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Jeff Spurgeon: The last time the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed in Carnegie Hall was 32 years and 29 days ago, not that anyone's counting. In 1990, the LA Philharmonic opened Carnegie Hall's 100th anniversary season with two performances conducted by Andre Previn. The LA Phil returns to Carnegie Hall now just shy of 32 years and one month later with another star music and artistic director, Gustavo Dudamel. Tonight, in Carnegie Hall on the Perelman Stage in Stern Auditorium, they present a program of music from the Americas. This is Carnegie Hall Live. I'm Jeff Spurgeon, and alongside is John Schaefer.
John Schaefer: And Jeff, we've got a program of three brilliantly colored orchestral show pieces tonight. Two of them getting their New York and Carnegie Hall premieres. The Mexican composer, Gabriela Ortiz will be represented by her piece called Kauyumari. And Arturo Márquez will present his Fandango for violin and orchestra, which is as dancy a piece as that title would imply. And the LA Phil will be joined by the star violinist it was written for, Anne Akiko Meyers.
And then after intermission, Aaron Copland's Symphony Number Three. And if you're thinking, well, I don't know any of those pieces, you may experience a shock of recognition towards the end of the Aaron Copland Symphony. So, stay with us.
Jeff Spurgeon: Tonight's program as well as many of the programs that the LA Philharmonic is performing this year are part of something called the Pan-American Music Initiative, a five-year enterprise begun by Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic. One of the composers on the program, Gabriela Ortiz, was recently appointed curator for this initiative, and she told us about the driving force behind it.
Gabriela Ortiz: The Pan American Initiative. It's an idea that I have discussed with Gustavo Dudamel and our main goal is to bring to the concert halls the Latin American music, and especially commission young composers from Latin America.
We both believe that we have incredible music in Latin America, but unfortunately it is not part of the regular programs in the orchestras. And in Europe, for example, not even established composers like Revueltas, Chavez, or, you know, Villa-Lobos or Ginastera. Those are really the major established composers, but they still, those composers are not known in the universities, they are not known in the curriculums of the conservatories. They are not known in Europe. So, our mission is, is really to show to the world that we really have good musicians in Latin America and give them an opportunity that they deserve.
John Schaefer: We'll hear music by composer Gabriela Ortiz momentarily. There she was speaking about the Pan American Music Initiative of the LA Phil, and when we talked to her about it, she told us why this orchestra was such a good home for this type of project.
Gabriela Ortiz: The LA Phil has this incredible openness to any kind of music. I believe in diversity. I believe that this is really the future of music to bring all of us together and work. And music can do that because it's a collective way of doing things and orchestra works collectively. It's not one single people, it's a team.
And I think that the, the, the vision of the LA Phil is clearly that. I mean, they understand very well how important it is to bring music from all over the world. How important it is to raise borders? How important is to tell people that music matters? And I think that they are doing that in a very unique way. They are looking to the future. They are not looking to the past.
Jeff Spurgeon: Composer, Gabriela Ortiz, whose work is going to open this concert. Going to begin in just a few minutes, the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, the work that will open the program by Gabriela Ortiz was commissioned by the LA Phil.
She titled the work Kauyumari, and she told us of the work's inspirations. It comes from an iconic image of the indigenous people of Mexico, the Huichol people.
Gabriela Ortiz: Kauyumari means blue deer for the Huichol culture in Mexico. The Huichols are the indigenous population that live in the Nayarit state in Mexico. And they have this wonderful and beautiful tradition that every year they walk, and it's a pilgrim walk because they want to get in touch with the ancestors.
So, the guide for that walk is the blue deer. And for them it's something very important because it's the only way to get in touch with the ancestors and get in touch with this spiritual world that's part of their own culture.
Jeff Spurgeon: If you don't know the story of Kauyumari, it is, uh, it's everywhere. In certain parts of Mexican culture, there are children's books about it. There are, there's clothing based on it. The blue deer is a powerful, iconic image. With the Pan-American Music Initiative, as well as this work Kauyumari that you're about to hear, Gabriela Ortiz has had the chance to work very closely with Gustavo Dudamel, and she told us what that experience is like.
Gabriela Ortiz: It's really incredible to work with Gustavo, and it's always a surprise because he's always bringing something new into rehearsal. There is always something to learn. He's an amazing musician. He has an incredible intuition, but the fact that he's from Latin America has something really deep in terms of how can I communicate with him because he knows very well my music. He understands very well where all the materials are coming from. He understands the way I feel rhythm, for example. So, the phrases, the energy that my music demands because he knows the culture, because we have a lot of things in common in that sense.
John Schaefer: That is Gabriela Ortiz speaking about what it's like to work with the conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, who is here at Carnegie Hall with the LA Philharmonic for tonight's concert.
And Jeff, you'll remember when, uh, Dudamel took over the LA Phil back in 2009. He was a 27-year-old wunderkind. Oh. And, uh, you know, over the years, of course, he has matured as a musician, and is now one of the, the preeminent conductors of our day. And one of the things that people have noted about him is his innovative approach to programming.
You know, how often do you see a, an orchestral concert? It begins with a, a short, snappy orchestral opener, and then there's a concerto with a star soloist, and then after intermission there's a big,
Jeff Spurgeon: big symphony.
John Schaefer: Right. Well, tonight Dudamel is bringing us a short, snappy orchestral opener, a concerto with star violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and then after intermission a big symphony. But they're all North American composers. Two of them are new pieces getting their New York premieres. And they are full of splashy rhythms and, and brightly painted colors on the sonic canvas.
Jeff Spurgeon: It's going to be a, a terrific, uh, exploration of these sounds. Arturo Márquez has been around for, well he's going to be 72 I think in December, and Anne Akiko Meyers approached him before the pandemic began and said, "Would you write a new work?" The pandemic delayed it. But she told me that at least it gave him a little more time to work out the piece. She is so excited about this concerto. And we heard a little of the rehearsal mm-hmm. by the orchestra. Um, not so really just an hour or so ago. It's an exciting piece.
John Schaefer: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's just full of rhythmic vitality and, um, lots of references to forms of music that we think of as European, but which might well have their genesis in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. Yeah. And so, it's just, uh, there's a lot of interesting musical threads being woven together on the program tonight.
Jeff Spurgeon: And I think these, these first two works. Um, Gabriela Ortiz has talked about her music as being so founded in rhythm. Her parents were part of a, a well-known, uh, they, the group was called, uh, Los Folkloristas
John Schaefer: Los Folkloristas.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yes. And so, her parents were part of that group. And again, you can hear them perform. There are YouTube recordings on YouTube that you can dig up, so you can hear a little bit of Gabriela Ortiz's musical foundation as well. It's really a treat, and she is an exciting composer, and as you heard, very passionate about this project of the Los Angeles Phil to celebrate the music of the Americas. That is also something that Gustavo Dudamel helped to bring in because he was a product of El Sistema in South America and, and brought those ideas of taking music into underserved communities and lifting up communities and finding, helping people find music that they love.
John Schaefer: Yeah. He's also done something similar in Los Angeles. Mm-hmm. They have a youth initiative there as well, kind of modeled on El Sistema, which has been an unalloyed success in Venezuela, a country that has otherwise not enjoyed a whole lot of unalloyed success in, in recent years. So, uh, El Sistema really a, a kind of a, a model of how classical music can be relevant to people of all social strata and can, can literally change people's lives.
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, and as we say over and over again, it's music for everybody. There have been barriers to that knowledge and that understanding over the years and El Sistema has helped to deal with that situation in Venezuela, and its Los Angeles version has done the same in those communities, as you say.
So, the stage doors are not quite closed here at Carnegie Hall. The Los Angeles, Philharmonic, uh, is all on stage now. And, uh, Maestro Dudamel is just a few feet away from us. It's, it's very funny. But one of the ways to tell that the concert at Carnegie Hall is about to begin is when the stage doors close,
John Schaefer: Right. Which they have just done. So, uh, the orchestra is out on stage, they’re seated, they're ready to go. Uh, we'll have a brief moment of tuning before the conductor, Gustavo Dudamel mounts the podium, and then we'll hear the first of the two New York premieres. And again, both of them from Mexican composers who are drawing on traditional Mexican sounds in the same way that Aaron Copland in the second half of the concert was so well known for drawing on traditional American sounds. So, once again, lots of analogies to be made between, uh, these apparently disparate composers that we'll be hearing tonight.
Jeff Spurgeon: Now on-stage Concert Master Martin, uh, Chalifour Principal Concert Master of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. That applause was for him and, uh, also for the excitement of the concert. About to begin, you hear the orchestra tuning now, and in just a moment, Gustavo Dudamel will go out for the first concert that this orchestra has had in New York City in more than 30 years. So, uh, we hope to speak actually, uh, near the end of the concert with a couple of members who remember the last time the LA Phil was on this stage.
So, we'll look forward to that conversation as well. But now with the house hushed stage door opens and out walks, Gustavo Dudamel, the orchestra rises, and it seems that people are happy to see him.
John Schaefer: It is a sold-out house here at Carnegie Hall, which is noteworthy in these post pandemic times.
Jeff Spurgeon: Indeed, those cheers for Maestro Dudamel, he turns to acknowledge them, asks the orchestra to be seated, and we are ready to hear the opening notes of this program. A new composition, New York and Carnegie Hall Premier, the work of Gabriela Ortiz Kauyumari, the Blue Deer of Mexico from Carnegie Hall Live.
MUSIC - Ortiz: Kauyumari
John Schaefer: A sold out Carnegie Hall audience, rousing applause for that opening work on tonight's concert from Gabriela Ortiz, the Mexican composer, Gustavo Dudamel conducting the LA Philharmonic and pointing to the composer who is in the hall here tonight, Gabriela Ortiz. Her piece is called Kauyumari, referring to the blue deer of the Huichol, the indigenous Huichol people of Mexico. What a colorful piece that is!
Jeff Spurgeon: A, a rousing wonderful opening to a terrific concept and now Gabriela Ortiz. Those cheers are for her. She's on stage bowing to the audience, lots of applause from the members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic as well, and she asks them, as does the Maestro to stand. That blue deer is such a powerful and wonderful symbol of the indigenous Huichol people.
It's about connection, about spiritual connection, but it's also about, about healing and, and some kinds of prosperity as well. Uh, a symbol of hope and of healing.
John Schaefer: Lots of, uh, a good workout for the percussion there.
Jeff Spurgeon: You bet.
John Schaefer: You got to hear things like the log drum, the jawbone, the guiro, which is, uh, kind of a scraper with onomatopoetic name. It kind of makes a guiro sound. Uh, you'll hear it in this next piece by Arturo Márquez as well. I, I just, I, towards the end of the piece, I, I, I just found myself grinning because, you know, early on in his career, Gustavo Dudamel was sort of known for this unruly thatch of hair that he had. And when he walked by us to start the concert stopped and waved as he walked by. And I thought, Wow, not a hair out of place. The hairs are all out of place now, but it was, it was quite a bit of motion involved in conducting that piece.
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, and you, and you mentioned when he first came on the scene, the excitement that he generated with the musicians of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. Um, those performances were all over YouTube and they were so exciting. But this was just that same kind of excitement in this piece by Gabriela Ortiz. So, you heard it rising and rising, the excitement, growing and growing, must be hard for an orchestra and a conductor just to hang on to that energy and enjoy that ride. You know, keep it all together before the piece ends.
John Schaefer: without, without it careering off the tracks. Yeah. Yeah. Well, uh, there's certainly a lot of Mexican DNA in that Gabriela Ortiz piece. Um, but there's an equal amount in this next work by the Mexican composer, Arturo Márquez. Uh, you mentioned Los Folkloristas before, Gabriela's parents' band. Um, and Arturo Márquez also came from a musical family. His dad was a mariachi musician, a mariachi violinist, right? I mean, we, we think of mariachi, we think of horns and guitars, but of course, violin very important in that, in that style, and that influence has carried over to a lot of his music.
And the piece that we'll hear tonight is called Fandango. And it, it, at least in part, uses that sound, the Fandango that we now associate with Flamenco. But it's, you know, a popular Spanish dance that has become familiar around Mexico.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yep. Those rhythms are well known everywhere. The piece has three movements. It really, it's called Fandango, but it's a violin concerto. And so, the first movement, which is called um, Folia Tropical, has uh, sort of a typical structure theme and some development. The second movement is called Prayer. It's a prayer. And then the third movement has the title of Fandanguito, and that is a tribute to some regional music in Mexico as well.
We, we spoke with Anne Akiko Meyers, she, and Gustavo Dudamel, uh, just walked out on stage. Um, she said to you a few minutes ago, John, as she was down here getting ready for this performance, she said, "It's a lot of notes," so get ready for a lot of notes from a fantastic violinist, Anne Akiko Meyers with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the New York premiere of Arturo Márquez’s violin concerto called Fandango. Coming to you from Carnegie Hall Live.
MUSIC - Márquez: Fandango
You've just heard the New York and Carnegie Hall Premiere of Fandango, a new concerto for violin written just last year by Mexican composer, Arturo Márquez, and played for the first time in Carnegie Hall by the Los Angeles, Philharmonic. Conductor Gustavo Dudamel. And those cheers are for the soloist, Anne Akiko Meyers, backstage at Carnegie Hall. I'm Jeff Spurgeon alongside John Schaefer.
John Schaefer: And both conductor and soloist are scanning the audience here at, uh, Carnegie Hall, looking for the composer who is in the house. Arturo Márquez, uh, looks like he may be headed onto the stage. I would hope so. He deserves to take a bow.
Jeff Spurgeon: You bet he does.
John Schaefer: What a winning piece. Uh, and clearly the audience couldn't wait to erupt with applause and bravos
Jeff Spurgeon: and here he comes now.
John Schaefer: Márquez is a Mexican composer of some distinction. He's been at this for, uh, almost half a century now, and, um, comes from a musical family. His dad was a mariachi fiddler, and you can hear lots of echoes of traditional Mexican dance forms throughout that piece. That Fandango for violin and orchestra, which he wrote for Anne Akiko Meyers.
Jeff Spurgeon: In the notes for this piece, Arturo Márquez wrote that I, he said, "I think that for every composer, it is a real challenge to compose new works in old forms, especially when that repertoire is part of the fundamental structure of classical music.” “But,” He says, "I've preserved my seven capital principles, tonality, modality, melody, rhythm, imaginary folk tradition, harmony, and orchestral color." And they were all in that work.
John Schaefer: Absolutely extraordinary piece. Did you, did he say imaginary folk?
Jeff Spurgeon: Yes, he did.
John Schaefer: Yeah. You know the thing, one of the things that struck me about that piece and the… all three, the composer, conductor, and soloists just walked by us and were immediately called back out on stage for another bow. One thing that struck me in that third movement was how familiar the main theme sounded.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yes.
John Schaefer: You know, as if it was some kind of folk song that I, I mean, we've never heard the piece before today,
Jeff Spurgeon: right.
John Schaefer: But it sounded like something that had just been in the air, which is a really magical…
Jeff Spurgeon: Yes. That's the power of folk music and that tradition that carries on in such wonderful and mysterious ways. Applause from, uh, members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. With, uh, Márquez and Anne Akiko Meyers on stage and the orchestra on its feet now, what an exciting moment to hear a brand-new work. First time in Carnegie Hall.
John Schaefer: Also, fun to watch. I mean, you know, Dudamel, like any conductor has his back to the audience, but we can see his face and throughout the first movement of that piece, big wide smile. I mean clearly enjoying himself.
Jeff Spurgeon: Just the pleasure of the music maker.
John Schaefer: Absolutely. Fandango for violin and orchestra, New York premiere and, and one more curtain call for Anne Akiko Meyers. She's tried three times to get off the Carnegie Hall stage and all three times she's failed. Well, Dudamel shoved her back on. Just you go out there again.
Jeff Spurgeon: And so, she has. It's such a pleasure to see.
John Schaefer: It is a sold-out house, as we mentioned earlier. And, uh, boy, they are enjoying their night out at Carnegie Hall.
Jeff Spurgeon: But as are we bringing this music to you tonight, that is the first half of this concert by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The first time in more than 30 years that the orchestra has been here.
They are back tonight for the first of two concerts. Uh, no, this is the second of the two parts. Second of two, yeah. Right. Um, they had a performance here. But the first time they've been here in more than three decades. So, it's an exciting evening indeed.
John Schaefer: One, one of the, uh, one of the, uh, orchestra members had, had come up to me, uh, shortly before we went on the air and, and said that the first time the LA Phil played here was 1967 under Zubin Mehta.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah. Long time.
John Schaefer: So, yeah, that was,
Jeff Spurgeon: And the tradition continues. Anne Akiko Meyers is with us. Congratulations. What an exciting thing you've done.
Anne Akiko Meyers: I feel like I just, you know, played at the Super Bowl. . .
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, it was a super bowl of a piece for sure.
Anne Akiko Meyers: Definitely.
Jeff Spurgeon: I love the notes that Arturo Márquez wrote for this piece, because he said the third movement. He said, the third movement demands great virtuosity from the soloist. I thought, well, I guess then anybody can play the first movement. Apparently was crazy too. What an amazing piece. You had all those double stops, as you said. A lot of notes.
John Schaefer: A lot of notes.
Jeff Spurgeon: There were so many technical demands in this piece.
Anne Akiko Meyers: Very.
Jeff Spurgeon: But on the other hand, you really, it's really your fault because you did commission a violin concerto from a violinist.
Anne Akiko Meyers: So, I was in, in big trouble.
Jeff Spurgeon: Now did you know that he played, you must have known that he played the violin as a kid.
Anne Akiko Meyers: Yes, and I just loved that his father was a mariachi. And that really inspired this concerto because I always had this dream to have mariachi in the concert hall, and you know that it's incorporated with this dance and these incredible rhythms and just so melodic and expressive and like, you just hear so much heart. There's so much heart to this music.
John Schaefer: You know, I was telling Jeff just a moment ago, uh, while you were attempting unsuccessfully to get off stage with everybody bringing you back out for bows, that that the main theme of the third movement, it's very familiar sounding. I mean, it's almost like, it sounds like a quote of some familiar tune.
Anne Akiko Meyers: Right. Everything feels like that with Arturo’s music. It just feels like, you know, you've heard this before. Um, I mean, when I first heard his Danzón number two, I thought, oh my gosh, this person's living and I mean he sounds like Ravel or Rimsky-Korsakov or, you know, a major colorist. And so, I was just like so inspired to, and to ask him to write a violin concerto.
Jeff Spurgeon: Did you have any interchange with him? Did you say you write the piece? He said, okay, and then he sent it to you. Did you have any interchange with him during the compositional process?
Anne Akiko Meyers: Um, well the pandemic definitely threw a loop, but um, you know, he came up with the whole idea himself and, um, I played it for him on Zoom and we worked it that way. Um, and you know, there's some like minor very technical things that um, it's just so it flows, and he has so much to say.
Jeff Spurgeon: And the, the rhythmic changes are so subtle. You'll be going along in one rhythm and then you'll just do the slightest thing and suddenly it has a whole different feel.
Anne Akiko Meyers: Yes, absolutely. But Gustavo Dudamel is so amazingly unique in that he feels these rhythms so deeply and, um, you can't like freak out when you play these rhythms and he's so calm, he's so Zen with it, you know, like, so everybody is just like dancing on top of the beat.
John Schaefer: Well then... then there's... Yeah. So, you set up a beat and then suddenly there's a syncopation within the beat.
Anne Akiko Meyers: Right. Exactly.
John Schaefer: And, and so there are all of these for, for music nerds. There's much to parse here. But the main thing is just how enjoyable and vibrant and colorful the piece is. So were you a, I mean, you mentioned Mariachi. Were you a fan already of, of, you know, uh, danzón and boleros and, you know, all the other kind of traditional, there's almost a tango melody, a rhythm in the first movement was, were, were you into all of that music?
Anne Akiko Meyers: Um, I'm definitely like with Piazzolla, so, and uh, you know, I just love dances and yeah, his music is so joyful and it's just, as you could hear, the audiences just flip out.
Jeff Spurgeon: I, I think you must be so proud of this work because you've given Arturo Márquez as a chance to express some things, as he said. And again, in his notes, he said, "This is music I've kept in my heart for decades," and, and you helped him give this piece. And what a gift you've given to all of us by asking him to write this. It's a great-
Anne Akiko Meyers: No, it's a gift that he wrote this. I just thank him from the bottom of my heart, you know, for this music, because it's nothing like it. And it's a masterpiece.
John Schaefer: Yeah. It really is. Uh, it's just, uh, uh, to say crowd pleasing is, is obvious from the reaction after every movement of the piece. I, I love that. I, this is a Carnegie Hall audience. They know you are not supposed to clap between movements. And they like
Anne Akiko Meyers: I love that. I love that though. Yeah.
Jeff Spurgeon: The excitement of the music is, you can't extinguish it. You have, you have to express it somehow. Well, congratulations on this work, but, but I have to ask you too, you have a new album coming out in a few days, and again, a really wonderful, very different, interesting project that you've done with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Grant Gershon. What is, what is the rep for this new recording? What are you doing?
Anne Akiko Meyers: Um, so it's completely the opposite of this, it's Bach chorales and a beautiful piece by Morten Lauridsen called O magnum mysterium.
Jeff Spurgeon: Beautiful setting of that work. Yes. And so, it's been reset for violin and…
Anne Akiko Meyers: Yes, and choir
Jeff Spurgeon: and choir. So that's an exciting new recording and working with one of the great choruses in the country.
Anne Akiko Meyers: That was an incredible experience.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah. And so that's a new recording series...
Anne Akiko Meyers: I'm a very lucky girl.
John Schaefer: Oh, I, well, and, and an LA girl, right?
Anne Akiko Meyers: Yes. An Angelino.
John Schaefer: And, and this is your, this is the orchestra you debuted with as a kid, basically.
Anne Akiko Meyers: Yes, I did, but it's so back. It's so great to be back home here actually in New York too, because I lived here for 25 years. Yeah. Went to the Julliard School and it's like I'm back in my hood.
John Schaefer: So, with, with your old band. [laughs] What could be better?
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, congratulations again, Anne Akiko Meyers on this performance on the commission that led to the creation of this great work. We're gonna hear this piece again and again and again and again. Look what you've done. What a wonderful thing.
Anne Akiko Meyers: Thank you so much.
John Schaefer: So, what do you do now? Nolan Ryan used to soak his pitching hand in, in a pickle brine, after our game.
Anne Akiko Meyers: That sounds pretty good actually right now, maybe in a bucket of champagne.
Jeff Spurgeon: There we go. That's a perfect idea. Anne Akiko Meyers, our soloist tonight. Thank you so much for spending some time with us.
Anne Akiko Meyers: Thank you.
John Schaefer: And congratulations once again on this fabulous piece, just wonderful. The work is called Fandango for Violin and Orchestra, Arturo Márquez. And it's gotten its New York premiere on the stage here of Carnegie Hall tonight with Anne Akiko Meyers as the soloist and, uh, Gustavo Dudamel leading the LA Phil and thus ends the first half of an eventful evening here at Carnegie Hall.
Jeff Spurgeon: This is listener supported Classical New York, 105.9 FM and HD WQXR Newark, and 90.3 FM WQXW Ossining. And the evening isn't over yet because the second half of this program will feature, uh, uh, a prominent work by a great American composer. I don't think it's going to have quite the same voltage as the first half of this program, but there will be some amazing sounds.
And the music of Aaron Copland offers that widespread open sound that comes to the ear so easily, but it's really difficult to play. You have to be in tune to play Aaron Copland's music. No composer is more merciless if you are off pitched just a little bit. And, uh, as you mentioned at the beginning of the program, John, uh, even if you think you don't know Aaron Copland's Symphony number three, you know, part of it, you may just not know which part yet, but it will come to you.
John Schaefer: And that's coming up after intermission. You know, a couple of years ago, WQXR initiated a project called 19 for 19, uh, which meant working with and showcasing 19 artists in 2019. So, the before times. And violinist Anne Akiko Meyers was one of those 19 artists, and that meant that she came to our Jerome L. Greene Performance Space to perform a couple of works for us, and we're going to hear one of them now.
The piece is called Fratres, which means brothers, and it's by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. This is his most recorded piece in part because there are literally dozens of versions of it, um, versions for multiple cellos, for organ, for, uh, vocal ensemble, but the original recording made by the violinist Gidon Kremer and the pianist Keith Jared, is still the version that is most commonly heard.
And that's the version Anne Akiko Meyers brought to the Greene Space with the pianist Reiku Uchida. We recorded this back in 2019. This is Anne Akiko Meyers with Arvo Pärt’s work called Fratres.
MUSIC – Pärt: Fratres
Recorded live by WQXR in the Greene Space. Our ground floor performance venue in lower Manhattan, that is Arvo Pärt and his piece called Fratres, brothers. With violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and pianist Reiku Uchida. Meyers, of course our uh featured soloist in the Arturo Márquez violin concerto called Fandango that we heard in the first half of tonight's concert. It is intermission here at Carnegie Hall.
Jeff Spurgeon: Pretty much a sold out house tonight. To hear the first performance by the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall in 32 years, last time the orchestra was here. So, it's a special time for the orchestra revisiting New York. And as you mentioned, John, a full house tonight in, in, uh, I don't know, post pandemic is quite the right term, but as the situation evolves, uh, Carnegie is among the venues who have no longer, uh, required people to be masked to come in. Certainly, uh, recommended and optional, but not required of the audience anymore. So, uh, people are, I'm sure, a little bit more relaxed in the hall as a result of that.
John Schaefer: I mean, it looks like Carnegie Hall. Yeah. The way we remembered it.
Jeff Spurgeon: The Los Angeles Philharmonic is back on stage. Now we have a couple of minutes, uh, before, uh, the, uh, the second half of the concert begins, a single work on that program, Aaron Copland's Symphony Number Three, which is a work that he wrote at the end of the Second World War.
John Schaefer: And that really comes into play as you listen to this piece because it is a work that while it goes through a number of moods is by and large a celebratory piece. And at the end, in the fourth movement, even a triumphant piece mm-hmm. Um, so it's, it's a work that, you know, kind of exudes the optimism that swept through the United States at the end of World War II, coming on the heels of two works by Mexican composers. You may think, well, not much of a connection is there.
Jeff Spurgeon: Oh, big connection. Absolutely.
John Schaefer: Which is...
Jeff Spurgeon: well, uh, Aaron Copland was in Mexico when he began to compose this work. And, uh, we are familiar too with Aaron Copland's music, the Danzon Cubano, the Ballet Rodeo, all influenced by his time in, uh, Mexico and in Cuba. He went down to explore those different kinds of American music and found a way to bring them into his own idiom and did so with great success.
John Schaefer: Now he did finish the piece here in the States, but uh, as you say, Jeff, he began it in Mexico. And unlike a lot of his most famous pieces, the symphony number three doesn't quote from folk music or popular music unless you consider the very popular piece that forms the basis of the finale of this symphony. And that is Aaron Copland's own earlier work, Fanfare for the Common Man.
Jeff Spurgeon: It was one of what, a dozen and a half, uh, fanfares that were commissioned by, uh, Eugene Goossens from composers around the United States. And, uh, a number of, of famous composers wrote fanfares. Howard Hanson wrote one, uh, Felix Borowski wrote one, Leo Sowerby and Morton Gould and Virgil Thomson and William Grant Still, Darius Milhaud, Henry Cowell.
They all wrote some of these fanfares, but really only one of them has remained in the repertory, and that is the one that forms the basis, as you said, John, of the last movement of Aaron Copland's Symphony Number three.
John Schaefer: So, before we hear the symphony, let's hear a little bit of the piece that kind of inspired the concluding movement of the symphony Number three. And that is this 1942 composition Fanfare for the Common Man. A little bit here from the Orchestra of St. Luke's, conducted by Tito Munoz.
MUSIC – Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man
Jeff Spurgeon: You recognize that sound and you'll hear it again in just a few minutes from the Los Angeles Philharmonic on stage tuning up stage doors closed. The house is dark, and, uh, we're just a few feet away from, uh, musical and artistic director, Gustavo Dudamel, to lead the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a performance of Aaron Copland's Symphony number three, that famous fanfare that forms the, uh, basis of the final movement of this four-movement work written, as you said, John, in the 1940s commissioned actually by Serge Koussevitzky. Uh, uh, he was the one who spoke so highly of this symphony and said that it is just the essence of the American Symphony sound, at least that was the verdict in 1946 when the piece was completed.
John Schaefer: Very large percussion section, not a particularly large wind or brass compliment, but lots of percussion, uh, as well as a piano, a celesta. A couple of harps. And so, you know, there's, there's, uh, a fair amount of subtle detail in the sound of this symphony. Number three by Aaron Copland from Carnegie Hall Live.
MUSIC - Copland: Symphony No. 3
Jeff Spurgeon: From Carnegie Hall Live, a performance of the Symphony Number Three of Aaron Copland by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and their music and artistic director Gustavo Dudamel in the orchestra's first return visit to Carnegie Hall in more than three decades.
John Schaefer: Well, once again, the audience certainly enjoying tonight's concert, uh, as has happened at the end of the first half of erupting out of their seats with bravos and applause, just as they did at the conclusion of this symphony. And as for Aaron Copland, certainly a man who, who knew a hit tune when he wrote one quoting from his own greatest hit, the, uh, Fanfare for the Common Man at the beginning of the fourth movement.
And then in a kind of re-harmonized version at the very end of the piece, again, this note of exuberance of, of American optimism at the end of World War II when the piece was written still echoing all these decades later in this Symphony Number Three by Aaron Copland. Gustavo Dudamel, back out at center stage, shaking hands with, uh, various members of the orchestra, the audience on their feet, applauding just a, a concert that has really shown us the best of the LA Phil in terms of not just form, you know, not just the, the, the things that we have heard, but the way that they've been presented.
Jeff Spurgeon: And part of that credit goes to Dudamel, especially in the earlier works on this program, the Mexican influence, highly rhythmic works, uh, for which he has such a special flair, such a special skill.
John Schaefer: And also finding the connections between, uh, these North American composers, uh, Gabriela Ortiz and Arturo Márquez in the first. And Aaron Copland in the second half who began this piece, as we mentioned earlier, in Mexico, while in residence in Mexico.
Jeff Spurgeon: The work was given its first performance in October of 1946 in Boston, just a month later, it was, uh, given its Carnegie Hall premiere. Serge Koussevitzky, the conductor who commissioned the work and for whom it was written called the Third Symphony of Copland, the greatest American symphony. "It goes from the heart to the heart," he said. More cheers for Gustavo Dudamel and more cheers for members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Dudamel walking among the orchestra saying, "Stand up. Stand up" to particular members of the orchestra,
John Schaefer: uh, including the timpanist, because of course, the fanfare for the common man is the timpanist’s greatest hit, and it is reprised in the, uh, the final movement of that symphony number three, and that's probably the shrieking that you're hearing now.
Jeff Spurgeon: That's pretty wonderful to hear that in a concert where an Aaron Copland Symphony has been performed. And as, as we noted in the earlier part, the audience has been so responsive. They had been unable to sit on their hands. And it seems to me, John, that, that that whole business about don't clap between movements is beginning to go away.
Yeah. At least in American houses. Can't speak for the ones in Europe, but in this country, audiences are, they're thrilled to be hearing music, thrilled to be back hearing music live in a concert hall, and then they have a great American orchestra to, to bring them those works. Such a pleasure. And I have to add too, as we watch these salutes for various members of the orchestra, Dudamel still walking in the orchestra, calling them out, and they're all getting applause from their colleagues in the orchestra too. It speaks so wonderfully for the, the, uh, sense of repartee in the LA Phil.
John Schaefer: Well, given the reaction from the crowd here at Carnegie Hall, and now the entire orchestra on its feet, the standing ovation continues off stage. There's now a lot of standing on stage. Nobody has left the stage yet. So, that suggests that, uh, we may not quite be done with, uh, with live music making on stage here at Carnegie Hall. In fact, the members of the orchestra are now retaking their seats.
Jeff Spurgeon: It doesn't seem like they're going anywhere,
John Schaefer: well certainly the audience isn't going anywhere
Jeff Spurgeon: Maestro Dudamel off stage once more. But, uh, we all know what we're hoping to have happen. It seems like the orchestra's anticipating it. And the stage door opens once again, out goes Dudamel. Audience still on its feet. Orchestra seated. Dudamel walking comfortably toward the podium. He stands up
John Schaefer: and the audience is going to get what they wanted.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yep. Here comes the encore.
MUSIC - Copland: Billy the Kid
John Schaefer: A little encore from the LA Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel. And in retrospect, Jeff, perhaps an inevitable encore celebration from Aaron Copland's ballet, Billy the Kid. Yeah, music with the conductor, doing a little dancing himself on the podium.
Jeff Spurgeon: There were some Los Angeles Philharmonic staff members next to us backstage who were also doing some nice dancing for us. So, we got to enjoy that as well. As we heard the encore that music from, uh, the ballet Billy the Kid, 1938. The staff backstage as Maestro Dudamel came in, pointed directly at him, it was the same gesture that Dudamel used on the podium to call to the trumpet for that final note of the encore. And they all pointed at Dudamel as he came off stage.
John Schaefer: Well, you know, I mean, if you have old friends that you haven't seen for 30 years and they come over for dinner, you don't just say, well, that was a great meal. Goodbye. You know, you have a little celebratory drink or something afterwards. And that's what we've just heard.
Jeff Spurgeon: That's exactly right. And the audience was not interested in going anywhere. Uh, enjoying the first appearances at Carnegie Hall by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in more than 32 years. Well, 32 years and almost a month exactly. Maestro Dudamel once again, back on stage with the orchestra on its feet.
John Schaefer: And so is the audience here at Carnegie Hall, once again, it's been, uh, it's been a memorable evening and, um, dance music has run through a fair portion of it. You know, the ballet score was not a bad way to wrap up a concert that began with all kinds of dance rhythms from Mexico and the Caribbean in the works that we heard by Gabriela Ortiz and Arturo Márquez. And then this, uh, this concluding celebration from the Billy the Kid Ballet Suite by Aaron Copland.
Classical New York is 105.9 FM and HD, WQXR Newark, and 90.3 FM WQXW Ossining. You're listening to a broadcast concert from Carnegie Hall Live backstage. Jeff Spurgeon. John Schaefer. On stage, still Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Jeff Spurgeon: And now the house lights are up. Stage doors are open and the musicians filing past, uh, most of them filing past we're actually, uh, we're gonna snag two of them as they go because we have a couple of members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic who, uh, who were a part of this orchestra the last time the band was in town.
And so, we welcome to the microphone now one of the bassists in the LA Phil. Mr. Peter Rofé been with the orchestra since 1986. Thank you so much for being with us.
Peter Rofé: My pleasure to be here.
Jeff Spurgeon: Congratulations on the performance. Do you tell us how, how is this different from the last time you were here with this orchestra?
Peter Rofé: Well, main difference is I was a lot younger.
Jeff Spurgeon: That makes perfect sense.
Peter Rofé: I, I joined the orchestra in the fall of ‘86 and my first performance at Carnegie was in the spring of ‘88. And I remember thinking, I've arrived because Carnegie is the premier concert venue in the country.
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, that's really, you're, but come on, you're, you're really saying something, Mr. Rofé, because Disney Hall is a fabulous place to make music.
Peter Rofé: Yes, it is. Yes, it is. And, and, but there's something about this stage and this history that, well, maybe in, in a hundred years, Disney will have that kind of history, but this is the place.
John Schaefer: And of course, 30 years ago, Disney Hall was not even a gleam in Frank Gehry's eye, so yeah.
Peter Rofé: Or, or in our orchestra leadership’s eyes.
John Schaefer: So, it was very much a, a, a different place that you were playing in, in, in LA and coming to Carnegie Hall would've been like going to the cathedral or something.
Peter Rofé: Right. Well, also where we were playing was the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, which is a multipurpose hall. And so I was, you know, the thing about halls is, is the bass sound and, and something like
John Schaefer: said the bassist [laughs]
Peter Rofé: Yeah. Yeah. And something like a multipurpose hall. The bass just doesn't carry. Yeah. And I felt like, well, I'm playing for myself because nobody out there can hear it. And when I walked out on this stage and you start playing, and I feel the vibration of the floor from my bass, I'm going, "Yes, again. I've arrived."
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, that's a pretty wonderful thing to experience that over such a long period of time. But you, but the orchestra's on tour now, so you've been in a, in a few other places. How is it feeling being back on the road for this orchestra?
Peter Rofé: You, you mean back on the road since Covid? Is that what you mean?
Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah. Yeah.
Peter Rofé: I love touring. Best part of, for me, the best part of being in an orchestra like this is we tour, and I get to see the world and I play all the great concert halls in the world. And I love that.
John Schaefer: What's it like, I mean, the last time the orchestra was here was 30 plus years ago. Who was conducting back then?
Peter Rofé: Uh, Andre Previn.
John Schaefer: Okay.
Peter Rofé: It was Andre Previn. And I kind of recall, I mean, I, I don't have a great memory, but I think we performed William Schuman, Symphony. Am I right? Do you guys have that info? I can't, I can't remember exactly, but some, I do remember we played with Manny Ax, uh, Beethoven Piano Concerto. And we did two concerts back-to-back. And we also did the Barber violin concerto with Perlman. That I remember.
John Schaefer: What's it like now working with Gustavo Dudamel? How is it different?
Peter Rofé: Than? Well, look, Dudamel is the best conductor I've worked with. Sorry, all you other guys that I've worked with, but this guy's got it.
Jeff Spurgeon: That's, that's pretty high praise. Well, joining us now too is one of the cellists from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, uh, Gloria Lum who has been with the orchestra a similar length of time. Did you come to Carnegie? You, you've played here before?
Gloria Lum: Yes. I remember coming here actually twice because we came here first with Previn prior to like the ‘90 time. But yes, I definitely remember coming.
Jeff Spurgeon: And how does the hall sound to you now on this return visit?
Gloria Lum: You know, the hall is fabulous and it's such an iconic institution for all musicians. It's always a thrill to play here. You know, I think we've all grown up knowing about playing in Carnegie Hall, so it is such a thrill to be able to do it.
John Schaefer: As a cellist, how does it feel to be seated front and center in the orchestra? Is that something that Gustavo Dudamel just came up with on his own?
Gloria Lum: No, it's called European seating and we used to sit with the cellos on the outside, the two violins next to each other. And I think with the, going into Walt Disney Concert Hall, they sort of felt that the cellos and basses just projected better sitting next to the first violins. And so that's how we got put there. And you know, sometimes it's great because you're sitting right in the middle of the orchestra, and sometimes I'm sitting right next to the piccolo. Can be a little bit painful, although she's a wonderful player.
Jeff Spurgeon: Life cannot be absolutely perfect.
Gloria Lum: This is true.
Jeff Spurgeon: Even, even in the Los Angeles Philharmonic and in Carnegie Hall. Um, but you are in the, in the middle of a, of a tour. How is that feeling for you as well? We, we talked to Peter about that, but, but you're back on the road and with audiences.
Gloria Lum: You know, it, there's a different feeling when you go out on the road. It's always super exciting and it's wonderful to play in great halls - like we played in Symphony Hall in Boston - to play here in Carnegie. You know, it gives the orchestra a very different sense of itself, and I think being able to play for new audiences is also very invigorating for the orchestra. So, you know, we're on our, we're on our A game for sure.
John Schaefer: Well, now, the first half tonight, the, the two of you as the lower half of the, the string section, you know, the cellos and the basses had a lot to do with all those Latin rhythms, those Mexican rhythms and stuff. How is it playing that repertoire?
Peter Rofé: I personally, I love the repertoire. We do. This orchestra is known for doing, is known for doing, uh, different things. We're, we're not a traditional old-style orchestra. We do tons of contemporary music. We commission tons of like tonight, you know.
John Schaefer: Right.
Peter Rofé: I think you heard. And also, last night, you know, so I love the variety of the repertoire that we do.
Jeff Spurgeon: And you're going to take these pieces now to Mexico. Considering the reception you got tonight. I, I, I can't imagine what the reaction will be of the audiences to, to Gabriela's piece, to Arturo Márquez’s.
Gloria Lum: Well, you should grab a flight and join us.
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, thanks for the offer. I, I think we'll be busy, but it's, but it's wonderful. Congratulations to both of you. Thanks for sharing a little bit of the, of the perspective of being here before. I bet your colleagues in the orchestra have been asking you about that a little bit too. About, about being here before, um, what to expect. What's it like?
Gloria Lum: Yeah. It's a wonderful hall. It is always such a pleasure to play here.
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, we are so grateful for your time, so thanks to you bassist Peter Rofé and cellist Gloria Lum for sharing some Carnegie Hall memories with us.
Gloria Lum: Thank you.
Jeff Spurgeon: Members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic with us tonight. We've had quite a concert, John.
John Schaefer: Yes, we have! The first performance of the LA Philharmonic in this hall for over three decades
Jeff Spurgeon: with two New York premieres to boot by Gabriela Ortiz and Arturo Márquez with violinist Anne Akiko Meyers in the work that she got out of Márquez, that I, well, we both said it's going to keep going for a long time.
John Schaefer: Yeah. A, a, a winner for sure. Our thanks to Clive Gillinson and the staff of Carnegie Hall, WQXR's team includes engineers, Edward Haber, George Wellington, Bill Siegmund, and Duke Markos. Our production team, Eileen Delahunty, Lauren Purcell-Joiner, Laura Boyman and Aimee Buchanan. Leadership support for WQXR is provided by The Jerome L. Greene Foundation, The Carson Family Charitable Trust, the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation, and The Thompson Family Foundation.
Jeff Spurgeon: I'm Jeff Spurgeon.
John Schaefer: And I'm John Schaefer. Carnegie Hall Live is a co-production of Carnegie Hall and WQXR in New York.
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