Gabriela Vargas and Kuang-Hao Huang
Gabriela Vargas, flute
Kuang-Hao Huang, piano
August 11, 2021
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts
David Schwan, host
J.S. Bach – Sonata in E-flat Major, BWV 1031 (11′)
I. Allegro moderato
Francis Poulenc – Sonata for flute and piano, FP 164 (13′)
I. Allegretto malincolico
III. Presto giocoso
Stephanie Ann Boyd – Songbird Sonata (12′)*USA Premiere
I. Fantasia: Of Meadows at Noon
II. Elegia: Of Lakes at Dawn
III. Dance: Of Skies at Dusk
Chicago-based, Costa Rican flutist Gabriela Vargas is well known for the beauty of her tone and the musical versatility that makes her equally stand out in an orchestral, chamber music or solo environment. Vargas is an active performer in the Chicago area where besides performing with the major classical ensembles, she is frequently heard in the Contemporary and Brazilian music scenes. Her latest orchestral performances include the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Chicago Philharmonic. She has performed with Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Access Contemporary Music, International Contemporary Ensemble, The Chicago Ensemble and is currently acting flutist to Fifth House Ensemble.
As soloist, Gabriela performed her concerto debut as the winner of the Young Artist Competition with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica. Since then, she has won multiple awards and competitions that have led her to be a regular guest for performances and flute masterclasses in Central, South and North America. Vargas World Premiered the Concerto for Flute and Wind Ensemble by Victoria Bond, “Pater Patriae: A Washington Portrait,” which was broadcasted live on 98.7WFMT, aired on CAN TV and released by Albany Records in the album Soul of a Nation.
She received degrees from Universidad de Costa Rica, Western Illinois University and the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. In Chicago she studied with flutists Dione Jackson, Donald Peck and Mathieu Dufour. She is actively working on a Mentorship program under the tutelage of flutist Robert Langevin of the New York Philharmonic.
Commended for his “perceptive pianism” (Audiophile) and “playing that is sensitive and wonderfully warm” (American Record Guide), Chicagoan Kuang-Hao Huang is a highly sought-after collaborative pianist whose performances have taken him throughout North America, Europe and Asia. He has performed at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall, Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall, and at every major venue in the Chicago area. Huang has recorded for Aucourant, Cedille, Innova and Naxos, including a CD of flute fantasies with flutist Mathieu Dufour and a premiere recording of early songs by Alban Berg with mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley.
A strong advocate of new music, Huang is a core member of Fulcrum Point New Music Project and Picosa. He has premiered numerous works by major composers including Louis Andriessen and Chen Yi at Weill Hall as part of Carnegie Hall’s Millennium Piano Book Project. He has also appeared on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW series.
In addition to serving on the faculties of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and Concordia University-Chicago, Huang is Associate Artistic Director for the International Music Foundation and is the driving force behind Make Music Chicago. He also founded IMF’s Pianos in the Parks program, which partners with the Chicago Park District to give all Chicagoans access to outdoor pianos and free lessons.
J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
Sonata in E-flat Major, BWV 1031 (1734) (11′)
Stemming from a long lineage of musicians, German born, Johann Sebastian Bach would go on to hold many prominent positions as organist, Music Director and musician, ultimately leaving the largest impact as composer with some of the most timeless and memorable music, both secular and religious. Written a little later in his life, Bach composed this Sonata in E-flat Major in the early 1730’s while in Leipzig, German, his second sonata for flute. The opening Allegro moderato starts with the piano, followed shortly by the flute introducing the main theme, which is passed back and forth between the two, creating a light and simple movement. We then receive the hauntingly lyrical Siciliano followed by the lively final Allegro, where equal partners race to the end.
Notes by Ashley Ertz
Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)
Sonata for flute and piano, FP 164 (1957) (13′)
French composer and pianist, Francis Poulenc was among the French composer collective referred to as Les Six, who sought to create a purely French classical music tradition, devoid of outside influences. Poulenc would split his time between composing and performing piano recitals in Paris and would start touring the United States in 1948 through 1960, just three years before his death. Poulenc dedicated his Sonata for Flute and Piano to the memory of the prominent American Chamber Music Patron, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge. The Coolidge Foundation commissioned the piece and Poulenc would accompany his frequent chamber partner, flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal in the unofficial premiere. The sonata showcases Poulenc’s favor for contrasts, starting with a good representation of this in the first movement titled, Allegro malinconico with the overall mood being mournful, but with a humorous middle section. The second movement, Cantilena is an introspective drawn out song followed by a spirited and lively third movement, with reference back to the first movement bringing us full circle.
Notes by Ashley Ertz
Stephanie Ann Boyd (b. 1990)
Songbird Sonata (2021) (12′)*USA Premiere
Michigan-born, Manhattan-based American composer Stephanie Ann Boyd writes melodic music about women’s memoirs and the natural world for symphonic and chamber ensembles. Her work has been performed in nearly all 50 states and has been commissioned by musicians and organizations in 37 countries. Boyd’s five ballets include works choreographed by New York City Ballet principal dancers Lauren Lovette, Ashley Bouder, NYCB soloist Peter Walker, and XAOC Contemporary Ballet’s Eryn Renee Young. Eero, a ballet commissioned by Access Contemporary Music and Open House New York, was written for the grand opening of the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport. She holds degrees from Roosevelt University and New England Conservatory. Boyd was one of the last violin students of renowned pedagogue John Kendall, and her music has been praised as “attractive lyricism” (Gramophone), “[with] ethereal dissonances” (Boston Globe), “[music that] didn’t let itself be eclipsed” (Texas Classical Review), “arrestingly poetic” (BMOP), and “wide ranging, imaginative” (Portland Press Herald).
Songbird Sonata is a consortium commission, resulting in a new flute sonata in three movements that uses the materials of the flute itself as impetus for its subject matter so that, in this very important year for humanity and its relationship with the earth, we may as artists help our communities focus on gratitude; pay homage to the things we as an artistic community have gleaned from our wilderness and learned how to make music from.
Songbird’s first movement; “Fantasia, of Meadows” at noon opens with a Robin call by the flute alone that will be remembered once more and with more intensity at the end of the movement. It travels through moods and melodies between the flute and the piano that imitate calls from the mourning dove and the cardinal. A calmer second movement, “Elegia, of lakes at dawn”, alternates calls by three different bird species on the flute: the whooping crane, the sandhill crane and the common loon. The piano, who has been in a supporting roll until then, takes the main voice accompanied by warm timbral trills in an airy tone by the flute, just to end with a sandhill crane pair calling in between the two instruments. The final movement; “Dance, of skies at dusk” begins with murmurations of starlings represented by the constant hovering of sixteenth-notes that will only ease by the night soliloquy and callings that will be concluded by a sudden take off!
Notes by Stephanie Ann Boyd
Don’t miss Rannveig Marta Sarc and Victor Asuncion
next week on the
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts!
Wednesday January 20, 12:15pm