Notes on the program
By Miho Saegusa, Orpheus Artistic Director & violinist
Tonight’s program explores the movement of music through time and space, weaving together connections, transformations, and new collaborations.
We open with the Aria from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 by Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959), arguably his most well-known work. In the nine Bachianas Brasileiras, Villa-Lobos sought to draw connections between Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) and Brazilian folk music. Originally written for soprano and cello ensemble, tonight’s version was arranged for string orchestra by John Krance. There is a fluidity in the plaintive melody of the Aria, ushered along by a stream of pizzicato, reminiscent of Bach’s counterpoint. The reverie is briefly interrupted by a passionate song which sets Ruth Corrêa’s poem about the moon rising in the sky, before returning quietly to the opening melody.
Rhythmic interplay takes on a central role in Concerto No. 1 for Marimba and String Orchestra by percussionist and composer Ney Rosauro (b. 1952), who like Villa-Lobos is a native of Rio de Janiero. We are delighted to collaborate with percussionist Britton-René Collins on this evocative work, and to get to know the musical language of a composer new to Orpheus. Music flows in a variety of ways throughout the concerto: driving, still, gentle, playful. Rosauro is part of a long history of performer-composers, who use their familiarity and connection with their instruments to great effect in their writing. In this concerto, Britton-René uses four mallets, two in each hand, creating the feeling that she is dancing all over the marimba.
This leads us to tonight’s performance of selections from Bach’s Goldberg Variations, where all of these elements—fluidity, contemplation, rhythm as a driving force as well as a source of playful interaction—are fully set in motion. Orpheus’ collaboration with the phenomenal Caleb Teicher has been several years in the making, and we are thrilled to share with you Caleb Teicher and Company’s Variations. Because this is such an iconic piece of music, the crossing of disciplines allows us to expand our perspectives in different and unexpected ways. Caleb was inspired by the 1955 Glenn Gould recording when choreographing Variations. Tonight, the arrangement by Dmitry Sitkovetsky expands the original piano work into one for a string orchestra, with virtuosic flourishes for the principal players. In Orpheus rehearsals, we often talk about breathing together, and we ask ourselves what kind of energy is needed for the music we are playing. Our rehearsals with the dancers this week has been a journey full of joy. It was fascinating to add to the mix an awareness of the physical movements of the dancers while we explored the expressive characters and rhythmic personalities of each variation. Moving through the Bach as if we are one organism has resulted in a whole new experience of this work!