DARKO BUTORAC, Music Director
Recently praised by the Westdeutsche Zeitung for his "elegance and well-timed pacing", Maestro Darko Butorac is establishing himself as one of the world's most sought-after young conductors. Following his debut with the Belgrade Philharmonic in January of 2011 he was invited to both close the 2011 and open the 2012 concert seasons. In addition to his activities in Belgrade, notable concerts include collaborations with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Neuss and the Georgische Kammerorchester Ingolstadt (Germany), the Rubinstein Philharmonic of Lodz (Poland), the Tallin Sinfonietta (Estonia), and a debut at the celebrated Vienna Konzerthaus with the Slovenian Radio Orchestra in the spring of 2014.
Since taking the baton in 2007, Butorac has propelled the Missoula Symphony Orchestra to a new level of musical achievement, with an expanded repertoire and local premieres of works by established and emerging composers. Butorac and the orchestra have shared the stage with renowned guest artists including Grammy-nominated violinist Robert McDuffie, pianists Stewart Goodyear and Antonio Pompa-Baldi, and celebrated actor J.K. Simmons. The Symphony’s growing popularity has ignited ticket sales and established Butorac as a cultural leader in the community. An enthusiastic ambassador for classical music, he also creates the award-winning “Downbeat DownLow” podcasts with radio personality Leah Lewis.
Within North America, Butorac has been featured as a guest conductor with the Charleston Symphony, the Canton Symphony, the Springfield Symphony, Orchestra Seattle and the Seattle Chamber Singers, the Montana Lyric Opera and as the Principal Conductor of the Northwest Mahler Festival in Seattle. In May of 2013 Butorac was hired as the new Music Director of the Tallahassee Symphony in Florida, following a two-year long international search. Highlights of his guest conducting engagements abroad include the Mendoza and Neuquen Symphonies in Argentina, the Xiamen Philharmonic in China, the Slobozhansky Orchestra and the Kharkov Philharmonic in the Ukraine, and annual visits with Giuseppe Verdi Orchestra of Parma as the principal conductor of the Fidenza Opera Festival in Italy.
In 2003, Butorac was awarded a fellowship by David Zinman to study at the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival. Upon his return to the festival in 2004, Butorac was named Assistant Conductor of the Aspen Opera Theater Center and worked with Julius Rudel and Arnold Oestman. He has also worked extensively at the Brevard Music Center, Aspen Music Festival and Indiana University. His principal mentors are David Effron, Jorma Panula, Imre Pallo and David Zinman. For more information on Butorac, please visit www.darkobutorac.com.
YURIY BEKKER, Cello Soloist
Yuriy Bekker, violinist and conductor, has led the Charleston Symphony Orchestra (South Carolina) as concertmaster since 2007 and was recently named Director of Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Bekker served as the orchestra’s Acting Artistic Director from 2010-2014 and played a major role in the orchestra’s successful resurgence. For its 2014 inaugural season, Bekker served on faculty as a violinist and conductor for the Miami Summer Music Festival.
Bekker is an adjunct faculty member of the College of Charleston School of the Arts as conductor of the College of Charleston Orchestra. He has also been Artistic Advisor to the Piccolo Spoleto Festival for the last four seasons. Recently, he was given the Outstanding Artistic Achievement award from the City of Charleston to honor his cultural contributions. Bekker has also held the position of concertmaster for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and AIMS Festival in Graz, Austria, and has held additional positions with the Houston Symphony and the Houston Grand Opera and Ballet Orchestras.
Bekker has performed worldwide as a celebrated guest concertmaster, avid chamber musician, and critically-acclaimed soloist with the Vancouver Symphony (British Columbia), Ulster Orchestra in Northern Ireland, Buffalo Philharmonic, Chicago Chamber Music Society, European Music Festival Stuttgart (Germany), Pacific Music Festival (Japan), Spoleto Festival USA, Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Aspen Music Festival, at the Kennedy Center, and in cities including: New York City, Chicago, Miami, Orlando, Asheville, Flagstaff, Scottsdale, and Graz, Austria. He has collaborated with Herbert Greenberg, Claudio Bohorquez, Alexander Kerr, Andrew Armstrong, Robert DeMaine, Sara Chang, Gil Shaham, Joshua Roman, JoAnn Falletta, and Andrew Litton.
2013-2014 season solo engagements included a performance with the Midland Symphony Orchestra (Michigan) of “Under an Indigo Sky,” a violin concerto written for Bekker by composer Edward Hart. Other performances include conducting Charleston Symphony Orchestra Pops “Wicked Divas” in January 2014 and leading the Charleston Symphony Chamber Orchestra Series at the Dock Street Theatre. Additional engagements included concerts throughout South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, South Dakota, Texas, and New York City.
In addition to directing and performing in the Charleston Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Bekker’s 2014-2015 conducting and performing season consists of numerous engagements including Beethoven Violin Concerto, Shostokovich Symphony No. 5, and “Classical Mystery Tour: A Tribute to the Beatles.”
Bekker earned a Graduate Performance Diploma from the Peabody Conservatory under the tutelage of Herbert Greenberg. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees were acquired from the Indiana University School of Music. There he studied violin with Nelli Shkolnikova and Ilya Kaler. Born in Minsk, Belarus, Bekker is now a United States citizen and is married to Dr. Jenny Glace Bekker. Visit www.YuriyBekker.com for more information.
November 7 & 8, 2015
Prokofiev — Symphony No. 1, “Classical”
In 1918, one of Russia’s most notoriously modernist composers surprised the world by writing a symphony in the style of Joseph Haydn. The result rivals the greatest music of the 19th Century in both melodic invention and sunny beauty.
Schubert — Symphony No. 8, “Unfinished”
The 25-year-old composer only completed two movements of this symphony before his untimely death. Yet today, we recognize this as one of Schubert’s most powerful works — unfinished yet complete in its own unique way.
Beethoven — Violin Concerto in D, opus 61
Arguably the greatest of all violin concertos, this epic 1806 work combines unforgettable melodic material with a revolutionary approach: Here the soloist and orchestra coexist in equal balance, each contributing key elements to an overall whole.
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) — Symphony No. 1, “Classical” op. 25
The second decade of the 20th century was a time of revolution in music and politics. World War I broke out in 1914. Three years later, the Russian Revolution transformed the former tsarist country into what would eventually become the Soviet Union. Meantime, works such as Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Strauss’s Salome had provoked literal riots as they seemingly uprooted the foundations of classical music.
In the midst of this transformative milieu, the name of Sergei Prokofiev was suddenly on the tongues of musicians in Russia and beyond. In 1913, the 22-year-old composer presented his Second Piano Concerto. Its spiky dissonances and aggressive spirit caused an uproar among those who felt that modern music had lost touch with beauty and high values. Prokofiev’s reputation soon began to precede him: In 1915, a Moscow critic published a scathing review of the composer’s Scythian Suite — despite the fact that the performance had been cancelled and the composer remained in possession of the score’s only copy.
So imagine the surprise among the musical public when, in 1918, the 27-year-old composer debuted a work modeled on the 18th century style of Franz Joseph Haydn. Prokofiev would later chronicle the inspiration for the work: “I had been playing with the idea of writing a whole symphony without the piano. Composed in such a fashion, the orchestral colors would, of necessity, be clearer and cleaner. Thus the plan of a symphony in the style of Haydn originated...It seemed to me that, if he were alive today, Haydn, while retaining his own style, would have appropriated something from the modern. Such a symphony I now wanted to compose: a symphony in the classic manner.”
Of course, Prokofiev being Prokofiev, he couldn’t help but impose numerous non-traditional twists and techniques on the music, beginning right from the outset. The first movement begins with a flourish characteristic of the late Baroque era, a vaulting upward run known as a Mannheim Rocket. The fast music that follows quickly jumps from the key of D major to the unrelated key of C major — hardly a traditional move. Yet here and throughout, Prokofiev smooths his surprises in a way that makes them seem utterly idiomatic.
Each movement is a marvel of economy: none is longer than four and a half minutes long, and the third movement prances past in only about ninety seconds. Yet the composer manages to cover plenty of ground in that short time: This is music that lodges in the mind and lifts the spirit every time it is played.
Franz Schubert (1797-1828) — Symphony No. 8, “Unfinished” D.759, B minor
During his lifetime, Franz Schubert’s reputation hung almost entirely on his 600 incomparable lieder (songs) for voice and piano. Schubert died at age 31, never having seen a single work for orchestra published, and never having heard public performances of many of his larger-scale works.
It wasn’t until more than half a century after Schubert’s death that his orchestral music began to gain the respect and prominence that it enjoys today. The resuscitation began in 1867, when Sir George Grove (the man known best for Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians) and Sir Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert & Sullivan fame) traveled to Vienna, where they tracked down and rescued a number of Schubert’s works from oblivion. It took another two decades for Schubert’s first six symphonies to finally be published; but soon those works established themselves with the public, critics and composers who heard in this music a powerful expansion of the symphonic music of Beethoven.
Schubert’s creative expansion on the symphonic form is arguably nowhere more evident than in his Eighth Symphony. Indeed, the fact that this work remained unfinished upon Schubert’s death in 1828 may be viewed as proof of the score’s revolutionary qualities: Even a composer as talented as Schubert couldn’t find a way to complete what was begun in the music’s two completed movements.
What Schubert did finish were two movements, similar in length, both in a triple meter and nearly the same tempo, each monumental in its own way, both able to stand alone yet perfectly balanced together. All of those characteristics can be said to differ from traditional symphonic form, which typically called for a long first movement in duple or quadruple meter, followed by two significantly shorter movements — one slow and lovely, one a triple-meter dance — and a fast finale.
Had Schubert finished this symphony, it certainly would have been the most revolutionary of its time in terms of structure alone. Even in the anything-goes 20th century it is rare to find a symphony in which the second movement rivals the first in scale and heft.
But make no mistake: This is not merely a curiosity piece. If it were, it would not now be one of the most famous and oft-performed orchestral works in the repertoire. The posthumously imposed subtitle is, in that sense, misleading.
When you listen to Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony, you're not left with a question of what if. You are instead left with a glorious experience of what is.
Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) — Violin Concerto in D, op. 61
Born in 1770, Beethoven was trained on violin and piano at an early age by his father. His general education began and ended in elementary school; yet he was soon known in artistic circles for his prodigious musical technique and understanding. As an eleven-year old assistant to Bonn’s court organist, Beethoven was described by his mentor as “a boy of...most promising talent...He would surely become a second Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart if he were to continue as he has begun.”
Perhaps little did anyone suspect the validity of this comparison; for Beethoven was eventually to become the only composer in history of equal stature to Mozart.
Beethoven composed his Violin Concerto in D in 1806, in a flurry of creativity. It was during this same period that he produced his Fourth Symphony and Fourth Piano Concerto, as well as the widely known “Appassionata” Sonata. By this time, Beethoven was fully deaf, a condition which led to endless despair in his life. “You can scarcely believe what an empty, sad life I have had for the last two years,” Beethoven wrote in late 1801.
Yet Beethoven’s music of this period belied his angst — let alone his handicap. Indeed, it is hard to name a more deeply expressive, evocative and moving concerto in the entire repertoire for violin.
Throughout, the violin weaves a dreamy voice that dispels all predilections of glittering bravura. The solo part, though no doubt challenging to the performer, above all demands taste, discernment in expression, and warm response. This is arguably nowhere more evident than in a cadenza that appears toward the end of the first movement. Over the course of three minutes, the soloist explores the far reaches of the musical material that has come before, encapsulating and elaborating on each theme. The solo voice builds ultimately to a climax that is barely a whisper, yet pregnant with meaning and portent.
Encountering such beauty, we can easily forget that this is also a revolutionary work for its time. Whereas most earlier (and many later) concertos placed the solo voice front and center, with the orchestra providing little more than accompaniment, Beethoven here presents us with a massive interconnected work that at times feels more like a symphony than a traditional concerto. Even in the concerto’s most exciting passages, the violin is but one voice among many.
The concerto’s scale is similarly unprecedented: the first movement alone is longer than many symphonies by Haydn or Mozart, running approximately 21 minutes.
Yet in this magical music, we never feel lulled by repetition or verbosity. As always, Beethoven hangs beauty and significance on every note.
Large-print copies of Program Notes are available upon request in advance of the event at by calling 721-3194 or at www.missoulasymphony.org
This concert will be broadcast over Montana Public Radio on Sunday evening, November 22, at 8 p.m.
KUFM Missoula, 89.1 KUFM North Missoula, 91.5 KUFN Hamilton, 91.9 KUKL Kalispell, 90.1 KAPC Butte, 91.3 KUHM Helena 91.7, KUFL Libby, 90.5 KPJH Polson, 89.5 KGPR Great Falls, 89.9
- Joe Nickell