Events & Tickets
THE PASTORAL SYMPHONY
New World Center
Bring the outside in with this picturesque evening featuring Cristian Măcelaru, a University of Miami Frost School of Music graduate and now Conductor-in-Residence of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Inspired by Charles Jenck’s sprawling private sculptural garden in Scotland, The Garden of Cosmic Speculation marries nature, science and mathematics in an imaginative display that was nominated for the Best Contemporary Classical Composition at the 2009 Grammy Awards. Its colorful portrayal of nature pairs beautifully with Beethoven’s serene Sixth Symphony. With blissful-sounding winds and stirring strings, its gentle score reveals vivid musical inklings of babbling brooks, bird calls, yodeling, shepherd’s hymns and spring-time storms.
Approx. Duration: 23 minutes
Part I from The Garden of Cosmic Speculation
The Snail and the Poetics of Going Slow
Symmetry Break Terrace / Black Hole Terrace
The Willow Twist
Ludwig van Beethoven
Approx. Duration: 40 minutes
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, “Pastoral”
Awakening of Cheerful Feelings upon Arrival in the Country: Allegro ma non troppo
Scene by the Brook: Andante molto mosso
Merry Gathering of Country Folk: Allegro
Shepherd’s Song: Happy and Thankful Feelings after the Storm: Allegretto
Part I from The Garden of Cosmic Speculation
Approximate duration: 23 minutes
Growing up in the Boston area, Michael Gandolfi taught himself to play rock and jazz guitar. He went on to earn two composition degrees at the New England Conservatory of Music, followed by a summer of study at the Tanglewood Music Center, where he worked with Leonard Bernstein and Oliver Knussen. Decades into his own illustrious teaching career, Gandolfi now directs the composition programs at both Tanglewood and the New England Conservatory. Tanglewood commissioned Gandolfi’s Impressions from ‘The Garden of Cosmic Speculation’ in 2004; three years later the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (led by Robert Spano, one of Gandolfi’s strongest champions) asked for an expanded version. Now entitled simply The Garden of Cosmic Speculaton, the work has grown to encompass 16 movements split into three large sections and the composer has said he intends to continue expanding it.
Gandolfi’s inspiration for the orchestral cycle came from The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, a 30-acre installation by the landscape architect Charles Jencks at his estate in Scotland. After visiting the site in 2004, Gandolfi described it as “a joining of terrestrial nature with fundamental concepts of modern physics,” a formula that resonated with his own passion for physics.
Part I begins with The Zeroroom, the name of the garden’s formal entrance. Gandolfi described the space as “a fanciful, surreal cloakroom flanked by an orderly procession of tennis racquets that appear to be traveling through the wall in a ‘quantum dance,’ and large photographs that progress from our place in the universe, galaxy, solar system, planet, to the precise position of the garden in Scotland. At the end of this corridor is a door with a mirror under which is inscribed ‘IUIUIUIUEYEWEYEWEYEWEYEW.’ Over the mirror is a pair of eyes carved into the wood. One places one’s eyes against the carved eyes for a view to the garden. The first object one sees in the garden is a Yew tree. I composed a work in which a succession of episodes emerge from and acquiesce to a ‘cosmic cloud,’ depicting this journey from the macro view of the universe to the micro view of the yew tree.”
For the second movement, Gandolfi latched onto the recurring patterns in the garden of Soliton Waves, which “are found in the fine iron fencework, the small and large land sculptures and in details of the stonework that abound in the garden. A soliton wave has the special property of being able to join with other waves, combine to create new waveforms, and then emerge completely unchanged, with no ‘memory’ of having joined or passed through other waves.” Musical phrases mimic these wave interactions, including “two large development sections that depict the joining of soliton waves in the creation of new waveforms. Ultimately the original waveform reemerges completely unchanged.”
The Snail and the Poetics of Going Slow references a feature Jencks named the “Snail Mound” with curving paths spiraling to the top. Gandolfi’s musical treatment emphasizes “the serene quality of this majestic garden structure.” The high-energy movement that follows, Symmetry Break Terrace / Black Hole Terrace, references two adjacent garden features that model space-time distortions. The music ventures into a black hole and beyond, as marked by section headings such as “Face to Face with the Black Hole,” “The Final Descent” and “The Energy Jet.”
Part I closes with The Willow Twist, named after a delicately curling metal sculpture. This “exuberantly whirling dance,” as Gandolfi marked it in the score, has a triplet lilt that hints at Scottish reels.
Article from The Wall Street Journal about the Atlanta School of Composers, including Gandolfi
Description and pictures of The Garden of Cosmic Speculation in Symmetry Magazine
Program note on the work by Gandolfi
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, “Pastoral”
Approximate duration: 40 minutes
Beethoven composed his Fifth and Sixth Symphonies concurrently in 1808, and introduced them together (with their numbers switched) as part of a four-hour extravaganza in Vienna. The following year, they were published in the familiar order, with adjacent opus numbers. Beethoven’s Sixth stands as one of the first programmatic symphonies, using descriptive movement headings to evoke specific ideas and images. The “Pastoral” nickname came from Beethoven himself, when he marked the parts for the initial performance with the heading “Pastoral Symphony, or Recollections of Country Life: More an Expression of Feeling than Painting.”
Beethoven’s journals and letters reveal his love of nature, as when he wrote in 1810, “How delighted I will be to ramble for awhile through the bushes, woods, under trees, through grass and around rocks. No one can love the country as much as I do. For surely woods, trees and rocks produce the echo that man desires to hear.” Recognizing and appreciating the natural world was a cornerstone of the Romantic ethos, and Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony joined a common thread in music, art and literature of the early 19th century that rhapsodized on the beauty and grandeur of the natural world, with a reverence that was in no small part spiritual.
Just as the first four notes of the Fifth Symphony influence every measure of the opening movement, the Sixth Symphony builds an expansive essay out of a seemingly naïve theme. The first movement, characterized as the “Awakening of Cheerful Feelings upon Arrival in the Country,” enters bashfully, with four quiet measures that trail off.
Fragments of this figure build slowly, basking in long stretches of unmoving harmony.
The development section, often an opportunity for increased turbulence and activity, instead sinks deeper into a country calm, savoring each radiant chord change.
The second movement, “Scene by the Brook,” establishes a lapping triplet pulse under another mere wisp of melody.
The idyllic scene ends with a trio of birdcalls from the woodwinds, representing a nightingale, quail and cuckoo.
From here, the Symphony diverges from a typical four-movement pattern. There is a scherzo-like third movement, “Merry Gathering of Country Folk.”
The rollicking dance music halts unresolved and is supplanted by the first staccato raindrops of the “Thunderstorm.”
Fearful dissonances and thunderous timpani strikes make for a convincing tempest, until it trails off in one last upward patter from the flute.
A clarinet takes over to establish the sing-song contours of the “Shepherd’s Song: Happy and Thankful Feelings after the Storm.”
This tune, at once humble and heroic, returns the Symphony to its pastoral calm. Near the end, a hymn-like variant lends a deeper resonance to this sunny conclusion.
Guide to the Sixth Symphony from The Guardian
-- Copyright © 2016 Aaron Grad
Aaron Grad is a composer, guitarist and writer based in Seattle. Besides providing program notes for the New World Symphony, he has been the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s program annotator since 2005 and also contributes notes to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Seattle Symphony.
Audio clips provided by Naxos of America, Inc.
Winner of the 2014 Solti Conducting Award, Cristian Măcelaru has established himself as one of the fast-rising stars of the conducting world. With every concert he displays an exciting and highly regarded presence, thoughtful interpretations and energetic conviction on the podium. Mr. Măcelaru came to public attention in February 2012 when he conducted the Chicago Symphony as a replacement for Pierre Boulez in performances met with critical acclaim. Since his Chicago debut, he has conducted that orchestra on subscription in three consecutive seasons. The Chicago Sun-Times exclaimed: “Măcelaru is the real thing, displaying confidence without arrogance and offering expressiveness without excess demonstration.”
Conductor-in-Residence of The Philadelphia Orchestra, Mr. Măcelaru made an unexpected subscription debut with the orchestra in April 2013. Since then, he has conducted it on four subscription programs and will lead a subscription program in its 2015-16 season. Of his May 2015 concerts, The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote: “His Beethoven showed the best summation of his talent and why Măcelaru is such an up-and-coming figure in his field.”
The 2015-16 season includes Mr. Măcelaru’s Lincoln Center debut at the Mostly Mozart Festival in August and his New York Philharmonic debut on an all-Rachmaninoff subscription program in November. He returns on subscription concerts to the Chicago Symphony, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the National Symphony Orchestra. Internationally he makes debuts with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Dublin and Tokyo Metropolitain Symphony Orchestra. In North America his debut appearances include Atlanta Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, New World Symphony and San Diego Symphony.
Guest conducting highlights of the 2014-15 season included Mr. Măcelaru’s Carnegie Hall debut on a program with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Anne-Sophie Mutter, and subscription concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Toronto, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Seattle. Abroad he made debuts with the U.K.’s Hallé Orchestra and Bournemouth Symphony, the Hague's Residentie Orkest in the Netherlands and on a four-city tour of Germany with Ms. Mutter and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Măcelaru made his first conducting appearance at Carnegie Hall in 2012, leading a work on a program alongside Valery Gergiev in a Georg Solti Centennial Celebration. In June 2015 he made his Cincinnati Opera debut in highly acclaimed performances of Il Trovatore. In 2010 he made his operatic debut with the Houston Grand Opera in Madame Butterfly and led the U.S. premiere of Colin Matthews’ Turning Point with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra as part of the Tanglewood Contemporary Music Festival.
In addition to being appointed the 2014 Solti Fellow, Mr. Măcelaru previously received the Sir Georg Solti Emerging Conductor Award in 2012, a prestigious honor only awarded once before in the Foundation’s history. He has participated in the conducting programs of the Tanglewood Music Center and the Aspen Music Festival, studying under David Zinman, Murry Sidlin, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Robert Spano, Oliver Knussen and Stefan Asbury. His main studies were with Larry Rachleff at Rice University, where he received master’s degrees in conducting and violin performance. He completed undergraduate studies in violin performance at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music.
An accomplished violinist from an early age, Mr. Măcelaru was the youngest concertmaster in the history of the Miami Symphony Orchestra and made his Carnegie Hall debut with that orchestra at the age of 19. He also played in the first violin section of the Houston Symphony for two seasons.
Mr. Măcelaru formerly held the position of Resident Conductor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he was Music Director of the Campanile Orchestra, Assistant Conductor to Larry Rachleff and Conductor for the Opera Department. A proponent of music education, he has served as a conductor with the Houston Youth Symphony, where he also conceptualized and created a successful chamber music program. As Founder and Artistic Director of the Crisalis Music Project, Mr. Măcelaru spearheaded a program in which young musicians perform in a variety of settings, side-by-side with established artists. Their groundbreaking inaugural season produced and presented concerts featuring chamber ensembles, a chamber orchestra, a tango operetta, and collaborations with dancer Susana Collins, which resulted in a choreographed performance of Vivaldi/Piazzolla’s Eight Seasons.
Cristian Măcelaru resides in Philadelphia with his wife Cheryl and children Beniamin and Maria.