In-Studio with the Students Behind Open Note Pt. 2
Simone Dinnerstein: Hello, I'm Simone Dinnerstein. Tonight we are back in the studio for our second program featuring the talented musicians of the New York City student-led concert series. Open Note here on the McGraw Family's Young Artists Showcase.
Tonight on this edition of The Young Artists Showcase, generously underwritten since 1978 by the Harold W McGraw Jr. Family Foundation. We are welcoming back a group of innovative music students from the New School's Mannes School of Music, into the studio. Partnering with Klavierhaus in Manhattan and the Old Stone House in Brooklyn, this entrepreneurial collective of musicians have started their own concert series, Open Note. In tonight's second part of this series, we will begin with Israeli cellist, Tamar Sagiv, who we heard in the last program. Tamar is not only a cellist and a student of Matt Haimovitz, but also a composer, improviser and singer. Tonight we will hear her perform one of her own compositions where she will both sing and play the cello.
Tamar, welcome back to WQXR.
Tamar Sagiv: Thank you so much, Simone. Thank you for having me.
Simone Dinnerstein: Tamar, this piece that you are about to play for us is called Roots. Tell us a little about this work.
Tamar Sagiv: So, a year ago I started working on a program that had composers that wrote music from the Holocaust. And I am myself Jewish and I had family, uh, in Terezín and writing music and composing music, I didn't really call myself a composer back then, but I was just writing as a way to journal for myself and while working on the composers from the Holocaust music, I felt that I needed to journal about it to put my own thoughts and my own feelings into the paper, and so I started writing this thing that was partly improvised.
I partly wrote it down and then it became a piece, and the reason why I called it Roots was because, it was really influenced by that music.
Simone Dinnerstein: Interesting. Okay, well I'm looking forward to hear it now. Let's listen to you play Roots.
MUSIC - Sagiv: Roots
Simone Dinnerstein: What a very deeply felt, uh, piece of music and performance that was, uh, Tamar Sagiv playing her own composition Roots. Thank you so much. Continuing with the voice, but in a completely different style, let's welcome Soprano Anna Ruhland with pianist Emma Taggart. Anna is a student of Jennifer Zetlan and hails from Seattle. Welcome, Anna.
Anna Ruhland: Thank you so much for having me, Simone.
Simone Dinnerstein: Please tell us what you and Emma are going to share with us right now.
Anna Ruhland: We are going to be performing "Ah, non credea" from Bellini's Sonnambula.
Simone Dinnerstein: Can you tell us in a nutshell what, what's going on in this aria?
Anna Ruhland: Yes. So in this aria, the character Amina is actually sleepwalking and she is singing and mourning her love that has been lost, which is happening in the plot, but it's also happening in her dream. So it's a very haunting, melancholic aria, but I think very beautifully written by Bellini and really nice for the voice to sing.
Simone Dinnerstein: Great. I can't wait to hear it.
MUSIC - Bellini: “Ah, non credea mirarti” from La Sonnambula
Simone Dinnerstein: Beautiful. That was soprano Anna Ruhland with pianist Emma Taggart performing “Ah, non credea mirarti” from Bellini's La Sonnambula. Thanks so much for that very beautiful performance.
Next, we will hear a very unusual and daring piano transcription of an orchestral work. Here the composer Vyacheslav Gryaznov has transcribed Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun for piano. Debussy's orchestration is a work of genius, so taking out that element and playing it on a single instrument poses huge challenges. Let's hear pianist Guannan Alice Liu, a student of J Y Song, perform this unusual transcription.
MUSIC - Debussy (arr. Gryaznov): Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
Simone Dinnerstein: Just gorgeous. That was Guannan Alice Liu playing Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun arranged by Vyacheslav Gryaznov. Alice, that was so beautiful. I, I hope you enjoyed playing it.
Guannan Alice Liu: Thank you very much. Yes, it's definitely a pleasure.
Simone Dinnerstein: It felt like you were in a sort of dream world when you were playing and it struck me that listening to a transcription, it makes you hear things in the music that you didn't hear in the original. Have you found that working on this piece?
Guannan Alice Liu: Um, yes, definitely because I think working on an orchestral score gives me an opportunity to be more imaginative with the sound that I can create.
Simone Dinnerstein: Yes.
Guannan Alice Liu: So that's definitely something that I enjoyed working on this piece.
Simone Dinnerstein: Yeah, that's beautiful. Well, thank you so much.
Guannan Alice Liu: Thank you.
Simone Dinnerstein: You're listening to the McGraw Family's Young Artists Showcase on W Q X R. It's time for a quick break now. Then I'll be back with more performances by these trailblazers here on the McGraw Family's Young Artists Showcase.
Simone Dinnerstein: Welcome back. We are listening to Musicians from Open Note, a New York City based concert series, curated and performed by students from the Mannes School of Music.
The next piece that we will hear has a particularly poignant story behind it. Let's welcome into the studio cellist Hannah Jieun Sohn. Hello, Hannah.
Hannah Jieun Sohn: Hello.
Simone Dinnerstein: You're going to be performing Recuerda by Jorge Martin, a work that was composed for your teacher, Yehuda Hanani. Um, can you tell us a little about the story behind this?
Hannah Jieun Sohn: Yeah, sure. The piece was commissioned by his friend Philip Zabriskie, who was a renowned Jungian psychoanalyst, and upon receiving a terminal diagnosis, he asked Martin to write a piece for solo cello that would be performed at his funeral. Um, and it was performed by my teacher, Yehuda Hanani. But he wanted to hear it himself. So, um, he hosted a lively party to celebrate his life, um, with colleagues, friends, and loved ones. And this is where the piece was premiered, and it's, it's titled Recuerda which means remember in Spanish, but it can also be rewritten as re cuerda which is D string.
Simone Dinnerstein: Oh.
Hannah Jieun Sohn: And the D string has a very omnipresent role in the, across the entire piece.
Simone Dinnerstein: Oh, how interesting. Okay, well I'm looking forward to hearing you play it now.
MUSIC - Martin: Recuerda
Simone Dinnerstein: Jorge Martin's Recuerda played by cellist Hannah Jieun Sohn. Thank you for sharing. That was beautiful. We'll continue on with Varsha, a fascinating work written by composer Reena Esmail. Here to perform it is Californian violinist and student of Stefan Jackiw, Sathvi Ramaseshan. Welcome, Sathvi.
Sathvi Ramaseshan: Hi. Thank you for having me, Simone.
Simone Dinnerstein: Oh, it's great to have you here. Um, I don't know a lot about Reena Esmail. Do you, do you have a familiarity with her background and, yeah?
Sathvi Ramaseshan: Yeah. So, um, Reena Esmail is an Indian American composer like myself. I'm also an Indian American violinist and composer. And this piece actually was originally written for solo cello as a part of the Haydn Seven Last words project where basically, composers were commissioned to write interludes between each of Haydn's string quartets, and it was later transcribed for violin.
This piece, I believe, is written as an interlude between the fifth and the sixth quartet. And, um, yeah, Esmail's music is very much influenced by Hindustani music like the ragas and the melodies. And this piece uses a combination of ragas from the Malhar family, which are believed to bring rain. So the idea behind this piece is that it's like a rainy interlude.
Simone Dinnerstein: Ah, and what does varsha mean?
Sathvi Ramaseshan: It means rain, actually.
Simone Dinnerstein: It means rain. Okay. Well, wonderful. Let's listen to you play Varsha. Thank you.
MUSIC - Esmail: Varsha
Simone Dinnerstein: Stunning. That was Reena Esmail's Varsha played here in WQXR Studio by violinist Sathvi Ramaseshan. Thank you so much, Sathvi.
We've been listening to students from the Mannes School of Music who have created their own concert series, Open Note, in partnership with Klavierhaus and the Old Stone House. Let's have a quick word with one of the organizers of this series, who is with us here in the studio pianist Emma Taggart. Hello, Emma.
Emma Taggart: Hi. How are you doing?
Simone Dinnerstein: Good. Um, Emma's my student and I, I've, I met you actually four years ago I think.
Emma Taggart: I think so, yeah.
Simone Dinnerstein: Uh, when I was hosting from the top. And you were one of the performers?
Emma Taggart: Yes.
Simone Dinnerstein: So we met through the radio. And, uh, you're now in your third year undergraduate at Manis With me. Um, tell us a little bit about the origins of this series, Open Note.
Emma Taggart: Yeah. Open Note began, uh, during a very complicated, uh, time period last semester that happened when the part-time faculty at the new school, uh, including the Manna School of Music, uh, went on strike and all student performances were ceased for five or six weeks.
During that period of time, a group of students and also some faculty members, yourself included, banded together to, um, form a little community concert series that would, uh, continue to provide students with a form of community and performance opportunity during that difficult time. We've set up eight community concerts, four at Klavierhaus in Manhattan, and another four at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn.
All of these concerts are curated and organized by students from the Mannes School of Music, and we've just had a really incredible time so far, sharing all sorts of different music.
Simone Dinnerstein: Great. So, um, you're going to perform for us now and you're gonna close the program with this, uh, very interesting piece by Libby Larson called 4 ½. Why is it called 4 ½?
Emma Taggart: Yeah. So 4 ½ is a five movement suite. Uh, and it's named such because four of the movements are for two hands, uh, and one of the movements, the second movement, is just for left hand, which unfortunately doesn't communicate over the radio too well, but you'll have to trust me on that one.
Simone Dinnerstein: All right, well, let's listen to you play now.
MUSIC - Larsen: 4 ½
Simone Dinnerstein: Fantastic. Great job by Emma playing Libby Larson's 4 ½. That was Emma Taggart at the piano. And uh, what a great piece. Very exciting, full of diversity and also there's a part of it that has the Dies Irae theme in it, which is, um, I think a, some kind of a requiem feeling, which seems to be sort of running through the the program today. It's interesting.
You've been listening to the young musicians of Open Note, a concert series, curated and performed by students from the Mannes School of Music in partnership with Klavierhaus and the Old Stone House. That completes this week's edition of the McGraw Family's Young Artists Showcase, which is generously underwritten on WQXR by the Harold W McGraw Jr. Family Foundation. Here's Terry McGraw with more.
Terry McGraw: Good evening everyone. It's great to be with you and it's always great being with the Young Artists Showcase and to hear these really wonderful and inspiring musicians. As they continue to share their incredible gifts with us every week. I can't wait to hear the fabulous talent coming up on the Showcase, and I am so pleased to be able to support the series all through its well over four decades on WQXR. And there's so much more to come.
Simone Dinnerstein: Thank you, Terry. Many thanks to WQXR program producers Eileen Delehanty, Max Fine, and Laura Boyman with production assistance by Maya Cassady. Our session engineer is Irene Trudell and our generous program underwriter is the Harold W McGraw Jr. Family Foundation. I'm Simone Dinnerstein. Goodnight.