Yukie Ota and Yoko Yamada-Selvaggio 

Yukie Ota, flute

Yoko Yamada-Selvaggio, piano

June 23, 2021

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts

David Schwan, host


Mel Bonis – Flute Sonata in C-sharp minor, Op. 64 (18′)

I. Andantino con moto

II. Scherzo-Vivace

III. Adagio

IV. FInale-Moderato

Charles-Marie Widor – Suite for Flute and Piano, Op. 34 (17′)

I. Moderato

II. Scherzo

III. Romance

IV. Finale-Vivace

Yukie Ota is a professional flutist in the United States. After completing her Master’s Degree at the DePaul University School of Music in Chicago under Mathieu Dufour (current principal flutist of the Berlin Phil), she won 2nd prize in the Carl Nielsen International Flute Competition in 2014. Her prize-winning performance there became a viral news story on NPR when a butterfly landed on her during the competition, yet she continued to play without letting the butterfly impact her performance. Yukie also won the “Newly Commissioned Work” Prize at the 36th annual Young Artist Competition during the 2014 National Flute Association convention. In 2011, Yukie won first prize in the Chicago Flute Club Solo Artist Competition.

Yukie is an active soloist, chamber musician and orchestral musician. As a soloist, she performed the Carl Nielsen Flute concerto with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. Yukie has performed chamber music with the principal players of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival and is a member of the Chicago-based International Chamber Artists. As an orchestral musician, Yukie has served as principal flutist of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra since 2011. She has also been invited to be a substitute flutist for some of this country’s top orchestras: Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ravinia Festival, Baltimore Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Japan 2016 tour. 

Pianist Yoko Yamada, native of Japan, and resident of Chicago, performs as a collaborator throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan, particularly with notable brass and woodwind performers of major orchestras. These include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Ms. Yamada frequently collaborates with Chicago Symphony brass performers, and the Michael Mulcahy performance masterclass at Northwestern university every July, and served as accompanist for the International Trombone Festival, and the annual Chicago Symphony Brass Concert. She often accompanies music faculty members from Northwestern University, DePaul University Chicago, and the other U.S. colleges and universities, in performance.

Ms. Yamada, who has appeared on classical music radio WFMT in Chicago, has performed more than 500 pieces for brass and woodwind.


Mel Bonis (1858-1937)

Flute Sonata in C-sharp minor, Op. 64 (1904) 

French composer Melanie Bonis, known as Mel, 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. Despite all of this, she composed over 300 compositions, including orchestral, chamber choral, organ and vocal works, and also over 150 works for solo piano. 

Among this massive catalog of compositions, is many works for flute, including her Flute Sonata in C-sharp minor, Op. 64, composed in 1904. There are few flute sonatas from the Romantic Era that are not borrowed from other instruments, so the rediscovery of Bonis is a welcome addition to the flute repertoire. Unlike many of Bonis’ other compositions for flute, this work is more substantial, consisting of longer movements, as opposed to the shorter vignettes. Consisting of four movements, we start with the Andante con moto, a movement full of virtuosic, passionate writing for both players. The following Scherzo-Vivace is in complete contrast being playful and dance-like, much like Mendelssohn’s Scherzo from Midsummer Night’s Dream. We then reach the peak of the sonata, the third movement Adagio. In this movement we explore the range of emotions the flute can demonstrate, starting and ending with the melancholy and demonstrating a faster more energetic middle section, giving a nod to the American ragtime styles of the time. The last movement, Finale-Moderato, ties the sonata together cohesively by utilizing themes from the previous three movements. 

Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937)

Suite for Flute and Piano, Op. 34 (1877) 

Perhaps best known for his works written for the organ, Charles-Marie Widor was a French composer, educator and organist, born to a family of organ builders and organists. At the age of 16, Widor succeeded his father as the organist of Saint-Fracois where he would stay for a decade before assuming the role of organist at Saint-Sulpice Cathedral in Paris. He would hold this position for the next 64 years. In 1890 he succeeded Cesar Franck as the organ professor at the Conservatory in Paris and in 1896 succeeded Dubois as professor of composition as well. As a composer, he is best remembered for his contributions to the organ repertoire, but he also composed two operas, and various amounts of ballet, vocal, chamber and orchestral works. 

Widor’s Suite for Flute and Piano was written for his Conservatory colleague, Paul Taffanel, a pioneer in the french school of flute playing, responsible for many staples of the repertoire and flute studies. This Suite is composed in a classical four movement form, but not titled Sonata, likely because Widor did not adhere to a standard Sonata structure. Though not revolutionary for his time, this Suite, lets the flute shine, specifically in regards to Taffanel’s strengths of lyricism and expression. This is immediately present in the opening movement, Moderato. The following Scherzo, is energetic and lively, with a calm interlude in the middle. The third movement, Romance, is perhaps the most notable, often programmed on it’s own because if it’s deeply romantic, warm and intimate writing. We end with the Finale-Vivace which is swift and virtuosic, only halting for a brief moment of repose before the exciting ending.

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 Caitlin Edwards and Daniel Schlosberg

next week on the

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts!

Wednesday June 30, 12:15pm

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