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3rd Annual Basically Brandenburg with the Symphony Space All-Stars
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This project is funded by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

+ About the Performance
This program was recorded 12/09/2010 at Symphony Space.

Bach is Back! Chosen from among New York City's finest musicians, the triumphant Symphony Space All-Stars celebrate the holidays with a festive and joyous performance of the complete Brandenburg Concertos of J.S. Bach. Among Bach's most often-performed and best-loved works, the six joyful, exuberant Concertos make for a holiday treat for friends and family alike!

Note: Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050 has been removed from the playlist at the request of the artists.

+ About the Artists

Bradley Brookshire divides his time between teaching, conducting, and working as a musicologist and harpsichordist. Brookshire is Director of Graduate Studies at SUNY Purchase and Assistant Conductor and Continuo Harpsichordist at the Metropolitan Opera. He has conducted two benefit concerts for New York City Opera and served as Assistant Conductor at Glimmerglass Opera several times. Brookshire has appeared with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Mark Morris Dance Group, and the Trinity Wall Street Choir and Baroque Orchestra. His recording of Bach’s French Suites became a New York Times “Critic’s Choice” of 2001.

Timothy Cobb appears on stages such as Bargemusic, Bridgehampton Festival, Caramoor, Boston Chamber Music Society, Lyric Chamber Music Society, La Musica Festival, Sarasota Music Festival, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Appointed associate principal bass of the Met Orchestra in 1986, Cobb was granted a leave of absence by Maestro Solti to perform with the Metropolitan Opera, where he elected to stay. Cobb has enjoyed invitations to perform in the “world” orchestra created by Maestro Solti, and in Japan as principal bass of the new “super orchestra.” He was recently appointed principal bass of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra.

Hornist Rachel Drehmann has performed with the Northeast Pennsylvania Philharmonic, National Symphony of the Dominican Republic, American Opera Projects, Lion King and Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, Tribeca Film Festival, Kanye West, and Ikarus Chamber Players. She has recorded with A Far Cry, Rob Mosher Storytime, Purchase Opera, as well as on many albums and soundtracks. Drehmann holds degrees from University of Minnesota and Manhattan School of Music.

The New York Times has called Ann Ellsworth’s playing “outrageous” and “splendidly projected.” She is the solo horn player for Absolute Ensemble and has been a member of the Esbjerg Ensemble, Manhattan Brass, Baltimore Opera, Phoenix Symphony, and Philharmonica del Bajio. Ellsworth is committed to early music and has presented a lecture recital at the Metropolitan Museum of Art using original instruments from their collection. She is on faculty at Stony Brook University.

David Geber has been the recipient of the Naumburg Award and the Coleman Chamber Music Prize. He has appeared as soloist at Tanglewood and Aspen, as well as with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Montreal Symphony. As a founding member of the American String Quartet, he concertized with the ensemble for 28 years, giving up to 100 annual concerts around the world. Geber teaches and performs with the Aspen Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, and Tanglewood Music Center.

Robert Ingliss was recently named Principal Oboe of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. He is also principal of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, Riverside Symphony, and the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, and has occupied the same position with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Mexico City Philharmonic. Ingliss has premiered works by Babbitt, Carter, Dalbavie, and Eckardt, and is a member of Cygnus Ensemble, Ensemble 21, and the Manhattan Sinfonietta. Ingliss is on the faculties of Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, and SUNY Purchase.

Clarinetist Alan R. Kay was honored with membership in the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in 2002 and serves as Principal Clarinet with New York’s Riverside Symphony. He also performs often with the American Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the American Ballet Theater. Kay is a founding member of Windscape and Hexagon; he appears frequently with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and with the Mendelssohn, Rossetti, Mirò, and Shanghai Quartets. Kay teaches at the Manhattan, Hartt, and Juilliard Schools.

Cellist Julia Lichten has been a member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra since 1995 and has toured as a soloist with the orchestra, as well as with Musicians from Marlboro and the American Chamber Players. An active recitalist, she has performed at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton Universities, and toured Europe under State Department sponsorship as an “Artistic Ambassador.” She is a member of the faculties at Manhattan School of Music and SUNY Purchase.

The New York Times called Melissa Meell, “a cellist with a fine singing quality and poetic sensibility that proves memorable.” She has the rare distinction of twice winning the prestigious Naumburg Chamber Music Award. Meell is a member of Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and has collaborated with Musicians from Marlboro, New York Philomusica Chamber Ensemble, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Bassoonist Frank Morelli studied with Stephen Maxym at the Manhattan and Juilliard Schools of Music. Admired for his “breathtaking virtuosity” by the Miami Herald, Morelli has appeared with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center on numerous occasions, including at the final State Dinner of the Clinton presidency. He is a member of the Festival Chamber Music and Windscape, and serves on the faculties of Juilliard, Yale, Manhattan School of Music, and Stony Brook University.

Flutist Tara Helen O’Connor is a founding member of the Naumburg Award-winning New Millennium Ensemble, a member of Windscape, the chamber ensemble Andalucian Dogs, and is the flute soloist of the Bach Aria Group. She received two Grammy nominations in 2003 for her recording of Osvaldo Golijov’s Yiddishbbuk. O’Connor is on faculty at SUNY Purchase, Bard College, and Manhattan School of Music.

Violinist Daniel Phillips was a winner of the prestigious Young Concert Artists International Auditions in 1976, and has performed as soloist with many American Symphonies. He is a founding member of the Orion String Quartet, which tours internationally, and has residencies at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and at the Mannes College of Music. He is on faculty at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College.

Violinist Emily Smith made her New York debut in Alice Tully Hall playing the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Juilliard Orchestra. In 2008, she was appointed concertmaster of the Juilliard Orchestra under the direction of Michael Tilson-Thomas, Nicholas McGegan, and James DePriest. With the orchestra, she has performed at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Disney Hall, and Symphony Hall in Boston, as well as at Beijing and Shanghai.

Violinist Laurie Smukler performs regularly with the Festival Chamber Music Society at Merkin Hall, Bard Music Festival at Tully Hall, and on the Collection in Concert series at the Pierpont Morgan Library. She is on faculty at SUNY Purchase and Manhattan School of Music. As a chamber musician, Smukler was the founding first violinist of the Mendelssohn String Quartet, and is currently the first violinist of the Bard Festival String Quartet.

A native of Natal, Brazil, oboist Hugo Souza is a student of Bert Lucarelli at SUNY Purchase. He also studied with Wascily Simões dos Anjos at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte where he received his BM. He has performed with the Rio Grande do Norte Symphony Orchestra and the Purchase Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Winds. Souza has participated in master classes with Alex Klein, Washington Barella, Humberto Lucarelli, and David Walter.

Matt Sullivan is recognized internationally as a virtuoso performer, teacher, and advocate for the modern oboe. As a composer, his works for oboe, English horn, and digital horn, along with his solo and chamber music performances, have been featured on National Public Radio. He is a member of Musicians’ Accord, Richardson Chamber Players, Westchester Chamber Orchestra, and First Avenue.

A member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, violist Ira Weller is highly regarded as a soloist and chamber musician. He is a member of the Purchase Conservatory String Quartet and the Bard Festival String Quartet. His interest in contemporary music has led to premieres of works by Rorem, Laderman, Dello Joio, Picker, Ran, and Zwilich. Weller is on faculty at SUNY Purchase, Mannes, and Bard College.

Violist Elizabeth Weisser has performed throughout the US and Europe as a soloist and chamber musician. She was a founding member of the Enesco Quartet and has also performed extensively with the Contemporary Music Ensemble, working with composers such as Lewis Nielson, James Dillon, and John Adams, and performing with artists such as Steve Drury and Ursula Oppens.

Calvin Wiersma has appeared in solo recitals in Boston, New York, and Chicago, and in concerts with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Concerto Company of Boston, and the Lawrence Symphony. In addition to his current membership with the Manhattan String Quartet, Wiersma was a founding member of the Meliora Quartet and Figaro Trio, winner of the Naumberg, Fischoff, Coleman, and Cleveland Quartet Competitions, and the Quartet-in-Residence of the Spoleto Festivals.

Hailed by the press as “one of the finest flutists of our time,” Eugenia Zukerman is an internationally renowned recitalist and soloist. Honored by Young Concert Artists and the Open University of Israel for her lifetime achievement in music, Zukerman continues to travel across the US with her diversified schedule as a flutist, writer, artistic director, television/web journalist, and educator.

+ About the Music

It was in 1721, during Bach’s third year as Kapellmeister at the court of Cöthen (where he served from 1717 to 1723), that he presented a gift of six manuscripts to the Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg. It was during this appointment that Bach wrote much of his instrumental ensemble music, and having begun to grow restless with life in the small German court, Bach presented the works as a job application—one that did not prove successful. In all likelihood, the pieces were written between 1718 and 1720. We can gather that the pieces were not intended as a set; more likely, they were an attempt by the composer to write for varying instrument combinations. The dedication page merely indicates that they are six pieces for several instruments. It wasn’t until some 150 years later that Bach’s biographer Philipp Spitta referred to the pieces as the Brandenburg Concertos—a title that has clearly stuck.

Four of the concertos are in the classical three-movement concerto form (fast-slow-fast) that was gaining acceptance at that time, as opposed to the older four-movement scheme—which eventually came back to popularity in the Classical and Romantic periods. The exceptions to this are Concerto No. 1, which has an additional dance-suite (a menuet with three trios) at the end; and No. 3, for which he didn’t write a middle movement, but only two chords, on which performers improvise a cadenza.

Typical to the period, Bach did not write specific harpsichord parts for any of these concertos, with the fifth concerto being the exception—a very virtuosic harpsichord part that he wrote for himself. As Bach tended to like to play the viola part, this concerto has only one ensemble violin part, as the second violinist would have had to play the viola part while Bach played the harpsichord.

The concertos were published for the first time in 1850, a century after the composer’s death.

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