An Interview with Helen Cha-Pyo: What to Listen For October 26
The Conductor’s Notes with Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Helen H. Cha-Pyo
This Saturday evening, the New Jersey Youth Symphony kicks off its 2019-2020 concert season with a joint performance with the Montclair State University Symphony Orchestra at MSU’s Kasser Theater. Maestro Cha-Pyo gives us some insights into the program, which includes what is sure to be awe-inspiring performances of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino Overture and Liszt’s Les Préludes, as well as a spectacular combination of both orchestras for Wagner’s famed Ride of the Valkyries.
Q: How did you choose the rep for this concert?
A: We will be performing works that have Italian connections as we build towards our tour to Italy, June 27-July 6. Giuseppi Verdi’s Overture to La forza del destino is one of the most beloved overtures in the Italian opera repertoire. Although Liszt is a Hungarian composer, he lived in Albano, near Rome, for a good number of years towards the later part of his life when he entered into the third order of priesthood. Youth Symphony’s last concert on our tour will be in Albano presented by the Liszt Festival organization. As for the Ride of the Valkyries, Nicholas DeMaison, conductor of the MSU Symphony Orchestra, and I chose this together for the combined orchestra to play as the grand finale to the joint concert.
Q: What is something the audience will hear possibly for the first time?
A: I’m extremely pleased and proud to present the newly formed NJYS CL4tet. This is their debut concert and I bet many of our audience members have never previously heard a clarinet quartet. This is a brand new ensemble under the direction of Bryan Rudderow, and they will be traveling to Italy with Youth Symphony this summer.
Q: What will the audience be blown away by?
A: I would guess many in the audience have heard the Ride of the Valkyries before but probably not performed by an orchestra of almost 150 players with a brass section of 11 French horns, 7 trumpets, 6 trombones, and 2 tubas!
Q: What should the audience listen for in particular?
A: Franz Liszt’s Les Préludes, Symphonic Poem No. 3, as it is based on a poem:
What else is life but a series of preludes to that unknown hymn, the first and solemn note of which is intoned by Death? Love is the enchanted dawn of all existence; but what fate is there whose first delights of happiness are not interrupted by some storm, whose fine illusions are not dissipated by some mortal blast, consuming its altar as though by a stroke of lightning? And what cruelly wounded soul, issuing from one of these tempests, does not endeavor to solace its memories in the calm serenity of rural life? Nevertheless, man does not resign himself for long to the enjoyment of that beneficent warmth which he first enjoyed in Nature’s bosom, and when the ‘trumpet sounds the alarm’ he takes up his perilous post, no matter what struggle calls him to its ranks, that he may recover in combat the full consciousness of himself and the entire possession of his powers.
This work is one movement, but there are six sections that reflect the elements of life touched upon in the poem. Listen for the following sections:
- Introduction – “What else is our life but a series of preludes to that unknown Hymn, the first and solemn note of which is intoned by Death?”
- Love – “Love is the enchanted dawn of all existence…”
- Storm – “…but what is the fate where the first delights of happiness are not interrupted by some storm…”
- Country Life (Pastoral) – “…and where is the cruelly wounded soul which, on issuing from one of these tempests, does not endeavor to rest his recollection in the calm serenity of life in the fields?”
- War – “…and when the trumpet sounds the alarm, he hastens, to the dangerous post, whatever the war may be…”
- Conclusion – “…in order at last to recover in the combat full consciousness of himself and entire possession of his energy.”
Q: How long have the students been working on the rep for this concert?
A: Youth Symphony has had 7 rehearsals for this concert program all while looking ahead to our December concert…Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite! Maestro DeMaison will rehearse the Wagner with Youth Symphony tomorrow, and the two orchestras will meet for the first time two hours before the concert on Saturday for a short twenty-minute rehearsal!
The New Jersey Youth Symphony really is training the next generation of musicians—as well as inspiring music lovers and listeners alike. Tickets to the Oct 26 concert are $15 available at the Kasser Box Office.
Helen H. Cha-Pyo is in her second season as the Artistic Director of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts and Principal Conductor of the New Jersey Youth Symphony. She has also served as the Visiting Associate Professor of Orchestral Studies and Conductor of Montclair State University Symphony Orchestra at John J. Cali School of Music (2018-19). Read more here.