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.
TIM FAIN, Violin Soloist
With his adventuresome spirit and vast musical gifts, violinist Tim Fain has emerged as a mesmerizing new presence on the music scene. The "charismatic young violinist with a matinee idol profile, strong musical instincts, and first rate chops" (Boston Globe) was most recently seen on screen and heard on the Grammy-nominated soundtrack of the new hit film Black Swan, and heard as the sound of Richard Gere's violin in Fox Searchlight's feature film Bee Season. Selected as one of and magazines' "Up-and-Coming Musicians," Fain captured the Avery Fisher Career Grant and launched his career with Young Concert Artists. As The Washington Post recently raved, "Fain has everything he needs for a first-rate career."
He electrified audiences at debuts with the Baltimore Symphony and conductor Marin Alsop, at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival and with the Orchestra of St. Luke's. Fain has also appeared with the Mexico City and Oxford (UK) Symphonies, Cincinnati Chamber Symphony, Brooklyn and Hague Philharmonics, and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in a special performance at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center. In addition, he was the featured soloist with the Philip Glass Ensemble at Carnegie Hall in a concert version of Einstein on the Beach and continues to tour the US and Europe in a duo-recital program with Philip Glass.
Fain appeared in recital at the Ravinia Festival, Amsterdam's venerable Concertgebouw, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Kennedy Center, Mexico's Festival de Musica de Camara in San Miguel de Allende, Carnegie's Weill Hall, California's Carmel Mozart Society, the University of Georgia, Boston's Ives Festival, Ringling International Festival in Sarasota, the San Diego Art Institute, the University of California at Davis, Alice Tully Hall, the 92nd St Y, and elsewhere across the globe. His multi-media evening Portals premiered to sold-out audiences in New York, Los Angeles and at its midwestern premiere at Omaha's KANEKO. It recently premiered at Australia's Melbourne Festival and continues to travel world-wide. The centerpiece of the evening is Partita for Solo Violin, a new work written especially for him by Philip Glass, and also features collaborations with Benjamin Millepied, Leonard Cohen, film maker Kate Hackett, and with radio personality Fred Child and pianist Nicholas Britell appearing on screen.
A dynamic and compelling performer in traditional works, he is also a fervent champion of 20th and 21st century composers, with a repertoire ranging widely from Beethoven and Tchaikovsky to Aaron Jay Kernis and John Corigliano; as the Los Angeles Times recently noted, his career "is based, in part, on new music and new ways of thinking about classical music." Fain's discography features River of Light (Naxos), which showcases modern virtuosic short works for violin and piano by living American composers; Arches, which reflects Fain's inquisitive passion and intellect and combining old and new solo works; and The Concerto Project IV (Orange Mountain Music), with the Hague Philharmonic featuring Philip Glass's Double Concerto for violin and cellist Wendy Sutter.
Fain has collaborated with such luminaries as Pinchas Zukerman, Richard Goode, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Jonathan Biss, has appeared with the Mark Morris Dance Group, Seán Curran Company, and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, and appeared onstage with the New York City Ballet, performing alongside the dancers in the acclaimed premiere of Benjamin Millepied's "Double Aria." He has also worked with jazz pianists Billy Childs and Ethan Iverson (The Bad Plus), Joanna Newsom, guitarist Rich Robinson (Black Crowes), appeared at Jazz at Lincoln Center with singer-songwriter Rob Thomas (Matchbox 20), and collaborated with James Blake, and rappers Das Racist and Rahzel.
A sought-after chamber musician, Fain has performed at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New York's Bargemusic, Chamber Music Northwest, and at the Spoleto (Italy), Bridgehampton, Santa Fe, Caramoor, Bard, Lucerne (Switzerland), "Bravo" Vail Valley, Moab, and Martha's Vineyard Festivals. He has toured nationally with Musicians from Marlboro, and was first violinist of the Rossetti String Quartet.
A native of Santa Monica, California, Tim Fain is a graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied with Victor Danchenko, and The Juilliard School, where he worked with Robert Mann. He performs on a violin made by Francesco Gobetti, Venice 1717, the "Moller," on extended loan from Clement and Karen Arrison through the generous efforts of the Stradivari Society of Chicago.
MISSOULA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA CONCERT
October 4 & 5, 2014
CARL MARIA VON WEBER (1786-1826)
Overture, Der Freischutz
In the history of one-hit wonders, Carl Maria Von Weber holds a special place. Today, aside from the odd chamber piece, virtually none of his music is performed regularly — with the exception of one opera and the overture with which it begins. Yet in the canon of 19th century German music, very few single works had a more profound influence than that opera, Der Freischutz (The Marksman).
Premiered in 1821, the three-act opera was an immediate and enduring hit. Composers such as Berlioz, Wagner and Debussy later extolled the opera’s influence on their own music and thinking. Historians now consider it the watershed between the Classical and Romantic eras — and also the work that brought German opera out from the shadow of Italian opera and into its own.
Indeed, when we look back at this opera, it sums up much of what we now recognize as the primary elements of Romanticism: A focus on nature and mythology; the application of unusual instrumentation and tonal color to create mood; the intertwining of nationalism with music.
Even the opera’s overture strays from earlier tradition: Instead of previewing the melodies that will anchor the opera, Weber’s overture sets the mood and foreshadows the dramatic arc of this story.
The opera follows the tale of a young forester, Max, whose love for the lovely Agathe cannot be consecrated unless he wins a shooting contest. To increase his odds, Max casts seven magic bullets — and, in so doing, nearly brings a curse upon himself.
The overture begins with an evocation of the German woods. Max appears via a noble hymn in the horns. The murmurs of the forest turn more ominous, and the music passes through an unsettled section. Then a carefree melody, introduced by the violins and clarinet and emblematic of Agathe’s love for Max, changes the mood once more.
From there, vigor and virtue clash with undertones of threat, until an explosion of sheer joy drives the overture to its exciting conclusion and prefaces the opera’s redeeming end.
CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Violin Concerto No. 3 in B Minor
From our early-21st century vantage, Camille Saint-Saëns is another composer who appears to linger in a secondary tier of historically notable composers. A handful of his colorful compositions — brief works such as Danse Bacchanale and Danse Macabre, the dramatic Third “Organ” Symphony and the playfully evocative orchestral suite, The Carnival of the Animals — remain fixtures of the orchestral repertoire. But by and large, his current reputation is eclipsed by the Mozarts and Beethovens of history.
Yet in his day, Saint-Saëns was easily the most acclaimed composer of his home country and his name was a fixture on concert programs worldwide. Saint-Saëns lived a long and productive musical life — and he started very young. By age two, he was playing the piano and demonstrating perfect pitch. By his eleventh birthday, newspapers as far away as Boston had noted his ability to play all 32 of Beethoven’s piano sonatas — from memory.
“I live in music like a fish lives in water,” Saint-Saëns said, composing “as an apple tree produces apples.”
This early fame gave him lifelong access to the finest soloists of the day. As a result, Saint-Saëns composed numerous concerti and smaller showpiece works, including five piano concertos (which he himself often played), two concertos and some other works for cello and orchestra, and no fewer than eight works for violin and orchestra. As well, his Third Symphony could just as well be viewed as an organ concerto, so famously prominent is the instrument in the work’s overall effect.
The concerto form suited the composer well in a deeper sense. Where many composers of the Romantic era fixed their musical goals on intellectual ideals, emotional depth and formal innovation, Saint-Saëns bore a simpler view of his art.
“The artist who does not feel completely satisfied by elegant lines, by harmonious colors, and by a beautiful succession of chords does not understand the art of music,” he once wrote.
This explains a good bit about why we hear so much less of the composer’s music today than in earlier eras. At the turn of the 21st century, it is the music of revolutionaries and thinkers that dominate concert programs: Brahms and Beethoven, Ravel and Stravinsky. To listen to the music of Saint-Saëns is to indulge in the uncomplicated celebration of beauty.
That thought will likely resonate as you listen to the Third Violin Concerto. Here is music that seems to massage the ear and lavish the soul with each note. The first movement may begin with a certain sense of unsettled urgency, but it soon melts into an exploration of nothing more complicated than the determined melody that provides the music’s core. The second movement offers a prayerful counterweight, crowned in the end by octave harmonics that glisten away into pregnant silence. The final movement is at once focused and diverse, moving episodically from one colorful segment to the next, always led along by the soloist toward the music’s sprinting conclusion.
LOUIS-HECTOR BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Symphonie Fantastique, op. 14
Perhaps no other artist of lesser formal training has gained such high standing in history than Louis-Hector Berlioz. The composer of monumental works such as the four-hour opera Les Troyens and a Requiem that requires, among many others, eight timpani players, Berlioz never studied the piano and never learned more than a few chords. Yet his creativity was not bounded by these shortcomings, and he remains one of the most respected and influential figures of 19th century music.
Studying in Paris as a young man, Berlioz immersed himself in the rich culture of the city. During a performance of Hamlet in 1827, Berlioz was struck by the beauty of the lead actress, Harriet Smithson. “The impression made on my heart and mind by her extraordinary talent, nay her dramatic genius, was equaled only by the havoc wrought in me by the poet she so nobly interpreted,” Berlioz said.
For two years, the young composer ardently pursued Ms. Smithson, often frightening her with his persistence. When the reality that he would not secure her affections finally struck Berlioz in 1830, he transformed his emotional distress into one of the most inventive works in the history of orchestral music: the Symphonie Fantastique, subtitled “Episode from the Life of an Artist.” Based on a fairly complex programme and endowed with striking textures and beautiful melodies, this five-movement work was written over the course of just two months.
In the first movement, the author sees for the first time a woman who embodies his every ideal. He falls immediately in love with her, and associates with her a short melody, at once noble and shy, passionate and elegant. This melody will haunt him throughout the story, always tempered by the emotions of the moment, which range from jealousy to passion to terror.
In the second movement (“A Ball”), the artist finds himself at a party, yet the woman occupies his thoughts. He finds some peace when he ventures into the countryside (the third movement); but he continues to fear that she is deceiving him. The peaceful sound of two shepherds, piping to each other in the distance, blends with the sound of approaching thunder to leave the artist full of despair and foreboding.
Convinced that his love is spurned, the artist takes a dose of opium to kill himself. But he fails to ingest enough; and instead hallucinates.
The fourth movement, “March to the Scaffold,” depicts the artist's drug-induced delusion that he has killed the woman of his dreams and is being led to his own execution. At the end, he hears a final wisp of the melody that has haunted him, shattered by the final, fatal blow.
The fifth movement, “Dream of a Witches' Sabbath,” is the artist's nightmare of his own funeral, attended by witches, ghosts and sorcerers. The theme of his beloved returns, but this time it is twisted into a grotesque dance theme, which interweaves with a burlesque parody of the plainsong Dies irae (“Day of Wrath”). The whole work climaxes in an orgiastic, maniacal round dance.
- Joe Nickell