Grant Park Music Festival Project Inclusion String Fellows

Allison Lovera and Audrey Lee, violins

Edwardo Rios, viola

Cole Randolph, cello

August 4, 2021

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts

David Schwan, host

Program:

Tomeka Reid – Prospective Dwellers (6′)

Alexander Borodin – Quartet No. 2 in D Major (26′)

I. Allegro Moderato

II. Scherzo

III. Notturno

IV. Finale: Andante – Vivace

Jessie Montgomery – Voodoo Dolls (5′)

Venezuelan violinist Allison Lovera has been described as a passionate and sensitive musical artist. A graduate from the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Ms. Lovera was part of Almita and Roland Vamos’ violin studio. Winner of several awards including first prize at the Maurice Hasson National Violin Competition, Excellence Award from the Young Aragueno Artist Competition, Winner of the Solo Competition at the Chicago College of Performing Arts in 2017, Farwell Trust Award of Musicians Club of Women, the Luminarts Cultural Foundation String Fellowship Award,  the Rudi E. Sheidt School of Music Concerto Competition, Allison was a Sphinx Competition Semi-Finalist , and just this year she won the Iscart International Music Competition. Ms. Lovera made her soloist debut at the age of 13 years old with the Aragua Symphony Orchestra in Venezuela, and after this, she performed as soloist with several orchestras around Venezuela and internationally. She has also performed as Concertmaster with orchestras in both Venezuela and the United States.

In addition to her Grant Park Music Festival Project Inclusion Fellowship, Allison is currently a member of Sphinx Virtuosi, part of Kanaas Duet, a Violin fellow at Memphis Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Sinfonietta, and a member of Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

Audrey Lee is a violinist in the Austin Opera, first violinist of the Kahlo String Quartet and an adjunct faculty member at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Prior to these positions, she performed frequently with the Austin Symphony and New World Symphony. Audrey has performed at many international music festivals including Aspen Music Festival and School, National Repertory Orchestra, Castleton Festival, and Brevard Music Center. She has performed as a soloist with the National Repertory Orchestra, the Clear Lake Symphony, and the ECHO Chamber Orchestra.  

A passionate music educator, Audrey has directed orchestra programs, coached chamber music ensembles, and designed beginning string curricula for K-12 students. She has taught masterclasses at Texas Lutheran University, Suzuki Strings of Austin, and Orpheus Academy, as well as a seminar on “Performance Anxiety and Practice Strategies” for PMAY artists in Philadelphia. Audrey has taught and mentored students through El Sistema USA programs both in Austin, TX and Philadelphia, PA. Prior to joining Southeastern Oklahoma State as an adjunct instructor, Audrey taught and performed as an adjunct faculty member at Chestnut Hill College. 

Audrey studied with Kenneth Goldsmith in the Michael P. Hammond preparatory program at the Shepherd School of Music. She studied with Cornelia Heard at Vanderbilt University, receiving a BM in violin performance and psychology, and completed her MM with Miro Quartet member (and fiddle champion) William Fedkenheuer at the University of Texas at Austin.

A Texas native, Edwardo Rios began playing the viola at the age of eleven where he was self-taught until age seventeen. Edwardo has mainly pursued a career in orchestral studies as he progressed through his training. He was selected as a section member of the National Repertory Orchestra where he was trained for consistency and endurance through learning great orchestral works in short periods of time. Edwardo has also had success as a soloist as he went on to win the principal position of the National Repertory Orchestra and performed Britten’s Lachrymae alongside his colleagues. Edwardo later returned to the National Repertory Orchestra as an artist in residence for the 2020 season. He was also selected as a winner of the University of North Texas Concerto Competition performing Bartok’s Viola Concerto. He has studied under teachers such as the principal violist of the Houston Symphony, Wayne Brooks, and his mentor, Susan Dubois, at the University of North Texas. Edwardo has also participated in masterclasses with Sheila Browne, principal violist of the London Symphony Paul Silverthorne, the Boehmer Quartet, and the Faure Quartet. He is thrilled to be joining the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago this year as a Project Inclusion Fellow.

Cole Randolph, a Posse Foundation leadership scholar, is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in mathematics, music performance, and economics. Cole was born and raised in Washington DC, and began playing the cello at the age of five. He has had the opportunity to perform at various venues including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The White House. During his undergraduate career, Cole studied under the tutelage of Uri Vardi, and performed in masterclasses for various artists including Alban Gerhardt, Clive Greensmith, and Timothy Eddy. Throughout his collegiate career, he has participated in various programs, music and non-music alike. Cole had the unique opportunity to participate in the Leadership Alliance program which allowed him to conduct mathematics research at the University of Chicago under the supervision of Dr. Benson Farb, and present his findings at two research symposia. Cole also had the unique opportunity to perform a solo concert for the Maverick Concert 2020 Virtual Festival. Cole currently serves as an African-American Orchestra Fellow with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and a Project Inclusion String Fellow with the Grant Park Music Festival.

Tomeka Reid (b. 1977)

Prospective Dwellers (2015) (6′)

Described as a “New Jazz Power Source” by the New York Times, cellist and composer TOMEKA REID has emerged as one of the most original, versatile, and curious musicians in Chicago’s bustling jazz and improvised music community over the last decade. Her distinctive melodic sensibility, always rooted in a strong sense of groove, has been featured in many distinguished ensembles over the years.  

Reid grew up outside of Washington D.C., but her musical career began after moving to Chicago in 2000. Her work with Nicole Mitchell and various Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians-related groups proved influential. By focusing on developing her craft in countless improvisational contexts, Reid has achieved a stunning musical fluency. She is a Foundation of the Arts (2019) and 3Arts Awardee (2016), and received her doctorate in music from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2017.  

Reid released her debut recording as a bandleader in 2015, with the Tomeka Reid Quartet, a vibrant showcase for the cellist’s improvisational acumen as well as her dynamic arrangements and compositional ability. The quartet’s second album, Old New, released in Oct 2019 on Cuneiform Records, has been described as “fresh and transformative–its songs striking out in bold, lyrical directions with plenty of Reid’s singularly elegant yet energetic and sharp-edged bow work.”  Another reviewer noted that “while Reid’s compositional and technical gifts transcend jazz, they exemplify the tradition wondrously.”  

PROGRAM NOTES

The Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative (DA+HC) is a rehabilitated public housing project, a block of 32 townhomes that provides housing for artists and community members with the intent of fostering dialogue and collaboration between both groups. In 2014-2015, be•spoke, a storytelling and cultural exchange organization in Chicago, hosted several Story Share sessions with Dorchester community members and artists over the course of several months at the Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative on the South Side of Chicago. The stories were collected as part of a commissioning project with musicians Tomeka Reid and Mikel Avery for the Hyde Park Jazz Festival. For this commission, both musicians created a new composition in response to stories collected with residents in the Dorchester neighborhood at the Rebuild Foundation. Reid’s composition “Prospective Dwellers” was performed at the 2015 Hyde Park Jazz Festival.

Alexander Borodin (1833-1887)

Quartet No. 2 in D Major (1881) (26′) 

Like many of his Russian contemporaries, Borodin did not compose as a livelihood, but simply as a hobby while earning a distinguished career as a Physician and Chemist. While it would take him years to complete most of his larger works, his music was beloved, original and still heard to this day. Unlike his larger works, Borodin finished his String Quartet No. 2 in D Major in an astonishing few months over a summer vacation. Well received in his own lifetime, this quartet would also gain popularity even after his death, being featured in movies and sampled and transformed on other occasions.

Dedicated to his wife on the occasion of their twenty-fifth anniversary, throughout this quartet you get a sense of warmth and lyrical sensibility, contrasted in the first movement by the slightly more vigorous second theme. The following Scherzo, is bubbly and energetic, juxtaposed with a formal trio transporting the listener to a waltz scene. The third movement’s Notturno is a story in it’s own right, a dialogue between the cello and violin who state their sides, come together, and conflict, going through a full story arch in the span of a single exquisitely written movement. The Finale is also a movement all it’s own, ranging from despondent to humorous to a downright romp. Like Beethoven’s quartet writing, we are asked questions which are later answered, everything feeling connected in his uniquely Borodin style.

 

Jessie Montgomery (b. 1981)

Voodoo Dolls (2008) (5′) 

Jessie Montgomery is an acclaimed composer, violinist, and educator. She is the recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation, and her works are performed frequently around the world by leading musicians and ensembles. Her music interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, language, and social justice, placing her squarely as one of the most relevant interpreters of 21st-century American sound and experience. Her profoundly felt works have been described as “turbulent, wildly colorful and exploding with life” (The Washington Post).

Jessie was born and raised in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1980s during a time when the neighborhood was at a major turning point in its history. Artists gravitated to the hotbed of artistic experimentation and community development. Her parents – her father a musician, her mother a theater artist and storyteller – were engaged in the activities of the neighborhood and regularly brought Jessie to rallies, performances, and parties where neighbors, activists, and artists gathered to celebrate and support the movements of the time. It is from this unique experience that Jessie has created a life that merges composing, performance, education, and advocacy.

Since 1999, Jessie has been affiliated with The Sphinx Organization, which supports young African-American and Latinx string players. She currently serves as composer-in-residence for the Sphinx Virtuosi, the Organization’s flagship professional touring ensemble. She was a two-time laureate of the annual Sphinx Competition and was awarded a generous MPower grant to assist in the development of her debut album, Strum: Music for Strings (Azica Records). She has received additional grants and awards from the ASCAP Foundation, Chamber Music America, American Composers Orchestra, the Joyce Foundation, and the Sorel Organization.

Her growing body of work includes solo, chamber, vocal, and orchestral works. Some recent highlights include Five Slave Songs (2018) commissioned for soprano Julia Bullock by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Records from a Vanishing City (2016) for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Caught by the Wind (2016) for the Albany Symphony and the American Music Festival, and Banner (2014) – written to mark the 200th anniversary of The Star-Spangled Banner – for The Sphinx Organization and the Joyce Foundation.

In the 2019-20 season, new commissioned works will be premiered by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the National Choral Society, and ASCAP Foundation. Jessie is also teaming up with composer-violinist Jannina Norpoth to reimagine Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha; it is being produced by Volcano Theatre and co-commissioned by Washington Performing Arts, Stanford University, Southbank Centre (London), National Arts Centre (Ottawa), and the Banff Centre for the Arts. Additionally, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony will all perform Montgomery’s works this season.

The New York Philharmonic has selected Jessie as one of the featured composers for their Project 19, which marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, granting equal voting rights in the United States to women. Other forthcoming works include a nonet inspired by the Great Migration, told from the perspective of Montgomery’s great-grandfather William McCauley and to be performed by Imani Winds and the Catalyst Quartet; a cello concerto for Thomas Mesa jointly commissioned by Carnegie Hall, New World Symphony, and The Sphinx Organization; and a new orchestral work for the National Symphony.

Jessie began her violin studies at the Third Street Music School Settlement, one of the oldest community organizations in the country. A founding member of PUBLIQuartet and currently a member of the Catalyst Quartet, she continues to maintain an active performance career as a violinist appearing regularly with her own ensembles, as well as with the Silkroad Ensemble and Sphinx Virtuosi.

Jessie’s teachers and mentors include Sally Thomas, Ann Setzer, Alice Kanack, Joan Tower, Derek Bermel, Mark Suozzo, Ira Newborn, and Laura Kaminsky. She holds degrees from the Juilliard School and New York University and is currently a Graduate Fellow in Music Composition at Princeton University.

 

PROGRAM NOTES

Voodoo Dolls was commissioned in 2008 and choreographed by the JUMP! Dance Company of Rhode Island, a collaborative work among their faculty and students.  The choreography was a suite of dances, each one representing a different traditional children’s doll: Russian dolls, marionettes, rag dolls, Barbie, voodoo dolls… The piece is influenced by west African drumming patterns and lyrical chant motives, all of which feature highlights of improvisation within the ensemble.

— Jessie Montgomery

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 Gabriela Vargas and Kuang-Hao Huang

next week on the

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts!

Wednesday August 11, 12:15pm

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