2018 Basically Beethoven Festival announced

38th annual series spotlights local composers, range of instruments in free concerts

We are thrilled to present the FREE 38th annual Basically Beethoven Festival on Sunday afternoons in July. For 2018, FACP will produce FIVE FREE CONCERTS. Held in the Dallas Arts District at Moody Performance Hall (formerly Dallas City Performance Hall), every program starts with a Rising Star Recital at 2:30 pm followed by a Feature Performance at 3 pm. Rising Star Recitals present local, gifted young musicians; Feature Performances showcase professional musicians from the area. All concerts are FREE TO THE PUBLIC. Paid parking is available in surface lots and garages in the Dallas Arts District. Families with children are welcome.

“For 2018, I wanted to highlight masterpieces from the past and the present across a variety of instrumentations and settings,” explains Basically Beethoven Festival Director Dr. Alex McDonald. Indeed, that has been accomplished with the five concerts anchored by a string quartet on July 1, a flute trio on July 8, pianos and percussion on July 15, a horn ensemble on July 22, and an operatic bass closing the Festival on July 29.

“Classical music not only has a vibrant tradition—it also has an exciting future! That is why we are using several of the concerts to showcase gifted, young composers from across the metroplex,” McDonald added. “Something I’m particularly excited about this year is our Rising Stars, who represent part of the future of classical music. In the past, we have always used a young soloist with an adult accompanist, but this year we are presenting collaborative duos: two young artists performing together. Some of our performers are only 14 years old and have already played all over the world!”

 

July 1, Eclectet

  • Rising Star Recital: Student musician Josephine Chiu, piano, will be joined on stage by the professional musicians of the afternoon’s Feature Performance (below) and Scott Sheffler, bass. They will perform a chamber arrangement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5.
  • Feature Performance: Florence Wang, violin; Sean Riley, violin; Rachel McDonald, viola; Joseph Kuipers, cello, come together to perform works by Dvorak, Ravel, Haydn, Beethoven and local composer Quinn Mason. Mason was raised in Dallas, is a Dallas ISD graduate, and a former FACP scholarship student. He has won numerous awards for his compositions, and he was a recipient of the Rogene Russell Scholarship Fund in its inaugural year.

 

July 8, Diversions & Escapes

  • Rising Star Recital: Shiv Yajnik is recognized for his accomplishments as a pianist and as a composer during this Rising Star Recital. He will perform Liszt’s “St. Francis walking on the Waves,” and his own piano trio, “Ondine.” For his comopsition, he will be joined onstage by professional musicians Jen Chang Betz, violin, and Joseph Kuipers, cello.
  • Feature Performance: A piano trio composed of Shauna Thompson, flute; Deborah Brooks, cello; and Shields-Collins Bray, piano, will present Martinů‘s Trio for flute, cello and piano; and selections of Haydn‘s Piano Trio in G Major. Ms. Thompson and Mr. Bray will partner on local composer Martin Blessinger‘s pieces “Diversion I” and “Escapes.” They will also perform Chant de Linos by Jolivet. The afternoon also includes Ms. Brooks and Mr. Bray performing Beethoven‘s Cello Sonata No. 1 in F Major.

 

July 15, Pianos & Percussion

  • Rising Star Recital: Matthew Ho, violin, and Claire Chiang, piano, will perform works by Beethoven, Ravel, and more.
  • Feature Performance: Catharine Lysinger, piano, and Alex McDonald, piano, present Rachmaninoff’s Suite No. 2 for Two Pianos. They will be joined by percussionists Dan Florio and Brian Jones on Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion.

 

July 22, Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse

  • Rising Star Recital: William Sprinkle, oboe, and Eduardo Rojas, piano, will perform the second movement (“Largo”) from Beethoven’s Oboe Concerto, Hess 12; and his “Adelaïde”, op. 46.
  • Feature Performance: French horn ensemble Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse have captivated audiences with their musicianship and joviality. Members include local musician Gerry Wood, with Paul Blackstone, Brian Brown, and Audrey Good. The ensemble will present opera transcriptions.

 

July 29, Art Song

  • Rising Star Recital: Local composer Jason Mulligan will be the featured Rising Star as a composer. Alex McDonald will perform selections from Mulligan’s piano preludes, he will premiere a Mulligan piece, and he will accompany soprano Alissa Roca for Mulligan’s “In the Looking Glass.”
  • Feature Performance: Operatic bass Jared Schwartz with The Dallas Opera’s Music Director of Education Mary Dibbern, piano, performs an afternoon of art song, including works by Flégier, Fauré, and Liszt.

The Basically Beethoven Festival is made possible in part by VisitDallas, City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, TACA, Texas Commission on the Arts, WFAA Channel 8, DART, Dallas Arts District Foundation, and ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program. Since 1981, FACP has presented free classical music programs open to the public. In addition to the Basically Beethoven Festival, FACP presents free, monthly Bancroft Family Concerts October through May at the Dallas Museum of Art.  Since its inception, FACP has served over 225,000 children and performed for over a half-million residents of North Texas.


Now Hear This: an Interview with Rebecca Glass, viola

Plano-native Rebecca Glass recently earned her Doctorate of Musical Arts in viola performance from the renowned Cleveland Institute of Music. She returns home this week to perform in recital with Alicja Basinksa, piano, at our final Bancroft Family Concert of the season on May 12. The duo will perform works by Frank Bridge, J.S. Bach, and Johannes Brahms. Not only is hearing a solo viola concert rare, but Dr. Glass is a unique performer as she is blind. Read more to learn a bit about how she started playing, how she learns music, and more!


Was there one piece on the program that you especially wanted to perform, or were you equally interested in all three? While I like all the pieces on the program, the Brahms sonata is my favorite. It is definitely the most musically and emotionally complex. Another wonderful aspect of the sonata is that it equally showcases the viola and piano parts. Alicja and I have been performing together since 2011 and when I chose the program for the concert the Brahms sonata came to mind not only because I really love the music, but also because I knew that Alicja’s artistry would make this piece a great experience for both the audience and for us as players. As for my overall program choices, this concert afforded the opportunity to select works from varying composers that display the beauty of the viola and at the same time offer an engaging and interesting recital for the listeners.

How old were you when you started playing viola? Why did you choose it, and did you learn other instruments? I didn’t begin studying the viola until I was 13. I was originally a pianist since age 3. I decided to learn the violin in second grade. Over the next five years the violin’s high register didn’t endear it to me, my parents, or our poor cat. Eventually I kept covertly transposing violin melodies down by an interval of a fifth and finally took that as a sign that I should switch to the viola. Besides studying both viola and piano through high school, I also briefly spent some time with the Chinese erhu.

Can you walk us through your process of how you learn a piece? Is there Braille for music? There is Braille music, however I mostly use it for my own note taking purposes or occasionally score study for music theory. I learn all my viola repertoire by ear. That goes for orchestral, chamber music, and solo literature. Here I owe a huge thank you to Barbara Sudweeks, assistant principal viola for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, for recording all my music for the last 14 years. The parts she records for me include not just a played line, but she also tells me important markings such as dynamics, bowings, articulations etc. There is hardly any viola music available in Braille so Barbara’s work in making my music library is truly incredible.

When did you decide to pursue a career as a musician? I never truly considered a career in anything but music. The real question for a while was which instrument.

What type of music did you listen to as a kid, and what do you listen to now? Growing up I mostly listened to classical music, though occasionally an oldies station or the inevitable country music would end up on the car radio. Now days, I have a very wide range of tastes in music. Since our family is passionate about overseas travel, I have ended up bringing home folk music from many different countries. I also love both European and American music from the ’30s and ’40s. Classical music is still my mainstay in terms of listening, but as I spend the majority of my time practicing it, other genres can be a welcome break at the end of the day.

Growing up in Plano, what were some arts organizations you interacted with? I played and also toured in the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra. I regularly attended DSO and Dallas Opera performances throughout high school.

Different sections of the orchestra have different roles. Can you explain what the viola’s focus is? We are the middle voice in an orchestral string section. Violas usually provide harmony and/or counter melodies, not to mention comic relief.

Who’s your favorite composer to listen to? To play? It seems like my favorite composer is always changing, but right now I’ve been enjoying Brahms, the late works of Mozart, and Debussy.

What advice would you give 14-year-old Rebecca? Worry less about comparing your musical and academic accomplishments to fellow students. Time would be better spent focusing on pursuing long-term goals. Every orchestral chair test is not a make or break situation. 🙂

What advice would you give a high school student who wants to pursue music in college? Use your time wisely in preparing. Talk to students at the college or conservatory you are hoping to attend and find out what kinds of achievements really make a difference when your auditions and applications are being considered. High school goes quickly. Prioritizing your practicing so that you can ultimately present the best audition possible can give you a real edge at the collegiate level just like in real life.

What’s your favorite sound (musical or non-musical), and your least favorite sound (musical or non-musical)? My favorite would be the evening call to prayer in Istanbul. If you ever find yourself there, try to find a high place to listen so you can hear calls of the many muezzins echo throughout the city’s thousands of mosques. As for my least favorite – no offense intended to any brass players that might be reading this – but some of the sounds that come from those instruments while warming up can be truly hair raising!

When you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert do you hope to hear? Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.