Henry Griffin and Tian Qin
Henry Griffin and Tian Qin, piano four-hands
June 9, 2021
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts
David Schwan, host
Arnold Schoenberg – Six Little Piano Pieces, Op. 19 (7′)
I. Leicht, zart (Light, delicate)
II. Langsam (Slowly)
III. Sehr langsame (Very slow)
IV. Rasch, aber leicht (Fast, but easy)
V. Etwas rash (A little fast)
VI. Sehr langsam (Very slow)
Antonín Dvořák – Slavonic Dances, Op. 72 (15′)
Mel Bonis – Le Song de Cléopâtre, Op. 180 (8′)
Mel Bonis – Les Gitanos Valse Espagnole (4′)
Astor Piazzolla; arr. K. Yamamoto – Libertango (4′)
Henry Griffin is a budding baritone and pianist who has performed throughout the country and around the world. Singing before he talked, taking piano lessons from age 6, and trumpet from age 10, music was the cornerstone of his childhood. As a boy soprano soloist, Henry sang with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra four times, as well as with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Henry sang with the Chicago Children’s Choir from 2010-18 and toured with their top ensemble, Voice of Chicago, to Cuba and Italy.
As a baritone, Henry has performed in Italy in 2018 as part of the summer opera & Italian language intensive “Si parla, si canta.” He has also participated in the Chautauqua Institution’s Voice Program, singing the role of “Snug” in their 2019 production of Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”and“Toby”in their 2020 virtual production of“110 in the Shade.”Henry will sing the role of Antonio in their July 2021 production of “Le Nozze di Figaro” at the Chautauqua, NY Amphitheater.
Henry studied piano with Hannah Voigt from 2006-2018 and, since 2018, with Jiayin Li at the Manhattan School of Music. He received a gold medal from CAMTA’s Sonata/Sonatina Competition in 2014 and also graduated Illinois’ Achievement in Music program with a gold medal.
Henry is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Voice degree with Marlena Malas.
Tian Qin is a junior pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in the department of Composition at the Manhattan School of Music, studying with Dr. Marjorie Merryman. She has also studied piano with Jiayin Li at MSM since 2018.
Tian started studying piano at age 9 and classical composition at age 10. She studied in the Music Middle School Affiliated to Shanghai Conservatory of Music for six years with composition professor Din Ying and piano professor Yu Xiangjun until she graduated. Her vocal piece “The Moon’’ won the second prize in the vocal category of the Li Ming Chun Xiao China National Composition Competition in 2015. Her trio,“Obsessed,”comprised of traditional Chinese instruments, won the second prize of the Yinzhong China National Composition Competition in 2016. This piece was selected to be performed at the 34th Shanghai Spring International Music Festival as well as the Communication concert of the Xian and Shanghai Music Middle Schools in 2017.
During the three years of studying in Manhattan, Tian had several opportunities to have workshops with ensemble musicians. In 2019, Tian composed “One to Ten” for the trumpet and soprano duo “Byrne:Kozar:Duo,” though the concert was postponed because of the pandemic. In 2020, Tian composed a wind quintet piece called “Songs for Children” for a recording project with the Windscape Ensemble. This year, she was also invited to write background music in the Podcast Channel Chat Room.
Tian was accepted and is excited to attend the 2021 Atlantic Music Festival Institute Composition Program.
Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)
Six Little Piano Pieces, Op. 19 (1911)
Inspired by praise from music critic Richard Heuberger, Schoenberg composed “Six Pieces for Piano Four Hands” in the style of Schubert’s piano music and dedicated it to one of his close friends, Beilla Cohn. Though these works are miniature in format – the first movement only lasting seventeen bars – and may seem strangely distant from Schoenberg’s typical musical approach, this work is wholly in line with the free tonality form of this period of his life. Schoenberg composed the first five movements in a single day, intending for this to be the completion of the work. Three months later Schoenberg’s mentor, Gustave Mahler, died, supposably leading Schoenberg to compose the last movement as a tribute to him.
Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
Slavonic Dances, Ốp. 72 (1886)
Dvorák’s second set of Slavonic Dances, Op. 72, was met with similar public success as his first set, Op. 46, which were modeled after Brahms’ Hungarian Dances. While Brahms’ utilized actual Hungarian folk melodies in his composition, Dvorak chose to compose his own melodies but used Slavonic rhythms. Dvorak later set both of his Slavonic Dance sets for orchestra as well, receiving just as much acclaim for those as for the original.
Mel Bonis (1858-1937)
Le Song de Cléopâtre, Op. 180 (posth.)
French composer Melanie Bonis, known as Mel, (1858 – 1937) was a contemporary of such composers as Claude Debussy and Gabriel Pierne and studied alongside them at the Paris Conservatoire with famed composer and pedagogue César Franck. Her self proclaimed nickname,“Mel”, was not accidental, but born of necessity. There were so few female composers at the time, so she chose to use “Mel” in an effort to sound masculine, or at least androgynous. Unlike many of her contemporaries at the time, Bonis lacked the self-promotional skills and vanity to be more successful. Even her most fervent supporters couldn’t always overlook her gender at the time to be able to help progress her career. So much of her music fell into obscurity after World War I, though she would continue composing until her death in 1937. She has enjoyed a recent rebirth with the rediscovery of compositions like “Le Song de Cleopatre” which employ profound melodies and lush harmonies.
Slavonic Dances, Ốp. 72 (1886)
Throughout her life, Mel Bonis composed a great number of waltzes including six in the collection “Suite en forme de Valses, Six Valses-caprice.” One of the movements, “Les Gitanos,” gives great insight into how the late-1800s French public perceived Spanish music — lively inflections, cadences with a descending bass line, and brilliance, but without great technical difficulty. This work was dedicated to her father.
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992); arr. Kyoko Yamamoto
Like much Argentinian music, Piazzolla’s works have a fascinating symphonic-tango-jazz fusion that possesses a poetic brilliance of saying a lot while not taking itself too seriously. Libertango for Four Hands is the epitome of this sentiment — soaring melodies contrasted with an unrelenting rhythmic ostinato, highlighting the significance of driving rhythms delineating the compositional form.
Don’t miss Jean Hatmaker and Michael Finlay
next week on the
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts!
Wednesday June 16, 12:15pm