College, where she has taught since 1972.
    Composed in 1986, Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, destined to become the first in a series of six of that title, was inspired by Fanfare for the Common Man, composed in 1942 by Aaron Copland. Named and dedicated to the group coined in a speech by then Vice President Henry Wallace proclaiming “the dawn of the history of the common man,” it has become one of Copland’s best known and most frequently performed pieces, appearing often at ceremonies as well as concerts.
    In Tower’s reckoning, she has sought to celebrate not that which is common, but that which is uncommon. She has dedicated her series of fanfares to “women who take risks and are adventurous.” The Fanfare No. 1 for the Uncommon Woman is dedicated to Marin Alsop, one of the first female artists to achieve widely recognized status as a career conductor. The premiere performance of this piece was given by the Houston Symphony on January 10, 1987 under Hans Vonk.

Symphonie espagnole, Op.21
Éduoard Lalo (1823-1892)
Born in Lille to a military family, which could trace its French nationality back to Spanish origins some generations earlier, Lalo more than likely based his Symphonie espagnole on Spanish materials due to the inspiration provided by the colorful flamboyance of the Spanish virtuoso Pablo Sarasate than to ethnic affiliation. Sarasate had given the premiere of Lalo’s earlier unnumbered and untitled violin concerto in 1874, a work that has fallen by the wayside and is rarely performed. Lalo immediately began work on Symphonie espagnole, which Sarasate premiered with great success the following year. This would become the period during which Bizet’s Carmen with its Spanish flavor, would catch up with opera audiences and in which the subsequent decade would experience the popularity of Rimsky-Korsakoff’s Capriccio espagnol, which coincidentally had originally been conceived as a violin concerto until Rimsky refashioned it more as of a “concerto for orchestra.”
    Set in five movements, unusual for the time, it was once customary to perform Symphonie espagnole without its central movement, the Intermezzo. Current practice is to perform the work in its entirety. The running time for the entire piece is not long, about half-an-hour of highly amiable music.

Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70
Antonin Dvořák (1841-1904)
There can be no denying the appeal of Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony (From the New World) as the overwhelming public favorite of his works, the first symphony by a celebrated European composer written during a visit to the U.S., filled from start to finish with musical invention based on the high spirited energy as the composer felt it in a new land seeming to make itself up from scratch. And yet to many of those familiar with Dvořák’s other works, it is the Seventh that stands as his greatest masterpiece in the symphonic form.
    Completed in 1885, a decade before his American journey, the Seventh had two sources of inspiration — the assertion of Czech nationalism as well as the composer’s admiration for the music of Johannes Brahms. Brahms  possessed a unique gift for organic development of thematic material, one which few, if any, composers could emulate. In his Seventh Symphony, Dvořák may have come the closest.  He had experienced Brahms’s recent Third Symphony, arguably one of the best examples of this approach, though one of Brahms’s most cerebral and least obvious rhetorical statements. In some ways it is a puzzling and challenging work from which to draw inspiration from Dvořák.
    Brahms, who had the reputation of being a grouchy curmudgeon with young composers, took a liking to Dvořák and opened doors to gain recognition for him in the German cultured Austro-Hungarian milieu, which regarded the culture of Eastern Europe as beneath them. He also introduced Dvořák to his German publisher Simrock, who was happy to publish the Slavonic Dances for commercial reasons, but less enthusiastic toward the composer’s serious symphonic music. In any case, the premiere of Symphony No. 7 in 1885 by the London Philharmonic, conducted by Dvořák, was a success with the public as well as critics who hailed it as one of the greatest symphonies since Beethoven or the Schubert “Great C Major.”
    Unlike Brahms’s Third, a work of mostly serene and gentle lyricism that inspired the piece, Dvořák addresses himself to the issues of Czech nationalism in his choices of musical idiom, and a sense of conflict, which arises from the brooding opening to numerous developmental episodes in the outer movements.  The second movement reflects sadly on recent deaths in the composer’s family as well as the passing of Smetana, the other great Czech composer of the period who was greatly admired by Dvořák. Some relief is offered by the Scherzo, in which the Slavonic Dance idiom asserts itself.  The Seventh may never replace the “New World” as the public favorite among Dvořák’s works, but especially for those hearing it for the first time, the Seventh achieves a place of high respect and admiration.

– Richard Schneider