Kalistos Chamber Orchestra

2003-2004  Season Opener

October 9, 2003 Thursday 8 pm

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St. Paul Church
[15 St Paul Street, Brookline, 02466]

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800-896 7340 or email info@kalistos.org

Ticket Prices
Adults $20
Students with valid ID $10

Program details

Samuel Barber [1910-1981]    Adagio for Strings, op. 11
Evan Chambers [b.1963]    Crazed for the Flame
      [East Coast Premiere] featuring Vento Chiaro [click for their website]


Dmitri Shostakovich [1906-1975]   Chamber Symphony Op. 110a  [arr. Barshai]

Guest Artists' bio
vento chiaro logo

group picture
As an award-winning ensemble, Vento Chiaro is captivating audiences across the country with their visionary artistry. After winning the Saunderson Award at the Coleman Chamber Music Competition in April of 2000, the LA Times declared, "the day of the woodwind quintet may be dawning." Vento Chiaro went on to receive the Silver Medal at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition in 2000 and was a semi-finalist at the Concert Artists Guild Competition in 2001. Founded in 1997 at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD, Vento Chiaro relocated to Boston in 1999 and is now the Ensemble-in-Residence at the Longy School in Cambridge, MA. In addition to their Longy appearances, the ensemble has performed several times on WGBH's radio program hosted by Richard Knisley and at Symphony Hall (including the 2000-01 Centennial Celebration) and across the Eastern Seaboard at such venues as The Settlement School in Philadelphia, PA and ArtScape in Baltimore, MD. Their varied repertoire ranges from the standards to arrangements of orchestral favorites and newly written works. A part of the ensemble's mission involves working with musicians and students of all levels. Every spring, Vento Chiaro works with Longy's Preparatory Composition students, reading their works, offering suggestions, and ultimately performing their music. The ensemble was the Quintet-in-Residence at the 2001 International Clarinet Connection, and has served on the faculty of Boston University Tanglewood Institute's Young Artists Wind Ensemble program since 2002.

chambers pictureAudiences respond to the music of Evan Chambers:

"That piece ROCKS!"
"Thank you so much for for your gorgeous music; it's just stunning."
"I was so moved; this music made me cry."
"Truly imbued with honesty and soul-water..."
"It was pure power!"
"That was the most amazing piece of music I've ever heard in my life."

Evan Chambers (b 1963, Alexandria, Louisiana) writes music of rare intensity and emotional depth–his haunting lyricism and explosive energy have moved audiences around the world. A traditional Irish fiddler as well as a composer, his music has deep roots in folk music and in the physicality of performance–he appears frequently as an interpreter of his own works, and serves as resident composer with the new-music ensemble Quorum. He is currently Associate Professor of Composition and Director of Electronic Music Studios at the University of Michigan.

Chambers' compositions have been performed by the Cincinnati, Kansas City, Memphis, and Albany Symphonies; he won first prize in the Cincinnati Symphony Competition, and in 1998 was awarded the Walter Beeler Prize by Ithaca College. His work has been recognized by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Luigi Russolo Competition, Vienna Modern Masters, NACUSA, the American Composers Forum, and the Tampa Bay Composers Forum. He has been a resident of the MacDowell Colony, and been awarded individual artist grants from Meet the Composer, the Arts Foundation of Michigan and ArtServe Michigan. His composition teachers include William Albright, Leslie Bassett, Nicholas Thorne, and Marilyn Shrude, with studies in electronic music with George Wilson and Burton Beerman. Recordings have been released by the Foundation Russolo-Pratella, Cambria, Albany Records, and Centaur. His solo CD Cold Water, Dry Stone was released in winter 2001 by Albany records.

Crazed for the Flame: Program Notes
Will transformation
Oh be crazed for the flame
in which a thing that bursts with becoming
consumes itself;
that spirit of re-creation, master of earthly form,
loves most in our turning the single pivoting point of change.

Rainer Maria Rilke
from Sonnets to Orpheus
Series 2, # 12
translation by Evan Chambers

The title Crazed for the Flame comes from Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus. The piece was inspired by that image of intense spiritual longing, of wild yearning for union with the absolute. It is a state exemplified in the music and literature of Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam, as well, and the piece was also inspired my experiences listening to one kind of Sufi music: the Qawwai music of the great Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and his ensemble. I’ve been listening to this group for years, and had one of the most profound musical experiences of my life hearing them in concert--to put it plainly, I’ve been so affected by the power, sincerity, and radiant depth of feeling in Qawwali music for so long that it had to come out in my own writing sooner or later. I wanted to write a a grateful hommage that drew on the form of Qawwali without directly imitating the style.

In this piece, as in Qawwali, the music consists of tight melodic cells that are repeated to create a dynamic of intensification; highly charged and often ecstatic group singing alternates with long wailing solo lines. The piece is also influenced by the melodic shapes of southern Albanian Kaba, a semi-improvised instrumental music sometimes referred to as “music with tears.” .  - notes by composer

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Samuel Barber (b. West Chester, Pennsylvania, 9 March 1910; d. New York, 23 January 1981): Adagio for Strings

barberPerhaps no other work in Samuel Barber’s prolific output has been more closely associated with his name than the Adagio for Strings. So much has the Adagio come to stand on its own that we may forget that it was actually arranged from a part of a pre-existing work—specifically, the second movement of Barber’s String Quartet in B minor op. 11. The 28-year-old composer presented the Adagio, along with his first Essay for orchestra, to the great Arturo Toscanini, who had been searching for new music by a American composer to perform with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Both works were subsequently premiered in one of Toscanini’s famous radio broadcast performances on 5 November 1938, and the critical and popular success of Barber’s music secured his international reputation as one of America’s foremost composers. The Adagio, in particular, assumed a special place in the hearts of audiences the world over, but especially so in the United States as an expression of national mourning in the face of tragedy. In this function it has been performed at the funerals of several prominent Americans, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Albert Einstein and John F. Kennedy. More recently, its reputation as an expression of American grief was made strikingly poignant in a performance by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the last night of the 2001 “Proms” concerts in London, less than a week after the September 11th attacks. Leonard Slatkin, the first American conductor to lead the orchestra in this most British of events, chose the work as part of a changed program in light of the recent national tragedy. In an interview with National Public Radio later that month, he said in regard to the performance of the Adagio: “The Barber was easily for me the single most difficult nine minutes or so of conducting I ever had to do, because I was in tears the whole time. All the images that I only knew from television and talking to people on the phone had just come into full focus.” [1] Why the Adagio calls forth such an extraordinary emotional reaction from its listeners is still something of a mystery: Barbara Heyman, in her 1992 biography of Barber, recalled a 1982 BBC broadcast on Barber’s music, in which several prominent musicians were “asked to analyze why the Adagio was such a ‘perfect piece of music.’ They were hard-pressed to come up with technical justifications and focused instead on the emotional response it elicits from listeners.” [2] Aaron Copland, one of the participants in the discussion, commented:

It’s really well-felt, it’s believable you see, it’s not phoney … [it] comes straight from the heart, to use old-fashioned terms. The sense of continuity, the steadiness of the flow, the satisfaction of the arch that it creates from beginning to end. They’re all very gratifying, satisfying, and it makes you believe in the sincerity which he obviously put into it. [3]

One of the “gratifying” elements to which Copland refers might be found in the scalar melodic line, which rises inexorably from the middle-range of the violins, passing through the other string sections (save the double-basses), to the climactic F-flat major chord. The denouement following recalls the beginning of the piece, where the opening gesture, a sort of chordal exhaling of breath (first presented as an E-flat minor chord with an added seventh passing to an F major chord) is played no less than four times, making it the perfect counterbalance to the emotional high point of the piece. It is perhaps this gesture, heard throughout the work, that lends the Adagio its sense of unity—a sort of aural as well as emotional anchor for the listener in the midst of one of the most cathartic musical experiences ever created. As the composer Ned Rorem once said of the Adagio, “If Barber later aimed higher, he never reached deeper into the heart.” Heyman notes that Barber himself must have recognized something of what he had achieved, exclaiming upon completing the second movement of the quartet, “It’s a knockout!” [4] Even if musical analysis fails to explain the formal perfection, melodic rightness, and how each harmonic structure seems to give way inevitably to its successor, we can expect the Adagio to continue to speak—as it has for the past 65 years—so powerfully to audiences the world over as the expression par excellence of both mourning and emotional renewal.

[1] National Public Radio All Things Considered broadcast, 22 September 2001.
[2] Barbara Heyman, Samuel Barber: The Composer and His Music (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 174.
[3] BBC broadcast, 23 January 1982, quoted in Heyman, 174.
[4] Samuel Barber, letter to Orlando Cole, probably 19 September 1936, quoted in Heyman, p. 175.

Dmitry Shostakovich (b. St. Petersburg, 25 September 1906; d. Moscow, 9 August 1975): Chamber Symphony, op. 110a, “In Memory of the Victims of Fascism and War” (arr. Rudolf Barshai)

shostyTitles, even subtitles, for pieces of music can frequently give misleading impressions about a composer’s artistic intentions and his relation to his art—Dmitry Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony op. 110a is a prime case in point. The work actually goes back to his String Quartet in C minor op. 110, which Shostakovich’s friend and conductor of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Rudolf Barshai, arranged for string orchestra (as sanctioned by the composer), keeping intact the original subtitle, “In Memory of the Victims of Fascism and War.” The legend behind the subtitle derives from a visit Shostakovich made to Dresden, East Germany in July 1960, where he was to work on the music for a documentary film about the firebombing of the city in World War II. So devastating was the effect of seeing the ruins of Dresden, the story goes, that the composer was compelled to put his C minor quartet down on paper in a mere three days, completing it on July 14th, and assigning it its now famous dedication. The actual circumstances behind the composition of the quartet were a good deal more complicated: Earlier that same year, in June, Shostakovich had been tapped by the Soviet government to become head of the Union of Composers of the Russian Federation, and along with this appointment, he was expected to become a full member of the Communist Party. The effect of this news caused the composer tremendous distress, being forced as he was to become an official part of the government which had for Shostakovich associations with a regime that had persecuted both him and his music, particularly in the years 1936 and 1948. In light of this event, the subtitle of the work takes on a pronouncedly more ironic tone of voice: ostensibly, it protests the horrors of war and affirms the Communist Party’s condemnation of (Nazi) fascism; but it was Shostakovich’s friend, the Russian musicologist Lev Nikolayevich Lebedinsky who later said that the composer “dedicated the quartet to the victims of fascism to disguise his intentions, although, as he considered himself a victim of a fascist regime, the dedication was apt. In fact, he intended it as a summation of everything he had written before. It was his farewell to life. He associated joining the Party with a moral, as well as physical death.” [1] Shostakovich’s letter to his friend Isaak Glikman in July 1960 reflects this inner torment, revealing his intense, personal feelings about the quartet, very much removed from the intentions of Communist propaganda:

However much I tried to draft my obligations for the film [about the Dresden bombing], I just couldn’t do it. Instead I wrote an ideologically deficient quartet nobody needs. I reflected that if I die someday then it’s hardly likely anyone will write a work dedicated to my memory. So I decided to write one myself. You could even write on the cover, “Dedicated to the memory of the composer of this quartet.” [2]

To underscore the autobiographical nature of the work, Shostakovich filled the score with quotations from previous compositions, including his First and Eighth Symphonies, the Piano Trio, the first Cello Concerto and the opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District—this in addition to use of the musical anagram D-S-C-H (for Dmitry Schostakovich—the notes D, E-flat (the German “Es”), C and B-natural (the German “H”)). This motive is heard in various guises throughout the entire work: first as the basis for the imitative counterpoint at the outset of the somber first movement; then in the high strings to accentuate the malicious wrath of the scherzo-like second movement; in the center movement it becomes the basis for a sardonic waltz (first heard in the violins’ upper range); and in the last four measures of the austere fourth movement a solo violin announces the motive, leading directly into the final movement, a recapitulation of sorts of the first. Perhaps nowhere else in the work is the motive used to such ironic effect as in the last movement, where it is played simultaneously with the popular Russian dirge, “Tormented by a Grievous Bondage,” which, as a number of critics at the work’s premiere in October 1960 noted, was “Lenin’s favorite song”—if Lenin was indeed responsible for laying the foundation for the totalitarian state under Stalin, Lebedinsky’s assertion that Shostakovich “considered himself a victim of a fascist regime” would seem to hold particularly true here. The brooding intensity of the piece is further emphasized in its being performed without a break between movements—what light does break through can be found in the otherwise unrelenting severity of the fourth movement, where in an unambiguous F-sharp major passage, a solo cello quotes from Act Four of Lady Macbeth. Katerina, on her way to a labor camp in Siberia, is reunited with her lover, Sergei (the cello’s first three notes intone the name “Seryozha”), though by now he has condemned her as the cause for his own deportation to the camp. This, like the other autobiographical elements in the music, come together to form one of Shostakovich’s most profound and personal artistic statements; a statement which could also be said to speak for all his fellow-countrymen who had suffered, and all too frequently perished, during Stalin’s Reign of Terror.

[1] Elizabeth Wilson, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 340.
[2] Isaak Glikman, ed., Letters to a Friend: Dmitriy Shostakovich to Isaak Glikman (Moscow: 1993), 159; quoted in Laurel E. Fay, Shostakovich: A Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 217.

- Program notes (c) 2003 by David Carpenter

David Carpenter is a composer living in Somerville, Massachusetts. He recently completed a setting of a poem by Elinor Wylie for soprano and piano, and at his last dental checkup he had no cavities.

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Forged from the fires of musical passion, Kalistos has emerged as the newest Chamber Orchestra to beat its heart in harmonic motion.  Coalescing from many nations and backgrounds, the members bring fresh insight to traditional repertoire and a keen glance at the cutting edge.  Beyond just a musical choice for an evening, Kalistos is a force bringing energy to education and other community programs.
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Bios of Musicians
Antonaneta Anguelova *
Sasha Callahan
Gillian Clements *
Andrew Eng
Nikola Takov
Viktoria Tchertchian
Angel Valchinov *

Heidi Broschinsky
Peter Lexx *
Bradley Ottesen

Leo Eguchi
Joanna Morrison *
Valentina Takova *

Brian "Commodore" Perry

Jeb Kulevich *

Chris Younghoon Kim

* denotes guest artist


Our past concerts
2003-2004 season

October 9, 2003

November 20, 2003

February 17, 2004

May 21, 2004

2002-2003 season

May 19, 2002

September 27, 2002 

November 1, 2002

March 14, 2003

May 9, 2003

Phillips Exeter Residency
February 17-18, 2003

Dean College Concert
February 22, 2003



 Origin of Kalistos:
Callisto   n.
Greek Mythology. A nymph, beloved of Zeus and hated by Hera. Hera changed her into a bear, and Zeus then placed her in the sky as the constellation Ursa Major. One of the four brightest satellites of Jupiter and the eighth in distance from the planet. Originally sighted by Galileo, it is the largest planetary satellite.
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phone: 800.896.7340