In Rehearsal with Simon Lipskar: What to Listen For November 3
The Conductor’s Notes with NJYS Youth Orchestra Conductor Simon Lipskar
This Sunday afternoon, the New Jersey Youth Symphony presents the second concert of its 2019-2020 season with performances by the NJYS Fortissimo Flutes, Clarinet Ensemble, and Youth Orchestra (YO) at the College of Saint Elizabeth’s Dolan Hall. YO conductor Simon Lipskar gives us some insights into the second half of the program, which includes Tormis’ Overture No.2, two movements from Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, and Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances No. 17 from the opera Prince Igor.
Q: Can you tell us a little about the rep for this concert?
A: The three pieces that YO is playing all share some common DNA, but at the same time offer quite distinct challenges to the students. All three come from the Eastern European classical tradition—specifically the Russian and Baltic traditions. The Borodin and the Stravinsky have as their subjects aspects of Russian history and folklore, and the Tormis specifically evokes a new Baltic style that reaches back to Estonia’s past while throwing off the requirements of Soviet-era composition. So there are commonalities. But coming from three very distinct periods—the Borodin from the great flowering of nationalist Romantic era composition in Czarist Russia, the Stravinsky from the transition and rise of musical modernism in the early 20th century, the Tormis from the explosion of late 20th century creativity across the whole Baltic region—each piece demands very different things in terms of performance and interpretation, coming together to make a very satisfying musical experience.
Q: What should the audience listen for in particular?
A: Try to listen for the similarities along with the obvious differences. There is a folkloric underpinning to all three works that is quite identifiable, particularly in the use of repeated rhythms whether for harmony or melody. All three composers use folk-like motoric rhythms to underpin the structure, and I think they are quite easily heard across the three pieces, despite the strikingly different sound worlds conjured by the composers.
Q: How long have the students been working on the rep for this concert?
A: This is a very short concert period, just eight weeks of rehearsal, and YO has worked very hard to put this concert together in the time allotted. I think anyone coming to the concert will be hugely impressed by the way the students have risen to the challenges of the repertoire, both in terms of execution and style.
Come experience the traditions of Russian and Baltic symphonic masterworks at this Sunday’s New Jersey Youth Symphony concert at Dolan Hall. Tickets are $20/Adults, $15/Seniors & Students available online.
A conductor focused on inspiring and educating young musicians, Simon Lipskar has been the conductor of the NJYS Youth Orchestra since 2006. He conducts in the summers at the Kinhaven Music School where he was a student as a teenager. He has guest conducted at the Third Street Music Settlement in New York City and served as Assistant Conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic under Robert Spano, as well as for a number of other orchestras and opera companies. A member of Tanglewood’s prestigious Conductor’s Seminar led by Robert Spano and Gustav Meier, Lipskar took part in master classes led by Seiji Ozawa, Bernard Haitink, André Previn, and Joseph Silverstein. Read more here.