RIC Symphony to present tribute to Copland and Bernstein at Chester Performance Award Concert, March 5

RIC Symphony Orchestra (Photo: Hayden James '13)

RIC Symphony Orchestra (Photo: Hayden James '13)
The Rhode Island College Symphony Orchestra will perform the music of two of America’s best-known musical icons – Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein – at the 17th Annual Samuel and Esther Chester Performance Award Concert.

The concert, a part of RIC’s Spring Arts Festival, will be held on Monday, March 5, at 8 p.m. in the Auditorium in Roberts Hall.

Edward Markward

Zhongling Li
The performance will be conducted by Edward Markward, professor of music, now in his 39th year leading the Symphony Orchestra.

Violinist Zhongling Li, the 2006 winner of the Arthur Foote Prize of the Harvard Musical Association, will join the orchestra for this special program.

Li will perform Copland’s Sonata for Violin and Orchestra, a composition originally written for violin and piano, and premiered in that form in 1944.

In composing the Violin Sonata, Copland said it was his idea “for the piano to complement the violin rather than merely accompany it.”

Although he had not intended to incorporate folk materials, “certain qualities of the American folk tune had become part of my natural style of composing, and they are echoed in the Sonata,” the composer said.

Violinist Gerald Elias orchestrated the piano part and premiered his new version during the week of Copland’s 90th birthday in 1990.

“Quiet City,” another work by Copland, was first part of the incidental music for a play of the same name written by Irwin Shaw in 1940. Although the play folded after two nights, Copland rearranged the essence of the music into a programmatic piece for solo trumpet, solo English horn and strings.

Aaron Copland
According to Copland, the piece attempted to mirror the troubled main character of Shaw's play in which the man abandons his Jewishness and his poetic aspirations to pursue material success by Anglicizing his name, marrying a rich socialite, and becoming the president of a department store. The man, however, was continually recalled to his conscience by the haunting sound of his brother's trumpet playing.

The soloists for this program are RIC junior music student Nicolas Marcotte on trumpet and Linda Diebold on English horn. Both are members of the Symphony Orchestra.

Rounding out the program are two of Bernstein’s most recognizable masterpieces, both of which emanate from his inimitable Broadway style of incorporating the essences of both classical and musical-theater forms.

The program will open with the Overture to “Candide,” a musical that because of the demands of its singing component, is increasingly being performed in opera houses.

Closing the program will be Bernstein’s masterly Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story.” This dance suite has become one of Bernstein’s most frequently performed works and contains some of the most notable songs in the musical – “Maria,” “Tonight,” “Cool Fugue,” “Rumble” and “Mambo,” among others.

Zhongling Li, a soloist and chamber musician in her native China as well as in the U.S. and Europe, was awarded the Dan David Prize for Performing Arts, dedicated to only 20 people in the world with proven and exceptional excellence in sciences, arts and humanities.

She made her solo debut with the Boston Pops in May 2004 as the winner of the Boston University 2004 Soloists’ Competition. Li holds both a Doctoral and a Master of Music degree from Boston University, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Shanghai Conservatory, where she was winner of both the Shanghai Bach and Mozart Competitions.

She is a former member of the China National Symphony Orchestra, and is currently a member of the Northeastern University Music Department.

Li’s appearance is made possible through the generosity of Samuel and Esther Chester, who established the award to partially underwrite performance expenses for an appearance with the Rhode Island College Symphony Orchestra by the winner of the Foote Prize.

Free admission. For further information, call (401) 456-8144 or visit www.ric.edu/pfa.

This concert is part of the RIC Spring Arts Festival, which will also include events featuring the RIC Wind Ensemble (March 2), the Faculty Chamber Players (March 8) and the RIC Choral Groups (March 9).