MUSIC - Brian Raphael Nabors: Fanfare for a New Era
Paul Cavalconte: And live from the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park, the Novus New York Brass Quintet.
And kicking off the Naumburg Orchestral concert here at this historic 100 year old Bandshell. The music you just heard is a world premiere by the composer, Brian Raphael Nabors called Fanfare for a New Era, written as part of this centennial celebration because this beautiful bandshell was built in 1923 and donated by Elkan Naumburg, he placed a dedication on the front that says, “Presented To the City of New York and its Music Lovers”.
I'm Paul Cavalconte from WQXR, and tonight we are broadcasting live from Central Park and with a concert from a group formed by the Baroque violinist Aisslinn Nosky. Now, for those of you who are regulars to the Naumburg orchestral concerts, you may remember Aisslinn performed here last summer as part of her role as Concert Master for the Handel and Haydn Society.
So please, let's welcome Aisslinn Nosky to the mic.
Great to see you, Aisslinn. Please tell us about this ensemble. They are your baroque band. I mean, this is a professional endeavor and it's also Friends Night Out.
Aisslinn Nosky: That's right, yeah. This is uh my version of a dream come true. This is a collection of some of my best friends and most, uh, inspiring colleagues from New York City and Boston and uh, Philadelphia, east coast.
Paul Cavalconte: So where do they come from and and what's your connections?
Aisslinn Nosky: Well, some of these people I know from working at the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston, some of them are my colleagues there. A few of them I know from here in New York City because I live here on the Upper West Side. Um, and we've come together over the years playing different gigs in different places. And so when I was invited to perform here, they, they all came first to mind.
Paul Cavalconte: So Baroque music has had a funny history because for a period of time it was kind of like this unknown thing. And then it went through a period of great vogue, and then it just kinda, you know, and then it got ratcheted up again. So, so you've been following this trajectory, this line of interest in the Baroque.
Aisslinn Nosky: Sure.
Paul Cavalconte: But what was the hook for you personally?
Aisslinn Nosky: Well, I've missed the "you know" phase because I've always found it to be incredibly exciting. And I think that, you know, when I was studying regular violin in, in conservatory, I was very happy.
I was very content. Modern violin was, was something I loved. But I went to a Baroque bands concert, Baroque orchestra called Tafelmusik in Toronto and Canada, and I couldn't believe the fun that I saw occurring on stage. They looked like they were dancing and I wanted to know more about what that was about.
So I started to befriend them and started to study Baroque performance practice. And here we are.
Paul Cavalconte: That is a very good point. And you know there are people like John Eliot Gardiner, Jeanne Lamon, they really made it fun again because it was the people's music. It was for entertainment, it was party music from another time.
So let's put a party wig and hat on and have a ball. Thank you for stopping to talk to us. Let's get ready. We're gonna start with a piece by Francesco Geminiani. It is a concerto grosso. So with everybody in their proper positions, please let's give a proper welcome and a partying welcome at that to Aisslinn Nosky Baroque Band to the Naumburg Orchestral Concerts.
MUSIC - Geminiani: Concerto Grosso no. 10 in F major
Paul Cavalconte: On WQXR, that was Concerto Grosso number 10 in F by Francesco Geminiani and performed by Aisslinn Nosky's Baroque Band live in Central Park. I'm Paul Cavalconte. We are broadcasting from the Naumburg Bandshell here in Central Park. And I'd just like you to know, this is a kind of a disclaimer. There will be a substantial amount of tuning tonight, not just because it's kind of baked into the music and the vintage instruments, but it's humid.
I mean, it's a bad hair evening. You know it's gonna be an even worse viola evening. So they're figuring it out. And in the meanwhile, I'll tell you that we are going old school tonight with music from the Baroque era. We kicked off this concert with a work by Geminiani, who was a student of Scarlatti’s and also Francesco Corelli.
And like many composers of that time, he made his way to London earning his living primarily as a violinist. His playing style even uh, uh, earned him the nickname Madman. So he must have, uh uh, broken a few strings and cut loose. Up next, it'll be a concerto for two violins by another Italian, Antonio Vivaldi.
Now Vivaldi is one of the most famous composers of the Baroque era, and we're gonna hear a few of his works tonight. It is widely known that Vivaldi spent much of his life as a teacher, conductor and composer for an orphanage called Ospedale della Pieta. Ospedale della Pieta. There we go. The Italian lessons are coming in handy. And here is the Vivaldi music on WQXR Live from the Naumburg Bandshell.
MUSIC - Vivaldi: Concerto for two violins in A minor, RV 522
Paul Cavalconte: Well, we promised a party vibe and we got it. And the group of besties, old friends who play together with great passion, Aisslinn Nosky's Baroque Band, have just performed a concerto by Antonio Vivaldi for two violins. The featured violins were Aisslinn Nosky and Maureen Murchie. I'm Paul Cavalconte and we are at the Naumburg Bandshell here in Central Park for the fourth concert in this summer series.
And tonight we're celebrating music of the Baroque era. Now, it was another time we talked about how Antonio Vivaldi was a teacher at a particular home for girls and young women in Venice. And people had attitudes in those days about that sort of thing. And here are the actual words of a critic of Vivaldi's time writing about women's instrument choices.
"The harpsichord, spinnet, lute and base violin," writes this person of Vivaldi's time, "are instruments most agreeable to the ladies. But there are some others that are really unbecoming to the fair sex; the flute, the violin, and the oboe. The last of which is too manlike and would look indecent in a woman’s mouth; and the flute is very improper, taking away too much of the juices, which are otherwise more necessarily employed to promote the appetite, and assist digestion."
Wow. Would that guy be canceled in today's world. But we don't have to worry about that. It's all part of his history pressed beneath glass. But this music is alive and vibrant in this humid summer night at the Naumburg Bandshell and in its hundredth anniversary year. It certainly is a beautiful framing for the music we're about to hear by one of the granddaddies of the Baroque, George Frideric Handel.
MUSIC - Handel: Concerto Grosso Op. 6, no. 1 in G Major
Paul Cavalconte: Live from the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park on WQXR Classical 105.9 FM and HD, WQXR Newark 90.3 FM, WQXW Ossining. That, the music of George Frideric Handel. We heard his Concerto Grosso, Opus six, number one, dating from 1739 and it was performed by our, uh, special, uh, I'm gonna call them band of friends. The Aisslinn Nosky group. Uh, they are, uh, kindred spirits and they specialize in music of the Baroque. And that Concerto Grosso is, uh, one of the highlights now of the fourth concert in the summer series of Naumburg orchestral concerts. And we're gonna be broadcasting, uh, next week's live from WQXR as well, weather permitting.
So, uh, Aisslinn Nosky's Baroque Band is tuning up, and for our last piece of this first half of the concert, we're expecting another work by an Antonio Vivaldi. This one will be a concerto for cello in D. Now the featured cellist in this work is Guy Fishman. Fishman, the principal cellist of the Handel and Haydn Society.
He's performed with the Boston Baroque, Apollo’s Fire, Les Violons du Roy, and many others. And he's also toured with pop star Natalie Merchant. We'll have a chance to talk with Fishman later in the broadcast. Right now, here's Antonio Vivaldi's Concerto for cello in D. Performed by Aisslinn Nosky’s Baroque Band with featured cellist Guy Fishman, live at the Naumburg Bandshell on WQXR.
MUSIC - Vivaldi: Concerto for cello in D minor, RV 405
Paul Cavalconte: A concerto for cello by Antonio Vivaldi, performed by Aisslinn Nosky's Baroque Band live at the Naumburg Bandshell, the featured cellist Guy Fishman. And we are broadcasting live on WQXR from this benchmark summer event, something we look forward to, and it's always a roll of the dice in terms of weather. And today we lucked out in a huge way with some powerful storms having rolled through the area, but they are out of the atmosphere now.
And the only thing resounding is the music and the applause. It's a cool evening too. We do have a heat wave coming in the next bunch of days. So tonight is, well, it's our night out to play and to enjoy, uh, each other's company and to enjoy this live concert broadcast. So intermission time is rolled around at the Naumburg Bandshell and coming up in the second half of the concert, we're looking forward to music by Arcangelo Corelli, Henry Purcell, and JS Bach.
And there's one more concert in this series at the Naumburg Bandshell here in Central Park, and this time by the group called ECCO, the East Coast Chamber Orchestra. They're going to be here on August 1st. Music by Mozart, Joseph Suk, Jamaican composer Eleanor Alberga and William Grant Still. And, uh, that's going to be the very last show in the series.
But, uh, we are looking forward to, uh, an ongoing event, uh, you know, summer after summer here at the Naumburg Bandshell, uh, opportunities to meet new friends as well as to welcome old friends. And the theme that has been running through this evening is old and new friends, uh, enjoying each other's company and re-acquaintance through music.
And so, uh, let's talk a little bit more, uh, to Aisslinn about that aspect and how you put this program together.
Aisslinn Nosky: Oh, yes. Well, I was lucky enough to perform here last summer with the Handel and Haydn Society. And so, um, I've had a wonderful experience and I thought of trying to bring music that would suit the wonderful positive atmosphere that the audience brings.
So I tried to think of some of my favorite cheerful, energetic music that would, that would be, convey itself well over the beautiful sounds of nature that we have here.
Paul Cavalconte: Now are you gonna be doing other concerts with this Baroque band this summer?
Aisslinn Nosky: Not this summer, but I hope to in the future. Everybody's quite busy with a lot of other engagements, but hopefully we can find some time.
Paul Cavalconte: So we heard a couple of things by Vivaldi, we heard Handel. Uh, how did you pick the pieces? Is there a theme for the concert tonight?
Aisslinn Nosky: Um, no really the theme was sort of what would, what would make a festive, fun party atmosphere. Um, I wanted to pick some of my favorite composers, which are Vivaldi, Bach, Handel and Corelli. And then, um, in this case for Guy Fishman, he recorded that concerto, um, recently, and it, it's one of my favorite recordings. So I asked him if he would consider sharing it tonight, so.
Paul Cavalconte: Now you are originally from Canada. I understand you were inspired to play the violin after watching an episode of Sesame Street.
Aisslinn Nosky: Mm-hmm. That's the family lore. My mother tells me that I was watching, I was watching, we think it might have been Big Bird with the great, Itzhak Perlman and apparently I pointed at the screen and I said, "I wanna do that when I grow up." And I think she was just happy that I wasn't pointing at Big Bird. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm a big fan.
Paul Cavalconte: Um, there isn't, but I would've had the same parental apprehension.
Aisslinn Nosky: She, she marched me out the next day and she asked, well, would you like to try it just to make sure you like playing the violin? I said, oh, sure, sure. I got a tiny little violin and some lessons and I'm still working on it to this day.
Paul Cavalconte: Well, it's a wonderful, um, tableau on stage for music and instrument geeks because we are looking at a lot of period instruments.
Aisslinn Nosky: Mm-hmm.
Paul Cavalconte: And, uh, I must ask you, do you ever play modern violin?
Aisslinn Nosky: Um, I don't right now because I simply don't have enough hours in the day. But for, for many years in my career I was doing about 50% modern violin in 50% Baroque. I still have a modern violin. I still love to do it, uh, but I just don't have as much time for it, so.
Paul Cavalconte: And as we pointed out, uh, in our commentary between your performances, there is more than the usual amount of tuning.
Aisslinn Nosky: Mm-hmm.
Paul Cavalconte: It's the nature of the instruments themselves. It's also this catastrophic hair day that we're all having. So tell me about how atmosphere and the season…
Aisslinn Nosky: Yeah.
Paul Cavalconte: …and being outdoors and the age of the instrument.
Aisslinn Nosky: Sure.
Paul Cavalconte: And how do all these things come into play?
Aisslinn Nosky: Come together? Well, we've been blessed because we had some very stormy weather earlier in the day, but everything magically cleared up and gave us the chance to play this concert.
But there is a lingering extreme amount of humidity and our instruments, for many reasons, well, they're all made of wood, every single one of them. And so they are busy absorbing the moisture in the air and changing shape slowly but surely, which means they change their pitch. And as well, the strings are made out of, mostly made out of, uh, sheep intestine, sheep or, or goat or cow intestine.
And those are very porous materials that also just absorb any kind of water.
Paul Cavalconte: But that's where the tone comes from.
Aisslinn Nosky: Yeah. And the, if the string gets, absorbs water, it gets longer, which makes it, of course, a longer string is a lower pitch. So that's why you hear so much tuning. It's fun. It's part of the fun.
Paul Cavalconte: So there is a, a, a kind of a mutt instrument. It's like the, the instrument equivalent of a Labradoodle. It's a cross between a banjo and a ukulele. And it's called the banjolele.
Aisslinn Nosky: The banjolele, yes. It is very loud.
Paul Cavalconte: Now, do you ever play Jolene on the banjolele?
Aisslinn Nosky: I wish I had the skill set to play anything ever written by the great Dolly Parton.
Paul Cavalconte: Do you ever surprise folks with this instrument?
Aisslinn Nosky: Um, no. My roommates don't usually like it very much. They can tell if I'm trying to play it all the way from the elevator, let's say. I'm really an amateur at the banjolele.
Paul Cavalconte: Now, I'd imagine that that this music for the precision of its tuning and execution and so on, as we've been talking about, really is great in a controlled and focused environment.
This is anything but that. It's like a cocktail party right now at intermission when you're performing any number of mechanical or avian or other creature noises could, uh, you know, join the party. So, so how do you feel playing out of doors?
Aisslinn Nosky: Oh, well, it, it, you know, you do notice these, these noises, but, and if anything it enhances our experience because it reminds us, uh, that our audience is here and not only part of our audience is nature and all the animals in it.
I mean, it's, it makes it a little more difficult to keep our instruments in tune. But the, the trade-off is definitely worth it because the, as I said before, the sort of festive party vibe of these wonderful audience members who love music so much. Really, we, we will do anything to come and play.
Paul Cavalconte: To that point for sure. And also the reality that when this music was created, it was a time when the world was a little more rough around the edges.
Aisslinn Nosky: Yeah.
Paul Cavalconte: And, you know, you got some mud on your boots.
Aisslinn Nosky: Yeah.
Paul Cavalconte: So, uh, maybe the rehearsal, you know, the players were not as rehearsed as they are today.
Aisslinn Nosky: Oh, definitely. Oh, for sure.
Paul Cavalconte: And maybe the scores were not as exactly copied. If they were copied by hand, maybe they were, in other words, it was a hot mess back then.
Aisslinn Nosky: It's very authentic. Yeah. That part of it.
Paul Cavalconte: So what are we looking forward to in the second half?
Aisslinn Nosky: Uh, well the big finisher is gonna be one of my favorite violin concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach, in A Minor. It's thought that he maybe wrote that for one of his or both of his sons who were learning to play violin.
And I've, I've been trying to master that work my whole life and it never ceases to amaze me. I, I love it more every time I play it. And before that, a little bit of, uh, English music to take a break from the Italianate style will have some Henry Purcell, some dances from his Fairy Queen operetta.
Paul Cavalconte: Well, that is wonderful. Thank you so much, Aisslinn Nosky. We're gonna hear something from last year's performance by, you know them well, the Handel and Haydn Society. They were recorded right here last summer by WQXR at the Naumburg Bandshell. So let's listen to a concerto grosso by the English composer Charles Avison. It's his number five in D Minor.
MUSIC - Avison: Concerto Grosso No. 5 in D Minor
Paul Cavalconte: And that was the, uh, Charles Avison, uh, concerto played by the Handel and Haydn Society, uh, and more Naumburg Bandshell live broadcast music. Uh, we're hearing excerpts from previous presentations here on WQXR Classical 105.9 FM, WQXR.org. You can click there to hear A Far Cry. They performed at the last Naumburg Bandshell event. What we're gonna do is dial it back to a few years ago and, uh, enjoy some music by Mozart.
MUSIC - Mozart: Divertimento in F Major
Paul Cavalconte: Welcome back to the second half of this concert by Aisslinn Nosky's Baroque Band. And we are here in Central Park at the Naumburg Bandshell broadcasting live on WQXR. I'm Paul Cavalconte and I would like to introduce you to the cellist from this ensemble. Please welcome Guy Fishman.
Now the folks listening on air just heard an excerpt of a recording that was done here. You're no stranger to the Bandshell. It was with the Handel and Haydn Society with Aisslinn Nosky. And what did you think, uh, when she wanted to start this band?
Guy Fishman: Uh, I think like all of my colleagues, I thought, uh, when and where and how much. No, I thought it was great.
Paul Cavalconte: How much repertoire, or?
Guy Fishman: How much repertoire, of course, how much repertoire. I thought it was a wonderful idea. Wonderful idea.
Paul Cavalconte: So what floats your boat about Baroque music the most. In performance, it's gotta have a certain energy to it.
Guy Fishman: Yeah. Well, I, you know, so many things. One thing that comes to mind is that if, if we show this gorgeous audience, uh, our sheet music, you'd be struck by how little information is on the page.
It's almost nothing there. It's just pitches and rhythms. No dynamics, no how loud, how soft, how fast or slow. We constantly have to, in, in invent this music. We're constantly making it up as we go. And so we're constantly listening to each other. On the highest level, it's chamber music, par excellence, it's the best kind of playing.
Paul Cavalconte: Wow, that's a wonderful insight. Now, you also play a modern cello. Is it hard to switch between the two?
Guy Fishman: Well, it's, it's. Like any sort of training, uh, this one comes down to, uh, uh, uh, preferences and your imagination. Ultimately, you know what your ear hears, your cello and your bow should be able to do. And, um, they both inform one another, the modern playing and the Baroque playing.
Paul Cavalconte: Will you introduce us to your instruments, tell us about it?
Guy Fishman: Well, sure.
Paul Cavalconte: It's a plain old, plain old, old fashioned cello?
Guy Fishman: It's, it's, it is old. It's from 1704.
Paul Cavalconte: Wow. This actual specimen. Amazing.
Guy Fishman: Yeah. Uh, and actually what's nice about this cello, uh, many things are nice about it, but, uh, 1704 in Rome, uh, and it was made by the person we believe is the, the best maker at that time in Rome, David Tecchler. And, uh, at that time, uh, Corelli himself was the greatest composer to be living in Rome. So I'm not sure if it's, uh, poss it's, it's probable, but it's possible that Corelli heard this instrument in the piece you're about to hear.
Paul Cavalconte: Wow. And how do you feel performing outdoors?
Guy Fishman: Uh, you know, it's, it's an opportunity to, uh, to enjoy. Uh, there, there are challenges about it, but there's a lot to enjoy, including this extremely gorgeous spot you have here and this beautiful, uh, audience. So we, there's a lot of beauty coming on the stage, a lot of inspiration
Paul Cavalconte: Sure is. They're, they're great tonight. They're troopers because there was no guarantee that the sky was gonna be the lovely indigo shade that it is. Now, you mentioned Corelli, uh, Purcell, Bach. Any favorites?
Guy Fishman: Um, the piece that's in front of me.
Paul Cavalconte: Anything especially fun for the cello?
Guy Fishman: I mean, uh, it's, it's, it's the, the, the rhythm section of, of what is essentially 18th century rock and roll. So, you know what that means.
Paul Cavalconte: Interesting.
Guy Fishman: We're the drummers in the back, yeah.
Paul Cavalconte: Interesting, interesting way to put it. You got, you got a strong walking baseline.
Guy Fishman: That's right. Exactly.
Paul Cavalconte: Beautiful. Well, I'll give you a chance to walk back and set up and prepare to bring some music by Arcangelo Corelli. Thank you, Guy Fishman.
So the Corelli piece is going to be a Concerto Grosso. Uh, this is his Opus six, number eight, performed by the Aisslinn Nosky's Baroque Band live at the Naumburg Bandshell. And, as we've mentioned, for the benefit of the listening audience, there will be some tuning, and then when everything is just right, super taught and perfectly expressive, we'll go into the Corelli piece, live on the radio, and from the Naumburg Bandshell, and on WQXR.
MUSIC - Corelli: Concerto Grosso Op. 6, no. 8
Paul Cavalconte: Music by Arcangelo Corelli, a Concerto Grosso performed by the Aisslinn Nosky Baroque Band. Live at the Naumburg Bandshell here in Central Park on Classical New York, 105.9 WQXR.
The next work on this program is by Henry Purcell. It is a suite from the Fairy Queen that is loosely based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
We're having just that with this beautiful, now clear weather in Central Park. A lovely evening to take in the music of long ago, and Henry Purcell had a short but very prolific career. He's considered one of the most original composers of his time. He wrote for the church, the stage, the court, and private concerts.
His compositions include more than a hundred songs. The opera Dido and Aeneas, as well as the incidental music, The Fairy Queen, which we're about to hear in a moment. As they're tuning up. I'll tell you, The Fairy Queen was written only a few years before Purcell died. He was only in his mid-thirties. The score for The Fairy Queen was lost, but then rediscovered in the early part of the 20th century in a pile of manuscripts of the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Purcell is considered one of the most original composers of his time. And so here is the suite from The Fairy Queen by Henry Purcell, played by Aisslinn Nosky's Baroque Band, live at the Naumburg Bandshell.
MUSIC - Purcell: Suite from Fairy Queen
Paul Cavalconte: Clearly a crowd pleaser. Music by Henry Purcell, a suite from his incidental music, The Fairy Queen, performed by the Aisslinn Nosky Baroque Band, live at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park. It's Paul Cavalconte. We've been broadcasting all of these Naumburg orchestral concerts live from the Bandshell here in Central Park this season, and there is one more piece on this concert tonight. It is a concerto for violin by the granddaddy of them all, Johann Sebastian Bach. Now Bach, of course, is known for his keyboard work, but he was also a proficient violinist and his son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach said this about his father's relationship with the instrument from his youth up to fairly old age, "he played the violin purely and with a penetrating tone, and thus kept the orchestra in top form, much better than he could have from the harpsichord. He completely understood the possibilities of all stringed instruments." Thanks to music writer James M. Keller for unearthing that quote from CPE Bach about JS.
He wrote eight sonatas for violin and harpsichord, and six works for solo violin. The Brandenburg Concertos feature the violin quite prominently as well. Music by JS Bach. As the orchestra tunes, and we are live from the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park on Classical New York, WQXR.
MUSIC - Bach: Concerto for violin in A minor, BWV 1041
Paul Cavalconte: And live from the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park, Johann Sebastian Bach's Concerto for Violin, BWV 1041. A work from 1730 performed on this July evening in 2023 from the Naumburg Bandshell with the Aisslinn Nosky Baroque Band. This was the debut of this ensemble as part of the Naumburg Orchestral Concert series. And again, we just heard a concerto for violin by JS Bach. A very appreciative crowd, not just for the music, but for this lovely evening, one that followed a stormy day and precedes a heat wave that will grip this city in, uh, the next couple of days. Musicians are, uh, still at their instruments and applauding each other. Aisslinn Nosky takes a bow. All rise. And we have certainly tapped into as, uh, Aisslinn promised, the party vibe of Baroque music with all of its rollicking energy. It communicates and certainly to this very appreciative Naumburg Bandshell crowd tonight. So we'll be back here at, uh, Central Park for our final concert of the Naumburg Orchestral series on Tuesday, August 1st, it'll be a concert featuring the East Coast Chamber Orchestra.
They have, uh, music by Mozart on tap, William Grant Still, a world premiere by the Jamaican composer Eleanor Alberga and Joseph Suk. Now you can learn more about these events and more by signing up for our WQXR newsletter by texting WQXR to 70101. That's texting WQXR to 70101. Our great thanks to Christopher London, president of the Naumburg Orchestral Society, and his staff, including Stage Manager Extraordinaire, Pati Dynes.
Also, thanks to L and M sound and light and our friends at SummerStage. Our WQXR team is included engineers, Edward Haber, George Wellington, Noriko Okabe and Chase Culpon. Our production team, Eileen Delahunty, Laura Boyman, and Christine, uh, Herskovits. I'm Paul Cavalconte. We're gonna send it back to our downtown studio. Now, Miyan Levenson is standing by holding the fort, and will take it from here.
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