Antoine T. Clark, conductor
Betsy Sturdevant, bassoon
Jennifer Jolley, composer
Symphony No. 1 in G major – Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-Georges
Bassoon Concerto in F major – Johann Nepomuk Hummel
Spielzeug Straßenbahn (Toy Trolley) – Jennifer Jolley (Ohio Premiere)
Symphony No. 83 in G minor(The Hen) – Franz Joseph Haydn
Great masters of the Classical and Romantic periods often looked back to earlier styles and composers like Johann Sebastien Bach for inspiration. It is not uncommon to see this practiced by contemporary composers. In essence, voices from the past often influence those in the present. While there is ample evidence of this phenomenon, we can also see how composers that were contemporaries celebrated each other. This program sheds light on the connection between Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-Georges and Franz Joseph Haydn and Johann Sebastien Bach and Jennifer Jolley. It also brings to light the voices of women and people of color as composers and as instrumentalists.
Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a Classical composer and virtuoso violinist of French and African heritage, wrote symphonies, operas, and concertos for the violin. He drew inspiration for his first set of six string quartets from Haydn’s earliest quartets. As music director of the Concert de la Loge Olympique, he was instrumental in commissioning and premiering Haydn’s Paris Symphonies. Saint-Georges’ Symphony No. 1 in G major and Haydn’s Symphony No. 83 in G minor (The Hen) bookend this program.
Contemporary composer Jennifer Jolley’s Spielzeug Straßenbahn (Toy Trolley) draws inspiration from Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 not only in instrumentation but also in mood. The constant musical energy found in Bach’s music brought to her mind the same energy that she heard in trains, specifically the jolly Neighborhood Trolley from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. This toy trolley merrily converses with characters and easily traverses both Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Similarily, Jolley’s musical depiction of a toy trolley symbolically bridges the gap between her 21st-century contribution and Bach’s 18th-century masterpiece.
Early Romantic composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s Bassoon Concerto in F major captures the style of Classical concertos written by Haydn and his teacher, Mozart. Betsy Sturdevant, the principal bassoonist of the Columbus Symphony, is featured as bassoon soloist.