Sunday, September 8, 2013

Chamber Music at the Maybeck

We're excited to host an afternoon of chamber music at the Maybeck Studio on Sunday, September 8 at 3:00 pm. 

The performance is free. Seats are limited. Click here to reserve your seats online.

The program:
 
Trio for Bb Clarinet, F Horn and Piano                                 George Rochberg (1918-2005)
(1948, rev. 1980)

Alan Shonkoff, clarinet
Bob Satterford, horn
Bill Rudiak, piano

***

Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major, Op. 8 (1854, rev. 1889)           Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Farallon Piano Trio

Gayle Strang, violin
Chris Brann, cello
Bill Rudiak, piano

Chris Brann, ‘cello, began playing at age 12, and has studied with Laszlo Varga at San Francisco State University, as well as Milly Rosner and Peter Wyrick.  He has performed with the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra as well as several local orchestras, and is currently a member of Symphony Parnassus.  He is an avid chamber music performer.  Chris is a software engineer and lives in San Francisco.

Gayle Tsern Strang, violin, began her studies at age 10, studying with Elena Grimes in Los Angeles, and has played in the YMF Orchestra under Myung Whun Chung (in association with the LA Philharmonic), the Berkeley Symphony under Kent Nagano, and the Columbia University Orchestra under George Rothman.  Gayle is an architect and lives in San Francisco.

Bill Rudiak, piano, began piano studies at age 4 in his native Canada.  At 17, Bill earned his Associate Diploma in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music, and won the first Northern Ontario Recording Awards (NORA) competition and recorded for CBC Radio.  He later earned his Bachelor of Music in Theory and Composition from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada, where he studied piano with William Aide and Clifford von Kuster, and composition with Peter Paul Koprowski.  He continues his piano and chamber music studies with Richard Rogers in the Adult Extension Program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.  Bill works in the cybersecurity field and lives in Oakland.

Bob Satterford, horn, is a former naval person and retired attorney.  He plays professionally in the Golden Gate Park Band and freelances actively as an orchestra and chamber player throughout Northern California.  He is currently on leave from the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra and the Diablo Symphony while pursuing graduate study in music at CSU Sacramento, where he studies horn with Pete Nowlen and is principal horn in the Symphony Orchestra.

Alan Shonkoff was a student of Donald Montanaro of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He attended the Aspen Music Festival where he studied with Earl Bates. He also studied with Allan Pollack, music director of the Mendocino Music Festival. Alan has performed in various chamber music groups throughout the San Francisco Bay Area including Old First Church Concerts, the Berkeley City Club, Chamber Music at St Andrew’s, Contra Costa Performing Arts Society, and Berkeley Hillside Club. He has also played clarinet with the UC Berkeley Summer Orchestra and the Kensington Symphony Orchestra. When not engaged with music, Alan works as a clinical neuropsychologist and is an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California at Berkeley. 

Trio for Bb Clarinet, F Horn and Piano, George Rochberg
From the 1940s until the ‘60s, George Rochberg emerged as one of America’s first and finest serialist composers. He then gradually reassessed his compositional outlook and ultimately embraced composition in tonal styles. It was this turn to a whole-hearted employment of traditionally-oriented tonal possibilities which not only warmed up the musical climate, but also opened the way to greater freedom and latitude in the way composers could express themselves.  Rochberg may have been speaking for others as well as himself when he declared serialism “finished, hollow, meaningless…”  “The hope of contemporary music,” he wrote, “lies in learning how to reconcile all manner of opposites, contradictions, paradoxes; the past with the present, tonality with atonality. That is why, in my most recent music, I have tried to utilize these in combinations which reassert the primal values of music.”  The Trio for Bb Clarinet, F Horn and Piano is certainly emblematic of this point of view.  The piece was originally written in 1947 during the composer’s serial-based expressionist period, and was revised in 1980, long after his return to tonality.  In an interview in the last year of his life, Rochberg stated that, after writing his first fully tonal piece in 1972, he was subjected to a great deal of criticism, some of it extremely harsh.  “It’s already been done,” some said.  Others complained, “It sounds like Brahms.”  In response, Rochberg said:  “My attitude was, yes, it’s already been done – and I want to do it again.  I wanted to prove to myself and the world that beauty is not dead!” 

Piano Trio in B Major, op. 8, Johannes Brahms
Brahms composed the original version of the first of his three piano trios when he was barely twenty years old.  He had just been introduced to Robert and Clara Schumann, merely a few months before Robert was committed to an asylum for his mental illness.  Thirty-five years later, in the twilight of his career, he revised the work; it is this later version we almost always hear performed today.  Upon completing the revision, Brahms wrote to Clara Schumann, “With what childish amusement I whiled away the beautiful summer days you will never guess…I have rewritten my B Major trio.  It will not be as wild as before — but will it be better?”.  Brahms also said of the revised version, “I did not provide it with a wig, but just combed and arranged its hair a little”.  In fact, the revision was substantial, and this later version reflects the composer’s mature compositional style — more refined and less overtly romantic.  Still, the revised version comprises some of the composer’s most expansive and beautiful themes, conveying a range of passionate emotions including joy, agitation, and serenity.