Eric Ewazen: International Sejong Soloists


Sejong Plays Ewazen

Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra

Adele Anthony, violin

Down a River of Time

Linda Strommen, oboe

Sinfonia for Strings

International Sejong Soloists

Hyo Kang, Artistic Director

Sejong Plays Ewazen

As a member of the faculty of The Juilliard School for over 25 years, I was delighted to find out that so many of my former students from my Literature and Materials of Music classes play in the world-class International Sejong Soloists. I have found them to be a group of amazing musicians. Their artistic director, Hyo Kang, one of the truly inspired violinists and violin teachers of our time is also a great friend. It has been a joy working with this extraordinary ensemble in the creation of this CD.

Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra

Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra was commissioned by the St. Lukes Chamber Ensemble of New York City and premiered by them with soloist Krista Feeney in May, 2000 during my tenure as their composer-in-residence. It is a large-scaled three-movement work exploring the incredible range of expressive possibilities and colors inherent in the violin. The first movement has a crackling energy, with dynamic, sweeping gestures in both the solo part and the accompanying string orchestra. Dramatic, rhapsodic motives are tossed back and forth and agitated accents permeate the movement. The energy creates a non-stop momentum through to the final chords, although there are moments of playfulness which contrast the more aggressive main themes. The second movement is a plaintive adagio, with the solo violin singing a somber, lyrical line. Contemplative and melancholy, this melody becomes the basis for a variation form in which it becomes ever more embellished and dramatic. A climactic middle section and quasi-cadenza lead to a final whispered statement of the opening theme. The final movement has a joyful energy. Contrasting the first two movements with their predominantly minor modes, the last movement is primarily sunny and bright with major modes and themes which skip and dance. I am delighted with Adele Anthony's bouyant interpretation of the concerto and grateful to her for introducing it to you.

Down a River of Time

Down a River of Time, a concerto for oboe and string orchestra, was a work which percolated for several years before being composed and premiered by the wonderful oboist and my dear friend, Linda Strommen with the American Sinfonietta, conducted by Michael Palmer at the Bellingham Summer Music Festival in Washington State in August, 1999. It was written at the suggestion of Linda, who commissioned the piece as a memorial tribute to her father. Having also recently lost my father, this piece became a very personal meditation on life and death. On Christmas Day, 1997, the day my father died in Cleveland, a beautiful essay coincidentally appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer by Richard Feagler in which he told poignant, funny and heartfelt stories of his relatives and parents — long since gone. Near the end of this essay, titled “Christmas Past Comes Alive at Aunt Ida's,” he describes these beloved souls “Moving, though they can't feel the current, down a river of time.” This became the title of the Concerto, a work which contemplates this inexorable rushing river. The first movement portrays that river of time with its ebbs and flows, hopes and dreams. The second movement portrays emotions felt during times of loss — powerful feelings running the gamut from sorrow to resignation to tenderness and peace at the remembrance of happier distant times. In the final movement, those happier memories flood the music, as feelings of strength and determination supercede all else, and the work comes to its virtuosic conclusion with a joyful intensity.

Sinfonia for Strings

Sinfonia for Strings is a rich and resonant celebration of the world of string orchestra sonorities. Capable of both great virtuosity and smooth-as-glass legato lyricism, the string orchestra provides the composer with a world of colors and varied musical emotions. The first movement is gutsy and rhythmic, with exciting moments of driving energy, syncopation and sonorous, ringing chords. The second movement, built on a melody which is soft and delicate, builds to a heroic climax, returning to the gentle and understated main theme at the end. The final movement opens with rousing and playful themes which pave the way for a joyful fugue, and a heroic finale.

Eric Ewazen

Eric Ewazen was born in 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio. He studied composition with Samuel Adler, Milton Babbitt, Warren Benson, Gunther Schuller and Joseph Schwantner at the Eastman School of Music, Tanglewood and The Juilliard School, where he received his DMA. He has been a member of the faculty at Juilliard since 1980, composer-in-residence with the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble of New York City, lecturer for the New York Philharmonic's Musical Encounter Series and vice president of the League of Composers-ISCM.

His orchestral music has recently been performed by leading ensembles in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, France, Spain, England, Finland, Turkey, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China.

Works he has written for wind ensemble have been commissioned and recorded by numerous bands such as the U.S. Military Academy Band at West Point, the Heritage of America Band at Langley AFB, Virginia, and numerous university wind ensembles from throughout the United States.

His works are recorded on EMI Classics, Summit Records, d'Note Records, CRS Records, New World, Clique Track, Helicon, Hyperion, and Cala. Two of his solo CDs featuring his brass chamber music are available on Well-Tempered Productions. A solo CD featuring his percussion music is available on Resonator Records. Three solo CDs of his orchestral music, his music for string orchestra, and his music for bass trombone are available on Albany Records.

International Sejong Soloists

Violins: Adele Anthony, Ju-Yung Baek, Christina Castelli, Bin Huang, Amy Iwazumi, Judy Kang, Hyuna Kim, Lisa Kim, Seyoung Lee, Leor Maltinski, Michael Shih, Janet Sung, Xiao-Dong Wang, Elizabeth Zeltser

Viola: Hung Wei Huang, Scott Lee, Richard Yongjae O'Neill, Masumi Per Rostad, Ryo Sasaki

Cello: Ole Akahoshi, Na Young Baek, Clancy Newman, Raman Ramakrishnan

Bass: Miles Cowan, Kurt Muroki

Praised as a “top-notch conductor-less string orchestra” by the Washington Post, International Sejong Soloists (ISS) was created in New York City in 1995 and met with immediate success. Since its inception, ISS has given more than 130 concerts throughout the United States and the Far East. Uniquely comprised of today's leading young soloists, International Sejong Soloists is known for its unique combination of diversity and confluence — performing string orchestral works as well as solo and chamber repertoire. Its members hail from nine different nations: Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the United States. Each has a distinguished reputation as a soloist and chamber musician, confirmed by prize-winning performances at prestigious international competitions that include the Yehudi Menhuin, Queen Elisabeth, Indianapolis, Naumberg, Jacques Thibaud, Paganini, Wieniawski-Lipinski, Hannover, Nielsen and Rostropovich. The caliber of these musicians and their diverse backgrounds make the ensemble one-of-a-kind. ISS tours worldwide under the musical direction of Hyo Kang, a renowned professor of violin at The Juilliard School.

ISS has given critically acclaimed concerts at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, the 92nd Street Y, the Kennedy Center, Suntory Hall in Japan, Seoul Arts Center in Korea, the National Arts Theatre in Taiwan and in the Rising Stars Series at Ravinia. They have also had engagements at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, the Taipei International Arts Festival, and the Manchester International Cello Festival in England. Since 1997, they have been Ensemble-in-Residence at the Aspen Music Festival. Continually performing to capacity audiences, ISS has collaborated with artists such as Sarah Chang, Kyung Wha Chung, Vladimir Feltsman, Leon Fleisher, Lynn Harrell, Sharon Isbin, Cho-Liang Lin, Carmen Pelton, Gil Shaham, Kyoko Takezawa, Benita Valente and Eugenia Zuckerman. They have premiered and commissioned works from some of the most significant 20th century composers, including Augusta Read Thomas, Earl Kim, Eric Ewazen and José Bragato. The ensemble has been featured regularly on National Public Radio's “Performance Today” and was broadcast live on WFMT in Chicago from the Aspen Music Festival.

ISS has also been heard on New York's WQXR Radio, and seen on CNN's “American Morning with Paul Zahn,” the Discovery Channel and WGCU Public Broadcasting in Florida.

International Sejong Soloists is sponsored in part by the Samsung Foundation of Culture, which also extends a generous loan of several instruments to the ensemble: the Guarnerius del Gesù violin “ex-Moeller,” Cremona (1725); the Antonio Stradivarius violin “ex-Strauss,” Cremona (1708); a Gasparo da Salo viola, Brescia (ca. 1590); a Matteo Goffriller cello, Venice (ca. 1715); and a Luigi Mantovani bass (ca. 1810). The ensemble has made two solo recordings for the Samsung Classics label.

Adele Anthony

International Sejong Soloists leader Adele Anthony began violin studies in Tasmania when she was two years old and performed in a Royal Command Performance before HRH Prince Charles at age ten. At 13 she was the youngest winner of the Australian Broadcasting Company's Instrumental and Vocal competition. She was awarded first prize in the 1996 Carl Nielsen Violin Competition and top prizes at the 1994 Hanover International Violin Competition and the Grand Prix Jacques Thibaud at the 1993 Jacques Thibaud International Violin Competition in Paris. Ms. Anthony attended The Juilliard School where her teachers were Dorothy DeLay, Felix Galimir and Hyo Kang. She has performed with numerous orchestras, including the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France; NDR Orchestra Hannover; Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra; Denmark's Aalborg, Odense and Sonderjylands Symfoniorkesters; the Iceland, Kuopio (Finland), Gothenberg, Richmond and Buffalo Symphony Orchestras; New Zealand's Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, the Singapore Orchestra; and all six symphony orchestras of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Her festival appearances have included those of Aspen, Davos and Verbier in Switzerland, Japan's Saga International Music Festival and Bombay's Sangat Music Festival. Ms. Anthony has collaborated with several of today's most distinguished conductors, including Lawrence Foster, Piero Gamba, Hiroyuki Iwaki, Marek Janowski, Neeme Järvi, Jorge Mester, Thomas Sanderling, Herbert Soudant, and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. She has recorded on the Naxos, Centaur, Deutsche Grammophon, Polygam and REM labels. Ms. Anthony lives in New York with her husband, violinist Gil Shaham.

Linda Strommen

Linda Strommen is currently Professor of Oboe at Indiana University. Ms. Strommen attended the Cleveland Institute of Music and Northwestern University where she studied with John Mack and Ray Still. Additional studies included work with Richard Woodhams, Robert Bloom and Stephen Colburn. As an active performer, Ms. Strommen is a former member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the Santa Fe Opera and has held principal and assistant principal positions with the Milwaukee, Honolulu, New Haven, Wichita and Baton Rouge Symphonies. She additionally has served as acting principal oboe with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Rochester Philharmonic, and has been a regular participant in summer festivals such as the Marlboro, Bellingham and Bard Festivals and a member of the Timm and Lieurance Woodwind Quintets. As an active teacher and clinician, Ms. Strommen has served on the faculties of The Juilliard School, Louisiana State University, Mannes College of Music, State University of New York at Purchase, Yale University, Wichita State University, University of Hawaii and The Cleveland Institute of Music Preparatory Department. She additionally serves on the summer faculties of Le Domaine Forget Music and Dance Academy and the John Mack Oboe Camp. She has recorded on Telarc, Deutsche Gramophone, Sony and Summit labels, and currently serves on the advisory committee of the Alexander Schneider Concert/New York String Orchestra Seminar Series. Ms. Strommen commissioned Eric Ewazen, her Juilliard colleague and friend, to write the oboe concerto, Down a River of Time, in honor of her late father, Dean Strommen, an avid supporter of the arts. Following the 1999 U.S. premiere, Ms. Strommen performed the concerto on tour throughout Europe in the Spring of 2000.

Produced & engineered by Adam Abeshouse.

Edited by Silas Brown and Adam Abeshouse.

Mastered by Adam Abeshouse.