Sleeper: Horn Concerto/Ticheli: Symphony No. 1



Symphony No. 1

Van der Slice



Horn Concerto

University of Miami Symphony Orchestra

Thomas M. Sleeper, conductor

Stefan de Leval Jezierski, horn

Jonathan Mack, tenor

“Hauntingly Mysterious,” “Richly Lyrical,” “Soaring Melodies” - all phrases used to describe the music of Thomas M. Sleeper. His output includes three operas, four concerti, an orchestral suite, three orchestral song cycles, works for chorus with orchestra, two string quartets and numerous other vocal and instrumental chamber works. Sleeper has developed a unique compositional voice whose vocabulary is clearly from, but not limited to, this century.

Sleeper enjoys an active dual career as composer and conductor. He has been hailed by the Miami Herald as “a conductor of persuasive fluency and fiery conviction.” Sleeper began his professional career as a member of Fermata, a group of composer/performers who presented annual series of interdisciplinary concerts throughout the state of Texas. At age 22, he was appointed Associate Conductor of the Dallas Civic Symphony and the SMU Chamber Orchestra and Opera Theatre. While in graduate school at the Meadows School of the Arts, he founded Perspectives, a contemporary music ensemble, which became part of that division's curriculum.

An active guest conductor in the US and abroad, he has appeared with numerous orchestras including the Central Philharmonic of China, San Juan (Argentina) Symphony Orchestra, Ruse State Philharmonic (Bulgaria) and the China-Wuhan Symphony, which appointed him Artistic Advisor in 1993 and Principal Guest Conductor in 2002.

A strong advocate of new music, Sleeper has conducted the premieres of numerous works by American composers, including Henry Brant, Carlos Surinach, Robert Xavier Rodriguez and Thomas Ludwig. He has recorded on the Albany, Centaur, Cane, Irida and Vienna Modern Master labels, with excellent reviews in Fanfare and The American Record Guide.

Sleeper's compositions have been performed throughout the USA, and in Europe, Asia and South America. Recent recordings of his work include the Concerto for Piano, Winds and Percussion, with pianist Yamilka Silvestrini conducted by Gary Green; Sleeper's opera Aceldama, performed by the Shanghai Broadcasting Symphony and his orchestration of Brahms' Clarinet Sonata Opus 120, No, 2, performed by the Ruse State Philharmonic with clarinetist Margaret Donaghue conducted by Sleeper.

Thomas Sleeper currently resides in Miami, Florida, where he is Director of Orchestral Activities and Conductor of the University of Miami Symphony Orchestra and Opera Theater and Music Director of the Florida Youth Orchestra.

Concerto for Horn and Orchestra

Concerto for Horn and Orchestra was written for Stefan de Leval Jezierski of the Berlin Philharmonic. I met Stefan in New York in the late 1990's when his orchestra was touring. We were introduced through a mutual friend and colleague, Lisa Crawford, Executive Director of the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra. She had given him a CD of my bassoon concerto and he asked me to write him a similar work. After hearing him perform, I was enamored with Stefan's rich sound and lyric phrasing and wrote to these qualities in his concerto.

The work is in three movements, (fast, slow, fast) and while not programmatic, each has an atmosphere relating to three people who have been influential in my musical life since arriving in Miami in 1993.

The first movement, Allegro, opens quietly and mysteriously, but quickly develops into a sardonic march with angular melodies and chromatic harmonies. This “march” is interrupted by the solo horn with a cadenza and the introduction of two new themes, each more lyric and tranquil than the other. With the development, the tempo gradually increases until the orchestra and soloist reach a frenzy of activity with nowhere to go - but silence. The march theme returns in a brief coda, now resolved and devoid of the musculature it possessed in the opening. The other themes will not return until the final movement of the concerto.

There are several moments in this first movement where the trumpet takes over the horn melody, in effect extending it's range. There is also considerable counterpoint between these two instruments in the development. This movement is an homage to the late Gil Johnson, legendary Principal Trumpet of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Professor of Trumpet at the University of Miami.

The second movement, Andante ma non troppo, lusingando, is the lyric center of the concerto. An extended horn cadenza recalls a tenor aria from my second opera River of Shifting Sands and the tranquillo ending stands in counterpoint to the tragic final moments of the opera - as if one could change fate. This movement is an homage to the late Glenn Janson. Glenn was also a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra and an esteemed teacher and colleague. The elegiac nature of the horn quartet near the end of this movement recalls a life-changing month we spent together in China working with the members of the Central Philharmonic Orchestra in Beijing. The influence of Glenn's rich tone quality and phrasing can still be heard in Beijing.

The final Vivace is unrelenting in its pulse, even when lyric sections from earlier in the concerto are recalled. The melodic materials come directly from the first and second movements and are only altered rhythmically. Note for note, they are the same. This movement pays homage to Bill Hipp, Dean of the School of Music, for his powerful vision, unimaginable energy and selfless dedication.

The work received its premier on September 16, 2000 at Maurice Gusman Concert Hall with Stefan in Miami, Florida at the opening night of Festival Miami.

—Thomas Sleeper

John Van der Slice, Professor of Music Theory and Composition, received his A.B. degree from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.A. degree in Ethnomusicology and a M.M. in Composition from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and a D.M.A. degree in Composition at the University of Illinois at Urbana. He studied composition with Armand Russell, Neil McKay, and Paul Zonn. He is a specialist in the music from the 20th century to the present and his own compositions include works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, and orchestra.


The title, Specters, reflects two aspects of the work. First, it uses a “spectrum” of thirteen pitches, descending from small intervals to large, which provides the genetic material for harmonic and melodic organization. (This serves as a surrogate overtone series and betrays my admiration for the natural sonic beauty of French “Spectral” music.) Secondly, the work is a kind of abstract ballet of sound involving a mysterious play of “ghostly” timbres and textures, occasionally disturbed by sudden, more violent, apparitions.

The piece is dedicated, with admiration and gratitude, to conductor and composer Thomas Sleeper.

— John Van der Slice

Frank Ticheli (b. 1958, Monroe, Louisiana) joined the faculty of the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music in 1991, where he is Professor of Composition. From 1991 to 1998 he was Composer-in-Residence of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. Although he is widely known for his works for symphonic winds, he also has a substantial body of orchestral compositions that are gaining increasing recognition in the United States and abroad. His music has been performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Dallas Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, the radio orchestras of Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Saarbrucken, and Austria and the orchestras of Austin, Charlotte, Colorado, Haddonfield, Harrisburg, Hong Kong, Jacksonville, Long Island, Louisville, Lubbock, Memphis, Nashville, Omaha, Phoenix, Portland, Richmond, San Antonio, San Jose, and others.

Awards for his music include two from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Walter Beeler Memorial Prize, and First Prize awards in the Texas Sesquicentennial Orchestral Composition Competition, Britten-on-the-Bay Choral Composition Contest, and Virginia CBDNA Symposium for New Band Music. Commissions and grants have come from Chamber Music America, Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Chorale, Revelli Foundation, Kappa Kappa Psi, Prince George's Philharmonic Orchestra, Adrian Symphony, City of San Antonio, Stephen F. Austin State University, University of Michigan, University of Miami, Trinity University, Indiana Bandmasters Association, Worldwide Concurrent Premieres, and others.

Frank Ticheli received his doctoral and masters degrees in composition from the University of Michigan where he studied with William Albright, Leslie Bassett, William Bolcom, and George Wilson. His works are published by Manhattan Beach, Helicon, Hinshaw, and Encore Music, and are recorded on the labels of Koch International Classics, Albany, Klavier, and Mark Records.

Symphony No. 1

Symphony No. 1 was begun in the fall of 2000 in Pasadena, California, and completed the following summer at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Its four movements represent a kind of journey of the soul — from innocence, to introspection, to darkness, and finally to enlightenment.

The first movement is an expression of hope. Vivid aural images of a spring morning — bell sounds, trumpet fanfares, bright harmonies, clear textures — illuminate the movement and give it a youthful energy. Themes come and go quickly, suggesting a short attention span and childlike impatience.

The second movement, despite its strong melodic and harmonic connections to the first, is in many ways its alter-ego. Bright fanfares give way to greater lyricism. Childlike optimism yields to introspection. A clarinet solo ushers in a new passage over somber chords in the low brass. After a series of vast modulations and an orchestral swell, a lengthy period of calm follows. A repeated major chord hangs high, and becomes an immovable block that is quietly implacable to the pleadings of the solo bassoon. Vague recollections of the first movement come and go like fleeting dreams.

The third movement represents a crisis of faith. The key of D minor is used as a symbol of darkness. This association also pays tribute to Mozart, who used the key only on rare occasions as a symbol of pessimism and struggle (e.g., the appearance of the stone guest in Don Giovanni, and the unfinished Requiem Mass). The main theme wedges upward and back again, as though it is attempting to dodge some menacing force. A contrasting middle section provides an uneasy moment of respite before surrendering to the return of the scherzo and its racing heartbeat.

The finale is a setting of an original poem. Its dramatic flow — moving from themes of hope, to peace, to crisis, and finally to reconciliation — summarizes the expressive journey of the entire symphony. Similarly, the poem's musical accompaniment is flecked with themes from each of the corresponding movements, recalling key points in the symphony's progress. During the first two stanzas, the music searches in vain for resolution, wandering from one tonal area to another (D, C, F, A, B) before finally resigning itself in the poignant key of B minor. As an ironic gesture, the line, “naked, hungry, crying out,” is answered by a recollection of one of the brightest moments from movement one, now darkened by its new B minor context. After a moment of vulnerability, the poem moves toward resolution, and the music brightens once again. Darkness yields to themes of transcendence as the singer discovers an inner light.

Symphony No. 1 was commissioned by the University of Miami School of Music Abraham Frost Series, and received its premiere performance at the closing concert of Festival Miami on October 25, 2001 by the University of Miami Symphony Orchestra, Thomas Sleeper, conductor.

Movement IV: Prayer

I want to hear the sounds of hope—

of big church bells and distant horns,

Sounds that wash away the wars

and arouse the human heart.

A sure harmony gliding over a sea of stillness.

I want to play the sounds of peace—

of sighing winds and rustling leaves,

Sounds that silence troubled thoughts

and calm the spirit's raging storms.

A song of serenity from high atop an ancient hill.

But my harp is drowned by the sounds of children—

Naked, hungry, crying out.

Their dreams, windswept,

My faith, a time-worn rock,

My house of wisdom, a spider's web.

I only know that I am longing...

And then...I catch a glimpse—

an ancient tree...a soaring bird,

Some eternal euphony

that dances upon the light.

And for one fleeting moment, I know...

I am the sound of hope,

the instrument of peace,

the song within the Song.

— Frank Ticheli

Since graduating from the University of Southern California with degrees in French horn and voice, Jonathan Mack's career as a lyric tenor has taken him throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia as a recital, concert, and opera singer.

Mack was the leading lyric tenor for the opera houses of Kiel and Dortmund for four years and is now in his seventeenth season with the Los Angeles Opera, having performed more than 40 roles with them. He has also appeared with the Netherlands Opera, Kentucky Opera, Vancouver Opera, Opera Columbus, and the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival.

His concert work includes engagements with the London Symphony Orchestra, Chautauqua Festivals, the Carmel Bach Festival, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Minnesota Orchestra.

Mr. Mack is on the voice faculty at the University of Southern California, Chapman University and Cal State University Long Beach. His recordings appear on the Klavier, Nonesuch and Crystal Records labels.

Raised in North Carolina and a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, Stefan Jezierski attended the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) to study with Myron Bloom. He won the CIM concerto competition in 1975 and then, at the age of twenty debuted as horn soloist with members of the Cleveland Orchestra in Severance Hall with Mozart's Horn Concerto K. 447. After graduation from CIM, he was appointed first horn of the Kassel State Opera in Germany. In January 1978, he was selected by Herbert von Karajan to play high horn with the Berlin Philharmonic, a post that he still holds. Mr. Jezierski was the first American to be invited to join the Berlin Philharmonic.

For the past two decades, Mr. Jezierski has worked with virtually all of the world's leading conductors including Bernstein, Boehm, Karajan, Kleiber and Solti, and, more recently, Abbado and Rattle. He has frequently performed as soloist with orchestras throughout Europe, America and Asia. Mr. Jezierski is a founding member of both the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin and the Haydn Ensemble Berlin, both of which are primarily comprised of musicians from the Berlin Philharmonic. His chamber music partners have included such musicians as David Geringas, Karl Leister, Phillip Moll, Emanuel Pahud and Joerg Schellenberger. He has toured Asia several times as soloist with the Philharmonic Kammermusik Collegium.

He teaches at the Orchestra Academy of the Herbert von Karajan Foundation in Berlin and has given master classes at Julliard, Northwestern, New England Conservatory and Mannes School of Music, as well as in several European cities. In North Carolina, Mr. Jezierski appeared as soloist with the Ciompi Quartet at the Duke University Bryan Center and with the Eastern Music Festival at Guilford College.

Mr. Jezierski has performed at many of the world's leading music festivals and appears on hundreds of recordings, television productions and radio broadcasts.

The University of Miami Symphony Orchestra has had the distinction of performing with some of the most celebrated conductors and soloists of our century including Pierre Monteux, Leopold Stokowski, Gregor Piatigorsky, Jasha Heifitz and Arthur Rubenstein. American Record Guide called the 1993 world premiere of Surinach's Symphonic Melismas, “The most auspicious premiere by the UM Symphony since 1956, when Andre Kostelanitz conducted the premiere of William Schumann's New England Triptych here.” The UMSO regularly performs with the world's great artists at Festival Miami, and presents the standard orchestral literature as well as new works that will enter the repertoire. Recent tours have included Beijing and Shanghai, China, Nassau, Bahamas and Kansas City, where the UMSO and UM Chorale were invited to perform Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem for the closing night of the national MENC Convention. The UMSO regularly records and now has five compact discs out on the Centaur, Cane and Albany Labels. Former members of the UMSO hold positions in prestigious ensembles and serve as arts administrators, teachers, and conductors throughout the world.

The Abraham Frost Commission Series

The University of Miami School of Music is very fortunate in having an endowment devoted exclusively to the commissioning, performance, and dissemination of new works. Established by Dr. Phillip Frost in memory of his father, Abraham, the Abraham Frost Endowment has thus far commissioned works by Michael Colgrass, Maria Schneider, Carlos Surinach, Frank Ticheli, and Eric Whitacre.

Executive Producer: Dr. William Hipp

Recording Engineer: Paul Griffith

Recording Assistant: Joanna Griffith

Artist Representative for Mr. Sleeper and Mr. Jezierski: Lisa Crawford

Symphony No. 1, by Frank Ticheli, was commissioned by the University of Miami School of Music through the Abraham Frost Commission Endowment and is available from the composer at For further information, please visit the composer's website at

Concerto for Horn and Orchestra, by Thomas M. Sleeper, is published by Uroboros Press. or

Specters, by John Van der Slice is available from the composer at