Warner/Griffin Family

Susan Warner, clarinet

David Griffin, horn

Henry Griffin, baritone and piano

Tian Qin, piano

Pearl Griffin, harp

July 28, 2020

Rush Hour Concerts

Robbie Ellis, host


Claude Debussy, arr. David Riniker – Clair de Lune

Clara Schumann, arr. Ashley Ertz – Love Songs from Op. 12 and Op. 13

Sie liebten sich beide, Op. 13

Liebst du um Schönheit, Op. 12

Franz Schubert; trans. Kazimierz Machala – Gretchen am Spinnrade, D. 118

Leonard Bernstein – Sonata for clarinet and piano

I. Grazioso

Henry Griffin – Pandemic, Op. 4

I. Exultation

Griffin/Warner Family

Susan Warner is Acting Co-Principal Clarinetist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra. During the summer Susan performs with the Prairie Winds Quintet at Madeline Island Chamber Music and in the Sun Valley Music Festival Orchestra, recently featured there as soloist. Susan has also appeared as a substitute musician with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and Grant Park Symphony Orchestra.

Susan has performed at the Tanglewood, Schleswig-Holstein, Heidelberg Castle, Grand Teton, Music Academy of the West, and Aspen festivals. In August 2019 as a member of the Chicago Winds Quintet, Susan, along with her husband CSO hornist David Griffin, toured throughout China where Susan’s growing fluency in Mandarin allowed her to deliver spoken introductions during concerts.

David Griffin is the fourth horn of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Upon graduating from Northwestern University in 1987, Griffin began his career with the Rochester Philharmonic and followed with positions in the orchestras of Montreal and Houston before joining the Chicago Symphony in 1995.  Griffin has served as guest principal horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Saint Louis Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Shanghai Radio Orchestra.

With the wind quintet Prairie Winds, he has performed in more than 25 states and has released two CDs with the group. With the CSO Brass Quintet, Griffin has toured Japan, China, Taiwan, and Mexico.  In June 2012, Griffin soloed with the National Orchestra of Brazil. He debuted as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony in Schumann’s Konzertstück at the Ravinia Festival in 2010. He has released the solo album For You, featuring the world-premiere recording of the Sonata for Horn by Bruce Broughton, which is available at cdbaby.com and iTunes.

Griffin is artist faculty of French horn at Roosevelt University and has previously taught at McGill University and Northwestern University. Summer festival engagements have included Sun Valley, Grand Teton, Tanglewood, Manchester (VT) and Madeline Island. Griffin has also been a featured artist and clinician at the annual symposium of the International Horn Society. 

Susan and David live in Oak Park; together they have homeschooled their children Henry and Pearl, allowing for extensive family travels, most recently to Chile, Antarctica, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Panama, and Turkey. 

Henry Griffin studies baritone voice under the tutelage of Marlena Malas at the Manhattan School of Music. For the past two summers Henry has attended the Chautauqua Institute’s Voice Program. As a young boy Henry frequently appeared as boy soprano soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera of Chicago. In addition to singing, Henry is an expert birder with over one thousand birds on his life identification list. He also enjoys studying piano and music composition.

Tian Qin is a candidate for the Bachelor of Music degree in Classical Composition at the Manhattan School of Music, studying with Dr. Marjorie Merryman. 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 of traditional Chinese instruments, “Obsessed,” 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.

Fast Facts:

  • Won the Prix de Rome at the age of 22 for L’Enfant prodigue (The Prodigal Child)
  • Employed by Tschaikovksy’s patroness, Nadezhda von Meck to teach piano while traveling
  • Died from cancer at the age of 55

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

arranged by David Riniker

Suite bergamasque

III. Clair de lune

French born, Claude Debussy is considered to be one of the most influential composers at the turn of the 21st century. While he is broadly considered to be one of the first impressionist composers, he was adamantly opposed to the term. He was known to consider the traditional symphony outdated and sought to create other forms for the orchestra, for which he wrote numerous masterworks still performed widely. In addition to his orchestral works, he also composed heavily for chamber ensembles and piano.

Program Notes:

Originally written for solo piano, Clair de Lune (“Moonlight”) is perhaps Debussy’s most recognized composition. Clair de Lune is the third movement from Suite Bergamasque. The title stems from a ‘bergamasca’ which is a rather clumsy peasant dance from Berhamo in Northern Italy. While Debussy started work on this piece at the age of 26 he would continue to work on it for the next 15 years. Only then did he publish it containing two dances, a prelude and Clair de Lune.

Notes by Ashley Ertz

Clara Schumann (1819-1896)

arranged by Ashley Ertz

Love Songs from Op. 12 and Op. 13 

Sie liebten sich beide, Op. 13

Liebst du um Schönheit, Op. 12

German composer and pianist, Clara Schumann, is possibly most well known for her marriage to Robert Schumann and connection with Johannes Brahms, but recently has been finally receiving recognition in her own right. Clara’s father was a music teacher and had resolved before her birth that she was destined to be a great musician and she was. Clara made her first public appearance at the age of 9, completed her first full piano recital at the age of 11 and embarked on her first extended tour at the age of 12. At the age of 11, Robert Schumann would come to live and study with Clara’s father, asking to marry Clara 7 years later. Because of family responsibilities, Clara’s ambitions as a concert pianist were stalled, but Robert did encourage her to compose. Clara would end up composing numerous songs and piano works and a few works for piano and orchestra. She composed candenzas for piano concertos by Beethoven and Mozart, as well as edited and championed the works of her late husband and Brahms.

 Program Notes:

In 1841, Clara and her husband were both working on songs based on poems from Friedrich Rückert’s Love’s Springtime. For an anniversary gift, Robert secretly printed this collection which included Clara’s Op. 12 Liebst du um Schönheit. Over the next two years Clara would enjoy gifting songs including her Op. 13 Sie liebten sich beide, to Robert for his birthday.

Notes by Ashley Ertz

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

transcribed by Kazimierz Machala

Gretchen am Spinnrade, D. 118 

Franz Schubert was an Austrian composer who, despite his short lifetime, managed to produce an extraordinarily large body of work, including over 600 secular vocal works, 7 complete symphonies and numerous sacred works, operas and incidental music. He also produced a large body of piano and chamber works, many remaining staples of the repertoire.

Program Notes:

In 1814, seventeen year-old Schubert composed Gretchen am Spinnrade or Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel using the text from Goethe’s Faust. This song was originally composed for soprano voice but has been transposed for many other voice types and instruments, as heard here. 

Faust is the story of a seemingly successful man selling his soul to the devil in exchange for infinite knowledge and worldly pleasures, including a woman named Gretchen. The scene which we are dropping in at is when Gretchen is alone in her room, distressed over this new man in her life, Faust, while spinning yarn. 

The constant movement in the piano’s right hand symbolizes the perpetual movement of the spinning-wheel with the left hand mimicking the foot treadle. Even though we are not hearing the text in this arrangement, thanks to Schubert’s skillful writing you can still feel the emotions and ethos of Gretchen.

Notes by Ashley Ertz

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)

Sonata for clarinet and piano (1942)

I. Grazioso

Born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Leonard Bernstein would one day become a household name in musical and non-musical homes, transforming American music through his work as a composer, conductor, educator and humanitarian. Throughout his career he would conduct the world’s most prominent orchestras, amounting to a staggering number of recordings and filmed performances.  As a composer, Bernstein would find his place on Broadway and in concert halls. West Side Story is perhaps his most widely known work but his Clarinet Sonata is just as popular among the clarinet scene.

Program Notes:

In 1942 the Sonata for Clarinet and Piano became Bernstein’s first published composition, showcasing his youthful optimism in this fun work. Bernstein wrote in a letter to Aaron Copland (15 W. 52, New York) in the Spring of 1943:

“The little Hargail Music Co. wanted to publish the Clarinet Sonata. Out of professional courtesy I showed it first to Warner’s, and they knocked me over by loving it, and insisting on publishing it. I was downhearted, since Hargail wanted to make a commercial recording of it. Now Hargail is offering me all sorts of fantastic royalty rates if I’ll give it to them, and says that they will make the recording anyway! A labor of love, if I ever heard one. But Warner’s points out that they, as a large firm…can do so much more for it than can a little thing like Hargail…Matters are now suspended by a hair.

Warner’s presented me with a five-year contract! I’m taking it to a lawyer today to find out what it says. It looks like my life that I’m signing away. But it adds to my little old salary a substantial weekly advance on future mythical royalties, which increases each year.”

Notes by Ashley Ertz

Fast Facts:

  • Catalogue of over 500 recordings and filmed performances
  • Recipient of 11 Emmy awards, Kennedy Center Honors, Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award and the Antoinette Perry Tony Award for Distinguished Achievement.
  • Founded Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute and Pacific Music Festival. Also played an active role with Tanglewood Music Festival from its founding in 1940 until his death

Henry Griffin (b. 2000)

Pandemic, Op. 4 (2020)

I. Exultation

Program Notes:

In February before we were all forced to leave school due to the raging pandemic, I found myself practicing harpsichord every evening in the dedicated harpsichord room, 420, at the Manhattan School of Music. After playing a harpsichord, let me say that the sensitive touch of a piano is extremely satisfying — so satisfying that an improvisatory, acoustic melody began flowing from my fingers and onto the keyboard. This melody, framed in parallel thirds, would come to form the first melodic theme for my first piano suite. Once the virus did indeed sweep across the world, ravaging the USA in particular, I found a straightforward title of for my piece: Pandemic. This movement is an ironically peppy dance that juxtaposes the Acoustic mode with the whole tone scale and various other modes, signifying not only the misery of this virus’ spread, but the pandemic of ignorance that sweeps our nation, brought into the spotlight by Covid-19. “Exultation,” the name for this movement, is ironic in nature given its context within the work — but hopefully, one day when we all have the vaccine, we can celebrate this world with an air of relief and a sense of humility from surviving these trying times.

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 William Welter, Keith Buncke and

Beilin Han

next week on Rush Hour Concerts!

Tuesday August 4, 5:45pm

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