The Schubert Cello Quintet

Stephanie Jeong and Gina DiBello, violins

Lawrence Neuman, viola

Brant Taylor and Kenneth Olsen, cello

June 1, 2021

Rush Hour Concerts

Kristina Lynn, pre-concert talk host

Program:

Franz Schubert – String Quintet in C Major, D. 956 (50′)

I. Allegro ma non troppo

II. Adagio

III. Scherzo. Presto – Trio. Andante sostenuto

IV. Allegretto – Più allegro

Violinist Stephanie Jeong was appointed Associate Concertmaster of the  Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2011 by Music Director Riccardo Muti. Prior  to joining the CSO, she was a member of the New York Philharmonic. The top  prize winner and recipient of the Best Paganini Concerto Prize of the 2008  Paganini Violin Competition, Jeong made her solo debut at age 12 with the  Chicago Symphony Orchestra as winner of its Feinburg Competition and the  Philadelphia Orchestra as winner of its Albert M. Greenfield Competition.  Since joining the CSO, Jeong made return appearances as soloist with the  orchestra and Music Director Riccardo Muti for Brahms Double Concerto  alongside CSO’s Assistant Principal Cellist Kenneth Olsen, Beethoven Triple  Concerto with Kenneth Olsen and Jonathan Biss, and Bach Double Violin  Concerto with Pinchas Zukerman. Recent chamber appearances include  performances at the Grand Teton Music Festival, Chamber Music International,  and various series in Chicago including Schubert Festival, Evanston Chamber  Music Society, Arts Club, and Winter Chamber Music Festival.  

At the age of 9, Jeong became one of the youngest students ever accepted  to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she studied with Aaron  Rosand. She received her bachelor’s degree from the Curtis Institute of Music  and completed her master’s degree at the Juilliard School as a student of Cho Liang Lin and Ronald Copes.  

Gina DiBello was appointed to the first violin section of the Chicago Symphony  Orchestra by Riccardo Muti in April 2013. Previously, she was principal second violin of  the Minnesota Orchestra and before that, a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.  In 2016 Gina was appointed concertmaster of the Music of the Baroque.

In addition to her orchestral work, DiBello enjoys an active solo career and performs concerti regularly with the Music of the Baroque. She routinely plays on the CSO’s  chamber series, as well as on numerous other series around Chicago. A highlight of  Gina’s career has been the opportunity to perform both Mozart Violin Concertos Nos. 3 and 5 with the Minnesota Orchestra with Stainslaw Skrowaczewski and Andrew Litton, respectively. DiBello is proud to have been a founding member of New Music Detroit, a collective dedicated to performing and promoting contemporary music. She is included on the first cd recorded by the group, Smoke— music of Marc Mellits.

DiBello attended both the Cleveland Institute of Music and Juilliard. Principal teachers  include Desiree Ruhstrat, David and Linda Cerone, and Joel Smirnoff.

Gina lives on the north side of Chicago with her husband, percussionist Ian Ding, and  their cats.

Lawrence Neuman has been a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1991. Before coming to Chicago he was violist with the Miami String Quartet. As a chamber musician he frequently is heard throughout the Chicago area and has performed across the United States and in Europe. He has appeared at festivals and chamber music series in Boston, Marlboro, La Jolla, Madison, Napa, Portland and Davenport. Chamber music collaborators have included such artists as Daniel Barenboim, Pinchas Zukerman, Yefim Bronfman, Lydia Artymiw, Gil Shaham and Aaron Rosand.

During the 1998/99 season Neuman took a leave of absence from the CSO to serve as principal viola of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. For several years he has taught viola and chamber music at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. 

A native of Saint Louis, Missouri, Neuman attended the Eastman School of Music, the University of Southern California and the Cleveland Institute of Music, and he was a student of Heidi Castleman, Donald McInnes and Robert Vernon.

Brant Taylor was appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Daniel Barenboim.  He was previously cellist of the Everest Quartet, prizewinners at the Banff and Fischoff Chamber Music Competitions, as well as a member of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.  His varied career includes solo appearances and collaborations with leading musicians throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

A dedicated teacher of both cello and chamber music, Mr. Taylor has combined performance and pedagogy throughout his career, conducting master classes and writing articles on a wide variety of musical topics.  He is a member of the faculty of DePaul University’s School of Music.

A fan of many styles of music, Mr. Taylor had a seven-year association with the band Pink Martini, appearing on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and in nightclubs and theaters across North America. He can be heard on Pink Martini’s studio release, “Hey Eugene.”

Mr. Taylor holds a Bachelor of Music degree and a Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music and a Master of Music degree from Indiana University.  His primary teachers have been Janos Starker and Paul Katz.

 

Kenneth Olsen joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as Assistant Principal Cello in 2005. He is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and a winner of the school’s prestigious concerto competition. His other awards include first prize in the Nakamichi Cello Competition at the Aspen Music Festival and second prize at the 2002 Holland-America Music Society Competition. His teachers have included Richard Aaron at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Joel Krosnick at the Juilliard School of Music and Luis Garcia-Renart at Bard College. He also has been a participant at the Steans Institute for Young Artists (the Ravinia Festival’s professional studies program for young musicians) and at Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute.

A native of New York, Kenneth Olsen is a founding member of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, a conductorless string orchestra comprised of young musicians from orchestras and ensembles all over the country.

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

String Quintet in C Major,

D. 956 

While most would consider their 30’s simply the beginning of their professional careers and life, for Franz Schubert this unknowingly meant quite the opposite.

Schubert would finish his String Quintet, his last and greatest work, just one month before his death, at the age of 31. Though in poor health, there was no evidence that he felt his life was reaching its end. In fact earlier that year he traveled with friends by foot to Eisenstadt to visit the grave of Haydn. He was even working on commissions from three different publishing houses at the time, not wrapping up his affairs. He would sadly not hear the premiere since it did not come until 1850, 22 years after his death. It’s a shame that Schubert didn’t get to hear this masterwork performed, or see it become a staple and one of the most beloved works to this day in the chamber music repertoire. 

The Quintet follows the fairly standard format of Schubert’s other works – fast, slow, scherzo, fast. The opening Allegro ma non troppo starts simply but with unexpected moments of joy, tenderness, harmony changes and tension. The memorable second theme is one of the most iconic melodies of classical music, initially written as a lovely delicate duo for the two cellos before being passed around the ensemble. The second movement is one of the few times Schubert wrote a true Adagio, using this movement to portray the full range of human suffering and contemplation. The Scherzo starts off in quite the opposite mode, with bold and exuberant themes, arriving at a more sombre trio and then returning to the opening joyous theme. The Allegretto Finale is jaunty and driving, seamlessly integrating Hungarian melodies with sentimental melodies and themes. 

Fast Facts:

  • Schubert composed over 600 songs in his short lifetime, all of them set in German. His vocal songs are so well regarded because he puts the piano accompaniment to work as a tool to help set the character and mood of the given piece.
  • Schubert’s family was all very musical, many of his early works were written for them to play together. During holidays Schubert would play his string quartets with his father and two brothers. 
  • Schubert was already teaching at his father’s school by the age of 17 though this would get in the way later on when trying to focus on composing.

The Clare is the exclusive media sponsor for Rush Hour Concerts.

The Rush Hour Concerts series is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council Agency. Rush Hour Concerts are produced in partnership with St. James Cathedral.

Don’t miss the Chen String Quartet and Kuang-Hao Huang next week on

Rush Hour Concerts!

Tuesday June 8, 5:45pm

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