Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra

String Quartet

Azusa Tashiro and Elizabeth Huffman, violins

Amanda Grimm, viola

Jacob Hanegan, cello

April 21, 2021

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts

David Schwan, host

Program:

Anton Webern – Langsamer Satz (9′)

Florence Price – String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor (26′)

I. Moderato

II. Andante cantabile

III. Juba: Allegro

IV. Finale: Allegro

Azusa Tashiro is Concertmaster for Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) and is originally from Chiba, Japan. She started playing violin at the age of 4 and continued her studies at the Toho School of Music and DePaul University, where she studied with the renowned violinist Ilya Kaler. She is the former concertmaster of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and is a guest concertmaster of the Orchestra Iowa. She has also performed with various ensembles such as the Minnesota Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Joffrey Ballet.  Azusa is enthusiastic about performing non-traditional forms of music; she has been a member of the Peter Jankovic Ensemble (Classical guitar/String Quartet), and has frequently performed with the Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues and the Fifth House Ensemble.

Elizabeth Huffman joined IPO as Assistant Concertmaster in 2005. An active freelance musician, Elizabeth has performed with multiple artists and orchestras across the country. In addition to performing with the IPO, she is a member of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra. When she is not performing, Elizabeth maintains a studio of approximately 20 violin students. She is the Assistant Director at the Oak Park String Academy, where her students range in age from 5-17 years old. In her work with such young musicians, Elizabeth is passionate about building character and appreciation for music at an early age. She hopes to build a legacy of future musicians and future audience members for both the IPO and all live music.

Violinist and violist, Amanda Grimm is Acting Principal Violist with IPO.  She enjoys a versatile career as a freelance artist in the greater Chicago area. A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and Carnegie Mellon University, she has performed as a soloist, recitalist, and concertmaster in both the United States and abroad. The current Principal Violist of the Elgin Symphony, Ms. Grimm has performed as a violinist and violist with the Milwaukee, Northwest Indiana, and Wheeling Symphonies, as well as Chicago Philharmonic, and Chicago Chamber Orchestras. As an instructor, Ms. Grimm has maintained a private studio for fifteen years. She has been on the faculty at the Merit School of Music, Chicago Opera Theater Education Division, Chicago School of Music, and Lincoln Park Performing Arts High School (PA). Dedicated to music education, she also regularly performs outreach concerts and programs in the Chicago Public Schools and at various schools, colleges, and universities throughout the country.

Jacob Hanegan joined Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra as Principal Cellist in April, 2019. Along with his Chicagoland performances, Jake regularly performs with the Sarasota Orchestra, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, and the Seattle Symphony. He holds a Bachelor of Music from the Eastman School of Music, a Master of Music from Rice University, and was a New World Symphony fellow from 2016 to 2019.

Anton Webern (1883-1945)

Langsamer Satz (1905) 

Those unfamiliar with Anton Webern might be more familiar with his contributions to music as one of the founding fathers of the Second Viennese School and the 12 tone system; an atonal system in which the musical line must cycle through all 12 musical pitches before repeating again. While a leader in this new style, much of his earlier works are quite romantic and tonal in style, including his Langsamer Satz.

This Langsamer Satz (Slow Movement) was written in 1905 when Webern was only 22 years old. The summer that this was written, Webern was on a holiday in the mountains outside of Vienna with his soon to be fiancé who would later become his wife. This movement perfectly encapsulates the post Brahms Romantic style of the turn of the century, full of tenderness, optimism and yearning, typical of young love.

Florence Price (1888-1953)

String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor (1935) 

Florence Price was born in 1887 in Little Rock, Arkansas and would grow up to become the first black female composer to have a symphony performed by a major American Orchestra. That Orchestra was our own Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Music Director Frederick Stock and they performed Price’s Symphony No. 1 in E minor on June 15, 1933 at the Auditorium Theatre as part of Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition. Written in 1935, two years after her CSO premiere, Price wrote her 2nd String Quartet. This quartet evokes the composer’s African-American heritage while nodding back to the post-romantic era of beautiful lush harmonies and melodies.

The opening Moderato movement starts with a still but haunting repeated line accompanying a lamenting melody. When combined this can only be described as a purely American combination, sounding eerily familiar to the opening of the Lento movement from Dvořák’s ‘American’ String Quartet. We then settle into a peaceful but still troubling main melody, driven by the contrasting tension of the two emotions.

The second movement, Andante cantabile, begins much like the opening movement, with a soft emotive touch. Exploring occasional dissonance, this movement touches on these modern ideas while not straying too far away from her idiomatic ‘Florence Price’ sound, best characterized as a blend of traditional western classical music and the Slave Spirituals of a horrific time in American history. 

For fans of Florence Price’s Symphony No. 1 in E minor, this third movement, Juba: Allegro will bring to mind the Juba from the Symphony. It’s imaginable that given the close proximity of the two works, that she might have simply been reusing musical materials, but more likely she was nodding to the dance style of her ancestors. The Juba dance was a dance created by the African-American Slaves, dances which were thought to reduce their sense of pain and suffering. 

We start the closing movement Finale: Allegro with an upbeat but positively minor melody. It’s not long before we take a turn to a warmer lovely melody, though ever expanding with hints of her modern trending. We land in the major key, and then get a set of quasi-cadenzas that ruminate before bringing us back to the opening melodies and excitement that goes along with the themes.

Program Notes by Ashley Ertz

 

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts are made possible through the generosity of the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council and the Union League Club of Chicago.
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts are presented in partnership with the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and 98.7 WFMT

Don’t miss James Vaughen and Ann Newton Vaughen

next week on the

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts!

Wednesday April 28, 12:15pm

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