Horn soloist at Pops

At Pops we usually have a soloist from the orchestra, but it is seldom a brass player. This year, our principal horn Jeff Stewart performs the beautiful, but relatively obscure Nocturno for Horn and Strings by Franz Strauss. The gently virtuosic piece is a joy to hear (coming from another player in the horn section). It’s not a fireworks virtuoso piece. Instead, beautiful melody showcases Jeff’s beautiful horn sound, and graceful decorative runs and arpeggios enhance the musicality of the piece.

Jeff plays in several orchestras in the area and has been our principal horn for 3 years. Here’s his bio:

Jeff Stewart was born and raised in the Detroit area. While growing up, he studied piano for 9 years and french horn for 4 years. A scholarship convinced him to study engineering rather than music at the University of Michigan. After graduating and taking a job doing electrical and computer engineering, family and work demands limited is musical activities substantially for the next 30 years. When both daughters had moved on to college, his wife encouraged him to work a little harder on horn playing, so he took some horn lessons (the most valuable of which were with Shelagh Abate, who is now one of the top New York City free lance horn players) and gradually joined various Boston area musical groups. He currently plays principal horn in the Concord Orchestra, the New England Philharmonic, the Waltham Symphony and the Boston Chamber Symphony, and plays in a number of Boston and Providence area chamber groups.

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Jeffrey Korn Sings Kern at Pops

Jeff Korn, Pops soloistWe’re thrilled to have Jeff Korn back to sing with us for Pops. His expressive singing and charming manner makes the best songs even better. Our great friend of the orchestra, composer and arranger Bernie Hoffer, has created a medley of songs by Jerome Kern cleverly titled Korn Sings Kern.

For the finale of song set, you’ll hear “Ol’ Man River”, a powerful song full of deep meaning. It comes from an earlier period of racial tension and discrimination, depicted in the groundbreaking 1927 musical Showboat. You will be moved to tears if you’re not humming along with Jeff. Jeff will also lead the audience in a sing-along of The King and I.

Jeff is as inspiring in the business world as he is as a singer. Here’s Jeff’s bio:

Jeffrey Korn has performed for audiences around the world, singing Classic Broadway to Big Band to Acapella to Yiddish Theatre. Jeff originally trained in opera and violin at the Eastman School of Music and the Seagle Opera Theatre. At Harvard College, Jeff divided his time between studying psychology, performing in The Hasty Pudding Theatricals and the Loeb Drama Center, and directing and singing in The Harvard Krokodiloes.

After college, Jeff was invited to London to join the cast of the hit show, Hamlet Improvised, in which he played Hamlet some nights, and Queen Gertrude other nights (depending on the luck of the draw). He continued his classical vocal training at the Royal Academy of Music, while appearing in Shakespeare productions in London and Edinburgh.

Jeff moved back to the States to pursue his true passions: classic Broadway musicals and concert performance. In Boston, he joined the original smash production of Forbidden Broadway. During the 1990s, Jeff directed and toured with his acapella quartet Where’s the Band? Acapella. Over the years, he has appeared as a featured performer on stages across the U.S. and Europe and as a repeat guest vocalist on Late Night with David Letterman on CBS.

Jeff also coaches leaders around the world to use the skills of the performer to inspire and engage others. He teaches and coaches at Harvard Business School, Columbia and Duke, as well as in such far-off destinations as Abu Dhabi, Mumbai and Shanghai. He leads the internet strategy and design firm, Jeffrey Korn Creative, and is founder of the tech startup Talkler – Email for your Ears. When not teaching, traveling or performing, Jeff lives in Belmont, MA with his wife, singer and designer Lori Glaser, and is the proud father of two talented sons.

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Duke Ellington’s The River

The River is a suite for ballet, a collaboration between Alvin Ailey and Ellington. The original concept was a depiction of the Mississippi, but Ellington’s plan evolved to a more spiritual level, a theme of birth and rebirth.

The project had a rocky evolution. Different methods of working and busy schedules made working together difficult. Read more about Duke Ellington’s suite The River  in this article on the Southern California chapter of the Duke Ellington Society. Stanley Stome has written a detailed account of the project’s history.

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River Music at Concord Orchestra Pops

Rivers are powerful forces that shape landscapes and cultures around the world. There’s a lot of great music inspired by rivers. Come to Concord Orchestra Pops this May to hear some famous and inspired river music.

Bernie Hoffer has written Korn Sings Kern, a medley of tunes by Jerome Kern, especially for our guest vocalist Jeffrey Korn. The set ends with the mournfully rich tune of “Ol’ Man River”. The song is from the 1927 musical Showboat, about life on a Mississippi River show boat. The lives and loves of the performers and stagehands on the boat and racial tensions in the segregated South figured in the plot. The seriousness and realism of that show marked a change in the musical theater world from more typical trivial operettas, musical comedies and revues of the early 20th century.

Ferde Grofé wrote his most famous work, Grand Canyon Suite, in 1931. (I remember when I was in high school, I borrowed a recording of Grand Canyon Suite and was enchanted by its Americana style.) In 1925 while Grofé was chief arranger for the Paul Whiteman orchestra, he wrote Mississippi Suite. We’ll play the four movements of that suite at Pops: 1. Father of Waters, 2. Huckleberry Finn, 3. Old Creole Days, 4. Mardi Gras.

Duke Ellington’s The River was composed for a ballet by Alvin Ailey and was premiered in 1970 at Lincoln Center. We’ll play three movements: 1. Spring, 2. Meander, 3. Giggling Rapids.

From an earlier era, Smetana’s The Moldau (in Czech, Vltava) is another famous river-inspired piece, opening with gently bubbling waves, played by the flutes. In Wikipedia, I learned that the big melody in the piece, Smetana’s most famous tune, is “an adaptation of the melody La Mantovana, attributed to the Italian renaissance tenor, Giuseppe Cenci, which, in a borrowed Romanian form, was also the basis for the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah.”

Join us at Pops May 19, 20, or 21 to celebrate river music!

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Citations:

The Suites, New York 1968 & 1970. (2016, July 12). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:39, May 2, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Suites,_New_York_1968_%26_1970&oldid=729536197

Má vlast. (2017, March 5). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:32, May 2, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=M%C3%A1_vlast&oldid=768762305

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Eric Sawyer on his music “Civil Disobedience”

The Concord Orchestra premieres Eric Sawyer’s Civil Disobedience with narrator David Gullette on March 31 and April 1, 2017. Eric describes how he used the text of Thoreau’s essay:

“Civil Disobedience for narrator and orchestra draws from the text of Henry David Thoreau’s essay “On Civil Disobedience,” in which he discusses his choice to withhold payment from the tax collector, resulting in his spending a night in jail. While immediately motivated by Thoreau’s unwillingness to support slavery and the Mexican war through his tax dollars, this episode gives occasion for a larger meditation on government, the consent of the governed, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens within Thoreau’s actual and ideal societies. The musical setting follows the wide ranging moods of the text, from righteously outraged to drolly mocking to serenely envisioning. The narration is woven into a dynamic orchestral accompaniment requiring close coordination on the part of the narrator, surrounded by several extended orchestral interludes.”

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