Strings Eternal

Guest conductor Bernhard Gueller and guest soloist Giora Schmidt (violin). A program featuring works by Johannes Brahms, Ludwig van Beethoven and Arvo Pärt.

October 16, 2017
Moncton: Capitol Theatre

October 17, 2017
Fredericton: The Playhouse

October 18, 2017
Saint John: Imperial Theatre

Bravo series concerts are preceded by a pre-concert talk at 6:30pm. Performance begins at 7:30pm.

News Release for Strings Eternal
New Brunswick- For the first concert of its season, Symphony New Brunswick welcomes the return of international stars violinist Giora Schmidt and Maestro Bernhard Gueller in an explosively passionate program of German repertoire.  This concert, titled Strings Eternal, will feature the monumental Brahms Violin Concerto, a work considered to be the pinnacle of both the violin and orchestral repertoire. Schimdt describes the concerto as being “a huge symphonic work that happens to have a solo violin part.” In addition, the orchestra will present Beethoven’s graceful Fourth Symphony, and Arvo Part’s mesmerizing work, Fratres.

The Brahms Violin Concerto is breathtaking in its artistry and also tremendously demanding technically.  It was written for the violinist Joseph Joachim, whose influence on the concerto is without a doubt largely present, especially in passages asking for tenths, an interval requiring large and nimble hands. At the time, the piece seemed to be beyond the abilities of most violinists. Giora Schmidt is described as possessing a “diabolic technique” and an “intense and impassioned feat of artistry”, a perfect combination for this monstrous piece. He characterizes the concerto as “dreamy and turbulent with gorgeous oboe solos in the slow movement and a gypsy-inspired finale. “

Also on the program will be Beethoven’s fourth symphony. In contrast to the highly romantic Brahms concerto, this work highlights Beethoven’s more subdued side. Beethoven’s fourth is probably the lesser-known of all Beethoven symphonies. However, its musical content is of no lesser quality. Schumann once called it “a slender Grecian maiden between two Nordic giants.” The character of the piece is at times suspenseful, at times lively, and contains moments of pure sweetness.

To finish, the orchestra will present Arvo Part’s Fratres. Composed in 1977, it is one of the Estonian composer’s most popular works. It encapsulates both frantic activity and sublime stillness, and is a mesmerizing piece of minimalist music.

Maestro Bernhard Gueller will lead the orchestra in this very well balanced program. Acclaimed by musicians, critics and audience for his musical purity, and fresh interpretations, there is no doubt that Maestro Gueller will skillfully lead the orchestra in an authentic and enthusiastic performance of these fine works. Schmidt says of Gueller: “Maestro Bernhard Gueller is one of my favorite conductors to collaborate with.  It is always a genuine collaboration. He is a musician’s conductor; it is not ever about him.  You really feel an ease with him, and get the sense that he is one of us. This will be our fourth collaboration together.“

Schmidt states that he is very much looking forward to his return to New Brunswick. “Last time I was here, I really felt like we were in this together. SNB highlights this community feel in a way.  Camaraderie then translates to an enjoyable performance. And I think the audience really feels that as well.”

About the artists

BERNHARD GUELLER, Guest Conductor

Bernhard Gueller has been music director of Symphony Nova Scotia since 2002.

Well known to audiences internationally for the passion, mastery, and drama he brings to the concert hall, Gueller has been acclaimed for his “profound interpretations” and the “stunning responses he gets from musicians.” He is praised by musicians, critics, and audiences alike for his musical purity and fresh approach to the podium.

With a reputation for his mastery of contemporary works, Gueller has commissioned several concerti for Symphony Nova Scotia. These include a concerto for accordion, for oboe, and one for piano. In February 2012, he premiered a piece for tabla and orchestra by Canadian composer Dinuk Wijeratne; other Canadian composers he has worked with include Derek Charke and Tim Brady. He has also given the first performance of works by composers such as the German composer Werner Egt, as well as Peter Klatzow’s I Am an African, a setting of words by Thabo Mbeki, which was premiered in May 2012.

Gueller has served as music director and principal conductor with various orchestras, including the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra. His career has taken him to top concert halls in America, Australia, Russia, Japan, China, Korea, South Africa, and Brazil, as well as across Europe in Spain, Italy, France, Norway, Sweden, and his native Germany. Festivals he has conducted include Schwetizinger in Germany, Scotia Music Festival in Halifax, and Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival in South Africa. He has conducted several orchestras in Canada, most frequently the Victoria Symphony.

Gueller has collaborated with many leading soloists, such as cellists Daniel Mueller-Schott, Wolfgang Schmidt, Maria Kliegel, Claudio Bohorquez, and David Geringas; pianists Anton Kuerti, Ivo Pogorelich, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Lars Vogt, Peter Donohoe, John Kimura Parker, and Wayne Marshall; violinists James Ehnes, Antje Weithaas, and Giora Schmidt; trumpeter Maurice Andre; and entertainers Lionel Ritchie and David Foster. He also collaborated with soprano Elza van den Heever in a Strauss/Wagner concert for South African television.

Beginning his career as a cellist, Gueller won the United German Radio Conducting Competition in 1979 and for nearly 20 years ran tandem careers. He studied conducting under the mentorship of legendary conductor Sergiu Celibidache, who regarded Gueller as his best student. Gueller also attracted the attention of the renowned American arts administrator Ernest Fleischman who “was deeply impressed by his extraordinary musicianship, his marvellous ability to communicate with the musicians, and … his charismatic impact on the audience.”

Gueller has made many recordings for national and international broadcast. His CD with Symphony Nova Scotia, Dancing in the Light, was released to critical acclaim. This followed a CD with mezzo soprano Hanneli Rupert and the Cape Town Philharmonic, and other recordings with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart, German Brass, and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra.

About Giora Schmidt

Giora Schmidt was born into a family of musicians in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. His parents emigrated from Israel in 1978, and played with the Philadelphia Opera Company Orchestra. His mother, Michal Schmidt is a cellist and pianist and is on the faculty of Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges and the University of Pennsylvania. His father, Dov Schmidt, is a violinist and businessman.

Schmidt began his violin studies at the age of four,and by 12 was commuting between Philadelphia and New York to study with Patinka Kopec and Pinkas Zukermann at the Manhatten School of Music. Schmidt did not truly become serious until the age of 14 when he began spending summers at the Perlman Music Program in Shelter Island, NY. There he met Itzhak Perlman who invited Schmidt to study with him and the late violin pedagogue Dorothy DeLay at the Juilliard Pre-College.

In between his lessons in New York, Schmidt worked intensely with violinist Geoffery Michaels on scales, etudes and the Sonatas and Partitas of  Johann Sebastian Bach.

At 18, Schmidt entered the Julliard School where he continued his studies with Perlman and DeLay, graduating in 2004. From 2004-2006 he was chosen to be a Starling Fellow where he taught as Itzhak Perlman’s assistant at the Juilliard School.

He has appeared as soloist with numerous symphony orchestras around the globe including Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Vancouver, National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, Orquesta Filarmónica de la UNAM (Mexico City), Orquesta Sinfonica de Chile, Sendai Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic. In February 2003, he made his Carnegie Hall debut performing the Barber Violin Concerto with the New York Youth Symphony.

In recital and chamber music, Schmidt has performed at Carnagie Hall, The Kennedy Centre, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, San Francisco Performances, the Louvre Museum in Paris, and Tokyo’s Musashino Cultural Hall. His festival appearances include the Ravinia Festival, the Santa Fe and Montreal Chamber Music Festivals, Bard Music Festival, Scotia Festival of Music and Music Academy of the West. He has collaborated with such acclaimed musicians as  Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Yefim Bronfman, Lynn, Harrell, Anne Sofie Otter, Ralph Kirshbaum and Michael Tree.

Committed to education and sharing his passion for music, Schmidt regularly seeks out new ways of reaching young violinists and music lovers around the world through technology and social media.
His Facebook page Violinist Giora Schmidt, has over 70,000 global followers

Brahms Violin Concerto

The Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77, was composed by Johannes Brahams in 1878 and dedicated to his friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim. It is Brahms’s only violin concerto, and, according to Joachim, one of the four great German violin concerti.

The Germans have four violin concertos. The greatest, most uncompromising is Beethonen’s. The one by Brahms vies with it in seriousness. The richest, the most seductive, was written by Max Bruch. But the most inward, the heart’s jewel, is Mendelssohn’s.

Beethoven 4

The Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major, Op.60, is a symphony in four movements composed by Ludwig Van Beethoven in the summer of 1806. It was premièred in March 1807 at a private concert at the home of Joseph Franz von Lobowitz.

The work was dedicated to Count Franz von Oppersdorff, a relative of Beethoven’s patron, Prince Lichnowsky. The Count met Beethoven when he traveled to Lichnowsky’s summer home, where Beethoven was staying. Von Oppersdorff listened to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D major, and liked it so much that he offered a large amount of money for Beethoven to compose a new symphony for him. Beethoven undertook the new work during the summer of 1806 and completed it in roughly a month, while also working on the Fourth Piano Concerto and revising his opera  Fidelio, then still known as Leonore. The dedication was made to “the Silesian nobleman Count Franz von Oppersdorf’. Hector Berlioz was so enamoured of the second movement, that he claimed that it was the work of the Archangel Michael,and not that of a human. Robert Schumann called Beethoven’s graceful Fourth Symphony “a slender Greek maiden between two Norse giants” (i.e., the 3rd and 5th).

Fratres: Avro Pärt

Fratres, meaning “brothers” in Latin, is a composition by the Estonian  composer Arvo Pärt exemplifying his tintinnabuli style of composition. It is three-part music, written in 1977, without fixed instrumentation — a “mesmerising set of variations on a six-bar theme combining frantic activity and sublime stillness that encapsulates Pärt’s observation that ‘the instant and eternity are struggling within us.” The version chosen by Maestro Gueller is for Strings and Percussion.