William Welter and Winston Choi
William Welter, oboe
Winston Choi, piano
May 12, 2021
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts
David Schwan, host
Benjamin Godard – Scenes Ecossaises, Op. 138 (14′)
I. Legende Pastorale
II. Serenade a Mabel
III. Marches des highlanders
Vivian Fine – Sonatina for Oboe and Piano (8′)
I. Allegro moderato
II. Lento sostenuto
Antonio Pasculli – Fantasia sull’opera Poliuto Di Donizetti (15′)
William Welter was appointed Principal Oboe of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Music Director Riccardo Muti in June 2018. Prior to his appointment to the CSO, Welter performed as a guest musician with the Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, New York Philharmonic and as guest principal oboe of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Welter was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and participated in several esteemed music festivals including Aspen Music Festival, Bravo Vail Festival and Music Academy of the West. He also participated in Music from Angelfire by invitation of acclaimed violinist Ida Kavafian.
A native of Omaha, Nebraska and raised in Crescent, Iowa, William Welter is a 2016 graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Richard Woodhams, the longtime Principal Oboe of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Welter completed an Artist Diploma at the Oberlin Conservatory under the instruction of Robert Walters. His other teachers include Eugene Izotov, former Principal Oboe of the CSO and current Principal Oboe of the San Francisco Symphony, and Christopher Philpotts, Principal English Horn of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Welter is an alumnus of the Interlochen Arts Academy, where he studied with Daniel Stolper.
Winner of the 2002 Orléans Concours International and Laureate of the 2003 Honens International Piano Competition, Canadian pianist Winston Choi is an inquisitive performer whose fresh approach to standard repertory, and masterful understanding, performance and commitment to works by living composers, make him one of today’s most dynamic concert artists.
Known for his colorful approach to programming and insightful commentary from the stage, Choi has recently appeared in recital at the National Arts Centre of Canada, the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, New York’s Carnegie‐Weill Recital Hall and Merkin Recital Hall, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the Kravis Center in Florida, and the “Cicle Grans Solistes” in Spain. Choi performs extensively in France, having played venues such as the Salle Cortot, Lille’s Festival Rencontre Robert Casadesus, the Messiaen Festival, and Festival Musica in Strasbourg. An accomplished chamber musician, he tours regularly with his wife, MingHuan Xu as Duo Diorama, and with the Civitas Ensemble.
As a dedicated champion of contemporary music, Choi has premiered and commissioned over 100 works by young composers as well as established masters. He regularly appears in concert at IRCAM, the world’s most renowned institution for contemporary music. Already a prolific recording artist, Choi’s debut CD, the complete piano works of Elliott Carter (l’Empreinte Digitale in France) was given 5 stars by BBC Music Magazine. He is also a member of Ensemble Dal Niente, one of the most active contemporary music groups today.
Choi is Associate Professor and Head of Piano at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.
Benjamin Godard (1849-1895)
Scenes Ecossaises, Op. 138 (1892)
Benjamin Godard was a French violinist, composing during the Romantic era of music history. Though he died of tuberculosis at the age of 45, before that he would compose eight operas, five symphonies, multiple concertos, string quartets, sonatas, chamber music and hundreds of songs. Though not commonly heard of today, he remains a fixture in the oboe community for his Scenes Ecossaises, Op. 138 heard today. The first movement is as peaceful and pastoral as it’s title would suggest, complete with a lilting beat throughout only interrupted by brief oboe cadenzas. The second movement is a delightful and simple Waltz with a mini cadenza to close. The finale movement is in complete contrast, being a March which starts off quietly and sneakily. We grow and grow into a lyrical melody which still doesn’t feel settled given the perpetual motion in the piano. We find our way back to the opening materials with an even more unsettled feeling, again growing in stature until we reach the exciting conclusion tying the movement together.
Vivian Fine (1913-2000)
Sonatina for Oboe and Piano (1942)
Chicago born composer, Vivian Fine was a piano prodigy, being the youngest student ever to be awarded a scholarship to the Chicago Musical College at the age of five. She would study with Madame Djane Lavoie-Herz and Ruth Crawford who considered Fine her protege. Through Herz and Crawford, Fine would befriend composers such as Henry Cowell, Dane Rydhyar and Imre Weisshaus. Fine made her compositional debut at the age of 16, moved to New York at the age of 18 and would become a member of Aaron Copland’s Young Composers’ Group a few years later. Fine would continue to perform as well, becoming the best-known performer of contemporary piano music in New York in the 1930s, premiering works by Ives, Copland, Cowell and others. She won many awards including the Guggenheim Fellowship and grants from the Rockefeller, Ford, Koussevitsky and Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge foundations.
Premiered in 1942, Vivian Fine’s Sonatina for Oboe and Piano was written for her friend Joseph Marx and won a prize from the Music Guild of Philadelphia. The Sonatina follows a standard three movement, fast-slow-fast structure. The first movement is jubilant and simple to start with an unexpected second theme. The lyrical second movement features both the oboe and piano in both melodic and accompaniment roles. The final movement begins with the oboe alone, in what may suggest and then explores baroque-like themes in a lively style.
Antonio Pasculli (1842-1924)
Fantasia sull’opera Poliuto Di Donizetti
Commonly referred to as the Paganini of oboist, Antonio Pasculli was one the most notorious oboe virtuosos in music history. Not being challenged enough with the repertoire of his time and before, Pasculli composed his own music, utilizing the beautiful melodies of operas past and present. Fantasia sull’opera Poliuto Di Donizetti uses the melodies of Donizetti’s opera Poliuto, a tragic opera centered on the early Christian martyr Saint Polyeuctus, who is condemned to death in prison. We hear these themes in their pure form and then significantly elbatorated and expanded upon throughout, leaving the listener forgetting the original context and simply enjoying the virtuosic show.
Program Notes by Ashley Ertz
Don’t miss Colere Quartet
next week on the
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts!
Wednesday May 19, 12:15pm