Kirk Family

Lewis Kirk, bassoon

Melissa Kirk, viola

Ellie Kirk, harp

July 21, 2020

Rush Hour Concerts

Robbie Ellis, host

Program:

Florence Price, arr. L. Kirk – Two Movements

Adoration

Ticklin’ Toes

Kevin Day – Silent Spaces

Henriette Renié – Contemplation

John Steinmetz – Love Song

Manuel de Falla, arr. L. Kirk – Two Movements from Siete Canciones Populares Españolas 

III. Asturiana 

V. Nana

Edward Elgar, arr. L. Kirk – Salut d’Amour

Kirk Family

Lewis Kirk has been a member of the orchestras of the Santa Fe Opera since 1984 and the Lyric Opera of Chicago since 1987. His music studies were at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, and the Manhattan School of Music. After his conservatory training Lewis played five seasons with the Städtischen Orchester of Bremerhaven, Germany before joining the New Orleans Symphony. In Chicago he performs frequently with the ensembles Music of the Baroque, Chicago Philharmonic, and Fulcrum Point New Music Project. He is a member of the Bassoon faculty at Roosevelt University.
Born in Evanston, Melissa Trier Kirk studied at Northwestern University with Robert Swan and also worked with Robert Vernon at the Blossom Music Festival, with Karen Tuttle at the Aspen Music Festival and with Cecil Aronowitz at the Aldeburgh Quartet Festival. She served as soloist and Principal violist with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic from 1979-1982 before joining the orchestras of the Chicago Lyric and the Santa Fe Opera. She was a founding member of Chicago’s period instrument orchestra The City Musick and has performed with The Chicago Symphony, Music of the Baroque, The Haymarket Opera and the Chicago Philharmonic. Ms. Kirk helps to plan and serve as personnel manager of the Bach Week Festival. She has a love of chamber music and has performed in series in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Chicago and at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival in New Mexico. Most recently she has helped to write and edit the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra Newsletter. Making music with the family has always been a part of her life. Performing this concert with husband Lewis and daughter Eleanor is pure joy.
Ellie Kirk serves as the Principal Harpist with both the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, and Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Season highlights from the past year include guest principal appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Ring Cycle at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and a Midwest tour with the Chicago Harp Quartet. Ellie is a founding member of 5th Wave Collective, a Chicago based classical music ensemble dedicated to the performance and promotion of music by womxn, where she performs and works as development director. She is a passionate educator, teaching in her private studio, and as Harp faculty at The People’s Music School, the only completely free music school serving Chicago metropolitan area children. Kirk holds degrees from Chicago College of Performing Arts, and Columbia University; her major teachers are Sarah Bullen, Lynn Williams, and June Han.

Florence Price (1887-1953)

arranged by Lewis Kirk

Two Movements

Adoration

Ticklin’ Toes

Florence Price was born in 1887 in Little Rock, Arkansas and would grow up to become the first black female composer to have a symphony performed by a major American Orchestra. That Orchestra was our own Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Music Director Frederick Stock. The CSO performed Price’s Symphony No. 1 in E minor on June 15, 1933 at the Auditorium Theatre as part of Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition.

Program Notes:

One of her most widely arranged pieces, Adoration, is a wonderfully ethereal piece originally written for organ. In the 1930s and 1940s Price earned her living playing organ at both churches and film screenings.This piece truly lives up to its title, inspiring deep feelings of love and respect in all that hear it. While Adoration calms you down, Ticklin’ Toes gets you dancing, or at the very least tapping your toes.

Notes by Ashley Ertz

Kevin Day (b. 1996)

Silent Spaces 

Kevin Day (b. 1996, Charleston, WV) is an American composer, conductor, multi-instrumentalist, and native of Arlington, Texas. Day is currently pursuing a Master of Music in Music Composition degree at the University of Georgia. Day earned his Bachelor of Music Degree in Instrumental Performance from TCU (Texas Christian University), where he studied euphonium and tuba with Richard Murrow, composition with Neil Anderson-Himmelspach, Blaise Ferrandino, and Till Meyn, and conducting with Germán Guitiérrez and Eddie Airheart. He currently is the Composer-In-Residence for the Mesquite Symphony Orchestra in Mesquite, TX for their 2019-2021 seasons and is an alumnus of the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. Kevin is currently studying with Peter Van Zandt Lane for composition and Cynthia Johnston Turner for conducting.

 Program Notes:

“The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.” – Rumi

Silent Spaces is a solo viola composition that incorporates the human voice and explores the feeling of being isolated and in solitude, the idea that both of these can have positive and negative effects on the person inhabiting the space. Positive in that there is so much space to be creative, sing freely, and to have more clarity, and negative in that feelings of loneliness, longing, and sadness can also dwell in this space.

This work was composed for international soloist Dr. Wendy Richman, as a part of the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music (GLFCAM) COVID Collaboration Project, a relief project started by GLFCAM for musicians who lost work due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

– Kevin Day, composer

Performer’s Impression:

I was so happy to discover Kevin’s beautiful  Silent Spaces while searching for a new solo viola piece to learn during the quarantine. There is a haunting quality to this work which to me explores the range of feelings one has while in relative isolation. I also enjoyed the challenge of learning to hum while playing, a bit like rubbing your tummy and patting your head. The humming part creates a mournful chorale throughout. Since we can’t go back to work with our colleagues, we must provide a duet partner with ourselves.Thank you for the opportunity to perform this wonderful piece. 

– Melissa Kirk, viola

Performers Impressions:

Being a harpist herself, Renié is an expert composer for the instrument. The piece begins in the mid-low range of the harp, where we can get a rich, full tone out of the strings, and later transitions to spinning, light, ethereal arpeggios at the top of the harp, while the melody remains in the lower register. It presents a technical challenge, but is so rewarding to play and listen to as Renié expertly transports you to a meditative calm. 

– Ellie Kirk, harp

Henriette Renié (1875-1956)

Contemplation 

Henriette Renié was a French harpist and composer at the turn of the 20th century. She was fearless, creative, and profoundly religious. While she greatly influenced the development of the harp as a solo concert instrument, she was impoverished for most of her life. Despite her rather low financial status, she was fiercely independent and successful at a time when it was not seen as socially acceptable for women to gain fame.

Renié won the Premier Prix for harp at the Paris Conservatory at the age of eleven , and the Institut de France would create the “Henriette Renié Prize for Music Composition for the Harp” in her honor.  Renié was an incredible performer, giving concerts throughout France at a young age. It was at one of her concerts that Debussy was inspired to write for the harp. In addition to her twelve collections of transcriptions for solo harp and her staggering ninety-six collections for harp ensembles, she composed twenty-three works for harp, from concertos to solo works. She also wrote a complete method book for the harp, which is still a major resource to harpists all over the world. Renié was also a passionate teacher and would end up teaching many rising stars and setting a new standard with her compositions for all levels of players. Throughout her career, Renié was highly regarded by composers such as Fauré, Debussy, and Saint-Säens, just to name a few.

Program Notes:

Contemplation is indeed a meditative masterwork, marked “Andante Religioso” referencing her deep faith. Written in 1898, this beautiful, peaceful work is Renié’s earliest composition for solo harp. At the age of 23, Renié dedicated this piece to Madame la Baronne de Rochetaillé, whose daughter was her pupil. Renié’s compositional style can be characterized by its complete, if not at times harsh, use of the harp. She does not shy away from using the entire range of the instrument, including all chromatic possibilities. Like most of her works, Contemplation, has a poetic title, reminiscent of the late romantic period. You can hear Renié thinking and reflecting as you listen to this lovely tranquil piece.

Notes by Ashley Ertz

John Steinmetz (b. 1951)

Love Song (1982)

As a Los Angeles freelance bassoonist, John Steinmetz played everything from Tristan und Isolde to Jurassic Park, from Bach’s B-Minor Mass to Family Guy. Now retired from playing, he teaches at UCLA and composes. John’s music has been released on more than fifteen recordings from various artists and groups. His Quintet appears on CDs from the Borealis Wind Quintet (Helicon HE 1030), the Camerata Quintet (Crystal CD756), and Mill Ave Chamber Players. His Etude No. 5 can be heard on “Bassoon Images” by bassoonist Benjamin Coelho (Albany Records TROY 608). His Sonata for bassoon and piano has been recorded by Michael Burns and Inara Zandmane (Mark Masters 8084).

Program Notes:

In a letter to Lou Skinner, I told him about marrying a violist, and he said, in his ever-joking way, that bassoonists were not supposed to marry viola players. We were supposed to marry another bassoonist or a flute player.

– John Steinmetz, composer

Fast Facts:

  • When first starting to study music, Falla wasn’t sure whether he wanted to study music or literature as a career
  • He founded two literary magazines titles El Burlón and El Cascabel
  • Falla’s 1919 Ballet El sombrero was written for Diaghilev with designs by Picasso

Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)

arranged by Lewis Kirk

Siete Canciones Populares Españolas (1914)

III. Asturiana

V. Nana

Early 20th century composer, Manuel de Falla, is perhaps one of the most distinguished composers to come out of Spain. His music wholly represents the Spanish ethos, providing a sense of poetry, passion and spirituality. He would go on to live in Paris from 1907 to 1914 and would befriend and be influenced by Debussy, Dukas, and Ravel. He wrote with Nationalism in mind, bringing new attention to Spanish music.

Program Notes:

Siete Canciones Populares Españolas, or Seven Spanish Popular Songs, is a set of traditional Spanish popular songs harmonized and realized  in 1914 by Manuel de Falla. In addition to being one of the most widely performed Spanish art-song collections, this work is also one of Falla’s more arranged works, which is how it is presented tonight.

The first movement you will be hearing tonight is Asturiana which comes from the northwest Spanish province of Asturia and will notably move you with its peaceful lamenting quality. 

The second movement for tonight is Nana, which originates from an old Andalusian cradle song. Many Analusian vocal music originates from India so this will naturally differ from other Spanish cradle songs. Manuel says that hearing his mother sing this melody is his earliest memory, making it extra special and intimate.

Notes by Ashley Ertz

Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

arranged by Lewis Kirk

Salute d’Amour (1888)

Sir Edward Elgar, was a british composer who is most recognizable for his orchestral works and his presence at virtually every graduation via his Pomp and Circumstance Marches. Born to a musical family, Elgar began violin lessons when seven years old, gaining enough experience to join local orchestras and chamber ensembles by the age of sixteen. At this time he was also teaching, freelancing and playing organ at churches, but his true interest was in composing.

At the age of 29, he met Caroline Alice Roberts and would marry her 3-years later. They would move to London with their only child a year later in hopes of establishing himself professionally. However, when it didn’t work out, they moved back to West County where his music started being recognized and successful. Elgar would go on to compose countless works, ranging from oratorios to concert band pieces.

Program Notes:

Originally written for piano, Salut d’Amour was composed as an engagement present for his soon-to-be wife. Elgar would arrange it for violin and piano and for full orchestra within a few years. Now one of Elgar’s most widely recognized works, Salut d’Amour had been arranged for virtually every instrumentation, including here for a very unique set: Bassoon, viola and harp. This piece is incredibly sentimental, giving you some insight into the love that Elgar felt, pulling your heartstrings just enough.

Notes by Ashley Ertz

Fast Facts:

  • Elgar’s father owned a music shop in Worcester and tuned pianos
  • Knighted by King Edward VII in 1904
  • Appointed Master of the King’s Musick in 1924

The Rush Hour Concerts series is supported in part by awards from the National Endowment for the Arts

and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Don’t miss the Warner/Griffin family next week on

Rush Hour Concerts!

Tuesday July 28, 5:45pm

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